Toasting Bread Reduces Calories: Fact or Wishful Thinking?

For thousands of years, bread has been a universal delicacy consumed in all parts of the world. It’s popular and loved by almost everyone, with several culinary applications that are too numerous to count. However, many people are worried about the calorie content of bread, causing them to seek ways to reduce calories in bread, such as toasting it. 

Toasting bread doesn’t reduce calories. Instead, it alters the glucose levels in bread and significantly lowers the glycemic index. Toasting bread can also help to reduce the fat content of bread slightly. But when you put toppings on it, you lose these slight reductions.

Although toasting bread doesn’t reduce the calories found in bread, it reduces the glycemic index of bread, which is an added benefit. Read on to discover: 

  • The benefits of a low glycemic index.
  • The benefits and dangers of toast bread.
  • How you can toast bread in healthier ways.

Toasting Bread Reduces Glycemic Index

Several studies continue to prove that toasting bread significantly reduces the glycemic index of the bread. The carbohydrates in toasted bread break down more slowly, resulting in a slow release of glucose into the bloodstream and, as a result, are less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar. 

Although this process may not mean anything to people that eat bread once in a while, it’ll make a significant difference to you if you eat bread every day. It’s also the reason why weight watchers are often advised to choose toasted bread over raw bread. 

What Is a Glycemic Index?

Put simply, glycemic index (GI) is a scale used to measure the sugar in the carbohydrates we consume.  The glycemic index shows how the body digests carbohydrates and how quickly the food consumed will cause your blood sugar to rise.

A low glycemic index is very beneficial to the body’s health in the following ways:

  • It’s excellent for people with diabetes and has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
  • It lowers cholesterol levels in the body, especially LDL(low-density lipoprotein), which increases the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
  • It reduces the occurrence of coronary diseases such as heart attacks.
  • It can lead to weight loss. This weight loss happens because carbs break down slowly, thereby increasing satiety, leading to reduced food intake.

Benefits of Toasted Bread

Despite the popularity of toasting bread, many people do not realize the benefits that it holds. Maybe some do, but a vast majority don’t! 

Perhaps, you are also wondering whether there’s any need to toast bread since it doesn’t reduce calories. The most significant benefit of toasting bread is that the process changes the nutritional value of the bread. 

Beyond changing nutritional values of bread, it has several other benefits, including:

  • Toasted bread helps with tackling diarrhea because it adds bulk to stool.
  • It’s good for diabetes. It causes carbohydrates to break down more slowly, leading to slow absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.
  • It’s a good source of energy. Toasting bread gives it a high amount of starch with the benefit of a reduced glycemic index.
  • It reduces nausea and vomiting. Toasted bread acts as an antacid and can be taken with milk to help with nausea and vomiting.
  • Toasted bread reduces glycemic index. This process, in turn, leads to a myriad of health benefits that come from a low glycemic index.
  • Toasted bread has more flavor.
  • Toasted bread makes stale bread more palatable.

What Happens When Bread Is Toasted?

The whole process of toasting bread may seem simple, but it does so many things to the bread’s nutritional value.

Here are two main things that happen when you toast bread:

  • Dehydration occurs when the moisture content of bread is reduced under heat, which dries out the bread.
  • It goes through a reaction called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction occurs when carbohydrates and amino acids react together, which causes the browning of the toast and a change in aroma and taste.

Why Does the Taste of Bread Change After Toasting?

The taste of bread changes after toasting because toasting causes carbohydrates and amino acids to react under heat. The process forms a caramelized outer layer of bread and changes the flavour through the Maillard reaction.

The Maillard reaction is responsible for the change in taste, aroma, and colour of foods when food is exposed to heat in cooking processes such as baking, roasting, and toasting. This reaction plays an essential role in determining the nutritional value of food. 

It can also reduce the nutritional value of food by forming toxic compounds or increase the nutritional value by developing antioxidative properties.

Dry heat is key to a perfect browning from the Maillard reaction, which is why boiling food doesn’t undergo browning.

Does Toasting Bread Reduce Gluten?

While toasting bread has a myriad of benefits, it’s not out of place for people with celiac diseases to wonder if toasting bread will reduce the gluten in bread and make it more tolerable. 

Also, since heat can render protein ineffective in some cases, it’s not far-fetched to wonder if heat could do the same for gluten.

This is especially important to know since even the most negligible ingestion of gluten can affect the immune system and damage the small intestines, leading to digestive problems for people with celiac diseases. The slightest exposure can also lead to the malabsorption of nutrients, calcium, folic acid, iron, and vitamins.

Toasting bread doesn’t reduce gluten content in bread, however.  

Gluten is a protein, not a germ, virus, bacteria, or fungus that can be killed by heat. Therefore, you cannot “kill” it. Of course, you can also argue that some protein can be denatured by heat. Denaturing protein means changing its three-dimensional shape. 

In some cases, this change can make the protein ineffective, but unfortunately, the case is different for gluten. Since gluten doesn’t work the same way, toasting alone would not render gluten innocuous. 

A recent study from the Children’s National Hospital showed zero loss of gluten levels when bread is toasted. 

The Disadvantage of Toasting Bread

Despite the numerous benefits of toasting bread, you must also realize that there are some disadvantages. The biggest drawback of toasting bread is the release of acrylamide. When high starch foods are exposed to high temperatures and extreme heat, they release acrylamide.

What Is Acrylamide?

Acrylamide is a carcinogen formed when carbohydrates are cooked at high temperatures during the cooking processes such as frying, baking, roasting, and toasting. 

When you toast bread, the sugars and an amino acid called asparagine will react to form acrylamide. Fortunately, acrylamide only becomes a problem when bread is burnt or over toasted, which simply means that browner toast contains higher levels of acrylamide.  

Should You Stop Eating Toasted Bread?

You shouldn’t stop eating toast bread. After all, there are several benefits that you’ll miss by avoiding it altogether. However, you must be careful about the quantities of toasted bread you eat. 

Here are some guidelines to follow when toasting bread:

  • Only toast your bread a light brown and avoid burnt or over toasted bread.
  • Incorporate a healthy eating lifestyle that ensures you eat many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Limit the intake of sodium, saturated fats, and added sugars.

How Much Nutritional Value Is Lost When Bread Is Toasted?

When you compare different types of loaves of bread, whether whole wheat, rye, or raisin, with the changes in their nutritional value when toasted or untoasted, you will find out that there are no significant changes in their nutritional values. 

Most nutrients such as carbohydrates, calories, fatty acids, protein, sodium remain the same whether the bread is toasted or untoasted. The amount of water in untoasted bread decreases after toasting, which could be attributed to the high temperatures used when toasting bread. 

One study published by PubMed showed that freezing and defrosting bread followed by toasting the bread resulted in a change in the glucose level. It also showed a reduction in the bread’s glycemic index.

How To Make a Healthier Toast? 

Toasted bread is a breakfast delicacy that is difficult to eliminate from your diet. Most toast is full of carbohydrates, sugars, sweeteners, and other additives that can negatively affect your calorie count. 

However, you don’t have to remove toast entirely from your diet. Instead, you can use healthier ingredients.

  • Go for whole-grain bread which is more nutritious with more vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Avoid overly processed bread, or you can make your bread from scratch to avoid overloading on processed bread.
  • Use other healthy alternative toppings instead of smothering toast in butter. Alternative toppings such as avocado, berries, pure nut butter, mashed or sliced bananas are more nutritious with health benefits such as vitamins and minerals.