Almost everyone loves eating out an Italian restaurants, but with the obesity epidemic on the rise, it is really a good idea to be eating lots of pasta? Some people suggest that pasta is a major contributor to obesity around the world. So what is the truth behind pasta, and the answer to the age-old question, “Does eating pasta really make you fat-
Calories in Pasta
Before we actually begin to answer the question regarding whether or not pasta makes you fat, it is important to fully understand how calories contribute to weight gain. All food contain calories, and all foods can be divided up into either carbohydrates, fats or proteins. Most of us understand that pasta is composed almost primarily of carbohydrates, which per gram contains 4 calories. Similarly, protein also contains 4 calories per gram. Fat, however, contains approximately 9 calories per gram – twice the amount of calories found within carbohydrates and protein. Therefore, it appears that pasta, which as discussed above is made almost entirely from carbohydrates, is actually not as calorically dense as some people believe it to be. The problem develops, however, when people begin eating high amounts of pasta. According to the USDA, one serving of pasta is equal to half a cup. However, most Italian restaurants serve often two or even three times this amount.
The bigger problem with pasta and the claim that it can make you fat revolves around the sauces that pastas are served with. Marinara sauce, which is a tomato-based sauce served with onions, garlic and peppers is actually pretty healthy. The tomatoes contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals essential for good health, and most of the other ingredients are relatively low in fat and calories. However, other types of pasta sauces, including Alfredo and other cheese sauces, can provide tons of fat and calories and therefore, can contribute to the development of obesity. Research has found that many of these sauces can contain more calories than the actual pasta dish itself.
So, what’s the verdict? Does pasta make you fat? Or is it really the sauce on top of the pasta that’s causing all of the problems. In reality, it is a combination of both of these issues. Pasta in and of itself really is not that bad for you. It is practically fat free, and therefore contains fewer calories than foods made from high amounts of fat. However, large portion sizes provide more calories than we actually need in order to keep our bodies functioning properly, and sauces that are loaded with fat, calories and sodium only add to the problem. For best results, when dining out at an Italian restaurant, eat only half of your meal, and package the rest for later. Choose a sauce that is rich in vegetables and is not cream-based for a meal that is better for your health and for your waistline.