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Nutrition » Diets » Keto » keto foods » Tofu Keto Diet: What Is The Verdict On This Protein-Powered Food?

Tofu Keto Diet: What Is The Verdict On This Protein-Powered Food?

how much tofu can we eat in keto diet

Tofu Keto Diet

There are so many diets in the world today. The validity of any one of these numerous diets is determined either by a person’s specifications or at other times because of health concerns. Most people these days are mainly looking at switching up their diets for health and weight management concerns. It comes down to whether a person wants to lose weight, maintain the weight they currently have or make appreciable gains in weight. So then, depending on what you want there is a diet for it. Tofu keto diet is an example of one of the diets currently on the rise.

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What exactly is a tofu keto diet? This diet combines two components together. There is the keto part of it and the tofu part of it. It is a diet that is composed of  both elements, but a key question to answer is, is tofu compatible with keto? Are you allowed to eat tofu if you are on a ketogenic diet? Is tofu healthy? All these questions as well as many others not mentioned will be answered in this engaging read.

What Is A Keto Diet?

The keto diet is considered as a low-carb high-fat diet. It basically involves reducing your carbohydrate intake while increasing your fat intake (9). The protein levels remain relatively the same as normally recommended . This low-carb, high fat diet is not a new diet at all. It has been practiced since the 1920s but back in the day it was recommended for different reasons than it is recommended for nowadays. Doctors still use it to help prevent seizures for children with epilepsy. 

In more recent times this diet has quickly gained amazing popularity in the fitness world. This is because it is known to be an effective way for losing weight. This diet is known to have many health benefits which makes it even more desirable by many health conscious folks. It’s worth noting that it is not the easiest diet to follow since our society  is used to eating large amounts of carbohydrates.

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How Does A Ketogenic Diet Work?

The keto diet is designed to provoke a change in the primary energy source our body uses. A regular diet  contains a lot more carbs than fats and proteins, so the  body regularly breaks down the carbs into glucose. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body. This is because it is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so it makes sense that the body will choose it over other energy sources (11). However when you are consuming fewer carbs, the body lacks sufficient material for the conversion to glucose and this sets up a condition requiring the body to go into a state of ketosis. 

Ketosis is a natural process that occurs in your body and so in a short time it becomes efficient in using fats to convert to glucose for the production of energy for the body. The body responds in this way because it needs energy to survive and the carbs present cannot supply it with the necessary energy to undertake all of the day’s normal activities. The body thus breaks down available fats into ketones within the liver. The ketones are then used to provide the body with the required energy (7).

Types Of Keto Diets

There are four different variations of the ketogenic diet. These variations are (9):

Standard Ketogenic Diet

This is the most common keto diet. It is composed of a high percentage of fats, moderate proteins and a very low percentage of carbohydrates. The macros are divided as follows. 75% fats, 20% proteins and 5% carbohydrates (9).

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Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

This is also another common type of the ketogenic diet. It involves going for long periods on low carb diets followed by periods on high carb diets. An example would be going for five days on a strictly keto diet and the remaining two days of the week eating carbohydrates in larger amounts (9).

Targeted Ketogenic Diet

This type of diet allows you to add carbs when you need them. People following this type of ketogenic diet usually add carbs when they are working out and reduce the carb intake when they are not working out (9).

High-protein Ketogenic Diet

This type of ketogenic diet is almost the same as the standard keto diet. The only difference is, just as the name suggests that more proteins are consumed in comparison with normal recommendations. Thus, this type of diet contains a little more protein than the other variations. The macronutrients are divided as follows. 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs (9).

Those are the different types of keto diets. Before you take up any of these diets, it is advisable to consult an expert so that they can tell you if keto is the way to go for you.

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What Is Tofu?

Tofu is a convenient source of protein. Originating in Asia, tofu is made from the seeds of the soybean plant. Preparation is done by coagulating the soy milk and then pressing the results to form soft cheese-like blocks (3). Tofu is low-carb, dairy-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and vegan (10). These qualities make it easy for the incorporation into many different diets. If you are a vegan and you want to boost your protein intake, you should consider adding tofu to your diet.

If you are on a low-carb diet, tofu could be a worthy addition to your diet. For many people, it pretty much cuts across the table. In addition to what’s been mentioned, tofu contains a number of important nutrients. Examples of micronutrients you are likely to find in tofu are: calcium, iron and magnesium. 

Types Of Tofu

There are different types of tofu. The different types of tofu depend on the amount of water content. The softer the tofu is, the more water it has and the fewer calories it contains. Here we shall see the different types of tofu, how to select them, and the best way to cook them depending on the type of tofu they are (1).

Silken Tofu

This type of tofu is undrained and unpressed. It has the most water when compared to the different types of tofu. It is the smoothest tofu due to high water quantity. You are supposed to select this type of tofu when you want to add  creaminess in the food you are preparing.  Most of the time, this tofu is blended and used in desserts like cakes, or smoothies. You can also use it when making soup as a replacement for cream. 

A 100-gram serving of silken tofu contains 1.4 grams of carbohydrates (2).

fried tofu on keto diet
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Soft Tofu

This type of tofu is slightly drained and slightly unpressed. It is just like the silken tofu but with less water. It can be used in salad dressings, dips and soups. 

A 100-gram serving of soft tofu contains 2 grams of tofu carbs (2).

Firm Tofu

Just like the name suggests, this type of tofu is more firm. It has less water compared to the soft and silken tofu. This tofu can be barbecued, mashed or crumbled. 

A 100-gram serving of firm tofu has 2.3 grams of carbohydrates (2).

Extra Firm Tofu 

This type of tofu is also referred to as dry tofu. It is very dry and contains little to no water. Extra firm tofu is easy to cut into cubes, strips and slices because of how firm it is. It can be fried, grilled or baked. It can also be used as a substitute for meat because of how it looks as well as its texture (how firm it is). 

A 100-gram serving of dry tofu is said to have 2.6 grams of carbohydrates (2).

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Macronutrients In Tofu 

It is important to know the macros in tofu and in what proportions there are. These numbers are not the standard numbers for every single tofu you will ever come across. The different types as well as the different brands of tofu come with different portions of the different macronutrients. It is therefore advisable to check the label on the package of the tofu you buy to see the exact portions of macros in the tofu you are about to consume. In doing this you will be able to decide if the amounts are okay for your diet or not. With that said, a half a cup of tofu (about 124 grams) contains a total of (6):

  • 94 calories
  • 10 grams of protein
  • 6 grams of fat
  • 2 grams of carbs
  • 1.5 grams of net carbs

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Tofu?

There are a number of benefits that come from eating tofu. A good starting point is the fact that tofu is a good source of protein. In addition to this, it is a plant-based protein. This makes it a good protein source for vegetarians and vegans. The fact that it also has a low  carbohydrate content makes it very useful to people practicing low-carb diets. This then opens another avenue for people who are on a low-carb diet, as they can incorporate it into their diets. That is not all, tofu is rich in micronutrients your body needs. Micros like calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and manganese can be obtained from eating tofu (12). It is also a nice source of healthy unsaturated fats. 

The fact that tofu is made from soybeans means it contains isoflavones. Isoflavones are a phytoestrogen similar to estrogen which is a hormone in your body. There are a number of health benefits associated with this phytoestrogen. It offers relief from hot flashes. Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause. Studies have shown that the consumption of it could help prevent certain types of cancer like breast cancer and prostate cancer. It has also been suggested to help reduce the chance of getting heart conditions (10).

is tofu allowed on keto diet
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Why Eating Tofu Might Be Bad For You

There are certain reasons eating tofu might be controversial. Many studies have been done on the effect of estrogen in food sources such as tofu on particularly the health of males past puberty. Conclusive results have not been reached but there is growing sentiment among men to potentially restrict the consumption of such products. In addition, tofu is made from soybeans which are widely grown from GMO seeds (6). There is growing evidence to support the avoidance of GMOs as a food source so for this reason you may want to exercise caution when selecting tofu. The good thing is that many tofu companies look for organic soya which is healthy and good for you. Make sure to always read labels and ingredient lists.

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Tofu And Weight Loss

Can tofu help you lose weight? The answer to that question is Yes. Tofu can help you lose weight in so many different ways. The first way tofu can help you in losing weight is the fact that it contains fewer  calories and unsaturated fats (2). The best and most effective  way to lose weight is to cut your daily energy intake. Tofu offers the needed nutrients for normal functions and at the same time results in cutting your calorie intake.

The fact that tofu is a rich source of protein helps in its weight losing properties. It prevents  the body from breaking down muscles and converting them for energy (8). Proteins also trigger fat burning. All this helps you lose weight.

Another way tofu works is by replacing carbohydrates with the content of tofu.This is because they have low carbs, and low calories. You can also replace your meats with tofu. Tofu offers low calories, low carbs and healthy unsaturated fats (2).

is tofu good on keto diet
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About people who eat plant based diets

People who eat plant based diets are known to have lower BMIs and a lower risk of obesity. Tofu is a good food for a plant based diet. 

The fact that tofu is belly filling (satiating) is also another way it promotes losing weight. Its filling nature helps you feel full for longer periods of time. This results in you taking in fewer calories (5).

A study was done that looked at different food items and their effects on weight. Soy happened to be one of the foods in the study (1). The results showed that consuming tofu everyday for four years will result in you losing 2.5 pounds. Even though this number looks small, this change can come from the result of only one food. If you haven’t taken into account the other healthy foods you’ve been eating, you haven’t taken into account all the working out and exercising. If all these things are combined, you should lose more weight in a shorter period of time. It is always advisable to consult a dietitian before making any change to your diet.

Is Tofu Allowed On A Keto Diet? 

For a meal to be keto-friendly it needs to meet two standards. One is to have low carbs and the other it is to have a high number of fats. Fats are important because they will provide the new energy source hence the body needs to be provided with enough fats daily.

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How Many Carbs Does Tofu Have?

As mentioned earlier, tofu is low in carbs. The carbs in tofu are tallied by subtracting fiber from the total carbohydrates (8). On average a four ounce serving of either soft, regular or firm tofu contains 2 to 3 grams of net carbohydrates. Those are not so many carbohydrates. When you look at this, it means tofu fits in any low-carb diet. Low-carbs diet advocates aim for around 20 to 150 net carbs in a day, and tofu is way below that mark. This information does not, however, exempt you from checking the packages of tofu you buy in order to be sure of the carbs in it. There are tofu products that have upto three times the above mentioned net carbs (8).

Tofu in different forms also fits into a low-carb diet. Baked tofu can belong to a low-carb diet but it is very important to watch your portions. Some brands of baked tofu have two to four grams of net carbs for a two ounce serving. Some other brands of baked tofu contain 10 to 12 grams of net carbs in a three ounce serving. Remember to always read the labels and ingredient lists before picking the right product for you.

Is Fried Tofu Keto?

Most foods become unhealthy when deep fried. This is because of the oils and fats involved in deep frying. When tofu is deep fried, it is still keto. Fried tofu is less healthy compared to other forms of tofu. One cup serving of keto friendly air fried tofu contains the following micros and macros (4):

  • Calories – 77
  • Total Fat – 5.7g
  • Saturated Fat – 0.8g
  • Trans Fat – 0mg
  • Cholesterol – 0mg
  • Sodium – 4.5mg
  • Total Carbohydrate – 2.5g
  • Dietary Fiber – 1.1g
  • Sugars – 0.8g
  • Protein – 5.3g

The total amount of carbohydrates in fried tofu still fits into a ketogenic diet as it contains 2.5 grams of carbs which is still a low number. When we look at the carbs in tofu, it is keto in all forms.

can vegetarians eat tofu on keto diet
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What Can Make Tofu Not Keto?

Keto diets, as mentioned earlier contain low-carb foods, high fat foods and moderate protein. If you are on a keto diet, you are getting most of your energy from fats. This means you need to consume foods that are rich in healthy fats.  A half cup of tofu contains somewhere between 5 to 10 grams of fats. This may not be enough for a high fat diet but that should not be a worry. You can eat foods that are rich in fats like nuts to complement tofu. 

Who Should Have A Tofu Keto Diet?

The tofu keto diet as seen is a diet that is low-carb and contains tofu. Tofu is definitely a plant protein. Most people who are likely to follow a tofu keto diet are vegetarians and vegans who are on a keto diet. I know most people usually wonder if one can be keto and a vegan at the same time. The answer is clearly yes. Tofu is a plant, which means you will be getting the necessary proteins without eating meat or other types of animal-based proteins. Tofu is still low-carbs, hence does not exceed the total required carbs intake for a day. 

Who Should Not Have A Tofu Keto Diet?

There are people who should not have a tofu keto diet. It is always good to consult a doctor or dietitian before you start a new diet. An expert will look at your weight goals and advise if being in a tofu keto diet is advisable for you. If an expert tells you not to try this diet, you should not as it may not be good for you. 

Another group of people who are not allowed to take this diet are people who are allergic to soy. As tofu is made from soy, if you are allergic to soy, you should not take part in a tofu keto diet. Soy allergies  usually start in childhood, however, most people outgrow them as they become older. 

Symptoms of soy allergy range from mild, including hives or itching in and around the mouth, to severe reactions including anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. It is for this reason if you are allergic to it, you should not take tofu even if it is healthy (10).

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The Bottom Line

A tofu keto diet is not for everyone as shown above. For people who can eat tofu, adding this ingredient to your diet is quite advantageous for those conscious about their weight. It combines the many benefits of being vegan/vegetarian-friendly and the many benefits of being quite light with very few calories It is not the easiest diet to follow but it could help you lose weight, prevent you from being obese, potentially reduce the risk of getting certain cancers as well as heart related conditions.

If you want your weight loss plan to be efficient, don’t forget to do some exercise on the regular basis. Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this

SOURCES:

  1. A Detailed Guide to Tofu: How It’s Made, Whether It’s Good for You, and How to Prepare It (2019, everydayhealth.com)
  2. Does Tofu Have Carbs? This Is One Answer You Need to Know! (2018, medium.com)
  3. Everything you need to know about tofu (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
  4. Fried Tofu (n.d., nutritionix.com)
  5. Is Tofu Good For Weight Loss? Dietitians Say Yes — and Here’s How Much You Should Be Eating (2019, popsugar.com)
  6. Is Tofu Keto Friendly? All You Need to Know About Tofu on a Keto Diet (2019, perfectketo.com)
  7. Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you? (2017, health.harvard.edu)
  8. Low-Carb Diet & Tofu (n.d., livestrong.com)
  9. The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto (2018, healthline.com)
  10. Tofu Nutrition Facts (2020, verywellfit.com)
  11. What is a Keto Diet? (2020, ruled.me)
  12. What Is Tofu, and Is it Healthy?(2019, cookinglight.com)
Ben William

Ben William

Ben is an experienced writer who is no stranger to fitness. His career goal is not only to educate people on proper exercising but also help them recognize the profound importance of healthy nutrition. As a writer, his top priority is to foster awareness about healthy lifestyle and encourage more people to transform their bodies and kick their deep-rooted habits. Ben strongly believes that anyone can achieve their fitness goals, as long as they work hard, stay on track and keep a positive mindset.

Soraya Ziou

Soraya Ziou

Hi everyone! I am a Canadian Registered Dietitian (RD) who graduated from the University of Ottawa, Canada. I worked at the Montreal Pediatric University Hospital and the Ottawa Heart Institute before joining the International Clinic of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. With a strong interest in community nutrition, I worked in Haiti and in Syrian refugee camps affected by the scourge of malnutrition. I am passionate about food and its science!

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