„Get Slim While You Sleep“? – Protein Bread, the New Trend at the Bakery

Ein Bericht aus unserem Laboralltag

Dorothee Doludda




Research Background

More and more bakeries are offering so-called protein bread. This bread is supposed to help one lose weight, even if it doesn’t exactly cause the pounds to shed while sleeping.


Carbohydrate-reduced diets such as the „Low Carb Diet“, „Food Combination Diet“, „Atkins-Diet“or the „Schlank im Schlaf” (“Get Slim While You Sleep“) diet have unleashed the new trend toward protein breads.  Bread usually contains flour, which in turn consists mostly of carbohydrates (e.g. starch). Consequently, bread normally has a high percentage of carbohydrate and a fairly small amount of protein. For example, wheat-rye bread contains approximately 42 % carbohydrate and about 7 % protein.  By eating protein bread, however, it should now be possible to consume fewer carbohydrates.


Research and Results

At CVUA Stuttgart, 14 samples of „protein bread“ were analyzed. Those that had been advertised as protein bread were further checked for compliance with the food law.  In order to augment bread with a high percentage of protein, wheat-, soy-, and lupine proteins are added, often in the form of a „protein concentrate mixture“.  Bakers often use a pre-made bread-making mixture. The percentage of protein in the bread is further increased by the addition of other soy or lupine products which, being legumes, also contain protein. Whole-grain flours such as wheat, rye and spelt are often used.  Altogether, however, much less flour is used in protein bread than in normal bread. All of the 14 samples of analyzed bread contained an exorbitant amount of sunflower and flax seeds; some also had sesame and poppy seeds.  The many oil seeds are added, among other reasons, for taste, and when the bread is consumed, one is reminded mostly of sunflower seeds or flaxseed bread. Bearing little resemblance to bread, it tastes more like bacon fat and has a consistency that is much more dense and gooey than normal bread.  Poking at the bread will leave a dent.  

The protein breads were analyzed for their content of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.  On average, the breads contained 12.5 % fat (7 - 20.5 %). As a comparison, seed breads, flaxseed bread, and whole-grain bread with sunflower seeds contain 5% fat; whole grain rye bread has, in contrast, only 1 gr. fat per 100 gr. bread. Vis-à-vis the distribution of fatty acids, the high percentage of fat content detected in the analyzed bread samples was a result of the large quantity of oil seeds.  In terms of protein levels, the average sample contained 21 % protein. All of the bread samples fulfilled the legal requirement for protein bread; at least 12 % of the energy calories must be apportioned to the percentage of protein.  Traditional bread with oil seeds contains approximately 7% protein. The average quantity of carbohydrates was approx. 12 %. Also here, all 14 samples fulfilled the legal stipulation for designating bread as „carbohydrate reduced“: the bread must contain at least 30% fewer carbohydrates than a comparable product.  For traditional bread with oil seeds, the average content of carbohydrates is about 40 %.

On average, the analyzed bread contained 12% fiber.  This is likewise explained by the high quantity of oil seeds and whole grain. Whole grain rye bread contains about 8% fiber, whereas the same bread with the addition of sunflower seeds provides 10% fiber.   According to legal guidelines, food that is advertised as “fiber rich” must contain a minimum of 6 gr. fiber per 100 gr. food product.


Assessing the Advertising Message

Assessing advertisements for protein bread, which are often attached as fliers, stickers, or posters, is more difficult, primarily in reference to their apparent weight reducing properties.  What is beyond dispute is the fact that consuming „protein bread“ instead of „normal bread“ does not lead to weight loss.  The high fat content alone (and the accompanying calories) precludes this possibility.  This does not always come across clearly enough in the advertisements, however.  Names or slogans such as „lithe and svelte“ or „get slim while you sleep“, which are used in direct connection with the product, can give the consumer the impression that the bread itself makes one „slim“.  Three protein bread advertisements of this kind have been judged as deceptive.  In one case, the bread was even advertised as having “fewer calories”; this statement was also unambiguously fallacious.  Declaring the bread as “low carb” is legally prohibited.  Three of the bread advertisements made this illegal assertion.  It is also against food regulations to allude to doctors. In four cases, Dr. Pape’s „Schlank im Schlaf” (“Get Slim While You Sleep“) principle was also mentioned in connection with a Dr. Worm.  This advertisement was found to be in violation of the law.  Assertions that protein bread can contribute to weight reduction as part of a carbohydrate reduction diet (e.g. “Low Carb”, “Food Combination”, “Get Slim While You Sleep”, etc.) are addressed in the EU regulation Nr. 1924 / 2006 regarding claims of nutritional value and food-related health.  As of yet, these statements must be thoroughly supported with scientific evidence; otherwise, they will be considered a violation.  Since December, 2012 health-related assertions may only be made when they have been scientifically investigated and approved via the European Food Safety Authority and published in the Community List of Permitted Claims(EU Regulation Nr. 432 / 2012).  In this list there are no permissible statements in which protein-rich or reduced carbohydrate foods can be connected with weight-loss properties.  Some health-related claims that have been investigated were rejected by the EU on the grounds that there were insufficient scientific safeguards. Among these was the statement that protein-rich nutrition, meals, or diets cause longer satiety, and thereby help in the effort toward weight loss.  Such assertions regarding protein bread are no longer permissible.  


Whoever buys and eats protein bread should know that the consumption of protein bread alone will in no way lead to a slim figure.  In comparison to normal bread, protein bread has more fat and calories, and thus leads to a higher consumption of calories!  Protein bread is appropriate for the consumer at most when he or she wishes to reduce carbohydrate intake within the context of such a diet, but still wants to eat “bread”.  But here one must also be careful: the theory behind the reduced carbohydrate diets has not been proven.  And the consumption of too much fat and protein can have negative consequences for ones health.  Moreover, the taste of protein bread needs getting used to and is comparatively more expensive.

Without dispute, the fact remains that one loses weight only when one burns more energy than one takes in.  In this sense, the goal of weight loss would be better served by walking to the bakery and eating normal bread than by driving there in a car and eating protein bread.


Photo credits:

CVUA Stuttgart.

Frau mit einem Maßband (Woman With a Measuring Tape), Benjamin Thorn,Pixelio.de, Image-ID= 610127.

Alle Jahre wieder…., Marianne J., Pixelio.de, Image-ID= 623207.


Artikel erstmals erschienen am 26.02.2013