Read my guide on how to order keto sushi at a Japanese restaurant, how to order rolls without rice, which appetizers and main courses to enjoy and which ingredients you should avoid. So before you hit up your favorite sushi bar check out the section on low carb sushi rolls.
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What Is Sushi
Before we define whether or not sushi is keto friendly we should first define it. Not everyone knows what sushi is. And if you are new to a keto or low carb diet you may have heard that sushi could be a good thing to eat, but you’ve never heard of it.
By definition Sushi is a Japanese dish consisting of small balls or rolls of vinegar-flavored cold cooked rice served with a garnish of raw fish, vegetables, or egg.
Is Sushi Keto
Most people don’t consider sushi to be keto friendly. But if you know how to order sushi from a Japanese restaurant, sushi is the most keto friendly cuisine to eat while you’re on a keto diet.
To be fair, most people would not consider sushi to be keto friendly because by definition sushi is cold rice mixed with vinegar which is then paired with vegetables and seafood.
Don’t forget that there are plenty of low carb options at a Japanese restaurant that can be ordered if you are on a ketogenic, gluten free or low carb diet.
6 Types of Sushi And Their Keto Status
Not all sushi is Let’s take a look at the different types of sushi and discuss if they are appropriate for a low-carb diet.
1. Yes, Sashimi is Keto Friendly
Sashimi consists of deconstructed sushi rolls that are represented as singular ingredients like raw salmon, smoked salmon or tuna. Sashimi is entirely keto friendly because it has zero carbs and only consists of clean protein. Sashimi is free from sugar, fried rice, sweet sauces and all of the other ingredients that would pull you out of ketosis.
2. No, Nigiri Is Not Keto Friendly + Yes Gluten Free
Nigiri is a healthy type of sushi you could order at a restaurant. In fact, it’s even gluten free so I would recommend it to you if you have celiac disease or are on a gluten free diet.
Nigiri is simply raw fish slapped over a neatly formed mound of rice. The rice is what makes it not keto friendly. Since rice is gluten free and Nigiri has no soy sauce you can enjoy Nigiri on a gluten free diet, but not on a low carb or ketogenic diet.
3. Chirashi is Sort Of Keto Friendly + Yes Gluten Free
Chirashi is similar to sashimi because it consists of pieces of raw fish. Chirashi is usually presented in a bowl with fresh and pickled vegetables over a bowl of rice. The word Chirashi in Japanese translates to “scattered”. It has an element of surprise since the dish is usually curated by the chef to surprise the eater.
If you are gluten free you can eat Chirashi. Also you can enjoy Chirashi if you’re on a keto diet. Just eat the fish and pickled vegetables, but leave the rice alone. Of course one or two tablespoons of rice won’t blow you out of ketosis or ruin your low carb diet.
4. Maki Is Not Keto Friendly
Maki is the most popular kind of sushi. It’s the kind we see most often in Japanese restaurants and at grocery stores. It is a roll with nori paper wrapped around the outside with white rice and the main ingredient on the inside.
Since Maki has so much rice, it is not low carb or gluten free at all. It can be made with other types of sushi ingredients that aren’t gluten free or keto friendly, like tempura.
5. No Uramaki is Not Keto Friendly or Low Carb
Uramaki is the same thing as Maki. The only difference is that the rice is on the outside of the roll and the nori sheet is on the inside. Since they are essentially the same thing, Uramaki is not low carb or keto friendly, because it has a lot of rice.
6. Yes, Temaki is Keto Friendly and Low Carb
Temaki is an entirely different type of sushi. Often referred to as a “hand roll,” temaki consists of a nori sheet rolled up into the shape of an ice cream cone that is stuffed with sushi ingredients.
Temaki is too big to be eaten with chop sticks so you have to pick it up with your hands and eat it like a sandwich. Since temaki doesn’t have rice it is generally considered low carb and is a great keto sushi option!
Can You Eat Sushi On A Keto Diet?
Yes! The good news is that you can eat sushi on a keto diet. Sushi is one of the best keto friendly restaurant options because it has lots of clean ingredients. Some types of sushi rolls are naturally low carb, including sashimi, temaki and chirashi.
There are plenty of other main courses and appetizers served at Japanese restaurants that are also keto and low carb friendly. We will cover those in the sections below. For fast access to these menu items, click the jump links in the table of contents at the top of this post!
What Foods Should I Avoid At A Sushi Restaurant On Keto?
No matter where you go out to eat it’s still going to be a bit tough to stay in ketosis. So even at a sushi restaurant you’re going to have to say no to a lot of different types of food. As long as you know what to avoid you can still enjoy a great keto friendly dinner at your local Japanese restaurant. Here are the top dishes/ingredients to avoid at a Japanese restaurant:
- Sweet Sauces
- Anything Fried
- Tempura (crunchy)
- Menu Items Described as Sweet
- Menu Items Described as Crunchy
- Maki Rolls
- Nigiri Rolls
- Uramaki Rolls
I know this list seems long, but don’t get discouraged. There are still plenty of things you can order at a sushi restaurant. You can even customize menu items to make them keto friendly. In the sections below I’m going to cover:
- Keto Friendly Sushi Options
- Keto Friendly Appetizers
- Main Courses
- How to Order Sushi Without Rice
- Drinks You Can Enjoy
How to Order Sushi Without Rice
When I was working in Brooklyn I used to love going to a sushi restaurant for dinner and ordering a vegetable roll made with pickled vegetables. It was at this restaurant where I first learned the word “Naruto.” Naruto means without rice.
Naruto sushi rolls are any traditional sushi rolls made without being wrapped in nori sheets and rice. Instead, Naruto rolls are wrapped with cucumber instead! Sushi chefs use a sharp knife to slice the cucumber into a thin layer that gets wrapped around the fresh fish. By replacing the traditional rice used to wrap maki and uramaki rolls with zero carb cucumbers, you can make almost any sushi roll keto friendly.
Naruto rolls are not only low carb and keto friendly, but they’re healthier and refreshing!
If you want to order your usual favorite roll without rice, simply ask the waiter if the sushi chef can make your roll of choice “Naruto” or “wrapped in cucumber instead of rice.” Naruto sushi rolls are the best option for keto dieters.
Examples of Sushi Dishes You Can Order Without Rice
If you aren’t sure what to order, here are some examples of sushi rolls you can order without rice:
- Avocado Roll
- Cucumber Roll
- Salmon Roll
- Alaskan Roll
- Vegetable Roll
- Spicy Salmon Roll
- Spicy Tuna Roll
- Philadelphia Roll
- Boston Roll
Sushi rolls can be enjoyed with a dash of soy sauce (if you aren’t gluten free) and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Since sesame seeds are keto friendly.
Best Keto Friendly Appetizers to Order At A Sushi Restaurant
- Miso Soup
- Seaweed Salad
- Green Salad with Avocado and Ginger Dressing
- Order of Edamame
Best Keto Friendly Main Courses to Order At A Sushi Restaurant
- Salmon Steak
- Temaki Handrolls
- Naruto Rolls
Keto Friendly Drinks You Can Order At A Japanese Restaurant
- Green Tea
- Seltzer Water
- Ginger Tea
- Unsweetened Ice Tea
Keto Friendly Sauces You Can Order At A Japanese Restaurant
- Soy sauce
- Pickled Ginger
- Spicy Mayo
- Sesame Oil
- Cream Cheese (in Philadelphia roll)
A note on diet soda: A lot of keto restaurant guides say that you can order diet soda at a restaurant. I don’t think that diet soda is keto friendly because it is highly processed. The main goal of keto isn’t only to stay in ketosis, but to detoxify your body and get healthier. This is done by avoiding highly processed foods and drinks like diet soda.
Will diet soda kick you out of ketosis? Technically the answer is no. However, diet soda is not keto friendly. I would avoid it.
Are Soy Wrappers Keto Friendly?
Soy paper also known as soy wrappers are keto friendly because they are low in net carbs. One soy wrap has only 1 gram of net carbs (per each 4 oz serving).
Is Rice Paper Sushi Low Carb?
No rice paper sushi is not low carb friendly. One sheet of rice paper has up to 16 grams of carbs.
Is Tempura Keto Friendly?
No tempura is not keto friendly. Any type of traditionally prepared tempura is going to be made from fried wheat flour. Wheat flour is high in carbs and gluten. If you are on a low carb, keto, or gluten free diet you cannot eat any sushi with tempura. Avoid ordering anything that has the word tempura on it or ask for the roll without tempura ingredients.
Sometimes tempura is utilized as an aspect of a sushi roll and not the whole thing. For example, you may see a Spicy Tuna Hand roll with Tempura Avocado on the menu. The spicy tuna hand roll itself is keto friendly. You can order this roll without the tempura and still enjoy the traditional spicy tuna taste!
Is Miso Soup Keto?
Yes! Miso soup is keto friendly because it’s low in carbohydrates. Miso soup has only 3-4 grams of net carbs per serving. Not only is miso soup low in carbs, but it’s also low in fat. This makes it an excellent soup to eat if you are on a diet.
While high fat foods are recommended on a Keto Diet, eating miso soup provides the body with probiotics, and it’s free of ingredients that aren’t recommended on a Keto Diet. Miso is also low in sugar which is great because sugar intake is supposed to be limited.
Miso soup is a low fat healthy food, but if you’re on a Keto Diet make sure to pair it with healthy fats like avocado or fish.
Can I Make Keto Miso Soup At Home?
Yes, you can make the most amazing keto friendly miso soup at home with this recipe. I’ve been making this miso soup without tofu for the last 7 years and it is still one of my absolute favorite dinners to make.
Can I Have Ramen On Keto?
No, ramen noodle soup is not usually keto friendly, low carb or even gluten free. Traditional ramen noodles are made from wheat flour and are high in carbs. However, there are plenty of gluten free and low carb alternatives to traditional ramen noodles that are keto friendly. Some of these keto friendly ramen noodle alternatives include:
- Kelp noodles, which have 0 net carbs
- Shirataki noodles, which have 2 net carbs
You can use this Gluten Free Ramen Noodle Soup recipe and swap out the gluten free ramen noodles by Lotus Foods I recommended for zero carb kelp noodles or low carb shirataki noodles!
This soup is so rich and satisfying it will absolutely kill your cravings for traditional ramen noodle soup!
Is Imitation Crab Meat Keto?
Imitation crab is made from pulverized fish called surimi. Surimi is pressed into the shape of crab meat and processed to look like crab. It has 13 grams of carbs per 3 oz serving. So imitation crab is not keto friendly because it is:
- Highly processed
- Contains 13 grams of carbs per 3oz serving
Will Sushi Kick You Out of Ketosis?
The only kind of sushi that will kick you out of ketosis is sushi made with rice, tempura or lots of sweet sauces. Alternative options like sashimi, miso soup, and hand rolls will not kick you out of ketosis. As long as you stick to low-carb sushi options you’ll be fine.
Sushi that has rice is high in carbs, but sashimi, hand rolls and Naruto rolls are keto friendly.
No type of real rice is keto friendly, but there are types of imitation rice that are keto friendly such as cauliflower rice. Cauliflower rice can be purchased frozen from stores like Trader Joe’s, Costco or Whole Foods. You can also make your own cauliflower rice by pulsing raw cauliflower in a food processor until it’s broken up into rice-sized crumbs. You can cook with cauliflower rice the same way you would normally work with regular rice. Cauliflower rice works well in place of regular vinegar rice in sushi rolls, stir-fries, rice bowls and more!
No, brown rice is not keto friendly because it is high in carbohydrates.
Sushi rice is not keto friendly because it’s high in carbs. If you are on a keto diet and want to order sushi it is best to order sashimi, hand rolls or order any maki or uramaki roll (rice wrapped sushi), Naruto style. Naruto style sushi is wrapped in cucumber instead of rice and nori sheets.
Wasabi is ok for keto in small doses but keep in mind it is high in carbs with 7 g net carbs per tablespoon.
Other Keto Menu Guides!
- What’s Keto At Buffalo Wild Wings?
- What’s Keto At Panda Express?
- What’s Keto At Arby’s?
- What’s Keto At Dunkin Donuts?
- What’s Keto At Subway?
Other Gluten Free Menu Guides!
- Olive Garden Gluten Free Menu Guide
- Chik Fil A Gluten Free Menu Guide
- Panda Express Gluten Free Menu Guide
- PF Changs Gluten Free Menu Guide
- Applebees Gluten Free Menu Guide
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