Starting in April, Lin Carson, Ph.D., founder and CEO of BAKERpedia, and formerly of Dave’s Killer Bread and Wendy’s, aimed to set the record straight on bread. She’s currently undertaking an “Eat Bread 90” challenge, where she’s incorporating a loaf of bread in her diet, every day, for 90 days. On www.eatbread90.com, a blog tracking the challenge, she’s helping communicate the positive, essential dietary benefits of bread. As noted on her website, she is undertaking this challenge “to dispel the myth that bread alone is responsible for weight gain and bloating and how, with healthier options, bread provides numerous health benefits and prevents cravings.”
We caught up with Lin recently to check in on her progress.
Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: So Lin, what inspired the Eat Bread 90 challenge?
Lin Carson: I get a lot of pushback from friends and family on their perception of bread, and even from the nutrition community these days. I see a decline in people consuming bread because of all the misinformation out there today.
I’ve addressed a lot of this misinformation on my blog—for example, bread makes you fat, bread gives you low energy, bread makes you gluten-intolerant, and that bread is a high-carb, low-nutrition food. I’m trying to bust these myths, and I feel that for me to do that, I need to go on this bread journey.
I have an education in bread and baking. I went to Kansas State University for my Masters and Ph.D. in Grain Science. So, I do understand a lot that goes into bread and bread baking, and bread is not a dangerous food. You should be able to eat two or three slices of bread a day without any fear on putting on weight. So, that’s what set me up on this journey.
DJP: And just for reference, you’re talking about a loaf a day. There are different sizes of bread products on the market. What are you considering a loaf for your purposes?
LC: We have studied quite bit of loaf sizes across the market, and we’ve come down to agreeing that about a little over a pound a day would make this challenge tolerable, about 12 slices.
DJP: Are you mixing things up and eating a variety of different kinds of bread along the way?
LC: Yes. I have some bakeries sending me bread. I have tried some really interesting breads. I particularly like the ones that are multigrain and high-fiber, because they have better satiety.
DJP: And how are you approaching the different eating occasions throughout the course of the day? How are you eating the breads? What kind of a complementary foods are you having with them?
LC: Someone pointed out to me that I’m eating like a weightlifter, a bodybuilder. I have to eat constantly throughout the whole day. I have to remind myself now to eat something every hour.
I use a variety of spreads. One of the most interesting thing about living in Portland, OR is we do have a lot of startup on companies here. One of these is called Ground Up and has a really unique Almond, Cashew & Coconut nut butter spread. I’ve started to discover a lot of these different kinds of nut butters. My personal favorite is a cookie butter from Lotus! It’s very dangerous, so I need to really spread it thin... I also include other things like yogurt, ricotta cheese, pesto and so on. All of these different spreads meet my caloric expectations. I actually do not eat more than I need per day, and that’s why I have not put on a single pound so far.
DJP: So you have had a zero weight gain so far?
LC: Zero weight gain, correct. And that’s the goal Doug, to make sure I eat bread for 90 days and not gain a single pound.
DJP: And do you feel like you’re exercising more than you did before the challenge?
LC: I am exercising more than I did before the challenge, but not more than what would be considered regular activity—an average of about 35 minutes a day.
DJP: OK, well that’s right in the ballpark of what’s recommended for everybody anyway.
LC: Right—35 minutes of pure cardio. Sometimes I do 20 minutes of swimming, sometimes I do 45 minutes of running, but an average of about 35 or so minutes, per day. I don’t think that’s excessive.
DJP: I assume that you are balancing your bread intake with the few other standard foods.
LC: Yes, correct. I do sit down to a meal that I cook each night with my family. But instead of eating a regular meal, I eat smaller portions at the dinner table.
DJP: Have you noticed any physiological responses to this new dietary regime?
LC: I did in the first week, and that’s because of my reaction to sodium and not having enough water. Now I have adjusted that aspect.
DJP: And you’ve been monitoring your sodium intake more closely?
LC: Absolutely! Something as simple as just using jam or yogurt instead of peanut butter helps. Some of the nut butters are higher in sodium.
DJP: And as I understand it, bakers have been sending you some breads to try during your challenge.
DJP: Have you tried any new breads that impressed you? Any new favorite breads?
LC: I really like the Dave’s Killer Bread, White Bread Done Right. It’s using a white whole wheat. I also like the new Sara Lee Artesano. It has really good texture! I’m also in love with hearty, artisan breads. I really liked a whole-wheat sourdough bread from Grand Central Baking.
DJP: Are there any types of bread in particular that you would like to receive from bakers to try as part of this challenge?
LC: Yes, I would like to receive more different kinds of functional bread if there are any out there. I received a really interesting one from Alvarado St. Bakery (Sprouted Sonoma Sun). It’s OK for people with diabetes and has a low glycemic index. I really enjoyed eating that one, because it was extra satiating. If bakers are making unusual breads, maybe with different methods or using different ingredients, I would like to try them!