Keto, Low-Calorie Pasta

People may not realize this but traditional pasta like spaghetti contains an enormous amount of calories, both from the pasta itself and the sauce. Fortunately, there is a healthy, low-calorie alternative, albeit a bit more expensive. Below is a comparison of traditional to healthy pasta. First, we’ll start with healthy pasta which uses HealthyNoodles available at Costco.

tldr;

HealthyNoodles-based Pasta

This pasta comes precooked. Since one serving is a ridiculously small amount, let’s say we make 4 servings (452 grams, 120 calories).

For the sauce, we’ll make our own using tomato sauce from Target.

I find that one 18oz can is a good amount for the amount of pasta above. The sauce comes with some spices but we can add more like Italian seasoning, oregano, etc. There are many recipes online for making pasta sauces from tomato sauce. One can (427 grams) of this sauce has 105 calories.

Traditional Pasta

The calories listed on this package is for dry spaghetti. To compare with HealthyNoodles above, we want the calories for cooked spaghetti having a weight of 452 grams. According to Yazio, that amount is 714 calories.

Now, for the sauce, let’s go with Raos marinara, which is a very popular sauce available at Costco.

125 grams of this sauce has 90 calories. Therefore, 427 grams contains 307 calories.

Comparison

Now that we have our values, let’s compare the total calories from each type of pasta.

Traditional PastaHealthy Pasta
Noodles714120
Sauce427105
Total Calories1141225

Conclusion

For the amount specified above, Healthy pasta is 916 calories LESS than the calories in traditional pasta. That’s 80% less calories!

Keto Weight Loss Food Menu

Alright, lately I’ve been obsessed with finding recipes and food for weight loss that I personally enjoy eating, especially Keto-friendly ones. To keep track of all my discoveries, I decided to just make this menu.

Microwave-Cooked Eggs

  • Eggs (I usually eat 4)
  • Shredded cheese (mozzarella or cheddar) – optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Microwave on high for 2 minutes (depending on microwave)

Air-Fried Chicken Drumsticks

  • Chicken drumsticks (skin removed)
  • Spices
  • 1 Anaheim pepper

Healthy Keto Protein Smoothie

  • 1 tbsp Navitas Acai powder
  • 2 frozen strawberries
  • 1 :ratio keto yoghurt (if not available, get Two Good yogurt – on 3 g of carbs)
  • 1 scoop pure protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Matcha green tea powder
  • Almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon Chia seeds

Keto Chicken Rice Soup

  • 2 x 8 oz packs of Shirataki Konjac rice
  • Chicken broth
  • Chicken breast (pregrilled from Costco)
  • Salt to taste

Keto Rice with Tomato Sauce

  • 2 x 8 oz packs of Shirataki Konjac rice
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1/2 tsp of black pepper

Riced Cauliflower or Konjac Rice With Scrambled Eggs & Minced Beef

  • Riced cauliflower or Konjac rice
  • Eggs
  • Minced beef

Keto Spaghetti

  • 2 packs Healthy Noodle (from Costco) – 120 calories
  • 1 18oz can of tomato sauce (105 calories)
  • Minced beef (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Air Fried Tofu

  • 1 pack tofu sliced into 1 inch cubes
  • Canola oil spray
  • Sea salt

Grilled Asparagus

  • Asparagus
  • Canola oil spray
  • Salt and pepper

Celery & Hummus

  • Celery
  • Hummus

Iced Green Tea

  • Green tea with Matcha
  • Erythritol

Vegetable Stir Fry With Chicken

  • Vegetable medley (Costco)
  • Lee Kum Kee Supreme soy sauce (0 carbs)
  • Pre-grilled chicken breast (Costco)

Broccoli, Chicken & Egg Scramble

Spicy Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower

  • Spicy Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower (Trader Joes)
  • Pre-grilled chicken breast – optional (Costco)

Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry With Chicken Breast

  • Riced Cauliflower stir fry (Trader Joes)
  • Pre-grilled chicken breast (Costco)

Peanuts

Available at Costco and Smart n Final

Whisps Crisps

Available at Costco

Keto yoghurt

No Sugar Keto Cups

Available at Costco

Beef Jerky

Available at Costco
Available at Smart n Final

Coffee

  • Nespresso coffee
  • Frothed milk
  • 1/4 tsp Erythritol (or Stevia or Monk fruit)
  • Cinnamon

Pickles

Pickles are very low calorie and low carb.

Available at Smart n Final

Cheese Sticks

Cheese sticks are very low carb, but high in protein and calories.

Garlic Spinach With Ground Beef

  • Frozen spinach (steamable in bag)
  • Minced garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Ground beef
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cucumbers Slices Dipped in Salt & Distilled White Vinegar Solution

Red’s Egg’wich

$12 at Costco

Egg Whites

  • $9 at Costco
  • High protein, low fat, low carb
Egg WhiteWhole Egg
Calories1871
Protein4 grams6 grams
Fat0 grams5 grams

Extra Lean 96/4 Ground Beef

  • $10 at Smart n Final
  • 96% lean / 4% fat
  • Top it with a slice of mozzarella cheese and eat without as is (no bun or condiments)
  • 1 patty contains
    • 112 grams
    • 150 calories
    • 25 g protein

Lowest Calorie, Lowest Carb, Filling Food

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to find the lowest calorie, lowest carb food that could be considered a dish/meal. The goal is to be able to lose weight while feeling full after eating something that is relatively tasty with a flavor that everyone is familiar with. When it comes to filling foods, most people would think of rice or bread. Apparently, there’s something very similar to rice called Konjac.

It has a neutral taste and its shape is very similar to rice. But, it does have a slightly different texture than rice. Nevertheless, one pack (150g) contains only 5 calories and 0 net carbs.

Of course, eating plain rice alone, especially Konjac rice, doesn’t taste good. After considering various ingredients to add to Konjac rice, I decided that chicken broth is one of the best flavorings to add. Everyone knows what chicken tastes like and since it doesn’t contain meat, even vegetarians can eat (drink) it. It’s also not a forbidden food by any of the major religions.

This particular brand of chicken broth is organic, doesn’t contain salt, provides a mere 5 calories for 1 cup, and has 0 carbs.

If we cook one pack of Konjac rice with 1 cup of this chicken broth, we’d only be consuming 10 calories and 0 net carbs! Since 1 pack seems too little to make me feel sufficiently full, I’ll go with 2 packs and 1 cup of chicken broth (15 calories total). That’s nothing! (calorie-wise)

2 packs of Konjac rice + 1 cup of chicken broth.

The broth says “no salt added”. That may be good for people with high blood pressure but for me, the rice just didn’t taste good without salt so I added some. Here’s the finished dish.

I know it looks super boring and tasteless but since I added chicken broth, it actually tasted like chicken soup. On a scale of 1 (yuck) to 10 (yum), I’d give it a 7 (not bad). Of course, the only reason for eating this is to lose weight until you reach your target weight after which time you can adjust your diet so as to just maintain your weight.

Now, don’t go eating this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

  • The Konjac rice has 0 fat, 0 net carbs, and 0 protein = 0 essential nutrients
  • The chicken broth has 0 fat, 0 carbs, and 1g of protein = hardly any nutrients from protein

So, if you eat this and nothing else, your body won’t be getting any of the essential nutrients it needs from fat and protein.

This ridiculously simple dish is good in combination with other food so that your total daily caloric intake is less than your calorie expenditure so that you can actually burn fat and lose weight, especially for people who don’t want to exercise in conjunction with dieting.

According to one calculator, my basal metabolic rate (BMR) or, calories I would burn each day by being sedentary / not active, is 1788. You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of body weight. So, if I was sedentary and could consume a max of 1288 calories per day (which is not easy to do considering how so many foods contain so many calories), then I could have a deficit of 500 calories per day and lose 1 pound of body weight per week or 10 pounds in 2.5 months.

Konjac rice with eggs

If you’d like to eat Konjac rice with something else that is full of nutrients and is healthy, then you may want to try mixing the rice with scrambled eggs. One scrambled egg has 100 calories, 8g of fat, 7g protein, and 1g of net carbs.

Konjac rice with chicken

Since we’re adding chicken broth to the Konjac rice, it would make sense to add real chicken as well. Pictured below I added pregrilled chicken breast from Costco. It tasted good and was super easy to make since everything was precooked.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of chicken breast provides 0 carbs, 165 calories, 31 grams of protein and 3.6 grams of fat.

Ninja Foodi: Easy, Indoor Grilled Asparagus

If you like grilled asparagus, here’s an easy way to make it without firing up the outside grill.

Ingredients

  • Asparagus, Refrigerated (I get mine at Costco)
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Canola oil spray

Instructions

  1. With the grill plate inserted, turn on your Ninja Foodi, hit the Grill button until its set to MAX, set the time to 7 minutes, and hit the START button
  2. Snap off the ends (white part) of the asparagus
  3. When the grill is preheated, spray the grill with Canola oil, lay the asparagus flat on the grill, spray Canola oil on the asparagus, and sprinkle on some salt and pepper
  4. Half way through grilling flip the asparagus
  5. When it’s done, just remove it (I use tongs) and eat!

Air Fried Tofu

So, I’m currently trying this Keto diet which calls for low carbs. Since french fries are not low carb, I needed a substitute. Tofu seems to fit the bill thought it’s a lot more expensive that potatoes. Anyway, the one I’m eating is from Costco. It’s rated “Firm” with a rating of 4 out of 6 on the firmness scale. One pack contains 5 servings and each serving contains 70 calories and only 1g of net carbs (fiber doesn’t count). So, one pack contains 350 calories.

Here’s a recipe to make air fried tofu cubes.

Ingredients

  • tofu
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes and sprinkle on some salt
  2. In Ninja Foodi, hit air fryer button and set time to 20 minutes
  3. After preheating, spray canola oil on air fryer basket and put tofu in
  4. Halfway through cooking, flip or stir tofu, spray canola oil on tofu and sprinkle on more salt
  5. When done, remove and eat

The Best Sweetener for Weight Loss

Everyone by now should now that regular white cane sugar is bad for you and contributes to weight gain, diabetes and other health problems. Following are some alternatives and an explanation as to why they are good or bad.

Honey

Many people think that there’s something special about honey that even though it’s high in calories like sugar, it’s better. While it’s true that there are some health benefits to consuming honey, from a weight loss point of view, it’s only slightly better. In order to understand why, we need to realize the fact that digestible non-fiber carbs simply get converted to sugar in the body so the following formula holds true.

CARBS = SUGAR*

* except for carbs from fiber and Erythritol (a sugar alcohol)

If we compare sugar to honey with the same portion size (100 g), we find that honey still has a ton of carbs (82 g) compared to sugar (100 g). Therefore, honey is not a good sweetener for weight loss.

Note: the sweetness of honey is higher than that of white sugar so you don’t need to use as much of it.

Erythritol

Pure Erythritol is a sugar alcohol. It is 70% as sweet as regular sugar. Unlike other sugar alcohols where half gets digested in the body, Erythritol does not get digested. Instead, it gets excreted through urine and feces like carbs from dietary fiber. For that reason, grams of Erythritol can be subtracted from total carbs. This makes Erythritol one of the best sweeteners. The texture is like fine sugar. I personally found the taste to be not bad but of course not as good as real sugar but that’s probably because I’m used to the taste of sugar.

Monk Fruit Extract

Pure Monk fruit extract contains zero sugars, carbs and calories. This makes Monk fruit extract one of the best sweeteners. However, it’s 150-250 times sweeter than table sugar so you have to be careful when adding it to avoid over-sweetening. Monk fruit extract is often mixed with other sweeteners so read the nutrition label to make sure that if it’s mixed, it’s mixed with an acceptable sweetener like Erythritol. The texture is like a very fine powder so it dissolves easily. I personally found the taste to be a bit fruity and not bad. I still prefer the taste of real sugar but that’s probably because I’m used to the taste of sugar.

Stevia

Pure Stevia, like Monk fruit extract, is a zero sugar, carb and calorie sweetener which makes it a good sugar substitute. It is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar so you need to be extra careful when adding it to food and drinks. And, like Monk fruit extract, it often is found mixed with other sweeteners so make sure to check the ingredient list.

White Rice Alternatives

White rice is eaten by everyone all over the world. It’s probably the cheapest, most filling, readily-available type of food. Many people even have large plates of rice for breakfast. Though white rice may seem like an innocent, healthy food to eat, unlike sweets, it’s actually not healthy because it’s full of carbs which just gets converted into sugar in the body which leads to weight gain and health issues such as diabetes. So, just because white rice doesn’t taste sweet or look sweet, it’s just as bad as sugar. You might as well imagine you’re seeing sugar when you see white rice (or any carb like bread for that matter).

The nutrition profile for white rice shows that 1 cup of it contains 45 grams of carbs. If we subtract the insignificant carbs from dietary fiber (they just pass through the body), then you’re consuming 44.4 grams of carbs in 1 cup of white rice. 1 cup of white rice also gives you a whopping 205 calories.

White Rice vs Coca Cola

Now this should surprise you. One cup of white rice has more carbs (45 g) than that in a can of Coca Cola (39 g). So, when you eat rice, it’s not much different from drinking a can of soda.

Riced Cauliflower

One healthy, low calorie alternative for white rice is riced cauliflower. Weighing in at just 5 – 2 = 4 digestable carbs per cup, it’s got a fraction of the carbs of white rice. And at only 25 calories per cup, it’s super low calorie compared to the whopping 205 calories per cup of white rice.

Spicy Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower

If you a simple-to-cook, flavorful riced cauliflower meal, try Trader Joe’s Spicy Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower. For $3, it’s cheap and personally, I found it to be very tasty. Optionally add some chicken breast for protein. It’s a bit spicy so if you can’t handle the spice, try the next option below.

Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry

Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry also costs just $3. It’s not spicy but personally, I didn’t find it as flavorful as the Trader Joe’s Spicy Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower.

Shirataki Konjac Rice

I haven’t actually tried this yet but Shirataki Konjac Rice is extremely low in calories. At only 5 calories per 140 grams and 3 – 3 = 0 digestable carbs, it’s completely carb (sugar) free!

The Ketogenic Diet & Ketosis

I’ve tried a couple of diets and also just tried to count calories. But, it seems that the key to losing weight is more complicated than just a daily calorie deficit. After researching the Ketogenic diet, I have a feeling this particular diet may actually work, even though it calls for consuming more fat when the whole point of the diet is to lose fat. Here’s a summary of the Ketogenic diet.

Carbs vs Protein vs Fat

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats supply 90% of the dry weight of a diet and 100% of its energy. All three provide energy (measured in calories), but the amount of energy in 1 gram (1/28 ounce) differs. There are

  • 4 calories in a gram of carbohydrate or protein
  • 9 calories in a gram of fat

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are digested in the intestine, where they are broken down into their basic units:

  • Carbohydrates into sugars
  • Proteins into amino acids
  • Fats into fatty acids and glycerol

These nutrients also differ in how quickly they supply energy. Carbohydrates are the quickest, and fats are the slowest.

Carbohydrates

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the body does not need any added sugar to function healthily. Therefore, the body doesn’t really need carbs since carbs just get converted into sugar.

Protein

Proteins consist of units called amino acids. There are 20 amino acids. The body synthesizes some of them from components within the body, but it cannot synthesize 9 of the amino acids—called essential amino acids. They must be consumed in the diet.

Fat

Fats are complex molecules composed of fatty acids and glycerol. When the body needs fatty acids, it can make (synthesize) certain ones. Others, called essential fatty acids, cannot be synthesized and must be consumed in the diet.

Energy source priorities

Your body gets energy first from sugar (carbohydrates are converted into sugar in the body) and only when the sugar energy has depleted will your body turn to getting energy from fat.

In order to lose weight (fat), your body needs to enter a metabolic state called “Ketosis”. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It’s like it becomes a fat-burning machine. If you consume too many carbs (bread, pasta, rice, sugar, etc), your body will never enter Ketosis mode because your body will always get more than enough energy from carbs (sugar). It’s no wonder why sugar is the real health enemy and one of the main causes of health issues like diabetes.

Once energy from carbs is depleted, your body enters a state of ketosis and burns fat to get energy.

The Keto diet

The keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet. As such, your body will have very little energy from carbs (sugar) and quickly resort to getting energy by burning fat. Specifically, you should consume macronutrients with the following proportions:

  • 70% fat
  • 20% protein
  • 10% carbs

Now, if you are bodybuilding and want to build muscle, you need more protein. So, a slight variation of the standard keto diet calls for the following proportions:

  • 60% fat
  • 35% protein
  • 5% carbs

Protein should be moderate, as a very high intake can spike insulin levels and lower ketones. Around 35% of the total calorie intake of protein is probably the upper limit.

Generally, achieving Ketosis involves limiting carb consumption to around 20 to 50 grams per day and filling up on fats, such as those from meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils.

Foods to avoid

Any food that’s high in carbs should be limited.

  • sugary foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
  • grains or starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
  • fruit: all fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries
  • beans or legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • root vegetables and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  • low fat or diet products: low fat mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments
  • some condiments or sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
  • unhealthy fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
  • alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks
  • sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.

Foods to eat

  • meat: red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken, and turkey
  • fatty fish: salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel
  • butter and cream: grass-fed butter and heavy cream
  • cheese: unprocessed cheeses like cheddar, goat, cream, blue, or mozzarella
  • nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil
  • avocados: whole avocados or freshly made guacamole
  • low carb veggies: green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
  • condiments: salt, pepper, herbs, and spices

43 Healthy Low-Carb Foods That Taste Incredible

Carbs from fiber

On Nutrition Facts food labels, the grams of dietary fiber are already included in the total carbohydrate count. But because fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest, it does not affect your blood sugar levels. You should subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrate.

In the example nutrition label above, we see that the total carbohydrate count is 10 grams and the dietary fiber is 5 grams. Therefore, the net carbohydrate amount is 5 grams.

Carbs from Erythritol

If you see a nutrition label that shows Erythritol under the Total Carbs section, you can subtract it from the total carbs. Unlike other sugar alcohols where half gets digested in the body, Erythritol does not get digested. Instead, it gets excreted through urine and feces like carbs from dietary fiber. There are 3 types of sugar substitutes that contain zero carbs and are safe to eat: Erythritol, Monk Fruit, Stevia.

Learn more about sugar substitutes

Example calorie calculation

Looking at the nutrition label above, we see the number of fat, carbs and protein in grams. One serving of the food item contains 10 grams of carbs. But, 5 grams of those 10 grams can be ignored since they are dietary fiber which the body can’t digest and so it gets passed.

The nutrition label shows grams and % daily value, but it doesn’t show percentage for each of the 3 macronutrients. To determine that, we can perform these calculations.

MacronutrientGrams (A)Calories per gram (B)AxB (C)C / (C1 + C2 + C3) x 100%
1fat392727 / (27 + 20 + 8) x 100% = 49%
2carbs5 (don’t include fiber carbs)42020 / (27 + 20 + 8) x 100% = 36%
3protein2488 / (27 + 20 + 8) x 100% = 15%

So, the food for the nutrition label above has the following macronutrient proportions:

  • fat: 49%
  • carbs: 36%
  • protein: 15%

If that food was the only thing you ate all day, then it would not satisfy the goal of the ketogenic diet.

If you are targeting 1500 calories per day for weight loss and a maximum of 5% from carbs, then 5% of 1500 is 75 calories. And since 1 gram of carbs is 4 calories, you can consume a maximum of 75/4 = 18.75 grams of non-fiber carbs. Hmm…. that’s very low. If your target is 10% of carbs per day, then you can consume a max of about 40 grams of non-fiber carbs per day. According to Healthline, consuming less than 50 grams of non-fiber carbs per day will get you into Ketosis.

Ketosis Test

If you want to know whether your body is in a state of Ketosis (burning fat), there are tests available. This is great because you can actually measure and know whether your body is currently burning fat or not. Technically, you could test yourself before you go to sleep at night. If you test positive for being in a state of Ketosis, then you would literally be burning fat while you sleep!

  • Urine test using urine test strip
  • Blood test using blood test strips
  • Breath test using a breath analyzer

Healthy Drinks Besides Water

I like original Coke. But the calories and amount of sugar added to it are just outrageous. A single 12 fl oz (355 ml) can of coke contains 140 calories and 39 grams of added sugar. Following are some healthier alternatives.

Costco Kirkland Organic Coconut Water

With only 2 grams of added sugar compared to 39 for Coca-cola, this is definitely a good alternative. At 45 calories for 240 ml (68 calories for 355 ml), it is 72 calories less than the same serving of a can of coke. However, if you are on the Keto diet, this is not a good choice where you need to limit carbs, this is not a good choice.

Unsweetened Almond Milk

At 30 calories per cup (240 ml), this is not a great alternative to soda, although the sweetened version (60 cal per cup with 7 grams of added sugar) does taste much better.

Unsweeted Iced Tea

At 0 calories, unsweetened iced tea is probably the best substitute for plain water.

If you feel you need to make it sweet, you can try adding

Truvia is actually Erythritol, a sugar alcohol. Unlike other sugar alcohols, Erythritol is the only sugar alcohol which does not get digested by the body. Instead, it gets excreted in urine and feces. I consider it the ideal sweetener for drinks. It’s also ideal if you are on the Keto diet since it contains 0 carbs.

You can also cold brew green tea like pictured below.

Iced Water With Lemon Slices

Lemon-infused water actually makes plain, boring water taste pretty good.

Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice

At 70 calories per cup (240 ml), this has the same calories has Costco Kirkland coconut juice but with 0 added sugar.

Costco Kirkland Vitarain Zero

This has zero calories. The sweet taste comes from zero-calorie sucralose.

Glaceau VitaminWater Zero

Sweetened with erithrytol

Healthy Snack Options

Many people will snack on something like potato chips. Personally, I prefer Ruffles Original. But, 160 calories from just 12 chips is unacceptable.

Here are some healthier and/or low calorie alternatives.

Celery Sticks with Garlic Hummus

The hummus comes in at 60 calories per 2 tbsp. That seems like a lot but at least they are healthy calories rather than empty ones. Celery sticks are only 7 calories per stick and they mostly contains water.

Edamame

This is an interesting type of food. It has the same amount of protein as meat. It often comes precooked so you just need to heat it up. Eating it involves removing the pod and eating the peas. The fact that you have to remove the pod can limit your consumption since it takes time. The taste is pretty neutral. Half a cup is only 94 calories.