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Bread and diabetes


Gone are the days when all you can find in your supermarket is white, ready-sliced bread. There are so many different types of breads available now, so your choice really is only limited by your imagination. And, if you’ve got diabetes, you may also want to think about other factors, such as carbohydrate content and how much fat and how many calories are in the bread you’re eating.

Bread is a source of carbohydrate. During digestion, carbohydrate is broken down into glucose, which is used by the cells of the body as their main source of energy. There are two types of carbohydrate: starchy carbohydrates and sugars. Bread falls into the starchy carbohydrate category. All carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels.

Carbohydrate requirements vary between individuals and depend on age, gender, weight and physical activity. The Reference Intake (RI) of carbohydrate is 230g for women and 300g for men. These figures are just a guide and are based on the requirements of an average woman and man. Depending on your nutritional goals, you may require less.

Most supermarkets and local markets contain different types of bread. Here’s what you need to know next time you’re choosing a loaf.

White bread, tiger bread, pumpernickel bread, granary bread, flat bread, seeded and pitta bread

Serve with:

  • lean chicken, ham, turkey or beef plus chopped tomatoes, grated carrot and cucumber
  • egg and cress, with a little reduced-fat mayo and black pepper
  • cottage cheese mixed with salsa and sweetcorn
  • reduced-fat cheddar with grated carrot and sultanas
  • Tabasco sauce, horseradish, mustard and chili sauce for a real fiery kick in jazzed-up sandwiches.

Per slice:

  • White: 79Kcal – 16.6g carbs – 0.6g fat
  • Tiger: 97Kcal – 17g carbs – 0.83g fat
  • Granary: 85Kcal – 17g carbs – 0.8g fat
  • Pumpernickel: 76Kcal – 14.5g carbs – 0.5g fat
  • Pitta: 244Kcal – 18.5g carbs – 1.2g fat
  • Seeded: 174Kcal – 29.6g carbs – 4.8g fat
  • Bagel: 230Kcal – 44g carbs – 1.2g fat

Sourdough, rye and soda bread

Great served with turkey, chicken or Swiss cheese with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and reduced-fat mayo. Or, try smoked salmon and reduced-fat cream cheese.

  • Sourdough: 79Kcal – 15.7g carbs – 0.2g fat
  • Soda bread: 104Kcal – 21.9g carbs – 0.96g fat
  • Rye bread: 55Kcal – 11.5g carbs – 0.4g fat


Serve warm with jam or pure fruit spread for an indulgent treat.

  • Brioche: 167Kcal – 23.3g carbs – 6.3g fat

Garlic and ciabatta bread

Serve with your favourite Italian dishes, and try to buy ready sliced so you can control your portion sizes and freeze the rest. This way, you won’t be too tempted to polish off the whole loaf. Look out for reduced-fat garlic bread, but bear in mind it's still fairly high in fat and calories.

  • Garlic bread: 71Kcal – 9.4g carbs – 3g fat
  • Reduced-fat garlic bread: 54Kcal – 8.98g carbs – 1.2g fat
  • Ciabatta: 75Kcal – 12.4g carbs – 1.4g fat

Naan and chapatti

Serve with vegetable and meat curries. Try to avoid adding extra butter, margarine or ghee.

  • Chapatti made without fat: 111Kcal – 24g carbs – 0.55g fat
  • Chapatti made with fat: 197Kcal – 13.9g carbs – 7.7g fat
  • Naan: 474Kcal – 79g carbs – 10g fat
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