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Whole Grain vs Multigrain vs Whole Wheat vs Wholemeal

Listen to the Whole Grain vs Multigrain vs Whole Wheat vs Wholemeal post on our Live Lean TV Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast!

What’s the difference and what is the best healthy bread and pasta option?

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing the difference between whole grain vs multigrain vs whole wheat vs wholemeal bread and pasta.

At the end of this post, I also share 4 simple guidelines to look for when finding the best healthy pasta and bread options.

This question was from our #LLTV Q&A series that we filmed for our Live Lean TV YouTube channel back in 2012.

So I’ll first share my answer from 2012, then I’ll answer it again, with my thoughts today.

Alright lets first jump back to 2012…

dillba5 on YouTube says: great work on these Q&A videos. I always wondered what’s the difference between whole grain vs multigrain vs whole wheat vs wholemeal? What is the best option health-wise when it comes to buying bread, pasta, etc.? Thanks Brad.

5 Best Healthy Pasta Substitute Recipes

Well I think you guys know my thoughts on bread, pasta, and other types of of grains.

I think they should be out of your daily diet, if you’re looking to Live Lean.

You can have it as a cheat meal or treat meal once a week.

6 Cheat Meal Rules

However try to get it out of your every day diet, regardless if it’s wholemeal, whole grain, whole wheat, or multigrain.

The overconsumption of grains can really throw your hormone levels all over the place.

So try to reduce consumption of them as much as possible.

But to answer your question, here’s the difference.

Be careful with multigrain

Multigrain doesn’t mean that the bread or pasta is completely made with 100% whole grains.

It could just mean that there’s different kind of grains in it.

So if you’re going to choose one type of bread or pasta based on health, choose something that starts with the word, “whole”.

For example, wholemeal, whole wheat, or whole grain.

Also, make sure you always look at the ingredients

Even if the package says whole wheat, the first or second ingredient could still be high fructose corn syrup or glucose fructose.

These are ingredients you should stay away from.

I repeat, always look at the ingredients.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you guys should have this ingrained in your brain, as I always talk about.

Now lets fast forward to my answer today

The terms whole grain, multigrain, whole wheat, wholemeal are often found on bread, pasta, and flour labels.

Let’s end the confusion and clear up what each term means, so you can make healthier food decisions.

But let me be upfront.

I’m not a big fan of having any type of conventional bread, pasta, or flour in your daily diet, especially types made with white refined grains.

Avoid white refined grains: bread, pasta, flour

White bread, pasta, and flour are classified as refined grains, as they have the germ and bran removed.

By removing the germ and bran, you’re also removing a lot of the healthy fiber and antioxidants.

foods high in antioxidants

This essentially leaves you with a high glycemic carbohydrate that will quickly spike and drop your blood sugar.

This blood sugar roller coaster increases food cravings, which ultimately causes you to eat more food than your body needs.

Hello fat gain train

The Truth about Your Bread

I’ve done many videos on why you should limit your bread intake.

However, I understand giving up bread to some people can be tough.

“If I can’t eat bread, it’s just not worth it anymore.”

Well, I also did a post sharing 9 healthier bread substitutions.

Best Bread Substitute For Sandwiches

But I get it, some people are just addicted to traditional bread, pasta, and flour.

So if you’re ready to give up white bread, pasta, and flour, but are confused with the difference between whole grain vs multigrain vs whole wheat vs wholemeal, lets jump into the nutritional differences.

What does whole grain mean?

The Truth About Whole Grains

A grain is considered a “whole grain” when it has all of the following 3 components:

  • bran: contains fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants
  • germ: contains minerals, protein, and fat
  • endosperm: contains the starch

Examples of whole grains include:

  • barley
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • bulgur
  • millet
  • oatmeal
  • popcorn
  • quinoa
  • whole wheat

However, don’t be tricked by a label says it’s made with whole grains.

Sure it may contain some whole grains, but it doesn’t mean it’s entirely made with whole grains.

What does whole wheat mean?

The difference between whole grain and whole wheat is wheat is simply a type of whole grain.

This means all 3 parts of the wheat are still intact.

It’s important to note that the label should say “whole” wheat, not just wheat.

Don’t be fooled if the ingredients list just says wheat flour.

Wheat flour is essentially the same thing as refined white flour.

So wheat bread, pasta, or flour does not provide the same nutrition as whole wheat bread, pasta, or flour.

What does wholemeal mean?

Wholemeal is essentially whole grains that have been ground down during processing.

Since they are broken down and milled into a fine texture, wholemeal products typically have a higher glycemic index than regular whole grain products.

Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load Food Chart

Although still healthier than refined white grain bread, pasta, and flour, I’d stick with whole grain.

What does multigrain mean?

Again, don’t be fooled by the term multigrain, 9 grain, or any other number of grains.

Although multigrain might sound the healthiest, it really only means it contains multiple types of grains, including refined grains, not just whole grains.

In other words, multigrain products typically include a combination of both refined and unrefined grains.

Therefore, in many cases, multigrain is less healthy when compared to whole grain or whole wheat.

Follow these simple guidelines to find the healthiest bread and pasta:

#1. 2:1 fiber to sugar ratio

Look at the nutrition facts label and compare the fiber to sugar ratio.

The 22 Best High Fiber Foods For Weight Loss

Aim for brands with at least 4 grams of fiber and less than 2 grams of sugar per serving.

Also, if it contains, high fructose corn syrup, it’s out.

#2. Less than 200mg of sodium per serving

A lot of people don’t realize how much sodium is in grain products, especially breads and cereals.

Look for brands with 200mg of sodium or less per serving.

#3. Read the ingredients list

Not all brands of bread and pasta are made with the same ingredients.

The ingredients list shouldn’t look like a science experiment, filled with words you can’t pronounce.

Try to find products that do not contain artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

2 Hidden Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

Typically the less the ingredients, the better.

Also, if you see the words “enriched” or “bleached”, it’s a good sign that the product contains refined grains.

#4. Look for the 100% whole grains stamp

The whole grains council includes a stamp on products that contains only 100% whole grains.

It also has stamps for 50% or more whole grains and a stamp for some whole grains, but mainly refined grains.

Bottom line on whole grain vs multigrain vs whole wheat vs wholemeal

When it comes to whole grain vs multigrain vs whole wheat vs wholemeal, the healthiest is 100% whole grain.

Sprouted Whole Grain Bread vs Regular Whole Wheat Bread

When it comes to the healthiest breads, aim for:

Next healthiest option would be whole wheat, wholemeal, then multigrain.

Any of these choices are better than refined white grains.


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Question For You:

  • If you eat bread, what type do you add to your grocery cart?

Be sure to share your answers in the comment section below.

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