February 13, 2021
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A healthy diet can include pasta especially when it’s prepared with nutritious ingredients such as veggies, salmon, meat, and mushrooms. However, when you’re on a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, you might want to reconsider this food choice.
Being on a restrictive diet whether for medical or personal reasons means you’re not allowed to consume certain types of foods, no matter how much you crave them. But once you understand their impact on your body, your perspective starts to change in a way that supports your long-term health.
In this article, we explore traditional pasta and more importantly, answer the question: “Should you completely avoid it while on a low-carb or keto diet eating plan?”
The term “pasta” usually refers to traditional pasta that’s served at restaurants and stocked on grocery shelves. Spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccine, and penne, to name a few types.
Traditional pasta is typically made from wheat and mixed with water or eggs. Then, pasta is molded into various shapes to be prepared and eaten in a variety of ways. Furthermore, pasta can be classified into white or whole wheat according to its nutrient content.
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Here are the key differences:
White pasta has been stripped of important nutrients such as zinc, iron, and magnesium during its production. Thus, white pasta is considered a refined carbohydrate food. Whole wheat pasta, on the other hand, contains more micronutrients, fiber, and is also lower in calories.
But what about its carbohydrate content? Is one type more beneficial than the other for someone who needs to limit their carbs? Check this out:
You can see that there isn’t much of a difference with the carb content. Although wheat pasta is considered a complex carb that takes longer for the body to break down into glucose, the bottom line is — carbs are carbs. It will raise your blood glucose no matter what, which can cause problems when you’re intolerant or sensitive to carbohydrates.
This leads us to the next section.
You may be on a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet due to a health condition like pre-diabetes, diabetes, PCOS, obesity, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (1). Or perhaps you’re making this dietary change to achieve weight loss, greater mental clarity, or more energy.
Whatever the reason is, being on a low-carb or keto diet means that traditional pasta is to be avoided. The typical daily carb allotment for low-carb dieters is around 100-150 grams per day, while the daily limit for those on keto is only 20-50 grams per day.
That having said, it’s so easy to exceed your daily limit with just 2 ounces of white or whole wheat pasta (minus the ingredients you put into it). Also, when consumed in large amounts, traditional pasta can cause the following issues:
Carbohydrates, when consumed, get broken down into simple sugars which causes glucose in your blood to rise. Keep in mind that carbs affect people differently—thus the term “carb tolerance”. While some people feel great and thrive with carbs, others experience the opposite.
This means that blood glucose can quickly spike in those who are carb-sensitive. This is especially true in people diagnosed with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Carbs are stored in your body in the form of glycogen. So, when your body needs energy, it draws from its glycogen stores. However, when your glycogen stores are full, excess glycogen turns into fat (triglycerides).
Low-carb and keto diets aim to deplete glycogen so that your body can lose water weight and eventually achieve fat loss.
Foods that are high in carbs, like traditional pasta, are more likely to increase your cravings as your body tries to restore its blood sugar level (when it senses a drop). An article published by The New York Times also explains: Increased insulin levels that result from overdoing carbs heightens hunger and food intake (2).
Wheat in pasta contains gluten, a protein that causes bloating in those who are intolerant to it. Diarrhoea or constipation may also occur. One of the reasons why some people follow a low-carb, keto diet is that these diets are naturally low in gluten (3).
It’s no secret that carbs help provide your body with energy. (We use the term “help,” because protein and fats provide energy too without spiking blood glucose.) Carb-loaded foods and overindulging in them can leave you feeling fatigued. Fatigue describes the “crash” that follows the steep rise in your blood sugar.
Wheat pasta may be off-limits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bowl of spaghetti or your favorite ramen. You can choose a low-carb alternative such as konjac noodles or shirataki noodles. And while they’re also very low in calories, you’ll be surprised that this keto diet food fills you up easily — thanks to its glucomannan fiber content.
Since shirataki doesn’t contain micronutrients, unlike wheat pasta, the best way to enjoy it healthily is to use wholesome ingredients for your shirataki noodle recipes. This way, you can reap the benefits of a nutrient-dense diet minus the impact of excess carbs.
Shirataki also comes in various shapes to look like traditional pasta. But what you’ll probably like most about it is that it can be eaten on any diet. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a standard, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free keto diet eating plan.
Is pasta healthy? In the context of low-carb and keto diets, pasta is unhealthy and considered off-limits. Even whole-grain pasta can raise your blood glucose and expand your waistline. To manage your carb intake, consider shirataki pasta as an alternative. Your body will thank you!
Try our ready-to-eat keto shirataki noodles and rice.
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Craving for pasta while you’re on a low-carb diet? Here are pasta and noodle alternatives that are as delicious (and healthier) than the traditional version.
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