You Might Be Eating Too Much Pasta. Here's Why

Pasta is a comforting dish that's typically enjoyed in large, delicious quantities. It's no secret that pasta is a big no-no for low-carbohydrate diets, but even if you aren't dieting, you may be carb-loading without even realizing it.

While researchers say pasta isn't directly related to weight gain, it can be an issue if you aren't regulating your portion sizes (via BMJ Open). A recommended serving size is one cup, but you are likely serving yourself — or being served — up to three times that amount (via Eat This, Not That!). This is especially true when it comes to restaurants, where serving sizes can be even larger than we realize — not to mention the accompanying bread basket providing temptation.

The serving size issue can be problematic because pasta can spike your blood sugar, which has an effect on your hormones and cortisol levels. However, one study did find that pasta has a low glycemic index, meaning that the blood sugar level changes are not as drastic as the blood sugar level changes caused by other refined carbs (via Business Insider). In fact, the study found that those who ate pasta three times a week instead of other carbs actually lost some weight as part of a low glycemic index diet.

How to make your pasta dishes healthy

It is also important to note that the pasta itself isn't automatically unhealthy. Pasta has limited amounts of its wheat, flour, water, and egg ingredients and actually contains important nutrients like protein, fiber, manganese, selenium, and more (via OpenFit). These nutrients are more present in whole wheat pasta varieties, which also have the added benefit of less calories and carbohydrates. Other pasta substitutes like chickpea pasta have even higher levels of protein and nutrients.

The problem lies within what you're eating with your pasta. Those delicious cream sauces, or ones high in sugar or sodium, are what can turn your healthy Italian meal into a calorie-ridden dish. Instead, keep the sauce light, try adding in some vegetables and lean protein, and you have yourself a well-rounded nutritious meal.

If you keep pasta to its recommended serving size, choose a high-quality whole wheat pasta or substitute like zucchini noodles, and omit the calorically dense sauces, your favorite Italian dish can be a perfectly healthy addition to a well-rounded diet.