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...

Featured Videos

Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 199,152
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Views: 399,519
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 77,649
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

Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,374
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,224,126
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,531
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,921,057
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 6,202,163

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
9 Foods to Eat When You Want to Lose Fat

9 Foods to Eat When You Want to Lose Fat

9 Foods for Fat Loss Whether you track macros, eat Paleo, or go on a juice cleanse, the real struggle with a fat loss diet is the hunger and desire to...

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

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

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

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

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Create a Nutritious Breakfast with This Simple Formula

Create a Nutritious Breakfast with This Simple Formula

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

Registered Dietitians Reveal Their Favorite Ways to Eat Fruit

Registered Dietitians Reveal Their Favorite Ways to Eat Fruit

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

How to Eat Healthy at a Dingy Sports Bar

How to Eat Healthy at a Dingy Sports Bar

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

The Boston Cannons' ‘Keep It Real’ Eating Plan

The Boston Cannons' 'Keep It Real' Eating Plan

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

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

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

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

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

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

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

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

What to Eat If You Hate Bananas

What to Eat If You Hate Bananas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Binge Eating Disorder and Athletes

Binge Eating Disorder and Athletes

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

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

YardBarker