Man CAN Live on Bread Alone...and Thrive

September 7, 2015                                          Matt Salis - Owner, Great Harvest Bread Co. of Denver


Your blood sugar will spike leading toward diabetes!  You won’t get enough protein or vitamins!  All those carbs…you are going to gain weight!


These are all things we heard from family, friends and colleagues – including nutrition professionals – when we announced my plan to eat absolutely nothing but our 100% whole grain Great Harvest Bread Co. bread for the month of August.  No fruits, veggies or meats.  Not even butter or honey to spread on my bread.  All bread all the time.  All 100% whole grain bread, that is.  I have to admit, this pre-August feedback had us a little nervous.  We believed in the nutritional power of our bread and the natural God given purity and life sustaining greatness of its main component - today’s non-GMO “modern wheat”.  Still, the warnings from people we love and respect had our confidence a little shaken as the calendar turned from July to August.  What was going to happen to me?  Could my willpower hold up on such a boring diet?  Would I make it the whole month without ill effects or developing a hatred of eating?  Would I lose focus and make mistakes?


The answer to the last question is yes.  I cheated on my 100% whole grain bread diet twice during the month.  On August 1st, my wife, Sheri, and I attended a going away party for a friend at the Bull and Bush Brewery.  Remember, my dietary restrictions did allow for liquid bread…you know…beer.  With grain, yeast and water as the main ingredients just like our 100% whole grain bread, there was no reason to avoid liquid bread while on my mission.  I had a couple of beers but ate nothing at the party.  As we left, my wife handed me a mint from the bowl at the host stand by the front door.  I love little red and white pinwheel peppermints.  Without a second thought from either of us, I popped it in my mouth.  As soon as I chewed and swallowed it I regretted it.  I regretted it because it was day one and I had already made a mistake.  I regretted it even more because it was a cinnamon candy (yuk) and I was expecting peppermint.  Was it going to be hard to remember not to eat things?  On August 2nd, I took Communion at church which included our Great Harvest 100% whole grain Honey Whole Wheat bread and about a half an ounce of grape juice.  That one I did not regret at all.  It turns out that locking in on my mission from God was pretty easy after that.  Those were the only two times I stepped outside my diet for the month.


Expert Endorsements

While a good deal of the feedback we received before starting my journey was negative, some of you and some well respected experts in the field of nutrition thought my idea would yield exactly the results we expected.  A customer and nutrition professor at a local university gave an enthusiastic two thumbs-up for our experiment.  A customer, e-mail subscriber and Denver area medical doctor let us know of her excitement about the challenge and anticipation of positive results.  Through contact by the owner of another Great Harvest location we received endorsement for our project from Dr. John McDougall, renowned plant based diet expert.  Dr. McDougall commented that the only nutrients that may be low in a 100% whole grain bread only diet are vitamins A and C.  He suggested that if I made sure to eat some of our fruit breads with raisins, cherries, blueberries and apples in them, my vitamin A and C intake would be just fine.  Dr. McDougall writes about the lies of “Wheat Belly” and other similar distortions in his newsletter here:  With the blessing of Dr. McDougall and others, we regained confidence in the value of our experiment.



What Happened:  100% Whole Grain Bread August

It was touching to Sheri and me to see so many of you take an interest in our mission and ask how I was doing eating 100% whole grain bread alone.  The answer was surprising even to us.  It was pretty easy and I felt great right from the start.  Once the pounds started to drop in the first week, we felt even more confident.  The mind is a funny thing.  When you set out to do something…I mean really lock in on it…your mind takes over and makes the task not only bearable, but even enjoyable.  I looked forward to my next 100% whole grain bread only meal.  Would it be a hunk of Whole Grain Sourdough (my all time favorite) with its five grams of fiber, zero grams of sugar and six grams of protein? 

Maybe I would bake-off a dough ball of Parmesan Pepper Bomb with cayenne pepper and big chunks of parmesan cheese.  How about a moist and delicious thick slab of Blueberry Lemon bread?  Of course, it is always hard to beat a steaming hot slice of our best selling Honey Whole Wheat right from the oven.  I am a foodie.  I love to eat.  Even on this diet, I looked forward to and enjoyed every meal.  With the 100% whole grain bread options at my disposal, can you blame me?


We had a lot of fun with our experiment, too.  We shared our progress through Instagram, facebook and Twitter on a regular basis.  Here is a link to our facebook page, Great Harvest Bread Co. of Denver, if you would like to review the monthly details.  By far the most fun, however, was making videos about our saga with our 13 year old daughter, Cathryn.  She is the oldest of our four children and, truth be told, I am terrified about navigating the waters of teenagehood.  We welcome any opportunity to bond with our kids, but now especially our teen.  Cathryn and I shot a series of low quality, unscripted, one or two take videos about our experiment and posted them to our YouTube channel, Great Harvest Bread Co. of Denver.  We had a blast!  Our last video shows a scene from the new blockbuster superhero movie where I play Kernel Wheat battling evil authors, TV doctors and bloggers who are determined to play on the fears of the unsuspecting US population by vilifying wheat in order to line their own pockets.  These fear mongers who are waging a war on wheat must be stopped, and Kernel Wheat might be our only hope.  Check it out:  Kernel Wheat:  The 100% Whole Grain Superhero.


The Results are In

While a one man, one month study is far from scientifically proven fact, we did take this experiment seriously and compared my health condition before and after.  I had a physical on July 31st and another exam on September 1st.  The results are in, and we are pleased to report the month went even better than we expected.  One of the predictions we heard most commonly about a bread only diet, even a 100% whole grain bread only diet, is that we should expect my blood sugar to spike.  In fact, as the work of Dr. McDougal suggests and as predicted by a few other experts, my blood sugar actually went down.  My Hemoglobin A1C (a measure of average blood sugar over the past 60 to 90 days) on July 31st was 5.3%.  On September 1st, it was 5.0%.  Similarly, my cholesterol improved during my 100% whole grain bread alone month.  My HDL “good cholesterol” improved from 59 to start the month to 63 on September 1st, while my LDL “bad cholesterol” decreased from 103 on July 31st to 92 to once the month was over.  My triglycerides went up slightly, but at 71 on September 1st, they remained well below the 200mg/dL max considered to be healthy.  My total cholesterol was reduced from 171 to 169 during August.  High blood sugar is a cause of diabetes.  Cholesterol issues lead to heart disease.  Both of these bad conditions are linked to obesity.  My 100% whole grain bread diet improved both my blood sugar and cholesterol.  How on earth can Wheat Belly author Dr. William Davis link “evil wheat” to the diseases that wheat is clearly, scientifically, helping me to avoid?  The truth is clearly not important to Dr. Davis and others with his same motives.  Scream loud enough long enough and you will scare people into believing your lies while making piles of cash in the process.


The most personally exciting result of our 100% whole grain bread and only 100% whole grain bread month is that I lost 12 pounds.  I am 42 years old.  It is not easy to lose weight.  I did not lose it because I gave up empty beer calories.  I did not lose it because I changed my exercise routine.  I simply ate all the 100% whole grain bread I wanted.  The healthy whole grains which are positioned on the good end of the glycemic index (indicating that your body has time to burn the calories before they are converted to sugar and fat) allowed me to effortlessly drop a dozen pounds.  I feel great!  This has caused a bit of a dilemma.  August is over.  I can eat anything I want.  While both before and after August I have had and continue with a primarily whole unprocessed foods diet, I am determined to keep the weight off.  Many of you asked what my first meal in September would be.  After my physical mid-morning September 1st (for which I fasted as I did with the July 31st physical), I enjoyed a Wild Bird sandwich from our bakery with low sodium Boar’s Head turkey breast, cucumbers, tomatoes, cherry habanero mustard and sharp white cheddar cheese.



Delicious!  A delicious half sandwich.  I am not crazy.  I am not going to continue to eat 100% whole grain bread alone forever.  My plan to keep off the weight does include a return to my whole unprocessed foods diet.  However, I am going to try to just eat less of these delicious and nutritious foods I love.  Portion size in the typical western diet is a whole other topic.  Suffice it to say it is a leading cause of many of the epidemics that plague our nation.  As Americans it is easier not to face that fact.  Let’s just blame it on the wheat!


Thank you to so many of you for your support, your interest, your concern and your faith during our little experiment.  Now that we know what 100% whole grains do to the body, it is our job to spread the word.  We need your help.  Please forward this to members of your e-mail list who are not Celiac disease sufferers, but think a gluten free diet will lead to weight loss and cure all else that ails them.  Please talk about our experiment the next time you hear someone blame “modern wheat” for the obesity and diabetes epidemic we are currently experiencing.  If you know a member of the news media, please ask them to consider covering this story for the sake of your fellow Denver neighbors.  For your sake and health, and for our sake as well, please continue to buy our 100% whole grain bread and support our mission from God.  Your body and your baker will both thank you very much!

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Great Harvest Bread Co.

of Denver

765 South Colorado Boulevard

Denver, Colorado 80246


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