Weight loss is within reach.

Five years ago, a nurse practitioner told me that she considered me obese at 5’10” in height and 224 lbs of weight. I was shocked and immediately started to go on a Keto diet, cutting out almost all sugars − those from comfort foods like white bread, pastries, ice cream, and flavored drinks and yogurts.

A year and a half later, I had lost 35 lbs and felt much better. I had no problems keeping my weight at 200 lbs ever since, simply being mindful of low-sugar caloric intake. Brown rice and cauliflower pizza from Costco became my nutritional treats.

In June of 2023, I got hooked on baking whole wheat sourdough loaves simply because of their mouthfeel, aroma, taste, and all. I was a bit afraid that carbs from bread would get my weight back up, but they have not. There are far fewer empty carbs in whole-wheat sourdough bread. I eat whole wheat sourdough bread instead of potatoes, brown rice, or pasta. And I am down to 193 lbs this late in October 2023, without giving up my daily IPA (beer).

Whole Grains Are Healthier

grain's anatomy
Whole grains matter.

“Whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel,” says the Whole Grains Council“Refining normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, and the grain is otherwise greatly reduced in at least seventeen key nutrients. Processors add back some vitamins and minerals to enrich refined grains, so refined products still contribute valuable nutrients. But whole grains are healthier, providing more protein, more fiber, and many important vitamins and minerals.”

By whole wheat sourdough bread, I mean whole wheat bread that is bulk fermented with a natural sourdough starter, that is, with levain that was five days in the making. Much of what is sold in markets as sourdough bread is made mechanized and does not have the same bubbles and chewy consistency as good sourdough. There aren’t any laws as to what can be called sourdough bread, and ingredient lists on the bread package can be very misleading as they often do not give percentages. If it does not say ‘whole wheat’ at the start of the ingredients list and ‘sourdough starter’ instead of only ‘yeast’ at least at the end, it may be perfectly fine bread, but it is not the ‘real thing’ to me.

Refined Flour

Refined foods are often stripped of almost all bran and germ, including all fiber, vitamins, and minerals, turning them into more or less “empty” calories. Empty carbs refer to any highly processed carbohydrate that contains less fiber. They are often referred to as “bad carbs” and can sabotage any healthy diet, contribute to weight gain, and increase the risk for serious health problems.

Sliced white bread made with high-fructose corn syrup.

To its credit, white bread doesn’t necessarily have added sugars like so many ‘junk foods,’ but it doesn’t bring much to the table, either. A more natural source of ‘good’ carbohydrates should be preferable: fermented whole wheat!

I stay away from the empty carbs of bleached white flour. Bleached white flour is made from heavily refined and processed wheat grains, while whole wheat flour is made from grains that have not undergone heavy processing. Some reasonable recipes might call for a bit of white flour, strong flour, or bread flour. I bake with a lower percentage of bread flour − a lesser evil, so to speak.

As a native German, I was not raised on sliced white bread but on rustic ‘Mischbrot,’ a bread from a wheat and rye dough mix. Similar to wheat flour, different rye flours are determined by how much of the rye kernel — i.e., the endosperm, bran, and germ — is present. The more rye kernel there is, the darker the flour. This also means a more intense rye flavor and often a denser texture in your final baked goods. I may use a little rye in my whole wheat sourdough bakes.

I understand that commercial or industrial bakers need to cut a few corners to be profitable. They may add enzymes and sugars, use white AP flour, and unfiltered tap water. They may spike the dough with yeast and vinegar and skip cold-fermenting the dough overnight. They may include preservatives and freeze the bread to account for days of delivery to the store. I want none of that.

Fewer Empty Carbs

These whole wheat sourdough batards are consumed fast.

Premium whole wheat sourdough bread is very satisfying! Fermented food matters. Now, whole wheat sourdough bread has a bit less of the famous tang of the San Francisco sourdough baguettes as they are made with processed white flour. Yet, whole wheat sourdough bread gives me more: the famous tang, nutritious whole wheat, and fewer empty carbs.

In any case, sourdough’s fermentation process may enhance its digestibility and nutrient availability. Sourdough won’t raise my blood sugar levels as fast as other white breads. However, sourdough should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and should not be considered a magical cure-all.

My family and I eat whole wheat sourdough bread guilt-free for its flavors and aromas.

The Fermentation Miracle

Fermentation is a process in which sugars are transformed into a new product through chemical reactions carried out by wild microorganisms. Since the Neolithic age, humans have used natural fermentation to develop and preserve foods, medicines, and fuels. Baking bread is one of humanity’s oldest civilized rituals.

Kimchi fermenting lava stone walls, Korea

Fermentation is used for preservation in a process that produces lactic acid found in such sour foods as pickled cucumbers, kombucha, kimchi, and yogurt, as well as for producing alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer.

It is said that sourdough bread can improve digestion, boost immunity, promote a healthy weight, and more. For all of its goodness, please note that sourdough bread does not contain probiotic cultures. Being baked at 475𝆩F, all microbes in the dough are made to sacrifice their lives and die.

Here is what Consumer’s Report has to say about sourdough bread.


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