How to Buy Bread – Calories, Serving Size, and Nutrients [miniseries part 5]

We’re on a roll here, trying to help you buy better bread. In previous posts we provided general guidelines, discussed whole grains, and explained a bit about bread ingredients.

Now we’ll talk about bread serving size.

What you need to know:

According to the FDA, the reference size for a serving of bread is 50 grams. That’s just a bit shy of 2 ounces. In some breads, that could be one slice. In others, 2 slices.

The calories per serving also vary from as low as 50 calories per serving to 200 calories and more per serving. And here is where it starts getting confusing, because people eat slices, not servings. If the serving size is 1 slice, and it has 75 calories, you may be ecstatic. But if you are eating 2 slices (sandwich?) you’ll be getting 150 calories. And you’ll need to multiply all the values for nutrients by 2. More fiber – hooray! More sugar or fat – boo.

A good fiber count is 2 or more grams per slice of bread, when the bread is from 100% whole grain. Sometimes white breads have fiber added with ingredients such as bran and inulin. Better than nothing, but preferably your fiber should be coming from the whole grain.

Some breads have added fats, whether butter or oils. This shoots up the calories per serving / per slice. Better to add your own fat if you choose to do so than have it automatically present in your store brought bread.

Bread should not have any , or a very low amount of sweeteners. That means less than 2 grams per serving.

Sodium should be less than 150mg per serving.

What to do at the supermarket:

It’s not enough to look at the calories and nutrients. The serving size lets you know if what you actually consume is a single serving, half a serving, or two servings. Calculate the calories and nutrients based on what you actually eat. And to know what you are eating, there’s no escape from the ingredient list.