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Does Pumpernickel Bread Make You Fat?

By August McLaughlin

Over 190 million Americans are overweight, accounting for two-thirds of the United States population, according to a January 2010 CBS News report. If you are among them, learning which foods have beneficial or detrimental effects on your weight may inspire you to make wise choices. Pumpernickel bread, a dark, heavy subtly-sweet bread derived from Germany, can suit a weight loss-friendly diet if you approach it properly. For best weight management results, seek guidance from your doctor or dietitian.

Myths

Pumpernickel, like all breads, is a starchy food. A common misbelief, according to the Weight-control Information Network, is that starchy foods are fattening and you should avoid them during the weight loss process. Many starch-rich foods are low in fat and calories, however, and valuable sources of nutrients. They also provide energy for your body.

Benefits

Traditional pumpernickel bread is a whole grain bread made with coarse rye meal and rye flour. As fiber-rich foods, whole grains allow you to feel fuller on fewer calories and stay fuller longer between meals. Pumpernickel bread also has a low glycemic index, or impact on your blood sugar. Low-glycemic foods also promote appetite control and may guard against overeating, type 2 diabetes and obesity. One slice of pumpernickel bread contains about 80 calories -- the amount found in an apple -- 2.1 g of fiber and 3 g of protein.

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Risks

Overeating any food can trigger weight gain. And preparing breads and other starches with high-fat ingredients, such as butter, can add hefty amounts of unhealthy fat and calories, making it difficult to stay within your caloric needs. Because breads vary significantly in ingredients, one loaf of pumpernickel bread may contain primarily whole grains and rich amounts of nutrients, while a nearby brand is based on refined grains, such as wheat flour. Refined grain products tend to have a higher glycemic impact and less fiber.

Suggestions

Rather than severely restrict carbohydrates, starchy foods or calories, you should aim for gradual, steady weight loss through a balanced, nutritious diet. Healthy diets emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein sources, such as low-fat milk, fish and beans, and healthy fat sources, such as nuts and seeds. Limit refined grains and foods high in sodium, added sugars, cholesterol and unhealthy fat. If you enjoy pumpernickel bread, select varieties based on whole grains and stick to reasonable portion sizes, such as 1 to 2 slices as part of a balanced meal. Rather than top bread with cheese, mayonnaise or butter, use trace amounts of olive oil, a heart-healthy fat source, or low-calorie toppings, such as tomatoes, spinach, sprouts and mustard.

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