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Two Guys Lose Weight: When it comes to calories, bread is not just bread

Day 2: Just a small slice of knowledge can prove to be profound.

January 11, 2011|By Tony Pierce, Los Angeles Times

One thing I learned this weekend in my effort to eat right was that I needed the right foods in my house -- including bread -- so on Day 2 of my eat-right campaign, I went to the grocery store.

My cart had never seen so many vegetables, grains and water -- or such a profound lack of chocolate, sugar and fruit.

It was pretty easy getting the romaine lettuce, reduced-fat Wheat Thins and Diet Dr. Pepper, but I learned a little something about bread that I never knew before.

Usually, I would buy whatever bread was on sale. I learned in college to learn to love the seven-grain bread -- the rest of the day, it was guaranteed I'd be getting no vitamins or nutrients, so I may as well get them in my sandwich. Thus, the $2.50 loaf of seven-grain wheat bread was usually an easy choice.

But in checking the labels of three different loaves of wheat bread that billed themselves as healthful, I saw three radically different caloric options. Unlike labels on which it's hard to decipher the number of calories per serving, bread is often marked by the slice.

Sara Lee had a delicious-looking loaf of 100% wheat bread marked "0g Trans Fat, Good source of Fiber, 100% Natural." It was dark brown with some flakes of ... oats? ... on top of it. And it even said "with Honey" on the front. The nutrition label revealed that each slice contained 120 calories.

Oroweat had a 10-grain loaf proudly announcing 80 calories per slice right on the front of its label.

But the one I chose was Nature's Own nine-grain enriched bread -- 40 calories per slice. What was the catch? It felt as soft as Wonder Bread. It declared "3x the fiber of enriched honey wheat bread."

I took it home, made a sensible sandwich, and it tasted as good as any other store-bought bread I'd had.

For lunch, I had a salad with a bottle of apple juice. The juice, by the way, had more than 200 calories.  It hurts to turn my back on my favorite beverage. But a can of Coke is less than that.

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