Although vegetarians often consume soy products, such as tofu, this doesn't necessarily mean that eating a tofu diet will improve your weight-loss results. When it comes to tofu versus chicken and other animal-based protein sources, tofu is lower in calories. As such, trading some of your meat-based meals for meals based on tofu may help you lower your daily caloric intake.
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Read more: How to Lose Weight Fast on a Vegetarian Diet
Use Tofu to Save Calories
A 3.5-ounce serving of firm tofu has just 78 calories. The same amount of silken tofu has 55 calories, and a 3.5-ounce serving of soft tofu has 61 calories. All of these types of tofu have fewer calories than many of the typical animal-based protein foods eaten by people on a diet.
For example, 3 ounces of chunk light tuna canned in water has 73 calories, and the same amount of grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast has 128 calories. A 3-ounce serving of grilled beef tenderloin with the fat trimmed off has 168 calories, or more than twice the calories in tofu.
Increase Satiety With Protein
Eating a protein-rich food, such as tofu, instead of one that's higher in carbohydrates or fat, will help you feel full for longer and may make it easier to stick with a reduced-calorie diet. A study published in the journal Obesity found that people who got 25 percent of their calories from protein felt fuller. They were also less likely to be preoccupied with thinking about food than people who got a more typical 14 percent of their calories from protein.
Soy Versus Other Protein Sources
The evidence is mixed on whether soy protein has a greater effect on weight loss versus chicken and other types of protein. A study published in the journal Nutrition suggests that people who eat solely soy-based protein may lose more body fat and lower their cholesterol more than people who consume mostly animal-based protein.
However, one 2018 study published in Obesity Science & Practice compared the weight-loss effects among two groups that consumed either soy protein or nonsoy protein. Researchers found no significant difference between the groups in weight loss or body fat loss.
Any Protein Is Beneficial
According to Healthline, most evidence supports an increase in protein of any type, including tofu, chicken and other sources, for anyone attempting weight loss. Whether you choose soy protein or animal-based protein largely depends on your dietary preferences.
For weight loss or for the sake of convenience, protein powders, bars and snacks can be a good option in your diet. However, to experience the greatest nutritional benefits, opt for more whole foods over highly processed protein supplements.
Read more: How to Use Protein Powder for Weight Loss
Incorporating Tofu Into Your Diet
A diet that includes tofu can be a bit intimidating for people who aren't used to cooking with it. To experience weight loss with tofu, try blending silken tofu into smoothies or creamy soups. You can also add cubes of extra-firm tofu to a stir-fry recipe, or marinate and grill or saute firm tofu to add to salads or main dishes.
You'll get more flavor if you press the water out of your tofu before marinating it. Also, avoid using marinades that contain oil, which doesn't mix well with the watery texture of tofu. Instead, replace the oil with vinegar, soy sauce, citrus juice or stock, all of which the tofu will readily absorb.
Read more: Healthy Ways to Cook Tofu
- Obesity: The Effects of Consuming Frequent, Higher Protein Meals on Appetite and Satiety During Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Men
- Nutrition: Effectiveness of a Soy-Based Compared With a Traditional Low-Calorie Diet on Weight Loss and Lipid Levels in Overweight Adults
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Supplementation With Soy-Protein-Rich Foods Does Not Enhance Weight Loss
- Obesity Science & Practice: Effects of Consuming a High-Protein Diet With or Without Soy Protein During Weight Loss and Maintenance: A Non-Inferiority, Randomized Clinical Efficacy Trial
- Soy Nutrition Institute: Weight Loss: Soy vs. Non-Soy Protein
- Healthline: What Is the Best Type of Protein for Weight Loss?
- Good Housekeeping: How to Cook Tofu That Actually Tastes Good
- MyFoodData: Nutrition Comparison of Chicken Broiler or Fryers Breast Skinless Boneless Meat Only Cooked Grilled, Grilled Beef Tenderloin Steak, and Fish Tuna Light Canned in Water Drained Solids
- MyFoodData: Nutrition Comparison of Firm Tofu (With Calcium and Magnesium), Soft Tofu, and Mori-nu Tofu Silken Soft