Back in the day, Chinese food was one of my staples. In college, we ordered Chinese food often?maybe a few times a week. The food came fast, it was fairly inexpensive for the portions, it was quite filling, and back then, I didn?t care less about calories or carbs. And after my meal, there were two things I could always guarantee after each meal:
? It would feel quite bloated after eating it ? leading me to almost want to take a nap
? A few hours later, I was hunger again for more Chinese food leftovers
After college, when I lived in the New York City area, I actually ate Chinese food more often. The tri-state area has some of the best Chinese restaurants in the Country. This time, however, I made a better attempt to eat healthier vs. my college meals, which consisted of General Tao?s Chicken, Lo Mein, Fried Rice, with apps of Sweet & Sour Chicken, Egg Roll, Boneless Spareribs, etc.
And although my meal was healthier than college, it was far from healthy. I would order Steamed Dumplings with White or Brown Rice (both low fat), and menu items like Chicken & Broccoli, assuming the combo of very lean chicken and a healthy veggie was a good choice. It wasn?t terrible, but again, little did I know much about the sugar content in those sauces and the huge spike in both blood sugar and insulin after consuming each meal. And that huge blood sugar spike and ultimate crash was the reason I felt bloated and tired after each meal BUT was hungry for more ?food energy? a few hours later.
So, is it even possible to eat Chinese food anymore if you are trying to stay very low carb and follow a ketogenic diet? These are the challenges with eating Chinese food out while on Keto:
? Can?t assume any item is low carb ? including something like a ?Lettuce Wrap?
? Most food items are served with rice or noodles
? Many proteins are breaded and battered
? Most of the sauces are loaded with sugar
? Most of their foods are Fried
? Many Chinese restaurants use MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), a food additive that enhances flavor (linked to possible obesity, headaches, sweating, breathing difficulties).
However, with the growth of Chinese food chains, such as P.F. Chang?s and Pei Wei, we now have more transparency with their menus. Also, their ability to allow for individuals to customize their meals is welcomed and needed in order to eat low carb.
In today?s Road Warrior U ?Fast Food Restaurant Review?, I will be analyzing the menu from Pei Wei ? providing you tips, tricks, my fav low carb options and what foods to avoid.
ROAD WARRIOR U?S TIP?S AT PEI WEI
? Customize, Customize, Customize! Most likely, the menu ?as is? is not Keto.
? Avoid Most Sauces unless you know the carb count.
? Avoid White & Brown Rice, Quinoa & Noodles.
? Avoid Fried Foods, especially items breaded and battered.
? Seek Gluten free items if offered.
? Order Steamed Protein and Vegetable without Sauce.
? Select veggies that grow above ground.
? Alternate Soy Sauce over most sauces.
? If you select a rice, use Cauliflower rice.
HOW TO ORDER AT PEI WEI ? -> RECOMMENDED LOW CARB OPTIONS
[Bases On Pei Wei?s Nutritional Value ]
GENERAL TIPS ?
If you are STRICT keto, you may choose to order your protein ?steamed? instead of fried in a Wok, as long as you are aware that your meal may be too low in fat & too high in protein.
If you go for large vs regular sizes, be certain you adjust your carb macros appropriately. You?re most likely better off ordering extra protein for a regular serving vs. a larger portion of your entire meal.
RICE BOWLS ? BUILD YOUR OWN
Swap out the regular rice for cauliflower rice. Choose keto friendly veggies like scallions, broccoli, lettuce, mushrooms, avocado, cucumber, spinach and tomato. Skip the carrots, snap peas and onions. Don?t even consider the breaded/battered proteins and focus on high quality protein sources that are higher in fats. Avoid just about all sauces. Use soy sauce as an alternative. Use caution with Pei-Wei?s Asian Slaw, Red Bells and other items where you may be uncertain about the macros. These items do not have clear nutritional values listed and require more research.
?MY ORDER: CAULIFLOWER RICE BOWL WITH STEAMED CHICKEN, AVOCADO, LETTUCE, MUSHROOMS AND SPINACH. ADD SOY SAUCE.
Like the Rice Bowls, you?ll need to customize the salads to make them keto friendly. Each customization can significantly reduce the carb count. Best practice would be to avoid their salad dressing and replace with your own dressing or Olive Oil & Vinegar.
POLYNESIAN POKE BOWL ? Choose cauliflower rice and hold the crispy shallots and Sambal Chile sauce
AHI AVOCADO SALAD ? Hold the wasabi vinaigrette, crispy wantons, Asian slaw and carrots
ASIAN CHOPPED CHICKEN SALAD ? Hold the ginger-sesame vinaigrette, crispy wantons and carrots. Order this gluten free if you choose.
THE CAULIFLOWER POWER BOWL [Customized]
Same general guidelines as the rice bowls above. High quality, non-breaded proteins, keto friendly veggies, no sauces.
? MY ORDER: Steamed white meat chicken, red bells, ginger and scallions. Hold the Tamarind & Chile soy glazed carrots, snap peas, onions & pineapple.
DETAILED MACRO-NUTRIENTS FOR SUGGESTED LOW CARB OPTIONS
Wok Fried Sliced Chicken ? 350 Cal | 20g Fat | 3g Carbs | 1g Fiber | 41g Protein | 2g Net Carbs
Steamed Chicken ? 220 Cal | 5g Fat | 3g Carbs | 1g Fiber | 41g Protein | 2g Net Carbs
Grass-Fed Steak ? 410 Cal | 29g Fat | 8g Carbs | 2g Fiber |29 g Protein | 6g Net Carbs
Fresh-Wok Cooked Shrimp ? 220 Cal | 16g Fat | 1g Carbs | 18g Protein | 1g Net Carbs
Steamed Shrimp ? 110 Cal | 2g Fat | 1g Carbs | 24g Protein | 1g Net Carbs
Ahi Tuna ? Nutritional Value Unknown | this Protein is available for salad bowls
Cauliflower Rice ? 120 Cal | 8g Fat | 11g Carbs | 5g Fiber | 5g Sugar | 5g Protein | 6g Net Carbs
Mixed Salad Greens ? 30 Cal | 1g Protein | 0 g Net Carbs
Lettuce Cups ? 30 Cal | 0g Fat | 6g Carbs | 2g Fiber | 4g Sugar | 2g Protein | 4g Net Carbs
Additional Vegetables (Not listed but generally known as keto-approved, if consumed in moderation) ? Broccoli, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Avocado, Cucumber, Spinach, Tomatoes
Lettuce Wrap Sauce (2oz) ? 60 Cal| 3g Fat | 3 Carbs | 1g Fiber | 3g Protein| 1g Sugar | 2g Carbs
Chili Paste (1oz) ? 0 Cal | 0 g Net Carbs
Soy Sauce (1tbsp) ? not listed but generally contains 1g Net Carb per tbsp & 4g Net Carbs for Cup
Crab Wonton (1 piece/no sauce) ? 85 Cal | 5g Fat | 7g Carbs | .5g Fiber | 3g Protein | 6.5g Net Carbs
Chicken Potstickers (3) ? 50 Cal | 1.5g Fat | 6g Carbs | 3g Protein | 6g Net Carbs
Miso Side Salad w/ dressing ? 140 Cal | 11g Fat | 10g Carbs | 2g Fiber | 7g Sugar | 1g Protein | 6g Net Carbs
Hot & Sour Soup (cup)? 70 Cal | 3g Fat | g6 Carbs | 1g Fiber | 1g Sugar | 5g Protein | 5g Net Carbs
Thai Wonton Soup (cup) ?80 Cal | 2g Fat | 11g Carbs | 2g Fiber | 2g Sugar | 5g Protein | 9g Net Carbs
? TIP ?Wontons are not a keto-friendly option, but if it?s calling you badly, the net carb for 1 piece is 6g?s.
? TIP ?When ordering soups, keep serving sizes to a cup vs a bowl.
? TIP ?For Miso Salad, remove dressing & carrots for great low-carb option.
AVOID THESE SPEED TRAPS THAT WILL CRUSH YOUR DIET??
Nothing is worse than assuming something is very low carb, only to learn the truth after you eat it. Here are a few of the pitfalls to avoid at Pei Wei that will destroy your success:
?? Signature Chicken Lettuce Wrap
What used to be my ?go to? item at specialty Chinese restaurants are FAR from low carb, with 66 grams of Carbohydrates. What was also shocking to me was the 21g of sugar it contained.
?? Macros: 810 Calories | 46g Fat | 66g Carbs | 7g Fiber | 34g Protein | 59g Net Carbs
?? Pei Wei Salad Dressing
Like most restaurants, it?s hard to trust any salad dressing served. Either travel with your own dressing or if available, use Olive Oil & Vinegar only. Macros are for a 2 oz serving only:
Thai Peanut Vinaigrette ? 36g carbs | 26g sugar
Wasabi Vinaigrette ? 17g carbs | 16g sugar
White Miso Ginger Dressing ? 11g carbs | 9g sugar
Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette ? 6g carbs | 5g sugar [With only 6g of carbs, this may be okay for some to use; however, note that this is only for a 2oz serving & contains 5g of sugar.]
?? Pei Wei Sauces
Most of the sauces used are heave in sugar and carbs. Not all sauces are disclosed but here are two popular sauces:
Sweet Chili Sauce (2oz) ? 80 Cal | 19g Sugar | 20g Net Carbs
Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce (2oz) ? 230 Cal | 15g Fat | 20g Carbs | 15g Sugar | 5g Protein 20g Net Carbs
?? Cauli Flower Power Bowl & Cauliflower Fried Rice
Don?t let the word cauliflower in the title fool you ? unless customized, these are not low carb options. I would avoid these two so-called ?keto-friendly? options, based on their sugar & carb content and stick with the plain cauliflower rice, with 6g of net carbs.
Cauli Flower Power Bowl ? 750 Cal | 37g Fat | 44g Carbs | 9g Fiber | 21g Sugar | 61g Protein | 35g Net Carbs
Cauliflower Fried Rice w/ Steamed Chicken (Small) ? 540 Cal | 30g Fat | 34g Carbs | 7g Fiber | 20g Sugar | 31g Protein | 28g Net Carbs
Zoodles are growing in popularity as an alternative to pasta and noodles, however, you will be shocked to know that their Zoodles have 25g of Net Carbs and 5g of sugar.
?? Sushi | Bento Box
The challenge with sushi is obviously with the rice, making the Bento Box a less appealing low carb option. Although the net carbs range from 5?9g of net carbs per piece, 1 piece is far from filling and is probably not ideal for managing your daily carb budget.
?? Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls
They seem to be a nice low carb option; however, 1 piece has 19g of net carbs. The chicken is marinated, and the ingredients include peanuts, rice noodles, wrapped in Banh Trang rice paper. Also, the sauces are deadly!
Check Pei Wei Nutrition chart at this link for complete nutritional values -> https://www.peiwei.com/-/media/files/nutritional-information/jan-menu-update.pdf
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Joseph Tramazzo (?Keto Joe?) ? Creator of Road Warrior U On-The-Go Support & Peak Performance Coach [Private 1-on-1 Keto & Fasting Coach]
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After an extremely successful 22-year career working as a traveling professional for a Fortune Top 50 firm in the Financial Service Industry, Joseph Tramazzo left his Managing Director position to follow his passion to help others similar to him live their best life. Joe runs a Peak Performance coaching program for fellow road warriors, business execs & wholesalers who struggled establishing work-life balance. He provides accountability, knowledge & motivation. His clients have been able to boost their energy, increase their productivity and grow their income while improving their health, fitness and overall well-being. Joseph also is CEO & Founder of Road Warrior U: Keto & Fasting ?On-The-Go? Support. Here?s his personal story: