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The Slice of White Bread Rule

I see food broken down into slices of bread.  It’s my point of reference to gauge the carbohydrate density of the food.  1 slice of bread is my carbohydrate equivalency of food.  Here is what I mean and some examples.


It isn’t so much about counting calories.  The focus should be on net carbs.  By keeping net carbs low you have the carbs you need for energy, without gaining weight.  If you keep your net carbs low enough, your body will be in a position to burn fat for fuel.  It is important to track your net carbs, and it helps to have a visual of what a typical serving of carbohydrates looks like.  This is why I talk about the slice of white bread.


The trend is for people to understand calories and tracking them.  Carbohydrates seem to be more elusive and having a visual like a piece of bread helps people a better grasp.  A serving of carbohydrates is 15 grams.  We can picture 1 slice of white bread looks like, well it is 15 grams of carb, which is 1 serving.

Picture 2 slices of white bread.  It is 2 servings of carbohydrate.  2 slices of white bread is 15g X 2= 30 grams carbohydrate.  Picture 3 slices of white bread.  That’s 45 grams of carbohydrate (3 servings).

I bet you can’t remember the last time you ate 3 slices of white bread in one sitting.  That’s the point. 3 servings of white bread as an afternoon snack is an odd choice.  Imagine this, a grande soy latte is a typical afternoon pick-me-up.  It is socially normal, accepted, and seems reasonable to order one up.  There are many people who enjoy this 5 days a week, Monday through Friday.  Here is the tricky part.  A grande soy latte is 41 grams of carbs.  Picture that stack of 3 slices of bread, for an afternoon snack, it makes you think twice.


The slices of bread is a visual way to conceptualize whether a food has a lot of carbs (thus taking up a lot of room in your glycogen stores) or only a little.  The fewer carbs that you ingest, the lower your net carbs, giving your body a chance to burn fat for fuel.  In the absence of net carbs, your body begins to burn fat for fuel.

Understanding this is, well….It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Remember a lot of foods contain carbs, and just because a food has carbs does not mean that it is bad for you and that you shouldn’t eat it.  It isn’t off-limits. You just need to compute how many slices of bread the food equates to and determine if it fits into your “Carb budget”.  Just because it has a high number of carbs doesn’t mean it’s bad or off-limits.

1 slice of white bread (15g carbs)

2 slices of white bread (30g carbs)

3 slices of white bread (45g carbs)


The carb content of food can be offset by fiber (total carb-fiber=net carb).  So, if a food has the carb equivalent to 3-4 slices of white bread, you can still have it with CarpenterOne80 so long as you have enough net carbs left not to exceed your daily carb allotment.  I typically stay below 35g net carbs for weight loss.  I stay below 75g for maintenance.  To really stretch the number of carbs you can eat, aim for foods with the most fiber.  The greater the portion of carbohydrates in a food that are actually fiber, the lower the net carb.  The lower the net carb, the greater your chances of burning fat for fuel.