For perfectly smooth, healthy, and youthful skin we often turn to Korean beauty and skincare regimen. And it works! When we want to slim down we change our diet to consume a lower number of calories. That works too, in combination with regular exercise. Diet options are numerous, it seems like new programs and trends show up all the time. You’ve probably noticed a lot of people talking about Korean Weight Loss Diet. What’s it all about? Scroll down to learn everything you need to know about this diet.
What is Korean Weight Loss Diet?
Korean Weight Loss Diet, also known as the K-pop Diet, has become popular primarily thanks to pop stars from South Korea. Hence the K-pop Diet name! While it’s easy to assume Korean Weight Loss Diet is an eating program you need to follow for a few weeks or months, the reality is entirely different.
You see, the K-pop Diet is a diet based on traditional Korean cuisine that revolves around the consumption of whole foods. Traditional Korean meals are minimally processed and low in both fat and sugar. Unlike the typical Western diet, characterized by big portion sizes, the K-pop Diet has smaller portions.
Korean foods and portion sizes seem to be effective as the prevalence of obesity is much lower in this country compared to the United States. Indeed, the prevalence of obesity in South Korea is 4% whereas the prevalence of overweight (including obese persons) is over 30% (1). On the other hand, the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. is 42.5% while overweight, including obesity, affects 73.6% of adults (2).
The difference in obesity prevalence between South Korea and the U.S. is truly staggering. For that reason, the dietary pattern from traditional Korean cuisine is worth exploring. That’s the main reason the K-pop Diet is becoming more and more popular. The increasing popularity of the K-pop Diet also has a lot to do with K-pop stars with millions of fans around the globe.
How to Follow the Korean Weight Loss Diet?
As mentioned above, Korean Weight Loss Diet is an eating pattern that promotes the intake of whole foods, primarily Korean dishes. To turn your endeavor with this diet into success, you should:
- Lower calorie intake
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid snacks (they’re considered unnecessary)
- Lower sugar intake
- Reduce fat intake
What to Eat on a K-pop Diet?
Well, your daily menu should contain foods such as:
- Vegetables (raw, cooked, or fermented)
- Fruits (natural substitutes for sweets)
- Animal-based protein-rich foods (meat, eggs, fish, and seafood) in small portions added to most meals
- Meat substitutes (dried shiitake mushrooms, tofu, king oyster mushrooms)
- Rice (white rice and rice noodles)
- Wheat-free grains (pancakes, dumplings, potato, tapioca starch, etc.)
Unfortunately, the K-pop Diet doesn’t determine portion sizes. It just promotes reducing your portions. You need to determine their sizes so that you’re not overly hungry, but still consuming less than before.
For the best effects, you need to avoid or reduce intake of foods such as:
- Processed and sugary foods
- Wheat-containing foods (bread, pasta, pastries, cereals, wheat-based flours)
- Fatty foods (fried foods, fatty meats, foods cooked in oil, fatty seasonings, sauces)
Can You Slim Down with Korean Weight Loss Diet?
Most people switch to the K-pop diet in an attempt to lose weight. Weight-loss diets are everywhere lately so it’s important to be cautious. Not all diets are equally effective. Korean Weight Loss Diet is not a fad diet, which is its biggest advantage. In fact, it can promote weight loss in several ways.
Korean traditional foods include a lot of vegetables, which are abundant sources of fiber. Essential for a healthy diet, fiber normalizes bowel movements and helps maintain bowel health. Other benefits of a high-fiber diet include lower cholesterol levels, improved blood glucose control, longer life, and healthier weight (3).
Studies have found clear evidence that a low-fiber diet is associated with a high body mass index (BMI). Consuming more fiber can, actually, promote weight loss. High-fiber diet helps you slim down by decreasing hunger and cravings while promoting the feeling of fullness. Studies show obese persons tend to experience the greatest energy intake suppression and weight loss. A review of evidence on this subject showed mean energy consumption on high-fiber diet in all studies was decreased to 82% in overweight/obese subjects and 94% in lean participants. Average weight loss was 5.2 lbs (2.4kg) and 1.7lbs (0.8kg) respectively (4).
The Nutrition Journal published a review on fiber intake and weight loss. Findings revealed fiber intake is inversely associated with body weight and body fat. Multiple mechanisms are behind this effect. Besides the above mentioned satiation and feeling of fullness, fiber may promote weight loss by altering the secretion of gut hormones (5).
Through weight management fiber can beneficially influence metabolic disorders associated with excess weight and thereby improve cardiovascular health (6).
Women need to consume 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day. Men should go for 30 to 38 grams a day (7).
Limited intake of unhealthy/processed food
The K-pop Diet is all about the intake of whole foods. Consumption of heavily processed and unhealthy foods or snacks is brought to a minimum, or you may avoid it entirely. The avoidance or limited intake of these foods translates to weight loss.
Evidence confirms the consumption of an ultra-processed diet causes excessive calorie intake thus contributing to weight gain (8). Unhealthy snacks are laden in sugar, trans fats, additives, and other unhealthy compounds. Obtaining much-needed nutrients from these foods is difficult, almost impossible.
While high in calories, heavily processed foods, and snacks don’t keep you satiated for long. Instead, you get hungry shortly after eating. The more food you eat, the more calories you consume. All this leads to increased fat storage. It’s needless to mention cravings and light-night snacking all of which are primarily associated with this kind of dietary pattern.
On the other hand, increasing the consumption of freshly prepared, unprocessed (or minimally processed) foods alongside the simultaneous reduction of eating processed foods can support weight loss and improve overall health (9).
Korean Weight Loss Diet goes beyond modifying food intake and extends to a healthy lifestyle overall. The cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, alongside a well-balanced diet, is regular exercise. If you decide to give this diet a try, you’ll need to increase your physical activity levels.
Unfortunately, about 31% of the global population aged 15 and older engages in insufficient physical activity. Sedentary lifestyle contributes to the death of 3.2 million people in the world every year (10). Lack of physical activity usually comes hand in hand with a high-calorie diet. As a result, a person keeps gaining weight. With excess weight, there also comes a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and other health problems.
Regular exercise, whether it’s cardio or other types of training, helps facilitate weight loss and supports weight management (11). Higher levels of physical activity speed up metabolism and burn calories.
As mentioned above, an integral segment of the K-pop Diet is how much you eat, not just the foods you consume. Typical Western diet involves huge portions which introduce more calories than we need during the day. Portions of Korean foods are smaller, which can contribute to weight loss.
Eating smaller portions is one of the easiest weight-loss methods. By decreasing portion size, you are consuming a lower number of calories. This way it’s easier to get into the calorie deficit necessary for successful weight loss.
Reducing portion size could be tricky for some people. The trick is to use smaller plates and utensils. Just keep in mind portion control should not be temporary. It’s necessary for weight management once you slim down.
It’s important to clarify one thing – portion control does not imply severe calorie restriction, skipping meals, and starving yourself. It just means you need to lower the amount of food you eat. Our brain often tricks us into thinking we’re hungry although the body doesn’t need food anymore. That’s why we have the need to eat everything that’s on the plate. But by decreasing plate i.e. portion size, you still prevent overeating even if you empty the dish.
Summing It Up
What you’ve had the opportunity to see is that the K-pop diet supports weight loss through several mechanisms. Let’s sum them up below:
- Appetite suppression
- Increased feeling of fullness
- Lower calorie intake
- Faster metabolism
- Increased calorie burning
- No overeating
- Energy boost
- Limited snacking, consumption of unhealthy fats, and sugar-laden foods
Does the K-pop Diet Have Other Health Benefits?
Actually, it does. The benefits of the Korean Weight Loss Diet go beyond weight loss and also include the effects described below.
Better overall health
Trying to slim down is one thing, but many people do so at the expense of their overall health. They do so by following fad diets and other restrictive and unhealthy programs. An important benefit of the K-pop Diet is its potential to make you healthier.
As seen throughout this post, the K-pop diet promotes a higher intake of vegetables and fruits, which are abundant in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This eating pattern also decreases the intake of foods that harm your health. On the flip side, fruits and vegetables can protect you against chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes (12, 13).
Since this diet is based on traditional foods of this nation, it includes a lot of kimchi, a side dish made from fermented cabbage or other vegetables. Consumption of kimchi can lower blood pressure, blood glucose, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels (14, 15). Moreover, kimchi and other fermented foods are good sources of probiotics or good bacteria necessary for gut health (16). Probiotics are also important for the management of irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, atopic dermatitis, and other health problems.
Acne breakouts are a major confidence killer for teens and adults alike. Some foods contribute to acne formation or aggravate them. Through reduced consumption of dairy, K-pop Diet could reduce acne. You see, dairy may stimulate the release of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which can lead to acne formation (17, 18, 19). Evidence shows persons with higher dairy intake are 2.6 times likelier to have acne than their counterparts who consume lower amounts of dairy (20).
Additionally, Korean Weight Loss Diet promotes the intake of fruits and vegetables while minimizing intake of snacks, sugar, trans fats, and other heavily processed foods. These unhealthy foods could also cause acne breakouts.
The biggest problem with diets today is their restrictive nature. Social media became a fertile ground for people to promote fad diets claiming they can produce significant weight loss. These diets revolve around major calorie restrictions and complete avoidance of multiple food groups. While they can put you in a calorie deficit these dietary patterns are not sustainable. In other words, it’s not something you can include in your lifestyle for a long-term period. What’s more, fad diets could be dangerous for your health as the body needs a wide range of nutrients to function properly. So, even if you lose a few pounds, you’re bound to regain them once you stop dieting.
Korean Weight Loss is different in this aspect. It’s not a restrictive diet, instead, it just helps you make wiser food choices while still allowing you to obtain nutrients from different foods. For that reason, it becomes easier to include the K-pop Diet into your lifestyle for a longer period of time. Since it’s a sustainable diet, it can help you slim down and maintain weight in a healthy range, by supporting your overall health.
Disadvantages of Korean Weight Loss Diet
Despite important benefits, the K-pop Diet has some shortcomings too. They include:
- Strong emphasis on physical appearance i.e. to look like K-pop stars. Your goal should be primarily to slim down for your health and only because you want so. Don’t let the emphasis on a certain physical appearance serve as the only motivator.
- Absence of specific guidance that only makes the K-pop Diet seem a bit vague. Some people may find it easy to balance out different foods and have a specific meal plan, but others may not. The latter may feel confused, especially when it comes to distinguishing nutrient-rich Korean dishes and meals that aren’t as healthy.
- Needs more evidence – K-pop diet can promote weight loss, based on the foods it promotes. While studies do confirm the benefits of eating/avoiding some foods for weight loss, there is insufficient data focusing specifically on K-pop Diet and weight loss.
Korean Weight Loss Diet revolves around the consumption of traditional Korean dishes, which involve a lot of fruits and vegetables. This diet can promote weight loss through portion control, decreased calorie intake, and regular exercise. To make this diet effective you need to reduce intake of sugar- and fat-laden foods and dairy. However, the K-pop Diet has some shortcomings too such as a strong emphasis on physical appearance and a lack of proper guidance. If you want to give it a try, it may be useful to learn as much as you can about Korean meals and how they’re made.