Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
16 May

Low-Cal, High-Fiber Pasta: It Exists! And It Is Edible!

Very, very edible.

The folks at Fiber Gourmet recently plied me with a selection of their one-of-a-kind “light” pastas. Hey, I’m not one to turn away free food, so I gave their spinach, tomato and standard pasta noodles a taste try.

fiber

The Fiber Gourmet folks say “since fiber has 0 calories, as the fiber goes up the calories go down” – hence the “light” labeling.

As you all know, I’m cautious about the types of carbohydrates I consume. I rely on vegetables for the majority of my carbohydrate intake. I do eat some starchy carbohydrates such as brown rice, legumes, yams, quinoa and sprouted grain bread. But typically I don’t eat more than one starchy serving per day. Pasta, in particular, is hardly one of my favorites because it is refined wheat, making it high in empty carbohydrates that have a rapid, deleterious impact upon blood sugar. This is stressful to the body for a number of reasons, and the scientific evidence is compelling: excessive intake of refined carbohydrates is linked to our skyrocketing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

And while I understand that “low-carb” pastas like Shirataki can be helpful for jump-starting weight loss, I don’t personally recommend carb substitutes. (Although I am all for the jump start – start somewhere!) My preference against substitutes is not only because I favor whole, unprocessed, fresh foods for both weight loss and health maintenance. I also refuse to eat anything that tastes like cardboard, which seems to be a prevailing problem with light, low-carb and other assorted diet food products. Food will always taste better than a food product. If you can sustain a food product weight loss plan for more than a few months, you’re made of some tough stuff! But seriously, in my opinion, substitutes don’t successfully address the underlying problem with eating unhealthy foods: rather than shifting your cravings to healthier foods, they merely serve as a temporary fix to sate existing unhealthy preferences.

All right, Mark, we get it. What about this pasta? Fiber Gourmet pasta is made just like regular pasta, but contains 40% fewer calories (roughly 130 per 2-ounce serving). Of course, I don’t know anyone who can stop after just 2 ounces of pasta – and that’s the problem with carbs. Refined carbohydrates – sugars – are incredibly addictive.

The total carbohydrates of this product are not low by any stretch – about 43 grams (18 from fiber and 25 from starch). I recommend ruthlessly aiming for fewer than 20 grams of refined carbohydrates in a given day. In fact, I think we’d all be better off if we avoided refined carbohydrates entirely.

Now to the taste factor:

The Fiber Gourmet pastas tasted good – exactly like “real” pasta. Texture was not gritty, gummy or weak. The exception was the spinach pasta, which didn’t hold up well with the olive oil and sea salt I doused it with. The flavor was pleasant enough, but an actual spinach salad would have had better peppery bite and a much more satisfying, chewy texture. And, of course, fewer refined carbohydrates. The tomato and regular pastas were just as chewy and substantial as regular pasta.

Bottom line: I’m really not a pasta guy. I just don’t “do” refined carbohydrates. I genuinely prefer vegetables and more natural, flavorful sources of starchy calories such as yams and brown rice, both for taste preference and health reasons. If you are trying to lose weight and gotta have the pasta, you might want to give those slippery Shirataki noodles a try to get started (good luck!). If you are maintaining your weight successfully and really love pasta, then I think Fiber Gourmet is a smart replacement for standard pasta. In fact, I really wouldn’t consider it as a substitute food product, because it’s virtually identical in taste and texture to regular pasta. It’s really more like an improved food product.

Still, my health philosophy remains fundamentally the same: there’s food, and then there are food products. We can substitute and switch and modify to our hearts’ content, but ultimately, I believe that optimal health comes from fresh, whole, natural foods.

Now I’m off to enjoy my daily salad. What are your thoughts?

– Do you think that improving existing popular foods will be effective for addressing our country’s health and weight concerns, or do you think we need to take a more radical approach by shifting our food habits altogether?

– What are your views on carbohydrates?

I’d love to get your point of view and hear what works to keep you lean and healthy.

More Product & Site Reviews from the Bees

Best of MDA

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Mark – substitutes dont address the problem youre right. I love your line about who stops at “2 ounces of pasta” its too true. Whenever my lifestyle goes off the rails in terms of diet I can always trace it back to the “one chocolate biscuit” or the “one slice of dominoes” ! You dont get that similar addiction when eating primal, and thats brilliant because it leads to less mindless eating and therefore less of being a fatty !

    Keep up the great work !

    Josh Gretton wrote on July 17th, 2009
  2. Rice bran pasta is delicious, made from whole brown rice and bran, and very low in gluten.

    Hatsunohana wrote on July 21st, 2009
  3. help!
    i am grain free (for several months). i just put a good sized dent in a bag of sprouted wheat pretzels. am i crazy for doing so? is sprouted grain a “sensible vice” every few months or so? i am a little concerned about my recent relapse… though i will say, it was crunchy and delicious.
    thoughts on sprouted grain?

    elizabeth wrote on November 7th, 2009
  4. I can stop after 2 ounces! :) I’ve even had 1 ounce of pasta! My trick is to ONLY cook the exact amount that I plan to eat. If I cook more than the estipulated amount, forget it!

    I think that it’s important to know your body and your limits. I am never content with one brownnie or just 8 ounces of baked potato, therefore I completely eliminated these foods from my diet. I am happier this way.

    If one can’t stop after 2 ounces of pasta, then that person can’t eat it!!!

    Vee812 wrote on March 25th, 2010
  5. Just saw this and wanted to comment that while I don’t know “Fiber Gourmet”, I have been eating Shirataki noodles since I was a kid. (a very, very long time ago) We lived in Japan when I was little for a couple years. The website I have gotten them from in recent years, when I can’t find a local store carrying them is Konjac Foods (http://www.konjacfoods.com/) The ones in stores usually have tofu mixed in so the ones at Konjac Foods are more authentic. This is a pretty ancient process of extracting the stringy fibrous roots of the Konjac plant, sometimes called yambean though it’s not a yam or a bean. Anyway I think of it as pretty natural since they’ve been eating it in Asia for a couple thousand years. Just wanted to share.

    Myra wrote on November 18th, 2010
  6. Spaghetti squash.

    That’s all.

    Rachel wrote on August 2nd, 2011
  7. Now I’m just confused. Fiber or no fiber, this is still made with grains, which we’re supposed to avoid like the plague, correct?

    Dave wrote on October 6th, 2011
  8. I am also confused because I thought brown rice was NOT better than white or parboiled rice, yet Mark you say here that you eat brown rice on occasion.

    Is this because soaked brown rice is better than white rice, but white rice is better if one is not going to soak the rice?

    Jenn wrote on November 16th, 2011
  9. I have been eating starch free, very low carb for over a decade and tightly control my type 2 diabetes with it. I tried Fiber Gourmet pasta last night for the first time, and despite the package claims, it shot my pre meal blood glucose of 88 to 149 in the first hour. It came down to 110 in the second hour, then rose again each hour til I fell asleep, presumably due to slowly digesting fiber blend. I have never had this problem with Carba Nada noodles, nor with small portions of Barilla lasagna noodles. I ate the pasta with protein and fat, of course, or I’m sure the results would have been even worse.

    This is clearly not a low carb product in general, though it may well work better for other folks than it did for me.

    MCF wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  10. so i found some pasta at the supermarket today, i forget the brand, in the healthfood section, it’s made from 88% rice and 12% maize starch.. which is corn right? while i know some people have a problem with eating rice, I eat white rice every now and then.. should I steer clear of this little bit of maize starch? or won’t that much have any real affect? it would only be one or two meals a week if that.. (there’s only two of us so leftovers are always lunch) thanks

    Kate wrote on February 15th, 2012
  11. I got myself a spiral slicer and have been making zuccini noodles sauted in butter—looks like a plate of pasta and is oh so much better!

    jean finch wrote on June 8th, 2012

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple