0 Calorie Noodles?

0 Calorie Noodles

Lately I noticed that some of the eateries serving “healthy food” offer shirataki noodles on their menus. This is supposedly good for those looking to lose weight because of the 0 calorie content of it. In some countries, it can go by the name of “miracle noodles” or “zero noodles”.

Adapted from Wikipedia:

Shirataki (白滝?, often written with the hiragana しらたき) are thin, translucent, gelatinous traditional Japanese noodles made from the konjac yam (devil’s tongue yam or elephant yam).[1] The word “shirataki” means “white waterfall”, describing the appearance of these noodles. Largely composed of water and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber, they are very low in carbohydrates and calories, and have little flavor of their own.  Traditional shirataki noodles have zero net carbohydrates, no food energy,[3] and no gluten, and they are useful to those on low-carbohydrate diets.[4]The noodles are carbohydrate-free, because they are made with glucomannan starch, an indigestible dietary fiber made from devil’s tongue yams.

Basically it sounds super ideal for those who enjoy noodles as their staple food, yet wanting something carb free. It wasn’t my intention to aim for such noodles because noodles weren’t even my staple, but since the meal I ordered included it, why not? How often do you slurp your noodles guilt free! For me, I don’t consume noodles on a daily basis because of the high carbohydrate content and low nutritional value.

Digestion Problem

I had this on 2 occasions, from the same eatery. On the first occasion, my meal included a small portion of shirataki noodles. It was my first time at this eatery and probably my first time consciously having shirataki noodles too. The texture was interesting – somewhat like a tough jelly, tougher than glass noodles (tang hoon) with a really springy texture. It soaked up the sauces well so the overall taste was whatever the sauce tasted like. Everything was fine.

On my second visit, the meal I ordered had a way larger portion of shirataki noodles. I gobbled up my lunch since I was hungry and didn’t have all day. Everything seemed fine too. However, as hours went by, I started feeling increasingly uncomfortable. It was hard to explain what was wrong but I passed the feeling off as that of fatigue, since I only had 6.5hr of sleep the previous night and went for hot yoga in the morning. I mean, I do have such days pretty often where I sleep around 6hrs and go for multiples of hot yoga but still feel energetic and fine but I reckon there’ll be days where I’m just a little weaker than others.

After 6 hours at 7pm, I felt really uncomfortable and just wanted to get home ASAP, probably sleep the “fatigue” off and be normal again the next day. I was so wrong.

I could not fall asleep at all after going to bed and at 4am, I felt very uncomfortable. The feeling was in my chest, as if something was stuck there. I finally threw up around 5am and surprise surprise: it wasn’t vomit, but just a clump of shirataki noodles! The noodles were totally intact!!

I mean it when I said no vomit – usually when I have indigestion or stomach flu, all water I take in and digested matter would come out when I do throw up. But this time, it was dry. I even had to pull some of the content out manually when my throat only purged it up halfway.

It was a sight I’ve never witnessed before. I can’t believe the shirataki noodles have been just sitting in my stomach, totally not digested, for 16 whole hours. My digestion on normal days is usually fast depending on what I eat. Vegetables gets digested really quickly. It certainly did not occur to me that it was my lunch, which I had 16 hours prior, that made me feel sick!

It became clear by now: so my stomach was trying it’s best to break down these noodles but it just couldn’t. It didn’t help that I didn’t chew it thoroughly before swallowing, hence it went into my stomach in whole strands.

A brief background: my stomach isn’t exactly strong because for a period of time, I did not have meals on time, skipping meals if I had nothing to eat and then bingeing when I do get good. I also ate a lot of junk and processed food (Oreo cookies, chips, ice cream, cup noodles, frozen nuggets) because I was lazy to get myself / cook something proper. This resulted in gastric problems which I never had earlier in life and even though my diet had an overhaul eventually eating well these days, I feel it still wasn’t as strong as before. I’ve suffered from gastroenteritis leading to hospitalization, stomach flu several times, and also threw up occasionally because I simply couldn’t digest food that was too oily (I actually threw up $500 A5 Japanese Wagyu with insane marbling because I couldn’t absorb all the oil) or handle tannins in tea or wine well.

Anyway, I went online to find out more from others who had problems with shirataki and this was what I found: http://www.myproana.com/index.php/topic/111195-if-you-eat-zero-noodles/

Posted 08 January 2014 – 04:31 AM

HollieJo, on 08 Jan 2014 – 5:28 PM, said:

apparently your stomach can’t digest them. I ate them one night then woke up sick the next morning. ate something hoping it would make me feel better. now still felt sick and now guilty for eating. so decided to purge. FIRST thing up when purging was the shirataki noodles still looking completely Undigested (I had ate them 15-18 hours before). I can’t bring myself to eat them anymore.

I have purged about 36 hours after eating them and they came up like they look in the packaging, it’s really bad.

This reminded me of something which happened last year – I ate a big portion of glass noodles (tang hoon) really quickly and the entire day I just felt sick. I later learnt that glass noodles are difficult to digest and my stomach probably couldn’t handle it.

So anyway, my conclusion: do take this at your own risk, and start out with a small portion and chew your noodles thoroughly. This will reduce the load on your stomach but it’ll not change the fact that shirataki is difficult to digest! Gobbling everything down fast and furious is the recipe for disaster.

Paleo Diet

This also lead to another topic – Paleo diet really got it all figured out. So far I never had problems with Paleo approved food, which is always whole foods like the real vegetables or real meat.

Shirataki may come from a vegetable source but it is certainly processed to make it into noodles. You don’t just cut up the natural Japanese yam to obtain it. You need to go through processed to extract the fibers to mold them into noodles and cavemen definitely can’t achieve this in their era. Therefore, shirataki is NOT Paleo. Glass noodles aren’t too, because they’re made from mung beans and all beans are not Paleo.

So for those who are looking for Paleo alternatives to noodles, here’s what you can try:

  • Zoodles

These are made from zucchini. Yes, cut out from the whole vegetable, preferably using a spiral cutter to make life easier. When cooked it stays in soft strands, just like pasta!

  • Spaghetti Squash

This one is even easier. You don’t need to cut it with any special equipment and you’ll get the strands.

  • Squid

This is quite common with certain Japanese chefs – they’ll cut the ika sashimi into thin strands and it feels like noodles.

Squid Noodle “IKASOUMEN” from Lewin Terrace



4 thoughts on “0 Calorie Noodles?

  1. Exactly what happened to me when I was eating konjac noodles and after 6 hours or so I felt sooooo uncomfortable that I didn’t know if I wanted to puke or just sleep it off, obviously sleep didn’t work so I had to force myself to throw up and the noodles were still intact like I just got them out of the packet?
    So I googled and found that they’re for weight loss and they’re supposed to block your oesophagus so you could feel full but I did not even get them for that reason!


    1. yup this kind of noodles requires a very strong stomach acidity/fire to digest! I guess it’s 0 calories because it’s not gonna break down (like wheat/ rice noodles will) into glucose and get absorbed into our system. It’ll just pass through after it’s done it’s job of filling us up, if the stomach fire can handle it. otherwise it’ll exit the other way haha


  2. I found this article looking for help. How do you know when enough is enough, and it’s time to go to the hospital?
    I ate an entire package of glass noodles (mung bean flour variety) w/sauce on evening of January 19. I was so hungry, and had never had them before, so I ate them nearly whole, chewing very little. I couldn’t quite finish the entire bowl, but nearly all of it. Woke up in the middle of the night feeling tummy grumbling and bubbling bloated feeling. In the morning it went away after being up for 20 or 30 minutes doing exercise. After I ate 1 hard boiled egg, I felt as though I had eaten an entire meal, very full. It makes doing normal tasks into a glutinous feeling chore.
    After a few days of this I looked it up and found very little info other than this article(thank you!). It’s been over a week and the last 2-3 days it feels a little better each day. I think what helped is reading that eating and drinking things like lemon, ginger/ginger root, vinegar, orange or grapfruit juice, high acid food/drink items, etc. can help boost stomach acid and break down food. I see that this type of noodle does not really break down in the stomach? I still feel full even eating small amounts of food, so it’s mostly just water or tea.
    I tried making myself throw up yesterday morning, after drinking 3 glasses(20oz) of water. After 40 or 50 attempts of heaving(finger down throat) I gave up because my eyeballs felt like they would burst a blood vessel if I continued. I also had very little energy for the rest of the day and today it feels like I got punched in the stomach (muscles hurt). I will say that this would be a good appetite suppressant if it’s he we’d very much and much smaller quantities are consumed. Although I do get very hungry and no longer feel like I’m on a regular eating schedule, the hunger goes away after a few crackers and water, then I feel over full for 15 or 20 minutes up to an hour or more later.
    At this point it seems the noodles should have left my stomach but if the wad is too large to get through the small hole, then I guess they could still be there. I am now wondering if I should go get my stomach pumped at the hospital, or maybe the noodles will disperse over time and exit my stomach naturally. Or maybe it isn’t even the noodles, but something more serious?
    Also the thought of them getting stuck in my intestines is even less pleasant and possibly more complicated (surgery?).


    1. Hi,

      I don’t think it’ll be that serious till you need to have it surgically removed, don’t worry so much. Generally this type of noodles is not easy to digest, especially if you didn’t chew it well and if you’re stomach “fire” isn’t the strong type to begin with (myself too), so that could lead to indigestion. I managed to vomit it out within 12hrs, but longer than that it may be harder to do so. It shouldn’t be stuck in your system that long and perhaps it’s already passed through. Please don’t try to throw up now! Throwing up is actually quite hurting to the stomach especially since you probably have nothing much to eject right now.

      I am no medical expert, but I think maybe your stomach is just recovering from the trauma of working really hard go digest the glass noodles, that’s why it’s still really weak now.

      Try not to agitate it by taking food that is hard to digest or food that may trigger gastric. Tea is not good on empty stomach because it has tannins, try not to drink that. Whenever I drink tea on empty stomach I will always feel my gastric reflux and become uncomfortable. Foods that’s made of simple starches like rice/ congee, plain biscuits (flour based) and banana will be gentle on the stomach because little effort is required to digest them. Try eating such food until your stomach gets better! Protein and oil will take more effort to digest so it’s not advisable to have so much meat or oily food while you’re still trying to recover.

      As for high acid stuff like lemon and vinegar, in theory it should work to increase acidity but since you’re stomach is weak and still recovery, it may not work. Ginger is good though. Ginger is known to create internal “heat” and can expel excess gas which may be responsible for the bloated feeling. Lemongrass+ginger is also a good idea.

      Let me know if this works for you. Whenever I have an upset stomach, this is the approach I will take to nurse it back.


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