Is Tofu Keto-Friendly? How Tofu Fits Into Your Low-Carb Diet
Tofu is popular as an alternative source of protein, but it’s hard to tell whether it’s a food that can fit into the ketogenic diet.
You’ll find it to be a popular ingredient in many vegan and vegetarian recipes. Tofu can be prepared in so many different ways, which makes it a versatile choice.
Can you eat tofu on the keto diet, though? That’s the real question, and that’s what this article will set out to answer. Let’s get right into it.
What Is Tofu?
Tofu is also known as bean curd. It’s made by processing soybeans into soy milk, after which the milk is curdled and pressed into what we know as tofu.
There are many different types of tofu, but the basic process of preparing it remains the same. It is somewhat similar to how cheese is made.
Just like how different cheeses are made, though, slight changes in the process can result in different kinds of tofu.
Most common types of tofu
There are 5 major kinds of tofu. These are silken, regular, firm, extra-firm, and super-firm tofu.
Let’s talk briefly about each kind.
As its name suggests, silken tofu is the softest, creamiest type of tofu. This is due to its high water content, which also keeps it low in net carbs.
Although it can be molded into blocks, it usually breaks apart when you try to handle it.
Regular tofu is quite soft, but it tends to hold together better than silken tofu. This makes it a great addition to soups and stews, as it is able to maintain its consistency while still absorbing flavors.
Since it’s still a softer tofu type, it will usually break apart if you try to fry it.
If you eat tofu regularly and you’ve bought it from the supermarket before, you most likely got firm tofu. This tofu is compact, and you’ll find it soaked in liquid when sold.
The density of firm tofu makes it easy to handle in the kitchen since it won’t crumble or break apart. You can use this to your advantage by cutting, chopping, and cooking it in a variety of ways.
Extra-firm tofu drops the water content a step further, which shows in the consistency when handling and eating it.
This is still a versatile tofu option as it can be cooked in most of the same ways that firm tofu can. It stays together very well, but the only downside is that it is less likely to soak up soups or stews that it is cooked in.
Finally, super-firm tofu is very compact. If you’re looking to experiment with a meat substitute in terms of both protein and texture, this kind is the way to go.
This can be cooked and marinated in a variety of ways due to how well it maintains its form, even after intense cooking.
What You Should Know About the Vegan Keto Diet
The keto diet is one that reduces your carb intake and replaces it with fats. In other words, it is a very low-carb and high-fat diet.
The ketogenic diet can help with weight loss, but there is also evidence to show that it can provide other health benefits, including augmenting cancer treatment.
Your body typically relies on carbohydrates – ultimately glucose – for energy. Of course, if you eat too many carbohydrates or more than you burn, it will contribute to weight gain.
The objective of a keto diet is to replace the carbs you eat with healthy fats. This will push your body to achieve ketosis. This is a state that makes your body produce ketones, which are used for energy instead.
The vegan ketogenic diet can certainly be pulled off, but it goes without saying that it’s a bit tougher than the regular ketogenic diet since it’s even more restrictive. The key is to focus on plant-based fats and proteins (like tofu!) while staying away from carb-heavy vegetables, which are typically the starchy kinds like grains, fruits, and potatoes.
Keto Cycle can also make it possible for you to tap into the vegan ketogenic diet with ease, and the best part is that it is personalized for you. This quiz will only take you a minute, and it can show you the potential this app has in helping you achieve ketosis and eventual weight loss.
There’s not much research done comparing the regular keto diet to the vegan one, but plant-based diets are generally shown to have a number of advantages. This primarily revolves around the reduced risk of some chronic diseases.
Is Tofu Low-Carb?
Soybeans have a decent amount of carbohydrates. However, once you process these into soy milk and then raw tofu, a lot of the carb content doesn’t make it into the final product. Tofu carbs are rather low.
For every 100 grams of firm tofu, you’ll have only 2.78 grams of carbs. With 2.3 grams of fiber, this means that this size of tofu has approximately 0.5 grams of net carbs. Meanwhile, as expected, there is plenty of protein – 17.3 grams worth. The total fat comes to 8.72 grams.
However, you need to keep in mind that if you’re eating tofu, the particular type has an impact on the carb count.
The firmer it gets, the denser it is, and the more net carbs it will have. Softer tofu has more water in it, which makes it lighter and even lower in carbohydrates.
Is Tofu Keto-Friendly?
Ultimately, there’s one question you want an answer to, and it’s: is tofu keto-friendly?
The answer to that is yes. Tofu and keto go hand in hand. Eating tofu on keto is great, but it can also serve as an invaluable ingredient on the vegetarian ketogenic diet too. It’s a very low-carb food and can serve as a great way to increase protein intake when you can’t eat meat.
Although it is not a leading source of fat, it has a considerable amount, which certainly helps you get your fill of healthy fats on your keto diet.
In addition, tofu is keto-friendly because it is full of micronutrients and serves as a great way to get those into your diet.
For example, 100 grams contains more than half the recommended daily value of calcium and manganese and 42% and 32% of copper and selenium, respectively.
It also has ample amounts of phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin A.
Is Tofu Healthy?
There’s a lot of concern about tofu due to the presence of soy isoflavones, which are estrogen-like nutrients. Isoflavones can activate estrogen receptors the same way the actual hormone would, which raises concerns that it can promote certain cancers or adversely affect reproductive development in children and teenagers.
However, studies have been conducted to observe whether the frequent consumption of soy products, like tofu and soy sauce, has any adverse effects in systems like the reproductive, neurologic, and endocrine, and there’s no evidence to show that isoflavones pose any danger.
Here’s the good part, though. Whether you’re embarking on the keto diet or not, tofu is a food that has many health benefits.
Since tofu and other soy products contain a nutrient that essentially acts like estrogen, it has been shown to improve the symptoms seen during menopause, such as hot flashes.
But that’s just one way that tofu is able to promote good health. When it comes to cardiovascular health, eating tofu more than once a week was shown to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Curiously, this benefit has not been shown to extend to soy milk.
And then, to touch on one last benefit, there’s evidence that increasing your intake of soy products, including tofu, might actually reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
It goes without saying that tofu is not only keto-friendly but also heart-friendly and has numerous health benefits, especially for women.
How to Prepare Tofu
It’s probably impossible to count the number of tofu recipes that exist out there. It’s an extremely versatile ingredient that can be used to the best effect in a series of savory dishes. For example, here’s a Fried Tofu and Avocado Salad recipe, and here’s an Oven-Baked Tofu With Tomatoes recipe. The variety is unmatched!
You can make crispy baked tofu, fried tofu, smoked tofu, and so on. If you want to learn more about the tofu recipes we have on offer, Keto Cycle has more than 10,000 recipes that are sculpted for keto diets.
But for now, let’s talk about how to prepare your tofu before using it in any tofu recipes that you might be eager to get started with.
The essential thing you need to know before you use this low-carb ingredient is that, in many cases, it needs to be pressed. Pressing tofu is done to get rid of the excess water content that is in it.
Very soft tofu, like silken tofu, shouldn’t be pressed, as it will almost instantly break under any pressure. For other kinds, it is fair game, though.
If you have a tofu press at home, it makes this step easier. However, if you don’t, you can still enjoy tofu after pressing it at home.
Here’s what you need:
- Chopping board
- Clean kitchen towels or paper towels
- Your block of tofu
- Relatively heavy objects
Once you have all the necessary components present, you can get to the actual pressing:
- Wrap the block of tofu in paper towels or kitchen towels.
- Place the wrapped tofu on a plate or other surface that you don’t mind getting wet. Pressing the tofu will release a lot of water.
- Place the cutting board on top of the wrapped tofu block. You can weigh it down with filled jars, a frying pan, or large books. Be careful not to overweight the tofu so it doesn’t break.
- Leave the tofu weighted down for about 30 minutes.
- When you come back, you’ll notice that the tofu is not as thick and that a lot of water has drained out. That’s all you need to do to squeeze the tofu!
- You can then slice, dice, or cut the tofu however you like.
Something else you can try would be to press your tofu the day before you need it. This way, it’ll be ready to use the next day. Just make sure to refrigerate it in an airtight container.
Tofu is a great plant-based protein source and it is perfect whether you’re on the standard ketogenic diet, a plant-based diet, or a combination of both.
Not only is the carb count in tofu low, but it has many other nutritional qualities that make it a good addition to low-carb diets.
Tofu is a great choice for the keto vegetarian diet, but you might not know more than a few ways to implement it in your diet. Thankfully, that’s where Keto Cycle comes in.
With over 10,000 recipes, you’ll find plenty of tofu recipes, whether you like baked tofu, fried tofu, or crispy tofu.
Plus, if your goal with the keto diet is to lose weight, Keto Cycle’s progress tracking, meal planning, and weight loss tips will help you get there. There’s never been an easier way to start and stay on keto.