Pasta alfredo with shrimp can be a delicious and satisfying meal, but many people wonder just how many calories are packed into this pasta dish. The calorie count of pasta alfredo with shrimp can vary significantly depending on the specific ingredients and portion sizes used. By looking at the calorie counts of each component, we can estimate the total calorie count of a typical pasta alfredo with shrimp dish.
Calories in Pasta
Let’s start by looking at the main component of the dish – the pasta. The calories in pasta depend on the type of pasta used:
|Calories per 1 cup cooked
As you can see, plain pasta ranges from about 200-220 calories per 1 cup cooked. For a typical pasta alfredo with shrimp dish using a 2 cup cooked pasta serving, the pasta alone would contribute 400-440 calories.
Calories in Alfredo Sauce
The alfredo sauce is the next key component. An alfredo sauce made with butter, cream and parmesan cheese is very high in calories. Here’s the breakdown for a 1/2 cup serving of alfredo sauce:
|2 tbsp butter
|1/4 cup heavy cream
|1/4 cup parmesan
For a pasta dish made with 1 cup of alfredo sauce, this would equate to 1050 calories just for the sauce!
Calories in Shrimp
Finally, let’s look at the shrimp component. The calorie count of shrimp depends on whether it is cooked or raw. A 3 ounce (85 gram) serving of cooked shrimp contains:
For a pasta dish made with 1/2 cup cooked shrimp, this would equal about 100 calories.
Total Calories in Pasta Alfredo with Shrimp
Putting this all together, here are the calorie totals for a typical pasta alfredo with shrimp dish:
|2 cups cooked pasta
|1 cup alfredo sauce
|1/2 cup cooked shrimp
So in total, a hearty portion of pasta alfredo with shrimp may contain around 1550-1590 calories. Of course, this can vary based on the specific ingredients and portion sizes. A smaller portion or lighter alfredo sauce would reduce the calorie count.
Tips for Lightening Up Pasta Alfredo with Shrimp
Pasta alfredo with shrimp is certainly a delicious dish, but as you can see, it can also be quite high in calories if you’re not careful. Here are some tips for lightening up this pasta dish:
- Use a lighter alfredo sauce – instead of heavy cream, use milk and chicken broth with just a little cream or cream cheese for tang.
- Go easy on the cheese – parmesan adds a ton of flavor but also calories, so use just enough to get that cheesy taste.
- Use vegetable oil instead of butter – saves about 100 calories per tablespoon.
- Choose whole wheat or veggie pasta – will add more nutrition and fiber.
- Bulk it up with veggies – add sauteed zucchini, broccoli, spinach.
- Control portions – stick to 1 cup pasta and 1/4 cup sauce per serving.
Implementing some of these easy tweaks can help turn a calorie bomb into a more balanced, lighter meal while keeping all the delicious flavors. With a few minor adjustments, you can enjoy pasta alfredo with shrimp guilt-free!
The Nutritional Benefits of Shrimp
While shrimp does contain a moderate amount of calories, it packs a major nutritional punch. Here are some of the top nutrients found in shrimp:
- Protein – A 3 ounce serving of shrimp contains 18g of protein, providing over a third of the recommended daily intake. Protein is important for building and repairing muscle tissue.
- Selenium – Shrimp is one of the best sources of selenium, containing over 50% of the RDI per serving. Selenium supports thyroid health and immune function.
- Vitamin B12 – Shrimp is high in vitamin B12, which helps form DNA and red blood cells.
- Phosphorus – Supports bone health and kidney function.
- Zinc – Boosts the immune system and wound healing.
So while shrimp adds a moderate amount of calories to pasta alfredo, it also provides a hefty dose of nutrition in the form of protein, vitamins and minerals.
Ways to Burn off the Calories
While a pasta alfredo dish made with heavy cream and butter can be high in calories, there are plenty of ways you can burn off those indulgent calories with physical activity:
- Take a walk – Going for a brisk 30 minute walk will burn around 150 calories.
- Swim laps – A half hour of leisurely swimming burns around 275 calories.
- Play sports – Pick-up games of basketball, soccer or football can burn 300+ calories in 30 minutes.
- Strength train – Lifting weights for 30 minutes can torch over 200 calories.
- Do yoga – An active vinyasa flow yoga class burns approximately 150 calories in 30 minutes.
- Cycle or run – A moderate pace for 30 minutes on the bike or running can burn 350-400+ calories.
You don’t have to do high intensity cardio for hours to negate the calories from pasta alfredo. Simple activities like taking the dog for a walk or playing with the kids in the yard can make a significant calorie deficit. The key is staying active daily.
Healthy Pasta Alfredo Recipe (Lightened Up)
If you love pasta alfredo but want a healthier version, here is a recipe for a lightened up shrimp alfredo that still keeps all the delicious flavor:
- 8 ounces whole wheat pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup fat-free half and half
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
- Stir in chicken broth, half and half, parmesan, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning once, until pink and cooked through.
- Remove pan from heat. Add cooked pasta and lemon juice and stir to coat pasta with sauce.
- Serve garnished with chopped parsley if desired.
Nutrition Info Per Serving
This lightened up version cuts nearly 800 calories compared to a full-fat pasta alfredo with shrimp, but still keeps it creamy, satisfying and full of flavor. You can enjoy shrimp alfredo pasta guilt-free with these easy modifications.
The Bottom Line
Pasta alfredo with shrimp can contain a hefty amount of calories, ranging from about 1550-1590 calories for a hearty portion. The high calorie count comes mostly from full-fat alfredo sauce made with butter, heavy cream and parmesan. While shrimp adds additional calories, it also provides very beneficial protein, vitamins and minerals.
There are many techniques you can use to lighten up this pasta dish, like using lower fat ingredients, increasing vegetables, and controlling portions. With some minor tweaks, you can still enjoy the delicious flavors of alfredo sauce and succulent shrimp in a pasta dish that doesn’t break the calorie bank. Balancing it with daily physical activity can help burn off those indulgent calories for a healthy lifestyle.