Is Tofu Keto Friendly? All You Need to Know About Tofu on a Keto Diet

minute read | Last update: Jan 19th2024

This article is backed by studies and reviewed by a certified dietician.

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Vegan options for the ketogenic diet were already next to none when the debate over ‘soy products being keto-friendly or not’ rose to an all-new level! You can’t help but wonder if you really need to compromise on your favorite vegan food?


Is tofu keto-friendly? Yes, tofu is a perfectly keto-friendly food. It is a plant-based high-protein option with negligible amounts of net carbs. Plus, it is relatively low in calories, making it a healthy dietary choice.


In that case, what is all the discussion about tofu not being suitable for keto? You will come across various types of tofu, some of which are not healthy for a keto diet.


Let us find out more by talking about tofu, its types, and the ketogenic diet in-depth! Also, find some exciting tofu recipes that you can add to your keto regime without any guilt!

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What is tofu?

Tofu is a soy-based dairy product considered one of the best high-protein food options for vegans.


To make tofu, you need to first prepare soy milk by boiling ground soybeans in water. Once you separate the soy milk, you have to use a coagulant (preferably Nigari) to curd the milk. You now have to compress it and divide it into cubes.


This is how you get tofu, and that is all it contains—soybeans (soymilk) and magnesium chloride. However, when it gets to the nutritional-content, this bean curd proves to be a highly nutritious option.


As per the USDA (US Department of Agriculture), one serving of 100g branded tofu has the following nutritional value:

  • Calories: 82
  • Fat: 2.35g
  • Protein: 10.59 g
  • Fiber: 1.2g
  • Total Carbs: 3.53g
  • Net Carbs: 2.33g

There you have it. Tofu has only 2.33g of carbs per 100g, making for a perfectly low-carb food. Plus, it has a plethora of other nutrients like calcium (118mg), sodium (9mg), iron (3.39 mg), and more.


So, is tofu keto-friendly? Tofu has only 2.33g of net carbs per 100g, and it is keto-friendly if you consume it in small quantities. That is, your daily carb intake stays below 50g even after adding tofu to it.


That being said, some kinds of processed tofu may not be particularly healthy for a ketogenic diet. These are still keto-friendly due to their low carb content but may not be beneficial due to a few factors. Let's read on to find out.

What makes tofu bad for keto?

The question, why is tofu bad for keto, may be troubling you from the moment you came across this debate.


In a nutshell, soy-based products contain some anti-nutrients and dietary estrogens, hampering the absorption of minerals and hormone levels. Additionally, most types of tofu sold in the market are genetically modified (GMO), making them inorganic.

Phytoestrogens

These are present in the form of natural plant compounds—isoflavones. In a 100-gram serving of tofu, the net content of isoflavones is about 20-25 mg.


While these compounds have several noteworthy health benefits, they can significantly increase the estrogen level in your body.  Apart from that, high phytoestrogens level has several cons like complications in pregnancy and other hormonal imbalances.


Solution: The same study also highlights that if you consume moderate amounts of this compound, it can even prove beneficial.

Phytates

Phytate or phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that can decrease the absorption of essential minerals, including iron. However, the phytate content in foods can vary greatly. For example, tofu may have 0.1% to 2.9% of phytic acids.


Solution: According to studies, approximately 25g of phytates per 100g of food is not harmful. So, you can stay completely assured of your safety if you consume a balanced tofu diet.

Processed Food and GMO Content

Another potential reason why some individuals do not favor tofu is that it is a processed food item. Resultantly, the content of phytate and phytoestrogen significantly intensifies. Additionally, the GMO content in most tofu varieties in the western market leads to a serious matter of concern.


Solution: The good part is that the FDA (US Food and Drug Association) regulates GMOs' use in all types of foods. Therefore, the tofu that you eat is well within the food safety standards.


Tip: If you are still skeptical about it, you can opt for organic varieties of tofu.

Different keto-friendly tofu varieties

Now that you are well-versed with the nutritional importance and safety of tofu let's discover some of its different forms. As a result of varying water content, tofu primarily has three types of textures—soft, firm, and extra firm.

  • Silken: This type of tofu has the maximum water content and is more like a cream. Silken tofu contains 1.4g of carbs per 100g.
  • Soft: With moderate water levels, this tofu is ultra-soft but does not have a runny texture like the silken one. A 100-gram soft tofu serving comprises 2g carbs.
  • Firm: One of the most common types—the firm tofu has relatively less water and is used for barbecues, stew, fried, etc. It contains almost 2.3g carbs in a 100-gram serving.
  • Extra Firm: It is dry tofu with negligible amounts of water. Extra-firm tofu's carb content amounts to 2.6g for every 100g.

All of these tofu varieties are perfectly safe to consume on a keto diet. However, you must still check its ingredient list and try to opt for organic categories.

Does tofu help in weight loss?

Tofu is not only a vegan option that you can add to your keto regimen, but it also aids weight loss.


The prime reason behind this is why tofu is keto-friendly. It reduces your carb intake, so your body has to rely on converting fats into energy. Plus, this bean curd has low calories and unsaturated fats and yet high in other nutrients like protein. Therefore, it helps cut down your calorie intake and aids weight loss.


According to a study, individuals consuming soy-based isoflavones lost 10 pounds more than that of a control group over 8-52 weeks. Therefore, it is not only suitable for a ketogenic diet but also aids the prime reason behind this diet—weight loss!

Health benefits of tofu

The healthiness of tofu is not just limited to low carbs or weight loss. It goes way beyond. In fact, you will be rather surprised at the number of benefits this vegan meat alternative has!

  • Reduces the risk of heart diseases as isoflavones improve blood flow, cut down blood vessel swellings, and increase their elasticity.
  • Decreases the chances of cancers of the breast, prostates, and digestive system, due to higher soy intake.
  • Helps control blood sugar level and decrease the risk of diabetes owing to the considerable content of isoflavones.
  • Improves bone health as soy isoflavones reduce the possibilities of bone loss.
  • Enhances brain functionality, especially in women over the age of 65.
  • Helps cut down on menopause impacts like hot flashes.
  • Slows down skin aging by reducing wrinkles and enhancing skin elasticity for younger-looking skin.

Mouthwatering Keto-friendly tofu recipes

Owing to its neutral flavor, tofu is one of the best nutrient-rich food to include in your keto regimen. You can add it to virtually all of your recipes to make and experiment with healthful dishes. Just make sure to watch your total carb intake of the day.


Another factor that you need to bear in mind is tofu is also low in fats. Though it is healthy, it does not meet the 70% specified ratio of fats. So, while preparing your tofu meal, make sure to add food items rich in fats.


That being said, if you want to opt for the tried and tested options, we got you covered with that too. Here are some of the best keto-friendly tofu recipe options with one unique detailed recipe!

Crispy Keto Firecracker Tofu

It is a sweet and spicy dish with perfectly cooked tofu—crispy from the outside and soft on the inside.


Ingredients:

  • Extra-firm tofu
  • Olive oil
  • Soy sauce (or gluten-free Coconut Aminos)
  • Starch (arrowroot or corn starch)
  • Hot sauce
  • Garlic powder
  • Brown sugar (or another sweetener)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Sriracha
  • Apple cider vinegar

To make the tofu, you need to cut it into cubes and top with oil, arrowroot, and soy sauce. In a pre-heated oven at 450 degrees, bake the tofu for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by heating oil, hot sauce, garlic powder, pepper flakes, sriracha, brown sugar, Coconut Aminos, and vinegar.


Pour the thickened and well-cooked sauce over the baked tofu cubes and serve with rice or side veggies!

My Top 7 keto-friendly tofu recipes

The best part about tofu is its versatility. You can add dry and baked tofu to a plethora of recipes. To increase the fat content, add in some vegan sweeteners or cashews, etc.

  • Veggie Thai Red Curry
  • Teriyaki Tofu
  • Edamame Salad with Grilled Tofu
  • Spicy Almond Tofu
  • Devilled Tofu Kebabs
  • Miso Soup
  • Vietnamese Lemongrass Chilli Tofu

Conclusion

With its significantly low carb content, tofu may seem like the ideal keto-friendly option, especially for vegans. And it is an excellent option for the ketogenic diet, except it is low in fats. Well, you can quickly solve this problem by adding fat-rich food items to your tofu recipes.


Nevertheless, tofu is high in protein, minerals and has plant-based isoflavone compounds that are highly beneficial for health. They help minimize the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, and much more. Plus, tofu aids weight loss, adding to the number of advantages.


That said, do not make your keto regimen solely around tofu. Plus, if you can, you must opt for animal-based protein alternatives as they eliminate the shortcomings of phytoestrogen.


If you only want vegan options, however, go ahead and enjoy the scrumptious, healthful tofu recipes on your keto regimen!

FAQ

Is tofu suitable for a low-carb diet?

Yes, tofu is perfectly suitable for a low-carb diet since it has notably low amounts of carbs. A 100-gram serving of tofu contains only 2.33g of carbs. Plus, it is low in calories, rich in protein and other nutrients, and also aids weight loss.

That said, if you can, you must opt for keto-friendly meat options. That is because though tofu is low in carbs, it does not have enough fat that your body can use for energy. Nevertheless, eating tofu 1-2 times a week is acceptable.

2. Why is tofu bad for keto?

One of the main reasons why tofu is bad for keto is due to its high isoflavone content. This plant-based compound includes phytates and phytoestrogens that impact your mineral absorption and hormonal balance. Also, tofu has low fat content, which is not ideal for keto.

You can try to opt for organic tofu options that are GMO-free and add fat-rich foods to your tofu meals.

3. Can you eat tofu daily while on keto?

Eating tofu daily is not suitable for health on keto or even on a regular diet. If you consume it every day, the phytate and phytoestrogen content will likely increase in your body. This is not a healthy condition, especially for women.

That said, if you eat tofu in small quantities, it is safe to consume every day. Also, bear in mind that your day’s entire carb intake must not cross 50g to ensure your body stays in ketosis.

About the author

The Authentic Keto Team is here to bring you health tips that help you with losing weight fast. We focus on a clean keto diet for beginners because we believe that is the easiest and most simple way to healthy eating. Our keto weight loss tips will not only bring you into ketosis fast but will also help you to improve your mental health, sleep problems, and wellness.


- Our goal is to make keto success easy. -

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