Low Carb Chinese Food
Keto Chinese food isn’t a term you hear very often, mainly because it’s typically full of sugar and starch which makes it high carb and the opposite of ketogenic.
But with enough determination and compromise – it can be done. If you’re going to a Chinese restaurant, getting takeout or just fancy making something keto-friendly with a Chinese flair, we have you covered.
In this short guide, we’ll be dishing out some hot keto tips to give you a better low carb experience at a Chinese restaurant, buffet or for good old takeout. We’ll also be checking out some keto friendly Chinese food recipes you can try too.
So let’s jump right into it:
Keto Chinese Take Out: What should you order?
Getting takeout from a Chinese restaurant is typically a naughty treat – and definitely not keto.
However, if you pick your options carefully, there are some low-carb menu options in the rough that can help you score some easy keto Chinese food.
Here are the top 5 low carb orders we think are your best bet to stay keto while eating Chinese takeout:
1. Egg Foo Yung
Forget the rice, forget the noodles and forgo the gravy and Egg Foo Yung is a fantastic low carb Chinese omelet. It’s prefect for keto. You can replace anything you’ve had to leave with steamed or stir fried vegetables.
2. Meat and Broccoli (Chicken of Beef)
Another great low carb option. There’s nothing scary in here – just meat and vegetables made with ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Just make sure they don’t use cornstarch on the meat and it’s great for keto.
3. Mu Shu (Chicken or Pork)
This is a dish that you’ll commonly see in Chinese restaurants served with pancakes. It’s a little soul-crushing but if you replace those carby pancakes with some low-carb lettuce leaves you get a great keto-friendly treat.
4. Moo Goo Gai Pan
A great stir-fry meal which is friendly to keto. You just need to do some tweaking. Traditionally, it’s chicken, vegetables and sauce with rice. Strip away the sauce and the rice and that’s a low carb keto meal ready to go.
5. Kung Pao Chicken
Full of vegetables peanuts and spices, it’s a great low carb keto friendly meal to have for any occassion. If you make sure you pick low carb vegetables too like broccoli it’ll really help keep it keto friendly.
There are some other options too like your Chop Suey (provided you remove the rice and noodles), chicken wings or spare ribs (provided their salt and pepper flavor) – but they require a lot of changes to get low carb and that takes away from the main meal.
Keto Chinese Buffet: What Chinese Food Can You Eat on Keto?
Answer: Not a lot. Going keto or low carb in a Chinese Buffet is for the bravest of the brave. It can be done, but there are various pitfalls that you may fall into which could ruin your ketosis. More or less everything in there has a chance to be full of sugar and starch.
If you’re going to try this, we suggest you go in with the knowledge that you may ruin your ketogenic state – there’s plenty of traps here.
Okay, enough warnings, let’s look at the best low carb options for a Chinese Buffet:
Safest Keto Options
If you’re going to the Chinese Buffet, these are what we believe to be the most keto-friendly, low-carb options:
- Clear thin soups. Thicker soups are usually padded with cornstarch.
- Steamed food. Look for vegetables, fish, tofu – anything that isn’t deep fried.
- Savory Sauces. Make sure they’re thin to avoid the cornstarch and add a few meats and vegetables in there. Try curry chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, chicken and mushroom etc.
- Stir-Fried Dishes. Not much sugar and starch is used. Just make sure they don’t coat the meet before putting it in. If it’s already set out at the buffet, may be better to leave it alone.
- Black Bean Sauce. Very low carb, your only risk here are the carbs from the beans themselves.
- Mu Shu. The contents are fine, just absolutely avoid the carb heavy wrap it comes in.
- Walnut Chicken. Typically this does not come with starch or sugar – you may need to taste it first.
- Egg Foo Yung. Clearly keto – avoid the gravy and it’s absolutely low carb and a killer meal.
As always though, be diligent. These places are notorious for sugar and starch. Get a little bit – taste it and you’ll know if it’s been loaded with sugar.
Risky Low Carb Options
These are some of the options that might be low carb in moderation – but you need to be very careful with them. Depending on the buffet, these are sometimes okay – but sometimes not:
- Thick soups and sauces. We wouldn’t risk it, they’re packed with cornstarch which can fetch 7 grams of carbs per tablespoon. If it’s thick, get out quick.
- Random buffet items. Anything can be thickened with cornstarch to keep them warm. Be sure to ask before sampling them.
- Sweet foods. Any dishes that taste sweet (or in some cases spicy) are packed with sugar. If in doubt ask – but you’ll know if you’re dealing with something super sweet.
- Water Chestnuts. Full of starch – eight of them have 6 grams of carbs. A few slices are okay – but be careful.
Cornstarch is the true enemy here – mainly because it can be on anything. Make sure to always ask before you dine to make sure you don’t get your keto thrown out of whack.
Foods to Avoid
No excuses, no wriggle room – these are the foods that you avoid at the Chinese Buffet. They are not keto friendly, they are not low carb. You will have a huge risk of entering ketosis:
- Rice. This includes steam rice, and obviously fried rice.
- Noodles. Noodle dishes are off the table, they’re super high carb. Chow Mein, Lo Mein, etc. We do have a section later though we covers a way around this.
- Wontons. Deep-fried or not, this is a big no-no.
- Breaded Meats. Keyword being bread. It’s a carb-city.
- Egg Rolls. You had us at the egg, but you lost us at the rolls – way too many carbs.
- Sweet and Sour Sauce, Duck Sauce, Plum Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Hoisin Sauce. Huge amounts of sugar in all of them. Definitely not keto friendly.
Use your common sense and you’ll be fine. Anything we’ve missed here, your taste-buds will find for you.
Keto Friendly Chinese Food Recipes
These are some fast keto meal hacks that you can apply to any Chinese food you are making to create a more low carb meal.
Here are the most popular dishes were asked to make more low carb when creating this article:
Chow Mein Keto Chinese Food
Keto Chow Mein is no easy task. They’re one of the highest carb Chinese foods there are, but if you are motivated enough it can be done.
Note: Chances are you’re not going to get Keto-Friendly Chow Mein at a restaurant, you’re going to have to make this low carb option yourself.
To make the Chow Mein more low-carb, you need to get rid of the noodles. You’ll be replacing them with a much keto-friendlier option: Cabbage Noodles.
All you need to do is to slice cabbage very thin like noodles, and then boil it in water for several minutes. Being only 6% carbs, cabbage is a great alternative to noodles and it’s so adaptable for working with the flavors in your dish.
Zucchini is another popular option for creating noodle alternatives for keto chow mein. They’re low carb too – but you’d need a spiralizer to pull this off.
For more flavor you can increase the amount of sesame that you use in this dish and a boiled egg could also help.
Fried Rice Keto Chinese Food
Yes. There’s even a keto version of Chinese fried rice.
Your low-carb alternative is none other than: Cauliflower Egg Fried Rice.
Again, this is another dish that you’d have to put together yourself. Unless you know of any magical low-carb keto friendly Chinese restaurants.
So how do you make it? Here’s how you create this low-carb Chinese food in a few easy steps:
- Chop up and blend cauliflower until it is in a grain-like consistency.
- Heat a wok with medium heat, adding butter, peppers, ginger, garlic, and spring onions for around 3 minutes.
- Introduce the cauliflower to the mix and heat for another 3 minutes and add some soy sauce.
- Put the mixture on one side of the pan and add pre-whisked eggs to the other. Scramble the eggs for a minute or two and then mix it all together.
Plenty of changes can be made to this fast recipe – like subbing in coconut oil and salt instead of soy sauce. But the main thing is that you’re using cauliflower instead of rice for that keto, low-carb benefit.
Keto Friendly Chinese Food | Summary
As you can see, there are a ton of options when it comes to eating keto at your favorite Chinese restaurant.
What’s rewarded the most is diligence. If you really want to pull this off, you want to be asking the staff if they’re using cornstarch on the meats, what’s got high sugar in and what you can trade out for alternatives. Typically a lot of these trades are going to be steamed vegetables instead of rice or noodles.
The same goes for at home. Your biggest obstacle here are the rice and noodles. These can be subbed out for cauliflower rice or cabbage noodles. We know it’s not the same – but it’s your best bet if you want that hit of moreish Chinese food without the guilt of breaking your ketosis.