One question we often get asked during our sourdough bread baking class is 'Is sourdough bread good for weight loss?'.
Since we already know that swapping a home baked bread for shop bought is always a good idea, I wanted to find out more about the benefits of eating sourdough bread.
First of all I have say, that I'm not a nutritionist, just a keen baker, who likes to know what she eats. I don't do diets, but love the science behind the food. And the only diet (well it's not really a diet as such) that makes any sense to me is to understand the food GI (Glycemic Index).
This is because when I was growing up, sugar was practically in everything I ate and learning about how to minimise the sugar in my diet was a fairly tough process. (Obviously not the learning bit, but the 'doing' bit...)
Anyway, back to our question.
Is sourdough bread really good for weight loss?
Can just swapping one type of bread for another have any effect?
Most people try to cut down on bread when they start to look after their health or when they try to loose weight. And most people (including my nutricionist friends) would agree that mass produced shop bought white bread is probably the worse type of bread to eat. It's so processed and virtually has no nutricional value.
So, swapping white bread for any kind of other bread is definitelly a good move. And as it turns out swapping any bread for sourdough bread has even more benefits.
The art behind making sourdough bread
First of all you need to understand how proper sourdough is made. I say 'proper' because supermarket's sourdough often includes soudough culture, vinegar and other ingredients that make the bread taste like a sourdough, but the actual process is very different. This type of sourdough often also includes commercial produced yeast, which real soudough doesn't have.
So, the reason why sourdough bread is so good for our diets, is because it's made with natural yeast, over long period of time (anything from 24-48 hrs) and usually includes wholegrain flours such as rye.
The sourdough starter itself is usually cultivated first for more than a week. This slow fermentation process includes lots of healthy bacteria, which help to balance the digestive system and improve our metabolism.
A high-fiber diet reduces your body's production of insulin, and smoothes out blood sugar levels. Which helps you feel full longer, cuts back on cravings, and makes you less likely to overeat. The fermentation process makes sourdough act like it's got more fiber than any other bread. Volunteers in a recent study who ate sourdough for breakfast had the lowest and most stable blood-sugar levels all day.
The study found that either the sourdough leavening or even taking organic acids and adding them to the bread dough itself could have some positive benefits in terms of metabolic response.
Sourdough bread is traditionally raised with a mixture of flour and water in which wild yeasts have been encouraged to grow by keeping it warm and allowing it to ferment over a period of days. This could be anything from 24 hrs to 48 or more. During this time, it bread starts to turn sour and develops a characteristic tangy flavour.
The amazing sourdough starter aka natural yeast
Sourdough bread is made with sourdough starter, which is bubbling full of natural yeast. It works in the same way as a commercial yeast, but it takes a lot longer. Once the natural yeast helped the bread to rise and the bread is baked, the yeast naturally disapears and it's finally killed off in the oven because of the high temperature.
Once baked real sourdough doesn't contain much (if any!) yeast, which is again really good for our digestive system. Commercially produced bread takes 45 minutes from the sack of flour to the final wrapped loaf, whereas sourdough bread can take up to 48 hrs or more.
Commercial bread is also made with extra strong yeast and usually double the quantity that you would normally put in your homebaked bread. This means that the yeast is still present when you eat commercially produced bread. This is how a lot of people become experiencing sensitivity towards yeast and even developed yeast allergies. Needless to say, you won't have this problem with sourdough bread.
Which sourdough bread is best for weight loss?
Like with other types of breads, the more whole wheat bread you choose the better the nutritional value, the longer it will fill you up and the lower the GI.
So, as much as I love white flour sourdough bread, rye sourdough would be much better choice. Rye flour has low GI, which means that it won't cause a spike in your blood sugar levels and fills you up for a lot longer than a white flour sourdough.
The best way to eat your sourdough bread
The other amazing reason why sourdough is so good for weight loss is because you need to chew it properly. And I'm sure that you already know that to make sure our food is digested properly and that our body gets the maximum out of the food we eat, we need to chew it properly first. With basic white bread is really easy just to swallow a whole chunk without properly chewing it first, but with a beautifully baked rye sourdough bread is pretty much impossible.
Not only that you can't physically 'just swallow' a whole mouthfull in one go, but also the wondeful taste of sourdough will send a signal to your taste buds, which in turn will want to keep that delicious piece of food in your mouth for bit longer!
It goes without saying, that if you make all the efford to buy or make sourdough bread, that you shouldn't top it up with tons of unhealthy toppings or spreads.
The toppings don’t have to be expensive or extravagant – keep it simple with toppings like humus, tomato, cucumber, avocado, cheese, cottage cheese, peanut butter, lean meats and green leaves. Or a simple homemade butter with a soup can be the perfect meal.
So, what do you think now? Is sourdough bread good for weight loss? I think it is and it's certainly one the best breads to taste. So what's not to like?
If you wou'd like to learn how to bake your own sourdough bread you are welcome to join us for our Sourdough Bread Course or you can find step by step instructions in my Bread Book.
Look forward to seeing your bakes and reading your comments
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