Michelle's Note: I hope that all of my Keto readers enjoy this guest post from John over at KetoWatt! I know that dining out while Keto is tough. John put together some great options for staying on keto at Panda Express! Many of these options would work at any Chinese restaurant, too!
With people hard-pressed for time, takeout and restaurant have become popular choices to eat food. There is no limit to the number of restaurants you will find in one area. Many of such restaurants serve specialized food with unique flavors. One such name that stands out is Panda Express.
Panda Express offers American Chinese fast food. It is a large fast-food chain having more than 2200 locations. in America. It is best known for its orange chicken and chow mein. With Panda Express serving large, delicious portions of food, people find it challenging to stay on a diet and follow the dietary rules.
If you have kick-started your Keto diet or planning to start one, are you wondering if you can still eat at Panda Express?
Keto diet works on the principle of Ketosis. Here a person has food that is rich in fat content and low on carbs. The body burns the fats instead of glucose to get energy. This diet works wonders for people with Type II diabetics and weight management. Since sugar is 100% carbs, and advisable to be consumed in moderation, or you should wholly avoid it.
Can Panda Express and Keto diet followers meet at a midpoint?
You may crave Panda Express’s most popular dishes; fried rice, spring rolls or orange chicken. Many flavors of Chinese food are loaded with hidden sugar. Being on the Keto diet, these types of food are off-limits. But, there is a silver lining to every cloud. You can still indulge on a few occasions at Panda Express. You will remain on Ketosis as long as you watch your macros.
The ideal macros for your food should be 70-80 percent fat, 15-20 percent protein, and carbs around 5-10 percent only. It is tough to find such macros in the restaurant-style menu. However, Panda Express has five Keto-friendly dishes for you to enjoy without guilt!
Five Keto-friendly Dishes at Panda Express
You can safely dig your chopsticks into these yummy and Keto-friendly and healthy dishes from the Wok Smart menu.
You can enjoy Chicken tossed in the Ginger Sauce along with fresh-cut onions and beans. This combination not only tastes good but has only nine grams of net carbs. If you love mushroom, then the Mushroom Chicken is a must for you. The dish has loads of mushroom, chicken, and zucchini, and is prepared in ginger soy sauce. The net carbs of this dish are merely 10 grams.
You can pair tender Beef with Broccoli. It is a winning combination of health and taste. A single portion is filling, and the net carbs are at 11 grams
Fish is yet another nutritious item. Choose steamed fish instead of deep-fried fish. The net carbs are at 6 grams. You can top it with a mix of greens – kale, broccoli, and cabbage. This takes the net carbs to 11 grams. You can also order for half the portion and reduce the net carbs further.
Vegan or vegetarian
If you are a strict vegan or vegetarian Keto dieter, then opt for plant-based protein. The spicy Szechuan Tofu is a complete meal in itself. You can further combine it with Super Greens or Mixed vegetables. The net carbs come to 8 carbs.
Additional tips on low carb and Keto-friendly Chinese food options
- Opt for Egg Drop Soup instead of Fried Wontons
- Opt for fish, chicken, pork or beef platter instead of fried rice
- Choose Steamed Tofu with vegetables or Beef and Mushrooms instead of noodles
- Always ask for the sauce to be served separately so that you can have sauce in moderation as per Keto. Since sauce has the maximum sugar content, limit it as much as possible.
Ways to customize your meal at Panda Express with Keto-Friendly Platters
Panda Express has options for the type of meal you would like to have.
- The Bowl option gives you one entrée and one side
- The Plate option will provide you two entrées and one side
- The Bigger plate option gives you three entrées and one side
The best option is to stick to one entrée and one side. The only side dish that a person on a Keto diet can have is mixed vegetables. It has cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, and carrots. As carrots have high carbs, you can choose not to have eat the included carrots. You can opt for beef and broccoli or any other type of meat or fish as entrée. Ask for sauce on the side and use it sparingly.
Ask for the entree options from the wok-tossed meal. This menu contains dishes that have less than 300 calories with eight grams of protein. They also use fresh hand-cut vegetables. This is the best-customized option available for Keto dieters at Panda Express.
Stay away from the popular choice of Orange chicken, Honey walnut shrimp, and Eggplant tofu, to name a few as these are fried with sugar-loaded sauces.
Most of the Chinese restaurants add MSG in their food preparation. MSG has been linked as the key contributor to conditions like diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases. Panda Express has stated that it does not use MSG in any of their preparations.
Panda Express also doesn’t offer gluten-free dishes, but then you can always work around the food options. Any food outlets' primary focus is to provide tasty food instead of healthy food. The popular menu options mostly have fried food and sauces with high sugar content. But, Panda Express has introduced some healthy Keto-friendly options.
However, it is best to have food at home as much as possible. You can buy high-quality Keto-friendly items and prepare some healthy and tasty dishes at home as well. You can indulge in Panda Express once a month or keep the option only for emergencies. But always remember to customize your meals and choose healthy low-carbs Keto-friendly options.
I hope you liked our article on Keto at Panda Express. You can also check interesting keto articles at Keto Watt.
Check out some additional Keto recipes on Blackberry Babe: