By Tatsuya Watanabe / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer In response to growing health-consciousness, some restaurant chains have introduced options that do not include ingredients that are high in carbohydrates such as rice or bread. These menu options have become popular among middle-aged men in particular.
On a recent visit to a Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, outlet of the gyudon beef-on-rice restaurant chain Yoshinoya, a male company employee in his late 50s ordered the Rizap Beef Salad for ¥540. This meal substitutes the usual rice with a salad.
While the salad includes boiled broccoli, beans, cabbage and lettuce, Rizap Beef Salad also has steamed chicken thigh served with the beef for a low-carbohydrate, high-protein meal.
“I try not to consume too many carbohydrates for my health,” the man said. “Recently, I started to order this item because it’s substantial and filling.”
Yoshinoya developed the beef salad under the supervision of fitness club operator Rizap to meet the growing demand among consumers for low-carb meals. Since the dish made its debut in May, more than 1 million servings have been ordered.
In June, restaurant chain Curry House CoCo Ichibanya started serving a low-carb curry for ¥600. The curry is poured over chopped cauliflower instead of rice, providing just one-fifth of the carbohydrates compared to the restaurant’s regular curry and rice.
Excessive intake of carbohydrates such as rice, noodles and sweets is said to lead to obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases. This is why many people are concerned about consuming carbs.
Restaurant chains have usually responded to the needs of such customers by serving smaller servings of rice upon request, but more establishments have recently started serving low-carb items they have developed.
Revolving Sushi Bar Kura has created the Veggie Flying Fish Roe & Salmon in which vinegared daikon is used instead of rice for ¥108.
Hamburger chain First Kitchen serves a creation called Wild Rock for ¥500 in which the buns are replaced by meat.
“Even if carbohydrates are reduced, meat lovers can find it satisfying,” a company official said.
According to Kandai Kamekawa, director of Nagomi Clinic in Kumamoto and an expert on low-carb meals, when people consume carbohydrates, their blood sugar levels tend to go up and down suddenly.
“If you feel sleepy after lunch, it is likely that you consumed too many carbohydrates,” he said.
Kamekawa recommends keeping in mind whether the ingredients are high-carb or low-carb while having meals.
“When you eat out, you should be careful about not only the dishes themselves but also drinks,” he said. “If you are having self-service drinks, avoid juices and drink tea or water instead.”
However, there are some points that should be noted. Reducing carbohydrates means reducing an energy source, making it necessary to make up for the reduction with protein and fats instead.