Whole-grain pasta isn't a particularly low-calorie food. That doesn't mean it can't be a healthy part of your weight-loss efforts. Pastas made from whole grains provide complex carbohydrates, insoluble fiber and other nutrients. Because of its fiber content and the slow pace at which your body digests it, whole-grain pasta is a filling food that keeps you feeling satisfied much longer than refined-grain pasta. Besides aiding your weight-loss endeavor, pastas made from whole grains help promote healthy digestive functions, help balance good and bad cholesterol levels and can lower your risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
Serve yourself half as much whole-grain pasta as you would take refined-grain pasta. It takes less to fill you up, so you can easily halve your calorie intake from the pasta.
Add a good amount of vegetables to the sauce you're preparing for the whole-grain pasta. Use whatever vegetables you like that complement the sauce, such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, legumes, zucchini, squash or others. Use them to fill your plate, which may seem light when taking considerably less pasta than you're accustomed to. The vegetables make your meal look more satisfying, and it is, thanks to their high fiber content. This, of course, adds a variety of other nutrients to your whole-grain pasta dish, too.
Prepare a source of protein with your whole-grain pasta dishes, as it is the other most filling nutrient besides fiber. This allows you to eat fewer calories for weight loss. Give preference to seafood, skinless poultry, soy and legumes, as these are lower in calories and saturated fat than red meats. Make meatballs out of ground chicken or turkey. Add tofu, shrimp or scallops to whole-grain linguine dishes.
Drink a large glass of water with your whole-grain pasta meal. Take a sip or two between every few bites, and eat your food slowly. Extend your meal to last more than 20 minutes, so that your body has time to signal that it's had enough to eat. This makes you less likely to get up for seconds, or to have a dessert right after your meal. Drinking more water is also important to preventing constipation when you increase your fiber intake.
Opt for lower-calorie tomato-based sauces over higher-calorie cream- and butter-based sauces. Lightly dress whole-grain pasta with olive oil or another heart-healthy unsaturated fat as a substitute for recipes that call for cream or butter.
- American Heart Association; Whole Grains and Fiber; January 2011
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber: Start Roughing It!
- Center for Young Women's Health: What Can I Do About Feeling Hungry All the Time?
- Dr.Mirkin.com; Whole Grains are Better than Any Flour; Diana Mirkin; January 2011
- Ask the Dietitian; Ten Healthy Eating Habits to Prevent Weight Gain; Joanne Larsen