Consumers are seeking 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 count it as an essential grocery item.
These instant noodles take less than five minutes to cook and are affordable. For this reason, instant noodles are the saving grace during untimely hunger pangs since you can serve them as a quick and easy-to-prepare meal. While 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 are also not the best choice if you are trying to lose weight.
With the rising awareness of health and fitness in India, many people have become more conscious of their food choices and opt for healthier alternatives. Consequently, it decreased the demand for instant noodles among consumers looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet.
Read on to know why adding instant noodles to your diet may not be a good fit.
Nutritional Profile of Instant Noodles
There are many kinds of instant noodles, each having different sets of calories and macronutrients that make up their nutritional value.
So if you plan to add instant noodles to your weight loss diet as an indulgence, you must know what the calories are and how many macronutrients a particular brand’s instant noodle contains.
According to USDA, 100 grams of instant noodles contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 478 calories
- Protein: 7.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 60 g
- Fibre: 0.8 g
- Sodium: 2520 mg
- Total fats: 23.3 g
- Saturated fats: 6.67 g
Nowadays, the noodle packets contain healthy-sounding phrases such as “Simply good for you” and “Know what’s inside“. Nevertheless, instant noodles are just prepackaged food.
It will never carry the same goodness as whole foods. Under no circumstances should processed foods replace fresh or natural whole foods.
Are Instant Noodles Good for Weight Loss?
Instant noodles are not a weight-loss-friendly food. It does not matter whether you eat a moderate amount or use a different recipe than the one on the package; instant noodles are unsuitable for weight loss.
In addition, it is a food that will never benefit you nutritionally. But if you enjoy instant noodles and want to stay healthy, consider limiting your consumption to once or twice a month. Weekly or daily consumption of instant noodles is exceptionally unhealthy.
According to one study, protein boosts the sense of fullness while decreasing appetite, making it perfect for weight management. Furthermore, fibre passes slowly through the digestive tract and makes you feel fuller. Hence, high satiety is the key to reducing calorie intake and aiding in weight loss.
However, instant noodles are very low in fibre and protein. Therefore, eating them will not help you feel full. Inversely, instant noodles’ lack of fibre and protein causes faster blood sugar spikes, which trigger cravings for more simple carbs.
College students often consume instant noodles more than three times per week. A study pointed out that the high consumption of instant noodles increased cardiometabolic risk factors, including being overweight or obese, among college students aged 18–29.
Reasons Why You Should Not Eat Instant Noodles Regularly
Trans fats are not the best fats to consume. Compared to saturated fats, trans fats take twice as long to dissolve in the body. So, over time, it builds up and boosts bad cholesterol (LDL) while reducing the effects of good cholesterol.
The high levels of monosodium glutamate or MSG enhance the taste of these noodles. However, studies say regular MSG consumption may lead to excessive weight gain, high BMI, obesity, and heart problems.
MSG is also known as an Obesity Drug. Experts believe excessive MSG consumption induces sluggishness, headache, nausea, thirst, and a twitching feeling in the mouth. In addition, consumers may experience numbness, skin rashes, and excessive perspiration 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 common perception, atta or oats-based instant noodles are not healthy. Although oats and atta versions of instant noodles contain less MSG, they do not meet other necessary nutritional requirements. Moreover, instant noodles, despite the variety, are still refined flour. Therefore, it has minimal nutritional value and is low in fibre.
Even if the instant noodle packet contains 84% oats, the remaining fraction of maida will nullify the benefits of oats. Moreover, refined flour is exceedingly high in simple carbohydrates and calories. Therefore, it can spike blood glucose levels if you do not control the portion size.
High Sodium Content
The high amount of sodium in instant noodles contributes to their distinct, royal taste. As per the Recommended Daily Allowance, an average adult should consume at most 2400 mg of sodium daily.
Prepacked cup noodles have over 518 mg of sodium. It roughly means consuming more than two cups of noodles daily could easily lead to sodium overload.
Instant noodles are high in sodium for a reason. It is to make you crave more by causing dehydration. Studies also point out that high sodium intake is an independent risk factor for obesity.
The HealthifyMe Note
While instant noodles are a popular comfort meal and a convenient snack, it is not the healthiest food option on the market. Instant noodles, on their own, do not provide minerals, vitamins, or dietary fibre. In addition, instant noodles’ high fat, calories, MSG, and sodium content can encourage weight gain or obesity instead of sustainable weight loss.
The Healthy Alternatives for Noodles
Most pre-packed foods contain the same unhealthy ingredients. Even if they claim to have vegetables, they are often dehydrated and lack nutrition. Therefore, avoiding these processed and packaged products in your diet is best. The so-called “healthier, vegetable version of instant noodles” is a marketing ploy and should not be trusted.
Most packed foods are ultra-processed. Therefore, consuming them increases the intake of carbohydrates, added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. Hence, limiting the consumption of ultra-processed packed foods may be an effective strategy for weight loss.
Although instant noodles are not the healthiest option, most people crave them once in a while. So here are some tips to make instant noodles slightly better for health:
- Eat instant noodles nt more than once or twice a month.
- Healthify your instant noodle recipe with fresh vegetables like onions, tomato, capsicum, cabbage, and others. Do not rely on the dehydrated veggies that come in the packet.
- Experiment with your noodle recipe using protein-like eggs, chicken, or paneer to make it satiating. It can help reduce cravings.
- Do not use the seasoning that comes with the packet. If you do use it, add only a little bit. Or make your version of homemade seasoning with less salt.
Since instant noodles altogether is a bad idea, here are some healthier snack alternatives you can add to your weight loss diet:
- 1 fistful of a mix and match of dried fruit (e.g 2 dates + 1 fig OR 1 apricot) along with some nuts (e.g 5 badam and 2 dry roasted plain Pista OR cashews)
- 1 medium bowl of paneer vegetable poha with homemade curd.
- 2 medium sized oats chilla with home-made green chutney.
- 1 medium bowl of paneer or egg stir fry sevai/ragi or millet noodles(It is the closest you can get to instant noodle texture)
- Zucchini noodles
While instant noodles are an affordable and easy meal option, they are not suitable for your health, regardless of whether you are on a weight loss diet.
While one can prepare these noodles quickly, they lack the 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 hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and obesity in the long run.
To eat healthily and lose weight, replace these unhealthy noodles with whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and other snack options.
Talk to a HealthifyMe nutritionist to find healthier noodle options that also suit your weight and health goals.
The Research Sources
1. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: Branded | 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 & metabolic syndrome, 29(3), 166–173.
3. Huh, I. S., Kim, H., Jo, H. K., Lim, C. S., Kim, J. S., Kim, S. J., Kwon, O., Oh, B., & Chang, N. (2017). Instant noodle consumption 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, M. L., Dyer, A. R., Van Horn, L., Garside, D., Zhu, L., Guo, D., Wu, Y., Zhou, B., Stamler, J., & INTERMAP Cooperative Research Group (2008). Association of monosodium glutamate intake with overweight in Chinese adults: the INTERMAP Study. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 16(8), 1875–1880.
5. Meyers, A. M., Mourra, D., & Beeler, J. A. (2017). High fructose corn syrup induces metabolic dysregulation and altered dopamine signalling in the absence of obesity. PloS one, 12(12), e0190206.
6. Ma, Y., He, F. J., & MacGregor, G. A. (2015). High salt intake: an independent risk factor for obesity? Hypertension (Dallas, Tex. : 1979), 66(4), 843–849.