There are many reasons why pasta is everyone’s favourite – it’s a comfort food for many with its rich taste and flavour, also quick and easy to cook; not to forget easily available and affordable. There are so many reasons we all love pasta – as a filling meal for days when there’s not much time to spend in the kitchen, for family dinners, for date nights, to pack into kids’ tiffin boxes, even to carry along on picnics. However, for those on a diet, pasta is not exactly a weight-loss friendly option considering the presence of high-calorie ingredients like cheese and creamy sauces. You can have pasta as part of a cheat meal, but if you are still worried if it would hamper your weight loss goals, let’s find some ways to make it healthier so that you can still enjoy pasta without getting off the weight loss wagon.
1. Dump the White Flour: Let’s start with the main ingredient itself. White flour or maida is devoid of nutrients, has refined carbs, high in calories, gets absorbed by the body fast and raises blood sugar quickly. This jump in blood sugar also triggers insulin release which then facilitates conversion of extra glucose into fat. Also, since white flour has no fiber, it will make you hungry soon after, causing you to seek out more food and calories. As you may know, fiber is important for keeping a check on appetite and to keep digestive system in good health, it also promotes fullness, so it would be prudent to replace refined carbs that are devoid of fiber with whole grains (rich in fiber) while trying to get lean. A diet high in refined carbohydrates like white flour can lead to overeating and weight gain. So, healthier pasta options would be – 100% whole wheat, rice spinach pasta, brown rice pasta, etc. If you are gluten intolerant – there’s a wide variety as well to pick from – millet pasta, buckwheat pasta, red lentil fusilli pasta, quinoa pasta, chickpea fusilli pasta, that are all easily available online and in stores.
2. Make the Sauces in Olive Oil: Whether it’s red sauce or white sauce, use just a tiny bit of oil, and make sure it’s a healthy one like olive oil which has healthy fats that promotes fullness and the antioxidants in it fight inflammation as well.It has lesser amount of calories than seed and vegetables oils.
3. Skip Cheese or Pick a Low-Calorie Option like Nutritional Yeast: Experts say it’s not necessary to add cheese in pasta though popular opinion says it adds so much flavour and texture to the dish. If you love pasta with cheese, pick a low-calorie one like feta, parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta, etc. Also, do watch the portion size because cheese is high in calories, it’s just a matter of which one is a bit lower in calories than the other. Another great option to replace cheese is nutritional yeast which is an amazing cheese substitute. Additionally, it’s a good source of protein that can be added to pasta to get the same kind of flavour as cheese.
4. Load it with Veggies: Vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants – you get them all if you add nutrient-rich vegetables like spinach, bell peppers, mushroom, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, etc. So, do load up on veggies, they will also keep you fuller for longer, and it would be a long time before you get hungry again.
5. Make Low-Calorie Homemade Pasta Sauce: Store-bought sauces pack a lot of calories, sugar, preservatives, added flavour, etc. It’s better to cook your own sauce (whether red or white)
with fresh ingredients and herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, parsley, etc.
6. Amp up Protein: Protein can help boost your weight loss efforts a great deal by increasing satiety, keeping you fuller for longer, boosting metabolism, and also reducing cravings for unhealthy food. For non-vegetarians, chicken is a good option. For vegetarians, tofu, paneer, chickpeas, black beans, etc. are protein-rich sources. Also read: “6 Foods with Protein and Healthy Fats For Weight Loss.”7. Skip High-Calorie Garnishes: Garnishes add extra flavour to pasta, but they also increase the calorie count. So, do avoid fresh cream, breadcrumbs, creamy sauces, fried onions, fried prosciutto, to keep the pasta in the weight-loss friendly range.
Summing up, to lose weight successfully, it’s important to follow a diet plan that puts you in calorie-deficit without asking you to give up on all your favorite foods for life. Set realistic goals, subscribe to the Rati Beauty diet plans, and get physically active, and you will lose weight like a boss!