Can You Lose Weight by Not Eating Bread, Rice & Pasta?

The key to losing weight is to make sure you eat fewer calories than you use. If avoiding bread, rice and pasta helps you to do this, then you'll lose weight. Those who replace these foods with other higher-calorie foods, however, may find that they don't lose any weight and may even gain weight. Taking additional steps, such as exercising and making more dietary changes, will improve your weight-loss results.

Limiting high-glycemic-index foods, like white bread, may help with weight loss. (Image: giovanni1232/iStock/Getty Images)

Glycemic Index and Weight Loss

The glycemic index measures the impact of different foods on your blood sugar levels. Foods low on the glycemic index are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels than those high on the index. A review article published in The Cochrane Library in 2007 noted that there were weight-loss benefits to following a diet that is low on the glycemic index instead of one that is low in fat. Limiting sweets and refined grains; eating foods with protein and healthy unsaturated fats at each meal; eating the least processed grains possible; and choosing plenty of beans, fruits and non-starchy vegetables will help you keep the glycemic index of your diet low. In general, foods that are high in fiber or acidic and those that require minimal cooking time tend to be lower on the glycemic index. Both fiber and acidity help slow down digestion, so the sugars in the food reach the bloodstream less quickly and don't cause blood sugar spikes.

Protein and Weight Loss

Diets higher in protein can also be more filling, so regardless of whether you give up bread, rice and pasta, make sure to include this important nutrient in each meal and snack if you're trying to lose weight. A review article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015 noted that meals with between 25 and 30 grams of protein appear to be best for controlling appetite. For even better results, aim for a diet that is both high in protein and low in the glycemic index. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 found that this type of diet helped with weight loss more than diets lower in protein and higher on the glycemic index. The diet used in the study included 25 percent of calories from protein.

Bread Vs. Rice or Pasta

If you can't give up rice, pasta and bread, consider keeping just the bread. A study published in the journal Hospital Nutrition in 2011 found that a meal with bread was more filling than one with the same amount of calories containing either pasta or rice. Choosing 100-percent whole-grain breads instead of those made with refined grains may be even more beneficial for weight loss due to their higher fiber content. Anything that helps you feel full will make it easier to cut the necessary calories for weight loss.

White Vs. Whole Grain Bread, Pasta and Rice

If you're trying to lose weight, you might be better off switching to whole grain bread, pasta or rice instead of just giving them up completely, because these products are a lot higher in fiber. For example, a cup of white rice has less than 1 gram of fiber, but the same amount of brown rice has about 3.5 grams, which is 14 percent of the daily value for fiber. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2009 found that higher intakes of fiber from grains, especially whole grains, are associated with less body fat and abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is particularly risky, making diabetes, heart disease and certain other health problems more likely, so anything that helps you get rid of this fat is helpful and probably shouldn't be eliminated.

Calorie Considerations

You'll need to cut 500 calories per day out of your diet each day to lose about 1 pound per week. Each slice of white bread you don't eat saves you 77 calories; a cup of white rice has about 242 calories; and a cup of regular pasta has about 221 calories. Whole-grain versions are similar in calories. Of course, if you end up eating more of other foods instead, you may not end up saving calories and aren't likely to lose weight. Increasing the amount of exercise you do each day can help you increase your calorie deficit to lose weight faster and will also make it so you're more likely to lose fat than muscle. The minimum recommended exercise for adults is 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, but it may take twice this amount for some people to achieve weight-loss benefits.

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