- Many people assume you should avoid eating too much pasta – along with other refined carbs – if you want to lose weight.
- Pasta has a low glycemic index, which means it causes smaller increases in blood sugar levels than most refined carbs.
- Canadian researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital observed the impact of eating pasta three times a week instead of other carbs, as part of a low-glycemic index diet.
- They measured the impact on body weight and BMI in 30 randomised controlled trials involving almost 2,500 participants.
- The study found that pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain and that participants actually lost a small amount of weight.
Low-carb diets, such as the Whole30 and Keto diet, are fiercely popular, and many people assume you should avoid eating too much pasta – along with other refined carbs – if you want to lose weight.
But a new study suggests the assumption that eating pasta will make you put on weight could be somewhat unfounded.
The research, recently published in the BMJ Open by Canadian researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital, examined evidence from 30 randomised controlled trials involving 2,488 participants who ate pasta around three times per week instead of other carbohydrates, while also keeping a low-glycemic index diet. The following of this diet was a crucial detail to the study, the authors of the study stressed.
The low GI diet is based on the concept of the glycemic index, which ranks foods on the rate at which the body breaks it down to form glucose.
Pasta has a low glycemic index, which means it causes smaller increases in blood sugar levels than most other refined carbs, such as rice and white bread.
The people who took part in the study ate on average 3.3 servings of pasta per week instead of other carbs. Each serving was equivalent to about a half-cup of cooked pasta.
The researchers found that participants in this experiment actually lost about 0.5kg (1.1lb) over an average follow-up of 12 weeks.
“The study found that pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat,” said lead author Dr. John Sievenpiper, a clinician scientist with 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 conclusion also reads: “Pasta in the context of low-GI dietary patterns does not adversely affect adiposity and even reduces body weight and BMI compared with higher-GI dietary patterns.”
The scientists added that more research is needed to identify whether or not the lack of weight gain would extend to pasta as part of other healthy diets.