The temptation of sweet sauces, rice, and noodles can make it seem like there are limited options for those following a low-carb ketogenic diet. You might think it's a daunting task to eat keto at Panda Express, a fast-food restaurant known for its delicious, but often carb-heavy dishes.
But just like any other Chinese restaurant, Panda Express has options that can fit your low-carb lifestyle. With a little know-how, Panda Express can be a tasty and keto-friendly dining option for you.
- Navigating the Panda Express Menu
- Top Options – Panda Express Keto
- Customizing Your Low-Carb Meal
- Protein-Packed Keto Bowls
- Sides and Extras: The Keto Approach
- Beverages: Choosing Wisely on Keto
- Navigating Special Dietary Needs
- Staying Keto While on the Go
To enjoy Panda Express keto it's important that you establish a certain level of familiarity with the menu.
Panda Express is known for its orange chicken, Beijing beef, Kung Pao chicken, and a variety of other dishes inspired by Chinese flavors. We all know that these dishes are irresistible, but they can also pack in the carbs.
For example, Orange Chicken might have around 20-25 grams of carbs per serving, and Chow Mein could be around 30-35 grams of carbs. These numbers can vary, but it's good to have a rough estimate.
Ingredients like rice, noodles, and sugary sauces tend to be carb-heavy culprits. And those sweet sauces? Yummy, but often sugary. Here are some general tips for identifying high-carb ingredients in Panda Express dishes:
- Rice: Most of the rice dishes at Panda Express, such as Fried Rice, White Rice, and Brown Rice, are high in carbohydrates. A typical serving of rice contains around 40-50 grams of carbs.
- Noodles: Dishes that include noodles, such as Chow Mein or Lo Mein, are also high in carbs. Noodles are made from wheat flour, which is a carb-rich ingredient.
- Breaded or Fried Proteins: Some of the protein options, such as Orange Chicken or SweetFire Chicken Breast, are breaded and fried. The breading can significantly increase the carb content.
- Sauces: Be cautious of sauces like the sweet and tangy sauces used in many dishes. These can contain added sugars, which contribute to the overall carb count.
- Vegetables: While vegetables are generally lower in carbs, some dishes may have a higher vegetable-to-protein ratio, which can affect the overall carb content.
- Side Dishes: Side dishes like Egg Rolls or Spring Rolls are typically made with a dough wrapper that contains carbs.
- Sweet and Sour Dishes: Dishes with “sweet and sour” in their name usually contain sugar in the sauce, contributing to the carb content.
- Combination Platters: Be aware that combination platters that include multiple items like rice, noodles, and proteins can have higher overall carb counts.
Panda Express Keto Menu Alternatives
Here comes the fun part – finding keto-friendly alternatives that still satisfy your cravings. Navigating the Panda Express menu while watching carbs doesn't mean sacrificing flavor. You can still enjoy the bold and tasty flavors by making mindful choices. So, go ahead and create your own delicious low-carb combo. If you're following the keto diet, you can make some smart swaps to make Panda Express keto. These include:
- Cauliflower Rice: Instead of traditional white rice, opt for cauliflower rice. It's a lower-carb alternative that still gives you that rice-like texture without the extra carbs.
- Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles): If you're a noodle lover, try zoodles! They're zucchini noodles that can replace regular noodles in dishes like Chow Mein, offering a lower-carb option.
- Grilled Protein: Choose grilled chicken, beef, or shrimp as your protein source. These options usually have fewer carbs compared to breaded or fried choices like Orange Chicken.
- Stir-Fried Veggies: Load up on veggies! Dishes with lots of colorful vegetables are generally lower in carbs. They also add that satisfying crunch and variety to your meal.
- Sauce on the Side: If you're watching carbs, ask for sauces on the side. This way, you can control how much you use and cut down on hidden sugars.
- Steamed Dishes: Look for steamed dishes on the menu. They often have fewer carbs since they skip the breading and frying.
Top Options – Panda Express Keto
Let's dive in and uncover the top keto-friendly options that'll satisfy your cravings without sending your carb count over the threshold.
To reduce your carb intake at Panda Express, consider ordering dishes with more vegetables and proteins, such as grilled chicken or beef, paired with steamed or sautéed vegetables. You can also ask for smaller portions of rice or noodles or choose the mixed vegetables as a base to lower your carb consumption while still enjoying the flavors of Chinese cuisine.
Dishes like the Orange Chicken, Beijing Beef, and Honey Walnut Shrimp might make your taste buds dance, but they can also pack a carb punch that's not exactly keto-friendly. These delights can be high in sugars and starches, which is a no-no for keto warriors. Here are some carb-heavy culprits to avoid:
- Fried Rice: Panda Express offers a variety of fried rice options, and these are typically high in carbohydrates due to the rice and oil used in preparation.
- Chow Mein: While delicious, chow mein is essentially stir-fried noodles, which are carbohydrate-heavy. Go for alternatives if you want to reduce your carb intake.
- Orange Chicken: This popular dish is breaded and deep-fried, so it contains a significant amount of carbs from the bread.
- Sweet and Sour Chicken: Like orange chicken, sweet and sour chicken is breaded and fried, making it a carb-heavy choice.
- Honey Walnut Shrimp: While the shrimp itself is relatively low in carbs, the sweet and creamy sauce it's served with can be high in sugar and carbohydrates.
- Any Noodle Dish: Any dish labeled as a “noodle” dish, such as Shanghai Angus Steak, Beijing Beef, or Black Pepper Angus Steak, will have noodles as a significant carb source.
- Potstickers: These dumplings are wrapped in a dough wrapper and pan-fried, making them carbohydrate-rich.
Panda Express still has some keto-approved options that'll keep you on track while delighting your taste buds. Check out these delicious choices:
- Grilled Teriyaki Chicken: With its savory flavors and protein punch, this one is a go-to. It's got only about 7g of carbs per serving.
- Broccoli Beef: Tender beef and crisp broccoli come together in a savory sauce. It's got around 9g of carbs per serving.
- String Bean Chicken Breast: This dish is light, tasty, and low on carbs. You're looking at roughly 9g of carbs per serving.
- Eggplant Tofu: If you're looking for a vegetarian option, this one's a winner. It has around 11g of carbs per serving.
Even when you're diving into keto-approved dishes, it's important to keep an eye on how much you're piling onto your plate. Panda Express serves up their dishes in generous portions, which can easily add up on the calorie and carb front.
Grab a single serving size and fill up with protein-rich, non-starchy veggies. This helps keep your carb intake in check while making sure you're satisfied. Think of it as a dance between indulgence and moderation.
So, with the right choices and a bit of portion control, you can enjoy those bold flavors while staying firmly on the keto track. Happy eating!
Customizing your order at Panda Express for a low-carb meal is possible by making smart choices and substitutions. Whether you're dining out or cooking at home, there are awesome ways to make your meal keto-friendly without sacrificing taste. Let's get started!
- Choose a Protein: Opt for grilled or wok-seared proteins like grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, or grilled steak. Avoid breaded or fried options as they are high in carbs.
- Select Low-Carb Vegetables: Load up on non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, string beans, mixed veggies, or cabbage. These are lower in carbs compared to options like carrots or corn.
- Sauce Selection: Be cautious with sauces as they can be high in sugar and carbs. Request for sauces on the side and choose low-carb options like the Beijing Sauce or the Hot Mustard Sauce. Soy sauce is also a good low-carb option.
- Portion Control: Ask for a smaller portion of your chosen protein and vegetable to reduce overall carb intake.
- Skip the Rice and Noodles: Avoid the rice and noodles entirely as they are high in carbohydrates. Instead, focus on the protein and vegetable components of your meal.
- Double Up on Proteins and Veggies: To make your meal more filling, ask for extra servings of grilled protein and non-starchy vegetables.
- Salad Option: Some Panda Express locations offer a side salad. You can ask for this and add your choice of protein for a low-carb salad.
- Ask for Steamed Options: In some locations, you can request steamed chicken or vegetables. This can be a good low-carb alternative.
- Customize Your Combo: Panda Express often allows you to create a customized combo. Use this option to select your preferred low-carb items.
- Nutrition Information: Check Panda Express' website or ask the staff for nutritional information to make informed choices about the carb content of your meal.
Remember that the availability of certain menu items and customization options may vary depending on the Panda Express location, so it's a good idea to inquire with the staff about your specific dietary preferences. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a delicious low-carb meal at Panda Express.
Who says eating keto means bland and boring? Here are some sneaky tips to keep your taste buds dancing while staying low-carb:
- Spice It Up: Experiment with herbs and spices. They can transform a dish from ordinary to extraordinary without adding carbs. Think garlic, rosemary, cumin, and more.
- Cheese Please: Cheese lovers, rejoice! Sprinkle some shredded cheese on your dish for that extra burst of flavor and creaminess.
- Double Veggies: When in doubt, double up on the veggies. They're low in carbs and high in fiber, making you feel full and satisfied.
- Nuts About Nuts: Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and macadamias are great sources of healthy fats. They can add a delightful crunch to your meals.
One of the coolest things about going keto is the flexibility to get creative with your meals. You're the master of your plate, so here's how you can craft unique combinations:
Mix and Match: Don't be afraid to mix different proteins, veggies, and fats to create your perfect meal. How about grilled shrimp on a bed of arugula with a sprinkle of pine nuts?
DIY Bowl: Create your own “bowl” by choosing a protein, a variety of veggies, and a tasty sauce. It's like building a work of edible art!
Salad Upgrade: Transform a regular salad into a keto masterpiece by adding grilled steak, avocado slices, and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.
So, there you have it, a guide to customizing your low-carb meals to fit your keto dreams while keeping every bite delicious.
We all know that Panda Express Bowls are tempting, but they can be carb-heavy, which might not be ideal for keto enthusiasts. These bowls usually come with a base of rice or noodles, which can pack a punch in the carb department. While they're yummy, they might not be your best keto buddies.
Well, fortunately, you can build your very own keto-friendly protein-packed bowl. You have so many amazing options! When it comes to proteins, think about grilled chicken, beef, pork, or even tofu if you're into that plant-based vibe. These protein powerhouses will keep you full and energized.
Load up on leafy greens like spinach and kale – they're low in carbs and high in nutrients. Broccoli and cauliflower are also great choices, adding both flavor and a satisfying crunch. Don't forget about avocados! They're a keto superstar, packed with healthy fats that'll keep your body fueled and your taste buds happy.
Finally, opt for sauces that are rich and full of flavor without sneaking in those carbs. The classic ranch dressing is a low-carb option that can elevate the taste of your bowl. Another winner is the Caesar dressing, with its garlicky goodness adding a zing to your creation. Most hot sauces are also very low in carbs. And let's not forget about the superstar of low-carb flavor – olive oil and vinegar. A simple drizzle can bring out the natural flavors of your proteins and veggies.
At Panda Express, some of the side dishes can be a bit sneaky when it comes to carbs. Foods like egg rolls, spring rolls and fried rice are super loaded in carbohydrates. These guys can have around 40-50 grams of carbs per serving! That's like a carb explosion in your keto world.
But fret not, because Panda Express still has a few sidekicks that are low in the carb department. Think of these options as your keto companions. For instance, the Mixed Veggies are a solid choice. They come in at around 8 grams of carbs per serving. Then there's the Super Greens – they're like the superhero of low-carb sides, with only about 4 grams of carbs. If you’re a vegan, eggplant tofu is a great one. All these options can add flavor and color to your meal without derailing your keto journey.
Now, let’s talk about the sweet and sugary sauces. That Orange Chicken glaze? It's basically a sugar party. And that Teriyaki sauce? Carb city. So, if you're serious about keto, it's best to steer clear of these sugary temptations. Opt for sauces like the Beijing Beef Sauce or the Kung Pao Sauce. They've got more savory vibes and fewer hidden carbs.
Note: Even with low-carb sides, going overboard can still lead you into the carb danger zone. Remember, it's not just about what you eat, but how much. Keep those portions in check, and you're golden.
It's good to be aware of what you're sippin’ on, especially if you're watching those carb counts. A regular soda can have around 40-50 grams of carbs in a single serving. So, it’s a big NO. Similarly, sweetened iced tea can harbor about 30-40 grams of carbs per serving. Not the best choice if you're aiming to keep those carbs low.
Here are some keto-friendly beverages to try at Panda Express:
- Water: Water is your best buddy on the keto journey. It's carb-free, calorie-free, and all-around fantastic for staying hydrated.
- Unsweetened Iced Tea: Go for the unsweetened version, and you're golden. Unsweetened iced tea is a flavorful option that won't load you up on carbs.
- Black Coffee: If you're a coffee lover, black coffee is your go-to. It's carb-free and can give you a gentle caffeine kick.
- Sparkling Water: Need a little fizz in your life? Opt for sparkling water. It comes in various flavors and doesn't add any carbs to your count.
Here are some alternatives that can add a dash of variety to your beverage choices:
- Herbal Tea: Try herbal teas like peppermint, chamomile, or green tea. They're often carb-free and can be a soothing treat.
- Diet Sodas: If you're craving that soda fix, diet sodas are a better option. They use artificial sweeteners and have minimal carbs.
- Infused Water: Get creative with your water by adding slices of lemon, cucumber, or berries. It's a flavorful way to keep things interesting.
- Coconut Water: If you're missing the electrolytes, coconut water can be a good choice in moderation. Just watch out for the carbs – they can vary.
If you're on a gluten-free or dairy-free journey, fear not. Many restaurants, including Panda Express, are stepping up to the plate to make sure you're well taken care of. They've got a variety of options that can cater to your needs.
Looking to go gluten-free? Their Grilled Teriyaki Chicken and Eggplant Tofu are your friends. Craving something dairy-free? Chow Mein and Steamed Rice have your back. Panda Express labels their menu items with allergen information, making your life a whole lot easier. Just look for the handy icons to guide your choices.
Moreover, when you walk into the restaurant, don't hesitate to let the staff know about your dietary requirements. Politely ask if they can guide you to the best options for your needs.
In a nutshell, dining out with special dietary needs is totally doable. With Panda Express and many other restaurants on your side, you can enjoy a tasty meal without worry.
With a little strategy and some smart choices, you can stay on track and keep those ketones kicking in even when life gets busy. Make choices that align with your keto requirements. Here are some tips on which keto meals at Panda Express when you have limited time:
- Grilled Teriyaki Chicken: Opt for the Grilled Teriyaki Chicken. It's got that yummy teriyaki flavor without all the carb-heavy breading.
- String Bean Chicken: This dish is a winner. Tender chicken, crisp string beans, and a savory sauce that won't sabotage your keto efforts.
- Mixed Veggies: Load up on the mixed veggies. They're low in carbs and big on color and crunch.
- Super Greens: The Super Greens side dish is a smart choice. It's a mix of kale and cabbage, and it's loaded with goodness.
- Broccoli Beef: While this dish does contain a bit more carbs than other options at 11g of net carbs per serving, it's still relatively low compared to other menu items.
When ordering, be mindful of sauces as they can often be high in sugars and carbs. You can ask for sauces on the side and use them sparingly. Additionally, it's a good idea to check with the staff for any hidden sugars or carbs in the dishes, as ingredients and nutrition information may vary by location.
Going keto doesn't mean bidding adieu to all things deliciously Chinese. Panda Express is here to prove that. With a sizzling array of protein-packed options like succulent grilled chicken and savory beef on Panda Express, you won't even miss those carb-heavy choices.
Remember that portion control is key on a keto diet, so be cautious with serving sizes and avoid rice, noodles, and breaded options entirely. Stick to the items listed above to help you stay on track with your keto diet while dining at Panda Express.
So, don't hesitate—embrace the delectable options, explore the variety, and savor the satisfaction of enjoying Chinese cuisine without compromising your keto commitment. So, grab those chopsticks and let the keto feast begin!
If you'd like to learn about more fast food chains that you can enjoy on keto, click on one of the links below: