Arnold Schwarzenegger said that cutting out bread helped him lose weight, but dietitians say a calorie deficit is more important than banning carbs

Arnold schwarzenegger pretzels
Arnold Schwarzenegger with his girlfriend, Heather Milligan, and DJ Oetzi at a party in Germany in January 2016. Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger said in his newsletter that he cut out bread to help him lose weight.
  • Bread isn’t inherently fattening, but it’s easy to overeat, Dr. Spencer Nadolsky told Insider.
  • Bread provides important nutrients and energy, said Tai Ibitoye, a dietitian.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Across the world, many people are frantically trying to get in shape for summer – and Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of them.

The bodybuilder has been documenting his weight-loss journey for his 21.6 million Instagram followers, and in his latest email newsletter, Schwarzenegger said he had cut bread from his diet to help him reach his goals.

“I doubled down on my workouts and bike rides and cut out the bread this month and I’m almost at my goal weight of 218 – well, to be totally honest, I actually still have 2kg to go, so I’m not there yet,” the newsletter said. “But I am celebrating my progress so far!”

However, dietitians said that Schwarzenegger’s no-bread approach might work for some but not others.

Reducing carbs can help some people, but you don’t need to cut out bread to lose weight

Though bread is often demonized as “fattening,” this isn’t true, Tai Ibitoye, a dietitian, told Insider, and you don’t need to cut it out of your diet to lose weight.

Losing weight comes down to being in a calorie deficit, and where you cut those calories is up to you – a medium slice of bread contains 80 to 90 calories.

When aiming to stick to a calorie deficit, some people prefer to cut back on carbs because protein and fats are generally more satiating (and protein is important for maintaining muscle mass).

Some people find it easy to overeat bread, so cutting it out helps them hit their calorie deficit.

“You can technically cut out any calorie-containing food to lose weight,” Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, a cardio-metabolic-medicine physician specializing in obesity and lipidology, told Insider. “If bread is something Arnold feels he overindulges in and has a tough time controlling, then cutting it out may be helpful, but it’s not magic.”

A post shared by Dr. Spencer Nadolsky (@drnadolsky)

Nick Shaw, a former bodybuilder and a cofounder of a fitness and nutrition company called RP Strength, agreed. “It’s not that bread makes you lose weight magically, but it’s the reduction in calories and of good-tasting foods being a good way to eat a bit less that helps with weight loss,” Shaw said.

But if you enjoy bread, it won’t be sustainable to cut it out of your diet.

“Instead of focusing on certain foods or food groups to cut out from diet to lose weight, focus more on having a nutritionally balanced and varied diet including different types of food with appropriately sized portions,” Ibitoye said.

Bread contains important nutrients and provides energy

Ibitoye said it’s important to remember that food is more than calories.

“Bread contains important nutrients such as calcium, iron, and B vitamins like niacin and thiamine which are needed for various bodily functions,” she said. “Brown bread does contain a bit more fiber than white bread, but that doesn’t mean that white bread is lacking of all nutritional value.”

Schwarzenegger needs to ensure he has other sources of starchy carbs in his diet, according to Ibitoye.

“Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, and we need it to fuel our daily activities,” she said. “Our brain also needs adequate supply of energy to help us concentrate and stay focused.”

Restricting carbs can lead to nutritional deficiencies and, in turn, headaches, lethargy, dizziness, and irritability, Ibitoye said.