Is Pho Keto or Not?

is pho keto or not

Is Pho Keto or Not?

Even though there are a lot of people who love a hot bowl of pho on a cold day, traditional pho is not keto friendly. That is because this dish is made with rice noodles that are high in carbohydrates. Therefore, it is not appropriate for people who are on the keto diet.

On the other hand, if you remove the noodles from the dish, the broth itself is actually keto friendly. Then, you may be able to swap the noodles for a different option that is compatible with the keto diet. Take a look at several important nutrition facts, and learn more about possible alternatives to traditional rice noodles. 

Pho Rice Noodles Nutrition Facts

First, we need to take a closer look at the nutrition facts of the rice noodles that come with pho. These are the thin, white noodles that are typically served with a piping hot broth. The key nutrition facts of rice noodles include:

  • A single cup of pho rice noodles contains approximately 190 calories.
  • One cup of rice noodles contains approximately 0.3 grams of fat.
  • A single cup of rice noodles contains 33 mg of sodium.
  • One cup of rice noodles contains 42 grams of carbohydrates.
  • One serving of rice noodles contains 3.2 grams of protein.
  • There are 1.8 g of dietary fiber in one cup of pho rice noodles.

Based on the nutrition facts above, it is clear that rice noodles in pho are not compatible with the ketogenic or low-carb diets. But, what about consuming the broth without the rice noodles? Is pho broth compatible with the keto diet? 

is pho keto or low carb

What Goes Into the Pho Broth?

Before assuming the pho broth is safe on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, it is critical to take a closer look at the ingredients in pho broth. Traditionally, pho broth is made with either chicken bones or beef bones. Then, there are several spices that are added to the pho broth. The typical pho broth ingredients include star anise, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, coriander seed, and cardamom pods. Fortunately, these are all spices in the pho broth that are compatible with the keto diet.

Depending on the restaurant you go to, there may be other ingredients added as well. For example, some restaurants add fresh ginger to the pho broth. There are also some restaurants that add fish sauce to the dish as well. 

Some people are concerned about adding fish sauce to the broth. Fish sauce is typically compatible with the keto diet. When looking at the nutrition facts for fish sauce, they are as follows:

  • A single tablespoon of fish sauce contains 6.3 calories.
  • There is no fat in fish sauce.
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce contains 1413 mg of sodium. 
  • There is less than one gram of carbohydrates in fish sauce.
  • There is approximately one gram of protein in a single tablespoon of fish sauce. 

If you decide to add fish sauce to your broth, you need to be careful. While it does not contain a lot of carbohydrates, it does have a lot of sodium. The good news is that fish sauce is not something that is going to knock you out of ketosis.

Even though pho broth should be compatible with the keto diet without rice noodles, you may need to ask the restaurant for clarification before you decide to order. There are some restaurants that add sugar to the pho broth, which could make it incompatible with the keto diet. While it is unusual for restaurants to add sugar to the pho broth, this is always something you need to clarify before you place the order. That way, you know you are going to make something that is compatible with your diet.

Substituting Rice Noodles for an Alternative

If you want to swap out rice noodles for something else, you may need to talk to the restaurant to see what their options are. A lot of noodles have a lot of carbohydrates in them, so some Vietnamese restaurants may not have any low-carb options available. On the other hand, if you are making this at home, there are a few options you may want to consider. These include:

  • Zucchini Noodles: These are not nearly as thin as rice noodles, but you may be able to add them to your broth. Essentially, these are zucchini veggies that have been cut in a spiral manner to turn them into noodles. They might not have the same texture, but they could be a great alternative to rice noodles. 
  • Heart of Palm Noodles: This is another great noodle that comes from the core of certain types of plants. They are also very low in carbohydrates, so they might be a great addition to your broth. Keep in mind that the texture is going to be a bit different when compared to rice noodles.
  • Shirataki Noodles: If you are looking for a traditional noodle you can add to the broth, then you may want to consider going with shirataki noodles. These are made from the konjac plant, and they are very low in carbohydrates. They are a great alternative to traditional pasta, and they could help you stick to the keto diet. A single serving contains approximately 3 g of carbs, making this a low carb pho option.

Even though most Vietnamese restaurants are not going to have these options, you might be able to get the broth to go, take it home, and add these to the dish. 

What Are the Health Benefits of Pho?

Of course, one of the best benefits of consuming pho is that it can warm you up on a hot day. On the other hand, there are several specific health benefits as well. These include:

  • Protect Your Joints: The broth can help you protect the health of your joints. When this drop is made using traditional bone stock, it releases glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen. All of these are important ingredients for helping you protect the health of your joints. This could help you prevent the development of chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis. 
  • Reduce Inflammation: If you have the option, you should request your broth to be made with ginger. Ginger contains a variety of compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, you may be able to reduce inflammation, discomfort, and pain throughout your body. 
  • Nutritious Herbs: There are countless herbs that go into the broth. Some of the most common examples include chili peppers, green onions, cilantro, and basil. They all have their own nutritional profile, but they are packed with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Some of them even have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help you protect your overall health. 

Finally, one of the biggest benefits of consuming pho is that it is relatively low in calories. If you decide to swap out the rice noodles for something else, you may further reduce the calorie and carbohydrate content of the dish. Therefore, pho is a great option for people who are trying to lose weight. Even though you may need to make a couple of substitutions to make phó compatible with the keto diet, pho has a wide variety of health benefits that can be helpful for you.