We all know that pasta is great, but loaded with carbs and calories. Yes, you already know that to lose weight you can’t eat too many of your favorite carb-loaded foods… but not all carbohydrates are created equal.
In fact, you need certain types of carbohydrate-rich foods to give your body energy and if you are not getting enough carbs or calories you will become sluggish, irritable and unfocused, and can actually gain weight.
So how can you lose weight and still get a sufficient carbohydrate intake? Allow me to introduce your new friend: Whole-grain pasta.
What Are The Benefits of Whole Grain Pasta?
Whole-grain pasta is a complex carbohydrate that is rich in long-lasting energy, vitamins and minerals. It contains a high source of fiber that helps you feel fuller so you eat less, and helps with digestion.
Additionally, it’s been shown to decrease your cholesterol levels good, lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and shown to satiate your appetite and help with weight control.
5 Ways to Eat Whole Grain Pasta to Help You Lose Weight
When it comes to weight loss, you need to think long-term. Anyone can eat plain whole grain pasta twice a day for two days straight.
But can you do that every day of your life? Most of us cannot. You need to create a plan that allows you to stay consistently on your diet to keep the extra pounds off.
Here are my top 5 ways on how you should eat your whole grain pasta so you can stay lean all year!
1. Bulk up on veggies
The more you eat the more full you feel. When we diet we want to avoid eating too much but want to stay full.
The fiber of the pasta will help satiate your appetite, but so will the bulk of the vegetables which contribute minimal calories to your meal. Add a fist-size portion of grilled, steamed or lightly sautéed broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini to your pasta.
Try mixing up the colors with spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, legumes, zucchini, squash or others. The more variety you add, the more your taste buds will thank you. The meal will be more satisfying and fill you up, so you will be less likely to snack in between meals.
2. Use a lower calories sauce
Spice up your blank whole grain pasta with lightly sautéed grape tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil. Try using tomato based sauces as they are lower in calories than butter or cream based sauces.
If you have to use butter, try to substitute the butter with a light amount of olive oil. Go light on the sauce, or even put it on the side of your plate and dip your pasta in the sauce.
3. Use portion control to limit your caloric intake
Make a fist. Look at it. That is the size of pasta you will put on your plate.
Remember, the whole grain pasta fills you up much faster than refined grain pasta. Whole grain pasta will make you feel more satisfied and in turn, by eating a smaller portion, you keep the calories down.
The best rule of thumb is to use half as much whole grain pasta as you would use refined-grain pasta.
While you have fewer calories of carbohydrates, since you are eating complex carbohydrates you will now get longer activing energy that will also satiate your hunger and make you feel fuller thanks to the fiber content.
4. Add protein to the meal
Pop quiz. What is the most satiating nutrient for the human body?
Fat? Carbohydrates? Protein?
If you selected protein you are correct! As I mentioned before, one of the strategies to maintain a healthy weight is to eat less but still feel satiated and full.
When you eat more protein your body releases hormones that make you feel full and more satisfied so you are less likely to overeat. The best sources of protein for weight loss are skinless chicken breasts, legumes, soy and seafood because they are rich in protein, and low in fat and calories.
Try to limit your red meat to 1-2 meals a week. Another great tip is to make meatballs out of ground turkey or chicken and add them to your pasta for a healthy Italian style meal.
5. Drinks lots of water
Pour yourself two cups of water. Look at your meal. Stop. Drink one entire glass of water.
Wow. That was filling right? Good. Now start eating your meal. Slowly.
Take sips of water between every few bites you eat to pace the meal. By eating slowly you will release hormones that will tell you that you are full.
Try to eat your entire meal over 20 minutes to fully release these hormones, and your body will tell you that you are full. The more water you drink throughout the day and during your mealtime, the less likely you are to eat dessert or go back for a second helping.
So there you go! Now you have learned the benefits of whole grain pasta and 5 unique ways you can eat your whole grain pasta to stay lean. Remember, dieting isn’t easy, but it can still be delicious!
The Best Ways To Lose Weight With Whole Grain Pasta
- Bulk up on veggies
- Use a lower calories sauce
- Use portion control to limit your caloric intake
- Add protein to the meal
- Drinks lots of water
Rajiv M Mallipudi, md is an internal medicine resident physician, personal trainer, athlete and author. During medical school he and his classmates co-founded and co-led medFIT, which is a health and wellness organization that provided personal training and nutrition counseling to the medical student body. As a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter he has broken multiple state and national records. He has over a decade of personal training experience of clients at all levels and finds the profession so rewarding because of his ability to help others achieve their fitness goals. He serves as a contributing writer for Vixen Daily.