Lowcarbezine! Article Reprint: Dreamfield's Pasta

Dreamfield's Pasta has come up four or five times in the past couple of day in various Facebook discussions I've been in. Then, just last night, I had a reader email me and ask me what I thought. Seemed like it was high time I reprinted this article from December of 2004:

Dreamfield’s Pasta – Is It Really Low Carb?

I’ve gotten more questions about Dreamfield’s pasta than any other product, and with good reason. Dreamfield's is made from the same ingredients as regular pasta, and has the same total carb and fiber counts as regular pasta, yet it claims to have only 5 net carbs per serving. The manufacturer says that through a secret proprietary process they have rendered most of the carbohydrate in their pasta indigestible. This is an interesting claim, and one that definitely sounds too good to be true. (It also strikes me as vaguely disturbing. In a world where millions of people are starving, Americans will pay for food that passes through their systems undigested, so that we don’t have to change our food-addicted ways. About the same way I feel about those “carb blocker” pills. )

Last issue, I promised to do blood sugar tests on Dreamfield’s pasta and report back. I also asked those of you who had tried it to write me about your experiences.

What massive confusion! The bottom line seems to be that there is no bottom line. So far as I can tell, this stuff works differently for different people, and may even work differently from meal to meal in the same person. My personal experimentation with Dreamfield’s pasta was not terribly encouraging. Here’s how it went:

I started just over four and a half hours after breakfast – technically on an empty stomach. I carefully measured 1/2 cup of Dreamfield’s dry elbow noodles, which is the serving size listed on the label, and cooked them 9 minutes in boiling water. I drained the noodles, and tossed them with 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.

At 2:25 pm, I took my fasting blood sugar; the reading was 83. I then ate my noodles, which were very nice – indistinguishable from any high-quality regular pasta. I finished eating at 2:34. I then took my blood sugar every 15-20 minutes for three hours.

By 2:51, just 16 minutes after I finished eating, my blood sugar was at 101, and by 3:07, a half hour after eating, my blood sugar topped out at 144. I know from experience that low carb meals rarely bump my blood sugar much above 110, and often it doesn’t get above 100. This tells me that I absorbed a significant quantity of carbohydrate from the Dreamfield’s pasta – certainly more than the 5 grams of digestible carbohydrate claimed on the label. (In fairness, it should be said that this is a lower spike than I have gotten from standard pasta, just higher than the label would suggest.)

By 3:21 my blood sugar had started to drop – down to 125 – and I was hungry again, that awful familiar feeling from my carb-eating days. (In fairness, I must note that this could instead be evidence that I hadn’t absorbed many calories to fill me up.) By 4:30 I was sleepy, but my blood sugar was still at 119.

All of this made me not terribly eager to try Dreamfield’s pasta again, despite the fact that it has an excellent taste and texture.

However, there are folks who feel that Dreamfield’s is working for them. One woman who runs a low carb specialty store got a group together for a test of Dreamfield’s, and found that roughly half of the participants got a blood sugar spike, while the other half didn’t. I’ve even talked to folks who got a blood sugar rise after eating it – then ran a second test a few days later, and didn’t get a rise at all. Something weird is going on here.

Many of you responded to my request for your experiences with Dreamfield’s pasta. Here are some of your stories:

As a previous pasta junkie (now low carb) I was thrilled with the introduction of Dreamfield’s pasta. I have seen ads stating 5 net carbs per serving but here in Canada the net carbs on the package is 8.

I am a type 2 diabetic and consistently check my blood sugar. My results are usually 90 before I have eaten Dreamfields pasta and 110 or a little less 2 hours after eating the pasta. I always eat with a good portion of protein. It’s a great treat twice a month!

Cathy

Dear Dana, you asked for feedback -- I'm happy to give a bit!

My husband is the poster child for insulin resistance and carb-sensitive to the max. If he eats even one bite of sugar (and the big dummy is prone to doing that occasionally!) then he's off to the races, so to speak.

Used to be, before low carb, that he would polish off a humongous plate of pasta with chicken and cheese and broccoli and fat-free (EW!) Italian dressing. I mean I'm talking a platter of the stuff. And an hour later, he'd be back poking around in the fridge because he was "STARVING!" I could never comprehend that, until reading the good Dr. A's book.

So out with the processed carbs and in with the leafy veggies, eggs, cheese, coconut oil, and of course what every non-low-carbing person alive thinks we eat exclusively -- plenty of meat!

And gee, dear hubby's problems are suddenly under control (until he can't pass up a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, which are now thankfully available in a 1 carb variety, made with Erythritol and Splenda...but I digress....) and he feels GREAT and he's even -- gasp -- losing weight!!

SO back to the original subject, it is with great trepidation that I actually bring the Dreamfield's Pasta into this house.

Now, we've tried other low carb pastas and all I can say is -- PASS! Unless you actually prefer chewy cardboard.

SO again, my expectations were not high for this new product with a new-fangled way of reducing the carb impact!

I cook it up (ONLY in the recommended serving size, which I actually DID weigh out on my digital scales before cooking) and served it up with homemade pesto as a side to a nice thick-cut, panfried center-cut pork chop and a whole passle of veggies and green salad. We eat. We smack our lips, declaring that this stuff tastes JUST LIKE REGULAR PASTA! Wahooo!

And not one word passes DH's lips later about "I'M STARVING!" or even "I'M HUNGRY!" No heebie-jeebies. No cravings. Seemingly, no elevated blood sugars leading to a CRASH and urge to carb-binge!

Now, we don't test blood sugars (thankfully) and the ketostrips have NEVER registered for DH, but judging solely by his reaction -- or more accurately, LACK of a reaction -- leads me to believe that for us anyway, this product is fine IN MODERATION, OCCASIONALLY, PER THE SERVING SIZE, AND WITH ADEQUATE PROTEIN AND FAT served at the same time. Now, that's as it should be, right??

Your faithful reader

Char Cunningham

I've tried the spaghetti noodles, the ziti, and the elbow macaroni from Dreamfields. I ate a very small portion and found that it tastes just like regular pasta. I've been doing Atkins for a little over a year now and have been stalled out at a 52 pound weight loss for about three months. I've been tweaking things, trying to get it moving again without much success.

In spite of that, my weight has stayed the same when I've had the occasional portion of Dreamfield's pasta. I don't notice any carb cravings and I've stayed in very mild ketosis like I've always been. I plan to continue using it in controlled portions for variety. I'm looking forward to hearing about your own experiments!
L.B.

My experience is not 'hard' data but this is my take on Dreamfield's...

I can eat this about twice a month... in small portions. I will be up the next day routinely but nothing major... -- 2 pounds. But goes down by the next day with adequate water intake. Don't get rebound hunger, but I do feel that I get that sleepy feeling within 2 or so hours of eating it. Haven't tried this with regular pasta, so not sure if my response would be the same.

Looking forward to your take on this product!

Lisa, Rhode Island

Hi there....

I'm a low carber who came this way via gastric bypass surgery. Because of my new "plumbing" things like regular pasta and breads do a NUMBER on my stomach. I can attest that the Dreamfield's pasta HAS to be different in some ways, because I can eat a 1/2 cup of that and not have the heavy, leaden feeling that I get if I try to eat regular pasta. I also have not seen weight gain from adding the product to my diet. I now eat it about 1-2 times a week and it's been a lifesaver. I don't know how it works either, but I do know it's somehow different!

Laura Walker
Fort Collins, CO

Hello Dana and crew!

I wanted to let you know that my husband and I have been using Dreamfield's since it came out. We have had absolutely NO slowing in our weight loss and we eat it probably once per week. We never fall out of ketosis and we never have sugar spikes (and we definitely know what that feels like through our own times of weakness as well as times of sugar being sneaked in on us via restaurants). Granted, we don't test our blood sugar, so we can only report that it's worked for us instead of how it's worked for us. I personally think that it depends on one's sensitivity to wheat products (i.e., Does wheat make one's blood sugar spike?) and it depends on the individual. I have a degree in Biology and when I read Dreamfield's site before trying their pasta, it sound scientifically sound. Then again, so did Thalidomide, Fen-Phen, and more recently Vioxx and we all know how that went.

FYI, I am a 30 year old caucasian female and my husband is a 40 year old caucasian male. I don't know if that data will help with your information gathering or not, but I thought I would throw it in there.

Thanks for this opportunity to speak out for Dreamfield's. We love it.

Sincerely,
Melanie Sandridge

Hi Dana,

I just wanted to submit a comment about the new Dreamfields pasta with "5 net digestible carbs". I had a fiasco with it that upset me and thought I should advise others.

One evening, I painstakingly measured out one serving of the pasta to try it. Of course, it tasted wonderful -- just like regular pasta -- and when I looked at the ingredients, it really wasn't a whole lot different from regular pasta. I should have known something was up. The label couldn't explain how they went from 40+ total carbs down to 5g "digestible carbs". The next day, I didn't gain any weight because the serving was small, but it had completely kicked me out of ketosis. I knew then and there that the labeling was not what it appeared to be. What little I ate of it had the same effect on my ketosis level that a full carb meal would have had.

I had measured my ketosis that morning and it was in the second to last shade of purple, and I had been on strict Atkins and writing everything I ate down to the last bite, so there is no doubt of what caused the crash in ketosis. I went to their website www.dreamfieldsfoods.com and read their explanation of the miracle of this pasta and it still doesn't make any sense how they're doing the "digestible carbs" count or even what they mean by that phrase. I just really feel deceived when they make the claim of "for healthy low carb lifestyle" and it turns out not to be it.

Test it yourself if you can and pass it on!

M. MacLeod

Howdy,

I bought the Dreamfield's pasta. i called the 800 number to inquire as to how they tabulated such low carbs out of this product. (the numbers did not add up.) The lady was nice and explained that a special process denatured the carbs and that is how they derived their numbers. i calculated the amount to cook and how many carbs in my low carb pasta sauce. i checked my blood suger 2 hours after eating and it was 110. i have experimented and tested this product and each time (12 times) my glucose was good. i am happy this product is out there for diabetics like myself.
Thanks,
Pam

Hi Dana,

I'm on my second box of Dreamfields pasta (actually, two boxes, this time I bought both the ziti and the elbows). So far, I haven't noticed any problems, although I'm on maintenance right now, and not really in ketosis, and I don't check my blood sugar. But I haven't had any noticeable blood sugar spikes or associated cravings. I don't eat it often, but it does make a nice change once in a while and, if I mix it with healthy amounts of meat and veggies, maybe with a creamy cheese sauce, it really fills me up and keeps away the late night nibblies. It also works well in my homemade low carb soup.

So I'll be very interested to read your conclusions in the next e-zine.

Thanks for all the great low carb info.

--Leila

I live in NZ and have just discovered this pasta. I also happen to have Type 1 Diabetes (48 years duration) so test my blood 8-10 times per day. I also use an insulin pump & count carbs.

I trialled Dreamfields pasta (linguine) over 2 nights on behalf of www.lowcarbnz.co.nz Blood Glucose was 4.8mmol/L before I ate. I am on a regime of 1 unit of Humalog Insulin per 11gms carbohydrate. For that serving of pasta (5gms CHO.) I had 0.5 of a unit of insulin. 2 hours after eating 56 gms (dry weight) pasta my blood glucose actually dropped to 4.6mmol/L. I was amazed as ordinary pasta used to elevate my blood glucose enormously so I have always kept away from it.

I didn't feel hungry afterwards... on the trial nights (I tried it two days in a row with similar BG results) I only ate the pasta with a heart healthy pesto sauce ( recipe from the Dreamfields web site).as I didn't want to affect my BG resulrt by eating anything else. I am an ardent fan of this pasta and am thrilled that I can eat it again. I would be interested to hear what others think.

Gail E.

Hi Dana,

You asked about people's reactions to Dreamfield’s pasta... I find that a decent-size serving (a quarter of the box) spikes my blood sugar by about twenty points within an hour. It stays up there for a couple hours. I've never tested a serving of "regular" pasta, so while I suspect the "real" stuff would be worse, I'm not sure. A normal low-carb meal for me barely affects my blood sugar, and even if I throw in a small baked-potato skin, it usually raises my blood sugar less than ten points.

For a little background... I'm unofficially pre-diabetic -- that is, when I started testing my blood sugar, during one of my between-low-carb-attempts periods, my fasting glucose was between 100 and 115 every day. I didn't have my doctor confirm this, although I did tell him. When I got back on track with low carb, my fasting glucose dropped to the 75-90 range.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who's diabetic. She finds Dreamfield’s barely affects her blood sugar.

,em>Discussions I've read online suggest that reactions to Dreamfield’s vary widely.

Love your newsletter!

Christine

Dana,

I love the taste of Dreamfield's pasta. My trigger for knowing if I have had too many carbs is raised blood pressure. I had been on blood pressure reducing medication for many years. Three days on a low-carb diet and I was feeling dizzy, overdosing on the medication. I have been off of medication for a year now. Any time I stray across the line on too many carbs, my blood pressure spikes within hours. As to Dreamfield’s pasta, my blood pressure stays normal right after eating, but it elevates later. I stayed within the portion guidlines. A quick way for me to gain a few pounds is to have a Dreamfields pasta meal followed by eating two left-over portions in the next days.
I have asked my wife to not cook Dreamfield's pasta except very occasionally
and only as a small portion side dish.

Mike Scott

Dear Dana,
First of all, I have three of your cookbooks, love them and use them all the time.

Dreamfield’s: I am prediabetic and found it difficult to believe the "digestable carbs" claim by Dreamfield’s so I did an experiment. I prepared and ate one serving of Keto spaghetti with low carb sauce. Two hours later there was a very modest increase in blood sugar. The next day I prepared one-half serving of Dreamfields pasta with the same amount of the same sauce. (I was afraid to eat a whole serving). Two hours later my blood sugar was very high, in the unacceptable range. Having read interviews with the Dreamfield's people about the mechanism by which they protect carbs from digestion, it doesn't seem that diabetics or prediabetics should respond differently, but if that is the case for others as well as for me, people should be aware of that..

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There you go! Either Dreamfield’s pasta works for you or it doesn’t, or maybe it works for you sometimes, but not other times. How the heck are we to know?

So I’m afraid I can’t give you any hard-and-fast guidelines. You’ll just have to try Dreamfield’s pasta for yourself, if it appeals to you. I would heartily recommend eating it as a side dish with a full meal that includes protein and low carb vegetables, rather than eating just a big plate of pasta for dinner. If you test for ketosis, blood pressure, or blood sugar, pay attention to what happens! Pay attention to your weight and the fit of your clothes the next day. See if you feel hungry a few hours later. Then make up your mind whether Dreamfield’s is a great product for your low carb diet, or really is too good to be true.

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As I said, I originally wrote this article in 2004. Since then, I have come to mistrust wheat in general, regardless of carb count. I have backed away from low carb bread; although I have some in my freezer I haven't eaten any since I reviewed Julian Bakery's bread back in May, and I just this week had the first low carb tortillas I've had in months. I felt punk the next day. I don't know if the wheat was to blame, but the experience didn't make me eager to eat more. Since Dreamfield's is made from wheat, and since I like tofu shirataki, which are far lower in both carbs and calories, and wheat-free (though not soy-free,) I haven't eaten Dreamfield's in a couple of years. That Nice Boy I Married occasionally cooks up a batch when I'm out of town, drowning them in piles of melted cheese, but I don't bother with them at all.

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Reaction to Dreamfields

I don't test actual blood sugar, but I do have a definite reaction to Dreamfields after I eat it -- the same kind of reaction that maltitol brings on. In that regard, Dreamfields is most definitely received differently in my system than regular pasta, which tends to ... bind. Unfortunately, I have a deep-rooted love of nothing but pasta with butter. I would happily eat a huge serving of it every night forever, and in my youth, I probably could have without a problem. Now in my 50s, not so much. I have gotten carried away with Dreamfields in the same way, but then been very punished by my guts the next morning. So I have to be careful and keep the servings small and infrequent, which is probably just as well for everyone's sake :)

My point being that even though I don't know or understand how they figure their magical carb calculations, it does seem that the makers of Dreamfields must do something* differently from the makers of regular ol' pasta, at least according to my intestines.

Dreamfields Pasta

The only time I have had problems with Dreamfields is when it is overcooked. I have used it for family (for years) making baked penne/spaghetti. They usually eat it all, but one time there was some left. I reheated the next day and an hour later my intestines were playing a tune which went on for quite a while. The pasta was the only thing it could be. So, when I use it now i make sure it is consumed in one sitting or if there is any left, I let come to room temp and then heat briefly in microwave. There is more information on their website about this problem.Ciao.
sooze

Dreamfields

Thanks for all of the info and feedback. I've ordered some of the pasta, but will take it really easy on the serving size. My husband and I really miss pasta lasagna, so if this works, it would be fantastic. That's actually the only pasta type thing that I really miss. Mmmmm, lasagna :)