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June 24, 2009
White vs. Wheat Bread? Neither!

Most people want to be healthy. There is a peace of mind that comes with feeling like you are treating your own body well. SPARTA athletes are no exception. “I’m doing the right thing, right?” is the common follow-up to most questions. Most athletes (and people for that matter), think they are doing the right thing by eating whole wheat (or whole grain) instead of white bread.

By now, many people understand the process that takes place in their body when they ingest sugars— all grains, whether whole or refined, are digested as sugar. Your blood sugar spikes so your body releases insulin, to tell your muscles to take that sugar out of your blood. Doing this chronically results in insulin resistance (a precursor to type 2 diabetes). In addition, excess sugars are stored as fat. For these reasons, high sugar diets are considered by all health care professionals to be generally bad for your health. So is there really a difference between white and wheat bread?

Researchers at the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, at the University of Guelph in Ontartio compared the insulin response of four different breads (white, whole wheat, sourdough, whole wheat barley). They found no significant difference in insulin response between the four breads. Meaning, your body can’t tell the difference in the sugar it gets from whole wheat, as compared to white bread. Researchers at the Diabetes clinic at the Goztepe training and Research Hospital in Turkey studied the blood glucose levels of 120 (type 2) diabetes patients after consuming 3 types of bread (whole wheat, wheat bran and rye). Compared to white bread, the patients blood glucose (sugar) levels rose the same amount. So in two separate studies, research shows that your body can’t tell the difference between types of bread.

But whole grain has more fiber, and fiber is good, right? Yes, fiber is great for you. It helps control the uptake of sugar and can help prevent many diseases related to the gastrointestinal tract. Average Americans only get 15 of the 25-35 grams of recommended daily fiber. But does whole grain bread really have that much fiber? Compared to fruits and non-starchy vegetable, the answer is no. In a 1,000 calorie serving, whole grain cereal has 24 grams of fiber. Compare that to the 41 grams of fiber from the same size serving of fruit, and the 185 grams you would get from non-starchy vegetables! Clearly, whole grains are not the fiber giant that we think they are.

Lastly, is the issue of your body’s acid/base balance. Most athletes, and nutritional experts for that matter, do not pay enough attention to this. All of your food reports to your kidneys as an acid or base after digestion. If your diet produces a net metabolic acidosis (more acid than base), your kidneys must buffer this acid to keep you at a neutral level. This process involves essentially stripping parts of your muscles or bones to get you back to neutral. Either way, this necessary biological process can hurt your athletic performance. All grains are net acid producing. The only foods that research shows to be net base producing are fresh fruits and vegetables.

So the next time you think you are doing yourself a favor by getting your sandwich on whole wheat, think again. Go for the salad with protein (chicken, fish or lean beef) on top. It has all the same ingredients as the sandwich, minus the grains, and plus some very healthy vegetables.

June 24, 2009
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7 thoughts on “White vs. Wheat Bread? Neither!”

  1. Most of this information was apparently cherry-picked to serve some agenda. A 1000-calorie serving of WHAT whole grain cereal, Cheerios?

    Fiber One brand cereal has 14 grams fiber per 100-calorie serving (1/2 cup cereal with skim milk). A 1000-calorie serving (including milk) would have 140 grams fiber. Without the milk, a 1000-calorie serving has 230 g fiber. Compare that to the amount of fiber in the same size serving of fruit or non-starchy vegetables; a paultry 41 g and 185 g, respectively.

    Kashi GoLean Crunch variants have about 8 g of fiber in a 200-calorie serving (not including milk). A 1000-calorie serving would equal 40 g fiber.

    Orowheat Double Fiber bread has 6 g fiber per 70-calorie slice. A 1000-calorie serving would equal 85 g fiber.

    Its no secret, some ‘whole grain’ products have two and three times more or less fiber than others. Equally not a secret, is the fact that ALL of these “gurus” are selling or promoting their own businesses or products. It never fails.

  2. Getting 1000 calories from non-starchy vegetables is fairly easy to do in a day for most people, and gets you 185g of fiber. You would have to eat 30 slices of “double fiber” bread to get that much fiber, for a calorie total of 2,158. So, you’ve already had 2,000 calories and none of it was protein, fat or fruits and vegetables. Now that’s a balanced diet.

    Not to mention the calcium you’ve stripped from your bones to deal with the net acid in your blood from all those grains. Not even the milk in your cereal can help you there.

    I could see us(SPARTA) pushing an anti-grain agenda if we were a fruit and vegetable stand, but we’re not. We’re an athlete training center and all we care about is making our athletes better, healthier and more resistant to injury.

  3. Again with the cherry-picking. The vast majority of non-starchy vegetables range between 88 g ~ 125 g fiber per 1000 calorie serving. e.g. (all figures approx.)

    1000 calories raw broccoli = 88 g fiber

    1000 calories raw spinach = 100 g fiber

    1000 calories raw eggplant = 125 g fiber

    To arrive at 185 g fiber, the author must have selected a truly exceptional case, which I could not even identify. Do you know how much of these you’d need to consume? Get ready for it:

    1000 calories raw broccoli = 6.5 lbs !!

    1000 calories raw spinach = 9.5 lbs !!

    1000 calories raw eggplant = 9.18 lbs !!

    And you’re wrong about the Orowheat Double Fiber bread, 30 slices of which would provide 30 g fat and 90 g protein. While I admit that 30 slices of bread in one day strikes me as moderately unappetizing if not brutal, the thought of having to choke-down over NINE POUNDS eggplant or over SIX POUNDS broccoli in one day doesn’t give me any more comfort. Have you tried eating 6.5 POUNDS of anything in one day?

    Four cups of Fiber One cereal with one cup 2% low-fat milk sounds a lot more feasible:

    Total calories = 968
    Total fiber = 112 g
    Total protein = 48 g
    Total fat = 20 g

    Throw some berries, almonds, or honey in there and it might even be palatable, unlike having to choke down 6 ~ 9 pounds of broccoli or asparagus. Besides, I presume the author scaled-up the serving size to 1,000 calories as a mathematical gimmick; to create the perception of some great disproportion in fiber relative to calories of this unnamed “whole grain cereal”, not because he actually recommends or believes it is common for people to consume 1,000 calories of cereal per day.

    As I’ve shown, there are products that provide a lot more fiber than this unnamed “whole grain cereal”, which the author obviously selected because it represents a worst case scenario, just like he selected an unnamed non-starchy vegetable that represents the best case scenario.

    There are many worthwhile battles to wage on the nutritional information and public awareness front, but attempting to advocate daily consumption of a positively unappetizing if not impossible amount of non-starchy vegetables in place of a more feasible amount of high quality whole grains is just plain stupid.

    A much better battle to pick would be to inform people that labeling or advertising a product as “whole grain” means little to nothing. e.g. I was at the market a couple weeks ago and read the label on a couple brands of “whole grain” crackers. There wasn’t a stitch of fiber in a serving size of 10 crackers.

  4. Again you’re missing the point. Non-starchy vegetables have a higher percentage of fiber than whole grain products. In your cereal example you’ve consumed 8x the serving size and 200g of carbohydrate, and you still haven’t had any fruits or vegetables. It doesn’t work to get your fiber from grains if you want to have a balanced diet. Our athletes can kill two birds wih one stone by getting thir fiber from the vegetables they need to eat anyway, and avoid eating excessive amounts of complex carbohydrate. We promtoe a whole foods diet, so 1,000 calories from a processed cereal containing corn starch (sugar), guar gum, cellulose gum, corn oil and aspartame is not our idea of healthy eating.

    Fruits and vegestables are the only foods that contribute to a net alkaline effect on your blood, something very important for competing athletes.

    In terms of plugging products, I hope you’re getting a kick-back from General Mills with the amount you tout their “Fiber one” cereal.

    Also, lets refrain from name calling when we’re posting as anonymous.

  5. >>Again you’re missing the point. Non-starchy vegetables have a higher percentage of fiber than whole grain products.< < By what unit of measure, per five gallon bucket? You seem to be missing the point. The author did not select 1,000 calorie serving size because he believed it common for people to consume 1,000 calories of cereal (or vegetables) per day. He used it as a gimmick to make it appear as though whole grain foods don’t have much fiber relative to vegetables. Again, here is what a person would need to consume in non-starchy vegetables to obtain 1000 calories: broccoli = 6.5 lbs !! spinach = 9.5 lbs !! eggplant = 9.18 lbs !! asparagus = 11.0 lbs !! Maybe some people don’t grasp the poundage we are talking about, so let’s use the measuring cup (based on 1000 cal chopped broccoli – 32 cups! 1000 cal chopped asparagus – 37 cups! 1000 cal cubbed eggplant – 50 cups! 1000 cal raw spinach – 142 cups! Are you friggin high? I don’t know anyone who spends six to seven hours every day stuffing their face, do you? I’m certainly not suggesting anyone ought to consume 1,000 calories of cereal per day, nor that cereal ought to be the sole source for fiber (or calories). I’m not the one who chose the 1,000 calorie example – the author did. So let’s recap: The author stated 1,000 calories of “whole grain” cereal contains only 24 g fiber (but doesn’t name this cereal). I’ve proven the author at best chose a really piss-poor example with unusually low fiber content, and at worst was chosen to deliberately misrepresent the facts. The author stated 1,000 calories of “non-starchy vegetables” provides 185 g fiber (but doesn’t name this vegetable). I’ve proven the author at best chose an unusual exception, since the vast majority of non-starchy vegetables contain much less than 185g fiber. In fact, I’ve proven there are whole grain products that provide AS MUCH OR MORE fiber per 1,000 calories than most non-starchy vegetables. See a pattern emerging here? You don’t think any of this is relevant to the discussion? You don’t think its relevant for readers to know that obtaining 1,000 calories per day from non-starchy vegetables is nearly impossible, except maybe for 300 lb line backers or world-class track and field athletes (who may consume four or five thousand calories per day when training)? The article/column was NOT published in ‘Top Performance Athlete’ magazine, nor any other sports/athlete centric publication. It was published in the most general section of the San Jose Mercury News, which means it was offered as general dietary and nutritional information to the general public. If the author intended to target only world class athletes looking for an edge (scientifically unproven, but that’s for a different discussion), then he should have chosen an appropriate medium/publication that targets only those readers. He did not.
    And yes, that ‘unhealthy’ guar gum. lmao! Guar gum is well-known as for its health benefits and is even used medicinally. Its OK, the names of ingredients are sometimes scary. Like “tocopherol” and “ascorbic acid”, those sound like really bad things (Vitamin E and C). Or “phenylalanine” (an essential amino acid, which is found in aspartame). Scary stuff those science terms!

    I’d recommend leaving the debate to your boss or someone with more knowledge. You aren’t doing his position or argument any favors – at all.

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