Shirataki noodles are a calorie- and carb-free pasta alternative many ketogenic dieters use to satisfy cravings and score surprising health benefits.
Are you on the hunt for low-carb or no-carb pasta options to help you stay in ketosis?
While zucchini noodles and spiralized veggies make excellent substitutes, they can’t quite compete with the texture and mouthfeel of the real deal.
But if you’re following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, real noodles are anything but keto-friendly.
Unless you’re talking about shirataki noodles.
These traditional Japanese noodles are lightyears ahead of wheat-based pasta options because they’re loaded with health benefits and totally carb-free.
Have lots of questions?
This guide will teach you everything there is to know about shirataki noodles, including three delicious recipes to start out with today.
Before making a beeline to those, here’s your crash course in the basics first:
Shirataki noodles are thin, gelatinous, no-carb noodles popularized in Japan.
Though the word “shirataki” may conjure up images of mushrooms, it actually translates to “white waterfall” due to the noodles’ translucent appearance.
At first glance, shirataki noodles may look like rice noodles or cellophane noodles, which are made with starch and water.
However, shirataki noodles are made using a tuber known as the konjac yam (i.e., the konnyaku potato).
The fiber found in the konjac root, known as glucomannan, is extracted and mixed with water.
The mixture is either formed into jelly and cut into noodle-like threads or put through an extruder like regular pasta. This creates a noodle-like consistency.
Although its exact origin is unknown, the konjac plant is found throughout Asia in places like China, Japan, and Indonesia[*].
This is why you’ll commonly see these miracle noodles in Asian-style dishes like ramen or stir-fry. They may also be called konjac noodles or yam noodles, depending on where you are.
What’s special about shirataki noodles is that they’re 97% water and roughly 3% dietary fiber (with glucomannan contributing 2% of that fiber).
This makeup means the nutritional breakdown of shirataki noodles is nothing like other spiralized pasta options.
The Surprising Nutritional Breakdown of Shirataki Noodles
With just 3% dietary fiber, shirataki noodles are calorie-free and contain almost zero carbs.
Yes, you read that right.
Thanks to the fiber, a single serving — roughly 3 oz. of noodles — costs less than one gram of carbs[*]:
This makes shirataki noodles perfect on a ketogenic diet — you’ll have a similar pasta fix without racking up your carb intake.
Miracle Noodles, a popular brand of shirataki noodles, compares their pasta alternative to traditional pasta to show the striking difference between the two.
As the chart shows, going with Miracle Noodles means you’ll save 129 calories, 25g of carbs, and .5g of sugar per serving[*]:
Since the carb count is so low, these types of noodles will help you satisfy cravings without jumping out of ketosis.
Plus, shirataki noodles are vegan-friendly and soy- and gluten-free, making them a great option if you’re trying to avoid these in your ketogenic diet.
But here’s the best part: shirataki noodles are jam-packed with upgrades for your health.
The health benefits preloaded in these incredible noodles are all due to the dietary fiber, or glucomannan.
Though research on shirataki noodles may be limited, there are numerous studies on what happens when people consume glucomannan.
So if you include shirataki noodles in your ketogenic meal plans, you’ll also be adding glucomannan.
And that may give you these powerful health benefits:
#1. Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Treatment
A small, short-term study on type 2 diabetic patients found that consuming glucomannan could help reduce and even prevent high blood sugar levels[*].
Over 65 days, study participants with fasting blood glucose levels over 200mg% decreased this number by 51.8%, on average[*].
They also reduced their postprandial blood sugar levels — which was measured two hours after eating — by 84.6mg%, on average[*].
Participants with a fasting blood sugar range of 150-200mg% saw a 24.1mg% decrease in fasted readings and a 68.7mg% reduction in postprandial levels[*].
Even those with a fasting blood sugar reading below 150mg% noticed decreases in fasting blood sugar and postprandial blood sugar[*].
These are very positive findings. And there’s even more good news.
Researchers in this study also discovered that participants with high triglyceride levels were able to cut this number almost in half because of the glucomannan[*].
Results from a more recent study show glucomannan combined with ginseng boosted the effects of conventional therapies given to type 2 diabetic participants[*].
This effect was so profound that it helped significantly reduce HbA1c. This important blood marker measures your blood sugar levels across several months and can indicate problems like insulin resistance[*].
The study also demonstrated that glucomannan and ginseng could decrease lipid concentrations in just 12 weeks[*].
While promising, more research is still needed to confirm these findings, especially since the sample sizes were so small in both studies.
#2. Reduce LDL Cholesterol and Triglycerides
In 2008, researchers reviewed 14 studies on glucomannan consumption and learned participants drastically lowered their total cholesterol levels and triglycerides[*].
By including glucomannan in their diet, the participants reduced LDL cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and body weight too.
Another set of researchers came to similar conclusions when they examined 12 studies on this powerful soluble fiber in 2017.
The researchers found that consuming 3g of glucomannan daily helped study participants — both adults and children — lower LDL cholesterol levels[*].
This intel shows glucomannan in your diet may help prevent heart disease and lower high cholesterol levels.
#3. Possible Weight Loss Booster
Glucomannan, the main dietary fiber found in shirataki noodles, is a type of soluble fiber.
This type of fiber helps slow down the absorption of food, feeds your gut bacteria, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
All these perks can promote better gut health and lead to weight loss.
When studied, researchers concluded that supplementing with fiber like glucomannan has the potential to help lower body weight[*].
Scientists from a smaller, eight-week, double-blind study on obese patients also tested glucomannan fiber for weight loss.
They gave participants glucomannan one hour before each of their three meals. As a result, participants had a weight loss average of 5.5 pounds and significantly reduced their cholesterol levels[*].
On the flip side, you should know other studies found no effect on glucomannan for weight loss and body composition, especially in healthy study participants[*].
This held true in another study conducted on obese children[*].
#4. Decrease Constipation
Adding more water and fiber to your diet is the best way to banish constipation and become a regular bowel mover.
Shirataki noodles contain 97% water and 3% helpful fiber, making them an ideal food to get your digestive system back on track.
In a small, diet-controlled study, participants who struggled to pass one or more bowel movements per day were given a placebo or konjac glucomannan supplement.
After 21 days, researchers discovered that adding glucomannan to their diets helped study participants increase their average weekly bowel movements by 30%[*].
The people studied also reported that it was slightly easier to go.
Similar results occurred in a larger study conducted on children battling constipation.
Scientists learned supplementing with glucomannan helped increase the frequency of their bowel movements without affecting the consistency of their stools[*].
Before you decide to load up on glucomannan, however, be sure to finish reading this guide so you know how to play it safe.
Trust us, this is one thing you do not want to go overboard on.
It can be tempting to load up on shirataki noodles since they’re basically calorie- and carb-free.
But heed this warning because the fiber could come back to bite you if you’re not careful.
As with any dietary fiber, consuming too much all at once could lead to minor gastrointestinal upsets such as bloating, gas, or unpredictable stool consistency.
If you’re not used to handling that much fiber, you’ll want to start slowly with a small portion to see how your body reacts. You can always beef up your servings as fit your macros later.
If you’re already following a high-fiber ketogenic diet (go, you!), adding shirataki noodles to your meal plan may not affect you as much.
Glucomannan may also prevent the absorption of certain medications and supplements. So you’ll want to wait at least one to four hours after eating shirataki noodles to take your vitamins, medications, and supplements to be safe.
Now that you know more about these noodles, the next steps will show you where to find them and how to use them.
Since low-carb and ketogenic diets are all the rage, many large-chain grocery stores and health markets now carry shirataki noodles.
You’ll find shirataki noodles packaged two ways: as dry noodles you’ll need to reconstitute in water or wet noodles packed in water already.
Head towards the Asian or ethnic aisles rather than the pasta aisle to grab them. And don’t forget to check the refrigerated section as some are sold there as well.
Another easy option is to order shirataki noodles online from Amazon, Thrive Market, or direct from the companies making them.
And if you’re looking to add variety to your pasta alternatives, Miracle Noodles’ shirataki base comes in different shapes — such as ziti, spaghetti, and capellini.
You can even get shirataki rice for when you’re craving a low-carb, low-calorie rice dish over ramen or Pad Thai.
Shirataki noodles cook quickly, which means you can keep them on-hand for those times when you’re in a pinch and need something fast and healthy.
Besides their nutritional profile, shirataki noodles also differ from pasta in how they’re cooked.
When you first open your package of wet shirataki noodles, you may be taken aback by their strange aroma. But rinsing the noodles will make this totally natural smell go away.
So before you can actually cook them, add your shirataki noodles to a strainer or colander. Run this through cold water and rinse the noodles of the packing liquid for a few minutes[*].
Next, add your shirataki noodles to a pot of lightly boiling water. Boiling the noodles changes the texture slightly and further washes away that packing liquid.
Do not overcook your noodles! Keep them in the water for one to three minutes, tops.
It can be tempting to just dump your noodles directly into your sauce or soup when time’s up here.
Unfortunately, doing this will create a watery, slightly slimy mess.
To give your shirataki noodles the same al dente consistency as pasta — and to get your sauce to stick — they need to be dry.
You could drop your cooked and drained shirataki noodles on paper towels to dry off.
But traditional Japanese recipes call for a dry roast (i.e., one without oil).
All you have to do is add your boiled shirataki noodles to a pan on the stove over low heat.
As the water cooks off the noodles, you’ll hear a squeaky whimper to let you know when they’re ready. It should take around one minute.
From here you can pour your sauce right into the pan to coat your noodles before adding your meat and veggies.
While this may seem like a bit of work, it should take less than five minutes to tackle in total. And that’s still faster than cooking regular pasta.
Use the next guilt-free noodle recipes to try them out yourself!
Shirataki noodles are practically tasteless and absorb any flavors you decide to add to them.
You can go traditional Asian-style with soy sauce (or coconut aminos) or recreate your favorite Italian pasta dish all the same.
Try these three delicious keto shirataki noodles recipes to get your feet wet:
#1. 30-Minute Spicy Keto Ramen Bowl
Forget ordering ramen takeout when you’re strapped for time.
Even if you ditch the noodles to stay low-carb, you’ll still need to worry about hidden carbs in the broth and marinade for the meat.
So skip the headache and potential ketosis sabotage by making this spicy keto ramen bowl instead.
The shirataki noodles will satisfy your ramen cravings without feeling like a knockoff. And the whole recipe can be whipped up in about 30 minutes.
#2. Creamy Keto Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
Shirataki noodles aren’t just for Asian recipes. You can also substitute them for your favorite Italian pasta dishes.
While this recipe for low-carb carbonara uses baked spaghetti squash, you can recreate it with traditional shirataki noodles too.
Next time you’re craving this classic dish, give this recipe a go and you won’t be disappointed.
#3. Mouth-Watering Miracle Noodles Stuffed Chicken
Finally, this Miracle Noodles stuffed chicken recipe may be the most unexpected way to use shirataki noodles — though it’s no less scrumptious.
With just 2.3g of net carbs, this recipe packs protein and satisfies your pasta craving guilt-free at the same time.
Your imagination truly is the limit when it comes to low-carb shirataki noodles recipes.
Ready To Try Shirataki Noodles Today?
Shirataki noodles make a versatile, zero-calorie, practically zero carb addition to your diet.
Besides adding beneficial fiber to your meal plan, these noodles may also deliver incredible health benefits like type 2 diabetes prevention and weight loss.
If you decide to try them, follow a recipe instead of “winging it” so you don’t ruin your first impression of them or waste your money.
When cooked properly, you’ll be delighted to discover how easily you can replace your favorite noodles and pasta with this healthier, low-carb alternative.
Be on the lookout for our shirataki noodles recipe roundup which will be launching shortly after this one!