Pasta Without the Pounds
Sep 21, 2018 12:00AM
● By Brian Saucedo
By Kelsey Casselbury
Last spring, a team of Canadian researchers released a scientific analysis of evidence that concluded, in their words, “pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat”—and carb-lovers everywhere rejoiced.
Ah, but like with almost everything, there’s a catch. The study (which was funded in part by Barilla, a pasta company) determined that pasta can be part of a low-glycemic index diet. However, it’s key that the pasta is accompanied by foods that are also low on the glycemic index because that’s what tempers the effect on your bloodstream. The glycemic index measures how a food that contains carbohydrates affects your blood sugar, and spikes in your blood sugar can affect weight by making you feel hungrier, even if you just ate.
So, here’s what we know: If you eat an overall low-GI diet, then pasta is less likely to cause weight gain. Here’s what else we want to know: How else can you enjoy pasta consistently without worrying about packing on the pounds? Some answers:
◼ It should probably go without saying, but portion size is a big part of keeping pasta calories in check. One serving refers to two ounces of dry pasta, which translates to around one cup of cooked pasta. There’s not really an easy way to measure out dry pasta without a
special tool, so stick to divvying out a cup of pasta at a time after it’s cooked.
◼ Although the study didn’t differentiate between types of pasta, go for whole-wheat varieties. It has double the fiber of traditional pasta, which slows the effect of the carbohydrates on your blood sugar, as well as slightly more protein.
◼ If you’d rather skip the carbs entirely, there are a few noodle-like options out there for you. Be aware, though, that they won’t really taste like pasta, but they have their benefits, too. Options include shirataki noodles, which are made out of tofu and work best in Asian dishes; spaghetti squash, a vegetable that can be shredded into spaghetti-like strands; and the ever-popular zoodle (zucchini), which you can make with your own spiralizer or buy prepared at nearly all local markets these days.