There’s an ongoing argument that to lose weight it is best to avoid the white stuff like pasta, rice and flour to name a few. This is not true and as you can see in the nutrition profile examples of pasta in the below table, the differences are quite minor.
The largest difference with pasta – white, whole grain or whole wheat is usually the amount of dietary fiber. Proof positive, there’s 2 grams of fiber in the traditional white pasta and both the whole grain and whole wheat yield 6 grams. Is this four gram difference enough to support the claim that it is best to avoid conventional white pasta and eat whole grain or whole wheat pasta in its place? The answer is yes and no.
If you are the type of person who isn’t getting an adequate intake of fiber and you’re not a vegetable-type of person, fiber-rich pasta would be a great source for you. On the other hand, if you are the type of person that adds slow carb vegetables (i.e., broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers) to your pasta, it’s not going to make that much of a difference in the type of pasta you eat.
Frankly put, there are two types of dietary fiber – soluble and insoluble. First you have soluble fiber that dissolves in water. When you eat carbohydrates that have soluble fiber, when digested the soluble fiber absorbs the water inside your body as it is transported through your digestive system. Secondly, insoluble fiber remains relatively unchanged as it moves through the body during digestion. Although both of these fibers are somewhat broken down, neither is totally absorbed by the body.
Boosting Metabolism with Fiber
Eating food is a natural way to boost your metabolism. When you consume protein compared to carbs and fat you boost your metabolism more. Surprisingly, when you consume soluble fiber you also boost your metabolism more than when the fiber is insoluble. Why? Soluble fiber binds to bile and assist in moving excess cholesterol out of your body. Soluble fiber helps to keep your blood sugar from spiking as it contributes in slowing down digestion. All this activity helps you burn more calories, which is key for boosting your metabolism.
Just because I’ve given kudos to the role of soluble fiber, insoluble fiber also contributes to a boosted metabolism and healthy digestive track. As I mentioned, insoluble fiber makes its way through your digestive system with little change. Insoluble fiber is that fiber that when you eat it, you are likely to be satiated (feeling of fullness). It is also this fiber that when consumed along with fat and cholesterol that your body is less likely to absorb extra fat and cholesterol.
How Much Fiber
It would be irresponsible of me not to mention the goal amount of fiber. So, per the Diet Free Life Methodology it is recommended that men consume 30 to 38 grams of fiber daily, and women 20 to 25 grams. The Mayo Clinic also recommends that men get 38 grams of fiber if you are under the age of 50 and 30 grams for those over 50. Women under 50 should get at least 21 grams of fiber per day and for those over 50 it’s 25 grams of fiber daily.
The Take Home on Pasta
White pasta gets a thumb up the same as whole wheat and whole grain (brown pasta). The key when it comes to pasta is to eat it in the right proportions, and pair it with other foods so that you optimize its glycemic impact (blood sugar), which helps to keep your body in fat burning mode.
Robert Ferguson is the CEO of Diet Free Life, Author, Nutritionist, Speaker and Entrepreneur who is established as one of America’s leading voices of wellness and weight loss. He also serves on the Presidential Task Force on Obesity for the National Medical Association.