Last updated on November 9th, 2022 at 04:26 pm
Have you ever wondered, “Can I Eat Pasta While Cutting?”
I’m sure you know that you need to be wary of your calories when cutting.
So, there’s typically certain foods that you tend to avoid.
Pasta is generally viewed as a great food for both fuelling and recovering from your workouts.
Plus, it’s ideal when you’re bulking.
However, can the same be said when you’re on a cut?
Allow me explain “the rules” to eating pasta while cutting.
Can I Eat Pasta While Cutting?
Yes, you can eat pasta while cutting, as long as it fits in with your daily calories and macronutrients. The main issue with pasta is that it’s extremely calorie dense, so it’s very easy to overeat. You would be better off making pasta a side dish, while filling your plate with protein and vegetables. Additionally, even though pasta has more calories per serving than many other carbs, it typically has a lower glycemic index. This means that it is less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
1. Why Does Pasta Get Such a Bad Rap?
We’ve had a weird relationship with pasta over the years.
Firstly, who doesn’t love a great pasta dish, smothered in sauce and with plenty of meat, fish, or veggies?
But, taking pleasure out of the equation, there was a time that pasta was viewed as part of a healthy-living fad.
Basically, we all saw cyclists, swimmers, and various sports people chowing down on huge portions of pasta, so we followed suit.
I mean, look at the physiques of some of these competitors who are consuming buckets full of pasta.
But alas, all this additional pasta eating simply led to many of us becoming fat, tired, and bloated.
Suddenly pasta became the enemy.
Okay, let’s look at the facts.
Pasta is an extremely calorie dense food.
By this I mean that for every gram of pasta there are a lot of calories.
And in truth this is mainly carbohydrates.
Yes, there’s a small amount of protein, fat, and fibre per serving, but nothing to write home about.
Therefore, you could almost say that pasta is ideal for anyone who wishes to put on weight, so basically if you’re bulking.
You could in effect view pasta as the nemesis of cutting.
However, I think pasta gets a bad rap, and it is perfectly feasible to eat while you’re cutting.
Okay, you’ll definitely need to be wary of exactly how much pasta you’re consuming.
But it can actually help when you’re trying to burn body fat or lose weight.
I will add that I typically view pasta as a side dish, as opposed to the main event on your dinner plate.
Realistically, if you have an equal (sensible) serving of pasta, protein, and vegetables on your plate, you need never worry about consuming pasta while cutting.
2. It’s All About Calories & Macros
Whether you’re looking to bulk, cut, or maintain your weight, the most important factor in nutrition is the calories you consume.
If you eat more calories than you burn on a daily basis you will put on weight.
If you eat fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis you will lose weight.
And if you eat the same amount of calories than you burn then you’ll maintain your weight.
It’s actually an extremely easy formula and yet so many of us get it wrong.
You can also add the macronutrients, protein, carbs, and fats into the equation.
Basically, if you’re looking to produce a lean, muscular, and athletic physique then your split of macros is extremely important.
We know that protein is essential to help build muscle and help to stay feeling satiated.
Carbohydrates provide the fuel to help us power through our workouts while aiding recovery.
And healthy fats are extremely important for various biological processes.
Yes, I understand that there are numerous diets that will limit or even completely cut out certain macronutrients.
But, in my opinion, we need a good mix of them all to maintain a fit and healthy mind and body.
So, when it comes to cutting you simply need to ensure that your caloric intake is slightly lower than your calorie expenditure.
Plus, you need to manage your macros within your daily calorie limit.
The Calorie and Macro Split
However, the split you choose will very much depend on factors like your body type, metabolism, and level of physical activity.
So, a cutting macro split for a mesomorph (someone who’s naturally muscular and athletic) could be 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fats.
Someone who’s naturally skinny (ectomorph) can afford to eat more carbs (55%), while reducing their protein (25%) and fat (20%) intake.
Whereas, someone who is naturally broad and thick (endomorph) should reduce their carbs (25%), while slightly increasing their intake of protein (40%) and healthy fats (35%).
With that being said, regardless of your body type, you can still eat pasta while cutting as long as it fits in with your macro split and daily calories.
3. Be Wary of the Gluten
Something else you should be wary of is the gluten content in pasta.
Now, there is no actual scientific evidence of a link between gluten intolerance and weight gain or weight loss.
However, if you are struggling with gluten this can lead to a vast array of digestive problems.
And this in turn may cause issues with both cutting and bulking (or even maintaining your weight).
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Therefore, most pasta varieties will contain gluten.
Admittedly, only a fraction of people worldwide have a gluten intolerance, although there are newer wheat varieties being produced with a higher gluten content.
This is possibly why you hear more-and-more about people stating that they are suddenly gluten sensitive.
The main reason I mention this is because many people complain that they feel terrible after consuming pasta.
They often do this as a “cheat meal” while on a cut, but end up feeling fat, bloated, and lethargic afterwards.
So, whereas pasta may not have a massive impact on your cut, gluten sensitivity can certainly cause other health issues.
The Truth About Gluten (Does it Make You Fat?)
4. Glycemic Index & Insulin
Now, pasta may be one of the most calorie dense carbohydrates, and indeed foods in general.
However, what’s interesting is that it is a lower glycemic index than many of its “competitors”.
In fact, pasta has a lower glycemic index than bread, rice, potatoes, sweet potato, pumpkin, and even sweetcorn.
So, how does this help you exactly when you’re cutting?
The glycemic index assigns a value to different foods on either how slowly or quickly they increase blood sugar levels.
Whenever you eat food the body will break this down into sugar and send it to the cells.
And it is insulin that helps to move these sugars from the bloodstream into the cells.
However, the higher your blood sugar levels the more insulin the pancreas needs to produce in order to transport the sugars to the body’s cells.
So, if your blood sugar levels are excessively high then eventually the cells can stop responding to insulin.
This can ultimately cause insulin resistance.
And unfortunately the high amounts of insulin being produced, which may lead to insulin resistance, can also lead to weight gain.
Foods with a high glycemic index will typically cause a spike in blood sugar levels (which means that more insulin production is required to deal with this).
So, the more often you eat these types of foods, the higher the likelihood of potential weight gain.
However, as I’ve mentioned, pasta is a lot further down on the glycemic index scale than many other carbohydrates.
And these are probably carbs that you’ll typically eat in favour of pasta while cutting.
5. When Are You Eating Pasta?
The timing of your pasta eating is actually very important when you’re cutting.
Basically, your body is far more receptive to carbohydrates after a workout.
Your body will generally use your glycogen stores to fuel your workouts.
So, in effect, your glycogen stores become depleted during exercise.
How quickly will depend on the type of exercise, as well as the intensity.
However, it’s a pretty safe bet to eat carbohydrate-rich food after a workout.
This won’t actually have much impact on your cutting goals.
Plus, it’s a great way to replenish your glycogen stores.
In truth, you probably have up to two hours post-workout, although some will claim that you must consume protein within 30 minutes of exercise.
This is often referred to as the “anabolic window”, but many people believe this is a myth.
The actual duration of the anabolic window has never been definitively proven, but 30 minutes in the most oft-quoted number.
With that being said, the anabolic window is seen by many as the perfect opportunity to take on protein and carbs.
The aim here is to increase protein synthesis, decrease muscle protein breakdown, and obviously to replenish glycogen stores.
So, if you’re going to eat pasta while cutting then aim to eat it soon after your workout.
This is especially true if you’ve performed an intense and gruelling strength workout.
The Truth About Glycogen Depletion
So, as you can see, there should be no issues with eating pasta while cutting.
Regardless of what you eat, if it fits in with your daily calories and macronutrient profile then you can burn body fat or lose weight.
It may be easier to view pasta as a side dish, which will help you keep your portion sizes at a desirable level.
You should also be aware that pasta has a lower glycemic index than many other carbs.
This means it is less likely to spike your blood sugar levels and cause insulin sensitivity.
All of which can lead to weight gain.
Finally, if you aim to eat pasta soon after your workout it will have very little impact on your cutting goals.
And now for another firm favourite, discover what I had to say about eating peanut butter while cutting.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.