What can I eat at a Chinese restaurant on a ketogenic diet?

By Dr. Stephen Phinney and the Virta Team

Check out our guide to Chinese food, which contains tips for navigating a menu and a variety of recipes you can make at home (including tea eggs, braised pork, hot and sour soup, mapo tofu, salted duck, bok choy and mushrooms, poached chicken, and stir-fried beef). There are many regional cuisines within Chinese food, and some are more keto-friendly than others.

Many sauces at a Chinese restaurant contain sugar. You can ask for steamed versions of some dishes and then add soy sauce, which fits within the guidelines of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. Particularly the steamed Asian broccoli or mustard are good choices. For protein, the roast pork, roast duck, and crispy-skin pork belly are good choices. For fat, you could bring a small bottle of olive oil from home and add a tablespoon or two to your vegetables.

If you’d like to cook at home, we have a guide on easy ways to cook low carb Chinese vegetables.

A note on sauces: In general, we recommend that you avoid sauces that have gravy-like consistency and chopped up meat. These thick sauces often get their velvety sheen and texture from sugar and starch. This is often also true of chopped up meat—the marinade often includes soy sauce, sugar, and starch. Stick to thinner or more transparent sauces  or roasted meats. Hoisin, oyster, plum, duck, and sweet & sour sauce often have sugar as well, so we recommend that you avoid those.

We also have information on how to navigate nutrition labels that might be helpful.

Back to Keto FAQ

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  1. Avatar

    This is so helpful! Especially the longer linked guide. Now I’m worried I’ll end up at the Chinese restaurant down the street every night since I know how to eat keto there now!


  2. Avatar

    You’re making me hungry. I’m going to screenshot this for the next time I am at a Chinese restaurant!


    1. Virta Health

      Great idea!


  3. Avatar
    Kimberly Sollenberger November 13, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    How much can you eat a day?


    1. Virta Health

      We encourage our patients to eat to satiety. For more information on how to design a well formulated ketogenic diet, go here: https://blog.virtahealth.com/well-formulated-ketogenic-diet/


  4. Avatar

    There are many options to eat at a Chinese restaurant such as Sauté vegetables with any protein and fish soup and vegetables with a side of steamed vegetables. At Chinese restaurants focus on staying away from choices that are battered or taste sweet.


  5. Avatar
    Dixie Cruz-Aleman August 7, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Is the garlic sauce in a Chinese restaurant keto friendly?


    1. Virta Health

      Hi! The best thing to do is ask what the ingredients are.


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