I love chinese food.
I was not willing to part with chinese food when I started the ketogenic diet.
I had to find an alternative that was just as delicious and satisfying.
I asked the question Can I eat Keto friendly chinese food?
The answer is yes! You can eat Chinese food on a low carb diet.
Thankfully there are many options when eating Chinese takeout on a keto diet.
This guide is going to walk you through getting the most satisfying low carb Chinese food for the smallest amount of carbs.
HOW TO EAT CHINESE FOOD ON KETO
Chinese food to Avoid
Ordering Keto Chinese Food at a restaurant can be tricky. Chinese dishes that appear to be low carb are often not due to sauces used in the recipe.
Cornstarch is often riddled through the meat in Chinese dishes because it serves to tenderize the meat and poultry.
The base of most restaurants Chinese entree’s consists of soy sauce+ a sugar base.
Then Chinese restaurants usually add more sugar and starch. These hidden add ons will kick you out of ketosis very quickly.
“Western” Chinese food tends to be more sugary and breaded.
Places that serve roast duck and crispy skin pork type dishes usually are more authentic, keto friendly and taste better.
You will ALWAYS want to avoid the Chinese list foods below on a keto diet. they are very high in carbs, and you will never find their low carb counterparts at a Chinese restaurant.
- Rice- This is a given. When trying to lose weight, avoid Chinese rice.
- Noodles ( you can ask for shirataki noodles instead)
- Wontons– It’s painful I know, but Chinese wontons are off limits on a keto diet.
- Egg Rolls/ Spring rolls– These are usually fried with some type of breading, or wrapped with rice paper. Avoid these chinese items on a keto diet.
- Most Sauces– This includes chinese duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, oyster, soy, and plum sauce.
After giving you the bad news, don’t worry. There are keto chinese food alternatives.
So, WHAT CAN I EAT AT A CHINESE RESTAURANT ON KETO?
You can customize any dish at restaurants.
- Egg Drop Soup can be a low carb chinese food that is safe to eat- A cup of PF CHANGS Soup contains six carbs. Six carbs for a chinese dish can be too many depending on your weight loss goals. The less carbs you eat, the faster you will lose weight. Always ask the chinese restauruant if they add thickener to the soup.
- Hot and Sour Soup is a great chinese dish option for a ketogenic diet. P.F. Changs hot and sour soup has around 9 carbs in it. If you budget your carbs well you can get away with this option. The portion is a little small, but if you are with friends and family (and must eat something) hot and sour soup is a great option for the ketogenic diet.
- Any chinese dish that is steamed- You can ask the waiter to get rid of the sauce. You can also ask for a side of oil or soy sauce to flavor you meet with. Also, ask if they have any butter as it will add fat macros and flavor to the dish. It may be hard to depart with your beloved chinese sauces, but don’t let it get you down. You won’t miss high-carb chinese food when you fit into your skinny pants and have mental clairty. Your taste buds will also change, giving you more appreciation for more natural, simple foods.
Stir Fried Dishes
- Stir Fried dish are usually loaded with a soy sauce+ sugar sauce. Ask the waitress for no sauce. Make sure the rest of the chinese vegetables are keto friendly and don’t contain extra starch when making them.
Best Keto Chinese Entrees to order
- Beef and Broccoli – When ordering ask for the sauce on the side. This assures you control how much goes into your food. Beware of hidden carbs lurking.
- Chinese Chicken wings- Always ask if the chicken wings have breading, and what type of sauce the restauruant uses. A lot of the time they will bread the chicken wings, or use a sugary sauce. Also, the chicken wings will be fried in vegetable oil which is not desirable. Only order if you must!
- Egg Drop or Hot & Sour Soup- These are usually clear and contain about 10 carbs per cup.
- Create your own vegetable stir fry. Thankfully, you can create your own stir fry at many places. Below are the most common low carb veggies you can request. Make sure to ask for garlic and ginger to give the dish that chinese flavor.
- Bok Choy
- Twice Cooked Pork Belly– Pork Belly is very high in fat and taste amazing. It’s also low carb when prepared correctly!
- Green Beans with Garlic – This is my favorite dish, as it’s usually just green beans mixed with garlic! Taste amazing, is simple and healthy.
Common Questions to ask your Waiter when on a low carb diet
- Is cornstarch used in the egg drop soup? Restauraunts often add cornstarch to soups to give texture. Always ask to make sure.
- Can you leave out the cornstarch in the stirfry?
- Does this sauce have sugar or cornstarch added to it? The answer is most likley yes,
- What veggies are used in the stir fry? Chinese restauraunts usually will customize the vegetables… go ahead and ask.
- Can I get the sauce on the side? This is the safest option for a low carb diet , as you have no idea how much they are using.
- Can I substitute the rice for steamed veggies? Some places will not let you substitue rice for veggies, but go ahead and try anyway.
Keep in mind not everyone understands what a low-carb, keto, or atkins diet means. Do not ask what chinese food do you recommend for an atkins diet? Or what foods are low in carbs? often they will tell you rice is great for a low carb diet! It’s not…
How to Make Keto Chinese Food at Home
America’s idea of Chinese food is a little bit of chicken, covered in a thick breading, and drenched with sweet and sour sauce. This is not how actual Chinese food is in China. Many Chinese families buy organic produce, never using MSG, select locally sourced ingredients, and always cook from scratch rather than buying processed foods.
Chinese food is very keto adaptable. Below are some reasons why Chinese works on keto:
- Loads of healthy low carb vegetables at every meal
- Dessert is fresh fruit…which can be keto friendly! Read more here about keto cooking.
- Tons of healthy spices and herbs are used
- Make your bone broth
Common Keto Friendly Chinese Ingredients
- Peanut Oil – A high-quality peanut oil will make your stir-fried dishes taste great!
- Toasted Sesame Oil – There are a few types of Sesame oil, and you will need toasted for Chinese cooking.
- Ginger (in low amounts)
- Soy Sauce – Because it’s high in salt, this is the perfect addition to a Keto diet (you need to add more salt) Light soy sauce is for flavor, and dark soy sauce is for coloring. Usually, you will mix the two to get the perfect results.
- Dried Shitake Mushrooms– Very important to Chinese cooking! It adds depth of flavor that fresh shitake mushrooms cannot.
- Dried Chili Peppers – A key ingredient in Sichuan cooking Ranging from super spicy to super Smokey. I love them! You can get high-quality ones here. No, that isn’t an affiliate link. ?
- Star Anise – This beauty has a long shelf life and is in a variety of dishes. It’s also a key ingredient in beef stock.
- Five Spice Powder- I love a strong flavor, and this delivers! It’s an essential ingredient in marinating and braising. You buy it on Amazon, or also make your own ? It would taste better.
- Fermented Spicy Bean Paste- Bean paste is not keto friendly, However; you will only need it in small doses. Have no fear! It adds a great flavor. Try out the most famous brand in China
- Fermented Black Beans- These are not keto friendly, but will add intense flavor. Use in small amounts, and you should still stay in Ketosis.
Keto Chinese favorites listed below:
- King Pao Chicken
- Sesame Chicken ( No it’s not covered in breading)
- Stir Fry Beef with Broccoli or any veggie you want to use)
- Twice Cooked Pork
- Stir Fried Mushrooms
- Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage
- Stir Fry
- 5 Spice Chicken Wings
Some Unknown keto Chinese Recipes
- Spinach Bundles with Sesame Sauce
- Turnip Hash browns
- Scrambled egg with Tomato
Keto Chinese Sauces
- Sichuan Chili Bean Stir-Fry Sauce
- Garlic and Chili Oil
- Scorched Chili Oil
- Jade Soup
- Pork and Daikon
- Chrysanthemum Leaf Soup
Tips and Tricks when cooking Keto Chinese Food:
- Don’t crowd the veggies! When you do this, they will lack crispiness, and the meat will not brown. Stir Fry in phases.
- Tenderize the meat by pounding, or using salt
Chinese Food Carb Replacements
There are replacements for every food when following a low carb or keto diet. Find a “ regular” Chinese recipe, and modify ingredients to match a keto diet.
You will need a spiralizer. A spiralizer makes the vegetable into all types of shapes.
Watch this video here:
I was a little bit nervous about shirataki noodles, but they were surprisingly good, and work well in keto friendly Chinese food! They are tasteless and absorb whatever flavor you put in them. Sometimes I would be craving something salty, and I would fry them with some soy sauce. They also can be your fat bomb for the day. Yes… You can just fry up some shirataki noodles, add butter and bam! You got yourself some added fat without carbs. It’s almost like eating butter straight..but looks a little bit more normal. A little…
- Drain Noodles.
- These noodles may smell a little weird. You can boil for 2-3 minutes to get rid of the smell. This is optional
- Fry in a pan with no oil! This
Easy to make, and an excellent substitute for rice. Find your favorite Chinese rice recipe and replace with shredded cauliflower. You can also make some killer hash brown with it, but that’s for a different post…
- Wash and then dry the cauliflower, remove all greens
- Use a box grater or food processor to grate the cauliflower
- Transfer to clean towel, and press to remove moisture. This keeps your dish from getting soggy.
Keto Flour Replacement for chinese cooking
Almond and coconut flower area a little bit tricky. You can replace flour with a one to one ratio of almond and coconut flour. You often have to combine multiple flours to a get the same effect as “ regular” flour.
Making nut flour is simple and great for breading keto Chinese food. You will need a grinder to make your own. When making your almond flour, you can blanch the almonds. This gives almonds a lighter texture and produces fluffier goods.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil.
- Add Almonds to boiling water for 30 seconds
- Place almonds in a strainer to cool them down.
- Remove Skins
- Place them in a food processor, and pulse
- Be careful not to pulse too much. The almonds will lose moisture and turn into almond butter.
Carbalose flour can be used as a 1:1 replacement for flour. Carbalose flour will be very helpful in recreating your favorite Chinese dishes into a dish that fits into your macros.
If you want to learn more about carbalose flour check out my article here
You can enjoy keto chinese food when following a LCHF diet. There is no reason to feel deprived of your favorite foods.
Almost any chinese dish can be turned into keto chinese food! You may have to use some creativity, but you can make some delicious dishes that won’t stall your weight loss on a LCHF diet.
There you have it. The best guide on eating keto chinese food on a low carb diet!
If you interested check out my other keto guides