When you're looking for an easy, versatile carb source, pasta may top your list. The main macronutrient contained in pasta is carbohydrate, which is largely responsible for providing your body with energy. However, some types of pasta are better than others for providing you with energy and keeping you healthy.
Pasta is what's known as a complex carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates are starches, whereas the other type of carbohydrate -- simple carbs -- are sugars. Fiber is another carbohydrate that's important to your health because it aids digestion and can help reduce cholesterol and stabilize your blood sugar levels. Around half your daily calorie intake should come from carbs, with around a third coming from starchy carbs such as pasta, notes Dr. Jeni Worden of NetDoctor.
Refined vs. Unrefined
When picking the best type of pasta to give you quality carbs and provide energy, opt for whole-wheat pasta. Whole-wheat carbs contain much more fiber than refined carbs like white pasta. This fiber can be particularly useful in helping you fill up; whole-grain carbs also generally contain more nutrients than their white counterparts.
The Australian Institute of Sport recommends that athletes have a high-carb meal three to four hours before competing, and pasta can be a good choice. Here, however, you may actually be better served choosing white pasta or at least mixing it up. Your pregame meal shouldn't be too high in fiber, as this means it takes longer to digest and could cause stomach discomfort, so consider mixing whole-wheat and white pasta and serving it with a low-fat sauce.
Find Your Preference
Whether pasta is a good source of carbohydrate also depends on you as an individual. In theory, whole-wheat pasta provides slow-release carbs, while white pasta may be beneficial before an event. However, if you find that pasta sits particularly heavy in your stomach, or you don't digest it well, you may be better off with another type of starchy carbohydrate, such as rice or potatoes.