Many dieters avoid carbohydrates when trying to drop pounds, but researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto found that pasta’s low glycemic index (GI) can actually help people lose weight.
The researchers examined 30 randomized control trials of nearly 2,500 people whose main source of carbohydrates was pasta. The results were published in the British Medical Journal.
Participants ate around 3.3 servings of cooked pasta each week in lieu of other carbs, with each serving consisting of about ½ cup of pasta. After an average follow up of 12 weeks, the participants each lost about 0.5 kilograms.
“The study found that pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat,” reported lead author Dr. John Sievenpiper, a fellow at the hospital’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 diet.”
The study’s authors noted that the pasta was consumed alongside other low-glycemic index foods and more research is needed to determine whether the lack of weight gain would hold true if pasta was a part of other healthy diets.
“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,” said Sievenpiper.
Foods with a low GI cause smaller increases in blood sugar levels than foods with a high GI, take longer to digest and are considered “good carbs.” The American Diabetes Association recommends a balanced diet with both high GI and low GI foods.
Low GI foods include whole wheat, oatmeal, rice, barley, sweet potato, corn, legumes, and lentils. High GI foods include white bread, rice cakes, rice pasta, macaroni, and cheese.
According to the American Diabetes Association, weight gain or loss is dependent on portion size as well as controlling blood sugar levels.