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Diet blog: pasta is back on the slimmer’s menu

Judith Wills / 24 April 2018

The relatively low GI content of pasta means it can play a useful part in a weight loss diet.

Healthy pasta dish with vegetables
Pasta is a relatively low GI food

Everything changes and nothing changes in the world of diet and healthy eating.

The big news change recently was that a steaming plate of pasta is, apparently, less bad for your waistline than has been thought for the past – oh – at least a thousand years.  Or certainly since the early days of the Atkins diet.

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A Canadian overview* of all the research published in recent years on pasta consumption concluded earlier this month that eating three servings of pasta a week helps people to lose weight slowly but surely and does not contribute to weight gain or any increase in body fat.

Part of the reason for this seems to be that pasta – whether white or wholegrain – is a relatively low GI food.  The glycaemic index – which people seem to have more or less stopped talking about in the past few years – is the measure of how quickly high-carbohydrate foods are absorbed into the bloodstream.  A slow rate of absorbtion means blood sugars don’t ‘spike’ and you tend to feel more full for longer than after a high GI food is consumed. 

While the most popular carb foods such as wheat bread (brown or white), white and brown rice, and boiled or mashed potatoes are some of the highest GI foods you can eat – all well into the ‘High’ bracket of over 70 - all forms of wheat pasta are within the ‘Low’ bracket of under 55.

Good, eh?  And even as you eat, you can feel the benefit of a dish of pasta rather than a rice or potato dish – it fills you up more quickly so that you don’t need so much. 

Of course, there is the small matter or what sauce you’re putting on your pasta, and the choice here could mean faster weight loss, slower weight loss – or even no weight loss at all over time.

In general, any sauce based on vegetables – a basic tomato one, or tomato packed out with chopped items such as mushrooms, peppers, courgettes or artichoke hearts – is good, while dairy  and meat-based sauces such as the Nigella type of cream, cheese and ham carbonara (unauthentic – true carbonara is made with raw beaten eggs, not cream!) or a Bol packed with fatty minced beef are less to much less good.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.