Is Tofu Keto Friendly

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Tofu is a common protein choice for vegetarians and vegans. But is tofu keto-friendly? There is conflicting information all over the internet, so we’re going to look at the primary aspects of tofu in this article and give you some facts you can use.

cooked tofu in dark blue bowl.

Tofu is a soft, cheese-like food made from soybeans. You can usually find it at health food stores and larger supermarkets in the refrigerated section with other breakfast foods.

This food is produced by pressing curdled soy milk into soft white blocks. It has a mild flavor and can be used in many different ways.

Tofu is a popular food for vegetarians and vegans, but can it also be keto-friendly? The answer is yes, tofu can be keto-friendly.

It is low in carbs and calories. It’s also a good source of protein and calcium. However, some people feel that soy should be avoided because it’s a legume and has estrogenic properties.

The basics of tofu

Tofu has been a staple item in Asian cuisines for centuries. It’s made of coagulated soy milk, similar to how cheese is made.

To make tofu, dried soybeans are soaked in water and crushed. The mixture is boiled, separated into solid pulp (okara) and soy “milk,” and then salt is added to the soy milk to separate the curds from the whey.

Next, soy milk is left to stand in a mold to let whey (the watery residue leftover from making tofu, cheese and yogurt) to drain off. These are cut into blocks and stored in tubs of water until sold.

Different types of tofu are produced depending on the production method and pressing. Examples are extra soft, soft (silken), firm, or extra firm tofu.

Tofu comes out light, moist, and firm when you buy it. If you want to use tofu in cooking, it must be pressed and sealed in water so the moisture evaporates out of it.

It has a slightly nutty taste and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. With this mild flavor, tofu can be flavored however you want: add a lot of flavorful ingredients and the tofu will also be flavorful and delicious!

block of tofu sliced on cutting board.

How to cook tofu

Tofu is a versatile food, which makes it easy to add into many different kinds of recipes. Eating tofu has been popular in Asia for centuries. It has been growing in popularity recently here in the United States.

For a lot of tofu recipes, you might want the firmer version so they hold their shape while you’re cooking. Tofu is keto-friendly so you can cook it in a variety of ways:

Steamed

For the healthiest way to cook tofu, simply steam it. Line a steamer basket with parchment paper or add steamable vegetables beneath.

Steam a whole block of tofu (or cut it into slices) to warm through. In less than 10 minutes, your tofu is done.

Serve it plain or with sauces such as balsamic vinegar, and chili garlic sauce, among others.

Sauté

Sautéed tofu is full of savory goodness.

To make sauteed tofu, first press it for at least 30 minutes and cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces. Next, heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat and sauté the tofu until it is crispy on the outside. Then simply add a sauce like teriyaki or barbecue sauce for extra flavor.

Baked

If you want to give tofu a meaty texture, try baking it.

To make baked tofu, wrap the tofu in a clean dish towel and place a heavy skillet on top of it for at least 30 minutes to remove excess water. This will let the tofu absorb seasonings during baking.

Toss with your favorite seasonings and bake at 400 to 425 Fahrenheit degrees for 25 minutes. When the tofu is lightly browned, it’s ready to serve.

Fried

Fried tofu is very popular. The process can take less than 10 minutes, and it results in an exterior that is pleasantly crisp and chewy.

Wrap tofu slices in paper towels and press firmly with a heavy object to remove excess moisture, at least 15 minutes. Pat dry and then fry the tofu slices until golden brown and crusty.

Scrambled

You can make scrambled tofu by crumbling and browning pressed tofu in a skillet, then add it to tacos, casseroles, or salads.

Tofu is a tasty substitute for scrambled eggs. Add some seasonings to make your tofu taste even better.

cooked tofu with sesame seed garnish.

Tofu and Keto

People who follow the keto diet are always looking for new and interesting ways to make their favorite foods keto-friendly. And one food that has been gaining a lot of popularity lately is tofu.

Tofu is a good source of protein, calcium, and iron and is low in calories and fat. In order to make soy milk, makers need to extract the carbs out of soybeans, which reduces their carb count.

Soybeans, the main ingredient in tofu, aren’t usually recommended for keto vegetarians or vegans, because they are so low in fat. However, with a proper meal planning, they can be incorporated into keto vegetarian and vegan diets through the macros.

Does tofu have carbs? 

Tofu is relatively low in carbohydrates, but the carb content of different types varies. While it’s possible to enjoy tofu while on a keto diet, you need to watch how much of it you’re eating to make sure you don’t eat beyond your daily carb intake requirement.

Is tofu keto-friendly? 

Yes, tofu is keto-friendly. The Standard Ketogenic Diet must be under 50 carbs per day. According to an evidence-based blog by Stephen Lodge, tofu has a net average serving of 1.5 grams of carbs. If you stay within this range, tofu is keto-friendly. 

In fact, Diet Doctor even includes soy in their low-carb vegan and vegetarian recipes using less processed or fermented forms of soy, such as “edamame, tofu, tempeh, and natto.”

The trick is to consume the right kinds of foods so that your body will produce ketones. Optimal ratios of fat, protein, and carbs induce the liver to produce ketones as long as you eat enough protein and healthy fats.

However, some people on strict keto diets avoid soy because it’s high in phytoestrogens which may impact hormone levels. Additionally, many stay away from soy because it’s a legume.

cubed tofu in wood bowl.

Xenoestrogens and Phytoestrogens

Xenoestrogens are estrogen-mimicking compounds that you ingest from foods. Once digested, these compounds attach to estrogen receptors in your cells, producing results that can be disruptive to your health.

Aside from xenoestrogen, there’s something also called phytoestrogens. Soybeans and other plants contain phytoestrogens, which are another form of estrogen-like nutrients. Because soy products can interact with estrogen, they may have differing effects depending on a person’s existing hormone levels.

While hormones are crucial to your health, too much estrogen in your body may lead to complications. This is the reason why despite the fact that tofu is keto friendly, many are reluctant to add it to their diet.

The benefits of adding tofu to a keto diet

Tofu can be incorporated into low carb diets of all types. It is dairy and cholesterol-free, and healthy.

If you are following a keto diet, adding tofu to your diet might be good for you. But, each person has different needs when it comes to weight loss.

Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of adding tofu to a keto diet.

High in nutrients

Tofu has protein, fat, carbs, and fiber, as well as all the essential amino acids your body needs. It contains many vitamins and minerals, including calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, and copper.

May help prevent heart disease

According to a new study, people who eat soy have lower total and LDL cholesterol levels—the bad kind—than those who don’t eat soy. They also tend to have higher HDL cholesterol levels, which is the good kind of cholesterol.

Reduced risks of cancer

Based on research, soy-rich diets have been linked to a 12% lower risk of dying from cancer, especially stomach, large intestine, and lung cancers. The risk of prostate cancer has been said to be reduced by as much as 51 percent in men who eat soy-rich foods regularly.

Reduce diabetes risk

Tofu has even been shown to help prevent type 2 diabetes. The National Library of Medicine researched soy and proved that regular “intakes of soy products” reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Antidepressant

In a study in Japan, results showed that pregnant women who consume higher amounts of soy products, such as tofu, fermented soybeans, and miso soup, are less likely to experience symptoms of depression than women who do not eat as much soy.

May help prevent osteoporosis

Some research suggests that soy foods may help with osteoporosis prevention. For example, in one study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers reviewed how soy isoflavones may provide special bone-building effects. 

tofu with soy sauce and sesame seeds

FAQs about tofu as keto-friendly food

If you don’t see your question answered below, don’t be afraid to let us know in the comments!

Is tofu okay for keto diet?

Yes, tofu is keto-friendly. Tofu is relatively low in carbohydrates, but the carb content of different types varies. While it’s possible to enjoy tofu while on a keto diet, you need to watch how much of it you’re eating to make sure you don’t eat beyond your daily carb intake requirement.

What kind of tofu is Keto friendly?

Plain tofu makes a great keto-friendly source of protein. However, you should avoid flavored tofu, since it often contains added sugar and carbs.

How many carbs are in tofu?

An average serving (about half cup or 124 grams) of tofu contains 1.5 grams of net carbs. This is within the allowed carb limit of around 50 grams of carbs per day based on  Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD).

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

Here are some other resources for you to check out if you’d like to learn more about the keto diet:

By on June 10th, 2022

About Lisa MarcAurele

More posts by this author.

Leave a Comment