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Macro-Friendly Options: Shabu-Shabu/Hot Pot + Eating tips

Shabu-shabu – a delicious, macro-friendly option that feels like a cheat meal but isn’t

Shabu-shabu, also called hot pot, is a relatively macro-friendly way of eating. In fact, it could be one of the best places you could hit up for a cheat meal or untracked meal. Of course, this depends largely on the quality of the broth, the cuts of meat, and the sauces used or added. But for the most part, you have a ton of options to choose from, and you could have a delicious, filling meal without really going over your macros.


Most people would like to get their money’s worth when going to a buffet, so they tend to overeat (myself included). However, it doesn’t always have to be that way. You can enjoy yourself AND still be on track with your macros.

Here’s what thefitjuan and I do when we find ourselves at the buffet:

  1. Try to get in a good workout before having a big meal. This way, you can use the additional calories for growth and repair. This is purely optional, but again, is something we do so as not to waste the surplus of calories.
  2. Call ahead to reserve a table. Most buffets will accept reservations and by having a table waiting for you, you can eat right away to take advantage of dat dere anabolic window.
  3. Once you are seated, unbutton your pants. Just kidding! Have a look around first and try to map out which dishes appeal to you. This usually means seafood for me and beef for thefitjuan.

    macro-friendly shabu-shabu meat


  4. Let the broth come to a rolling boil for a few minutes. Observe if there is some scum starting to collect towards the top of the broth. You don’t want that. Skim the top before adding your vegetables and raw meat.

    macro-friendly shabu-shabu soup

  5. Reserve one side of the pot for cooking fatty cuts of meat, and the other side for cooking vegetables and leaner cuts. By separating the fatty cuts of meat from the leaner cuts, you limit most of the fat content to one side. Have whichever side of broth you prefer, but what this does is it gives you a lower-calorie option without sacrificing flavor.

    hot soup macro-friendly shabu-shabu

  6. Get as many leafy vegetables as you want and infuse the broth with its micronutrients. This is a great way to reap some of the benefits of leafy greens without having to actually eat them—great for those who aren’t fond of veggies.

  7. Thicker dipping sauces are usually loaded with sugar, flour, corn starch or peanuts—all of which contain calories. Runnier sauces that are soy-sauce based or vinegar-based, are lower in calories.
  8. Vermicelli is your best choice of noodle, followed by egg noodles and glass noodles. The thinner the noodles, the better.
  9. Grill meats first to sear some of the fat off before adding to the broth.
  10. Avoid adding butter or oil to the grill. There should be enough fat from the raw meat to avoid sticking. Add a spoonful or two of broth to the grill if the meat sticks.
  11. Choose only one carb source (ie. Rice, noodles) to save room for dessert. Always make room for dessert even though you’re not planning on having any. Most people tend to crave for something sweet at the end of a heavy meal so it’s good to have a little more space in your macros just in case.
  12. For dessert, fresh fruit is best, if available. However, among the usual choices of ice cream, cake, halo-halo, pastries, buko pandan, saba con hielo, mais con hielo, etc., a scoop (roughly the size of your palm) of ice cream is probably the lowest calorie option.
  13. Avoid mystery meats, shrimp balls, chicken balls, fish balls, etc. You don’t know what’s in them, and chances are those are just the leftover parts that wouldn’t be sold otherwise. Stick to the fresh meats and seafood.

    dumpling hot soup macro-friendly shabu-shabu

  14. Liquids can make you feel full. Drink as much water as you want and ask for hot tea to help ease any discomfort from overeating or eating too fast.
  15. Taste your food first before adding seasonings and condiments. Only add salt when needed to avoid unnecessary bloating afterwards.


There’s always next time. You don’t have to eat until you feel like throwing up just because you’re at a buffet.


shabu-shabu hot pot macro-friendly infographic

Our Top 3 Shabu-Shabu/Hot Pot Resutaurants:

  1. Tong Yang Shabu-Shabu and Barbecue
  2. Four Seasons Hot Pot City
  3. Healthy Shabu-Shabu

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About thefitjuan

I think small progress is still progress no matter what.