Which low-carb bread tastes the best? And which impacts blood sugar the least?
Steven Kaye decided to figure out which worked for him by rigorously tasting and testing. Steven has LADA, a form of slow-progressing diabetes sometimes called “type 1.5,” because it shares some features of both type 1 and type 2. It gives him a perfect opportunity to assess the true blood sugar impact of foods – the data shows up right on his CGM.
A disclaimer: your own body may react differently to these specific ingredients products.
Steven is an unusually dedicated self-experimenter. He writes about his work at QuantifiedDiabetes.com, and he agreed to share some of his findings with Diabetes Daily:
I love bread. Unfortunately, bread is loaded with carbohydrates, making it challenging for people with diabetes. And while there’s been an explosion of low-carb bread on the market, in my experience, these products can be very hit or miss. Too many have disappointing flavor or texture, or send my blood sugar skyrocketing.
I wanted to see if any low-carb breads could live up to their hype, so I decided to test them myself. I scoured my local Safeway, Whole Foods, and Costco, buying all the different sorts of low-carb bread I could find. I also asked for recommendations in several keto forums on Reddit, and ordered the top options that were only available online.
Most of them weren’t very good: they either tasted almost nothing like regular bread, had a huge blood sugar impact, or both. But a few were great and have become staples in my kitchen.
The Very Best Low-Carb Breads
The best white bread: Carbo0naut Low Carb White Bread
Very similar to store-bought white bread. Light and fluffy, with a slightly sour yeast flavor that I really liked. A small amount of either psyllium husk or flax meal pieces mixed throughout gave a nice texture contrast.
When toasted, became crispy on the outside, while staying soft on the inside.
Low blood glucose rise, only 27% of white bread per slice
The best wheat bread: Kiss my Keto Golden Wheat
Very similar to store-bought wheat bread. Soft, but slightly denser than white bread, with a mild wheat taste.
When toasted, became crispy and nicely browned, with a much stronger (and better) wheat taste.
Low blood glucose rise, only 20% of white bread per slice
Lowest blood glucose impact, while still tasting like bread: UnBun UnBread
The UnBun products are made with almond flour, egg, and flaxseed. This gives them a slightly spongy texture and a strong flax seed & egg taste. Very different from regular bread, but still pretty good.
When toasted, it firms up and becomes more similar in texture to wheat bread.
Lowest blood glucose rise of all the breads I tested, only 9% of white bread per slice
I ended up with 14 low-carb breads. The breads can be separated into four broad categories, based on type of ingredients they use as alternatives to high-carb flours: resistant starch, protein & low-carb flour, protein & fiber, and egg & nut. I also tried a regular white bread for comparison.
I tested each, without taking any rapid insulin, while monitoring my blood sugar with my Dexcom G6 CGM. The blue line on each graph is my control, a slice of conventional white bread:
If you want all the data on these products, my glucose response, and my tasting notes, they’re available on my website.
I learned a few things about the different families of alternative bread.
Resistant Starch. The majority of the low-carb bread I tasted used some type of resistant starch as its main ingredient (wheat, tapioca, or potato). I’ve previously observed that resistant wheat starch has a large impact on my blood sugar, both alone and in tortillas. So, I suspected these resistant starch breads would have a high impact as well.
Surprisingly, two of the breads, Carb0naut White and LC Foods Cinnamon, had much lower blood glucose impact, about a quarter that of regular white bread. I was startled by how much lower this was than every other resistant starch-containing food I’ve tested. To be sure that this wasn’t an error, I repeated both measurements. In both cases I got the same results, which confirmed that these two breads had unusually low impact on my blood glucose.
With the exception of the LC Foods cinnamon, the taste and texture of the resistant starch breads were very similar to white bread: light, fluffy, and with a very mild flavor. Happily, the Carb0naut White, which had the best BG impact, also had the best taste, with a mild sour/yeast flavor that I really liked and some crunchy pieces for a nice textural contrast. The LC Foods cinnamon was really dense and tough, with a strong stevia aftertaste that I really disliked.
All of these breads, except the LC Foods, became crispy when toasted while remaining soft inside.
Protein & Flour and Protein & fiber. The second-largest category of bread used a combination of protein (gluten & various isolates) and some combination of lower carb flours (soy, linseed, rye) or oat fiber as their main ingredients. With the exception of the Kiss my Keto brand, these had very similar BG impact, slightly better than the resistant starch breads, but not great.
Taste, texture, and effect of toasting varied widely for these breads. The most interesting was the Kiss my Keto bread, which tasted extremely similar to regular wheat bread. It also was the most improved by toasting, developing a much stronger wheat taste that I really liked. Kiss my Keto has several other flavors, including a cinnamon raisin with a slightly higher carb count. The cinnamon raisin is fantastic; dense, chewy and slightly sweet. Would be perfect for French toast. I’m definitely going to get it once in a while as a “treat.”
Egg & Nut. This category used a combination of egg and either nut butter or nut flour as the main ingredients. These had the lowest BG impact, but that comes at the expense of flavor and texture. All of the breads I tried in this category had a noticeable egg taste and a texture very different from regular bread.
The Base Culture was very dry, while the Julian Bakery breads were moist and didn’t taste like bread at all. The UnBun, on the other hand, was soft with a nice flax seed flavor — pretty different from regular bread, but it was okay. I also tried the UnBun buns, crusts, and tortillas, and I liked those much better (especially the buns). I won’t be getting the bread again but will probably include the buns as an occasional part of dinners.
It’s worth noting that almost every bread in the experiment spiked my blood sugar more than the net carb count might have predicted. Most of these products had huge amounts of fiber, in different ratios of insoluble to soluble. Many people with diabetes find that fiber affects their blood sugar less than pure carbohydrates but more than protein or fat.
I also learned that blood sugar impact is not easy to predict from the primary ingredients or nutrition labels. Breads with regular wheat flour can have the same impact as those with indigestible fibers, and two breads with the same total and/or net carb count can have wildly different impacts. The only way for me to know the impact of a food is to do a controlled test.
By the way, I’m always looking for collaborators for future experiments. If you’re interested in collaborating on scientifically rigorous self-experiments with low-carb foods, supplements, or other health interventions, please visit my website, QuantifiedDiabetes.com, or the Quantified Diabetes subreddit and get in touch!