Will Street Food Make You Fat?

You can argue that street food contains a lot of fresh and healthy ingredients, which in many cases is true. But street food is also full of fat, sugar, salt, and MSG. It’s also high in calories, and those calories can lead to unwanted weight gains.

The hard truth is that anything can make you fat and street food is no exception. But as with everything else, the poison is in the dosage.

The internet is full of information about diet and nutrition, but there is very little about street food. I offer advice on fitness and nutrition which is relevant to residents of Hanoi, which is why I put so much time into researching local specialties.

My view is that it’s perfectly fine to enjoy street food. Indeed, for many of us it’s one of the highlights of life in Vietnam. The most important thing is to consume it responsibly.

Here are the three biggest tips I can give you when it comes to eating street food:

1. Do Street Food. Don’t Snack

Do you sometimes eat street food for lunch and then find yourself hungry a few hours later? That’s because street food is calorie dense: Even a small amount of food can end up packed with calories.

The danger is when you eat street food and then snack later in the day, probably because you get hungry or consider street food a small meal. The problem is that this extra snack also contains calories.

A street food dish and a snack will easily be more calorific than a well-balanced meal with a lot of vegetables. So if you do have street food as a meal, treat it as a full meal and avoid snacking later.

2. Careful What You Order

The amount of calories in a dish can vary significantly based on your ordering decisions. For example, the calories in an average bowl of pho bo (beef noodle soup) ranges from 400-600 calories.

But the kind of meat you choose can make a big difference. There are many different types of beef to choose from, from lean cuts (tai) to fatty chunks (gau). The difference between these two types can be enormous; perhaps as much as 150 calories per portion. And do you like quay, those fried batter pieces? Be careful as each one is around 90 calories.

Your choices can be the difference between a 500-calorie bowl of pho (20-25% of your daily intake) and a 900-calorie bowl of pho (35-45% of your daily intake).

3. It’s Not Just About Fat

I hear a lot of people worrying about the fat in street food, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

Take that delicious bun cha,for example. You might only be concerned about the fatty grilled patties and pork belly, but unfortunately there is more to consider.

There is a fair amount of added calories due to the amount of sugar used to marinate the meat and flavour the broth. A lot of street food sauces, from bun chato bun bo nam bo, have a lot of sugar, loading on calories to the dish. Always be mindful of those sweet sauces.

Nutrition Street Food

BÚN RIÊU CUA & BÚN ỐC – Full Nutrition Insights


Another classic in the Hanoian cuisine are Bún Riêu Cua and Bún Ốc.

Most common you will find both dishes served in the same food stall or restaurant, both come with a similar tomato based broth, with a slight sour taste that is both fresh and light.

There are two main varations, either served as Bún Riêu Cua with fresh-water crabs or as Bún Ốc with fresh-water snails. Crabs and snails are actually quite similar in terms of calories and macronutrients. They are both a good and inexpensive source of protein, low in fat and contain almost no carbs.

The crabs are first shredded raw and after that the meat is boiled together with the shells. Due to that process the dish will be high in calcium which is emitted from the shells. On the other hand snails are naturally high in iron. So both variations are actually rich in micronutrients. Even though crabs and snails are similar in terms of calories and macronutrients,  Bún Ốc will be slighty higher in calories and fat since in most common the snails are pan fried after cooking.

Besides your main choice of having crabs or snails, there is a big selections of additional ingredients offered to be added to your dish.

Very often a small portion of tofu is added, which would be a good source of protein, but unfortunately the tofu is fried as well, so it will also be high in fat.   

Also available are some meaty options, that can be short boiled lean beef (thịt bò tái) or lean pork sausage (giò lụa). Even though the sausage is made from lean pork it will be a bit higher in fat and calories compared to the beef option.

And of course the dish itself will always be high in carbs, offering a decent amount of noodles per serving, but more unfortunate also coming from a fair amount of pure sugar added to the broth for seasoning. Unfortunately this goes for most local noodle dishes served with broth.

I hope the information in the Hanoian Street Food and Local Specialties series remains being helpful for you, please contact me any time if you have any further questions.





In the Vietnamese cuisine there is a wide range of NOODLES available, they come in many different tastes, shapes, textures and even various colors. But what are actually the differences in point of NUTRITION?

Obviously very common are various types of Rice Noodles, most widespread Phở and Bún, which are used in so many dishes and variations. Those noodles main ingredients are rice flour and water. From a nutrition point they consist mainly of carbs, however they also offer a bit of protein and a small amount of fibers.

The Vietnamese Glass Noodles (Miến) are made by starch extracted from the roots of the Canna plant (củ dong). Those kind of noodles are sometimes considered to be a great substitute to rice noodles since they are not made from rice, and as a result are supposed to be low in calories and carbs. Unfortunately the truth is complete contrary, since the main ingredient is starch, those noodles actually mainly consist of carbs, and are very low in any other nutrient, protein and fiber.

Another type of noodles that are very common are the yellow instant noodles (Mì). Unfortunately from a nutritional point they are also not the best choice. They are mainly made from wheat flour, the yellow color is advertised to come from eggs or potatoes, but unfortunately very often it only comes from artificial color. The noodles are pre-boiled and after, in order to dry them and keep their form, they are deep fried before packaging. As a result of the frying process they contain much more fat than other types as noodles, mainly very unhealthy trans fat. So ultimately they are also much higher in calories while offering less protein, carbs and fibers.

In the table attached you can find more detailed nutrition facts for all those types of noodles. As always, please consider that the recipes and production can be quite different from one manufacturer to the other.

The best is always to choose fresh products from local vendors you know and you can trust.

NI Noodles



What is the better method to support you to reach your dream weight?

fat or carbs

Actually there is no single answers to that question, loss or gain of body weight will in first place be determined by the total amount of calories you are consuming. Neither carbs nor fat are generally bad, it is just important to focus on eating healthy carbs and healthy fats.

GOOD CARBS – vegetables, fruits, beans, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grains and their products
Focus on carbs high in fiber with a low glycemic index (slow rise of blood sugar), and avoid pure sugar and refined (white) grain products.

GOOD FATS – unsaturated fat sources as avocado, olives, fatty fish, nuts and seeds (and their oils), also eggs and coconut oil
Reduce your intake of saturated fats as in fatty pork and fatty beef, and avoid trans fats which are high in all deep fried and baked food, processed food and margarine.

Besides that don’f forget to always add enough protein to your diet.

Let me know if you have any further questions on that or any other topics.

Nutrition Training

WEIGHT LOSS TIP: Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

Have you ever tried a crash diet? How long were you able to follow it through?
And in the end, have you been able to maintain the reduced weight or did you get trapped by the common yo-yo effect and regained the lost weight or more?

Weight Loss1

So no matter if you decided it is time to get rid of some extra kilos or you just want to start living healthier, don’t try to go with a quick fix, simply because something like a quick fix leading you to a long term success does not exist.

Once you get started with your transition to a healthier live, STEP 1 would be to start looking at food in a different way and start increasingly to choose healthier food. This can be very challenging since often it is not clear at the first look what the good nutrients are and which food includes a lot of hidden sugar. In general it is always a good start to stay away from processed food and to prepare meals as much as possible by yourself, using simple and fresh ingredients.

In STEP 2 you will increase the frequency of eating clean meals up until you reach a level where at least 80% of your meals are clean & healthy food choices.

Please be mindful that for a long term success following 2 components are mandatory:

  1. Eat clean & healthy food for at least 80% or your meals, up to a maximum of 20% can be your personal allowance to indulge yourself, but you have to be strict with yourself for those 20%, best you set yourself a weekly allowance in order to not get over that number

  2. Regular exercising is key to be able to achieve and maintain your results 

And always remember, this is not and should not be a short term diet or workout plan before heading to your next beach vacation or school reunion, this whole process can be the change of your lifestyle and once you into it you will find out you will have no urge to go back to old habits anymore.

During the workout sessions with my clients I always provide nutritional guidance as well. Only once you are getting your nutrition right you will be able to achieve your fitness goals.

Any further questions, please feel free to contact me directly any time.


Nutrition Street Food

BÚN CHẢ – Full Nutrition Insights

Who doesn’t love Bún Chả?


As for any kind of street food, the amount of calories and nutrients can vary quite a lot due to different ingredients and offers of each vendor.

For Bún Chả the ratio between fat and protein is mainly influenced by the percentage of pork patties to pork belly. The patties are usually made of rather lean meat, while the pieces of pork belly offer a high amount of fatty parts. So more patties and less belly would lower the ratio of fat per portion.

However, the main factor for the total amount of calories remains the portion size. A bigger portion will have more calories, even if you just eating pork patties.

A regular portion size would be served in a smaller bowl and might cost around VND 25,000. The grilled meat often would be half-and-half for pork patties and pork belly.

Some places have specialized in offering larger portions, often those portions would consist of more patties than pork belly, so they will offer a higher amount of protein, still the bigger portion will always have more calories.

Be careful about additional calories here. Nem Rán can vary from 80-120 calories depending on their size. They are deep fried, so they will always contain a rather high amount of fat per portion.

Please go ahead, the herbs will not only offer a fresh and tasty touch to your meal, they will also offer a high amount of micronutrients and fibers.

I hope the information in the Hanoian Street Food and Local Specialties series remains being helpful for you, please also check out my other post from this serious and stay tuned for more posts to be issued soon.

More like this:





banh mi1

No matter if it’s your breakfast on the way to work or just a quick snack in between, a wide range of Bánh mỳ offers are easily accessible on the streets of Hanoi any day any time.

Since the main ingredient is the bread any kind of Bánh mỳ will be offering a good amount of carbs per serving. The further breakdown of calories and content of fat or protein is mainly determined by the filling chosen. You could say that in any case there will always be a small amount of vegetables added, that’s positive, however the amount will always be on the lower side compared to the rest of the ingredients and will not make a big difference in making the dish healthier or change the calories.

Eggs are always a good source of protein, you need to be mindful thought that they also be offering a high amount of fat, resulting in a higher amount calories. The values in the table attached for Bánh mỳ trứng chiên are based on 1 fried egg per serving, each additional egg would add about 90 kcal to the dish.

Chả lụa is usually made of rather lean meat, so the amount of calories and fat would be slightly lower than for other meaty options, what makes Bánh mỳ chả lụa a bit lower in calories and offering a better ratio of protein.

On the other end you would have Bánh mỳ thịt nguội. The meat used for this dish is usually roasted pork, which includes a high amount of fatty parts rather than lean meat, which is obviously resulting in a much higher amount of calories and fat.

Please find all detailed nutritional facts and further information in the table attached.

I hope the information on in the Hanoian Street Food and Local Specialties series remains being helpful for you, please stay tuned for more posts to be issued soon.

NI Banh My




Well, maybe it’s easier if I start by explaining how mayonnaise is made.

Actually it’s quite a simple recipe, put some egg yolks (~320 kcal per 100gr) in a high container, then start blending the yolks and slowly add 1/8l oil per egg yolk (~900 kcal per 100gr), add seasoning as desired, done.

I think just by knowing the ingredients it’s easy to understand how high in calories mayonnaise can be.

As long it’s made from high quality ingredients, there is nothing wrong on eating a bit of mayonnaise once in awhile. But it definitely should not be part of your daily diet, and always consider that it brings quite some additional calories that have to be saved elsewhere from your intake of calories on that day.





Very often I am asked about breakfast cereals, which of them I would recommend as being healthier, and where best to buy them in Hanoi.

My answer is the same as for most nutritional topics. Food that comes out of a box ready to eat and lost its natural form, usually brings a risk to be highly processed, to contain a lot of added sugar, and that it lost a fair amount of natural micronutrients and fibers. Ready made breakfast cereals as cornflakes or cheerios are no exception to that, so they should not be the preferred choice for your daily breakfast.

Another cereal option becoming more and more available in supermarkets and shops in Hanoi are packaged muesli mixes. They are definitely a healthier option compared to the above. However, also those mixes can contain a high amount of added sugar.

So my recommendation would always be to prepare your own muesli or oatmeal mix. Only then you will be able to fully control the ingredients used.

Please find attached some sample recipes, including recommended serving sizes and information about calories. I have also added where the ingredients can found in Hanoi at reasonable prices.

Nutrition Uncategorized




Pho resize2

In general Phở will always be a better choice than many other deep fried or rather oily local food options. However, be mindful that there can be quite big differences in the offered range when it comes to nutrition and calories.

Especially for Phở Bò you will find significant differences in terms of calories and amount of fat per portion, those are mainly influenced by the type of beef you chose. The very short boiled meat in Phở Bò Tái is usually rather lean beef and would accordingly have a lower amount of calories and a higher percentage of protein per serving. On the other end of the list you would find Phở Bò Gầu, the high amount of fatty parts that comes with the meat will increase the calories drastically, that can be 150 calories or more compared to Phở Bò Tái, and remember it’s still only the same amount of food served.

When it comes to Phở Gà, you would usually anticipate that chicken meat will be lower in fat and calories. However, a regular portion would also serve a quite high amount of chicken skin, which is consisting mostly of fat, so the total calories are actually not any lower. For all those who try to eat less calories or less fat I would recommend to only eat the meaty parts of the chicken but leave behind all the skin.

Enough of noodle in broth? You can can chose Phở Xào Bò instead, but obviously the fried version will be higher in fat and calories as well.

Do you like to dip some pieces of Quẩy into your bowl of Phở? Be careful and don’t take too many, since they are deep fried they are actually quite high in calories and fat for their little size.

Please find more information and detailed nutritional facts in the attached table.

I hope you first edition on my series on Hanoian Street Food and Local Specialties was helpful for you, please stay tuned for part two which will be posted soon.

NI Pho1