If you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthily, carbohydrates are the first macros to send packing. Sure, they’re awesomely filling and provide plenty of energy to get you through those extreme workouts. But sadly, the caloric tradeoff is too much to bear. Most people punish themselves by skipping the pasta in favor of vegetables and other not-so-satisfying alternatives.
Photo: Christine Siracusa, Unsplash
Your noodles, that is. In reality, there are tons of pasta options out there that strike the perfect balance between high-protein and low-carb. By experimenting with bean, lentil, vegetable, and other base ingredients, you can enjoy all your favorite meals without worry. Best of all, these makeshift kinds of spaghetti provide the good macros you need to turn your body into a fabulous fat-burning machine.
Enter the land of the legumes! Here are our top ten picks for healthy, filling grains and pasta. Rest assured they’re trainer and nutritionist-approved for your regular weeknight consumption.
10. Cabbage Spaghetti- You make slaw with it, so why not spaghetti? Cabbage makes for a fantastic pasta base, although it may require a little time and attention. Just slice to the size of a typical noodle, and dress it up for a fresh take on spaghetti and meatballs or shrimp lo mein.
9. Black Bean Pasta- High in healthy potassium, iron and calcium, this darker iteration of your favorite staple proves the perfect match for Grandma’s Sunday gravy. But beware—black bean spaghetti is on the mushier end of the spectrum, so be sure to avoid overcooking or overdressing.
8. Almond Flour Pasta- Almond flour pasta is not completely devoid of carbohydrates, and perhaps that’s why it’s so fitting for the fitness obsessed. Featuring a relatively familiar taste and texture, this variation substitutes almond flour for the regular carb-packed white flour.
Photo: Irina Kostenich, Unsplash
7. Egg Pasta – If you’re looking for a powerful dose of daily macros, look no further. Egg pasta packs the healthy fat and protein while possessing ZERO carbs. It’s definitely finer and less filling than your usual pasta, but still a fantastic runner-up.
6. Chickpea Pasta – Hey hummus, step aside. Chickpea-based spaghetti is the latest protein-packed option for athletes looking for a filling accompaniment to their main dinner course. Akin to whole wheat pasta in its texture and consistency, chickpea pasta is also beloved for its generous serving of iron and fiber.
Photo: Deryn Macey, Unsplash
5. Carrot Pasta –It’s so simple, why didn’t we think of it? Do a quick search on social media, and you’ll see smart athletes making their owns spaghetti, fettuccini, orzo and other carrot pasta thanks to some sophisticated kitchen gadgets. In fact, some store brands are even jumping on the trend. Just look for the signature orange color.
4. Green Pea Pasta – Holy, Primavera! If you want something lighter than most legume pasta but still bursting with flavor, check out a green pea spaghetti or fusilli. It’s pretty, packed with protein and so low in carbs, you won’t feel bad going back for seconds.
Photo: Justino Sanchez, Unsplash
3. Legume Flour Pasta – What kind of legume, exactly? Well, this category of low-carb noodle actually comes in many versions. In most cases, manufacturers swap the white or wheat flour for a similar ingredient made with red lentils, green lentils or another type of bean. And on the taste meter, it’s as close to the real thing as you’re going to get.
2. Zoodles [Zucchini] – Give your spiralizer a workout once in a while with this easy pasta alternative. Once fashioned like a noodle, zucchini can be boiled in water just like you would regular pasta. Zoodles also hold up extremely well when sautéed with olive oil, tomatoes, red sauce or your other pasta pairings.
Photo: Laura Johnson, Unsplash
1. Spaghetti Squash – This health hack has been around forever! It’s a funky looking produce, but cut it open, bake in the oven for an hour, and the spaghetti scoops out effortlessly. For no hassle at all, you’ve got a delicious meal sans fat and stock full of healthy nutrients and minerals