One of the only drawbacks to the Keto diet is that you have to give up bread. The good news is, you can follow a Keto meal plan without having to sacrifice the taste and texture of bread. There are various bread alternatives that you can make and buy that allow you to enjoy sandwiches, pizza, wraps and other meals that you might miss out on with Keto. Read on to learn why bread isn’t allowed on Keto and what you can substitute it with in order to still enjoy all of your favorite foods.
An overview of Keto
Keto is short for Ketogenic. A Ketogenic diet is one that is very low in net carbs. Instead of eliminating specific food groups or items, Keto focuses on the ration of macronutrients you eat. Macronutrients are fat, protein and carbohydrates. On the Keto diet, your aim is to have 70-75% of your calories coming from fats, less than 5% coming from carbohydrates and roughly 25% coming from protein. The reasoning behind the macronutrient ration lies in how your body creates energy and fuel.
The typical modern-day diet is high in carbohydrates. Bread, pasta, starchy vegetables and grains are a part of every meal and this carbohydrate-rich diet fuels your body with a substance known as glucose. Glucose is your body’s preferred energy source. Your body can quickly use the carbs you ate to create glucose, and after the glucose is used up your body sends you hunger signals that ask you for more.
This leads to spikes in energy shortly after eating a high-carb meal, followed by lows when the carbs are all used up. The highs and lows in your energy levels make it difficult to have the mental clarity you need to work or the physical endurance you need to work out. The hunger signals that your body sends you can make it difficult to lose weight (since you’re always hungry).
Your body is designed as a survival machine. It doesn’t actually use up all of the glucose right away, it sets some aside and stores it as fat for a rainy day. Then it sends you hunger signals asking for more fuel, even though there was excess glucose that it didn’t use. You can think of your body like a greedy child that hoards away candy and keeps on asking for more. There’s a good reason for this type of behaviour since there was a time in our history where food wasn’t readily available and it made sense to store energy away for times of famine. In our modern society, this concept doesn’t work and all we end up doing is gaining weight from the stored fat.
Keto works to change this by tricking your body into releasing the stored fat and using it as energy. In order to do this, you need to reduce your carbohydrate levels to 20-25g of net carbs daily. At this level, your body cannot get the required energy from glucose so it begins to make ketones in your liver out of your stored fat cells. When this happens you’re in a state known as ketosis.
As your body burns ketones it begins to eat away at that stored fat. You don’t get the highs and lows associated with carbohydrates and your body sends you hunger signals less frequently because there is a large supply of fat to work through. This helps improve your mental clarity, physical endurance and energy, weight loss results and it may help stabilize your blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of heart disease.
Why can’t I eat regular bread on Keto?
Some of the highest carbohydrate foods are bread products. They’re naturally high in sugars that turn into glucose when they hit our systems. In order to stay in a state of ketosis, you have to limit the number of net carbs that you consume. If you eat too many, your body will have enough to power all of your internal systems using glucose, it will stop producing ketones and you’ll go back to sugar highs and lows while storing fat.
The following list has the average net carb count for different types of bread products in order to give you a better idea of why they’re not allowed on Keto:
- White bread: 13g of net carbs per slice
- Whole wheat bread: 15g of net carbs per slice
- 10″ flour tortilla: 34g of net carbs
- Bagel: 28g of net carbs
- Hamburger bun: 21g of net carbs
- Hot dog bun: 27g of net carbs
In order to track your carb intake properly on Keto, you have to know the difference between net carbs and carbs. Net carbs are the carbohydrates that your body can digest and turn into glucose. They’re the carbs that will either fuel your body with glucose which means they’re also the carbs that can kick your body out of ketosis if their levels are too high.
In order to calculate the net carbs of food you look at the nutrition label and find the total carbohydrates. From this number, you subtract the fibre and sugar alcohols that are listed below. For example, if your food had 12g of total carbs, 1g of fibre and 1g of sugar alcohols then your net carbs would be 10g.
Is there Keto friendly bread?
Yes! Just because you’re following a Keto meal plan doesn’t mean that you have to give up bread entirely. There are many Keto-friendly bread options available from retailers such as Aldi’s, Walmart and Amazon. Keto is becoming more popular and this means that more stores are catering to their Keto customers and offering Keto friendly bread options. It shouldn’t be too hard for you to locate Keto bread.
You can look for companies such as Unbun, SmartBun, Sola, Julian Bakery, Nuco, ThinSlim, Mama Lupe’s, Joseph’s Lavash and Mission Carb. One thing to keep in mind with bread that is advertised as Keto friendly is that not all bread is made the same. Some may claim to be Keto friendly but they actually contain a high amount of net carbs which would throw your body out of ketosis. Be sure to actually look at the nutrition information to make sure that the low-carb bread you’re buying isn’t just lower in carbs than usual and that it’s actually low enough to be considered Keto friendly.
Another thing to watch out for when buying Keto bread is the ingredients in the bread. Avoid anything that’s full of sugar or preservatives. If you don’t recognize most of the ingredients on the list then it’s better to leave it on the shelf.
Common Keto friendly bread alternatives
If you don’t want to risk the preservatives and chemicals that might be found in store-bought bread, there are a few alternatives that you could try. One of the most popular bread alternatives is a protein-rich bread known as cloud bread. Cloud bread doesn’t have any of the ingredients you’d normally associate with bread as it’s made from a mixture of eggs, cream cheese and sea salt. When you separate the eggs and whip up the egg whites it creates a fluffy, cloud-like substance that gives the bread its name. There are many recipes for cloud bread online and it’s simple to make.
Eggplant is another common bread alternative. When you slice eggplant into slices about 1″ thick you can bake it or grill it to create a base for burgers or toppings. You can also slice it into longer sections if you’re looking to create a sandwich. Mushrooms can be used in a similar way as eggplant. Slicing the mushroom and baking or barbecuing it creates a “bun” that you can use to make sandwiches, pizzas or hamburgers.
Cabbage and lettuce leaves can both be substituted for wraps if you’re looking to replace a tortilla shell. You can load them with meat, cheese and veggies to create a keto-friendly sandwich. Cauliflower is useful in replacing pizza crusts. When you shred cauliflower and mix it with some almond flour, salt and seasonings you get the base to a perfect pizza.
Can I make my own Keto friendly bread?
Yes! Keto-friendly bread is easy to make at home and if you do any Keto baking you probably already have most of the ingredients. Some of the key ingredients that you should have at home are coconut or almond flour, coconut or extra virgin olive oil, eggs, butter, baking powder, xanthan gum or psyllium husk and possibly some milk and Himalayan salt. Different recipes use different ingredients, but these are the most commonly used in Keto bread.
The internet is chock full of Keto bread recipes, you should have no trouble finding one. In an hour or less you could be enjoying a warm, delicious loaf of bread. The advantage of making your own bread is that you know it’s completely Keto friendly and there aren’t any nasty preservatives or chemicals hidden in the bread so you can feel totally at ease eating it.
It is definitely possible to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to Keto and bread. You just have to choose a Keto-friendly bread with low net carbs or make your own substitute using an easy Keto bread recipe. Whether you’re looking to replicate the taste, texture or function of bread there are plenty of Keto-friendly options for you to choose from!