The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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July 30, 2013

Have your pasta and lose weight, too

Q: I love pasta. Can I eat it and still lose weight? I have several friends who have lost weight by cutting carbs, but I just can’t do it.

A: Yes! Of course you can eat pasta and lose weight, provided of course, you keep your portion size in check and it’s not stuffed with meat or smothered with cheese or Alfredo sauce.

Pasta oftentimes gets a bad rap. To get the most from your pasta, choose a whole-grain variety (look for “whole wheat” to be the first ingredient). By itself, whole grain pasta is a nutritious food. It contains almost no fat, cholesterol and sodium and is an excellent source of low glycemic carbohydrates. Foods with a low glycemic index are broken down slowly in the body and release their carbohydrate (glucose) gradually into the bloodstream. As a result, they can help you feel full longer after eating.

So, how much pasta can you eat if you’re trying to lose weight? Considering that one half-cup serving of cooked pasta (no sauce) has 104 calories, tread lightly with your portions. I am not suggesting you eat only half a cup of noodles — that’s not much. For a meal, I typically advise my weight loss clients to keep their portion of cooked pasta to 1 to 1.5 cups (women) and 1.5 to 2 cups (men).

The serving size of pasta on nutrition labels is given as a dry weight, so it can be hard to know how much to cook. In general, 2 oz. dry pasta equals 1 cup cooked pasta. To help with portion sizes, fill half of your plate with fruits or vegetables first. Then you can add your moderate portion of pasta and sauce. This helps to keep your servings in check and helps you feel satisfied while still being able to enjoy your meal.

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