How Many Calories Are Actually in Your Favorite Asian Foods?

Boba can contain more calories than an entire bowl of pho

asian food

There are a few clichés you’re guaranteed to come across at the start of every new year: shameless “new year, new me” posts, long lists of resolutions that will be abandoned by February and thousands of people aiming to shed a few pounds.

If you’re one of these people aiming to cut down on unhealthy eating habits this year, you may be wondering exactly how many calories are in your favorite Asian foods. After all, it’s not like restaurants put calorie labels on their menus.

It’s important to note that calorie intake isn’t everything. Calorie counting can create unhealthy habits that may slow down your metabolism. If your aim for 2019 is to lead a healthier lifestyle, it’s more important to cut down on processed foods and exercise regularly rather than starving your body of vital nutrients. That being said, looking at calories can be a helpful guideline so if you’ve ever been curious about how many calories you could be consuming with every sip of boba or bowl of pho, here’s everything you need to know.

1. Pho

Because there are so many variations of pho and ways to personalize, it can be difficult to calculate exactly how many calories are in each bowl. According to Fitbit, one serving contains roughly 367 calories while Nutritionix believes there are 638 calories per bowl. Generally, pho is seen as a healthier option especially when compared to many fatty American foods, so you probably don’t have to worry about this one.

2. Boba

According to Boba Guys, a standard 12-ounce milk tea contains 212 calories without any toppings. Unsurprisingly, boba is the most calorific of all the toppings and contains roughly 200-250 calories per serving. If you’re trying to be healthy, grass jelly, chia seeds and aloe contain the least amount of calories.

3. Korean BBQ

Korean barbeque is one of the greatest cheat meals of all time. And with every inch of the table being covered in different dishes, it’s difficult to say for sure how many calories you would be consuming.

Samgyeopsal, or Korean pork belly, contains around 662 calories per container (200 grams) with 56 grams of fat. According to MyFitnessPal, just to burn off the pork belly alone, you would have to cycle for 1.6 hours, run for 1.1 hours or clean the house for 4 hours.

Galbi, or Korean beef short ribs, contain roughly 472 calories per 200 grams and also have less fat compared to the pork belly. However, these numbers do not include rice or other side dishes that may come with the meat, so depending on what extras you get, you could be looking at a meal closer to 1,000 calories.

4. Dim Sum

There are endless options when it comes to dim sum so we’ll focus on three popular classics: shumai, har gow and xiao long bao.

According to Nutritionix, pork shumai contains around 59 calories per piece. But of course, who only eats one shumai? On the other hand, MyFitnessPal states that a single prawn har gow contains 43 calories. The xiao long bao is the most calorific out of the three, at 61 calories per piece.

5. Sushi

 

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Everyone loves sushi and why wouldn’t they? It’s got something for everyone. If you want to watch your calorie intake, there’s no need to avoid sushi altogether as there are enough varieties to choose from. The shrimp tempura roll and rainbow roll are two of the most calorific sushi rolls with 508 and 476 calories, respectively. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the avocado roll and tuna roll are two of the least calorific with just 140 and 184 calories respectively.

6. Hot Pot

 

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We can only reach a rough estimate of the calorie content in an average hot pot due to the sheer number of options available. But according to Nutritionix, one serving (two cups) of a hot pot containing sirloin, scallions and tofu would amount to 622 calories. To burn this off, you would have to cycle for 86 minutes, run for 60 minutes at 6 miles per hour or walk for 168 minutes.

7. Pad Thai

Many of the ingredients used in a pad thai such as the thin noodles, tofu and bean sprouts may trick you into believing this beloved dish could be a healthier option. However, the average plate of restaurant pad thai contains around 940 calories. That’s nearly half of your average recommended calorie intake per day.

8. Poke Bowl

 

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Of course, the calories in a poke bowl ultimately depends on where you go, what you order and the portion size. Some nutritionist websites estimate between 600-700 calories while others believe one bowl could be worth up to 1,000 calories. The key to keeping the calorie and fat content low is to customize and swap out processed and pickled items for fresh veg.

9. Korma

A serving of chicken korma and rice can contain anywhere between 700 to 1,300 calories depending on portion size and recipe. Because it’s made with chicken, the dish does contain a decent level of protein but at the same time, it contains high levels of fat so the pros don’t necessarily outweigh the cons.

10. Lumpia

 

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On average, homemade beef and pork lumpia contain 90 calories per roll, while shrimp and vegetable lumpia contain 80 calories per roll. As lumpia is fried in oil, it contains a high-fat percentage, so if you’re having only one or two it shouldn’t be a problem. Just try to avoid going overboard with the portions.

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