Should You Do Calorie Counting Pasta Dry or Cooked?

Counting calories is very important when you are trying to watch your weight or want to get into shape. A single mistake in counting calories can lead to a big mishap in the diet.

So, when should you do calorie counting pasta dry or cooked?

You should always weigh dry pasta for calorie counting. Unless otherwise stated, most recipes use dry pasta weight. The weight of the pasta increases after cooking due to water absorption. This makes calculating the calorie tricky. So, dry or raw pasta is the best option for calorie counting.

Nutrisystem

This brief explanation is not enough to understand how calorie counting may differ between cooked and uncooked pasta. Let’s dig a little deeper into this matter.

Calorie Difference Between Dry Pasta vs Cooked Pasta

Cooking pasta doesn’t change its calorie count. However, it does gain weight after being boiled with water. The weight rises because of water absorption, just as when rice is boiled. 

But as water contains no calories on its own, this does not raise the calorific value of the pasta. Calculating calories using cooked weights is difficult because pasta weights vary depending on the style and form.

Absorption of water during cooking increases the weight of the pasta, but the number of calories remains the same.

The calorific value of 100g of raw and cooked pasta differs greatly. As a result, if you switch between cooked and dried weights, you might be calculating calories incorrectly.

Moreover, if you add other condiments and sauce to it, the calories will undoubtedly rise. The table below shows the average calorie count for each pasta serving based on uncooked/dry weight:

Serving Size and Dry Weight of White PastaCooked Weight on AverageCalorie count (in kcal)
Extra-Large Serving (125 grams/4.41oz)281 grams(9.91oz)446 kcal
Large Serving (100 grams/3.53oz)225 grams(7.94 oz)357 Kcal
Medium Serving(75 grams / 2.65 oz) 169 grams(5.96 oz)268 kcal
Small Serving (56 grams /2oz)126 grams(4.44oz)
200 kcal
Average Calorie Count for Different Pasta Serving

While the cooked weight can be used to calculate calories, the dry weight is more precise.

Why Is Calorie Counting Often Inaccurate?

Calorie counting will never be completely precise, no matter how hard you try. Because there are too many variables and the figures on the nutrition labels may be incorrect.

You may not absorb all of the calories in certain foods if you weigh them wrongly. Weighing cooked pasta rather than raw may also be one of the causes.

Why Does Pasta Become Heavier After Cooking?

Raw pasta is dry and light. During the cooking process, the pasta absorbs the water and expands. After it is cooked, they become mushy, malleable, and heavy.

The longer pasta is cooked, the more water it absorbs. This makes it heavier and softer.

So it’s only logical to wonder when to count dry weight vs cooked weight?

Calorie Counting Pasta Dry or Cooked – The Exact Scenario

The calories in pasta do not change when it is cooked. Absorption of water during cooking increases the weight of the pasta, but the number of calories remains the same. This means that the calories per 100 grams or per portion of cooked pasta are lower than for raw pasta.

calorie-counting-pasta-dry-or-cooked

When to Count Weight of Cooked Pasta?

Most of the food labels will show the calories in the food’s present or raw state. But sometimes we forget to weigh them beforehand or we don’t know exactly how much we need.

This usually happens when we are cooking for a large group who all eat differently. In these cases weigh the pasta after it has been cooked. It will be easier for serving purposes.

Some nutritional items can also be listed as “as prepared.” This is a standard listing on macaroni and cheese, which includes “as made” with milk and butter.

When to Count Weight of Dry Pasta?

Even though it is impossible to count exact calories, weighing pasta raw is the most effective one. Weigh raw pasta when you know exactly how much you’ll eat or are following an exact recipe.

The box normally mentions 1 serving equals 56g, approximately 6 servings per package. Look at the package’s total weight, which is usually 340g. By weighing the dry ingredients, you can check if the information is indeed for raw pasta.

Don’t forget to consider some weight for the box. If the dry weight matches the nutritional values, the calories mentioned are for dry pasta.

The difference in calories between dry and cooked pasta is now quite obvious. So, what about white and brown pasta? Do they vary in calorie count as well?

Brown Pasta vs White Pasta

White pasta is made mostly of refined wheat flour. And brown pasta is made entirely of whole wheat flour. As a result of the refining procedure white pasta results in lower in essential elements and fiber.

In the chart below we have shown how the calorie differs in white and brown pasta:

Dry Weight  & Serving Size of Pasta Cooked Weight on AverageCalorie Count of White PastaCalorie of Brown Pasta
Small Serving (56grams /2oz)126 grams(4.44oz)200 kcal180 kcal
Medium Serving(75grams / 2.65oz)169 grams(5.96oz)268 kcal241 kcal
Large Serving (100grams / 3.53oz)225 grams(7.94oz)357 kcal321 kcal
Calorie Differences in White and Brown Pasta

Even though brown pasta provides more nutritional benefits, there’s nothing wrong with eating white pasta on occasion.

What is The Recommended Portion of Pasta?

If the pasta is cooked then the recommended amount of pasta to eat is 180g. This amount  would fit in two cupped palms. But when it comes to dried pasta, the typical rule is 2 ounces per serving.

Chickpeas pasta is also high in fiber and protein, making it a satisfying and nutritious option.

This is roughly one cup of pasta. 8 ounces of uncooked penne, ziti, rotini, or elbow macaroni equals four cups of cooked pasta.

4 Low-Calorie Based Pasta Recommendations

Wheat-based pasta like ramen is great for bulking. But in case you are focusing more on low-calorie-based pasta, we got some recommendations for you: 

1. Pasta Made from Vegetable

Vegetables such as zucchini, squash, and butternut squash are nutritious pasta replacements. The nutrition of these kinds of pasta will vary based on the vegetable.

pasta-with-grilled-vegetables

But when compared to regular pasta, you’ll also save calories and carbohydrates. Cooked spaghetti squash has 42 calories per cup (155 grams).

That’s only 18% of the 239 calories in a cup of cooked spaghetti (151 grams). Similarly, other vegetable-based pasta options are very low in calories.

2. Red Lentil Pasta

Red lentil pasta is gluten-free and packed with plant-based protein and fiber. Per serving, you’ll get 6 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein.

uncooked-red-lentil-pasta

15% of your daily iron needs will also be met with this type of pasta. Lentil pasta has almost the same caloric value as normal pasta, with approximately 200 calories per 56-gram serving.

However, one thing that makes lentil pasta better for weight loss is fiber. Some lentil pasta products include twice as much fiber as normal pasta.

3. Chickpeas Pasta

Chickpeas pasta might be at the top of the priority list if you’re looking for gluten-free pasta.

It comes in many shapes, such as spaghetti, penne, and rotini.

mediterranean-chickpeas-pasta

Dry chickpeas provide 190 calories per 57 gram, compared to 211 calories in white pasta. Chickpeas pasta is also high in fiber and protein, making it a satisfying and nutritious option.

It might be a bit harder to come by. If you can’t find it in the pasta aisle, search in your supermarket’s natural or gluten-free department.

4. Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are a type of Japanese noodle that is commonly used in soups and noodle bowls. These are prepared from buckwheat, which despite its name, is gluten-free

Buckwheat is a whole grain, so these noodles have more fiber than most kinds of pasta. Cooked soba noodles contain only 99 calories per 100 grams. 

japanese-soba-noodles

A combination of all of these varieties of pasta will allow you to bring change to a rigorous diet. There are many different ways to prepare these pastas which are low in calories but equally delicious.

FAQs

How many people can 500g of pasta feed?

1 pound (500g) of pasta can easily feed 4 hungry persons if served as a main meal. You can double the number of people for the first course. A general rule to follow when deciding how much pasta to serve per person is 56 grams. 

Is Pasta helpful for muscle gain?

Pasta is a wonderful way to increase muscle mass because it is heavy in protein and carbs. Carbohydrates are important for muscle growth and maintenance. It is also recommended that you use light sauces, low-fat cheeses, and lean meats in your dish.

Is It Okay to Eat Spaghetti After Working Out?

No, refined carbs such as white rice, pasta, and white bread are not recommended after an exercise. This is due to the high sugar content and the removal of beneficial minerals, fiber, and bran.

Final Verdict

So finally, should you do calorie counting pasta dry or cooked? Unless it is mentioned otherwise, it is recommended to count the calories before cooking the pasta. 

But do make sure to count the extra calories if you are adding extra ingredients to the pasta recipe.

That’s all for today, we hope this article helped to clear your doubts. See you soon!

Dr. Rimita Farid

Dr. Rimita Farid

Hi this is Dr. Rimita Farid. I have completed my MBBS from MAHSA University in Kuala Lampur , Malaysia and currently a registered doctor in Bangladesh. I am training in Dermatology and Venerology and writing for me has been a hobby, even before i decided to be a doctor. I believe our lives are getting stressful with every moment and i believe writing is the solution to all our problems. The power of pen and paper is highly underestimated by many, and i am blessed that i realized how stimulating writing can be for my well being. Hope my articles are relatable and can reach as many readers as possible.

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