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Everything you need to know about the mother of all carbs.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with bread? It's a staple of many people's diets, and also a top source of calories.

So which is it: Is bread OK to eat, or is the idea that bread is good for us half-baked? Here's what you should know.

Bread and the Battle of the Bulge

Is bread to blame for your extra pounds? Maybe.

"We go overboard on bread and other highly refined grains," says Heather Bauer, RD, co-author of Bread is the Devil: Win the Weight Loss Battle by Taking Control of Your Diet Demons. "When you're hungry, tired, or stressed, you tend to reach for bread products, not carrot sticks. Problem is, the more you eat bread, the more you want."

Bauer is specifically referring to white bread, crackers, pretzels, and other highly refined grains that have come to symbolize the struggle with weight control.

Eating whole grains, on the other hand, is a sound weight loss strategy.

In one study, people on a lower-calorie diet that included whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, lost more belly fat than those who ate only refined grains, such as white bread and white rice.

Whole grains provide more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than refined. But overdoing whole wheat bread can add pounds, too. So account for it in your daily calorie budget.

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