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If you’ve never tried eating tofu before, then it might be intimidating or mysterious to you. But it’s a tasty protein source that can be prepared in many ways!
Is tofu keto-friendly?
Yes! Even though it is made from soy, which is part of the beans and legumes family, tofu is surprisingly low in carbs.
Even though tofu is widely debated, it’s still a healthy choice when you want to try a vegan keto diet.
We share with you the health benefits of tofu, how keto-friendly it is, and how best to cook and store it.
What is Tofu?
Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made from soybeans. These beans are turned into soy milk by soaking, cooking, and crushing them.
Then, the curds are pressed to form white cubes.
Soybeans are an abundant source of protein, so people on a vegan diet rely on them for stronger muscles and tissue repair.
Tofu can be classified as soft, firm, or extra firm. It can also be found in several different forms, including fresh, silken, processed, dried, fried, frozen, pickled, or stinky.
Carbs and Sugar in Tofu
The food database of the US Department of Agriculture states that 100g of branded tofu contains 82 calories.
It also has 10.59g of proteins, 2.35g of fats, and 3.53g of carbs with 1.23g of fiber. This means there are only 2.33g of net carbs in a 100g tofu.
Remember that these numbers depend on the companies’ manufacturing process and coagulant used in tofu.
For example, Mori-Nu’s silken tofu has 2g of carbs per serving. This silken soft tofu also has no gluten or preservatives.
Isoflavones in Tofu
Aside from containing all the essential amino acids that your body needs, tofu also has isoflavones, an antioxidant compound.
Isoflavones are what give tofu a host of health benefits, such as the following.
Reduced Risk of Breast Cancer
Women who eat soy products have a lower risk of breast cancer, thanks to the protective effect of isoflavones.
Scientists discovered that women who ate soy products at least once a week have a 24% lower risk of breast cancer.
Isoflavones can improve the menstrual cycle and blood estrogen levels of women.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Research shows that soy isoflavones can reduce the inflammation of blood vessels while also improving their elasticity.
Another study revealed that supplementing with isoflavones improves blood flow by 68% of people who were at risk of stroke.
High soy intake is also linked to BMI improvement, better waist circumference, and good HDL cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
In one study of healthy postmenopausal women, 100mg of soy isoflavones a day resulted in a 15% decrease in blood sugar levels and a 23% decrease in insulin levels.
In another study, isoflavones were found to improve insulin sensitivity and blood fats when taken each day for a year.
However, a recent review of 24 human studies showed that intact soy protein was more likely to lower blood sugar than isoflavone supplement.
Other Health Benefits
There are some other health benefits of tofu.
Many plant-based foods contain antinutrients like Trypsin inhibitors and Phytates.
Trypsin inhibitors are compounds that block trypsin, an enzyme you need to properly digest protein. Phytates reduce the absorption of minerals.
It doesn’t sound like a health benefit, does it?
But soaking or cooking soybeans eliminates these antinutrients. It reduces phytates by up to 56% and trypsin inhibitors by up to 81% while also increasing protein content by up to 13%.
Fermentation can also reduce antinutrients.
Reduces Risk of Digestive System Cancer
One study found that higher intakes of tofu led to a 61% lower risk of stomach cancer in men.
Another study also supports this same conclusion in women.
Many studies suggest that tofu can reduce bone loss, especially in early menopause.
Side Effects of Tofu
Soy often gets a bad rap because it has phytoestrogens.
Phytoestrogens are the plant form of estrogen. Many believe that it hinders proper hormone function and increases the risk of certain cancers.
But the aforementioned research-based benefits show the opposite.
Tofu is minimally processed, so it’s safe to consume for keto and non-keto dieters.
Soy is also free from saturated fats, a type of bad-quality fat that should be avoided on a ketogenic diet.
Is Tofu Keto-Friendly?
With the amount of protein and health benefits, it’s no wonder why many vegans love eating tofu whether they’re on keto or not.
However, others still have second thoughts about having tofu on keto. This is mostly because of soybeans.
A 100-gram serving of soybeans has 11g carbs, which is pretty high when you’re on a low-carb diet. But tofu, which is technically processed soybeans, is keto-friendly!
As mentioned, a 100-gram serving of tofu only has about 2g carbs, making it a safe protein source on keto.
When choosing tofu, go for the less firm variety because they usually have fewer carbs.
If you want to know how much tofu you can consume on keto, make sure to calculate your macros first, This will help you calculate your meal plans well.
Cooking with Tofu on Keto
Tofu is flavorless, so it’s a flexible food that you can add any condiment to. You can grill it, bake it, pan-cook, and fry it.
Before making your keto meal with tofu, press the excess liquid out so it becomes sturdy and less slimy. A dishtowel can help you do the trick!
Wrap it, put it on a plate, and place a few books on top. Press down for a few seconds then wait for a few minutes before you start cooking it.
Tofu may seem like only a main course option for your lunch or dinner, but you can turn it into tiny, crispy bites for a healthy snack.
This baked tofu recipe by The Big Man’s World can be added to meals or enjoyed on its own.
For this low-carb recipe, you will need the following:
Whatever sauce or spice you add to your tofu is great! It absorbs everything, so you shouldn’t be concerned about letting it sit for too long or marinating it overnight.
You can also try tossing tofu into your scrambled eggs! Your breakfast will become more exciting with it.
How to Store Tofu
Packaged tofu can be stored at room temperature if you bought it off the shelf. But if you purchase it cold then it should be kept in the fridge.
Once you’ve opened a package of tofu you should use it within three to five days.
FAQ Tofu and the Keto Diet
How Much Tofu Should I Eat on Keto?
That depends on your carb limit on keto.
Although it would take a large single serving of tofu to kick you out of ketosis, pairing it with other high-protein foods and drinks can turn off your fat-burning metabolism.
That’s right. Too much protein on the keto diet can also kick you out of ketosis.
Moderate protein intake is recommended. Too little, on the other hand, will make your muscles and tissues weak.
Find out how to calculate your protein limit on the keto diet!
Can Tofu Help with Collagen Production?
Tofu, which is made from soybeans, has all the necessary amino acids to support protein building and collagen production.
They help protect against enzymes that attack healthy collagen and elastin.
Collagen is a protein found in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. It is known in the beauty industry for improving the health of your skin and hair.
Find out more about collagen peptides on the keto diet!
Can You Be Vegan and Do Keto?
Many people believe it is impossible to go keto as a vegan, but tofu is just one example of a keto-friendly plant-based food.
Your main challenge here will be your protein source because you are not allowed to eat meat, which is also a great fat source.
Other protein sources include tempeh and seitan. You can also have vegan Greek yogurt on keto because it is usually low-carb.
Vegan cheeses, cream, and butter are also great choices.
Check out more information on the vegan keto diet.
Can I Add Tofu to My Miso on Keto?
Yes. You may add tofu to your miso soup. Both are healthy, keto-friendly foods.
Miso is a staple ingredient in Japanese cuisine. If you love Japanese food, you’ll be happy to know that miso soup is acceptable on keto because it is low in carbs.
The carb content does depend on the brand and its manufacturing process, so make sure you check your labels.
Miso soup also has protein, amino acids, antioxidants, and essential trace minerals.
Learn more about eating miso soup on the keto diet!
Tofu is A-Okay on Keto!
Tofu is a great plant-based protein source on the keto diet. What makes it even more keto-friendly is its low-carb content.
When you restrict carbs, you are fueling your body with fat and protein for energy.
When soybeans are turned into tofu, the keto-friendly story improves! Look for tofu that is less firm because it often contains fewer carbs.
Aside from fitting into your macros, consider the overall nutrition of tofu as well. Tofu may also have a few side effects that you should be cautious of.
When eating tofu, be mindful about staying healthy and make sure you know how many carbs will kick you out of ketosis.