Who needs Atkins! You can put pasta back on the menu while trying to lose weight
Pasta is no longer off the menu after a new review of studies suggested the carbohydrate can form part of a healthy diet, and even help people lose weight.
For years, nutritionists have recommended pasta be kept to a minimum to cut calories, prevent fat build-up and stop blood sugar spiking.
The low-carb food movement spawned such diets as the Atkins, Paleo and Keto, which advised swapping bread, pasta and potatoes for vegetables, fish and meat.
More recently the fad of swapping spaghetti for spiralised vegetables has been championed by clean-eating gurus such as Deliciously Ella and the Hemsley Sisters.
But now a meta-analysis of 30 studies by Canadian researchers found that not only does pasta not cause weight gain, but three meals a week can help people drop more than 1lb over three months. The reviewers found pasta had been unfairly demonised because it had been lumped in with other, more fat-promoting, carbs.
"The study found that pasta didn't contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat," said lead author Dr John Sievenpiper, a scientist with the St Michael's Hospital's Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre in Toronto. "In weighing the evidence, we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern.
"In fact, analysis actually showed a small weight loss."
So, contrary to concerns, perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet. The new review reassessed evidence from 30 randomised controlled trials involving nearly 2,500 people who ate pasta each week, alongside a low glycemic diet - a food plan which prevents the blood sugar from spiking.
Those involved in trials on average ate 3.3 servings of pasta a week instead of other carbohydrates, one serving equalling around half a cup. They lost around 1.1lb over an average follow-up period of 12 weeks.
Unlike most refined carbs, pasta has a low glycemic index, meaning it is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly and so does not cause high blood sugar levels.
The authors concluded pasta could form part of a low-glycemic diet, often recommended for people trying to lose weight.