Yes, noodles are healthy is likely the answer you are hoping to find, right?
As a Registered Dietitian, I can tell you that is the answer about 50% of the time. But like most things, it just depends.
There are hundreds of kinds of noodles, so it makes sense that the answer isn’t as black and white as we would like it to be.
We’ll go through some of the commonly consumed types of noodles but more importantly – what makes a noodle healthy vs unhealthy.
Noodles can be good for you if incorporated with some strategy to maintain your healthy eating lifestyle without disrupting your weight loss goals.
Are Noodles Good for Weight Loss?
This question exists because noodles are perceived to be bad since they are a carbohydrate…a carbohydrate that is very easy to overindulge in.
Carbohydrates are not unhealthy in of themselves. However, it is an area that most individuals struggle with due to portion sizes.
It’s important to realize that there are two different types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates are refined or processed foods that contain little to no nutrients besides calories for energy. This would be foods like white bread, cakes, cookies, candy, soda, etc.
Complex carbohydrates are nutrient dense as they have not gone through the refining process and contain more of the food in its most whole form.
You are much less likely to overeat complex carbohydrates because they contain more fiber, and sometimes more protein, which slows down digestion releasing the hormone leptin that suppresses your appetite.
Therefore, as long as you are choosing a complex carbohydrate-type of noodle, it is healthy.
These noodles will not increase belly fat and can actually be good for weight loss when consumed in moderation.
Noodles can be good for weight loss if they are a complex carbohydrate or nutrient-dense and consumed in moderation. Listed below is a list of some of the best healthy noodles:
- Whole-wheat noodles
- Soba noodles
- Chickpea noodles
- Red lentil noodles
Whole-wheat pasta is an excellent noodle to eat for weight loss as it has more fiber, protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals.
Learn 10 Reasons Why Brown Bread is Good for Weight Loss as you can apply the exact concepts to whole-wheat noodles as well.
Whole-wheat noodles also most resemble regular refined white noodles when it comes to texture and taste.
Whole-wheat noodles don’t have to be store bought either. Make whatever type of noodle you want at home by using a whole-wheat flour instead of an all-purpose flour to reap the same benefits.
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, and similar to whole-wheat noodles – soba noodles will be higher in fiber, protein, and micronutrients.
Dish them out hot or cold, soba noodles are one of the most versatile noodles out there.
So swap out any cold-pasta recipes with soba noodles to have a guilt-free, nutrient-packed meal instead.
Chickpea noodles are an excellent way to sneak extra protein into your dish. They have a slight nutty flavor and the texture is similar to whole-wheat noodles.
Because protein is most satiating, it stimulates the release of the hormone leptin to decrease your appetite thus preventing overeating.
You’ll be able to indulge in your noodles with confidence that you’re not hindering your weight loss journey.
Red Lentil Noodles
Very similar to chickpea pastas, red lentil noodles are protein-packed because of the legume they are made from and will help curb your appetite.
Red lentil noodles are great for weight loss as they are one of the most nutrient-dense options. They have more protein, fiber, micronutrients, and are able to maintain their texture integrity better than other non-wheat noodles.
Registered Dietitian Advice: Red Lentil Noodles are an excellent option for those picky toddler eaters that don’t like meat. They’re protein-packed, brightly colored, and best of all – a noodle.
You can’t beat the good ol’ spiralized zucchini. Zoodles are one of the best noodles for weight loss because it’s simply just a vegetable.
Zoodles alone have practically no calories, no carbohydrates, and no fat, but are able to maintain their structural integrity to act like noodles.
For the best zoodles; choose smaller zucchini with a short diameter to limit the amount of seedy, softer flesh on the inside. It’s the skin and harder flesh that creates the best noodles.
When cooking zoodles you want high heat and short cooking time to ensure you don’t have a pile of mushy noodles sitting on your dinner plate.
While zoodles don’t provide any extra protein like some of the other noodles mentioned above, zoodles are a healthy option if you are looking to cut calories.
Rice Noodles vs Egg Noodles
As a Dietitian I get this question a lot, “Which is better; rice noodles or egg noodles?” with the thought that both of these noodles have to be healthier than refined wheat-based noodles.
Rice noodles are good for weight loss if looking for a low calorie option. Being a refined grain product, these noodles provide very little nutrition but can be used as a low calorie filler.
It is worth noting that rice noodles’ texture does not pair well with many dishes as they can be sticky, gelatinous, and chewy if not prepared properly.
Egg noodles, you guessed it, contain eggs. Most boxed pasta or noodles you see at the grocery store do not contain eggs.
Egg noodles are much higher in protein and contain more fiber than rice noodles. Egg noodles are not low in carbohydrates though. One cup contains about 27grams of carbs.
You can use both rice noodles and egg noodles in your weight loss plan, it just depends on what you are looking for;
- Rice noodles = low calorie
- Eggs noodles = nutrient-dense and filling
How Bad are Instant Noodles?
Everybody’s guilty pleasure, including my own. Instant noodles are hard to beat when you’re in a pinch for lunch and want a comforting meal. However they are one of the most unhealthy noodle meals available.
There’s two main reasons instant noodles are not healthy; the sodium content and lack of nutrients. Ironically, neither of which has anything to do with the noodle.
The noodles themselves are not very different from other noodles you see on the shelf at the grocery store.
Instant noodles are an average enriched wheat flour noodle that has been partially cooked and then dried to reduce cook time for the consumer.
Making the noodles pretty ordinary but not “unhealthy” so to speak.
There is a tremendous gap in nutrients in this quick lunch meal however; low protein content, no healthy fats, very little fiber, and lacking in several vitamins and minerals due to no vegetables in the dish.
What instant noodles do provide is a calorically-dense sodium rich meal.
Registered Dietitian advice is to consume no more than 2 grams of sodium per day, that’s 2,000mg.
One packet of ramen contains 1,440mg of sodium! So if you have this noodle-ful meal for lunch, you have already consumed 72% of your sodium intake for the day.
Besides the detrimental effect excess sodium has on your heart, this also makes instant noodles bad for weight loss.
The high sodium content can cause fluid retention, causing the number on your bathroom scale to go up.
There is a popular saying where salt goes, water follows. When you consume more than the recommended 2 grams of sodium per day, any extra sodium is distributed throughout your body via your bloodstream.
Water is then pulled from your cells to help dilute your “salty” blood. This triggers a signal in your brain to make you feel thirsty, resulting in you drinking more fluid.
This combination of extra sodium and fluid results in weight gain.
There are some ways you can combat the unhealthy aspects of instant noodles so that you can still enjoy this comforting meal while trying to lose weight.
Listed below are some healthy ramen noodle alternatives:
- Add protein: chicken, pork, beef, fish, eggs, chickpeas, lentils, or tofu are all great options.
- Add vegetables: green onions, cabbage, spinach, bok choy, sliced carrots, mushrooms, etc. Add just about any cooked or raw vegetables you love.
- Limit Sodium: spruce up the flavor while limiting sodium by only using half the flavoring packet, adding your own low-sodium broth and season with your own herbs and spices (i.e. ground ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, and black pepper)
A Dietitian’s Advice
Yes, you can eat noodles when trying to lose weight.
My advice as a Dietitian when it comes to eating noodles is the same for just about everything else; Eat them in their most whole form and in moderation.
That means to choose a whole-wheat or nutrient-dense noodle that isn’t a heaping pile on your dinner plate.
The question you have to ask yourself is, does it provide nutritional value or not?
The best noodles for weight loss are; whole-wheat noodles, soba noodles, chickpea noodles, red lentil noodles, and zoodles.
While there are many more to choose from, those are the ones that I’ve found are most common in grocery stores or easy to make (zoodles).
And remember to try to limit the total amount of instant-type noodle packages as these are heavy in sodium but low in nutrients.
So from a Dietitian’s point of view, noodles can be healthy if eaten in their most whole form and in moderation. There’s no reason to exclude this culinary pasta delight while trying to lose weight.
Enjoy your noodles!
Did you not find the answer above to your noodle inquiry? Check out these FAQs below regarding noodles and your health.
Which is more fattening, rice or noodles?
If we are comparing white rice to white refined noodles – white rice has virtually no lipid (fat) content, while noodles do contain a small amount. Generally speaking, differences will vary by brand.
Difference between pasta and noodles?
While most people use these terms interchangeably, the difference between pasta and noodles is actually the ingredients. Pasta is generally made from durum-based semolina flour and noodles are typically made from wheat-based flour.
Are Chinese noodles good for weight loss?
Chinese noodles are typically not good for weight loss because of the high sodium content in soy sauce which is in most Chinese noodle dishes.
Are udon noodles healthy?
Udon noodles are simply a thicker refined-wheat noodle used in Japanese cooking. Just like any noodle, you should consume them in moderation to limit excess calories.
Is Knorr noodles good for weight loss?
Knorr is a brand name of instant noodles with a flavor package. Just like many instant noodle varieties, the nutritional value is quite minimal with little protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber or healthy fats. Therefore Knorr noodles are not good for weight loss because they primarily just provide empty calories.
Can we eat Maggi noodles during diet?
Maggi is another instant-noodle type brand popular in India. The same concerns exist as any other instant noodle dish; little nutrients and high in calories and sodium. You should limit Maggi noodles while dieting.
Are glass noodles healthy?
Although some may think glass noodles are healthier than the average noodle – they are actually almost identical nutritionally. Starch and water are the main ingredients of glass noodles. They are clear and can have an almost gelatinous bite to them. However, as starch is a carbohydrate, glass noodles are not low in carbs and therefore not low in calories.
How many carbs in noodles?
There are 15 grams of carbs in one ½ cup of wheat-based noodles.
Which type of noodle is healthiest?
A complex carbohydrate one such as a whole-wheat based noodle.
All in all, remember that noodles can be good for weight loss if they are nutrient-dense and consumed in moderation.