One thing’s for sure: Americans love their pasta and noodles. According to a report by the National Pasta Foundation, the United States leads worldwide pasta consumption of 2.7 million tons a year. That comes out to about 9 kg every year for the average American.
But pasta and noodles aren’t always the best option, or even possible, for many.
Take Ekaterina Lochoshvili-Griffin, whose son Alex has been living with type one diabetes. Pasta and noodles are high in carbohydrates and often simple carbohydrates that are diet-derailing for some and even dangerous for people like Alex.
But Alex is also an athlete and a growing boy. His mother’s solution? Keto-friendly noodles and pasta.
Keto noodles are available in more brands and varieties than you’d think. But finding the best low carb, keto approved pasta and noodles can be difficult.
The good news: regardless of your taste preferences and individual needs, the sheer number of keto noodles on the market means you won’t have to say goodbye to pasta nights.
How do I know if pasta or noodles are Keto approved?
A big portion of keto diets is trying to get your body to enter a state of ketosis. In layman’s terms, that means getting your body to burn fat or energy rather than burning carbohydrates.
But in simpler terms, the basis of a keto diet plan is focusing on healthy fats and proteins, while limiting carbohydrates. The carbohydrates you want to avoid for sure are simple sugars or added sugars–the first of which is too often a mainstay of many kinds of pasta and noodles by mainstream brands.
- Total Carbs: Typical noodles and pasta can have as much as 40 grams or more carbohydrates per serving. Most keto followers are advised to consume 50 grams or less per day–which means that a single serving of regular pasta or noodles could run you nearly to your daily limit. Aim for pasta or noodles that have 20 grams or less.
- Net Carbs: Some keto followers like to focus more on net carbs. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the total carbohydrate count from the grams of fiber. Experts suggest keto dieters consume no more than 30 net carbs a day, so you’ll want to aim for 10 grams net carbs or less.
- Fiber: Not only does fiber lower the net carb count, but it also helps you stay fuller for longer. 3g or more per serving is ideal.
- Ingredients: Though there aren’t specific requirements here, noodles and kinds of pasta that incorporate natural ingredients are a better bet. Be on the lookout for added sugars, additives, preservatives, colors or flavors.
When evaluating keto noodles and pasta, we’ll also be looking at price, availability, variety, and overall use.
The Best Keto Noodle Brands you can buy now
If tofu noodles don’t sound appetizing, you’re not alone. Even tofu consumers might be a little skeptical–and rightfully so–of these products. But before you dismiss them, consider this: there is little on the market that is so keto friendly and versatile to boot.
And it’s actually a decently large market. In fact, as more brands have offered tofu noodles, there are more and more trending recipes that span different cuisines and tastes. Many big chain groceries carry some form of tofu noodles, though finding it in a store can be tricky. Often, it is placed beside conventional and organic tofu. Depending on the store, these noodles tend to be in produce or health food sections, though it’s possible they could be in general, refrigerated products. The best option is to ask.
Tofu itself offers a slew of health benefits: phytoestrogen can reduce the risk of breast cancer, and it’s a plant-based protein source, as well as a source of calcium and copper, among other nutrients.
All tofu noodle brands tend to present as transparent, slightly chewy noodles. For most, you’ll need to drain and rinse the noodles before cooking. Like tofu, these noodles tend to take on the flavor of whatever you’re cooking with. The texture can be best described as a softer and thinner version of udon noodles.
Tofu Shirataki is one of the biggest brands, and it’s one of the ones you’re more likely to find in your local grocery store. These noodles come in several varieties, in tiny 4oz packages that contain two servings each.
And like many tofu noodles, they’re blended with other ingredients to produce a firmer texture that stands up to heating.
- Carb Count: There’s no doubt about it: Tofu Shirataki noodles are definitely keto approved. Per serving, there are a mere 3 grams of total carbs, with 2 grams of fiber, making for a single gram of net carbs. Even if you eat the whole bag (which is likely, as it’s a small serving), you’re only consuming 6 grams of total carbs or 2 grams of net carbs. That’s hard to beat.
- Fiber: While the fiber count per serving falls a little short of expectations, that’s only because the carb count is so low.
- Overall Nutrition: If you’re looking for a low-calorie keto option, this is one of them. Varieties average a mere 10 calories per serving. The downside: Even though Its volume can make you feel fuller, there’s less than 1 gram of protein in it. And the only notable nutrient is 10 percent of your daily iron.
- Ingredients: Water, Soybeans, Yam Flour, Added Vitamins, and Minerals. It’s a simple ingredients list, which is a plus.
- Varieties: There is virtually no difference in the taste or texture, so if you like one or hate one, it’ll be the same for all. But there are a number of fun-pasta inspired styles, such as spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, and even macaroni.
- Price & Availability: The best way to purchase is to find in your local store using their store locator; otherwise, there are a few offerings via Amazon. The small packs are a good thing mostly because the Tofu Shirataki Noodles should be used quickly after being opened. The downside is the packages can be a little impractical if you’re feeding a family. There are some varieties available in larger 8 oz package. Prices vary by store. Check out the latest prices on Amazon.
Other Transparent Noodles
We don’t make a separate section for these, simply because, in taste, texture and aesthetic, they are very similar to tofu noodles. These tend to rely, however, more primarily on gluten-free flours so that you won’t be getting much of any protein, no matter how big or small the serving.
But if you simply can’t stomach the idea of tofu, or are concerned about it for other reasons, such as a soy allergy or sensitivity, this can be a good option. These noodles too take on the flavor of what you cook with and must be drained and rinsed for the best experience. Though they can be eaten cold, we highly recommend hot, with plenty of toppings.
Thrive Market is a lifestyle brand that sells other products such as snacks, baking supplies, nuts, and other health-oriented foods. Wonder noodles at first glance look a lot like Shirataki noodles. They’re packaged in water-filled 7oz bags, with a simple no fuss design.
The noodles are clear, almost transparent, except for the pale green spinach fettuccine noodles. Like Shirataki noodles, they’re also gluten-free. But they also have the distinction of being kosher certified and use BPA free packaging, both of which are not disclosed when it comes to Tofu Shirataki.
- Carb Count: Like Tofu Shirataki, Wonder Noodles have a very low total carb count of only 3 carbs per serving. In terms of net carbs, it is even lower: the total comes to 0 net carbs per serving.
- Fiber: 3 grams of fiber is still low, but considering the carb count, it’s fantastic.
- Overall Nutrition: No protein or fats are in this product, which, as we mentioned, does little to help you feel full, so it’s crucial to prepare with high-quality fats and protein. In terms of nutrients, it has even less than Tofu Shirataki, with a mere 6 percent of your daily value of iron.
- Ingredients: Purified Water, Konjac Flour. The spinach variety adds spinach powder, but you can’t get much simpler than this. On the downside, it is pure flour based, if you want something with a touch of protein or more nutrients.
- Varieties: Select from fettuccine, angel hair, or spinach fettuccine. We do like the added spinach option, for a bit more flavor and color. The taste, however, should not seem drastically different.
- Price & Availability: Wonder Noodles are primarily purchased via the Thrive Market website, which requires you to create an account (not unlike the simple process of creating an account for other online retailers). The price is a slightly better deal than Tofu Shirataki: two 7oz bags run you for $2.
Before you get too excited; no, this isn’t a green light for all the pasta you find on the shelf. Pasta in this group is made low carb, through a variety of methods. The difference between this kind of pasta and noodles is that the products tend to resemble more traditional pasta and noodles.
You won’t find transparent noodles here. While noodles in the last two groups are excellent for Asian cuisines especially, these are the ones you go to for a traditional Italian dinner that, after starting keto, you may feel is off limits.
Oat fiber, egg whites, and pea proteins, among other ingredients, are used to bring the carb count down, while still retaining more or less the appearance and texture of pasta. Don’t expect the exact same flavor–but with some quality sauce and cheese, these can be a great substitute.
Sound too good to be true? The downside is these options will run you a good deal more carbohydrates. Plus, the serving size of two ounces is a little small. Still, most varieties at least slash the carb count in half. Think of these options as great options for a keto treat now and then.
When you visit the site, you’ll notice this company is devoted to producing a number of low carb options, from rice to pasta to bread. While this is great, it is important to note that these products would be better described as ‘reduced carb’, as the carb counts, while in range, are still a little higher for those on keto diets.
Still, there’s some appeal to products that closely resemble traditional pasta. This is something you could serve even to those not on keto diets.
- Carb Count: At 25 grams of total carbs, it’s not exactly considered low carb. If you’re very strict on keto and wanting to consume less than 50 grams, that’s half your daily intake. Still, there is room if you want to splurge now and then, or if the rest of the day you consume very low carb foods. And the net carb count is actually quite low: a mere 7 grams.
- Fiber: If keto followers are a little discouraged by the total carbs per serving, the fiber in it almost makes up for it. 18 grams of fiber is almost half your recommended intake–that’s pretty impressive.
- Overall Nutrition: You win some, you lose some. While this pasta is a little higher in carbs than we’d like, the overall nutrition is superior to transparent or tofu noodles. Because of the egg whites and pea protein, you get an impressive 12 grams of protein. That makes this pasta practically a meal in of itself, plus it’ll keep you full. 100 calories per serving mean you’re slashing the calorie count of typical pasta in half, though there is not much in the way of vitamins or minerals.
- Ingredients: Pea Protein Isolate, Oat Fiber, Egg Whites, Wheat Gluten, Semolina. Simple ingredients, but not for anyone needing or looking for either gluten-free or vegan options.
- Varieties: While this is one of the best brands for ‘classic pasta’, we’d love to see more variety. At this time, you can only buy fettuccine noodles.
- Price & Availability: On the site, you can purchase an 8 oz package (4 servings) for just under $8, making it a bit pricier. Don’t bother with Amazon; you’ll pay a good deal more.
This pasta and noodles could all be considered keto friendly, and are either transparent or more classic style. While we aren’t doing a full review of these, you’ll still want to check them out:
Which is the best noodle brand for your keto diet?
The number of products for keto dieters has increased, and we can only hope the trend will continue. All of these products make enjoying noodles and pasta possible even for those on restricted carbohydrate diets.
Tofu and Transparent Noodles
Best for Chinese, Korean, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. These pair well with soy, peanut, and hoisin sauces. You can also make other dishes since the noodles take on the flavor of what you’re cooking with. They’re the best for very low carb and also very low-calorie diets. You can eat quite a bit without adding much to either your calorie or carb count.
The downsides? The texture might be off-putting to some–it’s best to try and see if you like them first, and make sure you prepare according to directions. They also are not a good source of nutrients, meaning you’ll need to add quite a bit to your meal.
Low Carb Pasta
This is best for Italian or more classic pasta dishes and fewer noodle dishes. It’s also great if you want to serve a meal for company that both you and your (no-keto) guests can enjoy.
These can be pricey, and they tend to run higher in the carb count, making these kinds of pasta and noodles more of a once-in-a-while treat. But with those extra carbohydrates, you’re also getting healthy protein and fiber to keep you satiated.
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