You certainly can eat pasta and lose weight!

pasta & weight loss

Pasta is low in calories, and it’s a filling food. Eating reasonable portions of pasta without many extra calories from sauces can actually help you lose weight!

How many calories does pasta have?

Pasta is actually low in calories. 100g of cooked pasta has about 160 calories. Furthermore, a cup (140g) of cooked pasta has only 220 calories.[1]

Pasta is a good source of protein!

Pasta is mainly carbs. 100g of cooked pasta has about 30g of carbs, and 5.7g of protein! Furthermore, a cup of pasta has about 8g of protein!

Protein is good for weight loss. First, protein is necessary to preserve the lean body mass, which is vital for a good metabolism. Secondly, we burn 20-30% of calories from protein during digestion! On the contrary, we burn 5-10% of calories from carbs, and only 0-3% of calories from fat.[2]

In other words, the body can easily digest fat from food, storing it as body fat! On the other hand, carbs and especially, protein demand high amounts of energy for their digestion. So, following a diet high in protein is good for weight loss.

Pasta keeps you full for a long time

Additionally, pasta is good for losing weight, as it’s a good source of dietary fiber. A serving of cooked pasta has up to 5.5g of fiber!

We need about 28g of fiber a day. Vegetables, fruits, and whole cereal are the best dietary sources! A serving of whole wheat pasta provides up to 20% of the recommended daily intake!

Certainly, fiber helps us lose weight. Above all, fiber keeps us full for a long time and regulates appetite! It takes more time to digest food high in fiber. Also, fiber needs more space in the stomach.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are the best sources of dietary fiber. Foods rich in protein and fiber are the most fillings ones.

As pasta contains lots of fiber, it’s a very satiating food.[3] Therefore, reasonable amounts of pasta can be part of a diet for losing weight.

Prefer whole wheat pasta

Certainly, you should prefer eating whole wheat pasta. It has more vitamins and nutrients which are necessary for a good metabolism which burns fat.

whole wheat
pasta
white
pasta
calories (kcal)207220
fiber (g)5.52.5
calcium (mg)18.29.8
iron (mg)2.41.8
magnesium (mg)7625
phosphorus (mg)17681
potassium (mg)13362
zinc (mg)1.90.7
selenium (mcg)5137
copper (mg)0.340.14
lutein & zeaxanthin (mcg)13010
vitamin E (mg)0.320.08
Nutritional value of 1 cup of cooked pasta.

For instance, a serving of whole wheat pasta has 5.5g of fiber. On the contrary, white pasta has only 2.5g of fiber. Certainly, whole grains fill you up more.

Most noteworthy, whole grains are beneficial for health. Whole cereal can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Pasta helps you lose weight, as it’s a low Glycemic Index

Pasta is mainly carbs, but pasta has a low glycemic index of 34-42, depending on the variety and cooking method.[4] So, eating pasta won’t spike blood sugar levels and won’t cause huge insulin secretion.

In general, refined carbs and sugar make us fat, as they’ve a pretty high glycemic index. Foods that significantly increase blood sugar levels can make us gain weight. But, pasta is good for losing and preserving a normal body weight. Actually, pasta can help you reduce body weight and improve your BMI (Body Mass Index) score.[5]

How to eat pasta to prevent weight gain?

Pasta is low in calories, but you still can gain weight eating too much, or adding fatty sauces. These 10 tips can help you lose weight eating your favorite pasta regularly!

Don’t eat too much, if you want to lose weight

According to the American Heart Association, we should consume 6 servings of grains a day. At least half should be whole grains which are high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. 1oz of uncooked pasta or 1/2 cup of cooked pasta is a serving.[6]

Therefore, you could eat 1 cup of whole wheat pasta 3 times a week, without gaining weight. It’s the equivalent of 2oz of dry pasta.

Avoid eating more than a cup of pasta a day. People won’t lose weight, if they consume more than 2 cups of pasta a day. 2 cups of pasta are the equivalent of 4 servings of grains. Moreover, 2 cups have 440 calories, without counting calories from sauce!

Consuming other whole grains is good for weight loss, as well. Whole wheat bread, rice, oatmeal, and especially popcorn are beneficial for losing weight.

But, people get fat eating pasta because they consume too much. People eat about 230g – 350g of pasta a day, instead of the recommended portion which in only 140g![7] This portion would provide up to 550 calories! Without counting calories from sauce.

Therefore, you can get fat, if you eat too much pasta. Above all, be extra careful when you eat pasta at restaurants. Pasta is a cheap ingredient. So, restaurants provide huge portions.

“Al Dente” pasta is more filling

If you want to lose weight, don’t overcook pasta. Minimum cooking time can make pasta more filling. Also, al dente pasta has the lowest glycemic index of 34, compared to other cooking methods! Additionally, al dente pasta has slower digestion rates.[8]

Avoid high calorie sauces, if you want to lose weight

Pasta is low in calories, but when we use fatty sauces, we add way too many calories. We should avoid ingredients, such as vegetable oil, cheese, and heavy cream. They’re pretty high calories!

For instance, just a tbsp of any vegetable oil has 120 calories! Moreover, cheese and heavy cream may contain more than 340 calories per 100g! Dairy can make you fat, as they’re high in calories and saturated fat.

Use sauces low in calories, containing spices & herbs

There are many recipes for pasta sauces with spices and herbs. These ingredients are pretty low in calories and high in fiber. Prefer them, if you want to lose weight! Most noteworthy, herbs and spices are particularly rich in antioxidants. So, they can protect us from inflammation which is another cause of obesity!

Last, but not least, pasta tastes great with nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast comes from molasses. Nutritional yeast has a natural cheesy flavor, but it’s actually vegan. Above all, nutritional yeast is particularly high in protein (8g per serving), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, thiamine, niacin, zinc, and copper!

Moreover, a serving of nutritional yeast has only 40 calories. Pasta with nutritional yeast is fantastic for health and weight loss. Nutritional yeast is cheap too. You can compare prices on Amazon.

Tomato sauce can help you lose weight

Additionally, classic tomato sauce is an excellent choice for pasta. Above all, tomatoes are pretty low in calories, and they’re good for losing weight.

Moreover, tomato products are the best dietary sources of lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant which prevents weight gain, due to inflammation! Also, lycopene is good for your hair! It may prevent premature hair loss.

Lycopene isn’t vulnerable to heat. So, all tomato products are high in lycopene!

Add salt & fatty sauces on top of pasta

If you want to lose weight, avoid adding too much salt on pasta. High salt intake can make you gain weight. You can sprinkle salt or any other fatty sauce on top of the dish. Only after pasta is on the plate. So, you add the minimum amount of salt, without affecting flavor.

Drink water before pasta

Also, you can drink water before eating pasta. When we drink water with foods high in fiber, we are full for a longer time. Water expands fiber. So, fiber takes more space in the stomach, having a higher satiating effect.

Eat a salad or fruit before pasta

As a rule of thumb, avoid eating pasta on an empty stomach. When we’re hungry, we tend to consume more calories than we think. Therefore, eating foods low in calories before a meal regulates appetite. So, we consume fewer calories.

Vegetables and fruits are pretty low in calories. Therefore, eat a salad or a fruit before pasta. Moreover, prefer vegetables and fruits high in water, in order, to have a higher satiating effect. So, you can eat tomatoes, cucumber, pineapple, and watermelon before a meal.

It seems that diets with foods low in calories can help you lose weight and preserve a normal body weight. For instance, the famous Mediterranean diet which is rich in fruits and vegetables, can help you lose weight, no matter the amount of pasta consumed.[9]

Eating pasta after exercise won’t make you gain weight

Additionally, pasta and other foods with carbs are good for athletes and active people. Carbs are the best source of energy! Moreover, the body needs high amounts of carbs after a workout, as glycogen stores in muscles have been depleted. Carbs in pasta can replenish glycogen in muscles. Therefore, eating pasta after exercise can help muscles recover faster!

Pasta at dinner can make you fat

On the contrary, you shouldn’t eat pasta late at night. Foods high in carbs at night can make you gain weight. Consuming foods high in calories at dinner decreases glucose tolerance and metabolism.[10] People who have a small breakfast and a large dinner can’t lose weight easy!

Unfortunately, Americans typically consume more pasta at dinner compared to lunch.[11] This is a bad habit which can lead to obesity!

Pasta is good for weight loss!

To sum up, eating normal portions of pasta, up to 3 times a week, with low calorie sauces, can certainly help you lose weight. After all, there are many studies that found no association of pasta with obesity, increased risk of Body Mass Index, waist circumference, or waist-to-hip ratio.[12]

Be careful though… On the other hand, eating too much pasta, along with fatty and high calorie sauces, can make you fat.