If you want to enjoy eating in a Chinese restaurant (or takeout) on keto, you’ve come to the right place! Learn how to eat Chinese food on keto with this simple guide. While Chinese food on keto can be tricky with loads of hidden sugar and starch in the sauces, if you know what to order and how to order, you can enjoy a delicious meal while still sticking to your macros! Beef and broccoli anyone? 😋
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How to Eat Chinese Food on Keto- The BEST Tips!
If you’re wondering “can I eat Chinese food on keto?” the answer is absolutely! You just need to learn the right tricks and tips to successfully enjoy Chinese food, while staying within your macros. This guide to eating Chinese on keto will give you everything you need to have delicious, low carb Chinese food and still lose weight! I learned how to eat Chinese food on keto through lots of research and some trial and error. I did all the hard work, so you don’t have to- I’m sharing my best tips for eating Chinese food on keto with you! With these easy tricks, you can enjoy eating out at a Chinese restaurant (or eating Chinese takeout on your couch) while staying in ketosis! Let’s get started!
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Is Chinese food Keto friendly?
In general Chinese food can be keto friendly, if you know what to order. The biggest keto offender with Chinese food is hidden sugar and corn starch in the sauces! Even seemingly healthy dishes like chicken and broccoli can contain loads of sugar and corn starch. Neither of these ingredients is keto friendly (corn starch contains a whopping 7 grams of carbs per tablespoon!) These are the two biggest ingredients you have to watch out for when eating out at a Chinese restaurant on keto.
Other foods to avoid when eating Chinese food on keto include:
- Anything fried
- Spring Rolls
- Dumplings or postickers
- Most sauces including sweet and sour, kung pao, general tso’s, oyster, plum, and duck sauce
While this may seem like a restrictive list, there’s still plenty of Chinese dishes for you to enjoy on keto if you know how and what to order. We’ll discuss that in the next section.
So, what can I eat at a Chinese restaurant on keto?
So now that we’ve gone over what you can’t eat at a Chinese restaurant on keto, let’s go over the good stuff: what you CAN eat! We’ll go through a general list below and then I’ll jump into more detail about specific dishes. What Chinese food is low carb? Let’s find out!
In general, you can eat:
- Clear soups
- Egg drop soup is sometimes a good choice depending on whether or not there’s corn starch in the soup. A lot of restaurants do use corn starch as a thickener in egg drop soup, so ask your server. If the consistency of the soup is on the thick side, assume there’s some carbs in it. To give you an idea, a cup of P.F. Chang’s egg drop soup contains 6 grams of carbs- whether this is too many or not will depend on your individual macros and carb allowance (as well as how many other carbs you’ve eaten that day). If the soup’s consistency is thin and there’s no starch then egg drop soup is a great keto friendly Chinese option (eggs = a great source of fat)
- Hot and sour soup is also generally a good keto friendly choice, but similar to egg drop soup, it can contain corn starch and also a little sugar. Again, to give you an idea, a cup of hot and sour soup at P.F. Chang’s has 9 grams of carbs in it which is slightly higher than the egg drop soup. Be sure to check the ingredients with your server to see if this is a good option. If you do decide to order either egg drop or hot and sour soup, make sure you keep the portion to one cup to limit any potential carbs.
- Anything steamed with no sauce or sauce on the side
- Most Chinese restaurants will steam protein (chicken, pork, beef, shrimp) and veggies for you with no sauce. This is a safe keto friendly Chinese option because there’s no starch or sugar used when steaming. The downside is that it can lack flavor and fat. My recommendation is to bring a small container to the restaurant filled with 2 tablespoons of your favorite oil to add on top. This will add both flavor and fat to the dish (steamed dishes contain little to no fat). I recommend sesame oil as it’s often used in Chinese cooking and will give your food more of an Asian-style taste. You can also ask for soy sauce and mix that in for more taste (one tablespoon of soy sauce has 0.8 grams of carbs). This is a great low carb Chinese food choice!
- Another option is to get steamed protein and veggies with the sauce on the side and drizzle a TINY BIT on the sauce onto the dish just to get the flavor. By a tiny bit, I mean a 1/2 teaspoon or less. So for example, you can get kung pao chicken steamed with the sauce and peanuts on the side. When your dish comes, drizzle a small amount of kung pao sauce onto your food and put some peanuts on top (peanuts are hight fat but do have some carbs). Remember, these sauces have a TON of sugar and corn starch so only use a little bit- just enough so you don’t feel deprived. You can also add soy sauce and sesame oil on top for extra flavor. If you’re super strict and consume 20 g or less carbs a day, I don’t recommend this option since there will be some carbs involved. If you’re a bit more flexible with carbs, this is a great keto friendly Chinese option!
- Anything stir fried without sugar or corn starch
- Many Chinese restaurants are willing to make a keto friendly Chinese stir fry. Ask your server to make a stir fry with protein (chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp) and low carb veggies (green veggies, no carrots or peas) using just garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt, and oil. Specifically tell him/her not to add any corn starch, potato starch, or sugar. You can also request that they use extra oil or bring your own oil to drizzle on top to make sure you get enough fat.
Some specific keto friendly Chinese dishes include:
- Chicken and Broccoli– steamed with sauce on the side or no sauce OR stir fried with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and oil (no sugar or corn starch)
- Beef and Broccoli– steamed with sauce on the side or no sauce OR stir fried with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and oil (no sugar or corn starch)
- Mu Shu Chicken or Pork– no sugar or pancakes (typically doesn’t contain corn starch but always good to check), according to MyFitness Pal a generic Moo Shu Dish contains 4 grams of carbs, 42 grams of fat, and 43 grams of protein
- Chinese Chicken Wings or Spareribs– no glaze, sauce, or breading
- Chicken Lettuce Wraps– no sugar added, no hoisin or plum sauce on the side
- Egg Drop or Hot & Sour Soup– make sure there’s no sugar or starch added (see above for more details)
- Chop Suey– stir fried without the sauce
- Egg Foo Young- this is a great keto friendly Chinese option because it’s typically high fat (it has oil and eggs) and lower in carbs (about 9 grams of carbs according to Livestrong)- just make sure you ask the server about added sugar
- Garlic Stir Fried Watercress, Spinach, Pea Shoots, or Other Leafy Veggies– these typically just contain garlic and oil (just watch the carbs in the actual veggies) but always ask your server to be sure- at P.F. Chang’s the Wok’d Spinach and Garlic contains 6 grams of net carbs
If you know your stuff, it’s surprisingly simple to stay keto at Chinese restaurants. In fact although specific ingredients to avoid may differ, the basic principles for eating out on keto always remain the same. You can learn to stay keto at ANY restaurant (not just Chinese ones) with the 3 Secrets to Staying Keto at Any Restaurant, which you can download for FREE from my wellness library along with lots of other keto resources and freebies. Grab the exclusive password here.
General Tips for Eating at a Chinese Restaurant on Keto
- Always ask the server about sugar and corn starch in the sauces. I can’t emphasize this one enough- those will be the main sneaky culprits that could kick you out of ketosis
- Bring a small container of oil to add to your food in case there isn’t enough fat, especially with steamed options (again, I recommend sesame oil for an Asian flavor)
- Ask for soy sauce to add more flavor to your food, but avoid any sugary sauces, such as oyster sauce, duck, or hoisin sauce
- At many Chinese restaurants, you can ask the kitchen to fry an egg and put it on top of your food for added fat and flavor
- If you know you’re going to be eating Chinese food on a specific day, try to limit your carbs during other meals so that you can be more flexible at the restaurant. For example, if you know you’re going to get Chinese takeout for dinner, try to eat eggs and bacon for breakfast and then cheese and turkey breast for lunch. If you eat little to no carbs for breakfast and lunch, you can eat more carbs at dinner and still stay within your macros (i.e. if you can eat up to 20 carbs a day and you only eat 3 carbs at breakfast and lunch, then you can have up to 17 carbs at the Chinese restaurant)
- Tips for eating keto at a Chinese buffet: stick to protein and veggie dishes with thin sauces (thick sauces usually mean corn starch), avoid anything breaded or fried, if something tastes sweet then it has sugar (avoid!!), even at a buffet you can still talk to a server or manager to find the best options on the buffet line for you- ask about what has the LEAST added sugar and starch (sometimes the kitchen may even be willing to make something special for you if you ask nicely 😉)
Did you find some delicious keto friendly Chinese dishes for your next takeout night? I hope this simple guide showed you how easy it is to eat Chinese food on keto! With the right information and a good attitude, you can enjoy an awesome keto friendly Chinese meal whenever you want!
Did you pick up some new tips about how to eat Chinese food on keto? Do you have any helpful tips of your own? Comment below and join the conversation!
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