Who Created The Okinawa Weight Loss Diet
This diet is named in honor of the native peoples residing in the Ryukyu islands, located off the coast of Japan.
Okinawan cuisine should not be confused with more traditional Japanese cuisine; the food culture on the Ryukyu islands developed independently from mainland Japan.
Okinawan (Ryukyu islands) Cuisine Foods
This cuisine incorporates traditions and foods from both Chinese and other Southeastern Asian cuisines because of historical trade routes. For example, the sweet potato, pork, and turmeric are staples of this diet as opposed to the traditional diet of Japan.
Interestingly, the native islanders have one of the highest life expectancies throughout the entire world; this people routinely live beyond 90 in good health.
In honor of this people’s longevity, a diet was named in their honor which shares their typical meal plans.
Health Benefits of Okinawa Diet Plan
In addition to lifespans that routinely reached 100 years and beyond, a 2009 study found that Okinawa residents also enjoyed significantly lower rates of many forms of cancer, heart disease, and other age-related diseases such Alzheimer’s.
What People Eat On The “Okinawa Diet” Plan?
Generally speaking, the people of the Ryukyu islands consume about 500 calories less than the average daily caloric intake, and their foods tend to be more vitamin and nutrient dense. The meals are typically low in saturated fat and available foods rate low on the glycemic index.
Unlike much of Japan, these islands eat significantly less rice. Instead of rice as a dietary staple, they eat a purple sweet potato. Their general diet consists of approximately 30-35% of green and yellow vegetables such as leafy greens and squash.
Is Refined Sugar Allowed On The Okinawa Diet?
Refined sugars are also mostly absent from this diet; this diet contains a mere 30% of sugar consumed by people generally throughout the world, and even fewer grains — the Okinawan diet possesses only 15% of the grain intake compared to that of mainland Japan. This diet also has lower amounts of sodium.
Do They Consume A Lot of Fish?
Contrary to what one may expect of an island diet, there is relatively little fish consumed by the Okinawan people. Staple proteins on this diet include soy as the preferred legume and pork as the preferred animal protein.
Unlike in many Western diets, this diet relies on both muscle meat as well as organ meat. While these peoples do consume pork and some fish, the diet relies heavily on non-meat protein sources. A 1979 study found that the average Okinawan ate only about 17 pounds of pork per year.
Okinawa Diet Food Categories
The Okinawa Diet divides foods into one of four categories according to the food’s energy density. Foods offering 3 to 9 calories per gram are considered “heavyweight” foods and should be eaten sparingly if at all while on the diet.
“Middleweight” foods are those offering a caloric density between 1.5 to 3.0 calories per gram. Foods in this category should be eaten only in a correct portion size.
“Lightweight” foods contain .8 to 1.5 calories per gram. These foods should be eaten in moderation throughout the diet.
The last category, “featherweight” foods are foods offering .8 calories per gram or less. Dieters aim to eat meals that focus on these foods, which are calorie light yet provide both energy and nutrition.
Okinawa Weight Loss Diet Meal Plan
Although the diet plan has been modified to accommodate Western tastes, the principles of the original diet are still honored.
Okinawa Diet – Breakfast Menu Plan
A typical breakfast may consist of green tea, rich in phytochemicals and whole-grain blueberry pancakes prepared with soy milk.
Okinawa Diet – Lunch Menu Plan
Lunch could be a leafy green salad with your choice of beans for protein or a stir-fried tofu dish paired with steamed green veggies such as asparagus or broccoli.
Okinawa Diet – Snack Menu Plan
For a snack, a seed and nut mix or dried crunchy seaweed.
Okinawa Diet – Dinner Menu Plan
Dinners should be smaller portioned than usual. A usual dinner may consist of miso soup, broiled fish and steamed or roasted vegetables. A small serving of whole wheat pasta or pasta made from edamame would also be appropriate.
Okinawa Diet – Dessert Menu Plan
Desserts are discouraged on this diet. For those trying to sate a sweet tooth, a small serving of fruit or a rice cake could be appropriate.
Is The Okinawa Meal Plan a Real Diet?
The Okinawa Diet is really more of a philosophy of food than a diet; it is meant to shift how any individual looks at, selects, and consumes food. As with any change in dietary routine, it is a good idea to discuss doing so with your doctor or healthcare professional.