There’s a few things that have always stumped me over the years…
Are there aliens at Area 51?
How many calories are there in cooked pasta?
I’ve have delayed countless dinners because I’m Googling “calories in cooked pasta”.
And if we are in the Trust Tree, in 36 years I have never cooked just 2oz serving of pasta. I always took the YOLO (is this still a thing?) approach; box or nothing.
So let’s figure out what a serving of cooked pasta looks like and weighs.
The Case Against Measuring Cups
You might be reading this and saying…
Dave you’re an idiot. 2oz of dry pasta makes 1 cup cooked.
True and my counter argument would be measuring cups and food labels referencing them are notoriously full of error.
For example, take peanut butter.
If you’re anything like me, you try to eat every last calorie you can under your target.
So if you think you’re eating 190 calories of peanut butter but in reality you’re downing 250 calories. You can easily go over on calories and think you’re nailing everything perfectly.
This is YUGE. If you ever have to ask yourself “How come I’m not losing weight even though I’m in a calorie deficit?”. This is why.
Which is why I weigh everything.
The scale is more accurate and every home should have one. Here’s the one I use.
Packing your pasta into a measuring cup is going to create a lot of error.
Some people will pack it in, jamming every last bit of pasta of spaghetti in there. Others will have a nice heap with spaghetti flopping over the sides. Some pastas, like rotini are going to be hard to measure because of their shape.
I’m a scientist by trade, so I don’t like a lotta variables that could screw up my results.
Which is why the scale is the answer. There’s no subjectivity as to what a cup actual is. 100g is 100g.
Serving Size of Cooked Pasta
Side Note: This was the best research for an article ever. So much pasta.
The nutrition label gives the calories for 1 serving of pasta, usually 2oz of dry pasta. So here’s a few different types and shapes and their cooked weight.
Taking from the Barilla website, I grouped everything by size since they roughly equal out to the same amount cooked.
Rotini or Short Pasta
Dry: 2 oz
Cooked: 4.75 oz or 134 g
Spaghetti or Long Pasta
Dry: 2 oz
Cooked: 5 oz or 141 g
Shells (which could have been lumped into the Rotini section but I’m doing science here)
Dry: 2 oz
Cooked: 4.625 oz or 131 g
Keep in mind I cooked all these al dente – the way pasta should be cooked. I followed the directions on the box.
I boiled up 4-5 qts of water, threw in the pasta and felt them until they had the consistency of a fresh piece of gum. Dumped the water, rinsed under cold and started weighing.
If you boil the shit out of yours until it’s a gooey mess I pray for your soul. Your cooked serving size might be a little different from mine.
To get a idea on size, here’s the bowl of rotini in the palm of my hand.
And here is 600 calories of pasta
I kinda get that “That’s it?” feeling. Don’t you?
So How Many Calories are in Pasta
If you’re with me and take the YOLO approach to cooking pasta, weigh out about 5 oz of cooked pasta. That will be 200 calories. And here are the rest of the macros.
Estimating Restaurant Pasta
Odds are you don’t just eat pasta at home. So how do you weigh restaurant pasta?
With your hand. I do not want you bring a scale to a restaurant.
I’ll repeat. Do. Not. Bring. A. Scale. To. A. Restaurant.
If you do, there’s a good chance the following will happen:
- Your date/gf/wife leaving you because you’re ridiculous
- Developing an unsafe relationship with food
- People (read: Me) thinking your crazy
So let’s avoid having that awkward conversation of asking your girl to put a scale in her purse and use something you always have on you…your hand.
Make a fist. That’s a serving of cooked pasta.
Go ahead you can look, be forwarded, you’ll be disappointed.
So now when the server brings you a heaping plate of spaghetti you can do a quick guesstimation of how many servings are on that plate. My gut says about 4.
Wrap it Up B
When it comes to nutrition, having knowledge is key. Being able to set proper portions and how to estimate in restaurants is going to go a long way in helping you lose weight while not feeling suffocated by your diet.