tofu keto

Eating Tofu On Keto Diet: What You Need to Know

Tofu can be found as an ingredient in many recipes and it is commonly used by vegans and vegetarians as a meat substitute. Tofu originates from China, and thanks to its variety of uses, today it is consumed among many different cuisines and cultures  

It can be incorporated into many different diets, and the keto diet is not an exception. It can be frozen, fermented, fried, sauteed, or grilled, all depending on your method of cooking. The possibilities are endless. 


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But, tofu is made from soy, which is very controversial in the keto dieting community and also among scientists. So, can you eat tofu on the keto diet or will it negatively affect it? Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know. 

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What is Tofu Made of?

Many people know or have eaten tofu before, but not everyone knows what tofu is actually made of. 

Tofu or also known as bean curd is a soybean product that is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the curds into blocks. The blocks of tofu can have different firmness, that can go from silken, soft, firm to extra firm, and many varieties of those. You can ask for tofu dishes in any Chinese restaurant.

Tofu Nutritional Information

While there are many different varieties of tofu, both cooked and uncooked, in the table below we have the nutritional information for 100 grams of raw tofu with regular firmness. (*)

Calories76 kcal
Fat4.78 grams
Protein8.08 grams
Total carbs1.87 grams
Fiber0.3 grams
Net Carbs1.57 grams

Is Tofu Healthy?

The reason why many people ask this question is that tofu is made from soybeans. 

Soybeans and soybean products such as soy milk and tofu have been very controversial in the diet and health communities. That is because there is research that is showing mixed results and is confusing many people, including scientists. 

The one obvious benefit of tofu is its nutritional qualities, it is a great source of protein as you can see from the table above. 

Also, there are published studies that conclude that soybeans or soy products are beneficial for human health and have shown beneficial attributes of soy, such as helping lower blood pressure, helping premenopausal women have less hot flushes, help keep bones healthy, help lower blood cholesterol and help keep kidney function.

The protein in soy is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all essential amino acids necessary for human nutrition. This is extremely important for those who are vegan or vegetarian and don’t get protein from meat and other high-fat animal products. It is very rare for plants to contain complete proteins. (*)

In one study, menopausal women were split into two groups. In the first group, the women were given a placebo, and the women in the other group were given extracted or synthesized soy isoflavones (soy proteins). The group with the soy isoflavones showed lowered frequency and severity of hot flushes when compared to the group that took the placebo. (*)

There are also studies that show that the proteins that soy and soy products contain can help lower blood pressure and arterial function in men and women with moderate hypertension. (*), (*)

Also, there is research that suggests that soy protein can have beneficial effects on renal health and function. (*

While it may seem like there are plenty of health benefits of consuming soy, and research to support them, there are also some possible side effects. 

Some of those possible side effects are cognitive function impairment, hormonal imbalances, inflammation, interference with some thyroid medication and increase the risk of some cancers(as well as prevention of cancer).

One study had results that show a link between brain aging and midlife tofu consumption. The study was done when a standardized interview about food consumption was conducted from 1965 to 1967 and 1971 to1974. 

Then from 1991 to 1993 the cognitive function of the participants was tested and showed poor results and signs of brain atrophy in those who consumed high amounts of tofu in their midlife. Similar brain abnormalities were noted in the spouses of the participants. (*)

There are also some studies that show that soy proteins- isoflavones can cause hormone imbalances. Isoflavones are phytoestrogens, bioactive compounds that chemically are similar to estrogen. They have the ability to bind to the alpha and beta estrogen receptors and mimic the hormone, which can cause hormonal imbalance in the body. (*), (*)

The information on soy products and mainly soy protein in relation to breast cancer have been somewhat confusing, as it both shows cancerogenic properties, as well as the potential to lower risk for cancer. (*)

Can You Eat Tofu On The Keto Diet?

When you overlook the health benefits and side effects of soy products and tofu and just look at the table with nutritional information, you will notice that it is really low in calories and carbs. It has only 76 calories and 1.57 grams of net carbs per 100 grams. 

This makes it a food that will easily fit into a keto dieter’s daily carb intake. However, you probably know by now that it is not that simple.

Soy is a legume, and legumes are typically not consumed on a strict keto diet. Besides that, there is a long list of controversial studies that contradict one another which has even left the professionals confused. 

On top of that, as much as 94% of soybeans are genetically modified. (*)

So, to sum it all up, it is made from a legume, it has mixed results from research and a high chance that it is GMO, therefore tofu is not a strictly ketogenic food. That being said, everything comes down to your personal preference and what you want to consume. Chances are, eating tofu in moderation will not cause any harm.

If you are not on a strict keto diet, or you are just looking to fit tofu into your daily carbs, then you can easily do so, as it is a variable, low-carb food. Make sure that the tofu you are buying is non-GMO and made from organic soybeans.

Bottom Line

Is tofu keto-friendly?

No, tofu is not strictly keto-friendly. Tofu is made from soybeans, which are legumes and not recommended on a strict keto diet. 

How many net carbs does tofu have?

Tofu has 1.57 grams of net carbs per 100 grams.

Conclusion

Tofu is a soybean product that is made from the curd of condensed soy milk. It originates from China, but it is widely used all across the world. 

Tofu, just like other soy products, is controversial in medicine, as well as the keto diet. Research has shown mixed results about its benefits and side effects. Also, most of the soybeans that are produced are GMO.

This makes tofu non-ketogenic food for strict keto dieters, as it is made from a legume, has high chances that it has been genetically modified, and may have side effects. Ultimately, it all depends on what you want to consume. If you still want to consume tofu, then it can easily fit into your carbs. Make sure that it is organic and non-GMO. 

carbs in tofu

Photo by depositphotos.com/e_mikh

Eating Tofu On Keto Diet: What You Need to Know

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