Bread & Cereal Guidelines

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2004
Bread & Cereal Guidelines
Fri, 01-11-2008 - 4:29pm

Bread and Cereal Guidelines

In Phase 2, you'll gradually begin to reintroduce additional healthy carbohydrates into your diet.  For good nutrition, build up to 2-3 Fruit Servings per day
and 2-3 Grain/Starch Servings per day on Phase 2.  The goal is to eat healthy carbs while continuing to lose weight, so pay attention to how they affect you.  Referring to the Phase 2 Foods To Enjoy list for good grain choices, incorporate various grains.  A bread or cereal serving = 1 ounce (30 grams).  "The guidelines for bread on the South Beach Diet refer to a one-ounce serving. Each one-ounce serving must be 100% whole grain and contain at least 3 grams of fiber or more.  Sweetener of any kind is used to 'feed' the yeast in leavened bread. That is how the bread rises, so the small amount used in bread is ok to have. Be sure to check the nutrition labels to determine the one-ounce portion size for each bread." ~ Margaret/SBD Nutritionist

Why are whole-grain breads better for you than breads made with enriched or refined flour? One reason is that whole-grain breads have a lower glycemic index. Another is that whole grains are nutritious. They contain phytochemicals that help cut the risk of heart disease and cancer. If you're in Phase 2 of the diet and can start eating bread again, here are some good brands to buy:

Bread Guidelines -

Breads: Phase 2

When shopping for whole-grain breads, it's important to read between the lines on the labels. Terms like "natural whole-grain goodness," "whole wheat" (as opposed to "100% whole wheat"), "enriched wheat flour," and "unbleached flour" may mean that the bread is actually made with refined flour, which is high on the glycemic index. Make sure to look for labels that list "100% whole wheat" as the first ingredient and carry a high fiber content (at least 3 grams per ounce).

Avoid high fructose corn syrup and trans-fats. Check labels closely and always choose according to the guidelines.


In addition to breads, you can also find bagels, cereal bars, crackers, English muffins, pitas, spelt pretzels, tortillas, wraps, and waffles that count as South Beach-friendly grain servings.  Look at labels closely, both the nutrition panel and list of ingredients, and choose according the guidelines. 


Cereal Guidelines -

Cereals (hot and cold): Phase 2

There are several good cold cereals you can have. Cereals with 3.0 grams- 4.9 grams of fiber per serving are considered "good" fiber choices. Those with 5.0 grams or more per serving are considered "high" sources of fiber. A serving size is one ounce (30 grams). We recommend trying to find a cereal on the upper end of "good" and reaching toward "high. " Cereals are a great way to boost your intake of healthy fiber. In addition, you will want to review the sugar content of cold cereals. Try to find one with 8 or less grams of sugar per serving. With these guidelines you can probably find several healthy cereals.  For cold cereals, a serving is 30 grams (1 ounce or 3/4 cup).

For hot cereals, you can enjoy 1/3 to 1/2 cup (uncooked) as a serving. Avoid the "instant-cooking" cereals. “For hot cereals our only guideline is a whole grain.” -  Maureen/SBD Nutritionist



PHASE 2: Are there guidelines I should follow when buying bread?

When shopping for bread, it's important to read the list of ingredients. Look for â€œ100 percent whole wheat”. Terms like “natural whole-grain goodness,” “whole wheat”, “enriched wheat flour,” and “unbleached flour” may mean that the bread is actually made with refined flour. The best breads are made with whole grains and contain at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.


Member Question: The whole wheat bread I got has honey in it. Is that acceptable?


Sandy: Generally, breads require a small amount of sugar such as honey in order for the yeast to work. The general guidelines for bread are that they are whole grain and contain 3 grams of fiber or more per slice (or one ounce serving).


Member Question: How does one avoid added sugar when, in some cases, it's required for baking (i.e., no sugar, the bread doesn't rise)?


Beth: We here at The South Beach Dietâ„¢ realize that there are times when sugar is needed. A perfect example is in the case of making bread. Our guidelines for bread are that the primary ingredient be whole grain and that is has at least 3 grams of fiber per ounce (slice)


Member Question: I was wondering when looking at ingredients in products such as breads, bagels and english muffins if the inclusion of high fructose corn syrup matters? 


Ellen: When looking for bread and bread type products, first make sure the first word listed in the ingredients is 'whole' or '100% whole'. If it doesn't say that it is not made from a whole grain. Also, make sure it has 3 grams of fiber in 1 ounce. Sometimes a little math is needed because a serving is not always listed as 1 ounce. You will almost always see some sugar in the ingredients list because it is needed for the yeast to work correctly. Breads containing high fructose corn syrup should be avoided.


Are grains really that important to include in our diet? Are they necessary?

Margaret/SBD Nutritionist
: The South Beach Diet helps its members focus on a well-balanced meal plan for life, and whole grains play an important role.  There are two types of fiber - soluble and insoluble - found in whole grains. While we often think of insoluble fiber in relation to preventing constipation, soluble fiber may play a role in lowering cholesterol levels.  Additionally, whole grains contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, which we now know can offer us protection from certain chronic illnesses. And whole grains provide essential vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy life, which may not be found in other food groups.  The new 2005 federal dietary guidelines recommend that we consume at least three servings of whole grains every day. We at the South Beach Diet agree!

From the SBD nutritionist - why you should avoid “low-carb” breads made with refined flour:

There are two main reasons why the added fiber and protein 'low carb' products are not the most desirable for our members. One is the added fiber used to make 'low carb' products is usually highly processed cottonseed, oat, or soy fiber. They don't supply the nutrients and phytochemicals that come with the whole grain.

The second reason is protein and carbohydrates supply the same amount of calories per gram. Therefore, removing carbohydrate and adding protein really has no affect on caloric level. Unfortunately, the ‘low carb’ bread will not supply a certain 'edge' to your meal plan to help you lose weight.

We would rather see our members select a true carbohydrate source when having a bread, and a true protein source when choosing a meat. In addition, we want our members to enjoy the benefits of a whole grain product with all of the fiber and the nutrients.

By following the SBD plan you will learn how to achieve the best balanced meal plan possible. Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are all important for our bodies. It's choosing the best ones that can be tricky!

Low-carb breads, cereals, pasta, cookies, and chips: Which of these products, if any, are allowed on the South Beach Diet?

Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to low-carb shopping. You'll have to approach each product on a case-by-case basis and read the nutrition labels to determine which ones are okay.  Remember that the South Beach Diet is not a low-carb diet. Your goal should be to learn how to identify the foods that contain good carbohydrates and good fats—and to make those foods a permanent part of your diet.


 Q: I'm just starting Phase 2 and want to introduce bread back into my meal plans. How do I know which "whole-grain" products to choose? —Cindy


A: Dr. Agatston - Unfortunately, the term "whole grain" has become a catchphrase used to promote a sense of healthfulness that is not always earned. Are whole-grain bagels made entirely from whole grains? Not always. In addition, some products — like breakfast cereals — may contain a high percentage of whole grains, but they may also have added sugar and hydrogenated (trans) fats. To add to the confusion, other terms, like "multigrain," "stone wheat," and "100% wheat," don't necessarily mean the product is made with whole grains. But if you're savvy enough to know what details to look for on the package, you should have no problem choosing products that are good for you.


First, it helps to understand what comprises a whole grain. A whole grain kernel is made up of three parts: the outer covering, referred to as the bran; the middle portion, known as the endosperm; and the innermost layer, the germ. The term "whole grain" refers to the fact that these parts are left intact during processing. This is important because each part of the grain has unique health properties. The bran, for instance, is an incredible source of fiber and other healthy plant chemicals; the endosperm contains protein; and the germ is a good source of vitamin E.


When it comes to grains, researchers believe that the whole provides more health benefits than the sum of its parts, since together, all of the healthy components interact with one another. For example, while wheat germ itself is nutritious, it's even better to eat products containing the whole kernel. On the other hand, the least nutritious options are refined-grain products (think white bread) — refining strips away the bran and germ, and all of their nutrients in the process.


So how can you separate products that are truly whole grain from their refined counterparts? Always check the ingredient list. The first ingredient should have the word "whole" in front of a specific grain (like whole wheat or whole oats), or should list a lesser-known (but still whole) grain, like brown rice, bulgur, kamut, millet, and quinoa. Finally, for the healthiest choices, look for whole-grain breads that contain no trans fats and at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per slice.

Follow me to the South Beach Diet



iVillage Member
Registered: 05-04-2003
Fri, 01-11-2008 - 5:06pm

Well, damn, I think I'm not eating good bread?!?!

Serving size 1 slice= 25 g
Sugar Free
first ingredeient is stone ground whole wheat, there are none of the no-no terms

but the fiber is 2g

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2004
Fri, 01-11-2008 - 6:38pm
It's not easy finding bread with enough fiber.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2003
Sat, 02-16-2008 - 12:08pm
The bread I bought is Quaker Oatmeal bread and it has 3g of Fiber per serving. However a slice is about 44g instead of 30g. Is that still okay? If not I'll look today for some new bread...
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2008
Tue, 08-05-2008 - 3:09pm
Cathy can you recommend a english muffin that is sb friendly also a pita bread,bagels,creackers and waffles .thanks in advance
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-04-2006
Wed, 08-06-2008 - 5:28pm

Its very hard to recommend specific brands. We used to have a list of brand names, but got rid of it because companies constantly change their formulas and availability is different in different areas.

Thomas 100% Whole Wheat engligh muffins have always been approved even though they don't quite meet the fiber requirement. I'm partial to Kangaroo pita - though they have recently changed a lot of their formulas and not all of their whole wheat pita's meet the requirements anymore. Some do and some don't - so read the labels carefully. Pepperidge Farm 100% whole wheat mini-bagels are a favorite of ours, especially since they are only 1 grain serving each.

Waffles are tough - Kashi used to approved, but apparently either changed their formula or something, because the last we looked at their label, they didn't look that great. I haven't seen another legal brand.

Crackers - Trisuits are a great choice. Also All Bran, Wasa and Ak-Mak (sp?) But check the lables again, not aLL varieties of Wasa meet the fiber requirements.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2008
Wed, 08-06-2008 - 7:49pm
Thanks for the info.can we have the uncle sam cold cereal
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-11-2003
Thu, 08-07-2008 - 10:17am
yes, Uncle Sam's is allowed.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-19-2002
Thu, 08-07-2008 - 12:05pm

Hey Queen,

Here is an informative thread about waffles:

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2008
Thu, 08-07-2008 - 3:05pm
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2004
Mon, 01-26-2009 - 3:24pm

I started Phase 2 today and I'm still confused as to what ingredients to look for when I'm buying bread. So "whole wheat flour" is ok as long 1 serving (30 grams) has at least 3 grams of fiber? I bought the Ezekiel 4:9 loaf, but I would love to have more options.

Would love to hear from any SoCal SDBers for their recommendations on grains (bread, cereal, crackers). I have access to Vons/Pavilions, Ralphs, Albertsons, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Fresh & Easy.