This post was updated on April 20th, 2023
By Kym Campbell, BSc. | Updated April 20th, 2023
If you have PCOS and you’re wondering what the deal is with bread, then you’re not alone.
“Do I give up bread for PCOS or can I still have bread with PCOS?” I get these questions every time I run my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge.
It’s definitely best to give up gluten. But bread can remain part of a healthy PCOS diet. You just need to know which bread ingredients serve you well and which ones to avoid.
Here’s what you need to know.
Worst Breads For PCOS
Women with PCOS should avoid any bread that has gluten-containing ingredients. This includes any bread made from wheat, barley, and rye. Common wheat derivatives in bread include durum, semolina, and spelt flour.
Gluten-free bread products like Ezekiel bread and Dave’s Killer Bread are often marketed to women with PCOS. But these breads are best avoided. They contain too much gluten.
I explain why gluten is bad for PCOS here. The short answer is that it drives inflammation. One of the underlying mechanisms that cause all PCOS symptoms. Most women with PCOS have a sub-clinical intolerance to gluten and don’t realize it until they quit.
This is why going gluten-free has worked well for so many past participants from my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge.
Many gluten-free breads are also made with high glycemic flours and are too high in carbs. That’s a problem for blood glucose regulation. Foods with a high glycemic load promote insulin resistance, which is another underlying driver of PCOS. Gluten-free bread with rice flour, corn starch, and/or tapioca starch in the first few ingredients is best avoided for this reason.
Best Store Brand Breads for PCOS
There are very few PCOS-friendly bread brands that are good enough for anyone that’s going all-in on a PCOS diet.
Base Culture is possibly the best gluten-free bread for PCOS that’s widely available. The “flours” used in these breads include flaxseed meal, arrowroot flour, psyllium husk powder, and almond flour. These are among the best ingredients to use for PCOS bread. That’s because these ingredients have a lower glycemic index than those used in “normal” gluten-free bread.
Their 7 nut and seed bread and original keto bread contain only four grams of net carbs per 32-gram slice. That’s about three times fewer carbs than you’ll find in more popular gluten-free bread. The fiber content of these breads is also excellent. Fiber is important for many reasons. One of which is that it lowers the glycemic index of a food. Each slice of Base Culture bread contains 4 grams of fiber.Products like Canyon Bakehouse Country White, by comparison, contain no fiber at all. The relative differences in how these breads impact blood glucose levels are huge.
Young Kobras have a nice range of gluten-free sourdoughs. They use organic ingredients, but their bread contains more carbs and less fiber than Base Culture.
If you can’t source a good finished bread product, a pre-prepared baking mix is a good option. It’s not as convenient as buying bread from the store. But it’s a lot easier than baking from scratch.
Simple Mills makes a nice, PCOS-friendly baking mix which you can buy online here. You can use this mix to make flatbread, dinner rolls, or a loaf. The only ingredients are almond flour, arrowroot, flax meal, tapioca starch, sea salt, and baking soda. You just need to add the eggs, water, vinegar, and olive oil.
With all these PCOS-friendly breads, you can further improve the glycemic response by how you prepare them. Pairing bread with healthy fats and protein slows the rate and extent that your blood glucose levels will rise.
How Much Bread Can I Have a Day with PCOS?
This is the most salient question when including bread in a good PCOS diet. Whenever I create a balanced PCOS meal plan, I generally aim for a net carb content of 25 grams per meal. This aims to achieve the best macros for PCOS across any given day. For most people, this means getting around 100 grams of carbs per day.
I assume people will get about 25 grams of carbs from PCOS fruits and spread the remaining 75 grams across three daily meals. Two slices of Base Culture bread give you eight grams of net carbs. That means you could have three slices per meal, or nine slices per day if this was the only carbohydrate you ate.
For Young Kobra’s original sourdough, then one 54-gram slice would be a good serving size per meal. This contains 21 grams of net carbohydrates.
1 dinner roll made from the Simple Mills baking mix contains 10 grams of net carbs. That means two rolls would be appropriate when coupled with a low-carb meal.
Bread Alternatives for PCOS
There are some simple ways to avoid bread while still enjoying your favorite foods.
For sandwiches and burgers, using a lettuce wrap is a quick and easy solution. Cutting a bell pepper in half, removing the seeds, and using it to hold your sandwich together is another great option. Both lettuce and bell peppers are very low in carbs so they’re especially helpful for PCOS women with insulin resistance. Sweet potato toast is another simple bread swap. Thinly slice a sweet potato and pop it in the toaster.
If you’re open to doing a little baking, these are some of the bread alternatives included in my PCOS meal planner:
- Cloud bread
- Cauliflower garlic bread
- Broccoli almond sandwich bread
- Almond flour buns
- Almond flour tortilla
- Corn tortilla
- Cauliflower tortilla
- Keto quick-bread
- Vegan quick-bread
PCOS-Friendly Bread Recipe
Here’s one of my favorite PCOS-friendly bread recipes. It’s a great one to add to my free 3-Day Meal Plan. This recipe is also helpful if you’re taking part in my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge and want some bread with your meals.
- 2 tbsp whole psyllium husks
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ⅛ tsp Salt
- 1 cup Water
- In a bowl, combine the psyllium husks and coconut flour. Make sure to break up any lumps in the coconut flour, before measuring. Add water, olive oil, and baking soda, stir with a spatula, then knead the dough with your hands. Add salt to taste.
- Knead for a minute, until the dough begins to soften. If the dough is too sticky, add ½ tsp of psyllium husks and knead for 30 seconds. Repeat this step if needed. The dough should be moist, but not stick to your fingers. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into even pieces to match the number of servings, then roll it into balls.
- Place one ball between two pieces of parchment paper, and roll with a rolling pin until the flatbread reaches your desired thickness. Unpeel the top layer of parchment paper.
- To create perfectly round flatbreads, place a small plate or pot lid on top of the flatbread and cut around the perimeter. Repeat the above steps with the remaining dough balls and off-cuts.
- Preheat a skillet to medium-high heat, and lightly grease with olive oil. Place the flatbread on the skillet, then remove the second piece of parchment paper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for 1-2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure to grease the skillet before cooking each flatbread.
- Allow to cool and use as a sandwich base, or enjoy as a warm side dish, drizzled with olive oil, garlic, or some of your favorite herbs.
- These flatbreads keep well for at least 3 days when stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.
The Bottom Line
It’s okay to eat bread if you have PCOS. But you need to be smart about what kind of bread you eat and how much you have. Avoiding gluten is the most important thing to keep in mind. But you also want to be mindful of the carb content. You want to ensure that the bread you’re eating doesn’t spike your blood glucose levels. That means picking low-carb, high-fiber bread, or choosing bread alternatives. Eating bread with healthy fats and protein also improves blood glucose regulation. That’s especially important if you have insulin resistance.
For a meal plan that puts these ideas into practice download this free 3-Day Meal Plan. Or for a more immersive approach to beating PCOS, join my next free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge.
Is bread bad for PCOS? Not all bread is bad for PCOS. But most are. Products that are both gluten-free and paleo are your best bet. Especially if they’re also labeled as “keto”. Avoid bread made with wheat, barley, and rye. This includes wheat derivatives like spelt. See above for product recommendations.
Is Ezekiel bread good for PCOS? People with PCOS shouldn’t consume Ezekiel bread because it contains gluten. Gluten is an important food to avoid with PCOS.
Is sourdough bread good for PCOS? Gluten-free sourdough bread can be part of a healthy PCOS diet. But it’s important to be mindful of the impact on blood glucose regulation. Traditional sourdough is not gluten-free. But it’s sometimes tolerated by people with gluten sensitivity. This is because the long fermentation times reduce the gluten content of the wheat flour.
Is whole wheat bread good for PCOS? No. The standard dietary advice for people with PCOS is to eat high-fiber grains like those found in whole wheat bread. This advice fails to acknowledge the biggest problem with bread: gluten. Yes, whole wheat bread contains more fiber and antioxidants. But any extra benefits get swamped by the adverse effects of gluten.
Is multigrain bread good for PCOS? Multigrain bread suffers from the same problem as whole wheat bread. It contains gluten. The impact on blood glucose control may be slightly less than for other bread. But this benefit is small in comparison to the negative effects of consuming gluten when you have PCOS.
Can you eat rye bread with PCOS? Rye contains gluten and is not suitable for people with PCOS. I explain why in this article.
What about naan bread PCOS? Naan bread is made with blanched wheat flour. This contains gluten making it unsuitable for women with PCOS.
What are the PCOS-friendly bread brands from Walmart? At the time of writing, Walmart didn’t sell any bread that was suitable for PCOS. Most of their gluten-free products are too high in carbs and too low in fiber. When shopping at Walmart, your best option is to buy the Simple Mills Almond Flour Artisan Bread Mix and make your own fresh bread.
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Combining rigorous science and clinical advice with a pragmatic approach to habit change, Kym is on a mission to show other women how to take back control of their health and fertility. Read more about Kym and her team here.
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