Consumers are looking for convenient and tastier food options, which has led to the explosive growth of instant noodles. The popularity of instant noodles has come to the point where most people almost consider them a grocery essential.
These instant noodles take less than five minutes to cook and are affordable. For this reason, instant noodles are the saving grace during untimely food cravings since you can serve them as a quick and easy to prepare meal. Although the acceptance of this product by all age groups is not surprising, its health effects remain a subject of investigation.
Although convenient and delicious, instant or processed noodles are generally unhealthy. They’re also not the best choice if you’re trying to lose weight.
With the growing awareness of health and fitness in India, many people have become more aware of their food choices and are opting for healthier alternatives. Consequently, this has reduced the demand for instant noodles among consumers seeking to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet.
Read on to find out why adding instant noodles to your diet may not be suitable.
Nutritional Profile of Instant Noodles
There are many types of instant noodles, each having different sets of calories and macronutrients that make up their nutritional value.
So, if you’re considering adding instant noodles to your weight loss diet, you need to know what calories and how many macronutrients a particular brand’s instant noodles contain.
According to USDA100 grams of instant noodles contain the following nutrients:
- Calories: 478 calories
- Protein: 7.5g
- Carbohydrates: 60g
- Fibre: 0.8g
- Sodium: 2520mg
- Total fat: 23.3 g
- Saturated fat: 6.67 g
Nowadays, noodle packets contain wholesome phrases such as “just good for you” and “Know what’s inside“. Nevertheless, instant noodles are only pre-packaged foods.
It will never carry the same goodness as whole foods. Processed foods should never replace fresh or natural whole foods.
Are instant noodles good for weight loss?
Instant noodles are not a weight loss friendly food. It doesn’t matter if you eat a moderate amount or use a different recipe than the one on the package; instant noodles are not suitable for weight loss.
Moreover, it is a food that will never benefit you nutritionally. But if you love instant noodles and want to stay healthy, consider limiting your intake to once or twice a month. The weekly or daily consumption of instant noodles is exceptionally unhealthy.
According to a to study, protein boosts feelings of fullness while decreasing appetite, making it perfect for weight management. Plus, fiber slowly passes through the digestive tract and makes you feel fuller. Therefore, high satiety is the key to reducing caloric intake and aiding weight loss.
However, instant noodles are very low in fiber and protein. Therefore, eating them will not help you feel full. Conversely, the lack of fiber and protein in instant noodles causes blood sugar to spike faster, which triggers cravings for simpler carbs.
College students often eat instant noodles more than three times a week. A to study pointed out that high consumption of instant noodles increased cardiometabolic risk factors, including overweight or obesity, in college students aged 18 to 29 years.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Eat Instant Noodles Regularly
Trans fats are not the best fats to eat. Compared to saturated fats, trans fats take twice as long to dissolve in the body. So over time it builds up and increases bad cholesterol (LDL) while reducing the effects of good cholesterol.
High levels of monosodium glutamate or MSG enhance the taste of these noodles. However, studies say that regular consumption of MSG can lead to excessive weight gain, high BMI, obesity and heart problems.
MSG is also known as an obesity drug. Experts believe that excessive consumption of MSG induces sluggishness, headaches, nausea, thirst and a tight feeling in the mouth. Additionally, consumers may experience numbness, rashes, and excessive sweating in certain situations.
Instant noodles often contain HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Research shows that high fructose corn syrup leads to metabolic disorders and obesity.
Despite the common perception, instant noodles made from atta or oats are not healthy. Although the oatmeal and atta versions of instant noodles contain less MSG, they do not meet the other necessary nutritional requirements. Also, instant noodles, despite the variety, are still refined flour. Therefore, it has minimal nutritional value and is low in fiber.
Even though the instant noodle packet contains 84% oats, the remaining fraction of maida will negate the benefits of the oats. Additionally, refined flour is extremely high in simple carbohydrates and calories. Therefore, it can raise blood sugar if you don’t control portion sizes.
High in sodium
The high amount of sodium in instant noodles contributes to their distinct royal taste. According to the recommended daily allowance, an average adult should consume no more than 2400 mg of sodium per day.
The prepackaged noodles contain more than 518 mg of sodium. This basically means that consuming more than two cups of noodles a day could easily lead to sodium overload.
Instant noodles are high in sodium for a reason. It’s to make you want more by causing dehydration. Studies also point out that high sodium intake is an independent risk factor for obesity.
Note from The Fitness Freak
While instant noodles are a popular comfort meal and convenient snack, they’re not the healthiest food option out there. Instant noodles, on their own, do not provide minerals, vitamins, or dietary fiber. Additionally, the high fat, calorie, MSG, and sodium content of instant noodles may promote weight gain or obesity instead of sustained weight loss.
Healthy alternatives to noodles
Most pre-packaged foods contain the same unhealthy ingredients. Even though they claim to have vegetables, they are often dehydrated and lacking in nutrition. Therefore, it is best to avoid these processed and packaged products in your diet. The so-called “healthier vegetable version of instant noodles” is a marketing ploy and not to be trusted.
Most packaged foods are ultra-processed. Therefore, their consumption increases the intake of carbohydrates, added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. Therefore, limiting the consumption of ultra-processed packaged foods can be an effective weight loss strategy.
While instant noodles aren’t the healthiest option, most people crave them from time to time. So here are some tips to make instant noodles slightly healthier:
- Eat instant noodles no more than once or twice a month.
- Liven up your instant noodle recipe with fresh vegetables like onions, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and more. Don’t count on the dehydrated vegetables that come in the package.
- Experiment with your noodle recipe using egg, chicken, or protein-like paneer to make it filling. This can help reduce cravings.
- Do not use the seasoning that comes with the packet. If you use it, add only a little. Or make your version of homemade seasoning with less salt.
Since instant noodles are a bad idea, here are some healthier snack alternatives you can add to your weight loss diet:
- 1 handful of a mix and match of dried fruits (for example 2 dates + 1 fig OR 1 apricot) with a few nuts (for example 5 badam and 2 dry-roasted plain pista OR cashew nuts)
- 1 medium bowl of paneer vegetable poha with homemade curd.
- 2 medium sized oat chilla with homemade green chutney.
- 1 medium bowl of paneer or sautéed egg sevai/ragi or millet noodles (closest to instant noodles in texture)
- Zucchini noodles
Although instant noodles are an affordable and easy meal option, they are not good for your health, whether or not you are dieting.
Although these noodles can be prepared quickly, they lack essential nutrients necessary for your health and contain a high amount of sodium, MSG and HFCS. As a result, it can bring temporary satiety but can cause permanent damage like high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and long-term obesity.
To eat healthy and lose weight, replace those unhealthy noodles with whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and other snacks.
Speak to a HealthifyMe nutritionist to find healthier noodle options that also suit your weight and health goals.
1. US Department of Agriculture data. Data Type: Brand | Food Category: All noodles | FDC ID: 401923
2. Moon, J., & Koh, G. (2020). Clinical evidence and mechanisms of high-protein diet-induced weight loss. Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome, 29(3), 166–173.
3. Huh, IS, Kim, H., Jo, HK, Lim, CS, Kim, JS, Kim, SJ, Kwon, O., Oh, B. & Chang, N. (2017). Consumption of instant noodles is associated with cardiometabolic risk factors among college students in Seoul. Nutrition Research and Practice, 11(3), 232–239.
4. He, K., Zhao, L., Daviglus, ML, Dyer, AR, Van Horn, L., Garside, D., Zhu, L., Guo, D., Wu, Y., Zhou, B. , Stamler, J., & INTERMAP Cooperative Research Group (2008). Association between monosodium glutamate consumption and overweight in Chinese adults: the INTERMAP study. Obesity (Silver Spring, Maryland), 16(8), 1875–1880.
5. Meyers, AM, Mourra, D., & Beeler, JA (2017). High-fructose corn syrup induces metabolic dysregulation and impaired dopamine signaling in the absence of obesity. Plos a, 12(12), e0190206.
6. Ma, Y., He, FJ and MacGregor, GA (2015). High salt intake: an independent risk factor for obesity? Hypertension (Dallas, TX: 1979), 66(4), 843–849.