The key to a successful keto diet is to make sure that anything you eat really is keto-friendly. For some foods, there's a lot of conflicting information out there. In this article, we'll look at tofu, which is growing in popularity right now as more people adopt a lower or zero meat diet, and we'll answer some common questions from a keto perspective.
What is not allowed on a keto diet?
First up, let's review the rules around keto. Not every keto diet is exactly the same, but there are a number of hard and fast rules which pretty much everyone agrees on. Firstly, it's low carb (some people's definition of 'low' differs from others - either under 50g per day or under 35g per day) Secondly, it's a high fat, high protein. Thirdly, the aim is to induce the person's liver to produce ketones, which is claimed by proponents of the diet to lead to improved health and weight loss.
So, complex carbohydrates are completely out on a ketogenic diet, but also beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts; potatoes, carrots, and parsnips; most fruits; sugary or alcoholic beverages... it's a long list, but it doesn't include tofu! Nutrition on a vegan or vegetarian ketogenic diet is particularly important, and as tofu contains a number of vitamins and minerals, it has an important part to play.
Is tofu good for low-carb diets?
So, how does tofu fit in with a ketogenic diet? Well, let's be honest, it's not perfect. Although it's generally used as a meat substitute, it doesn't have the same nutritional qualities as meat, so it's mostly chosen by people on a low carb or ketogenic diet who are also vegetarian or vegan.
The main concern that keto dieters will have about tofu: carbs.
Well, tofu contains relatively low amounts of carbohydrate, so it's not one of the worst foods you could choose to add to your diet. Ultimately, it comes down to being precise about your macros and using moderate amounts. Basically, is tofu keto? It can be if you're careful about how you consume it.
The number of carbs in tofu? 1.9g for every 100g.
Can you eat soybeans on keto?
Soybeans, which are what tofu is produced from, are not generally recommended as part of an omnivorous ketogenic diet, because they are so low in fat. However, many keto vegetarian and keto vegan dieters will work them into their macros, as they are a common substitute for meat products.
It depends really on how strictly the individual wants to follow their diet while respecting their desire not to consume animals or animal products. Tofu contains valuable proteins that can be difficult to source in a diet which excludes any meat or animal products.
Is tofu good for weight loss?
For general weight-loss diets, tofu is a fairly suitable food, it's low fat and has a decent level of protein without too many carbs. However, for anyone following an extremely strict low carbohydrate regimen, it may not be the best option available. This is due to its low-fat content, which can make it difficult to fit into a diet where the target is 70 or 80% of calorie intake from fat.
Having said that, many non-keto diets would recommend tofu as a healthy alternative to meat or fish, supplying valuable amounts of protein along with key vitamins and minerals for a relatively low carbohydrate count and overall calorie content.
What are some vegan keto recipes with tofu?
Tofu is an extremely versatile food and is prized for its neutral flavor, which allows it to absorb the complex flavors of the ingredients it is cooked with, without overpowering them. Vegan recipes involving tofu and suitable for a keto diet are usually pretty simple and straightforward, and you'll find plenty of suggestions on vegan sites all over the web. Some of our favorites are:
- Stir-fried cauliflower and tofu
- Tofu shakshuka
- Vegan Thai soup with tofu
- Green curry with kale and tofu
- Spicy almond tofu
- Teriyaki tofu
The best types of tofu to use in the majority of these recipes are either firm or dry tofu, as they hold their shape and texture well when cooked and absorb flavors well. For soup recipes, however, you may wish to experiment with soft tofu, although firm can work just as well. Part of the enjoyment of cooking with tofu is the opportunity to discover how the different types change the texture and flavor balance of a dish, so feel free to go your own way!
If you're on a keto diet for vegetarians or vegans, another recipe we love is crispy baked tofu.
How to make crispy baked tofu
Crispy tofu is amazing because it's so crispy on the outside, but it's delightful and fluffy on the inside. It does pretty well in the net carbs department as well. Here's what you need to make a serving for two.
Firm tofu (half a block of approx 175-200g)
1⁄2 Tbsp sesame oil
1⁄2 Tbsp tamari
1⁄2 Tbsp soy sauce
1⁄2 Tbsp coconut flour
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and lay down parchment paper on a large baking sheet.
- Chop up your firm tofu and place it into a bowl
- In a separate bowl mix all your liquid ingredients (sesame oil, tamari, soy sauce). Whisk it all together until it's combined.
- Pour this mixture over the tofu, and then add the coconut flour. Mix everything together until all the tofu is covered.
- Bake for 30-35 mins, making sure to flip when it's halfway done.
Serving: 1 serving
NET CARBS: 2g
Something else you may want to try out is a tofu press. It's the best way to press tofu and get it extra-firm before you cook with it. And firm tofu can make for some of the easiest tofu to cook with.
Many of these recipes can be made with baked tofu or with deep-fried or shallow-fried tofu. Bear in mind that frying will raise the fat content of your tofu, therefore making it more suitable for a ketogenic diet. But to avoid trans fats, do make sure that you choose your oil carefully.
You can also use raw tofu, either chopped into cubes and added to salads, or in the case of soft or silken tofu, blended into a smoothie or even turned into ice cream!
We hope you'll be inspired by these tasty suggestions, and the advice given above to try out tofu as part of your keto diet, whether you're a carnivore, vegetarian or vegan!