This is the first of a series where we’ll looking into how you can stay on track and eat low carb at different kinds of restaurants! This week, how to eat low carb at a Japanese restaurant.
It’s relatively easy to stay on track and eat low carb when you’re at home in your own controlled environment but when you’re out and about things can be a little trickier.
I, like most of you, encounter this struggle quite often… your friends, family or co-workers want to go out for dinner, somewhere suggests “hey what about Japanese / Italian / burgers” and you think to yourself “oh shit, how am I go to manage this”.
So, let’s jump in and look at what to go for when you’re trying to stay low carb at a Japanese Restaurant
When most people think about Japanese food their brain automatically conjures images of heavy rice-laden dishes like sushi rolls and ramen noodles – delicious, yes, low-carb, no.
What to avoid when you’re trying to eat low carb at a Japanese Restaurant
🚫 Nori Rolls (sometimes referred to as Sushi Rolls)
Probably the most obvious one you’ll find on this list but steer clear of these. One average nori roll (usually cut into 5 or 6 pieces) can have as much as 60g of carbs! The worst offenders are tempura nori rolls with the double whammy of rice and batter.
Sushifaq.com has a extremely thorough breakdown of the nutrition of various kinds of sushi and sashimi.
🚫 Nigiri Sushi ? (A slice of fish on a bed of rice)
Second only to nori rolls is nigiri sushi. Instead of being rolled in rice, these are usually a thin slice of raw, or occasionally lightly grilled fish, on a bed of rice. Despite being lower carb than nori rolls, just one piece of nigiri sushi has around 8-10g of carbs on average and I’m guessing you’re like me and would probably need to eat about 10 of these to fill up!
Moderate your intake of these to stay low carb at a Japanese Restaurant
✋ Edamame (Sorry)
As delicious as these are, one serve (around 1/2 cup) of edamame (soy beans) has around 9g of carbs. This won’t be a deal breaker and if you’re good with everything else then go for it, but if you’re trying to be super strict then avoid edamame!
✋ Seaweed Salad (Wakame Sarada)
As I learn’t when researching for the massive list of low carb vegetables seaweed is actually really low carb and really high protein! HOWEVER, traditional Japanese seaweed salad is not just seaweed (because that would taste gross) it usually has soy sauce, sugar, ginger juice, sesame oil and seeds as well as a few other things. As delicious as it is, this does bump up the carbs to around 10g per serve which makes it not-so-low carb.
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What to go for to stay low carb at a Japanese Restaurant
✅ Sashimi (Yes, Raw Fish)
If you can put the texture aside (i’m slowly learning to enjoy it) then sashimi is a fantastic food to eat in general, and even more so when you’re trying to stay low carb at a Japanese Restaurant. Sashimi is simply raw fish, a meat, which means it’s mostly protein, a good amount of healthy fats and only a trace amount of carbs. One piece of sashimi which generally is around 30g (1 ounce) has between 5-8g of Protein and less than 1g of Carbs.
✅ Miso Soup
I was super happy to find out that miso soup is generally quite low carb with only 5-6g of carbs per serve (small bowl). Miso soup is made from a stock called dashi, miso paste (think japanese vegemite) and often has nori (seaweed) and occasionally tofu. It’s a nice little starter or in between and other courses which will help fill you up.
✅ Konjac Ramen (if you can find it)
This is a personal favourite of mine and it’s not always easy to find, but if you can, then go for it! Konjac ramen uses special konjac noodles made from the root of the elephant yam and are super low carb (around 2-3g / 100g). Now, the rest of the ingredients in the ramen are going to vary quite a lot from place to place but are generally reasonably low carb.
My favourite place to get Konjac Ramen is a restaurant called Kuroneko Ramen in Sutherland, Sydney. I’ve popped the link below so you can check it out.
What to drink when trying to stay low carb at a Japanese Restaurant
Aside from the obvious (water, silly), green tea is super low carb and delicious and is reported to help with digestion. Looking for something a bit stiffer, go for a traditional sake which generally has around 5g per 100ml, but is alcohol which does have caloric value so enjoy in moderation 🙂
What’s your favourite low carb options when you eat out at a Japanese Restaurant?
I’d love to hear from you and update this list with any great suggestions you guys have. Just comment below. Have any questions or corrections, let me know as well 🙂 Cheers, Luke
- An avid barefoot trail runner, explorer, creator, and keen learner. I'm incredibly humbled by everyone who's helped The Protein Bread Co. to grow to where it is today – actively supporting our mission to help 5M Australians and 20M people globally to live fitter, healthier and happier lives. You can reach out to me via Twitter or Instagram @thelowcarbgiant, Facebook @lukehopkins, or shoot me an email at email@example.com
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