Is Siopao good for diet?

Siopao is a popular Chinese-Filipino snack that consists of a steamed bun filled with meat, usually pork or chicken, along with vegetables and sauce. It is a culturally significant and widely enjoyed comfort food. However, many people wonder if siopao can be part of a healthy diet, especially when trying to lose weight. This article will examine the nutritional content of siopao and whether it can be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

What is in Siopao?

The classic pork siopao filling consists of the following main ingredients:

  • Minced pork – provides protein
  • Onions – provide fiber, vitamins, minerals
  • Carrots – source of vitamin A
  • Garlic – provides vitamins and minerals
  • Soy sauce – provides salt, umami flavor
  • Oyster sauce – adds flavor and salt
  • Chicken bouillon powder – adds flavor
  • Sugar – provides sweetness
  • Steamed bun – made from wheat flour, provides carbs

In addition to these core ingredients, variations may also contain hard-boiled eggs, Chinese sausage, curry powder, chili peppers, and other seasonings. The filling provides a mix of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and micronutrients.

Nutritional Value of Siopao

The nutritional value of siopao can vary considerably based on the size of the bun, specific filling ingredients, and cooking method.

On average, a single medium-sized siopao (100g) contains approximately:

  • Calories: 250-350
  • Protein: 10-15g
  • Fat: 10-15g
  • Carbohydrates: 30-40g
  • Fiber: 1-2g
  • Sugar: 1-3g
  • Sodium: 300-500mg

The majority of calories come from the refined carbohydrates in the bun and the fat content of the pork filling. Siopao is high in calories, moderate in protein, low in fiber, and can be high in sodium depending on the filling ingredients.

Is Siopao Filling?

One siopao bun provides around 250-350 calories, which is a significant amount for a single snack item. The soft, steamed bun and protein/fat-rich filling can be quite satiating.

Many people find that eating 1-2 medium siopaos makes for a filling snack or small meal. The carbohydrates, fat, and protein provide sustained energy and the steam bun has more volume than foods like sandwiches.

However, the refined flour bun is quickly broken down and does not provide lasting fullness like high fiber whole grains would. The high calorie and sodium content also make it easy to overconsume in a single sitting. So portion control is advised.

Benefits of Siopao for Dieting

Here are some of the potential benefits siopao offers for people trying to lose weight:

  • Convenient – Siopao makes for an easy grab-and-go snack or meal when you don’t have time to prepare something elaborate.
  • Satiating – The filling ingredients provide a sense of fullness and satisfaction.
  • Portable – Siopao can be packed to go for lunch at the office or an on-the-run snack.
  • Flavorful – The savory filling and soft, steamed bun are full of satisfying umami flavor, reducing cravings.
  • Protein – The pork/chicken filling provides muscle-building protein to help retain lean mass when dieting.
  • Stability – Siopao keeps well after steaming, maintaining quality for several hours.
  • Versatile – Different fillings allow you to get creative and modify siopao to suit your tastes and diet.

For those watching their weight, siopao can be an occasional convenient meal or snack that provides flavor, portability, protein, and a feeling of fullness.

Downsides of Siopao for Weight Loss

However, there are also some potential downsides to keep in mind when incorporating siopao into a diet:

  • Calories – Siopao can be high in calories, especially if large portions are consumed.
  • Fat – The fat content from the pork can accumulate quickly.
  • Carbs – The white flour bun is high in starchy carbohydrates with little fiber.
  • Sodium – Filling ingredients like soy sauce contain a lot of sodium.
  • Sugar – Some fillings include sugar for added sweetness.
  • Processed – As a machine-made product, it lacks the whole food nutrition of fresh, homemade fare.
  • Addictive – Siopao can be habit-forming and easy to overeat.
  • Lacking nutrients – Aside from protein, siopao is not a very nutrient-dense food.

Without care, it’s easy to go overboard on calories, sodium, fat, and refined carbs when eating siopao. Moderation and discipline are key.

Is Siopao Good for Low Carb Diets?

Low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet restrict daily carb intake substantially (usually to under 50g/day). The flour-based bun makes siopao too high in carbohydrates to fit into a strict low-carb meal plan.

However, the fillings on their own can work. You could scrape out and enjoy just the pork, egg, and veggie interior fillings over riced cauliflower or shirataki noodles. This allows you to obtain the savory flavors and protein without the refined carbs.

There are also some keto-friendly siopao bun recipes made with cheese, almond flour, and other low-carb ingredients. When made with very low-carb bun alternatives, the fillings make for a tasty low-carb, high fat snack or meal. But the classic white flour siopao bun contains too many carbs for keto.

Siopao Nutrition Facts Comparison

Not all siopao are created equal when it comes to nutrition. Here is a comparison of the calorie, carb, and fat differences in common siopao varieties:

Siopao Type Calories Carbs Fat
Pork 330 40g 12g
Asado (BBQ pork) 350 42g 14g
Chicken 280 38g 8g
Beef 300 30g 12g
Shanghai (pork and soup) 300 34g 10g

Pork and asado fillings tend to be higher in fat and calories compared to chicken or beef. Shanghai-style siopao also has slightly fewer carbs thanks to the soupy filling.

When dieting, chicken, beef, and Shanghai-style siopao may be better options than the very fatty pork variations. But calories still need to be tracked given the refined carbs in the bun.

Healthier Siopao Options

There are some simple ways to make siopao a bit healthier while retaining the classic taste:

  • Choose leaner meats like chicken or shrimp as fillings.
  • Bulk up fillings with extra veggies like mushrooms, cabbage, and carrots.
  • Use reduced-sodium soy sauce and limit added salt.
  • Skip the sugar or reduce it substantially in fillings.
  • Enjoy shanghai-style siopao for a soupier, less fatty option.
  • Opt for whole wheat or multigrain buns when available.
  • Spread out servings – split one large siopao into two portions.
  • Drink water with your meal to avoid overeating.
  • Balance out the refined carbs with veggies and proteins in your overall diet.

With some simple substitutions and smart portioning, siopao can be integrated into an overall healthy diet.

Should You Avoid Siopao When Dieting?

Siopao don’t need to be completely avoided when trying to lose weight, but they shouldn’t become a daily staple either. Here are some guidelines on how to enjoy siopao sensibly as part of a diet:

  • Treat siopao as an occasional snack or meal – not an everyday food.
  • Stick to just 1-2 siopaos max at one time.
  • Balance siopao with fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
  • Be mindful of your daily calorie target if having siopao.
  • Avoid excessive high-calorie or sugary sauces and pairings.
  • Don’t rely entirely on siopao for your protein and nutrients.
  • Choose healthier fillings like chicken or vegetables when possible.

Used in moderation alongside an overall healthy diet and active lifestyle, siopao can be enjoyed even when dieting. But they shouldn’t become a dietary staple or completely replace more nutritious whole foods.

Healthy Meal Ideas With Siopao

Here are some healthy meal suggestions that incorporate siopao:

Breakfast: 1 pork or chicken siopao + 1 boiled egg + green tea

Lunch: 1 Shanghai or veggie siopao + salad with low-fat dressing + fruit

Dinner: 1 asado or beef siopao + stir-fried broccoli + carrots

Snack: 1 chicken siopao + yogurt + raw almonds

When pairing siopao with veggies, greens, lean protein, fiber, and healthy fats you can make it work as part of a nutritious diet. Moderation with food choices and portions is key.


Siopao can be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. While high in refined carbs, sodium, and fat – the savory steamed buns offer convenience, flavor, and satisfaction. When choosing healthier fillings, watching portions, and balancing siopao with more nutritious foods, they can work fine for weight loss diets and general healthy eating. Siopao on their own lack great nutrition, but as an occasional treat make for a delicious and filling snack or meal.

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