How to lose weight while still eating pasta

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No longer do you need to pass by that delicious bowl of spaghetti or carbonara, with a new study claiming that you can lose weight while still enjoying your favourite pasta dish.

Conventional wisdom – and dieting advice – has always told us that cutting back on carbohydrates is crucial to achieving weight loss. But according to researchers at the St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, you can still eat pasta while also cutting the kilos.

The researchers undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of 32 randomised controlled trials that involved 2,448 people who ate pasta, instead of other carbohydrates, as part of a low-glycaemic index diet.

The particpiants involved in the clinical trials ate an average of 3.3 servings of pasta a week instead of other carbohydrates. It was found that they lost about half a kilogram after 12 weeks. However, it should be noted that serving sizes were a rather modest half-cup of cooked pasta.

Unlike most refined carbohydrates such as white bread, cakes and biscuits – that are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream – pasta has a lower glycaemic index, meaning it causes smaller increases in blood sugar levels than those caused by eating foods with a high glycaemic index.

Lead author of the study, Dr. John Sievenpiper, a clinician scientist with the hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre, said they found that pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat.

“In fact analysis actually showed a small weight loss. So contrary to concerns, perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet such as a low GI diet,” he said.

The report noted that the results are an important food discovery given the negative messages that dieters have previously received regarding carbs.

The authors further confronted the assumption that the study only looked at pasta such as wholemeal or spelt, noting that although pastas can and do vary widely between their shape, ingredients and processing techniques, these modifications produce only a slight variation in the GI value of pasta.

The authors stressed that the results are generalised to pasta consumed along with other low-glycaemic index foods, as part of a balanced low-glycaemic index diet. They caution that more work is needed to determine if the lack of weight gain will extend to pasta as part of other healthy diets.

“In weighing the evidence, we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight outcomes when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern,” said Dr. Sievenpiper.

Don’t get carried away

With the results of the Canadian study only assessed on eating pasta as part of a low-GI diet, it is not clear whether or not pasta is a smart move for those trying to lose weight with other types of diets.

The key has always been moderation and being active. The Australian dietary guidelines recommend being physically activity and choosing only the amount of food and drink that is necessary in order to meet energy needs is important to maintain a healthy weight.

It’s also vital to consume a wide variety of nutritious foods from all five food groups daily. Furthermore, foods containing saturated fat, added salt and sugar, as well as alcohol, should be limited.

Meanwhile the Australian Heart Foundation has issued new advice calling on dieters to drop ‘fad diets’ in order to concentrate on a healthy, balanced diet.

“It’s really not a complicated message,” said Professor Garry Jennings, National Chief Medical Advisor of the Heart Foundation. “It’s about variety, colour and a sustainable diet.”

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