Low Carb Pasta: Everything You Need to Know

We are going to show you the different types of low-carb pasta that can be found and everything you need to know about them.
Low Carb Pasta: Everything You Need to Know
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 20 February, 2023

Low carb pasta is an excellent option for those who want to reduce the sugar intake in their diet without giving up typical Italian dishes with excellent organoleptic characteristics. It can be found more and more in supermarkets, although sports supplement manufacturers are still the main distributors.

The first thing to keep in mind is that complex carbohydrates can be included in the context of a varied and balanced diet. However, the majority of pasta is made up of refined flours, so its impact on blood sugar is significant. It’s a better idea to prioritize tubers or legumes in the diet.

Types of low carb pasta

It is important to know that the composition of low carb pasta can vary. We can find the following products in the supermarket, with different nutritional values and flavors.

Legume pasta

This is obtained from flour made with chickpeas, lentils, or peas. It’s a healthier option than the traditional one as it contains a greater amount of proteins. It’s true that these are of low biological value, but they help to meet daily needs, which, in the medium term, will promote a better state of health.

It’s important to bear in mind that a contribution of at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of weight per day is recommended in sedentary people. This is evidenced by research published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism journal. In the case of athletes, the needs can double or triple, depending on the amount of physical activity and its intensity.

In addition, legume flour provides more fiber than wheat. This element is essential in order to delay the absorption of carbohydrates, which implies a lesser impact on blood glucose levels. The pancreas will be less affected and you will be able to ensure its correct functioning for many years.

Likewise, fiber causes an increase in the feeling of satiety, as stated in a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It’s essential to be able to curb the appetite in order to ensure adherence to a diet. If not, anxiety may appear, which will mean an increased risk of a subsequent rebound effect.

Pseudocereal pasta

A celiac man.
Being gluten-free, this type of pasta is excellent to include in the diet of people with celiac disease.

You can also find noodles made from amaranth, quinoa, or buckwheat. These versions have higher protein and fiber content, but are also usually gluten-free. In this way, people with celiac disease can include this type of pasta in their diet without worrying about symptoms or side effects in the medium term.

On the other hand, it’s necessary to emphasize that the three ingredients mentioned above are a source of essential micronutrients. They contain minerals that help ensure the proper functioning of the body. Among them, iron stands out, a nutrient that ensures the movement of oxygen through the blood.

When a deficiency is experienced, there’s a danger of anemia, according to research published in the journal The Medical Clinics of North America. Under these circumstances, it’s normal to experience chronic tiredness and fatigue. For this reason, prevention is best, since once the pathology appears, the use of supplements and medications may be necessary.

Importantly, dietary iron has a low bioavailability. Even more so when it’s of vegetable origin. For this reason, it’s recommended to take it together with a certain amount of vitamin C, since this nutrient has been shown to enhance its absorption at the intestinal level.

In this sense, low carb pasta can be accompanied by tomato or carrot to enhance the body’s ability to retain the mineral.

Konjac noodles

In this case we are talking about pasta made from konjac root flour, an element of Asian origin that has a low caloric value. In fact, it only contains 8 calories per 100 grams (4 oz) so this option is especially beneficial to introduce in the context of a hypocaloric diet with the aim of losing weight.

These noodles have the particularity of being free of fat and carbohydrates. Neither do they contain gluten, and are suitable for vegans. They are usually sold pre-cooked, so only a rehydration process is necessary so that they can be included in various culinary recipes. Of course, you will need to choose a good sauce or accompaniment to achieve a final result with good organoleptic characteristics.

However, we should point out that we shouldn’t be too restrictive in terms of fat intake. Obviously, it will be necessary to maintain the energy balance in the diet, but these types of nutrients have many functions within the human body and help to avoid deficits of certain essential micronutrients such as vitamin D.

Soy noodles

It’s also possible to find noodles made of soybeans. This vegetable stands out for the fact they contain a significant amount of protein. In fact, it’s one of the main sources of these nutrients in the context of vegan diets. Soybeans can be used to make certain meat substitutes with a similar texture, although with a lower nutritional value.

The truth is that the consumption of soy is especially recommended for women. It contains inside compounds known as isoflavones. These can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer after menopause, as stated by research published in the European Journal of Nutrition.

The good thing about soy noodles is that they are prepared following a traditional pasta recipe. It’s very easy to achieve satisfactory results with them. They contain few carbohydrates and fats, mainly providing protein as the main nutrient. Of course, it must be borne in mind that they are quite tasteless, although they easily absorb the flavor of a sauce.

Vegetable noodles

Finally, special mention must be made of vegetable noodles. The most common ones are made from zucchini, although they can be prepared with beets, squash, carrots, or kohlrabi. We are talking about a product that provides vitamins and a generous amount of phytochemicals. These compounds act as antioxidants, and are positive for health.

It’s important to note that the flavonoids contained in plants can neutralize the formation of free radicals, preventing their subsequent accumulation in the body’s tissues. This effect has been shown to create protection against the development of chronic and complex pathologies, as well as premature signs of aging.

This kind of noodles can also be prepared at home. In its simplest version, it is enough to cut a zucchini as finely as possible with the help of a grater to achieve a result that simulates pasta. It will have to be accompanied with some type of sauce to improve the final flavor, such as bolognese.

It’s even possible to get pizza dough prepared with certain vegetables, another of the most typical recipes in Italian cuisine. In this case, the preferred ingredient will be cauliflower, although zucchini can also be used for the same purpose. By choosing the elements that will cover this dough substitute well, a dish with high nutritional density can be achieved.

Is low carb pasta better than regular pasta?

The main advantage of low carb pasta over traditional pasta is that it produces a lower glycemic impact. It can also provide more micro and phytonutrients, as we’re talking about a product made from higher quality ingredients than wheat flour. The latter is characterized by its high degree of refinement, even in its wholewheat version.

However, we aren’t saying that traditional pasta can’t be included in the context of a healthy diet. It’s quite possible to consume it without it negatively affecting our health, although it’s best to eat it in moderation. In the case of high-intensity exercise, it may appear more frequently in our diets, as, in this scenario, a higher intake of carbohydrates would be necessary.

However, another key point is deciding what foods accompany pasta. Very fatty sauces are often used. Lipids in general are not problematic, although they are highly caloric. For this reason, an excessive consumption of these preparations could cause an energy surplus in the diet, which would gradually translate into an increase in fat and weight.

However, this problem can occur regardless of whether low carb pasta or a more traditional version is chosen. Therefore, it’s best to avoid consuming too fatty sauces with cream or excessive cheese. The best thing will always be to accompany the carbohydrates with a sufficient protein to stimulate satiety.

As far as possible, culinary spices should be included in the preparations. Pasta dishes are very suitable for this. These elements contain a large number of phytochemicals, which helps to modulate the body’s inflammatory states and prevent the development of chronic and complex pathologies associated with age.

Can diabetics eat low carb pasta?

Low-carb pasta and diabetes.
Diabetes patients may benefit from low carb pasta, along with some healthy habits.

People who have developed diabetes have to be more careful with the consumption of carbohydrates, as they aren’t able to metabolize them correctly. Low carb pasta may be an option to consider in these cases, since the sugar content is much lower, providing especially protein and fiber. Even so, those made from legumes or pseudo-cereals shouldn’t be overused.

To achieve more efficient glycemic control, it’s recommended to reduce the presence of simple and complex sugars in the regimen of people with metabolic pathology. At present, there is evidence that the implementation of a restrictive diet in these nutrients progressively increases insulin sensitivity, which has a positive impact on quality of life.

It should be noted that there are certain dietary strategies that can promote glycemic control and increase metabolic flexibility. One of them has to do with the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet, a spice that reduces blood sugar levels, causing the body to use more fat for energy.

Low carb pasta, an option to consider

Low carb pasta can be a great option to include in the context of a healthy diet. Although it’s true it’s best to prioritize potatoes and legumes over this type of product, they are still a good option that can provide a significant amount of proteins and phytochemicals.

Of course, to achieve a good state of health, the really important thing would be to combine an adequate nutritional diet with other good life habits. Among them, physical activity on a regular basis stands out. Above all, it will be necessary to prioritize strength exercises, to keep muscle as functional as possible. In this way, inflammatory states in the body will be kept under control.

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