Whether your fat loss diet (*fat loss is in relation to total calories consumed vs. total calories burned) allows for copious amounts of carbs, a moderate amount of carbs, or a finite amount of carbs pasta is something you can indulge in daily while still meeting your fat loss goals.
Here are my personal “rules” (guidelines) when it comes to making pasta dishes at home and not jeopardizing your fat loss efforts.
Pair your noodles with a source of protein. My favorites are chicken breast and ground turkey.
Fiber will help keep you full. Add in fibrous vegetables and use whole wheat noodles enriched with fiber. My favorites vegetables are broccoli, spinach and mushrooms.
Be smart about your sauce. Looks for reduced sugar or reduced fat sauces to save on extra calories but still have flavor. My favorites are the Prego Light Smart Traditional Italian Sauce and the Bertolli Sauce Light Alfredo Sauce. Or experiment with making your own sauce by boiling down tomatoes.
Know your portion size by looking at the nutrition label. If you have a food scale use it to weigh the dry weight of the pasta listed on the nutrition label. If you don’t own a food scale thats okay, use a measuring cup.
Get creative with herbs and spices. Experiment with using basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and rosemary. A little bit of flavor goes a long way.
Be smart with your cheese selection. Know your cheese portions and use responsibly. Some of my favorite cheeses are Kraft Grated Cheese: Cheese Reduced Fat Parmesan Style Topping and Sargento Shredded Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Italian.
Your diet allows for “a lot” of carbs. Maybe you’re in the early stages of dieting and you haven’t had to drastically reduce carb consumption or maybe you’re an individual who can continuously progress fat loss while eating “a lot” of carbs. Or maybe you just LOVE the real stuff and you prefer to “save” your carbs for real noodles. Your optimal choice is to utilize “real” pasta. A serving of Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Grain Linguine Pasta paired with 1/4C Prego Light Smart Traditional Italian Sauce mixed with 4oz of extra lean ground turkey and a serving of broccoli comes out to be 68g of carbs, 41g of protein and 3g of fat. 442 calories and 11g of fiber (fiber keeps you full!).
Your diet allows for a more moderate amount of carbs. You’re not quite a low carb dieter but you’re also not able to “fit” copious amounts of carbs into your daily diet. Maybe you’re in the later stages of dieting and you’ve had to moderately reduce carb consumption or maybe you’re saving some of your calories/carbs for dessert and you’re looking for a less carb heavy version the the above. Your optimal choice is to experiment with pasta alternatives. A serving of Explore Asia Organic Black Bean Spaghetti paired with 1/4C Prego Light Smart Traditional Italian Sauce mixed with 100g of mushrooms and a serving of broccoli comes out to be 31g of carbs, 28g of protein and 2g of fat. 260 calories and 18g of fiber. Bonus… these noodles contain 25g of protein so there is no need to add additional protein sources unless your diet calls for it.
Your diet allows for “minimal” carb consumption. Maybe you’re in the very late stages of dieting and you’ve had to drastically reduce carb consumption in order to continue fat loss progression or maybe you just prefer a very, very low carb diet. Your optimal choice is to experiment with vegetable pasta. 100g of spiralized zucchini paired with 1/4c Bertolli Sauce Light Alfredo Sauce mixed with 100g of mushrooms, 50g of spinach, 2 servings of broccoli and 4oz of chicken breast comes out to be 15g of carbs, 26g of protein and 6g of fat. 258 calories and 6g of fiber. Also spaghetti squash deserves an honorable mention.
By simply switching from scenario #1 to scenario #3 you are reducing calorie consumption by 184 calories. If you do this every day that is 67,160 calories a year or about 19lbs a year.
Remember there is no “one size fits all” approach to dieting. Your age, height, weight, gender, body composition, activity level, dietary needs and fat loss goals are unique to you and you alone. What works for one person might not work for someone else.
Take the time to experiment with different meals and carbohydrate intakes in addition to protein and fat intakes. Be patient and monitor your progress day to day, week to week. Lastly, never drastically cut calories in an aggressive manner. Slow, gradual reduction of calories is optional for sustained weight loss, muscle preservation (metabolic preservation), and avoidance of metabolic adaptation.