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Everything You Need To Know About the Korean Diet for Weight Loss

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD October 31, 2022

The Korean Diet for weight loss, also known as the K-Pop diet, is a diet based on traditional Korean foods. Enthusiasts of the diet claim that it will help you lose weight, change your eating habits, and give you clearer and healthier skin.

It is named for the K-Pop music genre that originated in South Korea and promises to help you look like your favorite K-Pop stars.

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What Is the Korean Diet?

The Korean diet is based on traditional Korean cuisine. It focuses on minimally processed foods, whole foods, and fermented foods, and requires you to avoid sugary, unhealthy foods, and fried foods.

The Korean weight loss diet seeks to help you to lose weight by changing your eating habits, focusing on healthier meals, and encouraging more regular exercise. It also aims to optimize your long-term health and even clear up your skin.

The main rules of the Korean diet

The basic rules of the Korean weight loss diet are to eat more minimally processed foods and fewer refined and processed ones. These foods are inspired by traditional Korean meals.

Other rules include:

  • Eating fewer calories: Though the diet does not set a specific limit for calories, it does suggest eating more traditional Korean food and cutting calories naturally. The aim is to eat fewer calories without feeling hungry.
  • Exercise: Many K-Pop workouts are available to try while following this diet.
  • Eat less fat – You should limit oily foods as much as possible when on the Korean weight loss diet. You should also avoid fatty meats, red meat, oily sauces, and eating out as much as possible.
  • Reduce the amount of added sugar you consume: Eating less sugar is essential for weight loss. Reducing your intake of refined sugars, such as the kind found in soft drinks, sweets, and chocolate, aids weight loss.
  • Avoid snacking: Snacking is considered unnecessary, and you should aim instead to fill up during meal times.

Foods To Eat

When on the Korean Diet you can enjoy the following foods:

  • Fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, and blueberries. All fruits are allowed on this diet and are considered a good substitute for candy and other sweet snacks.
  • Vegetables, including carrots, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, onions, and squash. Vegetables are encouraged on this diet and can be eaten raw, cooked in various ways, like steamed vegetables, or fermented, like in kimchi. Soup is also highly encouraged as a way to consume more vegetables.
  • Wheat-free grains, like dumplings, pancakes, and noodles made from mung beans and tapioca starch. Cooked rice is also highly recommended.
  • Animal proteins, including eggs, meat, fish, and other seafood. Small portions of each should be added to all meals.
  • Vegetable or plant-based proteins, like tofu, dried shiitake, and king oyster mushrooms.

The Korean weight loss diet is a whole foods-based diet, and you should fill your meals with as many of these foods as possible. It is best to look into foods that are popular in Korean culture to aid in your meal plans.

You should eat enough so that you do not feel hungry and ensure that you’re limiting calories without feeling low on energy.

Foods To Avoid

On the Korean weight loss diet, you are expected to avoid foods that are considered harmful to your overall health and can cause weight gain. Foods to avoid include:

  • Wheat products, including bread, pasta, breakfast cereals containing wheat, and pastry.
  • Sugary and processed foods, including candies, baked goods, and other foods with lots of refined ingredients.
  • Dairy products, like cheese, butter, milk, and their derivatives
  • Fatty foods

How Does the Korean Diet Work for Weight Loss?

The Korean weight loss diet is considered a relatively good weight loss method due to the abundance of fiber and whole foods. It aims to alter your eating pattern to help you build healthier habits and lose weight more quickly.

There are several reasons explaining why the Korean weight loss diet is a good method. These include:

  • It increases the number of fruits and vegetables you eat. Typical Korean cuisine is high in fruit and vegetables, including fermented cabbage and mushrooms, which means you’re getting more healthy food in your meals. Vegetables are also rich in dietary fiber, which can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce snacking.
  • It reduces the number of fatty foods and added sugars you eat. Decreasing the amount of oily, fat, and refined foods consumed can help to reduce your caloric intake, which helps with weight loss.
  • It boosts your activity levels. The Korean weight loss diet lists regular exercise as an essential component of the diet. Increasing your exercise helps to create a more significant calorie deficit which aids in further weight loss. A calorie deficit is the most effective and reliable way to lose weight.

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Other Important Health Benefits of the Korean Diet

The Korean weight loss diet comes with many health benefits. We’ve summarized a few of these below.

Good for Overall Health

The Korean weight loss diet promotes eating more fruit and vegetables. This food group has been shown to improve overall well-being by increasing your fiber intake and ensuring you get all the nutrients your body needs.

Additionally, fermented foods, and kimchi, in particular, are a big part of many Korean meals. Kimchi is thought to be able to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels and improve blood cholesterol levels.

The probiotics in these fermented products are also known to improve gut health.

Can Reduce Acne and Improve Skin Health

One of the claimed benefits of the Korean weight loss diet is that it can actually improve your skin too.

It is thought that limiting your intake of dairy products is a good method of improving your skin’s health, in particular acne. Indeed, people who eat more dairy in their diet are at greater risk of developing acne.

Nutritious and Sustainable

The Korean weight loss diet, unlike many fad diets, is actually nutritious and is thought to be a sustainable diet to follow. It encourages altering your eating habits to include healthier choices without pushing you to extremes.

The foods you are allowed to eat provide many benefits, including improving overall health, lowering your risk of developing illnesses like heart disease, and improving health markers, including blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.

It also encourages more exercise, which can help to improve your well-being, both physically and mentally, and help you with your weight loss journey.

Risks and Drawbacks To Consider

As with any dieting method, the Korean weight loss diet does come with some drawbacks. We’ve taken a look at some of them below.

May Lead to Unhealthy Eating Habits

Though the diet follows a whole food outlook, encouraging healthier choices, it is inspired by K-Pop, a popular music genre. The idea is to look like your favorite K-Pop stars eventually.

This may place a lot of focus on your physical appearance, which can create unhealthy links to your eating habits. A focus on appearance may eventually lead to disordered patterns of eating.

Little to No Clear Guidance

The Korean weight loss diet, though encouraging balanced meals, doesn’t offer a specific plan. It provides guidance on the foods you should consume but does not offer any advice on the macronutrient content of meals you should be aiming for.

Lack of Scientific Support

Some of the suggestions, like avoiding eating snacks, are not backed up by science. In fact, some people find that eating lots of smaller meals actually helps them to lose weight faster.

In addition, the Korean weight loss diet suggests altogether avoiding wheat and wheat-containing products. There isn’t any scientific evidence that suggests that avoiding gluten can help with weight loss.

Combine the Korean Diet and Intermittent Fasting for Faster Results

The Korean Diet is an excellent diet to combine with intermittent fasting for more significant weight loss. Intermittent fasting is a dieting method involving fasting for extended periods to encourage weight loss.

Intermittent fasting comes with many benefits on top of its advantages when it comes to weight loss efforts. It is thought to help control blood glucose levels, increase longevity, and improve mental clarity.

There are several intermittent fasting methods that you can try out, including the 12-hour fast. This fasting method involves fasting for 12 hours. A typical day would see you stop eating at 8pm and begin eating again at 8am the following day.

The long fasting period induces a state of ketosis, a metabolic state where the body burns fat for energy instead of blood glucose. This helps with weight loss and improves heart and overall health.

In addition to this metabolic switch, intermittent fasting forces a calorie deficit by limiting the number of hours you can eat and increases metabolism. All of these benefits make intermittent fasting a good method of weight loss.

You could start with a few different methods: including the 14:10 method and the 16:8 method. If you find the idea of fasting challenging, you could even try using an app, like the DoFasting app.

The DoFasting app can help you stay motivated while following an intermittent fasting routine. It allows you to track your calories and water intake as well as the weight loss progress you’re making.

You can also use the fasting reminder feature, which lets you know when your next fast is about to start. And you’ll find a lot of intermittent fasting-friendly recipes to try out.

The Korean Diet lends itself well to an intermittent fasting schedule as it limits snacking and promotes exercise. It also focuses on whole and healthy foods, making sure your body gets all the necessary nutrients.

The intermittent fasting plan works best when you pair it with healthy eating and a normal calorie intake which is why the Korean Diet would work well with it.

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Conclusion

The Korean Diet, inspired by K-Pop music, focuses on the traditional cuisine of Korean people and encourages you to eat more fruit, vegetables, and whole foods. It also promotes avoiding added sugars, and fat, unhealthy food.

The aim is to alter your eating habits and encourage healthier choices to help you lose weight. Eating fermented food, like kimchi, which are a part of Korean cuisine, is known to improve your gut microbiota. Fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich products are also highly beneficial for your health. The diet is generally considered safe and has some merits regarding weight loss.

Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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