What’s more, I am a nutritionist who specialises in fat loss and spends copious hours analysing the latest research studies that hit the press with ever bolder and more eye-catching headlines. Last week’s ‘news’ that ‘Reheated Pasta is Less Fattening’ didn’t just catch my eye, it left me speechless! Who commissioned and paid for this study and ensured it was featured on the BBC’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor I wonder – could it possibly be one of the food ‘giants’ who sell pasta to the masses and are getting a bit hacked off with health advocates like myself advising those who need to shed weight to treat pasta as an ‘occasional’ rather than a ‘staple’ in their diets? Who knows, but for all those who are currently boiling up a vat load of spaghetti with a view to reheating it over the next week happy in the knowledge that weight loss will follow, let me clarify!
Pasta and all it’s starchy carbohydrate bedfellows are not and never have been ‘fattening’. They play an important role in a healthy, balanced diet. Like many foods, they only make us fat when we eat too much of them and too often. If you have ever watched a passionate Italian cook preparing a pasta dish you will have noticed that there is invariably more sauce than pasta, not the other way around!
But back to reheated pasta and the claims that it is ‘less fattening’. It’s all about ‘resistant’ also known as ‘non-digestible’ starch which is something I have been scribbling about and encouraging dieters to get to grips with for some number of years (see an extract from my 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane diet). Apart from having an impressive list of health benefits, from a weight loss perspective, resistant starch has been shown to encourage a phenomenon known as ‘second meal effect’ where insulin spikes which encourage fat storage are controlled not just after a meal involving them but also for hours thereafter and well into our next meal resulting in us eating less and storing less fat. Beans, lentils, corn, split peas, barley, brown rice, millet, oats, cold potatoes, ripe bananas and yes, reheated pasta all offer small to reasonable levels but to suggest that focussing on reheated pasta will do the trick is naive to say the least. If you have the time and can be bothered to play around with your pasta, crack on but my advice if you want to get sufficient levels of resistant starch into your diet to reduce fat storage and encourage fat burning is to ensure that at least three or four of the above are included in your day – then you can happily use fresh or dried pasta straight from the pack (or make your own) and occasionally but not regularly enjoy your bolognese, arrabiata, puttanesca or lasagne without guilt!