Scientists from the BBC have discovered that warming up yesterday’s pasta can help you to manage your weight better. It seems that pasta, the super concentrated, sugar laden, refined carb that is blamed for making so many people fat is now a good food group – so long as you don’t eat it straight away.
In Michael Mosley’s latest episode of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, he presented findings from a small study that looked at the effect of eating reheated food.
Eating freshly cooked pasta is still a bad idea; your body will digest it quickly and your blood sugar levels will shoot through the roof resulting in an tsunami of insulin laden blood flooding through your body and pushing all that delicious Italian cuisine straight into the nearest fat cell. But, what if you don’t eat your dinner?
The researchers found that when people were initially deprived of their dinner and forced to eat cold pasta something strange happened – they said “hey, this pasta tastes disgusting, the texture is all wrong, I am not eating this!”.
Rather than guzzling down a plate of pasta the subjects under study reluctantly ate the cold pasta, wondering what they had done wrong to deserve such a punishment. One woman said that the food was pretty horrible when cold, but because she was starving she ate it anyway.
The outcome was surprising – their blood sugar levels did not rise as fast as when they guzzled the food down.
The Reheated Pasta Effect
But this was not as interesting as what happened next when the scientists decided to see if heating up the cold pasta made any difference.
The same group of otherwise healthy individuals were next invited to eat warmed up pasta. They enjoyed this more than the when they were force fed cold pasta, but not as much as when they dined on the freshly prepared bowls of steaming hot penne pasta in tomato sauce.
The results surprised scientists even more – their blood sugar levels rose even slower, indicating that they were less likely to gain fat (and presumably more like to lose weight, if they were overweight and only ate a small bowl) than the cold pasta eaters and the freshly cooked pasta eaters.
So, what can we learn from this? That if you want to lose weight it is better to cook your calorie laden bowl of pasta in tomato sauce and then leave it a day to cool down before warming it up and having it tomorrow. Try not to stuff your face with sandwiches in the meantime, and do not be too upset if it does not taste so good tomorrow. Just be happy that you can continue to eat far too many carbs and calories and still lose weight!
Future research will test to see if reheating pasta and then allowing it to cool in a fridge for another day before reheating it again will result in even faster weight loss …..
A word of warning
If you take the “cold pasta warmed up” approach to dieting you may find that you are actually gaining weight still because this does not magically make the calories disappear. Just because your blood glucose levels do not shoot through the roof your body will still be perfectly capable of converting some of the carbs into fat with a little help from normal insulin levels acting in a totally normal way.
The research only demonstrates that eating reheated pasta affects your blood sugar levels less. Yes, some of the pasta is now “starch resistant”, but so are many other food groups that will cause weight gain if eaten in excess. The research seems to suggest that the pasta passes straight to the lower intestines without being properly digested, making it more like fiber than sugar; but contrary to popular belief, you can gain weight on a low GI diet.
It is also worth mentioning that cooking pasta al dente, which is simply boiling it less so that it remains firm, also decreases its glycemic index rating. It would have been nice if the researchers compared this too.
Eating too much food will still result in weight gain, regardless of its position in the GI index. Not eating too much of any type of pasta is still better for your waist than eating too much fresh pasta or cold pasta or reheated pasta ….
Our tip: enjoy freshly cooked pasta, just don’t eat too much of it.