Suggest a pasta dinner to a person on a diet and you’ll probably get some serious side-eye. (Thanks, keto diet, for villainising the most delish food ever.)
But now, a new study published in the journal BMJ Open might change all that: Researchers found that people actually lost weight while eating pasta.
The whole point of the study was actually to determine whether or not pasta made people gain weight. So researchers analysed 32 randomised control trials of about 2,500 people who ate a low glycemic index (GI) diet, consuming pasta instead of other forms of carbohydrates.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the glycemic index is used to rate how quickly foods impact your blood sugar levels. High GI foods generally include things processed or simple carbs like white rice, white bread, and potatoes; healthier foods like milk, fruit, lentils (and yes: pasta) are considered low GI. Low GI foods keep you fuller longer, while high GI foods will leave you craving a snack way faster.
The participants ate about 3.3 servings of about a half cup of pasta on average each week. Over 12 weeks, they lost a little more than a pound on average. Not a ton—but hey, a pound is a pound.
There’s a catch, though. The researchers point out in their conclusion that eating pasta as part of a low GI diet is likely what helped these people lose weight—not the pasta alone.
“I don’t believe that pasta is the reason people in these studies lost weight and reduced their BMI—it is much more likely that having dietary support and knowing someone was going to judge you on your size/weight motivated these individuals to stick to their diets,” says Gina Keatley, a dietitian who was not affiliated with the study. “But it does show that pasta is not the devil and can be part of a balanced diet.”
So, unfortunately, your dreams of blissfully noshing on pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and losing a bunch of weight are probably not going to come true.
Also, it’s super important to note that the study participants didn’t overeat pasta. Instead, they stuck to smaller servings, which they probably mixed with other things. “When you use a cup of cooked pasta and add in a lot of veggies and some fish, it’s a very satisfying meal,” says Julie Upton, R.D., and co-founder of Appetite for Health.
If you love pasta but have been nervous about eating it lately, Upton recommends doing this: Try to keep your plate of pasta as one-half veggies, one-quarter pasta, and one-quarter lean protein. If you can do that, you should be good to go.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US
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