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Low-Carb Noodles: Benefits, Alternatives, and Recipes

Low-carb Noodle Benefits

As the name suggests, low-carb noodles are noodles that contain fewer carbohydrates than traditional ones. Carbohydrates are organic compounds that the human body breaks down in food and releases as energy.

Unfortunately, most highly processed foods include excessive amounts of carbohydrates. Excessive amounts of carbohydrates have an inverse effect on the human body and makes one more tired than energetic.

While traditional noodles consistently come with a high carb count, low-carb noodles or keto noodles are made with alternative flours to decrease the carb count. While at first glance you might be skeptical, wait until you give them a taste to make up your mind.

Low-Carb Noodles Versus Regular Noodles

Low-carb noodles are a great alternative to regular noodles if you are trying to keep your carb count low. They’re a great alternative for anyone looking to improve their health, energy levels, or simply as a personal preference.

The main difference between regular noodles and low-carb noodles is the carbohydrate count.

Typically noodles are made from wheat flour or other food starches like rice / beans. For example, instant noodles can include around 50-70 grams of carbohydrates from wheat flour, which is an average amount for noodles. Most traditional noodles typically have a high calorie, carb, and starch count while lacking any nutritional value.

While not all starches are bad for your health, overly processed / refined starches can be dangerous for the human body. Studies have linked processed starch consumption to diabetes, excessive weight gain, heart disease, and large blood sugar spikes(*). Not only are starches and wheat flours poor nutrition choices, they also are loaded with carbohydrates and calories.

Why Low-Carb Noodles?

Low-carb noodles go against the grain (no pun intended) by incorporating creative solutions to reduce usage of processed flours and starches.

They are a great alternative if you want to decrease consumption of processed carbohydrate counts, which has the potential to help increase your energy levels and help you improve your metabolic health(*).

The best way to spot low-carb noodles is simply by looking at the carbohydrate and fiber content on the product’s nutritional panel.

When choosing low-carb products, it’s important to look at the net carb count, versus only the total carb count. The net carb count is calculated by subtracting fiber from the total carbs. This is important because the total carb count includes all different types of carbs while net carbs only include carbs the body can digest into glucose. Net carbs do not include carbs which are dietary fiber.

Oftentimes there is a significant amount of fiber that goes into the overall carb count. This can make a product seem higher in carbohydrates than it actually is.

While fiber is considered a carbohydrate, most of it does not get digested and moves slowly through the digestive system. Foods with higher fiber have been shown to help control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar, lower cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, and aid in achieving health weight by helping you feel full longer.

Alternatives to Low-Carb Noodles

Due to an increase in health-prone attitudes in the food and beverage space, there are now plenty of health-conscious consumer product options to consider. Some of these options include a variety of noodles that you can substitute into your favorite dishes.

There are two distinct categories when it comes to low-carb alternatives. These can be separated into reduced-carb noodles and low-carb noodles. Reduced carb noodles still contain a moderate carb level, but are decent alternatives to traditional noodles. Low-carb noodles are noodles that have very little to no carbohydrates and are a better option for people on low-carb or ketogenic diets.

Reduced Carb Noodles

Carba-Nada — Carba-nada is a new pasta alternative that is appreciated by a variety of people all over the world. This pasta is helpful for those that are diabetic and has gained notoriety in the Weight Watchers community. It’s high in protein and fiber, lower in calories and carbs, and many claim it tastes similar to traditional fettuccine. While it is a good alternative, it still has a total of 17g net carbs, making it a reduced alternative, not low carb.

Chickpea Noodles and Pasta — Chickpea based pasta has been all the craze over the past couple of years. These were popularized by newer brands like Banza and are now sold by food giant’s like Barilla. Although crafted by different brands, the options all have one thing in common: a high protein count and slightly lower carb count. These pastas can still average ~42g net carbs and aren’t a great choice for low-carb dieting.

Black Bean Pasta — With the rising popularity of chickpea based pasta, it’s no surprise that pasta made with black soybeans, turtle beans (what people call black beans), or a mix of both, have emerged. Black bean noodles tend to have little to no flavor which makes them a great alternative to add to just about anything. If you want to use them in lieu of your pasta, great. Your noodle soup? Also works! Although these noodles are versatile, they still tend to have around 10g net carbs in one serving.

Low-Carb Noodles

Shirataki — Shirataki noodles have been a popular noodle in Japan for decades and have recently become more popular in the U.S. These noodles are made from konjac yam root, specifically the extracted dietary fiber known as glucomannan. They typically have 0 net carbs and a very low-calorie count but are still incredibly filling. While shirataki contains a high amount of fiber, many people complain about their fish-like odor, and jelly-fish like texture.

Tofu Shirataki Noodles — Tofu shirataki noodles are very similar to regular shirataki noodles, except these are made with both konjac yam and tofu. The tofu is typically added to help combat complaints about the jelly-fish like texture of traditional shirataki noodles. These noodles are low in calories and carbs with high omega-3’s and fiber. They’re a great alternative if you don’t mind the different texture.

Spiralized Vegetables — Spiralized vegetables are a great choice for low-carb / keto dieters, or health-conscious people. You can spiralize vegetables like zucchini (most popular), carrots, or even sweet potatoes, to replace noodles in your favorite dishes. Keep in mind carrots and sweet potatoes are not low-carb. It’s not only a great way to keep your carbohydrate count low, but also gets more vegetables into your diet. One common complaint with spiralized vegetables is that the texture is nothing like a traditional chewy wheat based noodle.

Spaghetti Squash — Spaghetti squash is another vegetable-based low-carb noodle alternative. After baking spaghetti squash, the insides become string-like, which some claim looks similar to spaghetti. Spaghetti squash is a great way to get in extra servings of vegetables while decreasing your carbohydrate and calorie count. You’ll also retain a variety of nutrients as well, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, and others. However, if you ever try this option, you’ll notice that the texture is lacking and considerably different from a regular noodle.

Artichoke Heart Noodles — Artichoke heart noodles typically have a carb count close to 0. These noodles can be served cooked or raw. This type of noodles are great for anyone trying to decrease their carbohydrate, calorie, and sugar intake. However, the texture can be similar to that of spaghetti squash.

Kelp Noodles — Kelp noodles are semi-transparent noodles that are made from the extract that comes after steaming kelp. Seaweed noodles are typically crunchy, low in calories, and low in carbs. They also contain minerals like iodine, iron, and calcium, making them a great option nutritionally. However, the crunchy texture can be a turn-off for many people and is the least noodle-like compared to all the low-carb noodle options.

The Health Benefits Of A Low-Carb Diet

A low-carb diet is popular around the world, and for good reason. There are a variety of benefits that come from maintaining a low-carb lifestyle. Studies show that decreasing your daily carbohydrate count can help increase longevity(*), elevate your energy(*), and decrease inflammation(*).

Low-carb diets have been practiced for a very long time. A variety of cultures have placed an emphasis on low-carb diets, but it’s only in recent years that we’ve placed a label on them.

Supports Weight Loss 

Low-carb diets support weight loss and weight maintenance because of the carbohydrate relationship with insulin(*). Insulin is the human body’s main fat-storing hormone.

When consumed, carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin. An increase in insulin levels means an increase in the ability of your body to store fat. Common carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta, and sugar spike your insulin levels and increase your ability to gain weight.

Reducing your carbohydrate intake by adopting a low-carb diet helps you lose excess body weight. When you reduce your carbohydrate count, you reduce the insulin your body produces. By following a low-carb diet, a person can expect to more readily drop weight, or maintain their desirable body weight.

Depletes Sugar Cravings

Aside from weight loss, another beneficial outcomes of a low-carb diet is decreased sugar cravings(*). When you go low carb, your body produces less insulin, which disrupts that cycle of sugary cravings.

Once you start to decrease the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, you will quickly see a decrease in your sugar cravings. When you pair your decrease in carbohydrate count with an increase in healthy proteins and fats, you will see a decrease in overall hunger.

Increases Natural Energy

By participating in a low-carb diet, you can increase your energy levels(*) and potentially increase your productivity. By decreasing carb consumption to minimal levels, your body can begin tapping into other energy sources like fat to generate ketones for energy. This state is known as ketosis or more popularly, keto.

Stored carbohydrates are not the most efficient energy source. In ketosis, your body is able to use stored fats as fuel, which is more efficient in energizing your body. Making sure to increase the number of healthy fats and proteins in your diet is just as important as decreasing carbohydrates.

Furthermore, stored carbohydrates can only last for a couple of hours while fats can last for weeks or even months. This explains why carbohydrates are less satisfying for your body, making you crave more shortly after eating.

When you are consuming a large number of carbohydrates each day, your body will look to carbs as its primary fuel source. Instead of breaking down fats and turning them into energy, your body is forced to store energy as fat which causes weight gain and lethargy.

Helps Prevent Diabetes

What we eat determines what our bodies produce. When we eat, the body releases insulin to combat the rise in blood sugar. When you consume sugary, high-carb foods, your body produces insulin in order to cope with the food entering the digestive tract.

As the human body produces more and more insulin, the body builds up a tolerance to it. When this takes place and a resistance to insulin increases, a person can develop prediabetes, which is oftentimes followed by type 2 diabetes.

One of the main ways to prevent prediabetes and treat type 2 diabetes is by reducing your body’s insulin resistance. This can be done by reducing your daily carbohydrate count and increasing your protein and healthy fats(*). When you reduce your carbohydrate intake, you reduce the amount of insulin being produced, which eventually decreases your insulin resistance.

A decrease in insulin in the human body can aid in things like weight management, excessive-hunger, and being overtired.

Increases Satiety

If you make the switch to a low-carb diet and focus on eating more protein and healthy fats, then you may see an increase in your satiety.

Many studies have shown that certain byproducts in protein digestion like peptides provide signals to your brain and gut that suppress feelings of hunger(*). Protein stimulates production of cholecystokinin, a hormone that signals satiety. Protein also helps to inhibit the release of a hormone called ghrelin, which sends out the hunger message to your brain.

Deciding to eat more fats and protein will help you stay full longer, and can aid in weight management.

Cooking With Low-Carb Noodles

One of the many great things about low-carb noodles or keto noodles is that you can swap them into your traditional, age-old recipes. It’s comforting to know that you can still enjoy your favorite recipes if you decide to embark on a low-carb diet.

Here are some of our favorite recipes to make with low-carb noodles:

immi Noodles

Nutritional Content

immi ramen was created to address many of the current flaws with traditional low-carb or keto noodles. immi ramen is low-carb, keto-friendly, entirely plant-based and also contains a number of enriching nutritional benefits like high plant-based protein and higher fiber.

Each serving of immi ramen noodles contains 5g of net carbs, 40g of protein, and 6g of fiber (the seasoning packets will add another 4g of net carbs for a total of 9g of net carbs in each total serving)

To put this in perspective, each serving is ~80% lower in net carbs vs. reduced carb noodles, an equal amount of protein compared to an 8oz ribeye steak, and 25% of your daily recommended fiber consumption.

The immi Story

Before we co-founded immi, we (Kevin L. and Kevin C.) were close friends, co-workers, and roommates.

We both have long family histories in the food industry and deep-rooted connections to Asian food. Our families run produce farms in Taiwan, operate Asian distributors and supermarkets, and sell hawker stall noodles in Thailand.

As we’ve grown older, we’ve watched as both their families battled through chronic health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Seeing the devastation of poor nutrition first hand, we became determined to produce a more nutritionally-enriched instant ramen.

After 2 years of formulating alongside food science PhDs and culinary chefs, we’ve created the world’s first delicious tasting, low-carb and high-protein instant ramen.