One of the major principles of the ketogenic diet is that people are to fuel their bodies with protein and fat for energy instead of carbs. In this case, many vegans and vegetarians wonder whether the keto diet possible for them. If you do not eat meat, then how can you get enough protein?
Tofu happens to be a basic food for many people who are non-meateaters, but is tofu keto-friendly? In this article, we will provide you with more information about tofu and if it is good for the keto dieters.
What is tofu?
Tofu happens to be a bean curd produced from soybeans. The process is simple for understanding. First, they turn soybeans into soymilk. Then the milk is coagulated. After that, they press curds to receive white cubes.
That is why they sometimes call tofu soybean curd. The product obtains a creamy texture which is a low-fat and high-protein kind of food. They usually sell tofu in blocks. The product is also high in iron and calcium.
Thanks to its nutritional value and versatility, tofu happens to be one of the main things for Asian cuisines. They have been eating it for hundreds of years so far. Recently, tofu has become popular in Western vegan and vegetarian dishes. Another benefit of this product is that it is affordable. You can always include this plant-based protein in your everyday life by paying two dollars for a block. If you are fond of making things yourself, you will be happy to know that tofu can be made at home from scratch. It is necessary to consider, though, that you will have to spend a lot of time on that. In addition to that, some practice is required for the technique.
Tofu is extremely versatile because it is flavorless. This means that it can go with a wide range of foods. The soybean curd is delicious when baked, steamed, fried and pan-cooked. Before cooking they usually press out the excess liquid so that tofu becomes sturdier. There are even tools for that such as a handy-dandy pressing tool. If you do not have anything like that, it is possible to make use of some dish towels and cookbooks, though. You just need to wrap tofu in a towel, place it on a plate and put some cookbooks on top. After pressing for several seconds, it is necessary to wait around 10 minutes before you start cooking.
Does tofu have carbs?
This is the question that is important for the keto dieters. 100 grams of tofu contains an approximate amount of:
- 173 calories;
- 17 grams of protein;
- 10 grams of carbohydrates;
- 9 grams of fat;
- 6 grams of fiber;
- 4 grams of net carbs.
It is obvious that there are some carbs, but their amount is pretty low.
Types of tofu and their carbohydrate content
Generally, there are five varieties of this product based on how much water it contains. As a matter of fact, the firmer tofu is, the less water it has. Thus, firm tofu obtains more nutrients and calories per serving. The major types are:
- Super-firm tofu happens to be very dense and contains a lot of proteins. There is less water in it, so it will not fall apart. It is usually vacuum-packed. This one contains around 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
- Dry tofu or extra-firm tofu which is very firm. This kind of product can be grilled or fried. They can also make use of it as a substitute for meat in a stir fry. For some dishes, the marinate firm tofu so that it has extra flavor. This type of tofu includes 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
- Firm tofu which is sold packaged in water. This type of product is usually mashed, barbecued or crumbled to be added to salads. They can also scramble firm tofu. It contains around 2 grams of carbs per serving.
- Soft tofu this kind of product is usually added for foods that are blended. For example, it can be soups, salad dressings or dips. Soft tofu usually contains around 2 grams of carbs per serving.
- Silken tofu this one happens to be an undrained product. It is also considered to be a Japanese-style one. Out of all tofu sorts, it obtains the highest water content. They also make use of it for blended foods such as pudding and smoothies. The content of carbs tends to be around 2 grams per serving.
As you can see, there different kinds of tofu that obtain different amounts of carbohydrates. It means that it is possible to choose the one which is the lowest in carbs.
Why is the consumption of tofu frowned upon by some people
Being received from soybeans, tofu plays a significant role in people`s diets in Asia. However, genetically modified soybeans are a common thing for Western countries. In fact, genetic modification makes worse the nutrition and quality of tofu as well as of other soy goods such as soy flour, soymilk and soy sauce.
The manufacturers also make use of GMO soybeans to produce soybean oil which is full of hazardous trans-fats. In addition to that, there is one more factor they are concerned about – the significant concentration of phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens.
What are xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens happen to be compounds which are present in some kinds of foods that act like estrogen in the human body. As soon as xenoestrogens are digested, they interact with the estrogen receptors in the body cells and impact the functions of estrogens. In short, xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors.
Unfortunately, there is another compound that mimics estrogen and needs to be avoided. – phytoestrogens. They are also nutrients that are contained in soybeans and some other plants. Everybody knows that hormones are extremely important for the human body: consequently, a high level of estrogen can be a harmful thing for health.
The normal function of the endocrine system implies that hormones are released to signal various tissues letting them know what to do. As soon as chemicals get into the human body, they bind hormone receptors. This is especially harmful to hormone-sensitive organs such as the breasts, uterus, the neurological and immune systems.
Many kinds of researches have been carried out, the conclusion of which state that high levels of estrogen can:
- Increase the appearance of fibrosis, tumors, and cysts;
- Make people gain weight and stop weight reduction;
- Increase breast cancer risks;
- Make it impossible to burn fat;
- Contribute to insulin resistance and high sugar level in blood which will lead to diabetes.
As you can see, the mentioned two compounds are able to act like estrogen which will make your body stop producing real estrogen. Xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens happen to be endocrine disruptors which are found in soybeans. They can cause serious health problems; hence tofu will not be good for everyone. This also means that people should not eat too much tofu – the diet must be balanced. Besides, it is always a good idea to check what the levels of hormones are in your body.
Tofu for weight loss
People who prefer plant-based diets are highly likely to have a lower weight for height. Consequently, the risk of obesity is much lower, so the tofu can be a wonderful option for such a diet. This product is considered to be an excellent option for weight management as it contains a lot of protein which makes people stay fuller longer. It is also lower in carbohydrates and calories
An ordinary serving of firm tofu makes around one-fifth of a package. People who want to lose weight should listen to their bodies and consume that amount which feels satisfying. In most of the cases, one serving is enough.
How much tofu is it advised to eat per one week? This is the question people who want to reduce weight usually ask. Dieticians recommend them to eat one or two servings of tofu every day. they can also consume other soy products such as soy milk. This is because tofu is a wonderful source of natural protein. They have to remember, though, that the diet must be well-balanced. It implies that the dieters are to eat a lot of legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, and nuts.
In addition to that, it is to be noted that tofu offers different nutrition profile. For example, firmer tofu contains more protein and fewer calories. Softer tofu, for instance silken, has lower calories and protein.
Another benefit of tofu is that it is not hard to incorporate it into meals and snacks. They can just cut it up into cubes and add to a variety of dishes. Tofu can even be used in place of ricotta for a vegan lasagna or stuffed shells. It can be added to soups or smoothies. People may also use tofu to make desserts such as chocolate mousse or pudding.
Does tofu fit into a ketogenic diet?
Let`s forget about the negative things about tofu for a while and look at the macronutrients it obtains. Tofu can be regarded as a keto-friendly product since there are only one and a half grams of carbs in an ordinary serving. This is completely fine for the standard carb limit of the ketogenic diet which is about fifty grams of carbohydrates daily. This means that it is possible to eat regular tofu without worrying about consuming too many carbs.
At the same time, different kinds of tofu can have a different amount of carbs, so it is necessary to check the carbohydrates count for every brand. Despite that, the carb count is going to be low anyway.
When looking at what macronutrients there are, it seems that tofu is perfect for a keto diet. However, the product is not perfect for the majority of the keto dieters. If the macros are good for keto, it does not necessarily mean that the product is healthy.
As it was mentioned before, people who eat too much soybean curd can get increased levels of xenoestrogen and phytoestrogen. This can cause tumor formation and hormone imbalances.
That is why the dieters are free to consume tofu if they are doing a vegetarian or vegan keto diet. If they are willing to enhance estrogen levels on a ketogenic diet, they can eat tofu too.
People who decide to include soybean curd in their diet plan should make sure that they buy the highest quality product and organic to avoid purchasing tofu with GMOs. If the mentioned cases are not for you, then it is better not to consume tofu. Even those people who are on a cyclical keto diet and require additional protein and carbs should not eat tofu. This protein is not worth the risk.
So, is tofu keto-friendly?
Tofu happens to be a great plant-based protein if you receive it from a high-quality source. At the same time, if there are no low estrogen levels or meat restrictions, it is better to go for proteins that are in meat. This way you will prevent hormonal issues.
Is tofu good for keto? Only those keto dieters who are vegetarians, pescatarians or people who try to increase the levels of estrogen on the ketogenic diet should consume tofu. If you are not one of them, then it is not necessary to eat soybean curd. It can be harmful to you. Tofu is a keto-friendly product, but it is not good for everyone.