Do you ever come out of the gym after an intense workout and feel like something is missing? A big plate of carbs perhaps? Many gym goers struggle to satisfy their post-workout cravings in a healthy way. That's where lo mein comes in! While we often picture multiple plates of takeout when thinking about this Chinese classic, there’s more than meets the eye: lo mein offers many nutritional benefits that can fuel your active lifestyle. But how does traditional fried rice compare with its noodle neighbor, lo mein? In this article, we delve into the calorie count, macro breakdowns, and flavor profiles for each dish so that you can grab a healthy takeout bite without worrying about what lies beneath those delicious sauces and seasonings. Read on to find out who really wins this epic face-off between two popular Asian cuisine staples: Lo Mein vs Fried Rice!
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What is Lo Mein and Fried Rice?
Lo Mein and Fried Rice are both popular Chinese dishes found in Chinese restaurants throughout the United States. Lo Mein is a dish that consists of boiled wheat flour noodles that are then stir-fried with vegetables, meat or seafood, and a sauce. Fried rice is a stir-fried dish made of steamed rice, vegetables, eggs, and meat or seafood.
Both dishes are extremely popular in Chinese cuisine and are frequently served as a side dish or as a main course. The cooking methods, ingredients, and nutritional values of the dishes vary. In this article, we will compare the nutritional value of Lo Mein and Fried Rice to determine which is healthier.
Nutritional Facts of Lo Mein and Fried Rice
Because of the large varieties of ingredients and cooking methods, Lo Mein and Fried Rice have different nutritional values. The nutritional values of both dishes are shown below:
- A 1-cup serving of vegetable Lo Mein contains about 165 calories, 1.8 grams of fiber, and 6.5 grams of protein. There are also 27 grams of carbohydrates, 3.2 grams of fat, and 585 mg of sodium in it.
- A 1-cup serving of Chinese Fried Rice without meat contains about 238 calories, 1.5 grams of fiber, and 5.6 grams of protein. It also has 45 grams of carbs, 4.1 grams of fat, and 530 milligrams of sodium.
According to the nutritional values listed above, Lo Mein contains fewer calories and fat than Fried Rice.
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Why Lo Mein is Healthier Than Fried Rice
Lo Mein is a healthier option than Fried Rice for a variety of reasons. For starters, it can be a good source of protein, especially when combined with lean proteins like chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu. Protein is necessary for muscle building and repair, as well as for keeping you full for longer periods of time. Lo Mein also has a high fiber content, especially when vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or snow peas are used. Fiber is essential for digestive health and can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time. Lo Mein has fewer calories than Fried Rice. This is because it typically contains fewer sauces and less sugar than dishes such as Sweet and Sour Pork, General Tso's Chicken, and Orange Chicken. These dishes are frequently laden with sauces and added sugars, making them high in calories. Lo Mein also has less sodium than other Chinese dishes like Kung Pao Chicken or Beef and Broccoli, which frequently use more soy sauce and other salty condiments. Lo Mein is thus a better option for those watching their sodium intake.
Healthier Alternatives to Lo Mein and Fried Rice
Here are some tips for making your Lo Mein or Fried Rice healthier:
- First, asking for healthy changes can make a big difference in the nutrition of your meal. For example, requesting that your meal be prepared using vegetable stock can significantly reduce calories and fat, up to 150-300 calories and 15-30g of fat. Additionally, opting for non-breaded chicken or pork can cut down on unhealthy calories.
- Another important factor is knowing what cooking types to order. While steamed dishes are often considered healthier, roasted or broiled dishes can also be a good choice. Look for dishes on the menu that include "Kow," "Jum," "Chu," or "Shu" in their names, as these are often the healthiest options available. You can enjoy a healthy and delicious meal at your favorite Chinese restaurant by making these simple changes and paying attention to cooking methods.
How to Make Your Own Healthy Lo Mein at Home
It's easier than you think to make your own Lo Mein at home! Here's a simple recipe to get you started:
- Whole wheat noodles, 8 oz.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 sliced red bell pepper
- 1 cup snow peas
- 1 cup carrots, sliced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 sliced green onions
- Cook the noodles as directed on the package. Set aside after draining.
- Heat the olive oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds.
- Stir-fry the red bell pepper, snow peas, and carrots in the wok for 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and sesame oil in a small bowl.
- Add the cooked noodles and the sauce to the wok. Mix everything until the noodles are evenly coated in the sauce and the vegetables are distributed evenly.
- Garnish with sliced green onions and serve hot.
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Adding Lo Mein to Your Diet
If you make smart choices when ordering or making it at home, lo mein can be a healthy option. To reduce your sodium and calorie intake, pay attention to the ingredients and preparation methods used in your dish and make substitutions where possible.