Sweet and sour boneless pork is a popular Chinese takeout dish that many people enjoy. However, with its tangy sweet and sour sauce, fried boneless pork pieces, and often steamed rice as a side, it can be high in calories. So how many calories are actually in sweet and sour boneless pork?
Let’s start by answering some key questions:
How many calories are in a typical serving of sweet and sour boneless pork? A typical serving of sweet and sour boneless pork contains around 500-800 calories depending on the quantity of pork, rice, and sauce. The pork itself contains 150-350 calories, the sauce adds 150-300 calories, and a side of steamed rice can have 200-250 calories.
What are the main calorie contributors in sweet and sour pork? The three high-calorie ingredients are the fried boneless pork, the sweet and sour sauce which is high in sugar, and the serving of steamed white rice. Controlling portion sizes of these three components is key to limiting calories.
How does sweet and sour pork compare calorie-wise to other Chinese dishes? Sweet and sour pork is moderate in calories compared to some other popular Chinese dishes. For example, General Tso’s chicken can have 800-1000 calories while shrimp fried rice may have 300-500 calories in a serving.
Can you make a lower calorie sweet and sour pork at home? Yes, lightening up the sauce, baking instead of frying the pork, and pairing it with riced cauliflower or broccoli instead of white rice can create a lower calorie version at home.
Calories in Boneless Pork
The first key calorie component of sweet and sour pork is the boneless pork itself. Let’s take a closer look at how many calories are in the protein:
Plain boneless pork, cooked:
– 3 ounces of cooked boneless pork loin: 140 calories
– 3 ounces of cooked boneless pork chops: 180 calories
– 3 ounces of cooked boneless pork tenderloin: 120 calories
So a typical 3-4 ounce serving of boneless pork contains around 120-180 calories. Breading and frying adds more:
Breaded fried boneless pork:
– 3 ounces breaded fried boneless pork: 220 calories
– 4 ounces breaded fried boneless pork: 290 calories
The takeaway is that a serving of boneless pork for sweet and sour pork provides at minimum 120 calories, but up to 300+ calories if it is breaded and fried.
How to Lower Calories in the Pork
Here are some ways to reduce the calories in the boneless pork if making this dish at home:
– Use pork tenderloin which is naturally leaner than loin or chops
– Remove skin/excess fat from chops or loin to reduce calories
– Opt for grilling, roasting or baking instead of frying in oil
– Skip the breading to eliminate extra carbs and fat
– Portion to 3-4 ounces to control serving size
Following these tips can keep the pork to 150-200 calories per serving instead of over 300.
Calories in Sweet and Sour Sauce
The savory sweet and sour sauce is what gives this dish its signature flavor. But the sugar and starch involved can also drive up the calorie count. Here is an overview of what’s typical:
Sweet and sour sauce:
– 1⁄4 cup sweet and sour sauce: 150-200 calories
– 1⁄2 cup sweet and sour sauce: 300-400 calories
– 1 cup sweet and sour sauce: 600-800 calories
As you can see, just a small 1⁄4 cup serving of sweet and sour sauce contains 150-200 calories. Many restaurant servings are 1⁄2 cup or more.
Lower Calorie Sweet and Sour Sauce
Making your own lighter sweet and sour sauce at home can save a lot of calories:
– Use less oil for cooking
– Skip breading and frying the pork to avoid extra sauce
– Choose reduced sugar ketchup or pineapple juice to lower sugar
– Use a cornstarch slurry to thicken instead of sugary flour
– Boost flavor with vinegar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce instead of sugar
– Adjust to your taste preferences for a lighter sauce
With these tweaks, you can likely cut the calories in the sauce down to 100-150 per serving.
Calories in Steamed White Rice Side Dish
Sweet and sour pork is most often paired with a side of steamed white rice in Chinese restaurants. Here is an overview of rice calories:
Steamed white rice:
– 1⁄2 cup cooked white rice: 100 calories
– 1 cup cooked white rice: 200 calories
– 2 cups cooked white rice: 400 calories
Rice is dense in carbohydrates and calories by volume. Just a 1⁄2 cup serving of steamed white rice contains 100 calories, while a typical restaurant side may be 1 to 2 cups for 200-400 calories.
Lower Calorie Rice Alternatives
Some lower calorie options to substitute for white rice are:
– Cauliflower rice: 40 calories per cup
– Broccoli rice: 50 calories per cup
– Brown rice: 100 calories per cup
– Mixed vegetables: 60 calories per cup
Any of these make an excellent lower calorie pairing for sweet and sour pork, providing bulk and satisfaction with fewer calories than white rice.
Total Calories in Sweet and Sour Pork
Now that we’ve looked at the three main calorie components – pork, sauce and rice – let’s put it all together to estimate the total calories in a typical sweet and sour pork meal:
|Battered fried boneless pork (6 ounces)
|Sweet and sour sauce (1/2 cup)
|Steamed white rice (1 cup)
As you can see in this example, a typical takeout order of sweet and sour pork with 6 ounces of fried pork, 1/2 cup of sauce and rice easily tops 900 calories. And portion sizes at some restaurants may be even larger.
Lower Calorie Options
Here is an example of how you can create a lower calorie sweet and sour pork meal:
|Baked boneless pork (4 ounces)
|Light sweet and sour sauce (1/4 cup)
|Cauliflower rice (1 cup)
As you can see, by modifying the cooking methods, portion sizes, and side dishes, you can enjoy sweet and sour pork for around 340 calories compared to over 900 calories in a typical takeout order.
Sweet and sour boneless pork is a higher calorie Chinese food dish, with 900 or more calories in a typical restaurant order. However, by choosing leaner pork, baking instead of frying, lowering the amount of sauce, and pairing with riced vegetables instead of white rice, you can enjoy the same flavors for around 300-400 calories. Watch your portion sizes, and balance it with lower calorie foods the rest of the day for a healthy diet.