Best Bread for Athletes: Should Athletes Eat Bread?

Best Bread for Athletes: Should Athletes Eat Bread?

Posted on: Bread, Healthy Eating

By Rikki Hoffman, RDN, CDN

Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen subscription box for sourdough breads, fresh pastas, and artisanal pastries.

Bread is an easy food to have around for a quick meal or snack. Some breads contain essential nutrients such as protein and fiber which lead to sustained strength and energy, while other breads only create short bursts of energy. In this article, we explore if bread is a helpful choice for athletes and which breads are best for physical exertion.

Should athletes eat bread?

Athletes can eat bread as part of a healthy diet. Athletes often need a higher-calorie diet compared to the average non-athlete, and bread can be a valuable source of those calories. The carbohydrates in bread can also provide athletes with the necessary energy to perform.

Is whole wheat bread good for athletes?

Whole wheat bread is the best bread for athletes. Aside from providing the necessary carbohydrates and calories, whole wheat bread provides fiber and other nutrients which can help fuel an athlete’s performance. The fiber in whole wheat bread also helps keep people, including athletes, fuller for longer, compared to white bread. Whole wheat bread also tends to have more protein compared with white bread, which helps build and repair muscles and can aid an athlete’s performance.

Is white bread good for athletes? Why do athletes eat white bread?

Everyone, including athletes, should limit their intake of white bread. White bread should be limited for the general population, and this applies to athletes as well. White bread is made with refined flour, which means it does not contain the same nutrients as whole grain bread. Athletes in particular should limit their white bread intake and instead choose whole grain bread, which will fuel their performance for longer. Eating white bread can give athletes fast energy for short spurts of time, but it will fizzle out quickly.

One exception is if an athlete needs to fuel up immediately before or during a workout. In that case, white bread may be the better option over whole grain bread because it provides fast fuel and may be easier to digest.

What type of bread is best pre-workout?

It’s best to eat between one to four hours prior to a workout (depending on the person), and in that timeframe, whole grain bread is the best option. Whole grains contain fiber and protein, which causes it to take longer to digest than white bread. Taking longer to digest means the energy will last throughout the workout.

If eating less than an hour before a workout, white bread may be the better choice because it will digest quickly. Eating white bread will provide energy at the start of a workout, but the energy won’t last for longer workouts.

What type of bread is best after a workout?

The best bread after a workout is a high protein bread. Protein helps with muscle repair post-workout and carbohydrates help replenish the energy used. Whole grain breads are often higher in protein and may contain seeds or nuts for additional protein.

Which bread is best for muscle building?

Athletes working toward muscle building need large amounts of protein and carbohydrates. Because of this, a high protein bread would be the best option for muscle builders. 100% whole grain breads tend to be highest in protein, and would therefore be best for muscle builders. Bonus points for breads that contain seeds or nuts, or eating bread with a high protein food, like chicken breast or lean beef.

What type of bread is best for athletes?

Much like the general population, the best bread for athletes is 100% whole grain bread. Athletes need large amounts of protein and carbohydrates, both of which can be found in 100% whole grain bread. 100% whole grain bread also provides fiber and other vitamins and minerals athletes need to stay healthy and fit.

Where can I buy healthy bread online?

At Wildgrain, we specialize in making high-quality, fresh baked goods that are delivered directly to your door. Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen delivery subscription service for breads, rolls, pastries, and fresh pastas. Some of our popular breads include sourdough whole wheat, sourdough 7-grain,  and regular sourdough. Learn more about Wildgrain and our artisanal baking and cooking methods.


About the Author

Rikki Hoffman, RDN, CDN has been a registered dietitian for ten years, working primarily with patients who have kidney disease. She also has a private practice which focuses on helping clients achieve lifestyle and weight loss goals. She graduated with a Bachelor's in Dietetics from Rutgers University and did her Dietetic Internship at Montclair State University.


This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional nutrition and/or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific nutrition and/or medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.