Can Pasta Really Help You Lose Weight? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Lemon garlic ouzo shrimp A new study from Italy that gathered information from over 20,000 people found that pasta consumption was associated with a lower body weight. As usual many media outlets presented articles with exciting titles such as “Pasta helps you lose weight” or “Pasta does not make you fat”. To be clear nothing really makes you fat unless you eat too much of it. I have talked about pasta in other posts and have also confirmed that pasta does not make you gain weight as long as it is consumed appropriately and within a balanced Mediterranean meal. So in other words not too much and accompanied with vegetables. In Italy pasta is consumed in a small amount as a first course, while here in Greece, we do not eat pasta everyday but more like once a week.

I would say the same holds for bread. Bread in itself is not fattening, but if you dip bread in tons of olive oil than the caloric value goes up. And we need to understand that nutrition studies show associations, not cause and effect for the most part.

What I worry about is that when the media uses such sensationalist titles, they give the wrong message to the public. Yes, the titles can be catchy, but perhaps many readers see this as a green light to eat as much pasta as they want. And to clarify: the study shows that eating pasta will not lead to weight gain, it does not say that pasta helps you lose weight.

I mentioned in a Facebook post of mine that the study was also funded by the pasta company Barilla, I do not question the results, but we need to understand that the company sought out to disprove the misconception that pasta is fattening. I would say it was used as a marketing tool to promote pasta. This is not new, serious nutritionists would never tell you that pasta is fattening, but many people believe it. So with this study, it is a way to tell potential pasta customers that you can eat a normal amount of pasta and not gain weight.

So, yes you can eat pasta in moderate amounts, make sure you accompany it with plenty of vegetables in the form of a tomato sauce or consumed with a large salad and with some lean protein such as seafood.

The photo is from the recipe: Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta With a Touch of Ouzo, you can find it by clicking here.

Photo by Elena Paravantes© All Rights Reserved

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  1. My wife is going to Weight Watchers and I am on a Mediterranean diet on doctor’s orders. One might think that when it comes to pasta, it would be out — but no. We try to use whole grain pasta and we weight our servings. We eat from 75 to 85 grams (dry) at a serving but with lots of vegetables. If we add meat, we add it in small, measured amounts — no more than 2 ounces each and often less. I believe we are taking a cue from you, Elena, and aiming for taste, not quantity, and we truly enjoy our pasta-based meals. I would think my wife and I have lost at least a hundred pounds between the two of us while often enjoying pasta.

    1. Congratulations to you and your wife on losing so much weight! That’s the secret, eating good and tasty food in moderation. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hi Elena, Great article and so true!
    I wonder sometimes do people follow al these ‘scientific’ advises just because they do not want to think anymore about what is healthy? Someone should describe it for them?
    I’m sure, but maybe too optimistic, that if people should really think about what they eat they will know what is healthy or not. It’s not difficult at all!