A couple servings of marry me chicken pasta with garnish over a gray marble surface.

If I had a nickel every time I Googled “Is XYZ low carb?”, I’d probably be a billionaire by now. And if you’re here reading this, you likely understand the struggle of maintaining a low carb diet while still being able to enjoy your favorite foods. 

Many pasta lovers can agree that traditional pasta dishes are among the hardest foods to abandon when going low-carb. But with the rise of gluten sensitivity comes the question: Are gluten free noodles low carb?

The answer isn’t as simple as a yes or no. It depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of gluten-free noodle, the ingredients involved, and the serving size. 

I’ll go over all that in this article, as well as break down the key differences between low-carb and gluten-free diets, and share my favorite gluten-free pasta options for those watching their carb intake.

A couple servings of marry me chicken pasta with garnish over a gray marble surface.

Low-Carb Diet vs. Gluten-Free Diet

While both diets are similar in the sense that they limit certain food groups, there are some key differences between a low-carb and gluten-free diet that are important to consider. Here is a brief breakdown of each:

Low-Carb Diet

  • Focuses on reducing carbohydrate intake to promote weight loss, manage blood sugar levels, or achieve specific health outcomes.
  • Includes high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carb foods such as meat, fish, eggs, certain vegetables, and healthy fats like avocado and oils. 
  • Carbohydrate intake is typically limited to 20-50 grams of net carbs per day (on the lower end if you lean more toward a ketogenic diet and on the higher end if you’re eating low carb)  but this can vary greatly depending on your personal goals. 

Gluten-Free Diet

  • Eliminates gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. 
  • Includes foods that are naturally gluten-free or made with gluten-free alternatives, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, and gluten-free grains like quinoa and rice.
  • Does not have a specific limit on carbohydrate intake, as some gluten-free products may still be high in carbs.
Close-up of gochujang pasta noodles.

Are Gluten-Free Noodles Low Carb?

To determine whether gluten-free noodles are low-carb or not ultimately depends on the type of pasta we’re talking about! 

For instance, noodles made from gluten-free grains like corn or rice are simply replacing wheat, which does not make them low in carbohydrates. They are actually as high in carbs as regular pasta noodles. So avoid these types of gluten-free noodles if you’re watching your carb intake.

On the other hand, there are some gluten-free noodles made from low-carb ingredients like chickpeas, lentils, and black beans… basically any plant-based pasta. These alternatives have a lower carb count and are higher in protein, making them a great substitute for traditional wheat pasta. 

However, while these alternatives may have fewer carbs, that doesn’t mean they will all fit into a low carb or ketogenic diet. Some plants are more low-carb than others, so it’s still a good idea to check the nutrition labels and portion sizes to make sure they align with your specific dietary needs.

Best Gluten-Free Alternatives to Pasta

To make sure you’re on the right track to enjoying delicious keto-friendly pasta options, I’ve created a list of the best low carb pasta alternatives that are both gluten-free AND low-carb.  Check ’em out!

Here are a few gluten free AND low-carb pasta alternatives:

1. Kaizen Lupini Pasta

Kaizen Lowcarb Protein Pasta

I believe eating low-carb shouldn’t mean you have to sacrifice on taste and texture. That’s why I created my own brand of low-carb pasta, Kaizen! Made from lupini beans, these noodles are gluten-free and contain only 6 grams of net carbs per serving. They also have a whopping 20 grams of protein, are high in fiber, and are entirely plant-based. 

The best part of this low-carb pasta alternative isn’t just the nutritional benefits but the fact that it actually tastes like traditional pasta! It’ll leave you feeling full and satisfied without all the heaviness that comes with regular pasta. Just boil it according to package directions and enjoy your favorite pasta dishes without even missing the carbs or gluten!

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

  • Calories: 130
  • Total fat: 3.5g
  • Dietary fiber: 15g
  • Net carbs: 6g
  • Total sugar:  1g
  • Protein: 20g

2. Shirataki Spaghetti Noodles

Another plant-based noodle, shirataki spaghetti noodles are made from a blend of tofu and konjac, a type of Asian yam.

They are not only gluten-free but also low in calories and carbs, with only 20 calories and 6 grams of net carbs for the entire package. However, they are low in protein and fiber, so be sure to add some protein and healthy fats to make it a more balanced meal.

As for the taste, shirataki noodles have a neutral flavor and a slightly chewy texture, making them a great option for soaking up sauces and flavors in any pasta dish.

Compared to regular spaghetti noodles, they won’t taste exactly the same, but they’re a pretty close substitute for those watching their carb intake. They’re also super easy to prepare —  simply boil for one minute and then mix with your favorite sauce.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

  • Calories: 20
  • Total fat: 1g
  • Dietary fiber: 4g
  • Net carbs: 2g
  • Total sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 2g

3. Palmini Hearts of Palm Noodles

Palmini pasta is another popular gluten-free noodle option made from hearts of palm, which is a vegetable harvested from the core of a variety of palm trees.

These noodles are low in calories and carbs, containing only 20 calories and 4 grams of carbs per serving. They don’t have a ton of protein or fiber, which may leave you feeling less satisfied compared to other plant-based options.

Palmini noodles will taste a bit like hearts of palm, which is slightly bitter and tangy. Even so, they do well in soaking up sauces and flavors in pasta dishes. They’re commonly sold in a can that needs to be rinsed and boiled before use.  

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

  • Calories: 20
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2g
  • Net carbs: 2g
  • Total sugar: 1g 
  • Protein: <1g

5. Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini noodles should not be expected to taste like pasta, but they are a great option for those looking to cut carbs and incorporate more vegetables into their diet.

These noodles are made by spiralizing raw zucchini into thin, pasta-like strands. They are extremely low in calories and carbs, with only about 20 calories and 2 grams of net carbs per cup.

Making zucchini noodles will no doubt take a bit more effort than opening a package of noodles, but they are definitely worth it if you’re looking for a lighter and healthier option.

Whether you’re looking to make a stir fry or a cold zoodle salad, there are plenty of delicious recipes out there to incorporate zucchini noodles into your meals. Just keep in mind that this type of noodle might not apply to all pasta dishes, but they’re still a great alternative for lighter and refreshing meals.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

  • Calories: 19
  • Total Fat: 0.4g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2g
  • Net carbs: 2.4g
  • Total sugar: 2.8g 
  • Protein: 1.4g

6. Spaghetti Squash

Like zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash won’t replicate the taste of traditional pasta, but it’s definitely a healthier choice compared to many gluten-free alternatives.

Spaghetti squash is a winter squash that, when cooked, turns into thin strands resembling spaghetti noodles. It has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, making it a great option for baking or roasting with a variety of spices and sauces. With 31 calories and 7 grams of net carbs per 1-cup serving, it’s low in calories and carbs.

However, it’s not very filling due to its low protein content, which may make it less satisfying than other gluten-free options. It’s also high in vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as potassium and calcium. 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

  • Calories: 31
  • Total Fat: 0.6g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.5g
  • Net carbs: 5g
  • Total sugar: 2.8g 
  • Protein: <1g
A bowl of green pasta with a spoon and fresh parmesan.

My Favorite Recipes Using Low Carb Noodles

Figuring out what low carb noodles you can incorporate into your diet is only half the battle. The other half is finding delicious and satisfying recipes to make with them!

For a shortcut, here are a few of my go-to low-carb pasta dishes that will leave you feeling full, satisfied, and empowered.

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  1. Elaine McKenzie says:

    Thank you for such a detailed and clear explanation of the alternative pastas. II’ve often been disappointed with the taste and textures of some of the alternatives. However, I’ve bought some Kaizen pasta (been sat in the box for over a month now) and I now have the confidence to cook some and have it with a bolognaise sauce. I so hope I won’t be disappointed!

    1. That sounds delicious! I hope you love it!

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