Okinawa Diet
Okinawa Diet Blog Post

By Ed Shepherd CHC, CPT

The Okinawa Diet emerged from the distinct eating approach associated with the people of Okinawa, Japan. This population is said to have one of the longest average life spans in the world and very few age-related diseases. The Okinawa Diet is comprised of four food groups categorized by their caloric density. The objective is to eat foods rich in nutrients but low in calories, and to only eat until you’re 80% full.  The first category, “Featherweight,” represents foods that have less than or equal to 0.8 calories per gram. These foods can be eaten as often as desired, and include items such as green vegetables and seaweed. “Lightweight” foods are those that contain 0.8-1.5 calories per gram such as fish and brown rice.

Based on the Okinawa Diet, “Lightweight” foods should be consumed in moderation.“Middleweight” foods have between 1.5-3.0 calories per gram and should only be eaten in moderate portions. This group includes beans, lean red meat, and other protein-rich foods. “Heavyweight” foods contain 3-9 calories per gram. These items, including fried foods and sweets, should be eaten sparingly.Common foods consumed by followers of this approach include land and sea vegetables, grains, tofu, fish, legumes, and broth-based soups. These soups are often eaten before meals to help prevent overeating by filling up the consumer with warm liquid. Physical activity is recommended in order to build lean muscle mass, which increases metabolic rate and burns calories.

Foods to include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Red meat
  • Beans
  • Healthy fats
  • Miso

Foods to avoid:

  • Sweets
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Processed foods

Pros:

  • Encourages whole foods
  • Includes healthy fats, critical for brain function
  • Limits processed foods

Cons:

  • May be difficult for some to avoid sweets
  • May be impractical for some to avoid caffeine
  • Does not consider bio-individuality

Sources:

The Okinawa Diet www.okinawa-diet.com Outline of the Okinawa Diet Plan  www.livestrong.com Okinawa Centenarian Study  www.okicent.org

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