A ketogenic diet is a great option for anyone who is looking to lose weight. Unlike other diets, the keto diet helps you keep the weight off, too. However, even with these incredible benefits, many people are still turned off from the diet. Why? Because it requires cutting down on carbohydrates.
The rigorous demands of the keto diet can make it daunting. It can seem more demanding than just a diet. It also can mean limitations placed on some of your favorite foods, such as Chinese food.
But what if we let you in on a secret? The truth is, there are still delicious Chinese dishes you can enjoy. Keto Chinese food is possible as long as you have the right recipes and know which dishes to order.
Is Chinese Food Keto-Friendly?
Most people don’t think of keto Chinese food and the ketogenic diet going hand-in-hand. It might not be second nature to eat a carb-free keto Chinese meal. However, it can still be filling, nutritious, and delicious!
We’re here to give you the best keto-friendly Chinese foods that you can either order at a restaurant or make at home. We’ll also go over the foods that you should avoid with Chinese food on keto. In closing, we’ll give you the knowledge and understanding you need to make smart decisions on your own when enjoying keto Chinese takeout or dine-in food.
Best Keto Chinese Recipes
With a Chinese keto diet, there are a few dishes that are safe to eat. These are fairly easy to make at home. Look out for these options when searching online recipes or scanning the menu at your favorite restaurant. You’ll be able to enjoy the foods you love while staying faithful to the diet.
1) Egg Foo Young
This is a scrumptious dish made from sliced cabbage, bamboo shoots, onions, mushrooms, and a few other ingredients. Mixed in with the lean chicken, it’s the perfect solution to keto Chinese food recipes.
Note that this dish isn’t only low-carb and keto-friendly Chinese food. It’s also full of protein. This is great for anyone looking to build muscle and stay lean.
All in all, the dish comes out to about 50g of protein and 12g of carbohydrates. That’s easy to fit into a low-carb diet!
2) Chicken and Broccoli
Another great, low-carb Chinese keto food is Chicken and Broccoli. It’s a simple meal and a Chinese classic. It’s also delicious when modified for Chinese keto recipes.
The chicken and broccoli dish comes with a fresh mix of lean chicken and nutritious broccoli tossed in a special Chinese sauce.
If you are looking to order this meal at a restaurant, ask what’s in the sauce. You want to do this because sometimes the sauce is made with sugar or another sweet substitute that doesn’t adhere to the diet.
If you ask, they may be able to give you the dish without sauce or offer a sugar-free sauce instead. Better yet, they may steam the chicken for less grease and more nutrients!
When making this at home, you can modify the recipe to ensure that carbs such as sugars don’t get into the dish.
This dish comes out to about 31 grams of protein and between 15-19 carbohydrates based on the sauce and cooking method.
3) Moo Shu Pork
The third keto Chinese food recipe we’re highlighting is Moo Shu Pork. Keep in mind that the traditional serving of Moo Shu Pork comes with a pancake. That part would need to be left off the plate. But even without the pancake, enough is going on in this popular dish to keep you satisfied.
Moo Shu Pork comes is packed full of vegetables. It has snow peas, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, bell peppers, celery, and more veggies galore. And of course, it has a hearty portion of pork.
In a lot of restaurants, the food will be made with sake or rice wine. This will add a few more carbohydrates to the meal. If you’re making it at home, you can just use broth as a low-carb substitute.
This northern Chinese keto dish is a popular stir-fry. It adds a lot of flavor and freshness to the keto Chinese food options out there.
Dining Out on Keto Chinese Food – What to Keep in Mind
Before heading to your favorite Chinese food restaurant, you should keep these tips and considerations in mind to maintain a ketogenic diet.
You’ll Be Limited
You won’t have the limitless options you used to have when dining at a Chinese restaurant. If you’re looking for keto at a Chinese restaurant, you will only have a few solid choices. However, just because you’re limited doesn’t mean you won’t find anything tasty and satisfying.
You’ll Be Tempted
There will likely be many dishes on the menu that will tempt you to stray from the diet. Chinese staples like rice and wontons are hard to get away from, so you’ll need to have a certain level of self-discipline. Be firm with yourself and say “no” to what will throw off your progress.
You’ll Need to Ask Questions
If you just assume they will cook your chicken and broccoli with a sugar-free sauce, you might wind up with a stomach ache. This often happens to folks on the keto diet who consume sugar unawares.
To make an educated decision on what you’ll eat for dinner, you need to ask questions about the food preparation. Don’t be embarrassed. Lots of people have dietary restrictions.
You may also want to ask about a particular dish’s nutritional information. This will keep things clear-cut as to whether or not you can eat it. If a dish has a higher carb count than you’re okay with, you’ll know it’s not for you.
You May Need to Make Special Requests
If you end up finding out the dish you want is prepared with carbohydrates, don’t be afraid to ask the kitchen staff for a special request. Most places won’t mind cooking your food on its own or substituting a sauce.
It can be uncomfortable to make special requests at first. After a while though, you’ll realize most places are happy to make adjustments. After all, you’re the one paying for the food.
If you feel like a burden, remind yourself that you are not being difficult; you’re being thorough. Keep this in mind at any restaurant. You’ll be more prepared to ask for what you want, protect your health, and remain true to your dietary choices.
You’ll Need to Steer Clear of Many Items
You will consume a small number of carbohydrates in whatever you eat. However, you should try to avoid the worst offenders when dining at a Chinese food restaurant. If you want to enjoy those dishes, you’ll need to get creative at home and make a keto-friendly Chinese version.
You Can Ask for Something on the Side
If you feel bad about making special requests, ask for something on the side. This is a more low-maintenance approach. By asking for the sauce on the side, you’ll be able to taste it and decide for yourself if it fits into your keto diet or if you should forego it.
The Dishes Might Not Have Enough Fat
The meals may fit into your diet as far as protein and carbohydrates go. However, they might still be lacking fat.
Part of what makes the keto diet work is having enough fat in your diet. Bringing your own fat can be easy! You can bring along a special keto sauce from home or pack along a few fat bombs for dessert.
Safe Keto-Friendly Chinese Options
If you’re craving Chinese food while on the ketogenic diet, your safest choices are going to include the dishes mentioned earlier as well as any of the following:
- Egg Drop Soup
- Stir-fry (without the noodles)
- Steamed protein and vegetable
- Moo Goo Gai Pain
- Curry Chicken
Non-Keto Chinese Food to Avoid
Just like the list of keto-friendly Chinese recipes we provided, there’s also a list of Chinese recipes that are the opposite of keto-friendly. When you see these items on any Chinese food menu, know that they are NOT keto. You should never order these items if you’re looking to remain faithful to a ketogenic diet:
- Wontons – Wontons boiled as noodles, like in Wonton Soup, and fried as appetizers should both be avoided
- Egg rolls – These are made from a wonton-like breading and then are deep-fried.
- Rice – Although rice is a healthy choice in many diets, it’s the keto dieter’s enemy.
- Breaded dishes – It’s common to see a lot of proteins breaded on a Chinese food menu. Pay attention to breaded chicken, beef, or pork.
- Noodles – Chinese food is famous for its noodles. The keto dieter won’t be able to enjoy these in any of their forms. They come as crispy chow mein, soft lo mein entrees, and chow fun.
- Sweet sauces – As delicious as they are, sauces with sugar in them should be avoided at all costs. These sauces include sweet and sour, sesame, orange, duck, oyster, hoisin, and plum sauce. If you have to have one of these sauces, use a very small amount.
- Thick soups – Just because something is a soup doesn’t mean it’s low-carb. Many thick soups get their consistency from cornstarch, which has about 7 grams of carbohydrates in one single tablespoon. Soups that don’t seem thick (like hot and sour soup) can have corn starch.
- Protein dusted with cornstarch – Just as cornstarch is used in soups to thicken, it is also used on protein to add a crispier skin. It can be hard to know if it’s part of the coating or not, so it’s important to ask.
- Roasted duck – The sauce that comes with this meal is very heavy in sugar.
- Specific dishes – Aside from these general rules, there are also a few specific dishes that should be avoided if you’re eating Chinese food on keto. These include General Tso’s chicken, Lemon Chicken, Sweet and Sour dishes, and anything that includes water chestnuts.
The Bottom Line
With all of these options, you’re certain to find something that looks tasty to you. While the keto Chinese food options are limited, you can still enjoy your favorite foods on the diet.