Dr. Day is a cardiologist and Medical Director of Heart Rhythm Services at his practice in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowship in cardiology at Stanford University. He is board certified in Cardiology and Cardiac Electrophysiology.
How to Eat Pasta Without Gaining Weight
Pasta is a forbidden food for anyone wanting to lose weight, right? Not necessarily. In this article, I will teach you how to eat pasta without gaining weight. I will also show you how you can enjoy rice and potatoes as well without gaining weight.
Susan’s comfort food was pasta. The problem was that she also weighed 50 pounds more than she should have, she had diabetes, and also suffered from a heart condition, atrial fibrillation, that was not responding to the usual treatment.
“We have to get 50 pounds off you if we want any chance of getting your atrial fibrillation under control,” I said.
“I’ve tried. The problem is that I can’t give up pasta. It’s my comfort food,” she said.
“You don’t have to give up your comfort food to lose weight,” I said.
I went on to explain how she could continue to enjoy pasta and still lose the 50 pounds. Over the course of a year, I helped her find new comfort foods and enjoy her old comfort foods in a healthy way.
Fortunately, the weight came off and her atrial fibrillation went into remission. The remainder of this article is what I shared with Susan.
The Problem with Pasta, Rice, and Potatoes
The problem with white pasta, white rice, and white potatoes is that they are instantly converted to sugar by the body. The digestion process is way too fast. Indeed, white pasta, rice, and potatoes are converted to sugar faster than a Snicker’s Bar.
This sugar spike then leads to an insulin spike, fat deposition, and feeling hungry all over again. The key for Susan’s pasta addiction was either a healthy substitution or complete modification of her comfort food.
Healthy Pasta, Rice, and Potatoe Substitutions
To lose weight, you never need to give up your comfort foods. There are always ways to do healthy substitutions.
For example, there are many healthy pastas. Our favorite is organic edamame spaghetti. Even our local Costco even carries this pasta. If your local stores don’t carry this, you can always buy it online from Amazon.
A 200 calorie serving of organic edamame spaghetti has nearly half the fiber and protein you need for the day. Studies show that protein and fiber make it much easier to lose weight.
Organic edamame spaghetti is also extremely low glycemic so there is no sugar spike. Every week my wife and I cook up a big batch of this pasta to eat with various dishes during the week.
If edamame spaghetti doesn’t do it for you, you can try other bean pastas, quinoa pasta, or even vegetable pastas. While you may need to buy other bean pastas on Amazon, your local health food store should carry fresh vegetable pasta. Any of these pastas are extremely heart healthy.
Just as there are healthy pasta substations, the same is also true for rice and potatoes. For example, brown rice and sweet potatoes are both important parts of a heart healthy diet.
How to Turn Pasta, Rice, and Potatoes into a Resistant Starch
What should you do if you just can’t give up your white pasta, white rice, or white potatoes? Can you still lose weight?
Fortunately, the answer is yes. All three of these foods can be modified into a resistant starch to make them healthier.
Resistant starches are a game changer. By simply putting white pasta, rice, or potatoes in the fridge overnight and then reheating them the next day, you have completely changed the chemical structure of these starches.
You have turned a quickly digested bad carb into a very slowly digested better carb.
This cooking, cooling, and reheating process has now made it difficult for your body to break down the starch. Thus, you get a nice and slow digestion process with no significant sugar or hunger spike.
Indeed, many studies now show that resistant starches may prevent diabetes, promote a healthy gut, and help you to lose weight.
While we still prefer bean pastas and brown rice in our home, we occasionally like a baked white potato. While it does require a little advanced planning, we always bake the potato the night before and let it cool in the fridge overnight first before reheating the next day.
Take Home Message
The key message of this article is that you can still enjoy pasta, rice, and potatoes without gaining weight. The key with these foods, like all other comfort foods, is to either substitute or modify.
If you haven’t tried a bean or vegetable pasta, let me challenge you to give it a try this week. Likewise, brown rice and sweet potatoes taste just as good as their “white” versions.
If you just can’t give up your white pasta, white rice, or white potatoes, then turn them into a resistant starch in the fridge overnight before eating. While the Olive Garden pasta is still not heart healthy, eating the left over pasta the next day may not be too bad for you provided you selected a healthier sauce to go with the pasta.
What substitutions have you tried for your comfort foods? Have you ever tried turning pasta, rice, or potatoes into a resistant starch?
Please leave your experiences below. Also, if you have any questions about what you have just read, please leave your questions below as well. I’ll do my best to answer everything.
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Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.