If you’re vegan and working to reduce your carbs, you’ll want to have plenty of low-carb, keto-friendly recipes available. Why not make them plant-based as well? For example, you may wonder, is tofu keto? Are there carbs in tofu? Learn more about tofu and how you can use it as part of your plant-based low-carb diet.
When I first learned about the keto diet, I tried doing vegan keto as an experiment. Was it possible to even be vegan and reduce carbs? At first, I tried an extremely low carb diet, consuming fewer than 50g of carbs a day. I found this to be a bit too restrictive and I didn’t like eating a lot of the same foods every day.
Then I discovered Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book The End of Dieting. In this book, he talks about the benefits of reduced carbs in your diet, especially processed carbs like white flour and white sugar. However, he also calls out plant-based carbs like white potatoes and white rice problem areas as well. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman recommends his nutritarian diet over a keto diet because of its emphasis on high-density, nutrient-infused ingredients.
A lot of studies indicate that reducing carbs can be helpful when you’re trying to lose weight. Because increased carbs in your diet can interfere with blood glucose and can even be responsible for conditions like metabolic syndrome. I think finding the right balance is important. So, let’s take a deeper dive into this whole idea of ketosis.
What is Keto?
Ketosis happens when the body switches from its normal fuel source, glycogen, to ketones. Current evidence shows that the body burns more fat in ketosis and since this is a goal of a lot of people trying to lose weight, it has become a popular tool for weight loss. The good news is there are many ways to achieve ketosis.
One of the most talked-about methods for achieving ketosis is the keto diet. The goal of most keto diets is to decrease the number of carbohydrates in your diet to trick the body into a state of ketosis. However, there are other ways to achieve ketosis, so let’s talk about them:
- Fasting — you can achieve ketosis simply by not eating. According to Dr. Rhonda Patrick, there are a number of benefits of fasting, including ketosis. You can choose to take on a daily time-restricted eating plan, such as the 16:8 (16 hours fasted, 8-hour eating window)
- Low Carb Diet — This is the approach described by Dr. Fuhrman where an individual simply reduces/eliminates all refined carbohydrates and focuses on whole-food, plant-based ingredients. Overall intake of carbohydrates falls between 75–150 grams per day
- Keto Diet — The standard keto diet is where a person consumes between 20–50 grams of carbs daily. They may also monitor other macros, such as fat and protein
- Fasting Mimicking Diet — Dr. Valter Longo points to the benefits of a 5-day Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) which induces the state of ketosis over a period of 5 days. Dr. Longo is a researcher specializing in longevity. He also points to preventive benefits for people who may want to consider a once or twice a year FMD cycle for improved health.
I’m sure there are many other ways to achieve a state of ketosis. These are the ones I know about and have researched.
For me, I practice daily time-restricted eating (anywhere from a 16–24-hour fasting window). I also do my best to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet during the week. That gives me the weekend to kind of “live it up” and eat some fun foods in my diet. However, if I have something indulgent during the week, I love time-restricted eating, because I feel like it helps to give my body extra time to digest any problematic foods.
I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your own doctor to see what works best for you. That said, there’s enough evidence to show that reducing refined carbohydrates in your diet is a good idea. Today I’m using “keto” as a word to be synonymous with low carb. So, if you’re looking for some great keto tofu recipes, I think you’ll love what I’m sharing today.
So, let’s talk about one ingredient people frequently ask about when it comes to a vegan keto diet. If you’ve ever wondered, is tofu low carb, you’re not alone! As I have learned to pay attention to carbs in my diet, I found myself asking that very question. So, let’s talk about the difference between the types of carbs.
Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs
This might all boil down to an issue of good carbs vs. bad carbs. Imagine “bad” carbs as highly-refined carbs, like crackers made from white flour. Eating too many of these kinds of carbs can be problematic. On the other hand, the good carbs are loaded with fiber, because they’re in their natural, whole foods state. Here you can imagine fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
This is why a lot of people, Dr. Fuhrman included, advocate for a whole-foods, plant-based diet because it features a lot of good carbs. That said, having some occasional indulgences can be an important part of making sure you don’t feel too deprived. However, you also won’t feel deprived when you’re having tasty recipes every day, such as vegan sofritas! Speaking of sofritas, let’s discuss tofu in general.
What is Tofu?
Tofu is made from soybeans. The soybeans are processed into milk and the milk is cooked and curdled and pressed into bean curd. This is why there are a number of different texture types for tofu. It depends on how it’s cooked and pressed.
You may be wondering, what does tofu taste like? Tofu is great because it actually has a pretty neutral flavor which means it takes on the flavors of the things it’s cooked with. So, if you add a lot of flavorful ingredients, the tofu will also be flavorful and delicious!
Because making soybeans into milk removes a lot of the carbs (AKA, fiber), most tofu is relatively low in carbs. If you’re new to tofu, here’s my tofu guide, including information on how and where to buy it.
Can you eat Tofu on Keto?
Tofu is a great low-carb, high-protein option for your keto diet. Tofu has roughly 2.3 grams of tofu per 1/2 cup serving. There’s also 0.4 grams of fiber, which means the net carbs in tofu is only 1.9 grams per serving. That’s actually pretty good! When I was doing vegan keto, I ate a lot of tofu for this very reason.
More Tofu Macros
Maybe you’re concerned about more than just carbs in your diet. Here’s more about that 1/2 cup serving of tofu. So, in addition to 1.9 grams of net carbs, you get 10g of protein and 6 grams of fat. That makes tofu a high protein, low carb, and moderately low-fat ingredient.
So, does tofu have Carbs?
Yes, tofu has carbs, but not too many. For people who are simply reducing carbs or trying a low carb keto diet, you’ll be surprised to learn that tofu carbs are relatively low! That means you can enjoy healthfully-prepared tofu as part of your keto diet.
That means it’s time to start talking recipes!
How to Prepare Tofu for Recipes
Unless you’re using silken tofu (a very silky, creamy kind of tofu used mostly in dessert recipes, soups, or sauces), you’ll most often want to press the tofu before you use it in a recipe. That’s because tofu comes packed in water to help preserve its freshness on the shelf. Here are the steps to prepare tofu:
- Remove the tofu from its packaging and drain the liquid.
- Press the tofu manually by wrapping it in paper towels or a kitchen towel and then placing something heavy on top of it (like a skillet). Sometimes I’ve found it helpful to slice the tofu and then layer the slices between the kitchen towel to help remove even more moisture in the tofu.
- Alternatively, you can press the tofu using a tofu press (my favorite vegan kitchen gadget)
- Once the tofu is pressed, either slice it or cut it into cubes, depending on your recipe
- Some recipes will call for marinating tofu prior to cooking, if so follow the recipe for the preferred type of marinade and recommending times.
You’ll add seasonings to the tofu as it cooks. Or, in the case of vegan egg salad, you’ll add a sauce to raw mashed tofu, to add the right flavorings.
Keto Tofu Recipes
Ready to make some delicious, low carb, keto tofu recipes? As long as you’re not adding sugar or sweet syrups, your tofu and keto diet can go hand in hand! Here are some of my favorite low carb tofu recipes!
Veggie Lettuce Wraps
Tofu Breakfast Bowl with Kale and Avocado
Vegan Miso Soup
Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich
That’s it for these tofu keto recipes. Be sure to check back again as I’ll be adding more recipes over time. In the meantime, here are even more vegan keto recipes.