Sports nutrition: the benefits of wholemeal bread in sport

  • Wholemeal bread provides carbohydrate throughout the day, making it ideal for sports, especially when combined with a diet that maximizes the nutritional intake.
  • Wholemeal bread is a food rich in fibres, as well as minerals and vitamins, making it perfect for training aimed at increasing muscle mass.
  • The cereal refining procedure removes up to 90% of the molecules from the original products, while the grain, when it remains whole, is rich in important nutrients.
Bread is traditionally one of the most consumed foods in the world. Easy to accompany with any dish that is not based on cereals, on each of the 3 main meals of the day.

However, what kind and how much bread can we eat?  A good news is that bread, especially wholemeal bread, and sport are great allies. This is true for any kind of sport, regardless of level and practice. Carbohydrates provide a reserve of energy for a long period and contribute to the proper functioning of the muscles.

Breaking b(r)ead
Bread is also easy to carry, even in your sports bag. Out of every kind of bread, it is advisable to eat wholemeal bread, which contains the greatest number of nutrients. In this editorial, we will talk about the role of wholemeal bread in sport, with some advice on how to choose a good wholemeal bread and how to associate it with a balanced diet in sport.

Carbohydrates before training

Eating well when practicing sports is essential to keep the quality of your workout high over time. Therefore, what you need is "combustible food", starting with wholemeal bread. A true ally of athletes, this raw bread can store a lot of energy for your body.

Intensive sports enthusiasts consume more calories, among other things. Before sports training, carbohydrates are what you need the most, because they provide the energy you need for your athletic performance.

Bread contains mainly carbohydrates, the slow sugars of starch.

Moreover, before and during training, it is better to avoid products rich in fats and proteins that, in general, weigh on the stomach because our body takes longer to assimilate them.

It is also recommended to eat wholemeal bread because it’s rich in nutrients. With that said, some runners prefer to eat a slice of white bread before exercise. For a person who trains at all levels, sessions must be accompanied by an adequate and balanced diet tailored to their goals.

Wholemeal Bread is the new jam!!
Hence, a very important issue for an athlete: the role of bread in muscle building and muscle definition.

For each workout goal its own kind of bread

If you are used to taking large amounts of proteins, don't forget that your body also needs a good carbohydrate intake. However, such intake should not be excessive; rather, it should be well balanced and regulated.

Should you eat wholemeal bread before muscle building training? Wholemeal bread is a food rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins. In addition, wholemeal bread also has a more moderate sugar content. The result is the perfect glycaemic index, which can provide the daily carbohydrate requirement for an athlete.

Amazing how a slice of bread can build your pecs
White bread is not necessarily suitable for muscle building exercises. Indeed, it can cause weight gain and fat accumulation in the waist and stomach. White bread is in fact the richest in starch and sugars, which can increase the level of insulin in the blood. This often occurs because white bread is usually of industrial origins, impoverished of vitamins and minerals.

Instead, people who eat high quality wholemeal bread throughout their muscle building training routine will have a daily intake of good quality carbohydrates. This allows a good resistance to the stresses caused during the training sessions.

In addition, wholemeal bread is also rich in hydrates, which help build muscle mass.

Wholemeal bread and its nutrients are often supplied in form of nutritional supplements. In other words, wholemeal bread is perfect for both muscle building and for muscle definition programs.

What to eat with wholemeal bread

Since you cannot live with mere wholemeal bread, what should you eat together with it? Here are some tips on how to eat wholemeal bread before sports:

  • Swap 50% of the refined cereals we usually eat with whole-grain cereals. This will allow us to reduce the absorption of fats and simple sugars, to keep blood sugar and cholesterol under control, to be less hungry and to reduce the risk of taking fat mass.
Eat your bread with fruits
  • Eat wholemeal bread at the beginning of the day. This habit will allow the athlete to ensure the regeneration of his glycogen reserve and to have much more energy. In other words, eating wholemeal bread in the morning promotes endurance and increases the feeling of satiety.
  • Eat whole grains at different times of the day and with simple spreads. If you choose richer and more elaborate preparations, such as meat sauces or cheese, you should consider them as a single dish.
The perfect healthy hipster meal: salmon, avocado and wholemeal bread
  • Adjust the consumption of wholemeal bread according to the objectives and the daily diet. For reference, for each intake, you can eat 100 grams of wholemeal bread combined with another food with a small fat and sugar intake. Don't forget the proteins in this case. For a muscle definition program, 50 g of wholemeal bread will be perfect, accompanied by a little sugar and fat, but also 40g of proteins.
  • Eat fruit, either sliced or squeezed (juices are also allowed, but without sugar) at breakfast. Fruit will increase the intake of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, provided by wholemeal bread. This type of diet is perfect for starting a day, but also before doing a workout.
Wholemeal bread at breakfast will keep you energized throughout the day
  • Eat wholemeal bread 30 minutes before each exercise for proper assimilation.
  • Eat more on the days you exercise. For example, one or two additional slices of bread, accompanied by a garnish, a handful of nuts, dates or other dried fruit and a portion of yoghurt with cereals and fruit. If, on the other hand, you have a constant and intensive aerobic activity, such as marathon, it is very important to have a constant and higher intake of carbohydrates.
Skillrun is the best treadmill to make those carbs turn into muscle
  • Do you want to recharge your energy quickly during a workout? For example, eat a slice of bread with a banana and/or honey or a slice of bread and raisins. They will provide you with quickly assimilated sugars and a good source for strength training.

For more details on nutritional guidelines to maximize the effects of training, we recommend reading this editorial, with a special focus on protein.

Why wholemeal bread is good for you and how to eat it

WHO’s nutritionists recommend the consumption of wholemeal bread, because it provides the carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibres that the body of an active person needs.

Within the Mediterranean diet’s framework, bread is part of the starch family, which is recommended for every meal. The amount of starch to be consumed depends very much on the individual energy needs and it is therefore difficult to provide general advice suitable for everyone.

Straight out of the oven
However, we know that not all foods from the same family are nutritionally equivalent. According to the food pyramid developed by Food in Action, with the scientific support of the dietary department of the Paul-Lambin Institute, selection criteria can be defined within each food family.

In this way, bread can be divided into three categories, according to its nutritional quality: "favoured" for a healthy diet, "tolerated", or to be consumed moderately, and to be consumed "occasionally".

A table representing the food pyramyd developed by Food in Action
Wholemeal bread is often mentioned for their high fibre content. However, they have many more qualities. The cereal refining procedure removes up to 90% of the molecules from the original product, while the grain, when it remains whole, is rich in important nutrients. The amount of micronutrients varies according to the type of cereal. However, all of them have a positive effect on health, which is why there has been a sudden resurgence of ancient grains, recently being used in our kitchens once again.

The EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Nutrition) study shows that constant consumption of wholemeal breads or cereals indicates lower cardio metabolic, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and, type 2 diabetes risks. It is therefore worth buying and adding to your diets whole grains, because of the higher intake of beneficial nutrients.

So many cereals to choose from!
Whether you are a sportsperson or not, eating wholemeal bread is an easy way to consume unrefined cereals. For a person training at any level, training sessions must be accompanied by an adequate and balanced diet. This means that it is important to have a diet that is suited to your training goals.

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