The ketogenic diet has become increasingly popular as a method for losing weight and improving overall health.
It involves drastically reducing and replacing your net carb intake with healthy fats.
While this low-carb approach offers many potential benefits, it tends to eliminate one of the world’s most beloved comfort foods – pasta!
This blog post will explore the various factors further and help you consider whether you will include a pasta variation in your keto diet meal plan.
The Keto Diet Breakdown
The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate protein diet that places the body in a state of ketosis where your body burns predominantly fat for energy.
If done correctly, it can help promote weight loss, improve cognitive function, and improve overall health.
The recommended breakdown of your nutritional needs on a keto diet is 70 to 80% of your calories should come from fat, 5 to 10% from net carbs, and 20 to 30% from protein.
That roughly equates to about 20 to 50 grams of carbs for a healthy adult. Of course, this varies according to your lifestyle, body composition, metabolism, age, and overall health.
Why Isn’t Traditional Pasta Keto-Friendly?
Pasta is a fantastic comfort food and an excellent energy source in many cultures. However, they are less than ideal for low-carb diets.
Pasta’s Carbs Per Serving
Pasta is full of carbohydrates which can increase blood sugar levels and knock you out of ketosis, stalling your weight loss goals and causing you to fall off the diet.
For example, one serving of most pasta contains over 40 grams of carbs, making it a less-than-ideal choice for your keto diet, which should contain 20 to 50 grams of carbs A DAY.
Eating a plate of pasta would put you significantly at risk of getting kicked out of ketosis, and that’s not even counting the rest of your meals throughout the day.
Therefore it’s essential to be aware of the exact amount of carbs contained in a single serving of pasta if you are trying to reach your nutrition goals.
When substituting whole-wheat or other alternative types, double-check that they are lower in carbs and ensure the correct portion size to keep your carb intake within the desired range.
Is Pasta Healthy?
Pasta may be a special meal for many, but awareness of the less appetizing health implications is essential.
For starters, pasta is made from highly refined grains like white flour and semolina, which lack essential dietary components like fiber and vitamins.
Overeating pasta can also lead to significant weight gain due to its high carbohydrate content.
Most traditional noodles sold in supermarkets contain added sugars and salt, making them overly processed and unhealthy.
Finally, traditional Italian recipes often feature rich sauces, cheese, and oil, a few of which are particularly good for your cardiovascular system.
Low-Carb Pasta Alternatives
Eating low-carb pasta alternatives on the keto diet is one of the best ways to adhere to this dietary lifestyle while indulging in your favorite pasta dish.
Unlike regular wheat-based pasta, these low-carb pasta substitutes contain far fewer carbohydrates, giving you all the flavor with minimal impact on your carbs per serving.
With a wide variety available online and in stores, these pasta options can become an integral and delicious part of your keto meal rotation.
You can even make them at home with your favorite pasta recipe, enjoy a gluten-free pasta night, yet remain in ketosis and continue burning fat!
- Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini noodles are the perfect choice for a low-carbohydrate keto diet because they provide a unique flavor and texture.
Their natural sweetness makes zucchinis blend perfectly with savory ingredients like herbs, garlic, and spices.
Also, zucchini noodles are incredibly lightweight and contain virtually no calories.
As a bonus, they cook in just minutes and make for a quick meal that is delicious and nutritious.
Plus, zucchinis are rich in fiber, vitamins C and A, potassium, folate, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.
Choosing to cook keto recipes with these versatile veggies won’t compromise any nutrients you need on a keto diet.
2. Shirataki Noodles
Shirataki noodles are an excellent substitute for traditional wheat-based noodles since they are low in carbs and calories, contain no wheat or flour, and are gluten-free.
They come with various health benefits, including being high in fiber, promoting weight loss, aiding digestion, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and even providing vitamins and minerals to nourish the body.
Shirataki noodles can also fit into any keto diet plan as they are nearly zero-carbs which helps maintain stable blood glucose levels — an essential part of a keto diet regime.
The carbs per serving of a bowl of shirataki noodles is a mere 3 grams, while a bowl of pasta can contain up to 40 grams!
In addition to being healthy and low in carbohydrates, shirataki noodles taste great. They are easy to prepare – meaning you can quickly create delicious meals that adhere to your diet plan.
3. Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is a low-carb, high-fiber food, providing just 10 grams of carbs per cup – significantly lower than traditional wheat and white flour pasta.
In addition to its low-carb content, spaghetti squash is an excellent source of vitamin C and other essential vitamins and minerals that promote overall health.
What’s more, it contains very few calories – just 42 calories per cooked cup – while offering 1.5 grams of fiber, filling you up without an overload of calories.
4. Kelp Noodles
These unique seaweed-based noodles are made with no added preservatives or artificial flavors.
They are also gluten-free and fat-free and contain very few calories per serving, meaning they won’t disrupt the body’s delicate macronutrient balance.
Furthermore, kelp noodles offer up a great source of iodine, an essential mineral for thyroid health.
In addition, kelp noodles provide ample amounts of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, depending on how they are prepared.
5. Eggplant Noodles
Eggplant has few carbs and is fiber-rich, making it a nutrient-dense food ideal for the low-carb keto diet.
100 grams of eggplant contains 6 grams of carbs. This is in stark contrast to the 25 grams contained in wheat pasta.
Not only that, but eggplant’ makes an excellent substitute for pasta and noodles as it holds its shape well when cooked, ensuring that your dish looks just as satisfying as it tastes!
Plus, adding other low-carb ingredients can easily create something delicious with little effort.
Keto Pasta Recipes
Following the keto lifestyle can help you reach your health goals, but it doesn’t mean you must give up the pasta dishes you love.
There are many ways to enjoy delicious and nutritious pasta recipes while staying on track.
- Shirataki Noodle Carbonara
This creamy carbonara dish is sure to satisfy even the most discerning palates.
It takes about 30 minutes to make and serves one. You will need:
- 4 ounces of shirataki noodles
- 2 strips bacon
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or herbs de Provence
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese for topping
Start by draining the shirataki noodles in a colander. Rinse them with hot water for about 5 minutes until all the moisture is gone.
Then heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon until it’s crisp. Remove it from the pan and set it aside on paper towels.
In the same pan, add the butter and garlic and sauté for about two minutes until fragrant.
Add in the drained noodles and stir with the butter mixture until they’re heated.
Crack an egg into a small bowl and beat it before adding it to the skillet with the noodles, heavy cream, black pepper, and Italian seasoning or herbs de Provence.
Stir everything together until combined, then remove from heat before serving, topped off with crumbled bacon pieces and grated Parmesan cheese.
2. Zucchini Noodle Pesto Bowl
Zucchini noodles make for a great lunch or light dinner meal packed full of flavor thanks to pesto sauce made from fresh basil leaves blended with olive oil, garlic cloves, walnuts, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and optional zest.
To make this dish, you will need one large zucchini spiralized into long strands using either a spiralizer or julienne peeler, which will take 10 minutes.
Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add chopped onions if desired, followed by cooked protein such as chicken breast or shrimp.
Then add in prepared pesto sauce and cooked zucchini noodles, stirring everything together until heated before serving topped off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
3. Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Who said lasagna has to be made out of traditional pasta?
This innovative low-carb pasta dish uses spaghetti squash instead, which makes for a healthier version of everyone’s favorite comfort food.
Start by pre-cooking your spaghetti squash, either in the oven or microwave.
Once cooked, take a spoon, separate the squash noodles from the skin, and set it aside.
Then, make your favorite tomato sauce in a pan and let it simmer for about 15 minutes – adding herbs and spices for more flavor.
Finally, layer your lasagna with sauce, cheese, and squash noodles, repeating until you have filled your baking dish.
Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good low-carb pasta dish!
Final Thoughts On The Low-Carb Diet And Pasta Dishes
Eating pasta on the ketogenic diet might sound like an oxymoron, but it can be done.
The trick lies in finding healthier, low-carb pasta alternatives like shirataki noodles and spiralized vegetables that are significantly lower in carbohydrates than traditional wheat pasta.
It’s also a great idea to pair these substitutions with your favorite keto pasta sauce – make sure it is high-fat and low-carb!
All this means you don’t have to skip out on your favorite Italian dishes when starting a keto lifestyle – you need to switch up the ingredients.
With some creativity, you can still make all your low-carb pasta noodles work for your new keto lifestyle.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.