On a night out, sometimes you just want to have your sushi rolls without worrying whether they’ll surface on your stomach later.
Sushi can be one of the healthiest choices when dining out. When you go out for sushi you have more diet-friendly options than you think. The key is to stick to lean fish, sub for brown rice, keep sauces sparse and veggies in abundance.
But hiding in plain sight are some very unhealthy and not to mention—tempting—options. As a general rule of thumb it’s best to steer clear of rolls drenched in sauces and layered with cream cheese—but you already knew that, right?
Keep in mind that any sushi roll (as opposed to sashimi—see next slide for more info!) is still packed with carb- and calorie-dense rice (even if you opt for healthier brown rice). So, it's good to be aware that you can get up to one cup of rice in a single roll (depending on the sushi chef), which is around 200 calories.
“Rolls average around 300 calories per roll, but can range anywhere from the low hundreds to around 600 calories," says Jim White, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach. “I would recommend that men stick to about three when it comes to the lower calorie rolls (like vegetable rolls.) If you’re opting for the higher calorie rolls such as the volcano, shrimp tempura or something like a Philadelphia roll I would only stick to one,” says White.
With some help from White we’ve identified the best high-protein and low calorie picks when it comes to ordering sushi. Next time you hit up your favorite fusion restaurant, spring for these lean options.
It may not be a roll, but it’s one of the best fish orders on the sushi menu. “Sashimi is the raw fish without the rice. It’s probably the cleanest thing on the menu because you’re looking at pure protein. They contain a lot of omega 3 fatty acids and provide a lot of protein without all the carbs of the roll,” says White. Order your favorite fish as sashimi and if you need something else on the side it’s best to stick with menu items like edamame or seaweed salad for the cleanest meal possible.
If you want a no-nonsense roll, cucumber rolls are your pick. They're fresh tasting, hydrating and free of shady sauces and unnecessary calories. Pairing it with some edamame can help balance out your meal with protein and healthy fat.
That said, fattier fish like salmon can be worth the extra fat and calories. This simple roll is made of 4 ingredients: Nori (seaweed), rice, salmon and avocado. It's higher in calories than the pure veggie rolls and white fish rolls, but the salmon and avocado offer up some seriously healthy fats that will work to fill you up without filling your stomach out. These fatty foods can help squash hunger, support brain health and may also encourage greater fat burn.
Tuna is another great protein-packed fish option for rolls. “It's around 184 calories and offers 24 grams of protein on average for the plain tuna roll. The spicy tuna roll is a little more calories due to the sauce,” says White.
Keep it simple with an avocado roll. It's free of fatty sauces and full of healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber that will promote satiety, lower cholesterol and fight belly fat all for only 140 calories per roll on average. Being a lower calorie roll means you can guiltlessly order a few more than you could with the more extravagant rolls.
“The yellowtail roll is right in the middle of the tuna and spicy tuna rolls in terms of calories. It depends on how it’s made, but it contains just a few more calories than the tuna roll,” says White.
While it’s best to stay away from rolls with fancy sauces, you also want to be able to order something a little more exciting—otherwise, what’s the point of eating out? The trick is to order the sauce on the side and dip modestly to keep calories under control. “What really drives up the calories in the rolls are the tempura, the crunchy, and the sauces. I always opt for the sauces on the side or no sauces at all. Or rather, spicier sauces like wasabi or sriracha. You also need to watch out for the mayonnaise and the cream cheese, which is popular in the Philadelphia roll,” says White.
If you're tired of ordering tuna and salmon, then switch it up with this fishy option. Mackerel has similar health benefits to salmon as it is also a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, which work to fight against heart disease and also support brain health. “The mackerel roll and salmon roll are both very low in calories and offer around the same amount of protein as the tuna roll," says White.