Is Pad Thai Healthy? (3 Tips For Weight Loss) 

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Pad Thai has to be one of the most popular Asian dishes that people can’t seem to get enough of. It has a variety of different flavors and has an awesome freshness to it that many other Asian noodles can’t compete with. Although Pad Thai is delicious, is it healthy?

Just like many noodle dishes, Pad Thai has most of its calories coming from carbs and fats. Many recipes call for a large amount of peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, and fish sauce which can add lots of calories in to a single serving of Pad Thai. This makes it harder to fit into a healthy diet as the dish lacks in protein.

Although its hard to fit into a healthy and balanced diet, let’s take a look at some steps we can take in order to eat our favorite Thai dish while staying healthy.

  1. Make sure to eat less carbs for your other meals

  2. Make sure that your activity level is high throughout the week 

  3. Make sure that the Pad Thai has a lot of protein and vegetables for fiber 

  4. Make sure to understand how many calories you need to eat in a day

  5. Make sure to build muscle and start training

How To Lose Weight When Eating Pad Thai 

What you always need to be aware of when living a healthy lifestyle is to understand how many calories you need to consume on a daily basis. When you are aware of how many calories you need to eat and consistently track your food you can control what you look like and how you feel. 

So, how do we figure out how many calories you need to eat in a day? A basic formula that is a great starting point to know how many calories you need to eat to lose weight is your body weight x 12. So, if you weigh 120 pounds then you should be eating around 1,440 kcals a day for a calorie range that is optimal for keeping you lean and healthy.

This, however, is just a rough estimate on how many calories you need to eat in a day. For some, the formula will be right on point but, for others, a few adjustments must be made in order to finally see some results. If you want a more accurate description of this formula check out our article on how to get a six pack after 30! 

So, how does Pad Thai fit into a fat loss diet? Let’s figure out in our first tip below and learn about Pad Thai’s nutrition facts and what the popular thai dish is made out of. 



Tip 1: Make Sure To Eat Less Carbs For Your Other Meals 

Pad thai is a rice noodle dish that is generally served with a protein and is stir fried in a very flavorful sauce. This, however, makes Pad Thai very heavy in carbs as the rice noodles and the sugary sauce are both a substantial source of carbs. Does that mean Pad Thai is unhealthy? No, it just means that the dish carries a lot of carbs which is a macro nutrient that we all need to be eating! Here are the nutrition facts for a typical dish of Pad Thai. 

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If you are someone who is losing weight then you want to be eating around 1 gram of carbs per 1 gram of body weight. So as someone who weighs 120 pounds, for example, you want to be eating around 120 grams of carbs in one day. This means that eating a typical dish of Pad Thai will take away 71 grams of carbs leaving you with 49 grams of carbs left for your day. This is not much and is why our first time is to make sure you plan your day and eat less carbs for your other meals. 

There’s a huge negative stigma behind carbs when really the negative effects of carbs really comes when you overeat them. Whether you have Pad Thai for lunch or for dinner, you want to make sure that the other meal that you eat is something that contains a lot of protein and fibrous veggies and greens. This way you won’t be overeating on the carbs and you can still stick to your calorie range that is optimal for fat loss. It’s all really a numbers game and figuring out what calorie range works for your body to stay in a lean and healthy state. 

Tip 2: Make Sure That Your Activity Level Is High Throughout The Week

The main function that carbs have on our body is to provide a direct source of energy so that we can stay alert and commit to our daily tasks. What happens, however, when we overeat on the carbs and stay relatively inactive during our day? Well the answer is simple, we store the excess carbs that we haven’t used as fat so that our bodies can utilize them when we need them again. This process is fine once in a while; however, when we get into the habit of continually storing our excess carbs into fat, we tend to become insulin resistant and get into a really unhealthy state. 

Eating carbs is definitely something that most people eat on a day to day basis. It is, however, very easy to overeat on carbs as they are so delicious and satisfying. Staying inactive and overeating carbs is a very likely situation to occur and the only way to really combat an excess of carbs is to make sure that our days are filled with movement and weekly exercise routines so those carbs can be put to great use! 

Our bodies want to move, especially when we feed it a lot of carbs throughout the day. When we eat something like Pad Thai, which is packed with carbs and sugar, we want to make sure that our body is ready to use those carbs to exercise or simply move around a bit. I’m not saying that you should go run a mile directly after eating your favorite Thai dish, I’m just saying that weekly exercise and movement is enough to make sure that your body utilizes those carbs that you ate throughout the week, 


Tip 3: Make Sure That the Pad Thai Has a Lot of Protein and Fibers

One of the best parts about pad thai, in my opinion, are the proteins and fibers that go along with it. Without the proteins in the dish, I firmly believe that the dish is incomplete and I would assume that many people would think so as well. Pad Thai is usually cooked with either chicken or shrimp and sometimes with very lean cuts of beef. This is great news as all three of those options are great sources of protein and can keep you satisfied with your meal. 

So why do we need to eat protein and how is it beneficial to add it to our favorite dishes such as Pad Thai? Well, protein is a very important macronutrient as its function in the body is to build and repair muscle. It also keeps us very satiated which is a very important aspect to keeping our calories in place. Muscle is important for anyone who wants to be fit as it allows us to eat more calories and just looks great on any physique. Protein is the main factor that allows our muscles to grow after working out and, thus, increases your metabolism by adding more muscle to our bodies. The more muscle you carry on your body the higher your metabolism. To go further into this point, the higher your metabolism, the more you can eat! If you want to find a basic workout plan that can help you build some more muscle, then check out this link and try the workouts for yourself. We also recommend getting a trainer if this seems too intimidating, but just try it out for yourself before you do decide on hiring a professional. 

So, what about fiber? Why should I eat fibrous foods such as veggies and fruit. Well the biggest reason is that it keeps you full by capturing the water in your small intestine which can slow down the nutrition absorption process. This indirectly helps you lose weight by allowing you to feel full and satiated. Fibers also help regulate blood sugar which, when spiked fast, can fall just as fast. When blood sugar drops rapidly, hunger increases and leaves you wanting to eat more food to satiate your hunger. Fibers are great for dieting and the best source for them is from your favorite foods: vegetables! Make sure to have a ton of veggies in your Pad Thai from now on or just any food in general. When dieting, veggies really are your best friends and they really help you thrive in a fat loss journey. 

So, to sum it all up. No, Pad Thai is not unhealthy, it just contains a lot of carbs! This is totally fine to eat as long as you are mindful of your calories and stay active throughout your week. Make sure that your Pad Thai has a lot of protein and veggies so that you can be satiated for the remainder of your day and be full from all the fibers you get from the meal.

 If you’re looking for a healthier version of Pad Thai, here is our recipe for a high protein alternative to the traditional Thai dish!


Tip 4: Make Sure To Understand How Many Calories You Need To Eat In a Day

Calories are the main factor when looking to control weight and how much fat your body carries. There’s a concept called energy balance which is the concept of burning energy and whether or not your body is in a surplus of energy or a deficit.

When your body enters a surplus of energy, you gain weight which comes in the form of excess fat or energy. When your body enters a caloric deficit, however, your body will lose fat and energy as energy will be taken from fat storage.

So, how many calories do you need to eat in a day to lose weight while eating delicious foods such as Pad Thai? There are many calculators and formulas out there online that can give you a rough estimate on how many calories you need to eat it a day. However, these calculators are inaccurate and are not specific to the individual.

This means some trial and error is required and you must play around with the number these calculators will offer. A formula I like to use is to multiply my body weight by 12 and adjust the number that suits my body type. For example, I weight 155 pounds which means that I should be eating around 1,860 kcals.

After eating those calories I found myself losing 3 pounds a week which was too much as you want to aim for 1-2 pounds max per week. This means that this was too low for me personally as I had to raise my calories to around 2,100 kcals to lose some weight.

The trick is to find a range where you can comfortably eat your calories without starving yourself. A slow and controlled weight loss program is more likely to be successful so just use the formula to find a good place to start and adjust accordingly depending on your weight.

Tip 5: Make Sure To Build Muscle & Start Training

It can be a little intimidating to start working out as lifting weights can be difficult and hard to get into. However, it’s the best way to keep ourselves healthy and fit as there are so many benefits that muscle gives us.

Muscle burns calories at rest which means that it gives us potential to eat more while still losing weight. It also keeps us looking great when we have lost all the weight and gives us that lean appearance that we really seek.

You can either workout at your local gym or invest in some workout equipment so you can start exercising in the safety of your home. Here is a link to our recommended gear list where we go over the pieces of equipment you need to successfully workout at home.

Now that you’re dedicated to getting into the best shape of your life. Here is a basic workout plan for both men and women which is what we recommend you do when you are first getting into resistance training.

WOMEN 

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 

Wednesday (Back/Hamstrings/Biceps) 

  • Assisted Pull Ups: 3x10

  • Lat Pulldowns: 4x12 

  • Cable Row: 4x15

  • Stiff Leg Deadlift: 4x15

  • Hamstring Curl: 4x15

  • Bicep Curls: 3x10

  • Hammer Curls: 3x10

Friday: (Legs/Butt/Abs): 

  • Squats: 5x5 

  • Goblet Squats: 4x20

  • Glute Bridge: 4x20

  • Glute Kickbacks: 4x20 each leg

  • Jump Squats: 4x20

  • Weighted Crunches: 3x35 

  • Leg Lifts: 3x35

MEN 

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

Even this can be a little intimidating to do but it’ll definitely be worth it when you see the results months from now. We got off track a bit for this topic but it’s crucial to understand the importance of diet and workout so you can enjoy foods like Pad Thai and Thai Food in general.

Working out allows us to be more flexible in our diet which is so important if you want to sustain a healthy, long term diet. Make sure to check out our other blogs if you’re interested in other Asian foods and fitness topics that will help you get to your goals.


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Phillip Pak

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Owner & Founder of Aspire Fitness. Personal Trainer and Nutritionist Working out of Walnut, CA