What's Better: Whole Wheat or Whole Grain?

January 17, 2013 | Kait Fortunato

Must See Nutrition Videos

Being a healthy consumer is becoming increasing difficult, because the food industry keeps pushing more products as "nutritious," "low-fat," "heart healthy," and "all-natural." Take bread for example. It's tough to determine which is better for you with so many labels littered with words like "white wheat," "whole wheat," "multigrain" and "whole grain." (See What Makes Food Unhealthy?)

As a rule of thumb, wheat bread is better than white bread because it's a lower glycemic food item. This means it breaks down more slowly, keeping your blood sugars stable for longer lasting energy. Foods made with whole wheat flour also have more fiber, contributing to digestive health and satiety.

All whole grains are good sources of B vitamins and iron. "Whole wheat" means the bread is made from the entire wheat kernel, whereas "whole grain" means it could be made from any whole grain kernel, such as barley, oats or spelt. Different grains have different nutritional profiles, but all whole grains are nutrient dense, with plenty of complex carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

What you want to be careful about are foods labeled plain "wheat" or "multigrain." If you don't see the word "whole" on the package, it means the bread might not be made from the entire kernel. If it's not made with the whole grain, it means that part of the endosperm has been removed, depleting the bread of some of its vitamin content. "Multigrain" can be confusing, because it does not always mean the "whole" part of the grain seed is used, only that it contains more than one grain.

Another good thing to look for is whether the first ingredient on the package says "whole grain," "whole wheat" or "100-percent whole wheat." This means the item listed is the main ingredient in the bread.

(See Pick and Pass: Multigrain Pringles vs. Newman's Own Light Butter Popcorn.)

Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Must See
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 33,759,708
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 8,115,396
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 21,155,429

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,018,026
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,983
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,968
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,798
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,533
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,577,381
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,222
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,214

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

To perform at their best athletes need to eat the right foods to fuel their workouts and rebuild muscle. However, most athletes tend to eat foods that...

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

Cookout Commandments: What to Eat (and Avoid) at Your Summer BBQ

Cookout Commandments: What to Eat (and Avoid) at Your Summer BBQ

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

The Boston Cannons' Keep It Real Eating Plan

The Boston Cannons'

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

YardBarker