The Ramen Diet: How It Stacks Up Nutritionally

The Ramen noodles diet may sound like one must follow out of desperation when trying to save money, as Ramen noodles are often a go-to trope for what financially strapped college students eat in a pinch.

However, some people follow the Ramen diet for weight loss.

Eating Ramen noodles to lose weight may sound like a strange concept, given the fact that carbs and pasta are often dignified and thought to be foods that lead to weight gain.

So, is Ramen good for weight loss? Can you lose weight eating Ramen noodles?

In this guide, we will discuss Ramen noodles nutrition, Ramen noodles calories, whether the Ramen diet is good for weight loss, and healthier alternatives to the Ramen noodle diet to help those who wish to lose weight.

We will look at: 

  • What Is the Ramen Diet?
  • What Are Ramen Nutrition Facts?
  • Is Ramen Good for Weight Loss?
  • Is Ramen Healthy?
  • Is It Okay to Eat Ramen Noodles?

Let’s get started!

A cup of Ramen Noodles.

What Is the Ramen Diet?

The Ramen noodle diet, sometimes called the Ramen noodles diet or the Ramen diet, is a fad diet that involves consuming primarily Ramen noodles for weight loss.

An important distinction is between traditional Japanese Ramen noodles and instant Ramen noodle soup available at grocery stores in the United States and other Western countries.

Traditional Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish made with an umami-rich broth and springy noodles, usually made with wheat or rice. 

Ramen noodle soup typically has a variety of toppings such as vegetables, fish, tofu, chicken, beef, shrimp, or other meat.

Instant Ramen, on the other hand, generally comes as a brick or instant Ramen noodle soup cup wherein the Ramen noodles are dehydrated, and there is a flavor packet or tiny minced vegetables and meat in the case of Ramen noodle cups.

Then, you add boiling water to rehydrate the Ramen noodles for an instant Ramen noodle soup dish.

A cup of Ramen Noodles.

Instant Ramen is mass-produced, whereas traditional Japanese Ramen is handmade in small batches.

The “Ramen diet“ isn’t an official or particularly structured diet; it generally refers to a diet where someone eats Ramen noodles for all or some of their meals.

While some people may follow the Ramen diet as a budget-friendly way to fuel their body, given the very inexpensive nature of instant Ramen noodles, most people interested in The Ramen diet meal plan are trying to follow a Ramen noodles weight loss plan.

This naturally leads us to the question: “Can you lose weight by eating ramen noodles?”

What Are Ramen Nutrition Facts?

If you are looking to lose weight eating Ramen noodles, the good news is that you may be able to follow the Ramen diet for weight loss and actually lose weight.

However, the bad news is that Instant Ramen noodles are not healthy, and a Ramen noodle weight loss diet will not be a very effective or nutritious weight loss diet.

A cup of Ramen Noodles.

There are a lot of calories in Ramen noodles, along with a ton of sodium and refined carbs. Most instant Ramen noodle packages have very little nutritional value in terms of vitamins and minerals, along with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Ultimately, instant Ramen noodle soup is a highly processed food, and a Ramen noodle diet tends not to be conducive to weight loss or supporting optimal health.

Let’s look at the nutrition facts for Maruchan Chicken Flavor Ramen noodles:

First of all, before we discuss the Maruchan Ramen calories and Maruchan Ramen nutrition facts, it would be shortsighted not to note that the Maruchan Ramen noodles nutrition facts panel states that a serving size is 1/2 of the packet of seasoning and 1/2 of the noodles.

This means that there are two servings in each pack.

Because most people eat the entire pack as a single serving, we will present the nutrition facts and Maruchan Ramen calories for the full packet:

A cup of Ramen Noodles.
  • Calories: 380
  • Fat: 14 grams (22% of the DV)
  • Saturated Fat: 7 grams (36% of the DV)
  • Sodium: 1660 mg (70% of the DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 52 grams
  • Fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Sugar: 2 grams 
  • Protein: 8 grams 
  • Vitamins and minerals: Nothing other than 20% of the DV of iron

Let’s look at another popular instant ramen noodle. Nissin Top Ramen Chicken nutrition facts are similar to the Maruchan Ramen nutrition. 

  • Calories: 380
  • Fat: 14 grams (22% of the DV)
  • Saturated Fat: 7 grams (36% of the DV)
  • Sodium: 1590 mg (68% of the DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 68 grams
  • Fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Protein: 8 grams 
A cup of Ramen Noodles being opened.

Is Ramen Good for Weight Loss?

If we are only looking at the calories in Ramen noodles and considering whether you can lose weight eating Ramen, a Ramen soup diet plan that consists of three packs of instant Ramen noodle soup per day would lead to weight loss for most people due to the relatively low Ramen calories versus regular meals.

With the Maruchan chicken ramen calories standing at 380 per pack, a Ramen diet of three bowls of Ramen per day would equate to just 1,140 calories as long as you were not eating anything else.

According to the 2020-2025 United States Dietary Guidelines, adult men should consume a minimum of 2,200–2,400 calories, while adult females should consume at least 1,600–1,800 calories per day for healthy weight management.

Therefore, it is certainly possible to lose weight eating Ramen, but this does not mean that Ramen is good for weight loss or that the Ramen diet weight loss plan is the most effective, healthy, or safe approach to losing weight.

A cup of Ramen Noodles.

Is Ramen Healthy?

Although some of the nutritional problems with Ramen noodle soup were likely seen in Ramen nutrition facts above, here are some of the reasons why Ramen noodles are not good for overall health and a Ramen noodle diet for weight loss is not the best weight loss diet approach:

As can be seen, there is very little nutritional value in Ramen noodles.

Ramen Noodles Are High In Sodium

Most concerning in terms of the Ramen noodles nutrition facts is the very high sodium content.

If you were following a Ramen noodle weight loss diet and eating Ramen soup three times per day, one packet per meal, you would be consuming a whopping 4980 mg of sodium per day, which is over twice the recommended maximum daily intake for sodium, which is already thought to be too high for optimal health.

A cup of Ramen Noodles.

Ramen Noodles Are High In Processed Fats

Ramen noodles contain lots of processed oils and a significant amount of saturated fat.

Although the research regarding the risks of diets high in saturated fat is more mixed than we once thought (historically, saturated fat was thought to be strongly associated with heart disease), the American Heart Association recommends that your saturated fat intake should constitute no more than 7% of your total daily calories. 

Saturated fat may raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Ramen Noodles Lack Fiber And High-Quality Protein

Because Ramen noodles lack fiber and protein, they are not very filling, which can cause overeating or insatiable snacking between meals.

This can make it hard to lose weight by eating Ramen noodles. Diets high in protein and fiber are associated with supporting weight loss because these nutrients can increase satiety.

Ramen Noodles Lack Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants

Micronutrients improve overall health and reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases.

A cup of Ramen Noodles.

Ramen Noodles Are Refined Carbs

Although carbs seem to unilaterally get a bad rap in terms of supporting weight loss, not all carbs are bad, and you certainly don’t have to follow a low-carb diet if you want to lose weight.

Many high-carb foods are actually nutritious, including legumes, whole grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables, depending on your health status, activity level, nutritional needs, portion sizes, and overall diet.

However, Ramen noodles are made from highly refined carbs, or simple carbs, made from refined flour with very little fiber.

Simple carbs in Ramen noodles and other white flour products can spike blood sugar and are not good at providing satiety or lasting fullness because they break down quickly and cause an increase in insulin due to the blood sugar response. 

There is no fiber to slow the digestion and blood sugar absorption of the sugars in refined carbohydrates.

Some of the healthiest Ramen noodles are made with whole wheat Ramen noodles, which will help reduce the glycemic load because whole wheat has more fiber and is considered a complex carbohydrate compared to refined white pasta Ramen noodles made from enriched white flour.

A cup of Ramen Noodles.

Instant Ramen Contains Preservatives

Another reason why eating Ramen noodles is bad for you is that most inexpensive instant Ramen noodles contain unhealthy additives and preservatives.

For example, some popular Ramen noodles contain the preservative Tertiary-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), which can be harmful in large amounts over time, and some ramen soups have MSG (monosodium glutamate). 

Is It Okay to Eat Ramen Noodles?

Overall, instant Ramen is not particularly nutritious or good for you, but having an occasional Ramen noodle soup will certainly not kill you or derail your weight loss goals.

However, if you are hoping to eat Ramen noodles to lose weight, you should strongly consider minimizing your consumption of Ramen in favor of more nutritious food choices.

However, there are ways to make Ramen healthier.

For example, traditional Japanese Ramen can be quite nutritious when made from whole wheat noodles, fresh lean protein, and a bounty of fresh vegetables.

You can make your own healthy Ramen using low sodium or homemade broth, whole wheat noodles or even noodles made from legumes, and lots of fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauces and preservatives.

Think about your portion sizes and relative percentage of each ingredient as well. Go heavy-handed with as many veggies as you can, and then add a good portion of lean protein. 

A cup of Ramen Noodles.

Make the noodles a “supporting character“ in your Ramen noodle soup rather than the star player, which should be the array of vegetables.

Good options for veggies to add to homemade Ramen noodle soup include onions, spinach or bok choy, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, carrots, peas, ginger, cabbage, and daikon.

You can use tofu, chicken, fish, lean beef, lean pork, or scallops for lean protein options.

If you can’t make your own homemade healthy Ramen, you can choose healthier instant Ramen brands that use all-natural ingredients, no preservatives, and make a low-sodium Ramen product. 

Otherwise, skip the flavor packet altogether and use a little bit of low-sodium soy sauce. 

Add extra veggies and add some actual lean proteins rather than whatever minced flavoring or pulverized and powdered meat is found in the instant Ramen flavor packet.

Overall, Ramen noodles are very high in salt and only provide refined carbohydrates with no fiber. There is a small amount of protein and a fair amount of fat, but the type of fat in instant Ramen noodles is not heart-healthy fat.

Instead, Ramen noodle fats are derived from processed vegetable oils like palm oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil.

Rather than being anti-inflammatory fats like the healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, and seeds, the fat in Ramen noodles is derived from industrial oils and high in omega-6 fatty acids and saturated fat, both of which can be highly inflammatory to the body.

The verdict? Skip the ramen diet.

If you are looking for a healthier diet to try and lose weight, check out our guide to the Mediterranean diet here.

A variety of healthy foods and the words healthy diet.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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