Low-Carb Pasta? In Your Dreams …

One of the most common questions I receive in emails goes something like this:  I know you don’t normally live on fast food like you did for your documentary, so what do you actually eat?

The answer is that my diet is what I’d call “modified paleo”:  meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables, nuts, a bit of low-sugar fruit, and a few dairy products.  But as with a lot of other low-carbers I know, my diet has evolved over time.

At first, I focused exclusively on keeping my carb intake down.  Anything labeled “low-carb” was acceptable, so I happily filled my refrigerator and pantry with low-carb versions of the high-carb foods I used to love … low-carb bagels, low-carb chips, low-carb bread, low-carb pastas, low-carb granola, low-carb ice cream, even low-carb candy bars.  I think that’s where a lot of us start.

But as I continued reading up on nutrition and health, I began asking myself if eating frankenfoods made from soy protein and other strange ingredients was really such a good idea.  Did I miss pasta that much?  Couldn’t I make it through the weekend without a bagel and cream cheese? Are nachos an essential food group once you’ve left college?

I eventually decided I could live without low-carb versions of high-carb foods and I’d probably be healthier without them.  That’s when I started shifting to more of a real-foods, modified paleo diet.  And over time, a strange and wonderful thing happened:  my tastes changed.  My “starch tooth” disappeared.  It no longer required discipline to say no thanks to pasta and bread, because they didn’t appeal to me anymore.

That’s why I never bothered trying Dreamfield’s pasta, which the manufacturer claims has only 5 net carbs per serving. Through the magic of “protected carbs,” most of the 41 carbs per serving supposedly slip by without causing a rise in blood sugar.  Frankly, even if that were true, I wouldn’t eat the stuff just because it’s made out of wheat.  But I also had my doubts about that “protected carbs” concept.

Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt had similar doubts and tested Dreamfield’s pasta on himself.  He showed us the results during his excellent presentation on the low-carb cruise, and today he wrote about them on his English-language blog.  I’ll let you go there to read about his results, but I am going to borrow a graphic he posted.  What you see below are the results of a small clinical study comparing the average blood-sugar readings of people who ate Dreamfield’s pasta for one test, then regular pasta for another:

Whoop-tee-do … what a difference, eh?  That one-hour peak of around 150 mg/dl is all I need to know. By contrast, I had a big ol’ gyros salad with extra gyros meat today while out running errands, then tested my glucose when I got home.  My 60-minute post-meal reading stood at 95 mg/dl.  Give me the gyros salad any day.

Jimmy Moore gave the head honcho at Dreamfield’s a chance to reply to the recent study results.  I’ve posted Jimmy’s YouTube video of that interview below.  Jimmy will also be posting the interview, along with his own test results.

I’m not going to comment on the interview.  I think it speaks for itself.  My only comment is this:  if you’re switching to a low-carb diet, your goal should be to make it a low-carb real-foods diet.  Buying low-carb breads and pastas is just another attempt to have your cake and eat it too.  Eventually, you’ll need to wave goodbye to that cake and move on.

Addendum:  Jimmy Moore posted the results of his own test a couple of hours after I wrote this post.


72 thoughts on “Low-Carb Pasta? In Your Dreams …

  1. cancerclasses

    In reply to @dlm and anyone else suffering from carb cravings, there’s one thing that is still not commonly known & that you probably WON’T hear from your primary care physicians, unless they are really good, caring, enlightened & educated.

    Chronic carb cravings can be a symptom of a systemic fungal infection or cancer, since all cancers & systemic fungi produce energy by means of the glycolysis process, the fermentation of sugars from carbohydrates. Whereas normal, properly functioning tissue cells create energy by means of oxidative phosphorylation, the metabolization of fats, proteins & other nutrients with oxygen, cancers and systemic fungus & yeasts require lots of sugars from carbohydrates in order to proliferate & metastasize. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxidative_phosphorylation

    Another not widely known fact is that the worlds’ grain supplies, and corn in particular, are commonly contaminated with fungus & mycotoxins. Doug Kaufmann at knowthecause.com is one of the few people I know of educating the public about the role that grains & fungus play in human diseases and what to do about it. Doug often cites the work of Dr. A.V. Costantini, retired head of the World Health Organization and epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Etzel, MD, PhD. both of whom have written extensively about the fungi & mycotoxins we ingest from our food supplies.

    Fungi & mycotoxins are not just in the grain supply, Dr. Costantini and others have found that smoked and aged meats are often contaminated with mycotoxins & may be a contributing cause of MS. http://goo.gl/fL4Qm

    Anyone fighting carb cravings that won’t go away would be wise to consider the possibility of an existing fungal or other related condition and search for & consult with a physician that specializes in fungal conditions & treatment.

    Good information, thanks.

  2. BrentG

    I would have loved to have seen the guy’s face when Jimmy kept urging him to publish their “internal” blood sugar results. No way in hell they’re going to do that.

    Nope, it’ll never happen.

  3. TC

    Hi Tom!

    I was wondering what your take on low carb/high fiber products such as la tortilla factory foods? They claim that you can take the carbs, subtract the fiber and you left with ECC (effective carb count). These tortillas are said to be recommended by Dr’s Michael and Mary Eades.

    Also you say to shy away from vegetable oils, but how about olive oil and such that is high in monounsaturated fats. Or are you just talking about vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated and trans fats?

    Subtracting fiber is legitimate, but I’m pretty much off wheat product entirely, fiber or no fiber.

    Olive oil is fine. It’s the chemically extracted vegetable oils and seed oils I’d urge people to avoid.

  4. Peggy Cihocki

    I have a friend who has hypoglycemia. She used to be a vegetarian (she’s a vet) but got off that bandwagon when her doctor told her she was killing herself. Now she keeps protein snacks handy for when she feels a hypo episode coming on and emphasizes protein and fat in her diet, rather than the carbs. I would think low carb would be great for hypoglycemics because–if my understanding is correct–their cells are actually more responsive to insulin than the norm (or they produce more insulin than needed when carbs enter the blood stream?) Thus, eating carbs causes the insulin spike, which does a better job than it’s supposed to, hence the sharp drop in glucose in the blood shortly after eating carbs, leading to the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Proteins and fats don’t produce that response.

    Both Dr. Vernon and Dr. Fox emphasized in their speeches that people with hypoglycemia need to avoid the foods that cause glucose spikes, which are then followed by a drop to low glucose levels.

  5. Elizabeth Mattick

    Tom, my mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 4 years ago. In Jan 2010 she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. At the time, a friend of mine was also diagnosed with the same cancer (she was much younger and thinner). As a result of my mother’s diabetes she HAD to cut her sugar and carbs, she lost at least 20 lbs. My friend LOVED chocolate and thoroughly enjoyed it but never did well with the chemo and continued to get worse. My friend passed away in October and though my mother has lost 70% of her liver in surgery, she is amazing the doctors with her recovery and resilience!

    When she was diagnosed with cancer, I immediately started blaming all the artficial sweeteners she used when she yo-yo dieted when we were kids. I had never thought the sugar might have done it until I had also read on how sugar “feeds” cancer. It’s very strange to think about how diabetes may have saved my mother’s life (though I realize stopping the carbs in the first place might have prevented all of it).

    Since my mom has a glucose meter she checked our blood sugars “just for fun” about an hour after having some pizza…. My bg was 115 (not great I’m told)… my mom’s 192 (she ran to get her metformin) .. my husbands…150’s(eek!) Do you have a glucose monitor brand that you recommend? We have no insurance at the moment, which makes this a little harder though I don’t mind saving up for one if we have to.

    It is my hope that the damage can still be reversed for my husband and I. And that we can prevent this for our children!

    I bought a Walgreen’s brand glucose meter that uses TrueTest strips. The meter was cheap — maybe $18 — but the strips run something like 75 cents each after you use up the freebies that come with the meter. I tested my reaction to a bunch of foods at first, until I had a pretty clear idea of what to avoid. Now I use it once in awhile to see how foods I don’t normally eat affect me. Pasta and white potatoes were particularly bad for me.

  6. Gerard

    Quick one – ok so ‘diet’ complex carbs are out. Whats your view on diet soft drink? Do you still consume the stuff like you did on your movie?

    Nope, I gave up the diet sodas over a year ago. Now it’s coffee, tea, or fizzy waters with no sugar or artificial sweeteners. I’d still drink a Diet Coke before a Coke, but after being away from the colas for so long, they don’t appeal to me anymore.

  7. Barry

    I just ate a bunch of popcorn. I feel awful. What was I thinking?

    On another note, I am worried about Jimmy Moore. He doesn’t look so great in his pictures. It looks like he has put back on a lot of the weight he lost when he initially went on the low carb diet. The one photo from his website of him at the Space Needle makes me nervous. One would think such a proponent of this lifestyle would be able to keep the weight off. Wonder what is up.

    Which pictures of Jimmy have you worried? So far this year, he’s lost 35 pounds of what he regained. He looked quite healthy on the cruise.

  8. Grant

    I have a serious problem with food mimickry. Paleos eating fake carbs is like vegetarians eating those fake hamburgers and hot dogs made out of soy or whatever. Food isn’t just food. It’s a mental and emotional and spiritual experience as much as it is fuel for the body. For many people it’s even a moral and/or political statement. As such, it makes no sense to keep one (mental) foot in the wrong world (whatever, in your opinion, that may be) and the other foot in the right world. If you truly, honestly believe that high carb foods are at best worthless and at worst harmful, you shouldn’t harbor an affinity for them. It’s psychologically unhealthy.

    Now, this isn’t to say that the goal should be to never want to indulge in a piece of cake, or to lurch in revulsion at the sight of a bowl of ice cream. It simply means that when you think of “food” meat, vegetables, etc should come to mind and that’s what you should crave. If, on rare occasions, you find yourself craving something high carb, what you should really be craving is the experience that goes along with that food. If, subconsciously, “food” to you still means bread and pasta and potatoes, and you’re also consciously eating paleo, then you’re inevitably going to either revert to the SAD or stay on paleo but with such emotional discomfort that whatever physical benefits you’re experiencing will not be worth it.

    My point exactly. You have to wave bye-bye to bread and pasta and move on.

  9. allison

    I made biscuits out of nothing but almonds, butter and eggs. Tasted great, but they affected me greatly even though they are fairly low carb. I have found that eating things that are substitutes still give me the insulin rush. I think my body was prepping for a biscuit binge. If I ate that spaghetti, I think I would have attributed it to the same thing.
    I’ve been low(er) carb for over a year, but I keep cheating and going through withdrawal over and over again. I hope once I get my act together and stop cheating that things like the almond biscuits won’t affect me.
    I think quitting carbs must be just as hard as smoking or drinking. Like if I have even one bread or sweet treat I’m hooped (especially if there’s a whole tray of them sitting there for the taking) and then I feel the effects for days. I am sure there are some of you out there who have had to quit more than one vice? How would you compare it?

    From what I’ve read, many people have a Pavlovian response to certain tastes and smells … even smelling sweet/starchy foods can produce a rise in insulin.

  10. Mark. Gooley

    Cheapest blood glucose test meter and strips that I like are the $9 meter and $39/100-strip ReliOn Ultima from Wal-Mart. They are what you use when your insurance or the government doesn’t subsidize the high prices of the upmarket brands.

  11. Deborah M

    Tom, I got my spiral slicer from amazon – it’s only $30 and it’s great. I used to use a peeler to make fettucini like strips from zucchini, but it took forever and made my hands slimy, so I didn’t do it that often. Spaghetti squash is nice, but not available here most of the year. And I find zucchini is actually more robust. We use it all the time now. Highly recommend it.

    I’ll give it a look. Thanks for the suggestion.

  12. Antonio

    I watched the supersized movie and I thought, You know he is right, But then I just watched the fat head movie today and thought, Wait that supersized movie was bologna. Now my problem is, I LOVE BREAD AND PASTA, but I don’t really know of a good sub for the food. Any suggestions?????????? And as far as cooking with oil, is olive oil and coconut oil better to use than the other garbage?

    Olive oil and coconut oil are great. It’s the oils that have to be industrially extracted that cause problems.

    I loved bread and pasta too, especially pasta. Pick up some good low-carb cookbooks, find some low-carb meals you really enjoy, and soon you won’t miss them … much.

  13. gollum

    I do not understand. This should not be happening, right? How can LC stuff spike your BS – blood sugar, I mean.

    Apart from blunt lying or outright poisoning (i.e. some compound messes up your metabolism), I can only imagine 1. The protein-insulin-response and 2. maybe they conveniently “forgot” to add the carbs that are in some sort of useless filler matrix, I think they are called fiber or whatever, and for some reason the Fathead can digest them.

    1. would usually mean LOWER blood sugar (protein -> insulin response -> lower BS -> glucagon response -> liver empties), but maybe the glucagon is faster than the insulin, or overshooting.

    Otherwise seconded, I think vegan steak is ridiculous, and LC pasta not much better. I miss pizza though. I heard people can make dough from potato splinters, but I did not try that.

    Another small thing, I heard somewhere that people cannot store medium fatty acids (like butyrate and other MFC from dairy/butter), is that true? (Would not be panacea per se, since the usual diet has lots of other stuff to store.)

    JFTR: Food labels in Central Europe, 2011: RDA “healthy adult” 50 g protein (which they happily count non-complete proteins like peanuts or dairy against with percentages), 270 g carbs, 70 g fat. 50 g? Give me a break! And that’s before the silly do-gooders with their “traffic lights” scheme will get their way. All these numbers are too confusing you see.

    I think it simply comes down to the “protected carbs” concept being a bunch of hooey.

    Yes, from what I’ve read, the body doesn’t like to store medium-chain triglycerides and will preferentially burn them for energy.

  14. gollum

    My fault – butyrates are actually called short chain, so dairy is not MC, unless you milk horses.

    I never heard of depot fat consisting of butyrates either, but maybe humans have a method to splice them together. Their length is similar to ketone bodies already though.

  15. Deborah M

    Firebird, I only saw your question today. I have boiled the zucchini pasta once, but usually I just saute it in a little oil, stirring occasionally until it is cooked, then put it into a strainer to get it less watery – then mix it in with whatever sauce i’ve made for it. If the sauce is really thick, then I don’t need to drain the zucchini.

  16. Raphael

    Great movie! I’ve been spreading it to a few of my friends over the past year. This article brought one worry to mind though. I am completely in agreement with starch being not so good for you. However, given the glutton I am, I have made compromises. For example, my love of baking bread has been retained by making meaty sandwiches. This article brings up one question though. In my efforts to consume low-GI food to prevent sugar spikes, I have also made pasta one of my starchy staples. Although most flour-based foods are considerably worse for you, pasta is supposed to be fairly healthy. Here is a quote I’ve copied from the GlycemicIndex website:

    “Pasta has a low GI because of the physical entrapment of ungelatinised starch granules in a sponge-like network of protein (gluten) molecules in the pasta dough. Pasta is unique in this regard. As a result, pastas of any shape and size have a fairly low GI (30 to 60). Asian noodles such as hokkein, udon and rice vermicelli also have low to intermediate GI values.

    Pasta should be cooked al dente (‘firm to the bite’). And this is the best way to eat pasta – it’s not meant to be soft. It should be slightly firm and offer some resistance when you are chewing it. Overcooking boosts the GI. Although most manufacturers specify a cooking time on the packet, don’t take their word for it. Start testing about 2-3 minutes before the indicated cooking time is up. But watch that glucose load. While al dente pasta is a low GI choice, eating too much will have a marked effect on your blood glucose. A cup of al dente pasta combined with plenty of mixed vegetables and herbs can turn into three cups of a pasta-based meal and fits easily into any adult’s daily diet.”

    I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. Were your results after consuming pasta undesirable as a result of cooking tender pasta? I want to make sure I’m careful with my indulgence on what I’ve been assuming is a healthy dish all this time. Thanks in advance!

    I’d say test your own response with a glucose meter. My personal test with al dente pasta showed it sent my blood sugar skyrocketing. Dr. Eenfeldt also said, when asked during Q & A after his speech, that he made sure he didn’t cook the Dreamfield’s beyond the suggested time.

  17. Brent C

    Have you tried Miracle Noodles? They are made from plant fiber and are zero cals and zero net carbs (only 5 carbs to begin with, but 5 grams of fiber net to zero I guess). The site is http://www.miraclenoodle.com if you want to take a look.

    I tried them. Not bad, but I just don’t crave noodles anymore.

  18. Lisa

    I’ve found that Joseph’s Oat Bran and Whole Wheat Lavash or Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat Pita products work for me to feel like I don’t have to give up bread entirely. The wraps I’ve made with the lavash are so good!
    Does anyone else have weird dreams after eating Dreamfield’s Pasta?

  19. Audrey

    Somebody read in Defense of Food, why is it our prior generations grandparents great great, ate all these carbs and never suffered diabetes, was never overweight, no really serious health issues from eating carbs in their diet. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture. That it’s not the food but how the food is being processed. What we feed our animals, what goes into our soil etc. Who eats more rice than many of our oriental countries around the globe, but they don’t have the health issues we have with diet. Let’s stop attacking food and start attacking how we are producing our food

  20. Michael Scott

    I’m a 70 year old male who has been on Atkins, Level 1, for thirteen years. When I was a young lad we just didn’t have all the “junk” food we have today. What junk food we did have, we couldn’t afford anyway. Young people, today, eat more sweets in one week than I probably had in the first 20 years of my life! Junk food is just too easy to come by today. We have become so insulin resistant, from all the junk food, that we can’t even think of rice, pasta or potatoes without putting on weight. I watch all the young people at work, under 20, eating nothing but carbs in highly processed forms. They are going to pay for this, big time. By the time they reach thirty they will no longer be able to eat carbs in any form. They will just be too insulin resistant! The only reason it took me longer to become insulin resistant, than the young people today, is because I started eating junk food, in larger quantities, much later in life. Had I known then what I know now I would have started Atkins forty years sooner!

    Mike Scott

    You and me both.


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