Low Carb Pasta Substitutes

Mama mia! The rumors you’ve heard are true. Now you can crave pasta and eat it, too. There are plenty of low carb pasta alternatives you can incorporate into your ketogenic diet.

The recent growth in popularity of low carb and the ketogenic diet has led to an abundant amount of new ways to get your pasta fix without losing sight of your health goals.

Pasta is a staple in international dishes from all over the world. And, much like bread and rice, pasta takes up its fair share of space in the store. The variety of pasta available to consumers today includes all different shapes and sizes to complete any meal, making it difficult to resist.

What is Pasta and Why Isn’t it Low Carb-Friendly?

Pasta is the all-time comfort food, first traced back to 1154 in Sicily. It was originally made from an unleavened dough of durum wheat flour, mixed with water or eggs and then formed into different noodles (or sheets, for those lasagna lovers out there).

While there are many different types of pasta today, the classic cooked, unenriched traditional pasta is about 30 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. That’s your entire daily carbohydrate intake on the ketogenic diet, if you’re lucky. After that comes a minuscule 0.9 grams of fat, about 6 grams of protein and minimal micronutrients. Even whole wheat pasta, advertised as a health food, contains 37 grams of total carbohydrates[*].

You’re thinking, “I’m never going to enjoy spaghetti and meatballs again.” False. You can enjoy your favorite pasta dishes — including lasagna noodles — on a low carb diet with a keto-friendly alternative. Here are a few delicious low carb substitutes.

#1: Zoodles

7 Low Carb Pasta Alternatives You'll Love Just as Much as the Real Thing

Pictured: Lemon Balsamic Chicken with Zoodles

Zoodles are simply zucchini that’s been spiralized into noodles. You aren’t limited to zucchini — simply select your favorite low carb vegetable, insert into a spiralizer and rotate clockwise until noodles come out the other side.

Why You’ll Love It

Once you cook zoodles (see below), they lose their fibrous texture, absorbing the pasta sauce and its flavor. You might find zoodles preferable to other pasta alternatives because they tastes like whatever sauce you pair with it.

The macronutrients of zoodles are about 5 net grams of carbohydrates, zero fat and around 3 grams of protein per cup. The health benefits of zoodles make them perfect for anyone diagnosed with diabetes, trying to lower their blood sugar or otherwise following a ketogenic diet. They are packed with a number of vitamins and minerals — vitamins A, C, B and potassium to name a few[*].

Try It Yourself

To make zoodles, all you need is one to two zucchini and a spiralizer. If you don’t own one, you can find a spiralizer for less than $30 on Amazon[*].

Spiralize your zucchini, then allow to rest on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt. Zucchini is filled with water, so the paper towel ensures you’re not left with soggy pasta. To make an angel hair pasta, cook with a little olive on the stovetop to reach your desired texture: Thirty seconds in the skillet offers an al dente pasta, while two minutes is a bit softer. Or, bake your zoodles in a pasta casserole with this recipe.

#2: Almond Flour Pasta

Almond flour pasta is prepared similarly to regular pasta, substituting almond flour for wheat or white flour. With the growing number of gluten-free and low carb products, you can find quite a few store-bought options as well.

Why You’ll Love It

Almond flour is a great low carb pasta alternative. It contains 1.6 grams of carbohydrates and 1.6 grams of dietary fiber, resulting in zero net carbs[*]. White, bleached, enriched flour contains over 76 grams of total carbohydrates with only 2 grams of fiber[*]. Almonds are also an excellent source of healthy fats, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium[*].

Try It Yourself

While there are many almond-flour pastas advertised as low carb, be sure to triple-check the label. Many brands contain more carbohydrates than you’d believe. Al Dente Carba Nada contains over 24 grams of total carbohydrates, or 17 grams net carbs[*]. Fiber Gourmet, also advertised as low carb, contains over 40 grams of total carbohydrates per serving and 3 grams of sugar[*].

Instead, try a homemade version. Make sure you do not choose a recipe which includes tapioca flour or tapioca starch — it’s extremely high carb. This recipe[*] combines almond flour with coconut flour for a keto-friendly pasta. Swap it in for regular pasta in your favorite noodle dishes.

#3: Spaghetti Squash

Low Carb Pasta Alternatives You'll Love Just as Much as the Real Thing

Pictured: Marinara Spaghetti Squash[*]

Spaghetti squash is one of the most common pasta alternatives. Once you cut a spaghetti squash in half and bake it, you can use a fork to scrape the inside into noodles.

Why You’ll Love It

Spaghetti squash contains only 5 grams of net carbs, zero fat and 1 gram of protein per cup[*], making it the perfect pasta substitute for those on a low carb or ketogenic diet.

Those are just the macronutrients, though. When it comes to minerals, you can count on spaghetti squash to give you the optimal amount of calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and even sodium.

Try It Yourself

You can find spaghetti squash in just about any local grocery store. To make it, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes, then allow to cool slightly. Once you can handle the squash without burning yourself, steady the squash with one hand and, using a fork, shred the squash with the other.

Top your spaghetti squash with a keto-friendly alfredo sauce made with heavy cream. Pro tip: If you have any leftovers, reheat them in a hot skillet with a little olive oil the next morning. They taste just like hash browns.

#4: Egg Pasta

Egg pasta typically combines egg with cream cheese for a low carb pasta substitute. Some store-bought versions might combine egg with flour (white, almond or other).

Why You’ll Love It

Low carb egg pasta is typically tasteless, with a similar consistency to regular flour. You will love it for its macro content, combining the protein from eggs with the fat from the cream cheese. Eggs are one of the most affordable, nutrient dense foods you can buy, with zero carbs, 7 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein[*]. Cream cheese is a keto-friendly dairy product, as long as you buy from a high quality source.

Try It Yourself

If you ever made cloud bread as an alternative low carb bread, making egg pasta follows a similar process. In some recipes, you will see wheat gluten added to the recipe[*]. If you are diagnosed with celiac disease or are otherwise looking for a gluten-free option, substitute guar gum or xanthan gum for wheat gluten.

#5: Miracle Noodles

7 Low Carb Pasta Alternatives You'll Love as Much as the Real Thing

Pictured: Creamy Avocado Pasta with Shirataki Noodles[*]

Miracle noodles, also known as shirataki noodles, are carb-free and calorie-free. They are clear in appearance and quickly absorb whatever flavors they’re cooked with.

Why You’ll Love It

You read the above paragraph correctly: Miracle noodles contain zero calories. They’re made up of mainly glucomannan — a fiber from the konjac root[*].

The fiber is mixed with water and a small amount of lime juice to give miracle noodles their shape. Once the mixing and shaping is done, it’s boiled together to form noodles comprised of 97 percent water and 2 percent glucomannan fiber. They’re also gluten-free, soy-free and vegan[*].

Try It Yourself

So where can you find these shirataki noodles? As they become more popular, you are more likely to see them in grocery stores near you. They are also available via online retailers[*].

Miracle noodles make an excellent low carb pasta for pad thai or ramen. You could also cover them with a keto-friendly cheese sauce to make mac and cheese.

#6: Cabbage Spaghetti

7 Low Carb Pasta Alternatives You'll Love

Pictured: Low Carb Crack Slaw with Beef and Cabbage[*]

Like zoodles, cabbage noodles are nothing other than a vegetable sliced into noodles. Cabbage has been used in Italian cooking — think cabbage rolls — long before low carb pasta became popular.

Why You’ll Love It

With less than 4 grams of net carbs, zero grams of fat and one gram of protein per cup[*], you can add cabbage spaghetti to any dish you desire.

In addition to being low calorie, cabbage spaghetti is a nutritional powerhouse abundant in key health benefits. These benefits include strong anti-inflammatory properties, multiple antioxidants, anthocyanins and some amazing vitamins and minerals including vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium[*].

Try It Yourself

To prepare, cut the cabbage to resemble the noodles you desire. For angel hair pasta, slice finely. For a stir-fry or lo mein, slice into a thicker noodle[*]. Or, prepare a meaty tomato sauce for deconstructed cabbage rolls[*].

#7: Black Bean Pasta

Black bean pasta is simply pasta made from black beans. Like almond flour pasta, you will typically find this in the grocery store.

Why You’ll Love It

This is one of the few times you can enjoy legumes on keto, so enjoy it while it lasts. Black bean pasta is loaded with protein — 25 grams, in fact. While it is low in fat (just 2 grams), it’s also low carb, containing just 5 grams net carbohydrates[*].

Try It Yourself

Unlike almond flour pasta, you might be better off ordering black bean pasta online. The Explore Asian brand is one you might consider, simply because of its low net carb content[*]. While enjoying dark, black noodles might take some getting used to, the taste is typically preferable to shirataki or other pasta alternatives. Pair with your low carb bread, preferably smothered in garlic and butter.

Enjoy a Low Carb Pasta Night

Have you been depriving yourself of your favorite pasta dishes because you were stressing over the carbs?

You can still enjoy your beloved Italian comfort food while keeping your carb count low. With these seven low carb pasta alternatives, there is no shortage of pasta dishes you can make.

Have a favorite dish with one of these low carb pasta substitutes? Share your ideas below!

Steph is a writer, competitive weightlifter and nutritional consultant with a passion for health and wellness. She is the founder of The Athlete’s Kitchen, a website dedicated to providing its audience with articles, recipes and the latest nutritional information on their favorite foods.

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Responses (4)

  1. I have read in some ketogentics books that diet soda is acceptable on the keto diet and others say no. Which is it. diet soda yes or no.

  2. I live in Germany and am preparing to begin a Keto diet. I have a pasta option that you did not list. Linseed flour, white bean, and guar gum/ 100g has 10g carbs and 37,5g fiber, 249 kcal. Does this mean it has 0 net carbs, or have I misunderstood what net carbs means?
    Thanks

  3. I believe that there is now a stevia sweetened cola available. At least we have this in Germany, and we usually are way behind the US in these things. I try to stay away from soft drinks. Bubbly water plain or with a squeeze of lemon or some muddled raspberries works for me.

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