Do you love sushi but wonder how to order sushi when trying to lose weight? Get the scoop!
I LOVE sushi! I consider myself mid-range on the adventurous scale somewhere between those who will only eat cooked fish and those who happily consume a whole plate of sashimi whether they can identify the items or not. Sushi (and Japanese cuisine in general) tends to wear a health halo meaning people consider it to be low calorie and healthy no matter what you order. That’s definitely not true and like any cuisine, sushi restaurants offer many lower and higher calorie items, the key is knowing how to order sushi when trying to lose weight.
For starters, there are a few key terms; nigiri (which is a small piece of fish atop a finger-shaped cake of rice), maki (which is rice and fillings, fish, veggies, etc rolled up in nori or seaweed) or sashimi (simple raw fish).
The most popular menu item for sushi newbies seems to be a California Roll made with imitation crab, cucumber, avocado and rice rolled in seaweed. Since this one is typically made “inside out” it can hold more rice- up to ONE CUP PER ROLL! Calories can vary widely depending on who makes it but it seems to average out around 250-300 calories per 6 piece roll. Watch out for California Roll Combos which offer 3 California Rolls, soup and salad. That innocent sounding meal could clock in over 1000 calories!
The lowest calorie maki rolls are those with veggies or fish without additional sauces or mayo such as tuna or cucumber rolls which contain fewer than 200 calories for 6 pieces. Rolls like salmon avocado or spicy tuna clock in around 300 calories per roll.
These are “traditional” vs “special” rolls. The special ones are usually much bigger and more expensive meaning their calorie count will be much higher.
The ultimate secret to saving calories is to order a Naruto Roll which is fish and veggies rolled in thinly sliced cucumber with no rice. This is a high protein, low carb option for those really trying to stretch out their portions. A Naruto Roll with tuna, salmon and avocado contains approximately 110 calories and 13g protein.
Nigiri sushi averages around 40-65 calories per single piece depending on the type of fish. Whitefish, seabass and crab tend toward the lower end of the range with fattier fish like eel, mackerel and salmon trending higher.
Sashimi is the winner from a calorie standpoint with each ounce of raw fish containing somewhere between 25-40 calories. Ideally, you skip the rice and round out your meal with some of my approved side dishes:
- A house salad (ginger dressing on the side). I fork dip my chopsticks into the dressing to save tons of calories.
- Edamame: ½ cup= 100 calories, 3g fat, 9g carbs, 5g fiber, 8g protein
- Seaweed salad is surprisingly low in calories with a typical restaurant serving containing anywhere from 45-70 calories depending on the source.
- Miso soup: 1 cup = 40-50 calories, 1.3g fat, 5.3g carbs, 1.1g fiber, 3-4g protein
Or, combine a Naruto Roll with one traditional roll and a side.
There are several words to look out for when ordering sushi if you want to avoid calorie bombs.
Crunchy means pieces of fried batter. Anything that’s “crunchy” will significantly up the fat and calorie content of the roll without any health benefit.
Spicy– has mayo. The beloved spicy tuna roll can contain an extra 100 calories over a regular tuna maki roll simply from the spicy mayo.
*Tempura – means FRIED. Shrimp Tempura or Spider rolls have over 500 calories each.
General tips for healthier ordering:
-If you are going to choose items with rice, ask for brown rice. Even though the caloric content is basically the same, you’ll benefit from some extra nutrition and filling fiber.
-Even though they add extra calories, items like salmon and avocado provide heart-healthy fat so figure some into your order and cut calories other places.
Now for the BIGGEST SECRET OF ALL: ASK FOR YOUR MAKI ROLLS TO BE CUT INTO 8 PIECES WHEN POSSIBLE INSTEAD OF 6 PIECES.
Don’t you feel like each piece of a sushi roll is just too big to fit into your mouth comfortably? And there’s no way to delicately bite it in half either, right? So, this solution will work perfectly. I ALWAYS ask for my rolls to be cut into 8 pieces. (Some rolls that are not typically cut into 6 won’t easily cut into 8 like larger special rolls) You’ll get a perfectly sized bite and now it seems like you have more food for the same amount of calories. Win-Win!
Note: those who eat sushi very often, especially the ahi tuna need to be aware of the mercury content, notably women of childbearing age and kids (who shouldn’t be eating raw tuna anyway).
For more complete information on calories and nutrition, the website, Sushi FAQ has compiled a list of common sushi items found in the USDA database and restaurant and supermarket websites. Remember that portion sizes and recipes will vary by establishment so use these numbers as an estimate. https://www.sushifaq.com/sushi-health/calories-in-sushi/
What do you order at a sushi restaurant?
If you like the info in the post, check out all my “What to Order…” posts for Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and more fast food offerings!
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