We as humans want carbs, says Katzie Guy-Hamilton director of food and beverage at Equinox. They’re the type of fuel our bodies use best during a workout. But not all types are created equal. “Satisfy your craving for bread with something that's really high-quality versus binging crappy store-bought versions,” Guy-Hamilton says.
In order to keep it from spoiling, there’s more than just flour, water, yeast, and sugar in packaged breads, says Dana White, RD, a sports dietitian based in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Additives, such as the emulsifier polysorbate-80, have been linked to the gut inflammation that contributes to digestive diseases and obesity. Many commercial breads also use highly processed ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup.
And while bread you buy at the local bakery is likely a better bet, you can’t be sure unless you ask them what’s in their recipe. “When you make your own bread, you control the quality and quantity of those ingredients,” says White. That’s why more health-conscious people are turning to baking their own loaves.
“It's an energetic transfer when you make your own bread,” says Guy-Hamilton. “Even if you make healthy choices at restaurants, if you made all of that same food at home, you'd still be healthier.”
Sourdough is made with a fermented yeast “starter,” a flour-and-water mixture that sits out to culture and contains gut-friendly probiotics and has a lower gluten content. “It's not a typical wheat-gluten bread, so your body digests it differently,” says Guy-Hamilton. In fact, these loaves were found to cause fewer digestive symptoms in people with IBS than other kinds of bread. Research also shows that sourdough causes a better blood sugar response in healthy people, which may translate to longer-lasting energy. Get started with this bread starter recipe from Guy-Hamilton’s upcoming book, Clean Enough, available on January 1, 2019
Then, she suggests beginners make a simple pan bread, like this sourdough focaccia. “Use a really good olive oil and buy local whole-grain flour from the farmer's market or Whole Foods.” Paired with a good source of protein, it’s an ideal way to refuel after a workout.
Additional reporting by Furthermore editors.