How many calories is in lo mein?

Quick Answer

The number of calories in lo mein can vary greatly depending on the ingredients, cooking methods, and portion sizes. On average, a typical plate of lo mein contains 500-800 calories. The noodles themselves are around 200 calories per cup. The vegetables, protein and sauce can all add a significant amount of calories. Choosing lighter sauces like broth-based options will be lower in calories than heavy, oil-based sauces. Going easy on oil during cooking can also help lighten up lo mein. Watching portion sizes is important too, as it’s easy to overeat with pasta dishes. Sticking to a single serving of lo mein can keep calories in a reasonable range.

What is Lo Mein?

Lo mein is a popular Chinese noodle dish made with wheat flour noodles that have been boiled, lightly coated in oil to prevent sticking, and then stir fried with vegetables, protein and sauce. Common additions include cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, onions, broccoli, chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu. The noodles are typically tossed in a savory sauce like soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and garlic. The dish has a delicious umami flavor and pleasing, slurpable texture from the soft noodles and crisp-tender vegetables.

There are many variations of lo mein, as it can be made with all sorts of ingredients. Some versions are loaded with meat and heavy sauces, while others made with lots of veggies and a lighter broth are much lower in calories. The specific ingredients used can cause the calorie count to shift significantly.

Calories in Noodles

The base of lo mein is made up of wheat flour noodles. The calories for 1 cup of boiled lo mein noodles is around 200 calories, depending on the brand. Here is the nutrition breakdown for a typical serving of plain lo mein noodles (1 cup):

Calories 200
Fat 1g
Carbs 40g
Protein 7g

As you can see, wheat noodles are mostly carbohydrates from the refined flour with a small amount of protein and minimal fat. The calories come from the carbohydrates at about 80 calories per 20 grams of carbs.

While a one cup serving of plain noodles is reasonably low calorie, lo mein dishes often contain 2-3 cups of noodles which would double or triple the calories just from the carbohydrate content.

Calories in Vegetables

Most lo mein dishes contain stir fried vegetables like cabbage, bell peppers, onions, bean sprouts and carrots. These healthy veggies pack nutrients and fiber, and add very few calories.

Here are the calories for 1 cup of some common lo mein vegetable additions:

Vegetable Calories
Cabbage 22
Carrots 45
Bell Pepper 30
Onions 45
Broccoli 31
Bean Sprouts 25

When loaded up with lots of vegetable matter, lo mein can pack in nutrients and satiety with minimal calorie impact. Using plenty of veggies is a great way to create a lower calorie lo mein dish.

Calories in Protein

Lo mein isn’t complete without some protein. Chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and tofu are all common additions. The calories in protein can really vary based on the type and cut of meat, cooking method and portion size.

Here are the approximate calories in 3 ounces of some typical lo mein protein sources:

Protein Calories
Chicken Breast 140
Beef Flank Steak 150
Firm Tofu 70
Cooked Shrimp 84

As shown above, lighter proteins like chicken breast and shrimp are the lowest calorie options. Leaner cuts of beef can also be reasonably low calorie, providing plenty of flavor for few calories. Going heavy on higher calorie meats like fatty pork or breaded/fried protein preparations can quickly add calories. Portion control is important, as a typical lo mein order may contain 6 ounces or more of protein.

Calories in Sauce

The sauce is what really brings lo mein noodles and vegetables together into a delicious finished dish. But sauces can also bring lots of extra calories, especially heavy, oil-based sauces. Some lower calorie sauce options include:

Sauce Calories (2 Tbsp)
Soy Sauce 20
Chicken Broth 10
Oyster Sauce 40
Sweet & Sour Sauce 100

As you can see, broth-based sauces like chicken broth add very minimal calories. Soy sauce and oyster sauce offer flavor for reasonable calories. Thick, sugar-laden sauces like sweet & sour pack a bigger calorie punch.

Heavy sauces based on oil, sugar and cornstarch can tally up calories quickly. Some examples include:

Sauce Calories (2 Tbsp)
Brown Sauce 200
Teriyaki Sauce 140

To keep your lo mein light, opt for sauces made with broth instead of oil and limit thick, sugary sauce additions.

How Many Calories in Restaurant Lo Mein?

Dining out on lo mein makes portion control difficult, so restaurant dishes will typically contain more calories than homemade. Many restaurants also use higher calorie sauces and oils for added flavor.

Here are the calories in lo mein dishes from some popular restaurants:

Restaurant Dish Calories
PF Chang’s Chicken Lo Mein (1 order) 790
Panda Express Chicken Lo Mein (1 plate) 560
Chipotle Chicken Lo Mein (1 order) 908
Chili’s Vegetable Lo Mein (1 plate) 560

As you can see, restaurant lo mein can range from 500-900 calories per standard plate or order. Lighter vegetable versions or kid’s sizes can shrink the calorie count. But it’s best to assume at least 600 calories per average lo mein order from most restaurants.

How to Lighten Up Lo Mein

Here are some tips for making lower calorie lo mein at home:

– Use broth-based sauces instead of heavy oil and sugar-based sauces
– Load up on low calorie vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and carrots
– Choose lighter proteins like chicken breast, shrimp or tofu
– Use minimal oil when stir-frying – just enough to coat pan
– Opt for 1 cup cooked noodles instead of 2-3 cups per serving
– Boost flavor with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar instead of sugar
– Avoid deep fried additions like wontons or egg rolls
– Stick to a single serving instead of overstuffing your plate
– Use a small pan to control portions instead of a large wok

Following these guidelines can help keep home cooked lo mein under 500 calories per serving while still delivering on flavor. Lighten up your favorite takeout dish with a healthier homemade version.

General Tips for Eating Lo Mein on a Diet

Enjoying lo mein while managing calories or losing weight just takes a little planning:

– Order a small or split a large order when dining out
– Choose broth-based and vegetarian lo mein options when available
– Skip sugary drinks like soda and sip green tea or water instead
– Fill up on non-starchy veggies and protein to avoid overeating noodles
– Ask for sauces and oils on the side to control how much you use
– Enjoy lo mein alongside lighter sides like steamed rice and veggies
– Portion out a serving of leftovers instead of eating the whole takeout box
– Substitute zucchini noodles for half the wheat noodles to cut carbs
– Save lo mein for an occasional treat meal instead of a weekly habit

With smart menu choices and proper portioning, lo mein can absolutely be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet for weight loss or maintenance. This delicious noodle dish can be lightened up in many ways while still delivering on crave-worthy flavor. Just use some moderation and balance lo mein with lighter choices for your other meals.

Nutrition Tips for Lo Mein

While lo mein is often thought of as a treat meal, it can also provide some key nutrients when made with the right ingredients. Here are some ways to boost nutrition in your lo mein:

– Use 100% whole wheat noodles instead of refined white flour noodles
– Add spinach, broccoli or carrots for fiber, vitamins and minerals
– Choose chicken or shrimp as lower fat protein sources
– Top with antioxidant-rich foods like kimchi, daikon radish or pickled vegetables
– Include mushrooms like shiitakes for immune-boosting selenium and potassium
– Sprinkle on raw shelled edamame for plant-based protein and fiber
– Garnish with raw almonds or cashews for healthy fats
– Blend in a raw egg for more protein and nutrients
– Flavor with garlic, ginger and soy sauce for anti-inflammatory benefits
– Use peanut oil or sesame oil for heart healthy fats

While you don’t want to go overboard on veggies, beans, nuts and other additions, including some can help transform lo mein from empty calories into a more complete, nutrient-dense meal. Just be mindful of how these extras impact the total calorie count as well.

Low Carb Lo Mein Options

For those limiting carbs, traditional wheat lo mein noodles can be swapped for lower carb alternatives:

– Zucchini noodles – Also called zoodles, these veggie spirals pack only about 3 grams net carbs per cup

– Bean sprouts or shirataki noodles – These virtually carb-free noodle substitutes add bulk and texture

– Spaghetti squash – When roasted, the stringy flesh makes a great pasta mimic

– Cabbage noodles – Thin shredded cabbage strands cook up just like noodles

– Konjac noodles – These gel-based noodles are very low in carbs and calories

– Edamame noodles – Made from ground edamame, these have about 1/3 the carbs of wheat pasta

– Kelp noodles – Nearly zero carbs in these translucent seaweed noodles

Another option is to use only 1/2 of the wheat noodles called for in a recipe and replace the other half with one of the lower carb alternatives listed above. This cuts the carbs while still providing the familiar wheat noodle texture.

Any of these swaps help reduce the carb load of lo mein considerably while still yielding a satisfying noodle dish. Get creative with produce and you can easily turn lo mein into a low carb meal.

Low Calorie Lo Mein Ideas

Here are some tasty recipe ideas for lightened up lo mein under 500 calories per serving:

Chicken and Broccoli Lo Mein
– 3 cups chopped broccoli
– 1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced
– 2 cups cooked whole wheat lo mein noodles
– 1 Tbsp sesame oil
– 1 tsp minced garlic
– 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
– 1 tsp rice vinegar
– 1 Tbsp corn starch
– 1/4 cup chicken broth

Shrimp & Veggie Lo Mein
– 1 cup snap peas
– 1/2 cup shredded carrots
– 1 cup bean sprouts
– 6 oz cooked shrimp, chopped
– 2 cups cooked konjac noodles
– 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
– 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
– 1 tsp fresh grated ginger

Beef & Cabbage Lo Mein
– 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
– 1 cup matchstick cut carrots
– 4 oz flank steak, sliced
– 2 cups shirataki noodles, drained and rinsed
– 1 Tbsp coconut oil
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 3 Tbsp soy sauce
– 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
– 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Get creative with ingredients to whip up your own custom light lo mein recipes. Load up on the vegetables and go easy on the oil, sugar and carb-heavy noodles to keep calories down while maximizing nutrition.

Vegetarian & Vegan Lo Mein

Skip the meat and seafood but keep all the flavor with these vegetarian lo mein ideas:

Vegetarian Lo Mein
– 1 cup broccoli florets
– 1 cup sliced bell peppers
– 1 cup shredded carrots
– 1 cup cubed firm tofu
– 2 cups cooked whole wheat noodles
– 2 Tbsp vegetable broth
– 1 Tbsp soy sauce
– 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
– 1 tsp sesame oil
– 1 tsp minced garlic
– 1 tsp minced ginger

Spicy Eggplant Lo Mein
– 1 cup diced eggplant
– 1 cup snap peas
– 1 cup shredded cabbage
– 1 cup cooked brown rice noodles
– 1 Tbsp sambal oelek (chili paste)
– 2 tsp soy sauce
– 1 tsp rice vinegar
– 1 tsp sesame oil
– 2 cloves garlic, minced

Vegan Lo Mein
– 1 cup matchstick cut carrots
– 1 cup sliced mushrooms
– 1 cup broccoli florets
– 1 cup cubed extra firm tofu
– 2 cups cooked mung bean noodles
– 2 Tbsp vegetable broth
– 1 Tbsp coconut aminos
– 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
– 1 tsp rice vinegar
– 1 tsp minced ginger

Using tofu, tempeh, edamame and loads of flavorful veggies allows you to make plant-based lo mein that doesn’t skimp on satisfaction. These meatless and dairy-free options are full of flavor but slim on calories.


Lo mein is a beloved noodle dish that can range widely in calories depending on the specific ingredients used. On average, a plate of lo mein contains 500-800 calories but lighter versions can clock in under 500. Opting for broth-based sauces, going heavy on the veggies and lighter on the oils, and practicing portion control are the keys to lightening up this takeout favorite. With a few simple substitutions and smart preparation techniques, you can enjoy crave-worthy lo mein without overdoing the calories. This versatile noodle bowl can even be tailored to preferences like vegetarian, low carb or extra healthy. So slurp up this classic Asian noodle dish without all the guilt!

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