Did you know that there are the same number of calories in 176g of uncooked oven chips/fries as there are in only 75g of uncooked dried wholewheat pasta? (Approx 240kcal). White pasta is even higher – 270kcal for 75g, the same as white rice. Basically, for weight, it’s nearly the same as golden granulated sugar:
SUGAR: 400kcals per 100g, or 4kcals/g ~ UNCOOKED WHITE PASTA/RICE: 360kcals per 100g, or 3.6kcals/g ~ UNCOOKED FROZEN OVEN CHIPS: 136kcals per 100g, or 1.36kcals/g.
Today I fit into my next size down of jeans (woohoo!). I’ve lost nearly 12 lbs so far, after my first three weeks on a diet. The other day, as well as not eating meals after 6.30pm (I allow myself a later apple or satsuma if I get hungry), sticking to 1000 calories a day, including a diet shake in the morning made with soya milk, and also hula-hooping on my rollerblades for exercise – I decided to buy some itty-bitty food measuring scales for dieters so that I could weigh things like pasta and oven chips before cooking, instead of using guesswork, if I wanted to eat them. You can imagine what a surprise it was to look at the comparative calories per weight of both! I was probably consuming at least three times as much pasta per meal before I went on a diet. It was quite a shock to realise that one pasta bolognese meal in the past potentially contained all of my daily recommended calories in one go, for someone not on a diet.
Okay, pasta expands when cooked (depending on how al dente you like it). If you eat a lasagne made with three sheets of dried wholewheat pasta, weighing in at only 60g, and consider the calorie content of added sauces and cheese, it’s probably comparative to a small unsatifying spag bol. One of my faves was lasagne with chips/fries – like you get in a typical pub menu – so I bought some of those tiny circular Pyrex ramekins and made little lasange pots, with two layers of broken-up lasagne (about half a sheet in total fit per pot, or 10g) and a dollop of the sauces between, and a teaspoon of micro-grated Red leicester on the top. I cooked one, with 165g of oven chips on the side, covered the other pots uncooked with cling-film and froze them. So for about 36kcals worth of pasta, less than 100kcals worth of made-up non-vegetarian bolognese sauce, only 60kcals worth of white sauce (one-eighth of a jar), and about 10kcals worth of cheese, and 225kcals of oven fries, I get dinner for less than 500kcals without losing out on what I enjoy.
A bit like ordering a Happy Meal instead of the grown-up version – which is what I do if DS10 and I get munchies after going to the cinema. A cheeseburger Happy Meal, with a diet drink, is less than 600kcals. Chicken nugget versions are even less.
I’m not a four-legged herbivore with multiple stomachs, and therefore not designed to munch my way through a row of garden salad every day (not without terminal depression from loss of healthy neurotransmitter production, and attacks of anti-social wind anyway). And I’m not a gym-bunny burning 3000kcals a day (I’m sat here writing on my computer, for Chrissakes – what did you think I do all day?) – although now I do sometimes wear rollerblades around the house all afternoon, and twirl a hula-hoop outside, while the neighbours tolerate The Noisettes and Gorillaz at a sociable level from my kitchen window – so pasta on an industrial scale is to be avoided.
The most my muscles need to do is keep me upright. Like I said, it’s all about the physics. What burns off has to be greater than what goes in.
So if you’re on a diet, unless you’re hitting that gym really hard, keep the pasta content on the down low – like I said, think lasagne instead of penne…
And sometimes multi-tasking. I had to re-do my highlights last week – so I moved my twist-stepper in front of the mirror while doing the hook-and-plastic-hat thing. By the time I’d finished I’d done 500 steps…