I am a believer that pasta is not the best food in the world when it comes to healthier living and a successful fat loss diet.
Let me explain this in more detail by telling a story that could be used for over a hundred of my own personal clients and many others that I have met and spoken to who have been manipulated by restaurants like Pasta Hut to name one and what they have seen on TV and magazines.
As part of any fat loss program I will ask a client to tell me about their current eating habits and perhaps complete a food journal prior to making any changes. Either way, I am being told that “I eat pasta” or “have pasta instead of chips” or something along those lines with the understanding that the pasta being consumed is a healthy option. I will also ask them to review their energy levels in relation to their eating habits and normally the answer will be fatigued more often than not and sometimes bloated.
In time, we have decided to eliminate pasta and replace with (more) vegetables and perhaps potatoes and rice and over time not only have we increased energy levels but also lot more weight than ever before. While a sound exercise regime would also be incorporated there was sufficient evidence to show that removing pasta from the diet was a very successful method in kick starting results again and improving all round energy levels and performance.
So why is this? Here are several reasons why pasta is harmful to your chances of getting in shape.
1. It is wheat based. This means that it is indigestible to some degree or places more stress on your digestive system than you should have to leading to a more sluggish metabolism that does not burn fat well. We all need a high metabolic rate to be able to burn fat tissue effectively. This doesn’t mean you have to have some form of disorder to be intolerant to wheat. More of us are susceptible to wheat based products than we think and can also be the cause of fatigue, bloating and more often than not produce weight gain.
2. It is part of the traditional Carbohydrates (CHO) family that we eat too much. CHO are the main source of energy in our diet and come in 2 forms, one being starchy CHO that include pasta. These type of foods are particularly calorie dense for the amount eaten which leads to weight gain. Compare any meal with pasta in relation to your meat (source of protein) and vegetables (source of CHO, vitamins and minerals) and you will see that the ratio of pasta to the other foods is a lot higher. Just because pasta is not high in fat does not make it better for you. A large part of the western epidemic of obesity is connected to high CHO diets as much as having too much fat in your diet.
3. It has a higher GI value meaning that you create an insulin response when blood sugar gets too high. When this happens the energy from the food will be transported into the cell tissue at a higher rate which can lead to a build up of more fat tissue. The overriding concern is definitely the amount eaten but the insulin response does not help.
4. Contains less fibre meaning it is not so filling and leads to more overeating. Pasta isn’t so bad if you are a big time runner or other type of athlete, they are actually expending more energy than a normal person would dream of and are not concerned by trying to burn fat tissue and only on their performance. I think a large part of this myth that pasta is okay comes from sports as well but their activity levels are high and one of their requirements is to get energy into their bodies as quickly as required for their purpose.
So what should you eat instead?
1. Vegetables. Don’t forget that CHO is your primary source of energy. We are not talking high protein diets with no carbs or other silly fad type programs. Vegetables are higher in fibre and will keep you fuller for longer while also giving you the energy you need to function well. Green ones are the best like broccoli, spinach, kale and cabbage to name some.
2. Potatoes and rice. A word of warning, these are much better than pasta because they are not wheat based and if you need more energy than vegetables can provide then these are good alternatives. Do however be wary of portions as they are still calorie dense.
3. Protein. By eliminating pasta and cutting down on starchy type CHO overall the ratio of protein to Carbs should be higher but increase slightly if necessary. Proteins enable you to stay fuller for longer and burn more calories through intake than carbs.
Use these tips for starters if you are serious about getting leaner or to maintain a certain shape or take up professional sport if you want to continue downing pasta like it comes out of a tap.