Calories In Chinese Food

I love cheap Chinese food. I know it isn’t healthy. I know that it is very caloric. Yet, I was truly amazed by this web site put up by the Center For Science In The Public Interest.

Wok Carefully

I’m amazed because this time they have pictured foods that are similar to what I as a vegan may ask for when I go to these places. The Chinese restaurants I go to have a posted policy of using only vegetable oil. However, the shock that hits closer to home still hits deeper nonetheless.

To put these listings into perspective the “average” person’s calorie needs are about 2000 calories a day. Some people a little more, some people a little less, unless they are in boot camp or they are a serious athlete.

400 – 600 calories is about the size of a reasonable meal for most of us. An extra 250 calories a day is enough to put on 26 pounds of fat over a year.


Stir Fried Greens
Calories: 900 Sat Fat: 11 grams Sodium: 2,200 mg


Tofu & Mixed Vegetables (Homestyle Tofu)

Calories: 900 Sat Fat: 9 grams Sodium: 2,200 mg

The best advice I ever heard about eating out is to ask for half of your food be brought to you wrapped up to go. When I eat Chinese food on the weekend I will either skip lunch or skip dinner ( and I am not hungry ). The portions really are the sizes of two meals.

To see more grisly examples and get tips on mitigating the impact of your Chinese restaurant meal you can check out the Full Article.

The culprit is deep frying for the high calorie count and the various sauces for the high sodium count. Don’t laugh off the sodium count. Articles come out every year linking excessive sodium intake to shortened lives and even osteoporosis.

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9 thoughts on “Calories In Chinese Food”

  1. Thanks for your comment! I’m pretty proud of the way the situation turned out.

    I’m glad you posted this– I know, on some level, that Chinese food isn’t that great for me, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re looking at hunks of tofu and veggies on your plate. Wait, that delicious sauce has calories too?

    Goes to show that Chinese food shouldn’t be anyone’s go to food. But in moderation… mmm, delicious.

  2. Buzzard;
    Thanks for the interesting link. The chef didn’t disagree, she was just concerned that people would confound all Chinese food with Chinese-American restaurant food and Chinese-American fast food restaurant food.

    FWIW, I’ve been eating at The China Cafe in College Park for over 20 years. They have about 6 easily “veganed” dishes, pretty tasty, pretty cheap. Yes, it is a dive. They have always had a sign posted about what they are willing to customize, similar to what the author in your article mentioned.

    One day decades ago when I was a student I had them yank everything that was not 100% healthy. I got back steamed vegetables and white rice! I only mention it because that author’s advice will not yield the best results unless someone knows food.

    I think it is easier to just count on a meal from a Chinese ( or any American ) restaurant as being equivalent to two meals.

    Your article did inspire me to ask my favorite Chinese restaurants to cut down on the sweetener. It seems like every Chinese dish I get these days tastes like candied tofu

  3. Ashley,
    I totally agree. There is something about Americanized Chinese food I just love and don’t want to give up. The building where I work has an authentic Chinese restaurant in it. It is packed with Chinese people all of the time ( a good indicator of authenticity ) and my Chinese coworkers tell me the food is made to Chinese tastes.

    I only went there once ( they don’t accept credit cards ), but the meal I had was “salty” beyond belief.

  4. I guess what I thought was most interesting about the tigersandstrawberries post is when she explains how Chinese restaurants use more oil than you’d think would be necessary because it helps them get the food cooked faster.

    I’ve only had food from the China Cafe once. It was the greasiest, sugariest, blandest Chinese restaurant meal I’ve had in quite a while. But I just ordered something off the menu – I didn’t ask for any special modifications. (And as I recall, they don’t take credit cards either 🙂 )

  5. Too much oil and too much salt is a problem. But the main problem, imo, is not confined to Chinese restaurants, but to almost all restaurants (except for the very pricey ones): monstrous sized meals that only long distance runners or cyclists should be eating. According to an article I read recently, average portions sizes in restaurants started getting bigger, practically doubling, in the 70s, esp. the late 70s. Even portions sizes in cookbooks have gotten larger.

    And when did the obesity epidemic explode? Beginning in the early-mid 80s. Coincidence? I think not. Adding to the problem is that more people eat out now than every before, so they begin to think the amount of food they get in restaurants is normal, and duplicate it a home. Look at the calories in those Chinese meal cited in the article. They are both around 900. Serve half that amount and you’re fine. Most people, even people on diets, can handle 450 calories. And of course you’ll be consuming half the amount of oil and sodium too.

    However, restaurants won’t start serving smaller sized meals unless people start complaining. And I can’t see that happening, esp if they are charged the same for a smaller portion. Sure you can always take half home, but too many people lack the self-discipline to do this, and eat it all at once…

  6. Frankly speaking,I think most chinese food is healthy, sepecially chinese vegetables dish.On the other hand,Fried food involve so much calories

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