Fitness Nutrition Forums

The 5 Worst Items at P.F. Chang's

Fitday Editor
In the eighth part of our 10-part series on eating at chain restaurants, we take a look at P.F. Chang's. Check out part seven, where we examine Hooters.

We all like to go out to eat every once in a while (OK, maybe some more than others) and that is just fine and dandy! However, if you're trying to live a healthy lifestyle, stick to nutritional or fitness goals, or just generally give a hoot about the type of fuel in your body, then you'll want to listen up. The number one most popular type of eat-out food is Chinese, and one of the most popular westernized versions of this cuisine is the popular P.F. Changs's franchise. Here's a list of what you should avoid if you're eating there, and what you can substitute for instead.

DON'T EAT: Northern and Chang's BBQ Style Spare Ribs

Ribs. Besides producing some of the worst cases of the "itis," ribs are generally not too good for you nutritionally. Chang's Northern and BBQ style spare rib appetizer fits this bill. Coming in between 1,100 and 1,230 calories, plus with over 60 grams of fat and off-the-charts levels of sodium (3,000 mg), all I can say is stay away!

INSTEAD EAT: Opt for the lower calorie, sodium and fat content of the Tuna Tataki or the Ahi Crisp. I especially like the Ahi Crisp for its protein content and low sodium.

DON'T EAT: Hot and Sour Soup

P.F. Chang's hot and sour soup is your worst menu choice for soups. While the majority of the nutritional value is not too bad, the sodium content is atrocious, at 7,980 mg. So unless you want to retain water like you're going on a drought, opt instead for something else.

INSTEAD EAT: The lower-sodium, low-fat Egg Drop Soup is your best bet. You'll only take in about 600 mg of sodium, compared to over 10 times that much with the hot and sour.

DON'T EAT: Kung Pao Chicken

Most fried chicken dishes aren't particularly healthy. The Kung Pao (one of my favorite Chinese dishes ever) Chicken isn't that great either. 1,100 calories, 66 grams of fat and 2,100 mg of sodium and you're looking at a lot of extra time on the treadmill.

INSTEAD EAT: Opt instead for Phillip's Better Lemon Chicken. Although still a little high in calories (900) and carbs (91 grams) it packs 60 grams of protein and only a tenth of the sodium of the Kung Pao chicken.

DON'T EAT: Shrimp and Candied Walnuts

As delectable as the Shrimp and Candied Walnuts sounds, this is another one to avoid. It's almost 1,400 calories, with 104 grams of fat and 1,830 mg of sodium.

INSTEAD EAT: You are better off going with the Asian Grilled Salmon (one of my favorite of Chang's dishes). Coming in at 590 calories, with only 5 grams of saturated fat and a whopping 56 grams of protein, it is a great choice if you want a seafood dish.

DON'T EAT: Ma Po Tofu

For the vegetarians out there, let's not forget about you either. Steer clear of the Ma Po Tofu and Stir Fried Eggplant. These two are the highest caloric vegetarian meals on the menu, and they are also very high in sodium, ranging between 3,350 and 3,450 mg.

INSTEAD EAT: I would recommend Buddha's Feast Steamed instead. 260 calories, no saturated fat, 26 grams of protein and only 300 mg of sodium, it might be your best bet on the whole menu.

Photo credit: Jennifer Kumar / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous professional, collegiate and amateur athletes across many different fields, including professional and arena football players, Mixed Martial Artists, elite runners, international soccer players, and more.

Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA, as well as the owner and operator of Funky Fitness PA, a personal training studio, in home personal training and personalized fitness planning service. Ryan's work has been featured across the US and the globe, working with clients in all facets of life. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can check Ryan out on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, or you can reach him at [email protected].

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