Is sushi a weight loss-friendly food? Absolutely! If you know how to navigate your menu. The seafood used in sushi typically contains with B vitamins, Vitamin A, a good amount of lean protein and good fats. However, you may not know that if you overdo it at the sushi bar, or order the wrong dish, your culinary trip to Japan could end up being an atom bomb of calories, and not all of them coming from healthy sources. So, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most favorite, common rolls, how they stack up calorie-wise and why, and how you can prevent your sushi dinners from sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
What’s In Your Sushi?
In this list, we are referring to one roll which is a serving and contains 6 pieces of sushi. A standard size of a sushi roll is about 2×2 inches in diameter.
Shrimp Tempura Roll – 508 calories
This roll is one of the highest in calories because not only does it contain breaded and fried shrimp, it’s often topped with more fried shrimp as well. What’s more, this roll often has a generous drizzle of spicy mayo for extra flavor.
Rainbow Roll – 478 calories
Topped with avocado and extra fish in addition to the seafood inside, it’s higher in protein and probably contains more nutrients than the shrimp tempura roll. However, like most other sushi rolls, it’s still packed with white rice.
Dragon Roll – 454 calories
What makes this roll so explosive isn’t just its spicy tang, but the fact that it usually contains crispy, fried eel and a signature, sugary eel sauce, topped with MORE crispy eel and, of course, rice.
Philadelphia Roll – 320 calories
The Philadelphia name comes from the fact that this roll contains cream cheese as well as salmon and rice.
California Roll – 225 calories
One of the most popular rolls, especially for newcomers to sushi, it’s on the lower end of calories on this list. However, the California roll only contains seaweed, rice, avocado and imitation crab. So, don’t expect any omega-3s or other nutrients from the raw fish you get in other rolls.
Navigating Your Sushi Menu
So, now that the bad news is out of the way, what’s the good news? The good news is that there are still plenty of sushi options or decisions you can make to keep your dinner from being astronomical in calorie cost:
- Avoid rolls with terms that read “tempura,” “crispy” or “crunchy.” This usually means that there are ingredients that have been breaded or fried which spikes the calorie count and may contribute some saturated or trans fats.
- In addition, the term “spicy” on the menu usually means that spicy mayo has been added, which is essentially a sauce made with mayo, sriracha and lime mixed together. If you prefer something other than mayo, as alternative, consider taking advantage of that complimentary side of wasabi and ginger for some heat and flavor (and antioxidants!).
- Use those chopsticks! Not only does it make you feel more authentic, but it can slow down your eating and really let you enjoy and be satisfied by your food rather than just shoveling it in with a fork.
- Lower calorie rolls like the tuna roll, avocado roll and cucumber roll can allow you more options. Meaning that choosing rolls without all of the extra sauces and breading can allow you to have your other favorite dishes like dumplings. A bonus for our vegetarian readers, or those looking to boost their vegetable intake, look the vegetarian options such as the cucumber roll and avocado roll, among others.
- As a reminder, one roll of sushi (or 6 pieces) is a serving and each roll has about a cup (or 200 calories) worth of white rice, so keep this in mind when you’re ordering! As you can see, those calories can add up fast depending on what you order. If you’re worried about getting enough food, order some miso soup, sesame salad or edamame as an appetizer before the rolls arrive.
- Lastly, consider opting for sashimi! Sashimi is literally just plain raw fish sans the rice and seaweed, so this is as calorie-friendly as you can get and you can satisfy your hunger with all of that wonderful lean protein.