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Protein Bread, the New Trend at the Bakery


More and more bakeries are offering so-called protein bread. This bread is supposed to help one lose weight, even if it doesn’t exactly cause the pounds to shed while sleeping.

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„Get Slim While You Sleep“? – Protein Bread, the New
Trend at the Bakery

Report from a day in the lab

Research Background
More and more bakeries are offering so-called protein bread. This bread is
supposed to help one lose weight, even if it doesn’t exactly cause the
pounds to shed while sleeping.

Carbohydrate-reduced diets such as the „Low Carb Diet“, „Food Combina-
tion Diet“, „Atkins-Diet“or the „Schlank im Schlaf” (“Get Slim While You
Sleep“) diet have unleashed the new trend toward protein breads. Bread
usually contains flour, which in turn consists mostly of carbohydrates (e.g.
starch). Consequently, bread normally has a high percentage of carbohy-
drate and a fairly small amount of protein. For example, wheat-rye bread
contains approximately 42 % carbohydrate and about 7 % protein. By
eating protein bread, however, it should now be possible to consume few-
er carbohydrates.

Research and Results
At CVUA Stuttgart, 14 samples of „protein bread“ were analyzed. Those
that had been advertised as protein bread were further checked for com-
pliance with the food law. In order to augment bread with a high percent-
age of protein, wheat-, soy-, and lupine proteins are added, often in the
form of a „protein concentrate mixture“. Bakers often use a pre-made
bread-making mixture. The percentage of protein in the bread is further
increased by the addition of other soy or lupine products which, being leg-

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umes, also contain protein. Whole-grain flours such as wheat, rye and
spelt are often used. Altogether, however, much less flour is used in pro-
tein bread than in normal bread. All of the 14 samples of analyzed bread
contained an exorbitant amount of sunflower and flax seeds; some also
had sesame and poppy seeds. The many oil seeds are added, among
other reasons, for taste, and when the bread is consumed, one is remind-
ed mostly of sunflower seeds or flaxseed bread. Bearing little resemblance
to bread, it tastes more like bacon fat and has a consistency that is much
more dense and gooey than normal bread. Poking at the bread will leave
a dent.
The protein breads were analyzed for their content of fat, protein, carbo-
hydrates, and fiber. On average, the breads contained 12.5 % fat (7 -
20.5 %). As a comparison, seed breads, flaxseed bread, and whole-grain
bread with sunflower seeds contain 5% fat; whole grain rye bread has, in
contrast, only 1 gr. fat per 100 gr. bread. Vis-à-vis the distribution of fatty
acids, the high percentage of fat content detected in the analyzed bread
samples was a result of the large quantity of oil seeds. In terms of protein
levels, the average sample contained 21 % protein. All of the bread sam-
ples fulfilled the legal requirement for protein bread; at least 12 % of the
energy calories must be apportioned to the percentage of protein. Traditi-
onal bread with oil seeds contains approximately 7% protein. The average
quantity of carbohydrates was approx. 12 %. Also here, all 14 samples
fulfilled the legal stipulation for designating bread as „carbohydrate re-
duced“: the bread must contain at least 30% fewer carbohydrates than a
comparable product. For traditional bread with oil seeds, the average con-
tent of carbohydrates is about 40 %.
On average, the analyzed bread contained 12% fiber. This is likewise
explained by the high quantity of oil seeds and whole grain. Whole grain
rye bread contains about 8% fiber, whereas the same bread with the addi-
tion of sunflower seeds provides 10% fiber. According to legal guidelines,
food that is advertised as “fiber rich” must contain a minimum of 6 gr. fiber
per 100 gr. food product.

Assessing the Advertising Message
Assessing advertisements for protein bread, which are often attached as
fliers, stickers, or posters, is more difficult, primarily in reference to their
apparent weight reducing properties. What is beyond dispute is the fact
that consuming „protein bread“ instead of „normal bread“ does not lead to
weight loss. The high fat content alone (and the accompanying calories)
precludes this possibility.   This does not always come across clearly
enough in the advertisements, however. Names or slogans such as „lithe
and svelte“ or „get slim while you sleep“, which are used in direct connec-
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tion with the product, can give the consumer the impression that the bread
itself makes one „slim“. Three protein bread advertisements of this kind
have been judged as deceptive. In one case, the bread was even adver-
tised as having “fewer calories”; this statement was also unambiguously
fallacious. Declaring the bread as “low carb” is legally prohibited. Three
of the bread advertisements made this illegal assertion. It is also against
food regulations to allude to doctors. In four cases, Dr. Pape’s „Schlank im
Schlaf” (“Get Slim While You Sleep“) principle was also mentioned in con-
nection with a Dr. Worm. This advertisement was found to be in violation
of the law. Assertions that protein bread can contribute to weight reduc-
tion as part of a carbohydrate reduction diet (e.g. “Low Carb”, “Food Com-
bination”, “Get Slim While You Sleep”, etc.) are addressed in the EU regu-
lation Nr. 1924 / 2006 regarding claims of nutritional value and food-
related health. As of yet, these statements must be thoroughly supported
with scientific evidence; otherwise, they will be considered a violation.
Since December, 2012 health-related assertions may only be made when
they have been scientifically investigated and approved via the European
Food Safety Authority and published in the Community List of Permitted
Claims (EU Regulation Nr. 432 / 2012). In this list there are no permissi-
ble statements in which protein-rich or reduced carbohydrate foods can be
connected with weight-loss properties. Some health-related claims that
have been investigated were rejected by the EU on the grounds that there
were insufficient scientific safeguards. Among these was the statement
that protein-rich nutrition, meals, or diets cause longer satiety, and thereby
help in the effort toward weight loss. Such assertions regarding protein
bread are no longer permissible.

Whoever buys and eats protein bread should know that the consumption
of protein bread alone will in no way lead to a slim figure. In comparison
to normal bread, protein bread has more fat and calories, and thus leads
to a higher consumption of calories! Protein bread is appropriate for the
consumer at most when he or she wishes to reduce carbohydrate intake
within the context of such a diet, but still wants to eat “bread”. But here
one must also be careful: the theory behind the reduced carbohydrate
diets has not been proven. And the consumption of too much fat and pro-
tein can have negative consequences for ones health.          Moreover, the
taste of protein bread needs getting used to and is comparatively more

Without dispute, the fact remains that one loses weight only when one
burns more energy than one takes in. In this sense, the goal of weight
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loss would be better served by walking to the bakery and eating normal
bread than by driving there in a car and eating protein bread.

Photo credits:
CVUA Stuttgart.
Frau mit einem Maßband (Woman With a Measuring Tape), Benjamin
Thorn,, Image-ID= 610127.
Alle Jahre wieder…., Marianne J.,, Image-ID= 623207.

Dorothee Doludda

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