Inside: Pasta can be one of the most difficult foods to give up for those wanting to adopt a low-carb, low-glycemic lifestyle. White pasta is a big no-no on the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan, which is my personal eating framework. However, I’ve learned that there are some amazing low-carb pasta alternatives that won’t spike your blood sugar and taste delicious!
Pasta was one of the most difficult foods to give up when I stopped eating simple carbs:
- As a child, Italian dishes were my absolute favorite. Giving up white pasta felt like I was also giving up my favorite Italian foods.
- Pasta is filling. I worried that low-carb pasta alternatives would never satisfy me like “the real thing.”
- Pasta dishes are–usually–so quick and easy. If all else fails with my meal plan, I can whip up some spaghetti for my family in no time!
I’ve learned that when you can’t have traditional pasta, it doesn’t mean you have to cut out “pasta” all together!
With our culture’s increased interest in healthier alternatives as well as more awareness around dietary constraints, more and more companies are catering to these demands, making it easier for people like you and me to find healthy pasta alternatives that are as close to the real thing as possible. Some of these noodles are made with alternative flours, like almond flour, coconut flour, and chia flour. Others are made with veggies of all sorts, but you would never know it!
Pasta Alternatives: Low-Carb Noodles vs. Traditional Noodles
Traditional pasta is made from wheat flour or other food starches. I grew up eating pasta made from white flour, which is the absolute worst for your waistline.
White flour is devoid of nearly all healthful nutrients and has a high glycemic load. What is leftover contains very little nutritional benefit.
Pasta made from wheat typically has a carb count that ranges between 40 to 50 grams. If you’re watching your weight and are mindful about your health, you will want to avoid these overly-processed, simple starches, as they can possibly lead to weight gain and increase your risks of developing type 2 diabetes (or worsening gestational diabetes if pregnant), heart disease (from .
Low-carb pasta–or pasta made from healthful, complex carbs–has a much lower starch count. If you swap out traditional pasta for lower-carb options as part of an overall healthy eating plan, you will be well on your way to lowering your risk of developing any of the previously-mentioned health conditions.
Pasta Alternatives on the Trim Healthy Mama Eating Plan
As an adherent and certified coach of the Trim Healthy Mama eating framework, I avoid pastas made from wheat flour, as they are not part of the THM plan.
When I began eating the Trim Healthy Mama way in earnest in 2019, I was able to lose 30 pounds within six months. I’ve now kept that weight off for years.
I originally went gluten-free to support my children, who we had discovered were intolerant to gluten through a variety of lab tests.
However, years later I discovered that I have mild thyroid issues, endometriosis, and carry the gene that makes one high risk for developing celiac disease.
Since gluten is a high-inflammatory food that can aggravate conditions affecting the thyroid or exasperate diseases like endometriosis, I felt validated in my choice to go gluten-free so many years go.
Many alternatives to wheat pastas are naturally gluten-free.
Health Benefits of a Lower-Carb Diet
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of all the health benefits that come with investing in a lower-carb diet.
(Note: I’m not personally low-carb all the time. I believe in a healthy balance of all food groups, and that includes complex carbs! The Trim Healthy Mama plan, which I teach, focuses on healthful, complex carbs, like sourdough or sprouted breads, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and fruits like apples or oranges. Some of the pasta alternatives in this post includes pastas made with complex carbs, which are much kinder to your blood sugar.)
Immediate Benefits of a Lower-Carb Diet
- Supports Weight Loss: When you reduce your carb intake, you reduce the amount of insulin your body produces, helping jumpstart weight loss for excess body weight.
- Depletes Sugar Cravings: Since your body produces less insulin on a low-carb diet, your body won’t crave as much sugar (or as many carbs in general).
- May Increase Natural Energy: When you cut carbs, your body can start burning energy from fat. Proponents of low-carb-only diets claim that stored carbs only provide energy for a few hours, while stored fats can last for weeks or even months. The jury is still out on whether or not this is accurate–or how long it takes for the stored energy to become noticeable usable, however.
- Suppresses Feelings of Hunger: A low-carb diet that increases intake of protein and healthy fats will help suppress feelings of hunger, as these foods help you stay fuller longer. Simple carbohydrates lack nutrients, and this makes your body crave more food, sooner.
Long-Term Benefits of a Lower-Carb Diet
- Helps Reduce Risks of Developing Diabetes: Reducing your carb intake limits the amount of insulin that you body requires to burn through your fuel (food). This decreases the risk of becoming insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is a pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes, so those who are high risk for developing the disease will need to pay special attention to their carb intake. (I am personally high-risk for diabetes due to genetics and also because I had gestational diabetes while pregnant. This was my primary motivation–besides weight loss–for adapting the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan.)
Top 5 Low-Carb Pasta Alternatives
There are plenty of low-carb options out there when it comes to pasta, but with an increasingly saturated market, it’s challenging to find brands and techniques that have safe and healthy ingredients that also taste delicious.
I’ve assembled my top 5 favorite low-glycemic, low-carb pasta alternatives that are guilt-free and actually worth your time and money. Take a look!
Veggies (THM FP or E*)
If you want the absolute healthiest alternative, use veggies as your pasta!
Vegetables like zucchini (THM FP), carrots (THM E), sweet potatoes (THM E), and, of course, spaghetti squash (THM FP) make for great noodle alternatives. I recommend zucchini, as it is lower in carbohydrates compared to carrots and sweet potatoes and will provide the best texture. Keep in mind you will need some sort of pasta maker or zucchini noodles maker. There are plenty of options you can find online for reasonable prices.
While I personally think it’s easier to make zucchini noodles than to wait for the long bake time of spaghetti squash (THM FP), one good thing about this particular veggie is that, once it’s cooked, all you have to do is scrape the cooked vegetable with a fork, and it immediately takes on the shape of noodles.
Eating veggie noodles is a great way to sneak more vegetables into your diet. However, it would be silly to think they offer the same texture as your traditional chewy, wheat-based noodle. What this alternative does offer, though, is a new way to enjoy noodles that tastes truly superb.
Red Lentil Pasta (THM E)
Since our family has been gluten free for so many years now, having a pasta option that I can purchase in my grocery store that is gluten free and on plan for Trim Healthy Mama is a huge blessing.
Brilla’s Red Lentil pastas are a great option!
Check other brands carefully – some of them have over 40 grams of carbs in one serving, which is a recipe for a blood sugar spike and not all-that-much-healthier than wheat-pasta varieties.
Related: Crockpot Pasta Sauce
Konjac Noodles (THM FP)
Konjac noodles have been a staple in Japan for generations, and they’ve recently gained popularity in the U.S.
Made from konjac yam root, these noodles have literally zero carbs, are low in calories, and are super high in fiber, making them a part of a meal that’ll easily keep you full for hours.
The only downside to this low-carb pasta alternative is that the konjac noodles are known to have a fish-like odor and jellyfish-like texture. Gross, right? Don’t let this deter you from trying them–at least once!
Rinsing and warming the noodles remedies both of these negatives for me. I’ve now been eating konjac noodles for years as my low-carb pasta alternative of choice, and the rinsing and warming is just part of the food prep process for me.
Once prepared, these noodles take on the fantastic flavor of whatever sauce or other foods they’re paired with, and the nutritional value will make them worth your while.
Where to Buy Konjac Noodles
I love buying the Pasta Zero brand from Walmart. They are easily accessible & affordable! I’ve also purchased the Miracle Noodle brand from Amazon or Costco and the Skinny Noodle brand from Azure Standard.
Trim Healthy Mama recently released their Ancient Wisdom Konjac Noodles (this is an updated version of their old “Not-Naughty Noodles”). I’m thankful for products on plan for THM that make getting dinner on the table that much faster.
I love this Asian Noodle Salad (S) recipe from Trim Healthy Mama; it uses konjac noodles!
Explore Cuisine Black Bean Spaghetti (THM E)
This Explore Cuisine Black Bean Spaghetti may be misleading to some, as it’s not actually made with black beans but black soybeans instead.
Black soybeans are an excellent ingredient in low-carb noodles because they have a mild flavor and a great texture for gripping onto pasta sauce. There’s also a whopping 25 grams of protein per serving!
Related: Sign up HERE for a FREE, dairy-free Trim Healthy Mama meal plan!
Millet, Quinoa, or Brown Rice Ramen/Pasta (THM E)
Here’s an option that tastes pretty close to the white flour options most of us grew up with! Just make sure to check the ingredients. Some pastas contain ingredients that aren’t on plan for Trim Healthy Mama because they will still spike blood sugar (like tapioca starch).
Related: Simple Sugar Snap Pea Pasta Salad with Shrimp (This would taste fantastic if made with lower-carb millet/quinoa/brown rice pasta.)
Find Your New Favorite Pasta Alternatives
Transitioning into a low-carb lifestyle or new way of eating isn’t always easy, but with the right products, you won’t feel nearly as many pasta cravings.
I hope these 5 low-carb alternatives to pasta have given you options for indulging your tastebuds in Italian-like flavors. You can do so while maintaining a low-carb, gluten-free, or Trim Healthy Mama diet!
Want to get a jumpstart on the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan?
I’ve developed “slimdown” packets that include suggested menu plans to help you get started on your healthy eating journey.
Plus, each packet includes additional, printable recipes, cheat sheets to help you along in your THM journey, plus more!
Purchase your Slimdown Bundles HERE.
*Throughout this post and others like it, I’ve used the Trim Healthy Mama letter designations (FP, E, S, or XO). This helps those who follow this eating framework help classify the foods I mention. If you want to learn more about this eating plan, sign up for my THM interest list HERE.