When it comes to a low carb or ketogenic diet, there are some foods that are immediately thought of as off limits. Some of those foods include pasta, noodles, chips, rice and pretty much anything delicious, right? Wrong.
In fact, one of the easiest ways to transition to a low carb or ketogenic diet is to simply find a low carb substitute for your favorite foods instead of banning them completely from your diet. That’s right — you can have noodles on a low carb diet.
Pretty crazy, huh?
Chances are you grew up loving noodles, whether it be in traditional pasta, mac n’ cheese or another noodle-filled dish like lo mein. Noodles are a staple in every kitchen, so it’s no wonder they have their own aisle in the grocery store.
However, these delicious pasta dishes are bad news for your blood sugar and ketone levels.
What are Noodles and Why Aren’t They Low Carb or Keto Friendly?
The first record of noodles dates back to 4,000 years ago in China, although these high carb strips have clearly spread all around the world. Noodles are a key ingredient in traditional meals of many cultures around the globe, such as in italian and asian cuisines. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures — from whole wheat pasta to angel hair pasta.
Noodles are made from a flour and egg dough which is stretched and rolled flat before being cut into long, thin pieces. Often made from wheat flour, they are classified as a grain product. Noodles are often made with unleavened dough, which means there was no chemical or artificial leavening added in it to make the dough rise.
As far as preparation goes, noodles can be boiled al dente, tossed in a stir fry, or deep-fried. Traditional noodle dishes usually include an egg and are eaten with some type of sauce or soup. Cheesy noodles are also delicious.
One cup (or about 160 grams) of traditional cooked egg noodles contains a total of 221 calories, including 40 grams of carbohydrates, 38 grams of net carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein.
That’s right — 38 grams of net carbs per cup. Yikes.
Along with their lack of fat and protein, noodles don’t provide a huge amount of nutrients either. One serving (or about one cup) of noodles provides a small amount of vitamin B6, vitamin B, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Even gluten-free noodles like black bean pasta have a high carb count.
4 Low Carb Substitutes For Noodles
Given the high amount of carbs one cup of noodles contains, it’s no surprise they aren’t low carb or keto friendly. However, that doesn’t mean you can never have foods similar to noodles. In fact, there are plenty of low carb noodles and pasta alternatives out there today, just like there is low carb bread. Some of these great low carb noodles include:
Shirataki noodles, also known as Miracle Noodles, are one of the top noodles you can safely eat on the ketogenic diet. Being the only no-carb noodles in existence today, it’s no wonder they’re called a miracle.
Shirataki is a type of japanese noodle made from the konjac yam. Shirataki noodles are not only low carb friendly, but they are virtually tasteless too, so they absorb the flavor of whatever dish they’re served with. Unlike most noodles and pastas today, shirataki noodles are pre-packaged in liquid.
Around 97% of their content is water and the other 3% is dietary fiber. One serving size (about three ounces) has a total of 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, less than 1 gram of carbs, and 0 grams of protein. With macronutrients like these, you can easily maintain ketosis while indulging your noodle cravings.
Hard to believe, huh?
Thankfully, Miracle Noodles can be found in most grocery stores today. Give them a try and start giving your favorite noodle-based dishes a low carb spin.
Another fun way to get those noodles in your diet without the carbs are zoodles. But what exactly are zoodles?
Zoodles or “zucchini noodles” can be found pre-packaged in the produce section of your local grocery store or can be made in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Zoodles are made by spiralizing your favorite veggies into ribbon-shaped noodles — it’s that simple. While the “Z” in zoodles stands for zucchini, you can make noodles out different veggies including carrots and beets. However, zucchini gives you the most bang for your buck as they contain the lowest carb count.
Unlike traditional noodles, zoodles are wheat-free, grain-free, gluten-free and extremely nutritious. Take a look at its nutrition facts: one cup of zoodles or “zucchini noodles” contains 20 grams of calories including 1< gram of fat, 4 grams of carbs, 2.5 grams of net carbs, 1.5 grams of fiber and 1.5 grams of protein.
Along with being the perfect low carb noodle substitute, zoodles also provide abundant health benefits. Zoodles are a high source of antioxidants, contain anti-inflammatory properties, provide a rich amount of potassium, help improve digestion, help improve eye health and can even help individuals suffering from diabetes and obesity.
Want to get creative with your noodles? Try making your own low carb egg noodles at home (hint: it’s easier than you think).
The ingredients you need to make your own egg noodles are:
- 2 eggs
- 1 oz cream cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 oz shredded cheese
- 1 tbsp butter
- Combine these ingredients in a blender and then pour into a greased eight by eight-inch pan.
- Bake the dough at 325 degrees for about eight minutes or until you see the dough begin to set.
- Once cooled, roll the pasta up and slice it with a sharp knife into ⅛ an inch-thick pieces. Then unroll the slices and continue to prepare the pasta to your liking (with keto-friendly ingredients, of course).
Since the main two ingredients of this pasta are egg and cream cheese, rest assured the macronutrients are low carb and keto friendly. One serving of this recipe in particular makes up a total of 60 calories including 5 grams of fat, 0 carbs and 3.5 grams of protein.
Last but not least, another popular go-to option for the ultimate low carb pasta or noodle is spaghetti squash. Not only is it low in total carbohydrates and high in fiber, this big yellow vegetable is also jam-packed with nutritional value that will keep you energized throughout the day.
What makes spaghetti squash so great?
Spaghetti squash provides significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. Plus, all you really need to make these noodles is the squash, some olive oil and a hint of salt and pepper.
How do you exactly prepare spaghetti squash?
In order to turn your spaghetti squash into the perfect low carb noodle substitute, you’ll have to follow a few simple steps:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half (either direction)
- Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on the inside of the squash.
- Set on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 40 to 45 minutes.
One cup of spaghetti squash contains a total of 31 calories including 1< gram of fat, 7 grams of carbs, 5.5 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of net carbs and 1< gram of protein. With the key nutrients and fiber this veggie provides, you’ll be satiated without any stress of getting kicked out of ketosis.
Have you been feeling deprived because you couldn’t find a good low carb noodle substitute that fits your keto diet?
With these low carb substitutes, there is no limit to the noodle dishes you can make while following a low carb or ketogenic diet. Do yourself a favor and try one of these noodle alternatives today to feel satiated and get all the additional benefits they offer.