Does Eating Pasta Make You Thin? – 80 Twenty Nutrition

Does Eating Pasta Make You Thin?

Does pasta make you thin?

A recent study made headlines around the world for finding that people who eat more pasta tend to be slimmer.

Does pasta make you fat? Does pasta make you lose weight? Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

Wait a second, how much pasta are we talking about here? Isn’t pasta a high glycemic index, refined white flour fast carb loaded with evil gluten?

I was interviewed by ELLE Magazine and contacted by CBC to talk about this study and whether it means we can load up on one of our favourite comfort foods. Before you start twirling that pasta fork with abandon, read on!

More about the “pasta study”

The study, conducted by researchers at the Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care Neuromedicine in Pozzilli, Italy, was epidemiological, meaning the researchers looked at what people eat and their weight and waist to hip ratios and looked for possible links. This is very different than doing a randomized control trial where researchers put people on a diet and then study the results.

At best, we can say there is a link between eating pasta and being thinner, but not that eating pasta will make you lose weight.

It’s also worth mentioning that the study was partially funded by Barilla, a company that makes pasta. Hmmm…

Another important consideration:

In Italy, people eat pasta in small portions and it isn’t the main meal. This is very different than the heaping portions of spaghetti being served in Canadian restaurants!

Saying that a single food makes you fat or thin is misleading. It’s the big picture of what you’re eating over time that determines your weight and your health.

Does pasta make you fat? Does pasta make you lose weight? Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

Why does pasta get such a bad wrap?

In an effort to follow the low fat diet that was promoted in the 80s, people were replacing fat with refined carbs like white pasta. This is one of the reasons obesity and type 2 diabetes have continued to increase. Studies where people replace saturated fats with heart healthy fats from olive oil, avocado and nuts (rather than refined carbohydrates and sugars) show a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, people who follow this eating pattern tend to be leaner. It’s one of the key features of The Mediterranean Diet.

The gluten-free trend has also caused people to shy away from wheat-based foods, along with popular diet books claiming wheat and other grains are the enemy. The research suggests the opposite is true: including whole grains in the diet is linked to being leaner and healthier.

It’s refined carbohydrates such as white pasta, rice and bread that are low in nutrients and promote fat storage and chronic disease in large amounts. For some reason, whole grains have been lumped into the same category as sugar and refined carbohydrates or “white carbs”.

Does pasta make you fat? Does pasta make you lose weight? Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

Why should we choose whole grain or rice pasta over white pasta?

Whole grain or brown rice pasta are better choices because they’re packed with fibre which keeps you fuller longer, helps stabilize blood sugar and can help you lose weight and keep it off. So asking if pasta makes you thin is the wrong question. It’s all about the type (and amount, of course). Fibre in whole grains acts as a prebiotic, helping fuel the healthy bacteria in your gut to prevent colorectal cancer. Whole grains are also loaded with antioxidants that prevent disease.

How much is too much pasta? How often should we be eating it?
At a given meal, having a fist-sized amount of pasta (about 1 cup) is enough for most people. This would be like having 2 slices of whole grain bread… but most of us are used to eating way more pasta than that in one sitting. This can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and insulin levels, increasing the chance of weight gain. Not to mention how sleepy you’ll feel from having all of those carbs at once!

Choose a variety of whole grains to get the most nutritional benefits. If you have brown rice pasta one day, try buckwheat or spelt pasta the next day.

It’s important to serve pasta with plenty of vegetables and lean protein such as chicken breast, lean ground turkey, beans or lentils for sustained energy and to stay satisfied.

Try my yummy whole grain pasta recipes such as:
Salmon with Brown Rice Noodles, Simple Sausage and Bell Pepper Penne and Roasted Broccoli, Lentil and Orzo Salad.


Dinner in 15 minutes - Salmon with Brown Rice Noodles and Broccoli - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition



Penne with Sausage, Yellow Bell Peppers, Garlic and Basil. Ready in 10 minutes - a healthy, balanced meal.BroccoliOrzoSalad

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