Is Jajangmyeon Healthy? (5 Tips For Weight Loss)
Jajangmyeon has to be my favorite Korean dish of all time. It’s deeply flavorful and goes great with other options such as fried pork and kimchi. There are a lot of memories I’ve had with Jajangmyeon and they’ve gotten me through some tough times. Although Jajangmyeon is delicious, is it healthy?
Jajangmyeon is a noodle dish with lots of different flavors coming from bean paste, lard, rice wine, chicken stock and cornstarch. Thus, you can expect a lot of calories coming from carbs and fats which makes Jajangmyeon a fattening option. It is still possible to eat Jajangmyeon while aiming to stay healthy as long as portions are controlled and eaten in moderation.
With any food, there is a way to make it manageable within your diet. Although Jajangmyeon can be a high calorie option, it doesn’t mean we can never have it when we crave our favorite Korean noodles. If you want to stay healthy while eating Jajangmyeon then here are 5 steps you can take the next time you crave some noodles.
Understand What Goes Inside Jajangmyeon
Understand How Many Calories Are In Jajangmyeon
Understand How Many Calories You Need To Eat In a Day
Workout Consistently & Build Muscle
Keep Active To Utilize The Carbs & Fats From Jajangmyeon
Now that we know our 5 steps, let’s take a look at what we can do to stay healthy while eating our favorite Korean noodles.
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Tip 1: Understand What Goes Inside Jajangmyeon
Jajangmyeon has so many different flavors which really makes the dish unlike any noodles you can find. There’s so much that goes into its sauce which includes a special black bean paste that is fermented and heavily seasoned.
If you’ve had these noodles or even the instant noodle version of Jajangmyeon you definitely understand what I mean by how unique this dish is. It’s sweet and savory and has a really thick noodle which provides for an amazing chew.
Let’s take a look at what goes inside Jajangmyeon and see what makes it so delicious. Let’s start with the sauce. You can expect a lot of flavor from the sauce since there’s so much fat coming from lard and vegetable oil.
There’s also the fermented black bean paste which carries a lot of carbs and a lot of sodium which is fine as long as you are mindful of how much you are getting in a day. Also, within the sauce, you can find chicken broth and cornstarch which both provide a meaty flavor and thicken the sauce.
Overall, it’s sauce is what makes it so special but there can be a lot of setbacks to your fitness goal if you eat Jajangmyeon on a daily basis. Noodles in general are harder to keep a track of when you’re losing fat so just be mindful of how many carbs you get from a single serving of these.
Now let’s take a look at the noodles. The noodles are made with flour, egg and some oil. It’s what makes them so chewy and delicious as the eggs allow the flour to develop some gluten when kneaded. They are actually pretty similar to pasta noodles but are cut into a different shape that is more unique to Korean cuisine.
You can usually find this dish with bits of pork in it as well so, once again, you can expect a lot of fat coming from this dish. Some places will put MSG into their sauces as some black bean paste mixtures come with a ton of MSG. Just be mindful of how much you’re eating and you’ll definitely be fine to eat this.
Now that we know a bit about what goes into a typical Jajangmyeon dish, let’s take a look at the calories and see how we can fit this into our diet.
Tip 2: Understand How Many Calories Are In Jajangmyeon
Let’s take a look at what goes inside of our favorite Korean black bean noodle dish. For every 7 grams of fat, there are 51 grams of carbs and 14 grams of protein. This is usually for a half serving of noodles so you can expect double these numbers when you eat Jajangmyeon.
In so many of our blogs we talk about the importance of balancing the three macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fats. You can definitely see in the nutrition facts that this food is loaded with carbs and not much protein.
The majority of American diets focus on eating too many carbs and fats which can quickly lead to weight gain if handled incorrectly. Oftentimes I hear that carbs are the enemy and this is just not the case. It’s the act of overeating our carbs where complications start to form which can be easily done if you are not tracking your food.
You want a good balance of each macronutrient in your diet and something like Jajangmyeon will definitely put you over your carbs and fats. To stay within a healthy range, you want your calories to come from 33% protein, 45% carbs, and 22% fats.
The only way we can achieve balance, however, is to constantly track our food and see which foods provide which macronutrients. This is essentially my goal with this entire blog as I look up the calories and nutrition facts of popular Asian dishes and provide awareness as to how many carbs, fats, and proteins are available in a certain dish.
The more understanding of food you have, the better you can control how much of each macronutrient you are getting in your diet. For example, when you think of a noodle dish like Jajangmyeon, you can expect to find a lot of carbs and fats within this meal.
So, in order to create balance, your next meal should come with lean meat such as fish or chicken without too many carbs to prevent overeating of carbs. When you know how many calories a certain dish has, it allows you to create awareness as to how many grams of each macronutrient you are getting.
We now know that Jajangmyeon has 7 grams of fat, 51 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of protein per serving. We can simply fit that into our day and see how much of each macronutrient is left for the day. You’ll find that you’ve eaten most of your carbs so protein and fats are what you will most likely need to stick to for the remainder of the day.
So, how do we understand how many calories and macronutrients we should eat in a day? Let’s dive into the next section to get the specifics on how you can get your allotted calories for the day.
Tip 3: Understand How Many Calories You Need To Eat In a Day
Understanding how many calories you need to eat in a day means understanding how the shape of your body will look. I always make sure that I have a section about calories within my articles as it really is the defining factor of how much fat you currently carry.
There’s a concept called energy balance which determines whether or not you are shedding fat, staying the same, or gaining weight. Basically, if your goal is to gain weight, your body needs to burn more energy than it consumes. If your goal is to gain weight, then you need to eat more calories than your body burns.
Your goal is to put yourself within a healthy range of calories so that you are not always constantly gaining weight without understanding why. This can lead to a ton of weight gain in the future which can cause you to be unhealthy with many complications. Overeating is really the killer and, by understanding how many calories you need to eat in a day, you can control how you look and feel.
There are two methods you can use when you want to find out your calorie range but both require a bit of trial and error. The first method is to look up a TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calculator online where you answer some questions and they calculate a rough estimate on your daily allotted calories.
The second method is to multiply your body weight by 12 and adjust accordingly. Let’s take a 160 pounds individual for example. By using this calculation we can see that this person needs to eat around 1,920 kcals a day in order to lose some weight. However, this does not account for how active this person is or how much muscle they carry at the moment. So, there will most likely need to be some adjustments that need to occur.
Let’s say he or she decides to eat 1,920 kcals for a week and sees no change in the weight. If that person wants to gain weight then he or she should add 100 kcals every week until some weight gain occurs. Likewise, if that person does not see any weight loss, then a slow and steady 100 kcal drop would benefit that person greatly.
You don’t want to drop calories too fast as your body will always try its best to stabilize your bodyweight with the calories you have. A slow drop or gain of calories is necessary for long term results which means that there will be some patience involved with the process.
You’ll find that if you drop too quickly, your body will maintain its weight at that calorie range and you’ll have to drop even further. This will include the possibility of starving yourself which can be detrimental to your physical and mental health (I’ve been there).
So, once you find out your calorie range, you need to understand what those calories should consist of. We’ve mentioned it in the previous section above but you want your calories coming from 33% protein, 45% carbs, and 22% fats. Each of these macronutrients have a specific function which you can learn more about in this article here.
Once you’ve found your macronutrient ratios, then you need to fill your calories with the correct gram measurement. For example, let’s say that we need to eat 120 grams of protein, 180 grams of carbs, and 55 grams of fat. If we eat something like Jajangmyeon, then we have 106 grams of protein, 129 grams of carbs, and 48 grams of fat left for the day.
It’s really a numbers game where you play a game of chicken with your macros. You want to eat enough to where you meet your numbers but not too much where you go overboard and end up overeating on certain things.
This is what gets you lean and healthy. It’s the understanding of calories and how much our bodies need that keeps us living strong and functioning properly. The app I recommend you learn is MyFitnessPal as it has the largest database of food with some pretty precise measurements on your favorite foods. They even have Asian foods in there!
If you want more details on this topic and how you can get your abs to finally show, then make sure to check out the link above to do your own step by step calculations on calories and macronutrients.
Now that we know a little about how many calories and macronutrients we should eat in a day, let’s get into the importance of working out and building muscle.
Tip 4: Workout Consistently & Build Muscle
The second piece of the fitness puzzle comes from lifting weights and building muscle. There are two reasons why you want more muscle on your frame which is crucial when it comes to dieting. The first is that it looks great and gives you that nice toned look that everybody desires (it doesn’t make you look big and bulky, only high calories do that)
The second is because muscle burns calories at rest which means that we can eat more and still lose fat along the course of time. This is such an important function that muscle grants us and is a tool that allows us to eat happily while we diet.
I’ve spent years cutting calories without lifting weight which costs me a lot of time wasted. I was afraid that I’d become a big meatball so I decided to never touch a weight in my life. It was not until I became serious about lifting weights, however, that I started to slim down and get the physique I’ve always wanted.
It’s the combination of lifting weights and understanding our calories that allows us to get into great shape. There’s one more piece of the puzzle but I’m going to focus on this for the remainder of this section. You’ll find that it’s intimidating to workout so you can just do what I did which is to buy home workout equipment.
I own a gym here in Southern California so I’ve shopped around for the best pieces of workout equipment that will get you to your goals. Here is a link to all of my favorite products that I’ve used with myself and with my clients.
Now that you’ve looked at some of the pieces of workout equipment needed to get in shape, let’s take a look at a workout plan that you can use to get started with lifting weights.
Monday (Full Upper):
Seated Shoulder Press: 4x20
Lateral Raises: 4x15
Lat Pulldowns: 4x12
Dumbbell Row: 3x10
Dumbbell Fly: 3x10
Knee Push Ups: 4x20
Weighted Crunches: 3x35
Assisted Pull Ups: 3x10
Lat Pulldowns: 4x12
Cable Row: 4x15
Stiff Leg Deadlift: 4x15
Hamstring Curl: 4x15
Bicep Curls: 3x10
Hammer Curls: 3x10
Goblet Squats: 4x20
Glute Bridge: 4x20
Glute Kickbacks: 4x20 each leg
Jump Squats: 4x20
Weighted Crunches: 3x35
Leg Lifts: 3x35
Mon: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs (Push Day)
Bench Press: 3 sets 10 reps
Dumbbell Press: 4 sets 12 reps
Shoulder Press: 3 sets 10 reps
Lateral Raises: 3 sets 15 reps
Triceps Rope Push Down: 3 sets 15 reps
Cable Crunches: 4 sets 15 reps
Wed: Legs & Abs
Goblet Squats: 4 sets 20 reps
Weighted Walking Lunges: 2 sets 20 steps
Stiff Leg DeadLift (Romanian Deadlift): 4 sets 15 reps
Glute Bridges With Weight: 4 sets 20 reps
Jumping Squats With Resistance Bands: 5 sets 20 reps
Weighted Sit Ups: 4 sets 25 reps
Weighted Toe Touches: 4 sets 25 reps
Fri: Back & Biceps (Pull Day)
Assisted Pull Ups: 3 sets 10 reps
Lat Pulldowns: 4 sets 12 reps
Dumbbell Rows: 4 sets 10 reps (Each Side)
Seated Cable Rows: 4 sets 15 reps
Bicep Curls: 3 sets 10 reps
Hammer Curls: 3 sets 10 reps
You can learn all of the movements on Youtube or online so just do some research if you’re serious about slimming down. Whether it’s at the gym or in the safety of your own house, you can make the biggest difference by starting to lift some weights.
I understand that it can be unappealing and hard to do but there are so many benefits waiting for you in the weight room. Take the time to learn these movements and use this website as a reference to get you to your goals. Let’s talk about the last piece of the puzzle which is movement and activity.
Tip 5: Keep Active To Utilize The Carbs & Fats From Jajangmyeon
Activity is the last piece of the puzzle that will slim you down and allow you to get that lean look that you’ve always wanted. When you eat something like Jajangmyeon, you get a lot of calories coming from fats and carbs. Depending on how much you’ve eaten that day, you will find that your body can either utilize the carbs and fats as energy or store them (as fat) for future use.
The way we prevent fat accumulation is to make sure that we are utilizing the calories we eat through the movements we make everyday. If you are someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle, then it will be harder for your body to use the calories that it has consumed in the day.
There’s something called TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) which is the amount of calories our bodies burn in a day. 60-75% of our TDEE comes from our RMR (resting metabolic rate) which we can control slightly with the gaining of muscle. 10% of our TDEE comes from TEF which is the thermic effect of foods (how many calories your body burns digesting certain macronutrients). 15-30% of our TDEE, however, comes from TEPA which is the thermic effect of physical activity. (1)
This means that we can control 15-30% of the calories we burn in a day which is a huge proportion of food and nutrition. The key here is to keep active and make sure our days are filled with movement and activity.
This way we can utilize the calories we eat in a day and increase our allotted calories overall. Life is so much better when you can eat more, in my opinion, and food is such a happy and social aspect that it’s worth it for me to be active.
I can eat foods like Jajangmyeon and noodles because I earn them. I stay lean for most of my life because I make sure that I control my calories, count my macronutrients, and build muscle by working out every week. It’ll take some time to get some results but, when they come, you’ll become addicted to the lifestyle and see that it was worth all the effort that went into it.
There It Is!
In this article we went over what goes inside Jajangmyeon and how many calories you can expect a typical Jajangmyeon to have. We also went over some healthy tips and how you can start your fitness journey by counting your calories and building some awesome muscle.
If you want to know more about healthy Asian foods and healthy habits that we can implement in our lives. Then make sure to take a look at our other articles where we go over everything you need to know to get in the best shape ever.
Phillip Pak is a fitness expert who has been training clients for 5 years. Throughout his fitness journey, Phill has done it all when it comes to diet and nutrition. He is now the owner of Aspire Fitness Walnut where his main goal is to help those who are seeking to find the best version of themselves. He’s been through the struggle of obtaining an good physique and knows how to share it with others.