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5 Low-Calorie Chinese Dishes and 5 to Skip

The Best Choice Isn’t Always Obvious

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Even some healthy-sounding options can set you back 1,000+ calories. Here’s how to make waistline-conscious choices.

*The following calorie counts are per dish, not per serving, and are approximate because recipes and serving sizes vary from restaurant to restaurant.

Don’t Order: Vegetable Lo Mein

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The veggies don’t cancel out the mound of noodles, which weigh in at 200 calories per cup (without sauce). Lo mein can have upwards of 900 calories, mostly from refined carbs.

Order This: Buddha’s Delight

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You can usually count on getting plenty of steamed tofu and a variety of vegetables—making for a protein- and fiber-packed meal that has only about 200 calories per platter.

Don’t Order: Steamed Pork Dumplings

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With 500 calories for six pieces, dumplings may not sound like diet derailers—but it’s a lot for an appetizer. (The veggie version saves you 100 calories.)

Order This: Wonton Soup

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This starter has just around 100 calories, and you still get to enjoy a few dumplings. Plus, it may be more filling: Several studies have shown that having soup before a meal helps you eat less overall.

Don’t Order: Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

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There are 800 calories per order—not bad if you split it, but you can do better: It has more sodium (about 4,000 milligrams) than most others.

Order This: Chicken with Snow Peas

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Request that the dish be stir-fried in as little oil as possible and you can keep the calories to a respectable 400. The sodium, while still high, also drops to less than 1,600 milligrams.

Don’t Order: Szechuan Shrimp

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Stir-fried shrimp and vegetables in a spicy sauce seems like a guilt- free pick, but the sauce is often oily, meaning your order racks up around 700 calories.

Order This: Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

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You get the same lean, high-protein shellfish—but topped with a broth- or wine-based sauce—for 450 calories. Ask the restaurant to add snow peas or broccoli for an extra hit of vitamins.

Don’t Order: Orange Beef

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Yes, it may sound light, but this dish usually involves batter-coating and frying the meat, then topping it with a gloppy sauce. Expect 1,200 calories an order.

Order This: Beef with Broccoli

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It’s hard to find a low-cal beef option—and with 900 calories per platter, this is definitely one you want to share. On the plus side, you’re getting a hefty dose of one of the most nutritious veggies on the planet.


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