Lunch Snacks

Highest Protein and Lowest Calorie Cup Noodles in the UK

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It doesn’t seem too long ago when the only cup noodles you’d find in a supermarket were the classic “Pot Noodles”. There are now 122 types by various brands across the UK’s most popular stores (yes, I’ve counted!).

Do any have macros that align with our nutrition goals? or are they still just highly processed, high-fat crap?

To find the highest protein and lowest calorie cup noodles you can buy in the UK, I checked the protein and calorie content of all the cup noodles available in the most popular supermarkets.

Some of the top picks that I purchased

Key takeaways

  • The highest protein cup noodles have added plant protein or animal protein.
  • Cup noodles with low fat and no artificial ingredients tend to be higher in protein.
  • Cup noodles marketed as “big” have high protein but are also high in calories.
  • The cup noodles with the lowest calories per cup are made with crystal noodles.
  • The cup noodles with the lowest calories per 100g are made with rice noodles.

Why trust my picks?

My top-picks are 100% based on the nutritional data published by the retailer or manufacturers. They do not take into account subjective factors, such as taste, and don’t account for price. They are never influenced by any commissions or advertising deals. I will only make subjective comments about products I’ve had real experience with, and these opinions are not factored into the rankings. See the publishing principles page for more info.

Finding the cup noodles

To find the highest protein and lowest calorie cup noodles in the UK I searched the websites of all of the most popular supermarkets in the UK that make their entire range accessible online. I also searched Amazon to find any cup noodles by independent companies that aren’t stocked in supermarkets yet.

I used this data to create a table of every cup noodles that’s available in the UK with columns for highest protein per portion, highest protein per 100g, lowest calories per portion, lowest calories per 100g, and I calculated two metrics you won’t find on the packaging; highest protein per 100kcal and lowest calories per 10g protein.

Types of cup noodles I included

Here are the types of cup noodles that I’ve included:

  • Any kind of instant cup noodles that are prepared by adding hot water directly to the packaging they come in.

I didn’t include; microwave cup noodles, fresh cup noodles, alternative carb cups (rice, pasta, etc.)

Highest protein cup noodles (per 100kcal)

If you’re looking for cup noodles with the highest protein content per 100kcal, in other words “high-protein, low-calorie cup noodles” for those counting calories and trying to get the most protein for your daily calorie allowance, here are the top picks. 

#NameProtein (100kcal)Stockists
1Plantastic Satay Noodles With Sweet Pepper 68G5.33gTesco
2John West On The Go Thai Green Curry Tuna Noodle Pot5.26gOcado, Tesco
3Kabuto Noodles Mexican Taco Fusions 65g4.62gSainsbury’s
4Kabuto Noodles Indian Masala Fusions 65g4.31gSainsbury’s
5Kabuto Noodles Miso Ramen 65g4.15gSainsbury’s, Waitrose
[Benchmark] Pot Noodle Chicken & Mushroom 90g2.22gTesco (& most others)
Find more high protein per 100kcal cup noodles in the full data table.

In perspective

Plantastic noodles offer 2.4x more protein per 100kcal than the classic Chicken & Mushroom Pot Noodle. With only 247kcal per cup compared to 417kcal, Plantastic gives you an extra 4g of protein for 40% fewer calories.

The 170 calorie saving would take 20 minutes of jogging to burn via exercise and is the amount of calories in 2 bags of Quavers!

Image credit: @shazza.slimmingworld

Highest protein cup noodles (per serving)

If you’re looking for cup noodles with the highest protein content per serving (one cup), regardless of calories, here are the top picks. 

#NameProtein (Serv.)Stockists
1John West On The Go Thai Green Curry Tuna Noodle Pot20.75gOcado, Tesco
2Naked Noodle The Big One Egg Noodles Thai Green Curry 104g14.76gSainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons
3Mug Shot Mighty Flavour Tasty Chicken & Mushroom Noodles 110g13.64gIceland, ASDA
4Pot Noodle Beef & Tomato Instant Noodles King Pot 114g13.48gTesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, ASDA, Iceland
5Naked Big Eat Singapore Style Curry Egg Noodles 104g13.45gSainsbury’s, Tesco
[Benchmark] Pot Noodle Chicken & Mushroom 90g9.12gTesco (& most others)
Find more high protein per serving cup noodles in the full data table.

In perspective

If you switched from a Chicken & Mushroom Pot Noodle to a John West Noodle Pot, you’d be adding 12g protein to your meal.

That’s the equivalent protein of two medium eggs!

Image credit: @superbritishgirl

Highest protein cup noodles (per 100g)

If you’re looking for cup noodles with the highest protein content per hundred grams, regardless of portion size, here are the top picks. 

#NameProtein (100g)Stockists
1John West On The Go Thai Green Curry Tuna Noodle Pot8.20gOcado, Tesco
2Nissin Big Soba Wok Style Cup Noodles Classic 113G5.60gTesco, Sainsbury’s, Amazon, Morrisons
3Nissin Soba Classic Instant Noodles 90G5.40gTesco, Sainsbury’s, Iceland
4Nissin Soba Teriyaki Instant Wok Style Noodles Big Pot 113g5.30gSainsbury’s, ASDA, Tesco, Morrisons, Amazon
4Nissin Big Soba Wok Style Chilli Cup Noodles 115G5.30gTesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Amazon, Morrisons
5Nissin Soba Teriyaki Instant Noodles 90G5.00gTesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, ASDA, Morrisons
[Benchmark] Pot Noodle Chicken & Mushroom 90g3.00gTesco (& most others)
Find more high protein per 100g cup noodles in the full data table.

In perspective

If you ate a Pot Noodle every day for lunch and swapped it for a John West Noodle Pot, over a week you would increase your protein intake by 84g.

That’s the equivalent protein gain of eating two 227g ribeye steaks!

Image credit: @instant_noodle_gram

Lowest calorie cup noodles (per serving)

These cup noodles have the lowest calories per serving (one cup). Ideal if you’ve already met your protein goal already and want the lowest-calorie option (be mindful of the sizes though).

#Namekcal (serv.)Stockists
1itsu sweet soy glaze crystal noodles cup 73g126kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose
2Itsu Seasame Glaze Crystal Noodles Cup 77G178kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s
3Itsu Katsu Rice Noodle Cup 63G191kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Morrisons, Amazon, Waitrose
4itsu tonkotsu rice noodles cup200kcalOcado, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons
5Itsu Chilli Miso Rice Noodle Cup 63G207kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Waitrose, Amazon
[Benchmark] Pot Noodle Chicken & Mushroom 90g410kcalTesco (& most others)
Find more low-calorie cup noodles in the full data table.

In perspective

You could switch your Pot Noodle for an itsu crystal noodles cup and save 284kcal per cup – that’s the equivalent of two Mars Ice Cream Bars or what you’d burn going hard at a punching bag for 35 mins.

Image credit: @superbritishgirl

Lowest calorie cup noodles (per 100g)

To put the various sizes of cup noodles on a level playing field and give the larger cup noodles a chance, here are the lowest calorie cup noodles per 100g.

#Namekcal (100g)Stockists
1Mama Vietnamese Pho Ga Chicken Rice Noodles48kcalOcado
2Mama Vietnamese Pho Bo Beef Rice Noodles50kcalOcado
3itsu Chicken Gyoza & Greens Noodle Soup 242g53kcal Sainsbury’s
4Kelly Loves Katsuo Udon61kcal Ocado, KellyLoves
4Itsu Katsu Rice Noodle Cup 63G61kcal Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Morrisons, Amazon, Waitrose
5Kelly Loves Seafood Ramen64kcal Ocado, KellyLoves
5itsu tonkotsu rice noodles cup64kcal Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons
[Benchmark] Pot Noodle Chicken & Mushroom 90g135kcalTesco (& most others)
Find more low-calorie per 100g cup noodles in the full data table.

In perspective

If you were to swap your Pot Noodle for the Mama Pho Ga Rice Noodle cup, you would save 177 calories per cup.

That’s the equivalent of consuming 4 knobs of butter or swimming breaststroke for 13 minutes!

Image credit: @candykaracuchi

Lowest calorie cup noodles (per 10g protein)

These are the cup noodles that allow you to add 10g of protein to your meal for the fewest calories (this doesn’t account for portion size).

#Namekcal (10g prot.)Stockists
1Plantastic Satay Noodles With Sweet Pepper 68G188kcalTesco
2John West On The Go Thai Green Curry Tuna Noodle Pot190kcalOcado, Tesco
3Kabuto Noodles Mexican Taco Fusions 65g217kcalSainsbury’s
4Kabuto Noodles Indian Masala Fusions 65g232kcalSainsbury’s
4Kabuto Noodles Miso Ramen 65g241kcalSainsbury’s, Waitrose
5Itsu Sweet Soy Udon Noodles 180g241kcalSainsbury’s, Waitrose
[Benchmark] Pot Noodle Chicken & Mushroom 90g450kcalTesco (& most others)
Find more low-calorie per 10g cup noodles in the full data table.

In perspective

To get 10g of protein, you would have to eat around 260 calories more of Pot Noodle noodles than you would of Plantastic noodles.

That’s the equivalent calories of 4 small bananas or 55 minutes of brisk walking!

Image credit: @instant_noodle_gram

Make a suggestion

Found a product that I’ve missed? Please let me know by leaving a comment, sending a message via the contact page, or DM on Instagram.

The majority of instant noodles are low in calories, fiber and protein, but high in fat, carbs, sodium and some micronutrients.

Instant noodles are low in calories, which could help decrease calorie intake. However, they are also low in fiber and protein and may not support weight loss or make you feel very full.

Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD – Healthline

Just My Opinion

John West Noodle Pots achieve their high-protein protein dominance by including a little can of tuna that you dump in with your noodles. Almost feels like cheating. But I hope other brands follow suit and provide other high-quality protein sources rather than the usual dehydrated morcels.

Plantastic’s noodle cup offers the same protein per 100kcal efficiency but is around half the calories per serving. I could eat two of those for roughly the same calories and protein as the John West pots, but twice the volume.

Or, why not add a tin of tuna to the Platastic (sorry, vegans) to almost double the protein content compared to the John West Noodle Pot, whilst still coming in at fewer calories?

Adding tinned fish to noodle cups is not an alien concept to me. I spent many years living in SE Asia. My Thai friends would often add tinned sardines to their Tom Yam Mama cups.

One of my favourite Thai dishes is “Yam Wun Sen” (glass noodle salad), so I was glad to see Itsu’s crystal noodle cups (aka glass noodle cups) topping the lowest calorie per serving chart. I’d never even thought to look for glass noodles in the UK before, so these will be a guilt-free nostalgia snack.

Considerations

The top picks above give you a shortcut to the items that best fit your protein and calorie goals. I do not recommend that you buy them without considering the other factors. Below are some examples of factors you may consider. And remember, if the top picks above aren’t a good fit for you, check out the full data table to see the other options I found that didn’t make the top 5.

Other Macros

Cup noodles contain varying levels of fat depending on the product. The fat content usually comes from the flavouring and oil packet included. It’s important to check the nutritional label for the balance of macros to align with your dietary goals.

UPF

Most cup noodles fall under the category of ultra-processed foods (UPFs), which are foods significantly altered from their original form with added ingredients for flavour, colour, or preservation. Regular consumption of UPFs is associated with negative health outcomes, so dieticians generally advise we consume them in moderation.

Types of Noodle

Rice noodles and crystal noodles are lower in calories compared to traditional wheat noodles commonly found in cup noodles. Selecting cup noodles with these alternatives can provide a lower-calorie option.

Sodium

Cup noodles typically contain a high level of sodium, which enhances flavour and extends shelf life. Consider choosing cups with lower sodium content to align better with the recommended intake.

Sources

Nutritional information for each top pick was taken from the retailer’s website.

All metrics on this page are calculated by us using data collected from retailer websites and compiled in my unique data table of all cup noodles available in the UK.

Protein and calorie amounts for other foods and exercises mentioned in the “In Perspective” and “Just My Opinion” sections were all obtained from Nutracheck. Please note that calorie equivalents for exercises vary depending on individual factors like sex and weight.

Images sources under each image, if not created by us.

What are your favourite cup noodles?

Let me know in the comments

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