Monday, April 1, 2013

Weight differences between cooked and dry pasta?

 Oh, the complexities of trying to convince oneself to lose weight while your mind is pitted against the effort 24/7!

One question that has come to my mind just recently, was how to measure the calories in cooked pasta; be it either the spaghetti or shell varieties. Both my diet planner software and the nutritional panel on the a package of medium pasta shells agreed that ¾ of a cup of dry pasta (~56 grams) would equal to about 210 calories. However, there is a big difference in weight between the cooked and dry weights! After I weighed out 56 grams of medium shell pasta and then cooked it,  I found the weights to be
171 grams cooked to 56 grams dry or a ratio of 3:1! That's something that's good to know if you like to make pasta ahead of time as I do quite often.

That such a small amount (~70 medium shells) of pasta contains so many calories was daunting! This stuff is caloric dynamite! Add in a quarter cup of pasta sauce (71 calories), and you’re suddenly up to about 281 calories. And, if you add in a slice of toast (no butter) at 70 calories plus a 1 cup glass of orange juice (113 calories) and a mixed salad (using 1 tbsp of oil and vinegar as a dressing and equaling 166 calories), you'd suddenly discover that what had looked like a modest lunch, actually comes in at slightly over 600 calories! Wow! Don’t worry fellow dieters, I’ll cut way back come dinner time.

FACT or FICTION: One of the big no-no’s, in the past, has been the admonition not to eat foods that are high in starch (pasta, breads, potatoes et al.) when trying to lose weight. And, while that statement is generally true, pasta can still be enjoyed if eaten in moderation. The trick is try and ensure that the pasta portion is overwhelmed by other healthier foods.

You can also offset other unpleasant side effects, such as spiking ones blood sugar, by making sure not to overcook it. Pasta that is al dente and which was cooked or is associated with some form of oil will breakdown much more slowly in the digestive system and thus have a lower overall glycemic impact.

1 comment:

  1. I'm surprised that the ratio for shells is so high. A result I found online for fusilli was 2.1:1. My own testing with elbow macaroni yielded 2.35:1.

    Clearly, shape and other factors matter. For pastas with unknown ratios, I have been using 2.5:1 to calculate mass for nutritional data if I failed to weigh the dry pasta (happens a lot) in order to slightly overestimate the caloric value. Your value shows that I may have been underestimating!