Following a keto diet doesn’t mean you must give up all your favorite dishes. Most carb-filled dishes and snacks have low-carb alternative versions which are much more suited for the keto diet.
So, it’s just a matter of choosing your meals carefully and swapping out carb-heavy ingredients for keto-friendly substitutions!
If you love sushi and still want to enjoy this Japanese classic while sticking to your keto diet, this is the place for you. Here, we will check out all the best keto-friendly low-carb sushi options for you and what substitutions you can make.
We will also be listing all the sushi options you should avoid because they contain way too many carbs and are not suitable for those on a keto diet!
So, check out the information below to learn everything you need to know about sushi and keto diets – and enjoy!
Is Sushi Keto-Friendly?
Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish that combines rice with various forms of seafood (usually served raw).
Most versions of sushi use white rice in their recipe and as white rice contains lots of carbohydrates, it means that most versions of sushi are not keto-friendly.
This can lead to some awkward situations if you are visiting a sushi restaurant. So, what can you do?
You can always make your own sushi at home. With the right cooking ingredients, equipment, and low-carb sushi recipe, you can still enjoy sushi at home and avoid sushi restaurants – but you shouldn’t have to limit yourself like this due to your dietary restrictions!
Luckily, most sushi restaurants will offer a wide variety of seafood and Japanese culinary dishes so you have plenty of options open to you!
Keto-Friendly Sushi Restaurant Options
So, you need to know what you can and cannot order in a sushi restaurant. There are lots of dishes you can still order so here are some of the best keto-friendly low-carb sushi options you can order at a sushi restaurant.
1. No-Rice Sushi Rolls
The go-to solution for people on a keto diet is to order no-rice sushi rolls.
No-rice sushi rolls leave out the rice and fill up the rolls with additional vegetables and seafood instead (what type of substitutes depends on your choice).
These are tricky to make as rice is important in a sushi roll’s structure but some restaurants may be open to making you a special serving of no-rice sushi rolls if you ask the server.
However, you should also make it clear to the server that you cannot eat rice paper either. Some sushi restaurants will use rice paper as the outside wrapper and these are, again, no good if you are on a keto diet.
Instead, you will want to stick to nori, soy paper, or cucumber as your outside wrapper.
The same goes if you are making your own sushi rolls at home. You can make sushi rolls (or maki rolls as they are sometimes called) in your very own kitchen but you will want to avoid white rice and rice paper at all costs.
Nori, soy paper, and cucumber are great options for your sushi roll wrappers instead of rice paper. Finally, the sushi fillings should be the veggies and seafood of your choice.
However, there are certain types of seafood commonly used in sushi that are not keto-friendly either – but we will cover those a little later!
2. California Roll (With Real Crab)
California rolls are a type of sushi roll that is mainly made from cucumber, avocado, and crab. They are very low in carbohydrates and a great keto-friendly option for you to try – but there is one catch.
Some sushi restaurants use imitation crab instead of real crab in their California rolls. Imitation crab is not made of crab. Instead, it’s a type of fish paste that is very high in carbs.
As a result, you need to check with the server at your sushi restaurant if your California rolls contain real or imitation crab!
3. Rainbow Roll (With Real Crab)
These rolls are very similar to the California roll. Along with cucumber, avocado, and crab, lots of different types of fish top the rolls. These fish can include white fish, yellowtail, eel, snapper, salmon, or tuna.
Like with the California rolls, you need to check with the server that your Rainbow rolls contain real crab and not imitation crab.
You also need to check that there is no eel on the top. Most sushi places will allow you to remove the eel easily but swapping out imitation crab for real crab may be more tricky.
4. Salmon Roll
The salmon roll is exclusively made of raw salmon and avocado, making it a great low-carb option for those on keto diets. Don’t get it confused with the spicy salmon roll – those rolls contain a spicy mayonnaise that is definitely not keto-friendly!
5. Philadelphia Roll
These rolls are one of the best substitutes for traditional sushi rolls as they swap out the white rice for cream cheese instead!
So, you can enjoy these delicious sushi rolls that contain cream cheese with smoked salmon and cucumber instead!
Alternative Keto-Friendly Sushi Restaurant Dishes
If the sushi place you are dining at is not willing to make no-rice sushi rolls nor do they offer any keto-friendly sushi options, you may need to order something else or find a different sushi restaurant.
Here are some alternative keto-friendly dishes you can order instead!
You can easily find this Japanese classic dish on every sushi restaurant menu. It’s widely popular and easy to eat – and keto-friendly!
Sashimi is basically raw fish and that’s it! It’s the best item on a sushi menu for those on a low-carb diet so if you just want to play it safe, go for the sashimi!
No, we’re not talking about the anime – we’re talking about the Japanese dish!
This dish uses cucumber and real crab to make a delicious lollipop-like swirly roll. Again, you will need to check with the server that your naruto contains real crab and that there are no additional sauces.
Poke is raw fish mixed with lots of vegetables, sauces, and oils. Depending on the restaurant’s poke recipe, poke could be a keto-friendly option for you.
Just check the ingredients carefully and ask your server to avoid any starchy or super sweet ingredients.
What To Avoid At Sushi Restaurants
Finally, we thought we would include a list of all the things you need to avoid at a sushi restaurant if you are following a low-carb or keto diet. Make sure that you do not eat any of these dishes or you may ruin your diet!
This type of sushi is a very common find on most sushi menus. It’s basically raw fish served on a bed of sweet rice instead of rolled up like sushi – but in each piece of nigiri, there are roughly 10 to 15 grams of carbs.
Tempura is a shrimp dish that includes battering and deep frying the shrimp. There’s a lot of flour and starch in this meal, making it high in carbs and unsuitable for those following a low-carb keto diet!
Tempura is sometimes used in other sushi dishes. So, make sure that anything you order avoids this term – otherwise, you may end up eating deep-fried starchy shrimp or vegetables!
Teriyaki is a type of sauce that is extremely sweet. It uses a lot of sugar in its recipe and as a result, adds a ton of carbs to your meals.
Teriyaki is sometimes used as a sauce drizzled over your sushi or used in other Japanese dishes the sushi restaurant you are at may serve, like teriyaki chicken.
So, teriyaki is another term you will want to avoid ordering from your sushi menu. Make it clear to your server that you want to avoid any teriyaki sauce!
4. Imitation Crab
We mentioned imitation crab earlier as something you need to avoid when eating at a sushi place. It’s high in carbs and real crab is the best possible substitute for you.
Because it’s so much cheaper than real crab, a lot of sushi places swap out real crab for imitation crab to help keep costs down – so always check with the server that the restaurant uses real crab in its dishes!
When served at sushi restaurants, eels are usually cooked or paired with sauces that are rich in sugar. The sweetness of the sauce helps complement the flavor of the eel.
Unfortunately, these sugary sauces are not great for those on low-carb or keto diets.
You can ask your server to serve your eel without any sauces or just try to avoid it altogether. Make sure you always ask what fish is being served in your keto-friendly sushi as some recipes do add eel! 2
We hope this guide has helped you feel more comfortable visiting a sushi restaurant while sticking to your keto diet. You can always try making your own keto-friendly sushi at home so check out the list above for some great ideas!
Frequently Asked Questions
Sushi rolls, or maki rolls, contain a lot of white rice which fills them up with calories and carbs, leaving little room for any other important nutrients like protein or fiber.
How many carbs are in your sushi rolls really depends on their size and how much white rice it contains.
However, on average, a sushi roll contains 3 or 4 ounces of white rice. This means that the average sushi roll contains 30 grams of carbs – that’s around 140 calories!
This means that most sushi rolls are not keto-friendly because they are so high in carbs!
If the keto-friendly sushi options available just aren’t doing it for you and you are really craving some classic sushi, it will be tempting to have a cheat day and break your diet.
This ultimately comes down to how well you plan ahead your meals. It is possible to have a cheat day but you need to restrict yourself more tightly on other days to make up for this – otherwise, you risk losing your ketosis state.