Can eating pasta help you lose weight? If you believe the headlines coming out of a recent study, you might be forgiven for thinking that feasting on pasta is the way to go if you want to lose a few pounds. But digging into the research behind the claims shows that things aren’t quite as simple as they seem.
The original study set out to show that eating pasta can be good for you. To do this, researchers carried out a meta-analysis of previous studies on the health impacts of low glycemic index diets.
These are diets where carbs are digested, absorbed, and metabolized, slower than those typically found in high glycemic index diets. Research has shown that low glycemic index diet can be good for you if they’re followed sensibly. And because they often include pasta, it’s tempting to think that pasta is also good for you simply by association.
But these researchers wanted proof of this. And so they analyzed data from 32 studies comparing weight gain and loss from high glycemic index diets where people typically didn’t eat pasta, and low glycemic index diets where they did. The big takeaway from the study was that if you’re eating a healthy diet that contains pasta, it’s unlikely to make you fat.
So it’s good news if you’re a pasta fanatic; that is, as long as everything else you eat with your pasta is also good for you. The study also indicated that a healthy low glycemic index diet that includes pasta might help you lose a bit of weight. This finding led to a whole flurry of headlines like “pasta helps weight loss”, and “demonized pasta may actually be the key to weight loss”.
But these headlines are at best misleading. What the research does confirm is that a healthy and low glycemic index diet can be good for you, even if it does contain pasta. What it doesn’t confirm though is whether it’s the pasta itself that makes these diets healthy. The trouble is, the researchers were so intent on demonstrating the benefits of pasta that they started with the answer they wanted – that pasta is good for you – and tried to work out what the right question was to get them there.
In other words, even though their science may have been sound, the question they asked was not. Rather than fixate on pasta, they could have simply asked whether a healthy low glycemic index diet can help with weight loss. In this case, the answer would have been “yes” based on their analysis.
And it wouldn’t have been that surprising, as we know that a Mediterranean diet – which is essentially what a healthy low glycemic index diet is – is good for you. Of course, such diets do tend to include pasta.
But they also contain a lot of other ingredients, and from this study alone it isn’t possible to tease out what specific ingredients or combinations of ingredients might have been responsible for any health benefits seen. The bottom line is that if you eat healthily and your diet is relatively low in the glycemic index, it may help you lose a bit of weight. But losing weight simply by eating pasta? That, it seems, is little more than a large dose of a wishful thinking
As found on Youtube