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Bread and Low-Carb Eating: Never the Two Shall Meet?

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

It is possible to have bread on a low-carb diet, but don't expect fluffy white slices!

Going low-carb necessitates giving up bread—at least the bread you are probably accustomed to eating. Whatever type of bread you are buying off regular grocery store shelves before going low-carb, whether it be white, wheat, 7-grain, sourdough, or a white-wheat variety, well, it’s likely gone from the menu. And, even if you are someone who “doesn’t eat a lot of bread,” like myself, you soon realize just how often you DO eat bread, even if you are not the type who eats toast at breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and half a basket of rolls for dinner. Plus, like anything else, when you cannot have it, the natural response for humans seems to be to want it more, and you may well find this is true when you put your toaster into storage.

But, there are alternatives.

  • Low-carb tortillas can be a good choice for those who are missing their lunchtime sandwiches. Basically anything, from peanut butter to chicken, can be rolled into a tortilla and taste great. Label-reading is the key. Some tortillas are actually labeled “low-carb,” but there are other high-fiber varieties that can be within an acceptable low-carb range if you check out the nutrition panel and calculate net carbs.
  • High-fiber crispbreads can be the answer for some, particularly those missing their usual brand of crackers. For example, GG Bran Crispbread is a popular one among low carbers, with only 2g net carbs. But, this brand can be hard to find in grocery stores; if you want it, ordering online may be your only option. Your best bet is probably to just scour the cracker aisle of your local grocery store and spend some time reading labels for net carb counts. By the way, if your grocery store is like mine, there is a “cracker aisle” where you will find saltines, butter crackers, etc., and an aisle with what I call “specialty crackers,” like crispbreads. So, if you do not find what you are looking for with the saltines, look in the bread aisle; the specialty crackers may be one of those things you walked past time and time again until you were actually looking for them, like I did.
  • Lower-glycemic breads may also be an option for some low-carbers. Ezekiel breads are sprouted grain breads, found in your grocery store freezer section. They are very heavy breads, not light and fluffy at all, because they are made of sprouted grains instead of the finely ground flour that low carbers avoid on a daily basis. Because these breads are made from sprouted grains, they are much lower on the glycemic index than regular white or whole wheat breads. As the company’s website explains:

We don’t use refined sugars. When sugar is refined and processed there are many harmful ingredients that are added to the sugar as a result. Instead, we use malted barley, a natural sweetener produced from sprouted barley, which is basically a carbohydrate comprised mostly of complex carbohydrates rather than the "sugar" carbohydrates.

Bottom line: Sprouted bread like Ezekiel, which contains no flour, does not severely spike one’s blood sugar when eaten like refined white or whole wheat breads. Registered licensed dietitian Eric Estrada gives a great explanation of this in the RGV Fit article, “Eat This Not That: Ezekiel Bread vs. Whole Wheat Bread.” So, although the net carbs are still high, Ezekiel does give the low-carb eater a good option for low-glycemic eating when you just have to have “real” bread.

Becoming a Breadmaker

Another option is making one’s own bread. I have personally tried a number of flaxseed bread recipes, and I have toyed around with them, trying to improve upon them as best I could. Most of them are pretty good, if one has an open mind about what “bread” is. If you are hoping for fluffy white bread, yes, you are going to be very disappointed. But, if you like a dense, artisan, whole-grain bread, flaxseed bread may be the thing for you.

I like to make this recipe in my bun-making pans; muffin-top pans would work well, also. This is not a yeast bread, so do not expect a spectacular rise; and, the texture is very grainy, much like a cornbread. But, for a sandwich at lunch, I have found them to be well-acceptable. They are also very good for breakfast, warmed, buttered and topped with a sugar-free syrup (in fact, I may prefer them in this way). You will need:

  • 1 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup golden flaxseed meal
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup oil


Mix dry ingredients. Beat eggs very well, making sure there is no longer any white obviously separated. Add the water and oil and beat together. Mix into dry ingredients. Let set for about 3 minutes, then pour batter into prepared bun/muffin top pan. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 20 minutes; the buns will be firm to the touch and slightly browned when done. Makes 6 hamburger-sized buns, each with less than 1g net carb (.825g), as well as 11g protein and 227 calories.

What are your favorite low-carb bread options? Share with us in the comment section below!

Want to read more about the glycemic index? Click here.

Image: From the Kitchen of Mechele R. Dillard