Which Taiwanese Foods Can Help Me Lose Weight? (A List of 7 Taiwanese Foods For Weight Loss)
As an Asian American living in Los Angeles, I find that Taiwanese food is a cuisine that I absolutely love. However, not all Taiwanese food options are optimal for weight loss or maintaining a lean body. I’ve spent the last two years eating at various Taiwanese restaurants and I’ve done some research on the nutritional value of the Taiwanese foods I love the most. Some were too high in calories and offered low nutritional value while others offered sufficient calories while giving tons of nutritional value. So, I decided to conjure up a list of 7 Taiwanese foods that are actually really good for slimming down while offering your taste buds some really amazing flavors.
If you find yourself at a Taiwanese restaurant and are scared that eating anything there will get you bloated out of your mind. Fear no longer. Here are 7 Taiwanese food options that will help you lose weight.
1. Braised Pork Rice (滷肉飯)
After eating at tons of Taiwanese restaurants, I find that the braised pork rice is usually a low calorie option that provides sufficient protein with some really healthy fats. What I love about this dish is the ratio between rice and pork. Unlike a lot of other Asian foods, this dish has a smaller portion of rice that pairs perfectly with the amount of pork provided. Taiwanese do braised pork amazingly and their portions are made to compliment each other.
Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice is usually cooked in shiao xing wine, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, and a ton of herbs like ginger, garlic, bay leeves and star anise. In simpler terms, this stuff is amazing. The flavor in this dish is awesome and is a really great option for anyone who needs some protein and fats.
2. Steamed Fish (清蒸魚)
Steamed fish is always a good option since there isn’t much oil added to it. Usually served with a soy sauce and rice vinegar mixture, Taiwanese steamed fish is always an option for someone looking for a healthy alternative. Coming out to around 100 calories and 17.4 grams of protein per 100g of fish eaten, this option is loaded with the proper macro nutrients that you need to get that toned look.
The issue with this food, however, is the “family style” aspect that most Taiwanese like to implement when eating together. It’s going to be hard to just eat this as there, most likely, are so many more options on the table when eating. My recommendation is, try to just eat the other veggie dishes and avoid the fried stuff you’ll find on the table. A bowl of rice plus this fish will make for an amazing meal filled with the right nutrients you need.
3. Three Cup Chicken (三杯雞)
Three Cup Chicken is a chicken dish that is braised in soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. This is an option with a tremendous amount of flavor and is overall packed with protein. If you’re a fan of savory foods filled with garlic and basil, then this is the dish for you. This dish is usually served with rice since it’s pretty salty, but having a cup of rice is fine as long as you don’t go to your second or third bowl.
With 41 grams of protein per 236g of chicken, this dish is loaded with protein. However, the part of the chicken used is usually the thigh and wings so the fat content is somewhat higher. Notice, however, that there are no trans fats in the nutrition label. This is fat that comes from the chicken and some oil but overall, it is still great to eat since there is such a high protein value. Just take it easy on the rice when you eat this option and stick with some greens. This way you won’t be eating too many calories.
4. Sesame oil - WIne Chicken Soup (麻油雞)
With a medicinal taste and perfect for when you’re craving some flavorful soup, Sesame Oil - Wine Chicken Soup is what you need in your life. The key ingredient that really shines when enjoying this dish is the ginger and the black sesame oil. With a slow simmer when cooking the broth, the soup gains a really deep flavor that is refreshing and rejuvenating.
Like most Taiwanese foods, this soup has fat in it. However, the fats that come from sesame oil are great and contain no trans fats. The protein in this dish, however, is what shines. With 16g of protein, this soup is loaded with protein and lack carbs which means that this is a great option for the soup lovers. This dish is one of my personal favorites for staying healthy during colds or fevers as it contains a lot of medicinal value as well.
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5. Garlic Cucumber Salad (蒜味小黃瓜)
There always has to be a salad option for the veggie lovers out there and Taiwanese Garlic Cucumber Salad packs a punch against any normal salad out there. Usually made with soy sauce and vinegar, this salad brings a savory and sour flavor with a refreshing finish from the cold cucumbers. I like to call this salad the flavor bomb salad due to the presence of a ton of garlic and how it pairs with the soy sauce - vinegar mixture. Simple, yet super tasty.
Most salads are pretty healthy and this salad is no different. With only 58 calories per cup of cucumbers, this dish is a perfect solution as it provides a light meal where you know you won’t be getting too much fat from things like dressings or vinaigrettes. My recommendation is to pair this dish with any of the dishes listed above and below this list. This is a great alternative to rice and will save you on a ton of calories.
6. Tea Eggs (茶葉蛋)
If you know anything about Taiwanese food, then you know about how delicious tea eggs are. There are so many spices when it comes to cooking up Tea Eggs and they all form this beautiful savory flavor that really elevate normal eggs. If you are making them yourself I would recommend you soft boil the eggs. There really is nothing better than a soft boiled tea egg. With spices such as star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves, and peppercorns, these eggs really are as enhanced as they can get.
Eggs traditionally are part of the staple fitness foods you see in every recommended diet. The nutrients listed in tea eggs are the exact same as traditional eggs but they’re marinated in super flavorful ingredients. Eating two or three of these as a meal would be great since it only comes out to 140-210 calories. If you’re someone struggling with cholesterol, then one full and two egg whites should still be fine to eat.
7. Steam Garlic Shrimp & Vermicelli (蒜蓉蒸蝦)
One thing Taiwanese cuisine excels in is shrimp. The best part about this dish is that it feels substantial but it really isn’t. Shrimp pairs so well with garlic, but when you add chili, shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and white pepper, it can be elevated to new levels. The star of this dish is definitely the garlic and the savory flavors of the combination listed above. Usually steamed shrimp sucks, but with this level of flavor you can’t go wrong.
This dish is definitely a meal on it’s own. Although probably the most high calorie dish in this whole list, this dish has the best ratio of macronutrients which means huge benefits for your diet. For 17 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, and basically no carbs at all, this shrimp dish is basically just protein. Crazy right? For such a delicious dish, it really doesn’t get any better than this. I recommend this as your go to dish if you are in the mood for Taiwanese food. Just make sure it’s steamed and not fried. I’ve ordered this dish so many times and having it come out fried rather than steamed so don’t make the same mistakes that I did.
Owner & Founder of Aspire Fitness. Personal Trainer and Nutritionist Working out of Walnut, CA