We often hear about white flour as it is bad for health, which would make you fat more than whole wheat flour... Are these "we say" justified? What are the real differences between these 2 flours? Why would whole wheat flour be better for you? Coup d´barre will give you the answers to its questions by explaining the difference between these 2 types of wheat flour and we will give you advice on its use especially for athletes.
The difference in production:
The white wheat flour, also called refined wheat flour is made from whole wheat grains that have undergone a refining process. During this process the entire bran and germ of the grain are removed and only the endosperm remains to make the flour. Whereas the whole flour is obtained from the entire grains, so with bran, germ and endosperm.
Note: There is also semi-wholemeal flour which falls between white flour and wholemeal flour. That is part of the brans and germs are retained.
These 2 flours can be used for the same dishes such as make a cake, abread, pasta… However there will be some sensory differences. For instance, a cake made with wholemeal flour will have a browner color if it were made with white flour. This brown color is due to the presence of germs and brans which are not present in white one.
Another difference is the taste, the white flour is milder in flavor. The stronger taste of whole flour may not appeal to some people especially for children who prefer things made from white flour in general, for instance white pasta to whole pasta.
We can also note that the texture will be different. A bread made from whole wheat flour will be a little more compact than one from white flour.
Whole wheat flour has higher nutritional value than the white wheat flour but contrary to popular belief the white flour is not more caloric than the whole flour.
To better distinguish the nutritional differences, we compared 2 nutritional facts of 2 packages of pasta of the same shape and brand but one being a package of whole pasta and the other of white paste.
Note: We took the example of pasta here because this comparison is meaningful to everyone. Pasta is one of the most consumed food by athletes but also by the general population. We could have made this same comparison with bread or just with flour.
We can see that the quantity of calories is enough similar. Indeed white and whole wheat flour both contain around 400 calories. So we can’t say that the white wheat flour makes you fat or is worse because more caloric.
What makes whole flour more nutritious than white flour and therefore considered better for your health is the amount of fibers, vitamins and minerals it contains compared to white flour. This is due to the process to obtain white flour. We saw that during its production the germ and the bran is removed to keep only the endosperm. However it is these parts of the grain that are the most nutritious It contains in particular a large amount of B vitamins such as B1, B3, B5, minerals (calcium, potassium and iron) and are very rich in fibers. During the refining process, 80% of the vitamins and minerals and 75% of the total fibers contained in the whole grain are lost.
The different parts of the wheat grain and its nutritional composition:
Indeed you can see in the table above that the biggest difference between these 2 types of pasta is the amount of fibers present.
However fibers are very important in our diet and we generally do not consume enough of them. They can prevent constipation, reduce the risk of colon cancer, bad cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease, and may even help with weight loss management.
They may also be beneficial for people with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetics. These people are often recommended to consume low glycemic index carbohydrates which are less hyperglycemic. Fibers have a low glycemic index and is a supply of poorly digestible carbohydrates that prevent or limit the spike in blood sugar after meals.
It can also be noted that all types of pasta are a very good source of carbohydrates. However white pasta contains slightly more than whole pasta.
With or whole wheat flour for athletes?
While fiber is very important for good health and most of us don't get enough of it. But too much just before exercise can have bad effects on endurance athletes. Consuming too much fiber too close to a competition or intense / long training can lead to an upset stomach, digestive upset, and to more frequent bathroom stops. So endurance athletes should be careful about when and how much fiber they are consuming.
Many athletes prefer to replace whole pasta with white pasta a few days before a competition. In addition to reducing the amount of fibers ingested before exercise, white pasta provides a slightly higher intake of carbohydrates, which are the body's primary source of energy, essential for providing exercise.
However, the body reacts differently in different people. It is therefore recommended that you experiment with different amounts and types of carbohydrates to find which ones work best for you and which ones your body will respond to best. Some people with weak intestines may find it difficult to support fibers. Indeed they can for example worsen bloating and diarrhea.
In general it is recommended to reduce the amount of fiber ingested 2 or 3 days before your sporting event.
It is advisable to favor whole wheat flour daily for its greater nutritional value than white flour except for people with intestinal disorders and / or against medical advice. For our dear athletes, it is also recommended to consume more whole wheat flour except close to their competition or intense and / or long-term effort.
Are you going for an expedition, doing a trail, a cycling circuit, a triathlon ... or you just want a little snack, come and take your Ravito!