Is Pasta Making You Fat?

I’ve said it time and again for years: Pasta doesn’t necessarily make you fat.

And I have a great bonus recipe to prove it to you. But first, let me explain why…

You heard me before but now, scientists and some pasta manufacturers like Barilla are pushing to rehabilitate its nutritional reputation: Pasta is low-fat and a good source of vitamins and minerals.

It also has, when cooked properly, a rather low glycemic index, which means it’s a food that releases energy slowly and keeps you full for longer.

“White” pasta (not whole-grain) is usually lumped with other fattening foods with “empty white carbs” such as donuts and cookies, white rice, potatoes, and white bread.

The truth is… regular white pasta is only slightly higher on the GI scale than brown rice and whole-grain pasta.

So sure, always choose whole-grain over white, but let’s stop feeling guilty about eating pasta, especially in moderation.

You see, because of pasta’s starch structure, as well as the extrusion process (which turns dough into pasta shapes), pasta is an unusually dense product that is less susceptible to digestive enzymes, and therefore has a fairly low GI.

It’s also made out of durum wheat, which is much different from the starch in white rice or white bread. The protein in durum wheat creates a structure that helps keep your blood sugar steady (that’s good!) and doesn’t lead to weight gain (that’s awesome!).

Bonus news: pasta cooked al dente has a lower GI than if it’s overcooked.

Follow these simple steps to make good choices:

  • Choose a real Italian brand and make sure the flour used is made out of durum wheat.
  • Choose whole-grain whenever possible.
  • Always cook pasta al dente.
  • A good quality pasta keeps its cooking water clear instead of cloudy.
  • Pasta shouldn’t be sticky when you drain it. If it is, then it means it’s overcooked and starchy, leading to weight gain.
  • Avoid gluten-free pasta. It’s not made out of durum wheat, but instead relies on fattening starches like rice flour, potato starch, etc…
  • Avoid egg noodles, quick-cooking pasta, or canned pasta. Those have a high glycemic index.
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