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Pasta Just Became The Latest Weight Loss Cure, But We Have Bad News For You

JACINTA BOWLER
5 APR 2018

Nutritional studies are like catnip for news companies. Chocolate, red wine and now pasta can all help you lose weight, apparently.

But before you down a bottle of wine, dig into some bolognaise and polish it off with some Easter eggs, you should know the science is more complex than headlines make it out to be.

 

The stories telling you these foods are basically magic, are usually a far cry from the scientific study itself.

In this latest case, researchers at the University of Toronto did a meta-analysis of other randomised studies to see whether pasta was a culprit in helping people pack on the pounds.

Turns out it wasn't.

"Pasta in the context of low-GI dietary patterns significantly reduced body weight and BMI compared with higher-GI dietary patterns," the researchers wrote in their paper.

'Sounds good!' you cry. Well, not so fast. The pasta group had on average under two cups of pasta a week.

Besides, this was as part of a low-glycemic-index (low-GI) diet. Which means that on top of eating a very small amount of pasta, you'd also have to avoid that garlic bread, and most foods high in sugar (sorry, chocolate).

So, how much weight did these dieters lose on this pretty restrictive diet? Well, after around 12 weeks, on average the pasta group lost a whopping 630 grams or 1.38 pounds.

Not exactly the weight-busting superfood that some news outlets would have you believe.  

 

But here's the thing: demonising any type of food isn't healthy, and pasta doesn't have to be completely off your plate.

Pretty much anything can be eaten in a small amount, without hurting your waistline too much. Pasta by itself is a relatively low-GI food, and is a totally fine part of a healthy eating plan.

This isn't even the first study to recommend not removing pasta from a healthy diet.  

But there's no magic solution here, and according to most nutritionists, the best thing you can do for yourself is eat a balanced diet, with lots of veggies. No quick fixes, or over the top super-foods here.

"If your pasta is portioned properly and paired with a nutrient-rich vegetable and a lean protein, it can be a very healthy option," Heather Mangieri, a registered dietitian who was not involved with the research, told Live Science.

"Good things come when you learn how to eat your favourite foods in a way that helps you maintain a healthy weight, versus depriving [yourself] and feeling as if you're on a diet."

The research has been published in BMJ Open.