There’s nothing I enjoy more on a cold day than a bowl of pho. Growing up near one of the largest populations of Vietnamese in the United States, a bowl of pho was never far away. Many ketogenic dieters wonder if you can eat pho on keto. Or they wonder if the pho broth with all the fixing, minus the noodles, is keto-friendly.
Traditional pho that comes with rice noodles is high in carbohydrates and not considered acceptable while following a keto diet. However, pho broth on its own, with vegetables minus the noodles, is low carb and can be consumed while following a ketogenic diet.
In this article, I’ll discuss whether pho brother has carbs or sugar in it, how many carbs pho has without the noodles, other keto friendly Vietnamese options, and some keto friendly pho recipes to make at home.
Can You Eat Pho Without The Noodles On Keto?
Pho, pronounced “fuh,” is a Vietnamese soup made with chicken or beef broth, banh pho noodles, and various meats and vegetables,
I’d argue to say pho without noodles isn’t pho at all; that’s just soup. LOL #phonazi
But that’s beside the point.The traditional way pho is made, with rice noodles, is not keto friendly. Rice noodles, which are commonly used for Vietnamese pho, are high in carbohydrates and should be avoided to maintain ketosis.
However, you may enjoy the pho broth with all the usual fixings while following a ketogenic as the soup is relatively low in carbohydrates.
Does Pho Broth Have Carbs Or Sugar?
Traditionally, pho broth is made with beef or chicken bones along with five essential spices:
- Star anise
- Whole cloves
- Cinnamon sticks
- Cardamom pods
- Coriander seeds
Some additional ingredients may include
While most Vietnamese restaurants do not add any additional sugar to their broth, it’s best to ask the server. Chances are they’d be more than happy to let you know, and the owner is likely there to answer your question.
Pho broth itself will have minimal carbohydrates and should not have any added sugars at most Vietnamese restaurants.
How Many Carbs In Pho Without Noodles?
Just how many carbs are in pho broth without the noodles? While it’s not perfect, we can get pretty close.
You can expect there to be trace carbohydrates in ingredients such as onions, soy sauce, fish sauce, and any other vegetables that may be included in both the broth creation and in the broth itself after it’s served.When it comes to calculating net carbs, especially when eating out, it’s always best to error on the side of more than less. For this reason, you can expect to have at least 5 grams of net carbs per 1-cup serving of pho broth without the noodles.
The five grams of net carbs accounts for the spices, vegetables, and different meat that the pho broth would still have without the noodles.
Are Rice Noodles Keto Friendly?
Rice noodles, which are traditionally served with pho, are not keto friendly.
Rice noodles are made from exactly what you would think they’re made from…
And it should go without saying, but rice is not keto friendly as it’s primarily a carbohydrate.Eating pho with rice noodles is not considered a keto-friendly option and should be avoided if achieving and maintaining a state of ketosis is your goal.
Keto Options At Vietnamese Restaurants
If you’re dining out at a Vietnamese restaurant, there are a few keto-friendly options besides pho that you may want to consider.
Generally, any meat dish with vegetables should be ok to eat on a ketogenic diet.
My favorite go-to, aside from pho, is bo luc lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef).
Depending on where you go, Bo Luc Lac is quickly seared beef that is served with sautéed onions, lettuce, and rice. Some Vietnamese restaurants serve it more like a steak salad.
You’ll want to skip on the rice, but feel free to load up on the vegetables.
Many restaurants even use excellent tender cuts of beef such as ribeye, sirloin, and even filet.
Try to ask for any sauces on the side as many of them will have added sugars, especially the nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) and even the peanut sauce.
How To Order Keto Friendly Pho
If you’re looking to order pho at one of your favorite Vietnamese restaurants, it’s best to check with the server if there are any added sugars to the pho broth.
While most traditional Vietnamese restaurants won’t add sugar to the broth, it’s not unusual for many Asian restaurants in the states to add sugar to dishes that usually wouldn’t have. Restaurants do this to appeal to the American palate.To order keto friendly pho at a Vietnamese restaurant, it is only a matter of asking for the pho without the noodles.
If you’re a little shy or hesitant, you could always ask for the noodles on the side. Many people ask for noodles on the side to prevent them from becoming overcooked and soggy as they eat.
If you want to save a few more carbs, you could also ask to omit the onions as they generally add in sliced onions on top right before serving.
Feel free to add in the bean sprouts, which are keto-friendly and low in carbohydrates. Bean sprouts are typically served with pho, along with fresh garnishes like basil, cilantro, jalapeño, and lime.
Perhaps a splash of sriracha and you're good to go.
Keto Friendly Pho Recipes
With the internet, you have a myriad of recipes that you can quickly pull up and experiment with.
Additionally, you could still get your noodle fix by using a low carb alternative like shirataki noodles “miracle noodles.”
Shirataki noodles, often referred to as miracle or konjac noodles are made from a type of fiber called glucomannan, which technically has zero net carbs since it’s all fiber.
Also, if you don’t want to make pho broth from scratch, you can purchase pho broth in cartons, similar to a chicken stock or chicken broth.
However, If you want to have a go at making your own pho broth, here is a great traditional recipe that is keto friendly. I’ve also linked a video down below if you’re a more visual learner.
Omit the rice noodles and any sauces to ensure it’s as keto-friendly as possible.Traditional pho broth is generally simmered for 12+ hours, so make sure you plan well in advance. The good news is you can make a lot at once and refrigerate or freeze the broth to preserve it for future use.
So while it takes a long time to make, you can make enough to last a long time!
Here is an authentic pho recipe courtesy of Allrecipes and a video for those who rather watch someone make it instead.
Pho broth, without the noodles, is relatively low in carbohydrates and considered keto-friendly.
Pho broth, with the noodles, is a no-no and not considered keto-friendly.
However, If getting pho broth from a restaurant in the U.S. or any country outside of Vietnam, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your server if sugar was added in the making of the pho broth.