What To Know About High-Protein Bread

The nutrition facts on the trendy baked good may surprise you.

Protein bread

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High-protein baked goods are a popular option in many grocery stores. There's a protein-packed version of nearly everything—from snack chips to coffee creamer to bread. 

But what is high-protein bread exactly—and should you add it to your shopping cart? Here's what you should know about the nutrition facts of high-protein bread before you try it.

Different Sources of Protein

Per a study published in 2021 in Foods, some high-protein bread includes the same ingredients typically found in protein powders, such as: 

  • Isolated whey protein
  • Pea protein
  • Soy protein
  • Egg white protein

Other brands use wheat protein or vital wheat gluten, while others use ground nuts or pulses like almond flour or chickpea flour.

Dietary supplements are minimally regulated by the FDA and may or may not be suitable for you. The effects of supplements vary from person to person and depend on many variables, including type, dosage, frequency of use, and interactions with current medications. Please speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before starting any supplements.

Check the Ingredients

Because there's no standard formula for high-protein bread, you must scan the packaging for the ingredients you want to avoid. 

For example, if you have an inflammatory condition—like eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, chronic sinusitis, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)—you might notice your symptoms flaring up when you consume certain ingredients.

And some people need to avoid gluten, dairy, or soy due to health issues. If you're allergic to nuts or eggs, remember that manufacturers often use them as protein sources in high-protein bread and snacks.

And those manufacturers may also prepare high-protein bread with various preservatives and artificial ingredients. According to a study published in 2020 in Scientific Reports, many health problems are linked to food additives, including:

  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease 

In general, it's a good idea to skip packaged products made with artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Carbohydrate Calories Can Vary

The total calories and carbohydrates depend on the bread's other ingredients. And there's huge variability. So, it would be best to look at the nutrient label and select products that fit your nutrition goals.

For example, one brand of the high-protein product had a whopping 14 grams of protein. But the first ingredient was whole wheat flour, and each slice packed 12 grams of carbohydrates. That's nearly the same amount in white bread, per the Department of Agriculture.

And thanks to all the added protein (from whey and wheat proteins), the bread was higher in calories than traditional whole grain bread, with 50 more calories per slice.

And one of the high-protein bagels, also with 14 grams of protein, packs 16 grams of carbohydrates. But 14 grams came from fiber, meaning a net of two grams of carbohydrates. 

That's much different from a regular bagel. Per the Department of Agriculture, an average bagel may contain more than 50 grams of carbohydrates, just a couple of grams of fiber, and about 11 grams of protein.

Balancing Calories and Nutrients

Remember that getting too much of any nutrient—including protein—is possible. Balance is key. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), protein should compose about 16% of the total caloric intake for a typical adult.

So, it's essential to know that simply adding protein to a food doesn't make it healthy. In fact, excess protein can lead to weight gain and increase cardiovascular risk, according to a study published in 2015 in Clinical Nutrition.

And a review published in 2016 in Food and Function recommended avoiding high protein intake. The review authors stated that consuming more than two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily can lead to digestive, kidney, and vascular abnormalities.

For example, if you enjoy toast with salmon or an egg on top or eat it with Greek yogurt, do you really need your bread to pack an extra 14 grams of protein per slice? Probably not.

Your Nutritional Needs and Goals

The wide variation in ingredients and nutrient content makes it tricky to say whether high-protein bread is worth buying. Your health and lifestyle are factors, too.

Focus on whole foods first if you're trying to eat more protein and curb excess carbohydrates. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, protein-rich foods include:

  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Meat
  • Yogurt

And if you follow a plant-based diet, or your protein sources are limited due to allergies or food preferences, high-protein bread may help fill the gap. But again, check them for ingredients you need to avoid. And choose products that are clean and natural.

If you're Paleo or gluten-free, some high-protein bread products aren't for you, especially if they contain wheat.

If you're a clean eater, you want to avoid highly-processed bread, regardless of whether it's high-protein. Instead, stick with whole food options, like sweet potato toast or homemade cauliflower buns. As long as you're not grain-free, plenty of regular bread is made simply with whole-grain flour (including gluten-free options), yeast, honey, water, and salt.

Finally, if you're a competitive athlete with protein needs higher than the average adult, you might consider high-protein bread. Some athletes get bored with protein shakes and bars and can only eat so many eggs or chicken breasts.

A Quick Review

Just remember that quality comes first, and strategy is essential. There may be better routes than eating protein-rich bread without regard to how the manufacturers made the bread or the overall balance of one's diet.

Protein-packed baked goods may be popular, but there are other answers for your health, fitness, or weight loss goals. So look beyond labels, marketing claims, and trends before spending money or macronutrients on high-protein bread.

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6 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fooddata central.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Faststats.

  4. Hernández-Alonso P, Salas-Salvadó J, Ruiz-Canela M, et al. High dietary protein intake is associated with an increased body weight and total death risk. Clin Nutr. 2016;35(2):496-506. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2015.03.016

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  6. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. How much protein should i eat?

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