Chinese restaurant lo mein is a popular noodle dish that can have varying amounts of calories depending on the ingredients used. Here are some quick answers about the calorie content of lo mein:
– A typical one cup serving of vegetable lo mein has around 300 calories.
– Lo mein with chicken or shrimp adds around 100-150 calories per serving.
– Beef or pork lo mein can have 350-500 calories per cup.
– Extra sauce, oil and deep frying can increase the calorie count significantly.
– Choosing steamed or pan-fried lo mein reduces the calories compared to deep fried.
– Opting for more vegetables over meats cuts down on calories.
– At Chinese buffet restaurants, lo mein calories vary greatly depending on ingredients and cooking methods.
Factors Affecting Lo Mein Calories
There are many factors that account for the wide range of calories found in lo mein dishes at Chinese restaurants.
The main ingredients in lo mein are wheat or egg noodles, protein and vegetables. Noodles are high in carbohydrates which means they have a higher calorie count. Lean proteins like chicken breast or shrimp have less calories than fattier meats like beef and pork.
Some common lo mein ingredients and their calorie levels per serving include:
|Cooked noodles, 1 cup
|Chicken breast, 3 oz
|Beef, 3 oz
|Shrimp, 3 oz
|Broccoli, 1 cup
|Carrots, 1 cup
|Cabbage, 1 cup
|Bean sprouts, 1 cup
|Green onions, 1/4 cup
As you can see, ingredients like meats and noodles add more calories than vegetables which contain fewer calories by volume.
How the lo mein is prepared also affects its calorie content. Lo mein can be steamed, pan-fried, deep-fried or a combination of methods.
Deep frying in large amounts of oil adds significant calories compared to steaming or light pan frying with minimal oil. For example, the same dish made with deep frying could have over 500 calories more compared to being steamed.
The portion size served has a big impact on total calories as well. At restaurants, a typical lo mein order contains around 2 cups worth of noodles plus added protein and vegetables. Eating multiple servings will increase calories.
Here is a breakdown of estimated calories for different portion sizes:
|Large entree (3-4 cups)
The sauces and seasonings added to lo mein can also impact its nutrition profile. Many restaurants use oil, salt, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar in their recipes. These can enhance flavor but also increase the calorie, fat and sodium content.
For example, 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce has around 40 calories while 1 tablespoon of soy sauce has about 10 calories. Asking for the sauce on the side or using a lighter hand with the sauce reduces the calories added.
Other ingredients are often mixed into or served alongside lo mein, increasing its calorie count. Common lo mein add-ins include:
- Meat – Beef, pork, chicken etc.
- Seafood – Shrimp, squid, scallops.
- Vegetables – Bok choy, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.
- Rice or fried rice
- Dumplings or egg rolls
- Crab Rangoon
The more extra ingredients paired with the lo mein, the higher the calorie count will be. Opting for more vegetable sides over meats or fried items can limit unnecessary calories.
Calorie Ranges by Lo Mein Type
With all those factors considered, here is a general calorie estimate for some common types of lo mein:
Vegetable Lo Mein
Around 300 calories per serving
Chicken Lo Mein
400-500 calories per serving
Shrimp Lo Mein
350-450 calories per serving
Beef Lo Mein
500-800 calories per serving
Pork Lo Mein
450-750 calories per serving
Seafood Lo Mein
400-700 calories per serving
House Lo Mein
500-900 calories per serving
These ranges account for differences in portion sizes, ingredients and cooking methods. The calorie count can go even higher depending on the other accompaniments served with the dish.
Strategies for Lower Calorie Lo Mein
If you want to enjoy lo mein but limit the calories, here are some tips:
- Order vegetable or shrimp lo mein
- Request steamed or pan-fried
- Choose chicken or seafood instead of beef or pork
- Load up on extra vegetables
- Ask for sauce on the side
- Avoid deep fried add-ons like dumplings or egg rolls
- Request a smaller portion size
- Take half the portion home for leftovers
Also be mindful of the other items paired with the lo mein, which can spike calories further. Overall, balance and moderation are key when indulging in lo mein!
Beyond calorie count, lo mein and Chinese food, in general, can deliver nutrients like:
- Carbohydrates from the noodles
- Protein from meats, seafood or egg
- Fiber from vegetables
- Vitamin C, vitamin A, iron and calcium
- Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood options like shrimp
However, lo mein meals can also contain high amounts of:
- Saturated fat from meats, oils and deep frying
- Sodium from soy sauce, oyster sauce and MSG
- Sugar from sauce ingredients
- Refined carbs from white noodles
To get the best nutrition, choose lo mein dishes with lots of vegetables, lean protein and easy on the heavy sauces. Consider pairing it with sides like steamed rice and broccoli rather than fried rice and egg rolls.
Daily Calorie Needs
To determine if a lo mein dish fits into your individual daily calorie needs, consider factors like:
- Activity level
- Weight goals
For example, an average moderately active adult may require 2000-2500 calories per day. So a 800 calorie lo mein dish would account for about one third of the daily needs.
Someone with higher activity levels or weight management goals might aim for 2000 calories a day maximum. For them, an 800 calorie lo mein meal may be too high to fit their daily limit.
Check your specific calorie needs and determine what percentage of your daily allotment you want to spend on a restaurant meal like lo mein. This can help guide what portion size or ingredients make sense for you.
In summary, lo mein calories can range widely from 300 to over 1000 calories per serving depending on the ingredients, cooking method and portion size. Vegetable and shrimp lo mein tend to be lower in calories, while beef and pork lo mein are higher. Requesting light oil, extra vegetables and avoiding deep frying can help reduce the calories. Consider your individual calorie needs and balance lo mein with lighter choices for your other daily meals and snacks to manage your overall intake.