Wednesday, 30 January 2008

In the News: Dietitian Jennifer Sygo, of CC Toronto, Says It's Not Pasta that Adds Pounds, It's Portions

Really we have to monitor how much we eat to sustain a healthy weight?? I never knew that!!! Are human beings really so stupid that we haven't figured out that eatting 3 cups of pasta (cooked by the way) is excess? I know health care they are good people and they are going to change the world some day. But a five year old could have told us that "eatting too much makes us fat" DUH!!!!

here is the article that is attached to my entry title from the National Post.
Happy Reading :-)

Why does everyone say that pasta makes you fat?
That's a question my clients often ask me, and, as part of my second column on the benefits of carbohydrates, I'll tell you what I tell them: It's not so much the pasta, but the amount. Most people don't realize that a single portion of pasta is about ½ cup, cooked, while a serving of cooked rice is a scant ¹/³ of a cup. Take a measuring cup out and get a look at these measurements -- it's not a lot. These servings contain approximately 100 calories -- about the same as a slice of bread, a banana, 100 grams of lean meat or about 10 cups of raw spinach. So while it might seem strange for many individuals to find themselves eating six slices of bread (or six bananas) at a meal, it is not uncommon to be served three cups of pasta (equal to six half-cup servings) in a sitting. That's far too much for most adults, especially if they are relatively sedentary.
That being said, it's important to remember that anyone with higher energy needs -- teens, young adults, active individuals, pregnant and lactating women, some adult men-- will easily be able to manage eating two or more servings at a time without any unwanted weight gain. But, on average, pasta and rice portions have grown to unreasonable proportions.
A second issue with starchy carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta and potatoes, is their impact on our blood sugar and hormones. While almost any food can be tolerated in small enough amounts, the relatively large portions of starchy carbohydrates that we tend to eat at a meal can cause a relatively rapid rise in blood sugar, resulting in the release of the hormone insulin. Insulin triggers the storage of the sugar, first as a substance known as glycogen in the liver and muscle, but once these stores are full, the remainder of the sugar is stored as body fat. The bottom line: By cutting down on our portions of carbs, we provide ourselves with a simple way to manage our weight.
In addition to the impact on body fat, there is also evidence that high carbohydrate meals may stimulate overeating at the next meal. Specifically, while carbohydrates can suppress the appetite-stimulating hormone known as ghrelin (making you feel full), this effect wears off relatively quickly. In other words, while carbohydrates help us to feel full in the hour or two after a meal, we often end up heading back to the fridge a few hours later.
A simple way to control this appetite-stimulating effect caused by carb-rich meals is to not only control portions, but also to balance their effect with a source of protein (like lean chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, beans, tofu or dairy or soy products). Not only do protein-rich foods suppress ghrelin (therefore suppressing hunger) immediately after a meal, they also continue to do this longer than carbohydrates do. As a consequence, including protein at a meal tends to result in fewer calories being eaten at the next meal, helping us to control our total food intake without us even realizing it. Protein also offers an extra kick by inducing a process known as thermogenesis, which helps us to burn more energy (as body fat), even when we are at rest.
I think that, in the race towards leanness, we tend to forget about nutritional quality. Yes, protein can help us to stay full longer, and may also help us to burn more body fat than carbohydrates, so we should include protein at each meal. But, believe it or no, fat burning is not everything. When it comes to the variety of nutrients available, nothing beats plant-based carbohydrate-rich foods -- at least those that are in a state most closely derived from the Earth. Specifically, fruits, whole grains, non-starchy and starchy vegetables (including potatoes -- yes, potatoes) are loaded in nutrients ranging from bowel-healthy fibre to blood pressure-controlling potassium, and most are rich in dis-ease-fighting compounds known as polyphenols. Many of these nutrients are not available, or only in limited amounts, from low fat, protein-rich foods such as chicken or turkey. So by including carbs in our diet, not only do we experience pleasure, but also significant health benefits if we eat the right kind of carbs.
One final critical, but often overlooked factor in carbohydrates' favour is their impact on the environment. Unlike animal proteins, which require substantial inputs of water and energy, not to mention their own food (which in turn requires energy to produce, process and transport), plant-based carbohydrates require a fraction of the total energy to grow. If we all turn to lean animal protein as our primary fuel in our battle of the bulge, we will put even more pressure on the Earth's resources. So while protein undoubtedly plays an important role in weight management that is not to be overlooked, it is also important not to throw the carbohydrate-based baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. There is room for balance and moderation in our use of both.
-Jennifer Sygo is a dietitian in private practice at Cleveland Clinic Canada (, which offers executive physicals, prevention and wellness counselling and personal health care management in Toronto.


Tink said...

Americans (and Canadians too) eat too much in general. The portions in our meals make foreigners sick. They've proven that people will eat everything on their plate, even if they're overstuffing themselves, because mentally they feel they have to.

Brynne said...

I get what they are saying it's just baffling to me that we as human beings don't get that eatting to much can make us fat.