5 of the Best Low-Carb Pasta Alternatives
New to keto or the low-carb lifestyle? If you’re addicted to pasta, the good news is that you can have your noodles and eat them, too, so long as you select the best low-carb alternatives…It would be great to know approximately how many people every month are newcomers to the ketogenic or low-carb lifestyle. That statistic is hard to come by but one thing is likely and that’s that more and more people are hopping on the bandwagon. For the long-time lover of pasta, that presents a conundrum. How can you possibly give up the satisfying ritual of twirling noodles with your fork and sipping on wine to wash it down?
(The good news is that if you like an occasional glass of wine it's relatively low-carb friendly; red wine contains roughly 3 grams of net carbs per glass.)
Thankfully, you don’t have to give up pasta. You can still enjoy the ritual of bowls of noodles with low-carb alternatives.
#1: Miracle Noodles
Home-court advantage has its perks. No discussion of low-carb pasta can begin without Miracle Noodle, the brand launched in 2006 after founder, Jonathan Carp, M.D. was introduced to shirataki noodles at a Buddhist monastery outside of Kyoto, Japan. Dr. Carp was amazed to learn that shirataki noodles were virtually carb- and calorie-free.
Incredibly, shirataki noodles are almost entirely made of water. But a tiny bit of fiber from the root of a yam-like plant offers outsized health benefits. Studies show that the fiber in Miracle Noodle (glucomannan) promotes satiety, reduces appetite by delaying gastric emptying and normalizes blood-sugar levels.
But how does it taste? The answer: the same as normal pasta. Plain pasta with absolutely nothing added to it is the equivalent of a tie in football. In other words, not very exciting. The secret to making Miracle Noodles stimulating to the taste buds is by adding it to a veggie stir-fry with a low-carb sauce or oil. Miracle Noodles—and Miracle Rice—are highly versatile, which is why legions of fans have been providing their unique recipes since the brand’s inception.
Net carbs per serving: Miracle Noodle Fettuccini contains 3 grams, other varieties contain less.
#2: Black Bean Pasta
In recent years, legume pasta has become more popular. We’re not talking about traditional Tuscan white bean pasta salads. Rather, it’s pasta entirely made from legumes. Typically, they’re made from whole chickpeas, lentils, or some type of bean.
But before you add legume pasta to your shopping cart, take into account that there are two reasons why bean pasta may not be a good alternative. First, some people with sensitive digestive systems may not be able to fully digest legumes. And second, most legume-based pastas are still high in carbs even though they may be considered healthier than regular noodles.
Black bean pasta seems to be an exception. It’s actually high in carbs, but because it contains a lot of fiber, that reduces the net carbs to doable on keto. One leading brand of black bean spaghetti, for example, contains 8 grams of net carbs per serving.
A newcomer to the legume pasta alternative scene is lupin flour pasta, which comes from a legume that’s closely related to peanuts. On its own, a serving of lupin flour contains only 2 grams of net carbs (14 total carbs; 12 fiber). Another brand of alternative pasta uses a combination of lupin and sunflower flour and contains 4 grams of net carbs per serving.
#3: Sea Veggie Pasta
Sea vegetables are probably one of the most underrated, under-consumed food in the West. A staple in Japanese and elsewhere in the Far East, sea veggies are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on Earth, supplying a rare source of iodine, which is necessary to produce thyroid hormones and regulate metabolism. One of the only ubiquitous sources of iodine is unfortunately white table salt that is stripped of essential trace minerals.
Eating sea veggie pasta such as kelp noodles, is one way to obtain iodine, in a low-carb, keto-friendly way.
One serving of kelp noodles 2 net grams of carbs and 15% daily value of calcium.
#4: Hearts of Palm Pasta
Not everyone enjoys the taste and mouthfeel exuded by hearts of palm, the cylindrical, off-white veggies that come from certain species of palm trees. But if you’re partial to them, hearts of palm pasta is a keto-friendly alternative. One serving of a popular brand contains 2 net grams of carbs.
#5: Spaghetti Squash
Like zucchini noodles (zoodles), spaghetti squash was one of the first popular low-carb alternatives. There’s only 5 grams of net carbs per serving and you’re obviously getting some nutrient density from the veggie.
What’s your favorite low-carb pasta (besides Miracle Noodle)? Leave a comment…