Livlife low-carb bread review

livlife low-carb breadLivlife low-carb bread hit the shelves of Waitrose stores across the UK in 2013 (not currently available outside of the UK).
Backed by a major advertising campaign with the strapline “Bread is back”, it has generated a lot of publicity.
I bake low-carb bread myself all the time, so I was intrigued. I know it can be hard to get it right when baking at home, let alone to create a commercial product on this scale.

So can Livlife bread be as good as all the hype promised? I had to investigate.

Livlife low-carb bread – ingredients

Livlife “Seriously seeded” bread contains the following ingredients:
Water, wholemeal wheat flour, wheat gluten, mixed seeds 10% (brown linseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds), wheat protein, kibbled soya, soya flour, wheat fibre, sunflower oil, bran, salt, yeast, malt flour, preservative calcium propionate (added to inhibit mould growth), wheat dextrose, emulsifier mono-and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids, wheat flour, vegetable oil (palm oil, rapeseed oil), flour treatment agent ascorbic acid (vitamin C). 
Information as provided on the packaging and on the Livlife website.
As you can see the main ingredient is still wheat flour. This makes it unsuitable for gluten-free and Paleo diets.
Carb content is lowered by adding 10% mixed seeds, plus soya flour and proteins isolated from wheat and soya.
In addition to wheat and soya flours that are heavily processed, the bread contains chemical additives and preservatives. Livlife opted to include their full names rather than E-numbers (I guess it looks marginally better), but the following ingredients are chemical food additives with associated E-numbers:

  • calcium propionate: E-282
  • emulsifier mono-and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids: E472e
  • ascorbic acid: E300

So although its carb content is lower, this product is just as full of processed stuff and additives as conventional sliced bread. If you are following Paleo/Primal eating plan, or just simply trying to eat clean, it is definitely not for you.
To be fair to Livlife though, they made no claims with regards to being natural or chemical-free. It’s certainly not any worse in this respect than any other sliced bread on a supermarket shelf.

Livlife low-carb bread – carbs and other nutritional info

Per 100g Per slice
Energy 1096kJ 285kJ
kcal (Calories) 262kcal 68kcal
Protein 25.9g 6.7g
Carbohydrate 14.6g 3.8g
(of which sugars) 3.2g 0.8g
Fat 9.2g 2.4g
(of which saturates) 1.2g 0.3g
Mono unsaturates 2.6g 0.7g
Poly unsaturates 5.1g 1.3g
Fibre 8.3g 2.1g
Sodium 0.34g 0.08g
(Salt equivalent) 0.86g 0.22g

Information as provided on the packaging and on the Livlife website.
This carb content is indeed much better than regular sliced bread, which is usually around 40-50g carbs per 100g.
This is the main selling point for Livlife bread. I must admit that they definitely got it. If you are going to be in Waitrose or any other supermarket looking for low-carb bread, this would definitely be the one with the lowest carb content.
However – if you were to take the time to make your own low-carb bread at home, most recipes based on almond or coconut flour usually deliver lower carb content than this. My bread recipes typically contain around 1-2g net carbs per slice, compared with 3.8g net carbs in a slice of Livlife bread.

How does Livlife bread taste?

livlife bread with boiled egg
Having got my loaf from Ocado this morning, we had some for breakfast. I tasted the bread on its own, toasted, and buttered with a boiled egg.
It actually tastes quite nice! I would say pretty much as well as any other full-carb seeded wholemeal bread. The texture is dense but supple, and it toasts nicely.
This is perhaps not surprising, as the bread does contains a lot of wheat and gluten. Their absence is what makes taste/texture a bit of a challenge in gluten-free baking.
So overall, full marks to Livlife on the score of taste.

Is Livlife bread suitable for specific low-carb diets?

As this bread contains wheat and soya, this makes it off limits for most specific low-carb plans.

Livlife bread on Atkins Diet

Processed grains are not allowed until the final maintenance stage of the diet. Even then, they are not recommended due to their effect on insulin (based on the original and the updated books rather than on Atkins Nutritional products).

Livlife bread on Dukan Diet

Dukan Diet is always mentioned in the press whenever they write about low-carb, because it gives them an excuse to illustrate with photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, who was allegedly a follower.  I don’t blame them for wanting to print more photos of her, but they are definitely missing the point here. This bread would not be suitable for Dukan until the very final stage. While wholegrain bread is allowed during the ongoing maintenance, Dr Dukan would probably prefer you to have standard wholemeal bread, which is lower in fat than Livlife.

Livlife bread on Keto Diet

At 14g net carbs per 100g and based on wheat flour, Livlife bread would be difficult to incorporate into ketogenic diets.

Livlife bread on Paleo Diet

Definitely not – the bread is based on wheat flour, and pretty much all other ingredients (except for seeds) are heavily processed.

Who produces Livlife bread?

Livlife bread is produced by Nicholas & Harris, a Salisbury-based bakery focusing on specialty pre-packed breads, rolls and buns. Nicholas & Harris are part of Finsbury Food Group, a major food corporation with millions of pounds in annual bread sales. So definitely a big industrial player, with enough cash to invest in a nation-wide advertising and PR campaign for their new product.

Livlife bread – the verdict

Livlife bread slicesLivlife is definitely lower in carbs than conventional supermarket breads. If you are simply trying to reduce carbs, then it is a great option.
However, this product is too high in carbs and heavily processed ingredients for most popular low-carb diets such as Atkins.
If you are serious about eating low-carb, you would be much better off either avoiding bread altogether. Alternatively, bake your own bread at home from nut-based flours and seeds. It is actually quite easy, and there are plenty of recipes out there.
You can find some recipes on this website: almond flour bread, coconut flour bread.
There are hundreds of other recipes out there for breads that are gluten-free, free of chemicals and lower in carbs than Livlife. Check out my collection of low-carb bread recipes on Pinterest.

Livlife bread is a good start!

Having said all that, I think that it is overall a positive development that a major supermarket like Waitrose is aware enough of the low-carb trend to start stocking low-carb products.
Livlife is definitely a better choice than standard bread. If people start buying Livlife instead of their normal white or brown sliced bread, then they would end up lowering their overall carbs intake.
Finally, I am grateful to Livlife for all the publicity they generated. Low-carb dieting is being discussed in the press as a viable dietary choice. While their product may not be perfect, it is the first genuinely mass-produced mainstream one, so let’s hope that there will be more to follow.

Where to buy

Livlife bread is now available from Waitrose and Ocado.
You can also get Livlife bread on Amazon UK.

What do you think?

Have you tried it? Do you agree with what the points I raised?
Please post your comments below and let’s discuss!

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11 comments on “Livlife low-carb bread review

  1. I’m not on a specific low carb diet, just trying to reduce carbs as a way of helping to manage my diabetes.
    I’m loving this bread. You’re right, it’s tasty, and I have now been able to go back to four slices a day for the same carb intake as one slice of ‘normal’ seeded bread This leaves me far less hungry. I’ve also been able to cut back on my insulin without losing blood glucose control, and been able to lose weight as a result for the first time in ages (insulin made me pile on the weight), despite mobility issues which make exercise difficult.
    The main reason I like it though is it’s AFFORDABLE. £1.50 a loaf compares not too unfavourably with ordinary bread (and today it was on promotion at 2 loaves for £2, so I stocked up). I used to make my own in a breadmaker, and would probably do so again if the cost of ingredients for home made low carb bread weren’t so prohibitive.

    1. Hi Catie, it’s great that you are enjoying this product and that it works for you. I agree that making your own low-carb bread is a lot more expensive.
      However, I think the price usually reflects quality – when you make it yourself from scratch, you know exactly where all the ingredients come from, and that they are all natural and high-quality. When looking at the list of ingredients on this bread, it does seem to be as full of junk as any standard sliced white bread from a supermarket bargain shelf (but sure, with a lot fewer carbs).
      I am not trying to lecture you – obviously this is your choice and it depends on your budget and whether you think natural ingredients and clean eating is important.
      We all make our own choices, so some of us do opt to pay more for higher quality. It’s the same argument with free-range eggs, grass-fed meat etc etc.
      Anyway – it’s great that LivLife is working out well for you – best of luck with your diet!

  2. the bread is great, just try it. wow its having 3.8 carbs per slice but the net carbs r 1,7. so we can enjoy it

    1. And there is little mistake here in this – you r saying: ”My bread recipes typically contain around 1-2g net carbs per slice, compared with 3.8g net carbs in a slice of Livlife bread.” but 3,8 is the carbs – not the net carbs. CARBS-FIBER=NET CARBS its going to 1,7net carbs

      1. Hi, I am afraid the formula you mention only works in the US. In Europe, carb count shown on packaging shows the carb figure with fibre already subtracted. So LivLife bread does come with 3.8g net carbs. Sorry 🙁

        1. Wow I didn’t realise that! I have been deducting the fibre from carbs! Luckily I am only on day 3 so can now start to do it the right way! Many thanks Carbophobic!

  3. I’m on the exante low carb diet and in my low calorie week, so as a treat my wife and I bought a loaf of this yesterday, and have just had a bacon sandwich made with it and 2 medallions of bacon, 172kcals, 7.2g of carbs. I’m substituting this for one of my shakes.
    Have to say it’s pretty good… not the nicest I’ve ever tried, but an acceptable alternative to regular bread. Small slices, but because we haven’t had big meals for the last few weeks I feel pleasantly plump. Going to freeze the rest of the loaf now, as we won’t have any more until next week, plus we have flaxmeal to try making our own bread at some point.

    1. Thank you for your comment Barrie! I agree it does taste quite nice, especially considering the carb content. But it’s great that you are planning to have a go at making your own bread – it might turn out even better than LivLife 🙂

  4. Perhaps they are not making it available in all stores just yet.
    It is definitely available online from both Waitrose and Ocado, but then they have a minimum spend of £40 for online orders, so you couldn’t just get the bread.
    Thanks for letting me know that you couldn’t get hold of it, I will update my article accordingly.

  5. asked for it in our local (Abingdon) Waitrose store and advised that they have not heard of it or intend to stock it.

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