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Is Tofu Keto? How to Eat Tofu on Keto?

Is tofu Keto? Yes, tofu is a Keto-friendly product made from soy. Tofu can have various health benefits, affecting muscles, heart, cholesterol levels, weight, blood sugar levels, and more. Adding tofu to your Keto diet dishes can be easy and affordable with the following recipes.

Is Tofu Keto? How to Eat Tofu on Keto?
Highlights
  • Tofu is made with soy milk and comes in various types, including silken, soft, firm, extra-firm, smoked, and flavored.
  • Tofu has different nutrients, such as Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamins C and B6, etc.
  • Tofu can help increase muscle mass, boost weight loss, contribute to cancer treatment, alleviate hot flashes, decrease cholesterol levels and diabetes, etc.
  • Tofu is a Keto-friendly product, so you can use it in different Keto recipes.

What Is Tofu and What Is It Made of?

Tofu, aka bean curd, is a popular plant-based product made with soy milk and pressing the resulting curds into soft, white blocks. Tofu is used in various Asian and international dishes.

The process of making tofu includes the following steps:

  1. Producing Soy Milk: First, the soybeans are soaked, ground, and boiled to extract soy milk, which will be the tofu base.
  2. Coagulation: To coagulate or thicken the soy milk, a coagulating agent (nigari or gypsum) is added. More modern tofu makers use different agents like calcium sulfate or magnesium chloride.
  3. Curding: The coagulating agent causes the soy milk to curdle, making curds. The makers can adjust the size of the curds to make different types of tofu, like silken tofu or firm tofu.
  4. Pressing: The curds are pressed to remove excess water and shape the tofu into blocks. The amount of pressing determines the tofu's firmness.

The resulting tofu has a mild flavor so that it can take in the flavors of the ingredients it is cooked with. Tofu comes in various types, including silken, soft, firm, extra-firm, smoked, and flavored, so it can be used in different dishes, including stir-fries, soups, salads, desserts, etc.

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Different Types of Tofu

The main types are as follows.

  • Silken Tofu: Also known as Japanese-style tofu, silken tofu has a smooth and custard-like texture. It is very soft and delicate, which is suitable for making smoothies, soups, dressings, and desserts. Silken tofu has different firmness levels, from extra-soft to firm.
  • Soft Tofu: Soft tofu is slightly firmer than silken tofu but still has a tender and smooth texture. It is used in soups, stews, and hot pots.
  • Firm Tofu: It has a denser and more solid texture than silken and soft tofu. Firm tofu doesn’t change shape during cooking and is so versatile that you can use it in stir-fries, grilling, baking, or crumbling into dishes like scrambles.
  • Extra-Firm Tofu: It is the most solid and dense variety of tofu. It's suitable for grilling, pan-frying, or baking as it holds its shape and can develop a crispy outside while maintaining a chewy inside.
  • Smoked Tofu: It has a smoky flavor as it’s been exposed to natural wood smoke during production. Smoked tofu is firm and can be sliced and eaten directly or used in different dishes.
  • Flavored Tofu: Some types of tofu are pre-seasoned or marinated in herbs, spices, or other flavorings.

In addition to having different types, tofu includes various nutrients, from protein and fiber to calcium and selenium.

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Tofu Nutrients

Every 100 grams of dried, frozen tofu contains the following average levels of protein, carbohydrates, calories, sugar, fat, fiber, and vitamins/ minerals [1].

Nutrients in 100 grams of TofuAmounts
Protein 52.5 g
Carbohydrates 10 g
Calories 477 kcal
Sugar 0.2 g
Fat 30.3 g
Fiber 7.2 g
Calcium 364 g
Iron 9.73 g
Magnesium 59 g
Phosphorus 483 g
Potassium 20 g
Sodium 6 g
Zinc 4.9 g
Copper 1.18 g
Manganese 3.69 g
Selenium 54.3 g
Vitamin C 0.7 g
Thiamin 0.494 g
Riboflavin 0.317 g
Niacin 1.19 g
Vitamin B6 0.286 g
Folate 92 g

But that is not all. In addition to containing various nutrients, tofu has features that can help our health and well-being if used in moderation in recipes that align with our goals and body needs.

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The Benefits of Tofu

Tofu can have different benefits, including having isoflavones, increasing muscle mass, boosting weight control, helping with certain cancers, alleviating hot flashes, helping male fertility and female hormones, decreasing cholesterol levels and diabetes, and providing antidepressant effects.

Tofu Contains Isoflavones

The chemical structure of isoflavones is similar to the hormone estrogen, enabling them to link to both estrogen receptors (ER)—ERα and ERβ [2] [3]. So, they can produce estrogen-like effects and are known as phytoestrogens.

Soybeans are rich sources of isoflavones, as each gram of soy protein in soybeans and soyfoods contains about 3.5 mg of isoflavones [4].

So, one serving of a traditional soyfood, such as 100 g of tofu or 250 mL soymilk, can provide around 25 mg isoflavones [5].

Tofu Helps Increase Muscle Mass

Studies show that tofu can help muscle growth as it contains calcium and iron. Calcium boosts muscle movement, while iron contributes to delivering oxygen to the muscle cells.

A 2015 study on the effects of soy protein on muscle development showed that soy protein can be as effective in supporting lean muscle gain [6].

Tofu Can Help Weight Management

A 2017 study on the role of protein on satiety showed that the most effective macronutrient that can provide a feeling of satiety is dietary protein [7].

Also, a 2008 review indicated that soy is as effective as other protein sources for helping weight loss [8].

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Tofu Can Help Certain Cancers

Studies show that in countries that consume soyfoods, the rate of prostate cancer is lower as isoflavones can help protect individuals against this disease [9].

Also, another study on 25 types of cancer indicated that the incidence of breast cancer is lower in countries where they consume high amounts of soyfoods [10].

Tofu Helps Reduce Hot Flashes

One of the most annoying and common symptoms of menopause in women is hot flashes, which include feeling warmth, as well as sweating, flushing, shivering, and even anxiety [11].

Various studies have been conducted on the effects of soyfoods on hot flashes, and the results indicated the positive effects of soyfoods because of containing isoflavones [12] [13] [14].

Tofu Can Reduce Cholesterol Levels

A 1995 meta-analysis of the clinical data showed that 31 trials on 564 participants were indicative of the positive impacts of soy protein in lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) [15].

Tofu Can Help with Heart Disease

Soy foods can help decrease the risk of CVD through different mechanisms. A 2015 study showed that genistein lowers the incidence of ischemic stroke by reducing ischemic stroke risk factors [16].

Also, soy protein can decrease LDL-cholesterol [17] [18] and blood pressure and isoflavones can boost arterial health [19] [20].

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Tofu Can Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

A 2020 study on the effects of soy intake on the risk of type 2 diabetes found that regular consumption of tofu could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes [21].

Also, a 2015 study showed that going on a diet containing soy protein for 1.5 months could significantly decrease blood sugar and insulin levels in individuals with gestational diabetes [22].

Tofu Can Have Antidepressant Effects

A 2016 study on the effects of soy isoflavone on depression during pregnancy showed that daily consumption of about 1.8 oz. (49 g) of tofu can decrease the risk of depression during pregnancy [23].

In addition to providing these health benefits, tofu can be part of ketogenic diets, like the standard Keto, as it contains low levels of carbohydrates.

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Is Tofu Keto?

Many people ask, “Is tofu Keto?”, Yes, you can have tofu in a ketogenic (Keto) diet, as it is relatively low in carbohydrates, so it’s a suitable option for a low-carb or ketogenic lifestyle.

You can choose the specific type of tofu and the serving size based on your health and fitness goals and dietary needs. Consulting a dietitian can also help.

But the most important point is how to eat tofu on a Keto diet to enjoy the taste and nutrients while having variety in dishes and avoiding boring meals.

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5 Keto-Friendly Recipes with Tofu

You can use the following recipes to make Keto-friendly dishes with tofu.

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Grilled Tofu Skewers

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Cut tofu in cubes.
  2. Marinate tofu cubes in a mixture of olive oil, minced garlic, and spices.
  3. Thread marinated tofu cubes and vegetables onto skewers.
  4. Grill until tofu is lightly browned and vegetables are tender.
  5. Enjoy!

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Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Sauté cubed tofu in olive oil until golden brown.
  2. Add chopped vegetables and stir-fry until tender.
  3. Pour in the low-carb stir-fry sauce and cook until everything is well-coated.
  4. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Keto Tofu Scramble

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Sauté crumbled tofu in olive oil until heated through.
  2. Add spinach or kale and cherry tomatoes, cooking until the greens are wilted.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice.
  4. Bon Appetit!

Tofu Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Grill or sauté tofu until crispy on the outside.
  2. Assemble a salad with mixed greens, diced avocado, sliced cucumber, and grilled tofu.
  3. Drizzle with a keto-friendly olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.
  4. Enjoy!

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Creamy Tofu Soup

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Blend silken tofu until smooth.
  2. Mix tofu puree, broth, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce in a pot.
  3. Simmer until mushrooms are tender, then add spinach or bok choy and cook until wilted.
  4. Enjoy!

You can get the following average calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber from the above recipes.

Keto Recipes with TofuCaloriesProteinCarbohydratesFatFiber
Grilled Tofu Skewers 300 kcal 15 g 12 g 20 g 3 g
Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry 250 kcal 18 g 15 g 14 g 7 g
Keto Tofu Scramble 280 kcal 14 g 10 g 20 g 5 g
Tofu Avocado Salad 320 kcal 15 g 14 g 25 g 8 g
Creamy Tofu Soup 200 kcal 12 g 10 g 10 g 4 g

If you are looking for variety in your Keto dishes and are considering low-carb alternatives to tofu, you can use the following options.

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Low-Carb Alternatives to Tofu on Keto

  • Tempeh: It is a fermented soy product with a nutty flavor and firm texture. It contains lower levels of carbohydrates than tofu and is a good source of protein.
  • Seitan: It is made from gluten, the protein in wheat. Although it may not be suitable for those with gluten sensitivity or intolerance, it's low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Seitan has a chewy texture and can be used in stir-fries, stews, and other savory dishes.
  • Eggplant: Sliced and grilled eggplant can be another low-carb alternative to tofu. You can use it in dishes like eggplant lasagna or grilled eggplant stacks.
  • Cauliflower: Cauliflower rice, cauliflower mash, or even cauliflower steaks can be used as a base for meals instead of tofu.
  • Portobello Mushrooms: They have a meaty texture and can be grilled or roasted to replace tofu in various recipes. They can be stuffed, sliced, or used as burger patties.
  • Cheese: Hard cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, or feta can add flavor and protein to keto meals. You can use cheese in Keto-friendly casseroles, salads, or omelets.
  • Avocado: It is a nutrient-dense and low-carb option that can add creaminess to dishes. Use mashed avocado in place of tofu in salads, wraps, or as a topping for Keto-friendly tacos.

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Summary

The answer to the common question “Is tofu Keto?” is yes. But you need to consider portion sizes and consume tofu in moderation so it won’t interfere with other Keto-friendly food sources you consume.

You can always consult healthcare professionals like dietitians to get personalized Keto meal plans to reach your health and fitness goals.

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