Good news, carbs fans! You don't have to give up pasta to lead a healthy lifestyle. In fact, it can actually help you lose weight, according to a new study.
Researchers at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital reviewed the results of 30 controlled trials of people who consumed pasta instead of other carbs as part of a low-glycemic diet. Pasta is low glycemic because it causes smaller increases in blood sugar levels compared to refined carbs — such as white bread and white rice — which are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.
The study, which was published in the journal BMJ Open, included more than 2,400 participants who ate approximately 3.3 servings of pasta per week, which equals to roughly half a cup of cooked pasta per serving, Canoe reports.
As a result, participants lost a median weight of 1.1 pounds over 12 weeks.
"The study found that pasta didn't contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat," said Dr. John Sievenpiper, the lead study author and clinician scientist at St. Michael's Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre. "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 (low-glycaemic) diet."
In the past couple of decades, carbohydrates have had a bad reputation for causing weight gain (after all, they're found in all our favourite foods!), but the truth is that it's the overconsumption of carbs that causes this.
"Carbs can also contribute to weight gain if they cause your levels of blood sugar to cycle up and down," Live Strong reports.
This could be why pasta — which, again, is low glycemic — did not contribute to weight gain in this study. However, author Sievenpiper also stressed that the study's results are "generalizable to pasta consumed along with other low-glycemic index foods as part of a low-glycemic index diet."
"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," Sievenpiper concluded.
It's also important to keep in mind that completely eliminating carbs from your diet can actually contribute to weight gain. This is because people tend to start adding more protein and fat to their diet in place of carbs, says Virginia dietitian Jim White.
"People think, 'I can eat as much protein as I want.' [But] protein still has calories. In fact, one gram [of protein] has four calories, so I see what people do is they lower their carbs and then they increase their fat and their protein to high amounts," White, who is also the owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, explained to Eat This, Not That.
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The dietitian added that cutting carbs completely can also lead to a lack of fibre, low blood sugar levels and a lack of energy.
U.K. nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert also believes you can eat carbs and shed pounds.
"If you want to lose weight, look at portion control, a diet that is tailored to your needs, and up your exercise so that you're burning off more calories than you eat," she told The Independent last year. "It's that simple."
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