Pasta has a pretty negative reputation when it comes to the world of dieting, weight loss, and general fitness. Someone who is focused on bodybuilding, as an example, might shun pasta and other carbohydrates, while someone who is dieting and trying to shed some extra pounds will also do their best to avoid pasta at all cost in order to prevent more weight gain. That being said, can you eat pasta and lose weight after all? The simple answer is, yes, you can eat pasta and lose weight! The trick, though, is to know how to go about incorporating pasta into your meal plans without ruining your chances of slimming down.
We know how hard it is to ditch pasta altogether, and we don’t think it’s the best idea to eliminate a food that you really love because that could make dieting a really tough journey, and it might even lead you down the dark road of satisfying your cravings with other unhealthy foods. Therefore, to help you out, we have compiled a few helpful and surprisingly easy tips that you can incorporate into your healthy lifestyle if you want to be able to eat pasta and lose weight. Check them out below, and rest assured that, when done right, you don’t need to sacrifice pasta to get fit. Woohoo!
First off, if you are going to have pasta, you shouldn’t overdo it. Even though you might go to your favorite Italian restaurant and be served a large dish with a mountain of pasta on it, it’s best to keep the amount of pasta that you eat to a minimum when you are trying to shed excess weight.
How much should you aim for if you want to eat pasta and lose weight? Experts claim that sticking with servings that are just 1 cup or less is the key to success. You can satisfy your craving for pasta without overdoing it, as a cup of pasta will have roughly 200 calories. To be sure of the amount of calories in a serving, though, just read the nutrition facts label on the box. So simple, right?
Another great way to get your pasta fix without ruining your diet is by making the pasta a side dish rather than the main portion of your meal. If you can make the majority of your meal a lean protein backed by a variety of vegetables, you can have a side dish of pasta that is about the size of your fist.
The great thing about having pasta as a side is the fact that you can still eat pasta and lose weight because you will be getting the majority of your calories from the other foods in your dish. Just stick with a low-calorie sauce, such as one that is made with olive oil and lemon zest. In this way, there is no need to feel guilty about indulging in this yummy carb at dinner.
You probably already know that refined grains aren’t all that good for you, and that sticking with whole grains is a much better way to go if you are trying to lose weight. Therefore, when you want to eat some pasta, avoid the typical white flour pasta and opt for other varieties instead. For example, did you know that there are pastas that are made from quinoa, chickpea flour, beans, and veggies? It’s true, and they’re delicious and just as versatile as your traditional pastas! However, if you prefer to take a more traditional approach to your pasta dish, whole wheat pasta is also a fantastic choice.
The goal is to make a pasta dish as healthy as it can possibly be. Whether you are looking for a gluten free option (like quinoa pasta) or one that is packed with fiber (like a bean based pasta), what you will likely find is that these unique pastas are lower in calories and even have more protein, so they will support you along your fitness journey and allow you to eat pasta and lose weight.
Creamy sauces or those that contain red meat aren’t the best choices when you are trying to lose weight, and if you want to eat pasta and lose weight, it also isn’t a great idea to load a lot of cheese on the top of your pasta. Instead, consider sticking with traditional tomato sauce, as it is nutritious yet low in calories. You can even make your dish a bit more interesting by adding in capers, olives, and red pepper for a spicy puttanesca that is sure to satisfy you at dinner.
Store-bought pasta sauce is super convenient; no one can deny that. That said, if you are aiming to eat pasta and lose weight, it is actually best to avoid those prepared sauces in a jar. Oftentimes, they contain unwanted ingredients that could undermine your weight loss goals, so always check the label on a pasta sauce before you place it in your shopping cart at the grocery store. If a sauce contains refined oils, sweeteners like added sugar or corn syrup, or other undesirable ingredients, leave it on the shelf. If you can, however, find a prepared pasta sauce that contains fresh, wholesome ingredients like olive oil and tomatoes, without any added sugars, you might still be able to use it to eat pasta and lose weight.
The best way to ensure you are putting the healthiest sauce on your pasta is to make your own at home. In addition to tasting fresher, you can also use organic, totally natural ingredients so you can eat pasta and lose weight. Plus, making a basic pasta sauce with ingredients like olive oil, basil, and garlic can be surprisingly simple, and there are a host of recipes that you can easily find online.
Other ways to eat pasta and lose weight is by adding vegetables to your sauce. Some good examples include baby spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini. Doing so can make a pasta dish even more filling and nourishing, and the vegetables will add in some extra fiber as well, which is important if you are trying to lose weight efficiently.
One of the best times to eat a carbohydrate-rich meal is after you have exercised. That’s because, after you endure a workout, your body’s muscle cells will use the carbs to replace glycogen that was lost while you were working out. On top of that, when you exercise with intensity, your body releases certain hormones in response to the activity, and your body becomes more sensitive to insulin as a result after you are done exercising. Put simply, this all translates to: yes, you can eat pasta and lose weight, and also stick to your goals of losing excess fat, if you have it after you exercise.
In order to take advantage of the benefits of eating carbohydrate rich foods like a pasta dish after you exercise, you need to get the timing right. According to experts, consuming pasta within two hours after you are done exercising is a good idea, as doing so will allow you to eat pasta and lose weight. Even bodybuilders will make it a point to consume carbs and protein after they exercise in order to replenish their body and help their muscles grow. For example, you might plan to exercise in the evening so that you can then throw together a healthy pasta dish that you can have for dinner.
Finally, you need to keep in mind that, if you want to be able to eat pasta and lose weight, you really do need to combine your healthy diet with an active lifestyle. Therefore, in addition to preparing healthy sauces and sticking with whole grain pasta that is lower in calories and carbohydrates, and higher in fiber, you should make it a point to get some cardio and strength training routines into your weekly schedule. Then, you can use the tip above to actually refuel your body with some delicious pasta after your workout!
As you can see, knowing how much pasta to eat, what types of pasta to eat, what sauces to put on your pasta, and when it is best to eat pasta dishes can make a big difference in your ability to eat pasta and lose weight. Give the tips above a try and see if they can help you along your weight loss journey, especially if you don’t want to have to give up one of your favorite foods.