DIET TRIALS: SLIM PASTA – 7 CALORIE WONDER FOOD?
Over 100 grams of pasta… At just 7.7 calories? That can’t be right, can it? We subject ourselves to a week of Slim Pasta to find out if the diet product’s bold claims hold any weight. Or, indeed, if it helps us shift any. WHO? The clever folks at British food company Eat Water have unveiled a brand new range of products that, as well as being gluten free, sugar free and fat free, promise to leave you feeling full without totalling your calorific intake. HOW? Slim Pasta, Slim Rice and Slim Noodles are made from a vegetable extract called Moyu (or Konjac), which has been used for decades in Asia for its apparent weight loss benefits. The product swells in the stomach, mimicking the feeling of fullness for up to four hours. WHAT? The idea is, instead of your usual portion of carbs, you substitute our wheat-based pasta, noodles, rice out for a serving of Slim one-to-two meals a day instead. Average pasta brands tend to contain around 350 calories per 100grams, compared to the miniscule 7.7 calories per 100 grams that the products contain. HOW MUCH? Products in the Slim range cost, on average, £2.55 for 1-2 servings. They’re available to buy from Holland & Barrett, independent health food shops and www.SlimPasta.co.uk. Not earth-shatteringly expensive, but pricey compared to your average bag of 500g pasta, which costs around £0.99. AVERAGE MENU? On Monday, we ate this: Breakfast: Low-fat yoghurt with berries, almonds and a small swirl of honey. Lunch: Spinach salad with cucumber, green peppers, and a can of tuna steak in fresh water. Dinner: Slim Pasta (1 packet = 15.4 calories) with courgettes, spinach, onion, low-sugar bolognaise sauce and low-fat cream cheese. I also drank: 2L of water, including green tea, as recommended by the Eat Water guidelines. PROS: Obviously, the calorie count is tiny. TINY. And that’s not to be sniffed at, especially as, as science tells us again and again, the most effective method of weight loss is by sticking to a calorie-controlled diet and taking plenty of exercise. It’s extremely easy to cook (just stir in hot sauce or boil for a few minutes and Bob is indeed your uncle) and it does leave us feeling full up, too, which is a bonus. CONS: It’s not the greatest tasting product on the planet, and the texture is an acquired one, but having said that, if you can cook, and can make or buy a descent, low-fat sauce to go with, it’s pretty easy to make palatable. Also, the nutritional value of it by itself is fairly low, despite it being a great source of fibre. OUR CONCLUSION: After a week of eating nothing but Slim products for dinner, we did feel a little sad for our stomachs, but mostly as they’d been tricked into thinking they were full all week. They were, however, notably flatter, and without weighing ourselves we could tell that we’d lost a little around the middle. Because there isn’t any carbohydrates, protein or other such nutrients involved, sugar cravings soon followed our evening meal, and while we don’t feel much like eating anything extra, there was a lingering hunger that was hard to satisfy. To combat this, add plenty of fresh, green vegetables and a good, lean protein – like lean chicken or prawns – to your meal. Keep the combination varied, too. And remember: if you have a digestive condition, like IBS, consult your doctor before using the product: large increases in fibre could aggravate the problem. PROFESSIONAL OPINION: Dr Emma Williams, a nutritional scientist from the British Nutrition Foundation, says that increasing your fibre intake in this way can be beneficial to a weight loss diet. “Satiation and satiety are part of the body’s appetite control system and are involved in limiting energy (from food and drinks) intake. Some foods bring about the feeling of fullness more than others (for example, protein is more satiating than carbohydrates) and a great deal of research has been carried out in this domain. Therefore, finding ways to bring about the feeling of fullness by using lower calorie foods can contribute to weight management. When dieting it is important to consume a range of foods and drinks to provide energy as well as the right balance of nutrients so that your body can sustain itself healthily. A healthy, balanced diet should include a variety of foods, from each of the food groups (bread, rice, pasta, and other starchy foods, fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy foods, meat, fish, egg, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein and foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar), as this allows us to get all the nutrients we need for optimal health.”