Bread for Life

bread-for-life-dietCreated by Israeli nutritionist, Olga Raz, the Bread for Life diet is based on the premise that eating generous amounts of bread every day will reduce cravings and help you lose 20 pounds in 8 weeks.

The theory behind the diet is that complex carbohydrates act to increase serotonin levels, which in turn results in a reduction in cravings for sweet foods and decreased appetite.

Serotonin is also the neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and Raz states that the increase that is brought about by eating bread in large amounts daily will make you feel better and have more energy which in turn will increase motivation to stay with the diet.

Bread Diet Basics / Recommended Foods


The foundation of the diet is bread; up to 12 slices of bread a day for women and 16 for men.

Raz does emphasize that this must be ‘light’ bread which contains 35-45 calories per slice. Heavier breads and those containing nuts and raisins may have up to 90 calories. These are not forbidden but not recommended for everyday use – and allowed as long as daily bread calorie quota maintained.

The importance of using whole grain bread is emphasized because of their low glycemic index which helps to keep blood glucose levels more stable.

It is permissible to exchange the bread servings for other types of complex carbohydrates such as oats, brown rice or pasta.

Look here for great bread recipes.

Sandwich Fillings

Foods that are not allowed include butter, margarine and sweet spreads but many other spreads are acceptable including mustard, peanut butter, hummus, tahini, avocado and sugar free jelly. Only one spread is allowed at a time and it must be spread very thin.

Other foods suggested as sandwich fillings include tuna, smoked salmon, chicken and turkey breast, tofu and low fat cheese.

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Most vegetables are allowed in unlimited amounts and Raz suggests adding salad vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, carrot, cucumbers and sprouts to sandwiches or as an extra side salad. There is also the option of including a cup of steamed or stir fried vegetables or a bowl of vegetable soup with a meal.

Vegetables are recommended because they are high in fiber and low glycemic index which will help you feel full after a meal.


Fruit is recommended only in moderation because Raz claims that its sugar content can raise blood glucose. Raz actually states that fruit is not a necessary part of a healthy diet.

However many fruits have a lower GI than bread and contain mostly fructose which does not have a major effect on blood glucose regulation. For example apples and pears have a GI of 38 whereas many whole wheat breads have a GI of up to 70.

Raz does however make the beneficial suggestion to avoid fruit juices which do have the potential to disrupt blood sugar due to their high glycemic index and sugar content.

Protein Foods

Meat, chicken or fish is permitted in 3 meals per week selected from low fat cuts and avoiding processed meats.

3-4 eggs per week are allowed.

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  • Good for those who have failed on low carb diets in the past or those who don’t want to give up eating bread and other high carbohydrate foods.
  • Meal preparation is easy.
  • No calorie counting.
  • Recommended foods are inexpensive.


  • Many people don’t do well on high carbohydrate diets and it may actually trigger an increase in cravings in some people.
  • There is a very wide variation in the glycemic index of whole grain breads with many actually falling into the high range. The type of bread could have a big impact on the effect of the diet on insulin and serotonin balance.
  • This diet may not provide adequate protein for many people.

Might Not Be So Simple

There is a scientific basis behind the idea that increasing carbs in the diet can reduce appetite by increasing serotonin levels however this relationship is not as simplistic as the author implies.

Although some people may find that increasing complex carbs in the diet reduces their cravings, experience shows that many people will not react favorably to this type of diet, and it may actually produce the opposite result.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Jacobs Jr, D. R., Meyer, H. E., & Solvoll, K. (2001). Reduced mortality among whole grain bread eaters in men and women in the Norwegian County Study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 55(2), 137-143. link
  • Miller, H. E., Rigelhof, F., Marquart, L., Prakash, A., & Kanter, M. (2000). Antioxidant content of whole grain breakfast cereals, fruits and vegetables. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19(sup3), 312S-319S. link
  • Koh-Banerjee, P., Franz, M., Sampson, L., Liu, S., Jacobs, D. R., Spiegelman, D., … & Rimm, E. (2004). Changes in whole-grain, bran, and cereal fiber consumption in relation to 8-y weight gain among men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 80(5), 1237-1245. link

14 Comments or Reviews

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  1. Sreena xD

    The foundation of the diet is bread; up to 12 slices of bread a day for women and 16 for women. 2 times 4 womens

  2. erika

    @zoie — you’re making the following mistakes: 1. No bananas on the first stage of the diet (2 weeks); 2. don’t mix 2 spreads – you had turkey with avocado and humus – you should only have one of these spreads at a time 3. eating vegetables is important and you can also have soup and 1 apple a day on the first stage 4. sounds like you’re not eating enough – don’t forget you can have as much fish, meat or chicken 3 times per week (not mixed with bread)

  3. Kev

    Asking whether or not you should exercise is foolish. You should exercise at the very minimum once a day, regardless of your diet as it makes for good lifestyle, not good diet. Every day you brush your teeth (I’m hoping!), so why can’t you do something with a little momentum as well? Exercise is anything that gets your heart beating fast, or makes you sweat. Be it sexual intercourse (I’m not promoting), or just going for a jog, anything will make the diet work 2x as fast. I’ve been doing the bread diet for a while but I have some good pointers to add. Keep in mind, though it says 12-16 slices a day, that doesn’t mean you should eat 12-16 slices every day. That just means you should limit it there. A good idea is to constantly drink water all day long, but the best idea is to NOT schedule times for you to eat. If you’re consuming food when you’re not hungry, then those are pointless calories to be eating in the first place. ONLY eat when you’re hungry. In addition to the segment of complex carbs, wild rice and pasta are also good for those who are endurance exercisers (long distance running etc etc). However, I suggest that no matter what you’re eating, as an additional NATURAL colon cleanse method, you should make room for peppers. Peppers are great antioxidants, have more vitamin C than oranges, good doses of vitamin A and K, increase metabolism, heighten mood, prevent cancer (lycopene), decrease cholesterol (capsaicin), and believe it or not, they do NOT have any link to ulcers. With the high fiber already in this diet, digestion problems with eating peppers are more likely to subside than bother those more sensitive stomachs.

    My personal results went from 180 lbs, down to 168 in one week. Now since I’ve been taking protein supplements and working out, I’m putting on muscle mass while on this diet still.

  4. annie

    do you need to exercise a lot with this diet?

  5. zoie

    Can someone help, I started this diet yesterday. Had Bread with nonfat cream cheese and a banana for breakfast, then a sandwich with thin sliced low fat turkey, tomato, sprouts, avocado, sandwich with thin spread of hummas, tomato, cucumber then peanut butter on 2 slices and last another with turkey. I had a dull headache all day and still when I got up this morning. Think I need a little more protein, today I added 2 medium eggs and 2 very thin chicken breat slices. Feel better today. Will I be able to do this diet??

  6. Shell-Belle

    So, ok then – can someone who had done this plan post a typical day please.
    I have been doing the / for about 7 or 8 months now, and altho it has worked wonders for me and I have no intention of ever giving it up, I am always willing to mix up my eating plans – just to keep my body on it’s toes lol!
    So, just wandering what a typical day (week?) entails.
    Thanks in advance for your help 🙂

  7. rashis

    you can eat a lot of veg. and fruits before 6 pm. and plenty of water at bed time.

  8. gem

    try to eat 3 pcs. of craker flakes at dinner and 5-6 glasses of water it really works.

  9. kiera

    this is without a doubt the best “diet” out there. it’s inexpensive, practical, and it works. carbs are the bodies first choice for energy, give it good carbs and your body will thankyou. it also proves that average protein consumption is way too high, you dont need meat everyday at every meal!

  10. donna carla

    i think its goo but i can eat tuna 4 breakfast , dinner & lunch

  11. Ryan

    I’ve been on this diet for over a year and it works wonders

  12. dn

    its 12 for women 16 for men.

  13. LG

    Don’t be confused… you have it right..

  14. brittany

    um…u said 12 slices for women and 16 slices for women as well. im assuming u ment 12 for women and 16 for men….right? i kinda wana try this and im confused.