Bread: good or bad for protein?
Bread is a staple food in many diets, but is it a good source of protein? In this blog post, we explore the nutritional value of bread and its protein content. We'll also take a closer look at protein-enriched bread and answer some common questions about this popular food. For more information on healthy eating, visit bitewell.com.
Multigrain, sourdough, ciabatta, naan, the list goes on… There are many different types of bread and some of them with different nutritional profiles. As for protein, some bread may have a higher protein content when compared to others. But is even the highest-protein bread a good source of protein? Read on to find out.
Is bread a good source of protein?
A bigger question you may have is: what is bread made of?
Bread is generally made with three simple ingredients: flour, water, and yeast (a leavening agent). The composition of bread makes this type of food fall within the carbohydrate food group. For example, a slice of white bread accounts for 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fat, and 3 grams of protein.
According to FDA standards, the criteria for a food to be considered high protein is 10 grams of protein per serving. While white bread does contain a modest amount of protein, you can see how it’s not considered a significant protein source. Ultimately, your average slice of bread is not a “great” or “high” protein source.
Of course, bread comes in many variations and its protein content can change depending on the type of flour used or additional high-protein ingredients added. Whole wheat flour has more protein than white flour because nutrients are lost in processing. Whole wheat bread, for example, contains slightly more protein (4 grams vs. 3 grams) than white bread.
Alternatively, bread can be made high-protein by the addition of high-protein ingredients. For example, Mestemacher Protein Bread is specifically engineered with pea and wheat protein and contains 10 grams of protein per slice.
Bread is not usually a good source of protein but there may be options in the market that do have a higher protein content if that is what you are looking for.
What bread has the most protein?
White bread tends to have the lowest protein content because protein is lost during processing. If you’re looking for a higher-protein option, the following types of bread generally contain more protein than white bread.
Protein per slice of bread (~30 grams):
Mestemacher Protein Bread: 10 g
Sprouted grain bread: 5.3 g
Ezekiel bread: 5 g
Multigrain bread: 4 g
Whole grain bread: 4 g
Sourdough bread: 3.5 g
White bread: 3 g
Rye bread: 2.7 g
Why do different kinds of bread naturally contain different amounts of protein? The protein content of bread is usually related to variations in the following three components: the type of flour, the preparation method, and the addition of high-protein ingredients.
The Type of Flour
Bread made with whole grains tends to have more protein when compared to processed or white bread. Why? The grain in its whole form contains protein. When that grain is processed to make white flour, some of that protein is stripped away. Bread made from whole grains such as whole wheat, oats, barley, and quinoa, and more maintain more protein than bread made from processed grains, such as white bread.
The Preparation Method
Sprouted grain, Ezekiel, and sourdough bread are all higher in protein compared to white bread due to their unique preparation methods. To make sprouted grain and Ezekiel bread, the wheat grains are sprouted. The sprouting process activates, or increases, the bioavailability of the amino acids, or protein components, inside the grains. This means the protein in sprouted grain and Ezekiel bread is more available than your average bread.
Additionally, sourdough bread is higher in protein due to its unique preparation process. The dough is prepared by a process of folding and resting, which activates the gluten. Gluten is made up of proteins; therefore, the activation of gluten increases the availability of protein in sourdough bread.
Adding High-Protein Ingredients
The addition of high-protein ingredients to a regular bread recipe can greatly increase its protein content. This type of bread is considered protein-enriched bread. Ingredients such as soy protein, pea protein, whey protein, eggs, seeds, and whole grains, will add to the overall protein content of bread.
Which type of bread has the higher amount of protein?
When comparing all bread types, Mestemacher Protein Bread has the highest protein content due to the addition of pea and wheat protein, two high-protein ingredients. Aside from protein-enriched bread, Ezekiel and sprouted grain bread have the highest protein content with around 5 grams of protein per slice.
Is protein bread high in calories?
Protein bread can vary in calories depending on the brand and ingredients used. Some bread may be made with extra ingredients to increase overall protein content, which can increase calories, as well. The good news is that despite the variability in calorie content among protein bread, you can always use the nutrition label to compare nutrition content.
Sprouted, Ezekiel, sourdough, multigrain, and whole wheat bread all range between 100-120 calories per slice. There is not much difference in calorie intake among these types of bread.
On the other hand, bread prepared with protein blends, seeds, nuts, or other added ingredients can vary greatly in calories. For example, Mestemacher Protein Bread has 140 calories, whereas Chompies High-Pro/Low-Carb Keto bread has only 70 calories per slice.
The bottom line - some protein bread may be higher in calories and some may be lower in calories. This is why nutrition labels come in handy when comparing the calorie content of protein bread.
What protein is used in bread?
Protein-rich ingredients are commonly added to protein bread to increase its protein content, without increasing the carbohydrate or fat content. As you may recall from earlier in this article, bread with added protein is called “protein-enriched” bread. Protein-enriched bread has more protein due to the addition of ingredients, rather than because of its preparation method.
The following protein-rich ingredients are commonly added to bread to increase it's protein content:
This type of protein is sourced from the liquid part of milk that separates during cheese production. One serving of this protein contains about 20-28 grams of protein.
This type of protein is sourced from the isolation of soybeans. One serving of this protein contains about 15-25 grams of protein.
This plant-based protein is sourced from yellow peas. One serving of this protein contains about 15-20 grams of protein.
This plant-based protein is sourced from hemp plants, which fall within the same species of the cannabis plant. One serving of this protein contains about 10-15 grams of protein.
Brown rice protein
This type of protein, as the name suggests, is sourced from brown rice. One serving of this protein contains about 15-20 grams of protein.
You may be surprised to learn that this flour, or powder, really is sourced from crickets. One serving of this protein flour (~ 2 Tablespoons) contains about 6 - 10 grams of protein.
Pumpkin seed protein
This seed-based protein is sourced from cold-pressing pumpkin seeds. One serving of this protein contains about 10-15 grams of protein.
Can you get enough protein from bread?
Meeting daily protein needs is vital for the well-functioning of your body. Protein is made up of chemical building blocks called “amino acids,” which are the primary building blocks of muscle, bones, tissue, cartilage, and skin. Learn more about the basics of protein here.
Is it possible to get enough protein from bread?
As mentioned before, bread is primarily a carbohydrate source. Even though protein bread may be a target for those looking to increase their protein intake, bread should not be used solely for protein purposes.
Truthfully, consuming your daily protein needs from bread alone is not impossible. But realistically, it is very challenging, and extremely unlikely, that someone can meet their daily protein needs just by consuming bread.
For example, for someone that needs to consume an estimated 50 grams of protein daily to meet their needs (on the low end), they would have to consume at least 17 slices of white bread or 10 slices of Ezekial bread. Most people need closer to 100 grams of protein daily. Moreover, this estimate doesn’t take into account all of the other macronutrients and micronutrients required for healthy living. A diet that focuses largely on consuming bread could lead to many avoidable deficiencies. While meeting protein requirements through bread intake is not impossible, it would not be the healthiest route, either.
Overall, the key to healthy living is to follow a varied and balanced diet. Consuming protein-rich foods from a variety of protein sources such as animal protein, legumes, grains, and dairy is the best way to ensure that daily nutrition needs are being met. Bread can healthfully contribute to your overall protein needs as one component of a varied and balanced diet.