If you are currently reading this article, the chances are that you are looking to start your weight loss journey but need to gather some information to start you off.
Well, you are in the right place as this article will be focusing on one of the most popular plant-based and Asian cuisine staples: tofu!
You may be wondering: is tofu good for losing weight? Is it the perfect meat substitute? Is it low in fat and calories? Is it healthy?
I answer all these questions and more! Read on to learn more about this amazing food and how it can help you lose weight!
What Is Tofu?
Tofu is a block of curded soy that is made by allowing soy milk to coagulate (making the milk solid by either adding an acid or letting it age) and then pressing the solid clumps or curbs into solid blocks.
Tofu is very popular in East Asian countries, namely Korea, Japan, and China, where the food originated from about 2000 years ago.
The word tofu actually comes from a Japanese word, which, in turn, comes from an older Chinese/Mandarin root word which was dòufu which meant bean ferment or curd.
Benefits and Nutrition of Tofu
Soybeans are naturally rich in other minerals, which become even more profound following the curding process.
While these white fermented blocks look pretty thick, similar to a block of cheese, they are actually quite squishy as most blocks of tofu are between 70-90% water (there are two main kinds of tofu – firm and soft/silken tofu which have different densities).
Tofu is an extremely popular substitute for meat among those who follow a plant-based diet or those with meat intolerances, thanks to its high amount of protein or relatively low calories.
Let’s look at the nutritional benefits that we can get from adding tofu to our diets.
It is also a good source of the following:
Apart from these, tofu is also low in sodium, and traces of zinc can also be found.
Given the nutritional benefits that I have mentioned, I feel like it’s also important to highlight the health benefits of tofu. Here they are:
1. Lowers Cholesterol Level
One of the main health benefits of tofu is that studies have found that soy protein has an anti-cholesterol property, meaning consuming soy or tofu is an excellent option for those who need to cut down on their cholesterol while still ensuring that they are getting plenty of protein into their diet.
It reduces the level of LDL or Low-density Lipoprotein, which is the bad cholesterol in our bodies.
High cholesterol levels can heighten the risk of heart diseases, increase blood pressure, and even lead to the development of type 2 diabetes (those with diabetes often have high levels of triglycerides which are fat cells that form in the blood and which soy consumption can lower).
Eating tofu also helps decrease the risks of high blood pressure and/or atherosclerosis.
Tofu has a high level of unsaturated fatty acids and a low level of saturated fatty acids.
2. Weight Management
According to a study, having a low-calorie soy-based diet can help reduce the body’s weight and blood lipids as well as maintain one’s weight.
Tofu contains isoflavones which are a class of phytoestrogens.
According to a study, isoflavones help reduce the risks of some cancers, including breast and endometrial cancer in women, as well as prostate and lung cancer.
4. Helps Ease Symptoms Of Menopause
Isoflavones have the ability to imitate estrogen in the body. Adding tofu to your diet can help balance estrogen levels during the menopausal period.
There have been several studies that say that protein helps lower the sugar and insulin levels in the body. This, in turn, reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
6. Kidney Function
Soy protein found in tofu can be beneficial to those people who have renal function issues. Apart from the protein, tofu is also rich in phosphorus which can help prevent the development of kidney diseases.
7. Prevent Anemia
When our bodies are low in red blood cells, this can lead to anemia. To prevent this, simply by adding tofu to our diet.
In a study made in China, they discovered that due to its rich iron content, tofu helped lower the risk of anemia among those involved in the research.
8. Keep Your Brain Healthy
As we age, our cognitive function and memory disintegrate. However, the lecithin found in tofu can help our bodies produce phosphatidylserine (PS) and phospholipids phosphatidic acid (PA), which can help our neurons function normally.
9. Prevent Osteoporosis
Calcium is an important factor in growing and keeping bones strong. When we lack the needed calcium in our bodies, this can lead to osteoporosis when we get older.
Including tofu in your diet is a great way to get some calcium in the body.
10. Prevent Hair Loss
Tofu is a good source of Keratin, an essential protein needed for hair growth.
Becomes of all these reasons, it should not be a surprise that the consumption of tofu is a feature in traditional Chinese medicine, whose practitioners believe in its properties to help detoxify the body.
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Is Tofu Good for Weight Loss?
With that all out of the way, we can return to the focus of the article. Can tofu help you lose weight? Well, yes, but it is not a 100% definitive yes.
This is because tofu is much lower in calories than, say, meat, and it does not have any saturated fats that are particularly stubborn to break down.
Another benefit is that while tofu might be between 70-90% water, it is still brilliant at filling you up and keeping you from feeling hungry for much longer.
This should help any “accidental” snacking or just help to reduce your portion sizes. So yes, in that sense, tofu will help you lose weight by offering you a non-saturated fat substitute that will keep you fuller for longer while lowering your cholesterol and giving your body some much-needed nutrition, all with very low calories.
That said, just eating blocks and blocks of tofu won’t make the pounds and kilograms slip away. They will help you get there, but they need you to incorporate them into a properly structured meal plan, as with everything really.
But ultimately, the low calorie and fat content of tofu definitely do make it a diet and weight loss-friendly alternative.
How Much Tofu Should You Eat per Week or per Meal?
When it comes to how much you should be eating per meal or per week, we honestly cannot answer that without coming across as irresponsible, like a lot of web content out there nowadays, which does not bother to do proper research.
That said, a safe estimate would be to eat tofu or soy proteins three times a week and about three ounces of tofu per meal or until you feel you have had enough.
While tofu is a healthy option that we can incorporate into our diet, remember that too much of anything is not good at all. Everything should be done in moderation.
While you may not eat tofu every day, soy is in almost everything we consume these days.
So don’t solely rely on tofu! You can mix and match it with your other diet staple to make more exciting meal experiences.
Ideally, the best course of action would be to speak to a dietitian, not the internet. They are the medical professionals who know how much you should be eating based on your age, gender, height, and weight.
A professional will also factor in any medical or health issues you might have and how that might impact your tofu consumption.
They can also recommend any additional vitamins you might need to add, which tofu lacks and that you usually would have gotten from meat. It’s all about having a balanced plant-based diet!
Organic Tofu VS Non-Organic Tofu
With the popularity of tofu these days, don’t be surprised if you run into both the organic and non-organic varieties at the store.
Do take note that soy is one of the most genetically modified crops in the world today. However, in the US, all organic soy being sold or processed must be non-GMO.
I ALWAYS buy organic! And I highly recommend that you do the same.
I promise you won’t pay much more, and your body will thank you for it. But of course, the decision solely lies in you!
How to Prepare it/Make it Taste Good?
Regarding cooking your tofu and making it a pleasurable experience, you cannot go wrong with looking up some Asian recipes; they did invent the stuff after all and know what to do to it. But you cannot go wrong by stir-frying it with chopped veggies and soy sauce.
If you’re wondering how you can possibly do this, here are some simple tips. It is something that you can quickly whip out in your kitchen and make the most out of your tofu purchase!
1. Don’t forget to drain it!
Most of the tofu on sale are packed in water. One of the very things you should do when you have plans to cook it is to drain the block of tofu as much as you can.
If you are thinking of marinating or frying your tofu to a crisp (I highly recommend not frying your food if you are looking to lose weight), make sure that the block doesn’t have a lot of water content or moisture.
You can slice the tofu block and arrange the slices on any flat sheet to maximize the draining process.
You can then use a paper towel or thin cloth to absorb the water even more. It is preferred that you let the tofu drain for about an hour or two.
2. Marinate And Never Add Oil
While draining the tofu will get rid of most of the water content, there will still be some moisture left in there. So if you’re thinking of marinating it, avoid anything oily.
3. Make It Crispy, add Cornstarch
Before throwing your tofu into the fryer (try an air fryer to avoid consuming too much oil), try dipping it in vegan cornstarch. This will ensure that your tofu will get a crispy finish.
4. Don’t Forget To Season
To enhance the flavor, make sure you season your tofu with salt or your seasoning of choice.
Tofu is a good substitute for meat and a healthy protein source, but is tofu good for losing weight?
The answer to that question varies from person to person. If you’re looking at the nutritional profile of tofu versus other types of food, then yes—tofu can be very good for losing weight.
However, you won’t lose weight just because you are eating tofu. It also depends on how you prepare your tofu. Don’t fry it with a whole bunch of oil or marinate it with a high-calorie sauce.
Instead, use an air fryer, or bake it in an oven. Stir veggies and seasoning of choice.
I hope you found this blog post helpful, and that you got some ideas into how you can start integrating tofu into your diet. What is your favorite tofu dish?
LilyHi, I'm Lily! Like you, I have struggled with my weight. It was not an easy journey but I was able to lose 40 pounds and have kept it off for 14 years. My goal is to share with you all the research, tips, and tricks that I have learned over the years to help you lose weight also.
Download this cheat sheet to learn the secrets to go from busy and out-of-shape to energetic and fit!