Do you love eating pasta, but don’t love all the carbs that come with it? I’ve rounded up the best lower-carb pasta alternatives that you can enjoy without spiking your blood sugar. You can also check out my favorite brands to try!
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Does having diabetes mean that you can never enjoy regular pasta? Absolutely not! My philosophy is that all foods can fit into your diet while still managing your blood sugars.
That said, to avoid spikes in blood sugar, you do need to watch your portion of regular pasta, what you pair it with, and what time of day you eat it. Just ½ a cup of pasta is 15 grams of carbohydrate. Generally, ½ cup of pasta with a protein and fat source can allow you to enjoy pasta without a spike in blood sugar.
Sometimes, a lower carb option might make the most sense as you work to manage your blood sugars. You could even consider mixing one of these lower-carb options with regular pasta so you can eat more without skyrocketing your blood sugars.
What to look for when choosing a lower carb pasta alternative
There are a few key items to look for when choosing the perfect low-carb pasta for you.
Total carbohydrate and fiber
The total carbohydrate amount and the fiber will help you to understand how the pasta affects your blood sugar. The digestible carbs (total carbs minus fiber) in the pasta will impact your blood sugar. This is also known as net carbs. You can choose how much pasta you eat based on this number.
This might arguably be the most important factor in choosing a pasta alternative. You want to enjoy what you’re eating! Choosing a pasta that’s low in carbs, but tastes terrible isn’t going to be satisfying or enjoyable. Choose an alternative that you really enjoy.
Ease of Use
Some brands and types of pasta are easier to prepare than others. Consider this when making your selection so you have the time and/or skills to cook the pasta.
Types of Low Carb Pasta Alternative
1. Chickpea Pasta
Chickpea pasta is made from, you guessed it, chickpeas (otherwise known as garbanzo beans)! Since this pasta is made from beans, it’s higher in fiber and protein than traditional pasta. But, since beans are also a good source of carbohydrates, chickpea pasta does contain a fair amount of carbohydrates.
The fiber and protein in chickpea pasta help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates and can lead to a smaller rise in blood sugar. The extra fiber and protein also make this a great choice to help keep you satisfied and full from a smaller portion.
Favorite Brand: Banza Pasta
Choose from spaghetti, lasagna, bowtie, or even fun pinwheel shapes for a flavorful pasta that contains half the amount of carbs as traditional pasta. Try their chickpea mac and cheese for delicious comfort food. You can find Banza in most major grocery stores or online.
2. Edamame Pasta
Edamame pasta is made from soybeans. It’s rich in protein and lower in carbohydrates with a similar look and feel to traditional pasta. Except for its green color of course!
Pasta that’s only made from edamame is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and also free of grains. This makes it a great choice for several different types of meal plans, except for those who need to avoid soy. This pasta has very few net carbs and very little effect on blood sugar.
Favorite Brand: Explore Cuisine
Explore Cuisine has perfected the alternative pasta game with varieties from edamame to lentils and black beans in every shape you might want. Each pasta is rich in fiber and protein and has significantly fewer carbs than traditional pasta. You can find Explore Cuisine in grocery stores nationwide or online.
3. Black Bean Pasta
Made from black beans, this pasta is rich in fiber and protein and is a great plant-based source of iron. However, just like chickpeas, black beans do contain a good amount of carbohydrates. While having fewer net carbs than traditional pasta, it will still impact your blood sugars.
Black bean pasta is often softer in texture than other pasta alternatives and cooks more quickly. Although black in color, this pasta tastes more like traditional pasta rather than black beans. It’s a great option for those looking for a plant-based, gluten-free pasta alternative.
4. Pea Protein Pasta
Pea protein is often added to lower-carb pasta alternatives to create a more “pasta-like” texture. Pea protein is low in net carbs and has little effect on blood sugars.
5. High Fiber Pasta
Many lower-carb pasta alternatives are high in fiber. Since fiber mostly passes through your body undigested, it has less of an impact on blood sugar than other types of carbohydrates.
High-fiber pasta can be a great way to enjoy pasta, but be cautious if you’re not used to a lot of fiber in your diet. A sharp increase in fiber intake can cause some GI discomfort at first. Remember to increase your intake slowly and drink plenty of fluids to help move the fiber through your system.
6. Shirataki Noodles
Shirataki noodles are made from konjac yam and contain barely any calories or carbohydrates since they’re 97% water. The other 3% is essentially fiber with trace amounts of protein, fat, and other nutrients.
Although these noodles don’t provide a large amount of nutritional value, they can be an excellent way to boost your overall fiber intake and add volume to a meal.
Favorite Brand: Miracle Noodles
Miracle noodles now come in fun shapes like fettucini, ziti, and angel hair pasta. You can find these noodles at many major retailers or order online.
7. Spiralized Veggie Noodles
By now, you’ve likely come across a recipe or two calling for spiralized vegetables, like zucchini noodles. No, these don’t taste like pasta but they can be a great way to boost your overall vegetable intake and add a pasta-like effect to a meal. You have to determine if this is the right choice for you and if you’ll be satisfied by vegetable “noodles” in place of pasta.
Favorite Brand (Frozen): Green Giant
Unless you’re going to purchase a spiralizer and do the work on your own (which is great!) you can choose from frozen and fresh pre-spiralized options. You can find Green Giant spiralized vegetables, like zucchini and spaghetti squash, in the frozen foods section at grocery stores nationwide. These are great because they come without added sauces or seasonings and can be added right to any recipe or dish.
Favorite Brand (Packaged): Palmini
Palmini creates pasta, like linguini and lasagna, from hearts of palm and sells them canned or in shelf-stable packets. These noodles have only 4 grams of net carbs per serving and can be a great alternative to a standard “zoodle” as it tastes and looks much more like actual pasta. You can find Palmini pasta in select retailers nationwide, on their website, and on Amazon.
8. Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is a vegetable, but when cooked it produces spaghetti-like strings that can make a great pasta alternative. It’s a spiralized veggie without having to do all the work! Spaghetti squash is higher in fiber and lower in carbs than traditional pasta, but does still contains some carbohydrates.
The bottom line
Now you know what lower-carb pasta alternatives you can choose from to enjoy pasta without the massive spike in blood sugar it can cause. Whether you choose pasta from beans, shiratake, or vegetables be sure to choose one that tastes good to you and fits within your blood sugar management plan.