MF nutrition EXPERT Can I eat bread and still have a six-pack?
If you’re smart there’s room in your stomach for bread and washboard abs
Nate Miyaki is an author, coach and nutrition expert who works with professional athletes and models, as well as people simply looking to lose weight and improve their health. Here he explains why you don’t necessarily have to bin bread forever to get a six-pack.
Obvious things first – it’s not as simple as opting for brown over white bread. Being able to eat bread and avoid getting a doughy midsection depends on your metabolic condition, the type and amount of training you do and whether you’re hitting your ideal calorie and macronutrient targets.
Dos and doughn’ts
Are you overweight or living a sedentary life? If so, bad news. Such people tend to have poor insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control and nutrient partitioning abilities. That’s a scientific way of saying carbs have a harder time getting into the muscle cells and are likely to be stored as fat. If this is you, a lower-carb diet is better for improving body composition and health, so the traditional daily breaking of bread is less advisable.
Training frequently at high intensity changes everything. If you strength train, crosstrain or compete in intermittent sprint sports, you need carbs. They’re the best way to fuel training sessions and recover from them. But if you also want to walk around with a six-pack, you need to consider total calories and food quality too.
To lose fat and get lean, you need to be in a calorie deficit (see box below). And if you train hard and maintain a consistent calorie deficit, you can include bread and other starchy carbs in your diet.
Emphasising good food choices – whole, natural foods instead of highly processed foods – improves the health benefits of your diet, improves nutrient density and reduces hunger, which makes staying in a calorie deficit easier. With that in mind, foods that are less refined such as potatoes, yams and rice are better primary sources of starchy carbs than bread.
Roll with it
So if you do decide to have bread on occasion, which is best? It depends. Assuming you’re in calorie deficit, training hard and eating it alongside protein, the glycaemic load matters less than it would for sedentary people. So your choice of dough doesn’t need to be significantly influenced by that.
The main consideration is tolerance. Some grains can affect digestion and mineral absorption. Find out what you can and can’t tolerate by trial and error. Perhaps due to the fermentation process, sourdough seems to be the least problematic. That doesn’t mean you can gorge daily on sourdough-base pizzas, but as a cheat meal, you could do a lot worse. The Truth About Carbs by Nate Miyaki is available now