Published:
April 11, 2024
May 20, 2024
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Whole wheat bread is often lauded for its potential health benefits, particularly its role in managing blood sugar levels due to its lower glycemic index compared to refined grains. Whole wheat bread typically has a glycemic index ranging from 51 to 69, depending on factors like processing and ingredients.¹ This makes it a favorable choice for individuals seeking to regulate blood sugar levels or manage conditions like diabetes. Additionally, whole wheat bread is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, offering numerous health benefits beyond glycemic control, including improved digestive health and reduced risk of chronic diseases. Understanding the impact of whole wheat bread on blood sugar levels is crucial for making informed dietary choices and promoting overall health and well-being.

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Glycemic Index Table

To calculate the glycemic index (GI), carbohydrate content, and glycemic load (GL) per serving of whole wheat bread (100g), we'll utilize data from the USDA FoodData Central and relevant formulas.

1. Glycemic Index (GI): The glycemic index measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose levels. Whole wheat bread typically has a glycemic index ranging from 51 to 69.² Cooking methods and variations in ingredients can influence the glycemic index, with factors like processing, fiber content, and protein affecting the rate of carbohydrate absorption.

2. Carbohydrate per Serving (g): According to the USDA FoodData Central, the carbohydrate content of whole wheat bread is approximately 49.7 grams per 100 grams.¹

3. Glycemic Load (GL) per Serving: Glycemic load takes into account both the glycemic index and the carbohydrate content of a serving of food. The formula to calculate GL is GL = (GI × Carbohydrate per Serving) / 100. Using the average GI value of 60 (the midpoint of the typical range for whole wheat bread) and the carbohydrate content (49.7 grams), we can calculate the glycemic load: GL = (60 × 49.7) / 100 ≈ 29.82

Therefore, the glycemic load per serving of whole wheat bread (100g) is approximately 29.82.

Understanding these values is essential for individuals aiming to manage blood sugar levels or make informed dietary choices. Incorporating whole wheat bread, with its moderate glycemic index and beneficial nutrients like fiber and vitamins, into a balanced diet can contribute to overall health and well-being.

Glycemic Index

51-69

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

49.7 g

GL per Serving

29.82

Nutritional Facts

Whole wheat bread is a nutritious choice, providing essential nutrients such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. According to the USDA FoodData Central, per 100 grams, whole wheat bread typically contains approximately 8.5 grams of protein, 2.4 grams of fiber, and significant amounts of B vitamins like folate and thiamine.¹ Additionally, whole wheat bread is a good source of complex carbohydrates, which can contribute to sustained energy levels and promote overall health and well-being.

The nutritional information below is for 100 g of whole wheat bread.¹

Calories

220 kcal

Carbs

49.7 g

Protein

8.5 g

Fiber

2.4 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Vitamins

C (0 mg)

Sodium

380 mg

Total Fat

3 g

Is Whole Wheat Bread Good for Weight Loss?

Whole wheat bread can be a beneficial component of a weight loss diet due to its high fiber content and lower glycemic index compared to refined grains. Fiber helps promote satiety, which can lead to reduced calorie intake and support weight loss efforts.¹ 

Additionally, whole wheat bread provides essential nutrients while being lower in calories and fat compared to many other bread varieties, making it a nutritious and filling option for those looking to manage their weight.¹ However, it's essential to consider portion sizes and overall dietary balance as part of a comprehensive weight loss plan.

Is Whole Wheat Bread Good for People Living with Diabetes?

Whole wheat bread can be a safe and beneficial option for individuals with diabetes due to its lower glycemic index compared to refined grains. The slower release of glucose into the bloodstream from whole wheat bread may help manage blood sugar levels more effectively.² 

Additionally, the fiber content in whole wheat bread can promote satiety, aid in weight management, and improve digestive health, all of which are important considerations for individuals with diabetes.² However, portion control and overall carbohydrate intake should still be monitored as part of a balanced diet and in consultation with a healthcare provider.

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Allergies

Allergic reactions to whole wheat bread can range from mild to severe and may include symptoms like hives, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, or even anaphylaxis in rare cases. Wheat allergy is one of the most common food allergies, particularly in children, and can be triggered by specific proteins found in wheat grains. 

Individuals with known wheat allergies should carefully read ingredient labels and consider alternatives to whole wheat bread to avoid allergic reactions and ensure their nutritional needs are met.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Whole Wheat Bread Spike Insulin?

No, whole wheat bread does not spike insulin levels. Whole wheat bread is a complex carbohydrate that contains fiber, which slows down the digestion and absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. This gradual release of glucose helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent insulin spikes. However, it's important to note that individual responses to carbohydrates can vary, and factors such as portion size and overall diet can also influence insulin levels.

Is Whole Wheat Bread Low Glycemic?

No, whole wheat bread is not considered low glycemic. Whole wheat bread has a moderate glycemic index, meaning it can cause a moderate increase in blood sugar levels. This is because whole wheat bread contains carbohydrates that are broken down into glucose during digestion, leading to a rise in blood sugar levels. However, compared to white bread or refined grains, whole wheat bread is a better choice as it contains more fiber and nutrients, which can help slow down the absorption of glucose and provide a more sustained release of energy.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Whole Wheat Bread?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat whole wheat bread. Whole wheat bread is a healthier option compared to white bread because it contains more fiber and nutrients. The fiber in whole wheat bread helps regulate blood sugar levels and can prevent spikes in glucose levels. However, it is important for individuals with diabetes to monitor their carbohydrate intake and portion sizes, as whole wheat bread still contains carbohydrates that can affect blood sugar levels. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized advice on managing diabetes and incorporating whole wheat bread into a balanced diet.

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References

  1. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Food Details - bread, whole-wheat, commercially prepared. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/335240/nutrients
  2. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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