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Traditional Asian Diet Review

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Traditional Asian Diet is a predominantly plant-based diet widely followed in some Asian countries. Being the largest continent with several ethnically and culturally diverse countries, Asia has a varied culinary scene. From among the many different diet conventions, traditional Japanese and Chinese diets are taken as the model for the typical Traditional Asian diet. This is because people from these countries have been found to enjoy good health and longevity. They also seem to have leaner bodies despite consuming around 25% more calories than an average American. Obesity is rare in those who stick to their traditional way of eating, but more common in those who have shifted to a western diet of processed foods.

How the Traditional Asian Diet Works

Although differences exist between the culinary habits of the Japanese and the Chinese, some common characteristics include rice as a staple and vegetables usually eaten cooked.  Pulses, especially soya bean, have a dominant role as the main source of dietary protein, even more frequently consumed than animal proteins. Red meat and sweets are an occasional indulgence.  The Japanese favor seafood while the Chinese from the interiors of the country do not, because they have little access to it. Rice wine is part of the diet, but it is used in moderation since many Asians have a low threshold for alcohol.
The Asian food pyramid is entirely different from the Western diet. Meat occupies the top of the pyramid because it is eaten only once in a while. Sweets and poultry are weekly affairs at best, while eggs are more frequently used. Fish and dairy, vegetables, a variety of fruits, seeds, nuts, and legumes constitute the daily diet. Vegetable oils are used for cooking and seasoning foods. Rice form the major bulk of the diet, along with some millets and corn. White rice is preferred over unpolished brown rice because rice bran is difficult to digest and thought to slow down the metabolism.
Although high in carbohydrates, a person following the Traditional Asian diet does not usually become overweight or obese because foods are consumed in their natural, healthy form, not processed with hydrogenated fats and other undesirable additives. However there’s little evidence to prove that an overweight person can lose weight by adopting this diet. Not surprising, since you don’t count calories, or keep track of what you’re eating. In other words, this diet may be quite healthy for people of normal weight, but cannot be counted as a weight loss diet unless some sort of calorie restriction is imposed.

Does the diet involve exercise?

Traditional Asian diet does not strictly recommend exercise of any sort, but individuals can choose the amount of physical activity they are capable of and comfortable with. It can vary from gentle forms of exercise such as yoga and tai chi to highly taxing martial arts. A well-toned body is not the stated goal of the diet, but a mind-body balance is. But, if you are aiming for weight loss, it may not happen unless an exercise program tailored to your physical capability is also undertaken along with the diet.

Nutritional profile

Traditional Asian diet is a high-carb diet with a good amount of protein included, the major chunk of it coming from legumes consumed on a daily basis; especially soya bean in different forms. Natural soy based foods, from edamame to tofu, are not implicated in the health hazards associated with the consumption of highly processed soy protein. Nutritionally rich bean sprouts and use of fresh spices, especially ginger and garlic, are unique features of the diet. 
Some of the vitamins contained in the vegetables may be lost in the cooking process, but they serve as a good source of minerals and fiber. Deficiency in calcium and fat-soluble vitamins may be an issue for those who do not include dairy.
Rice and noodles eaten at almost every meal provides high amounts of carbohydrates. This can result in unhealthy glucose spikes and dips, especially in people with diabetes. 

The Cost Factor

Traditional Asian diet is not hard on the pocket because it does not call for any special food supplements. However, you have to source good quality vegetables in large quantities because they form an important part of the diet.

Do Dieters Lose Weight on the Traditional Asian Diet?

The traditional Asian diet is projected as a healthy diet consisting of natural, wholesome foods. People who eat this diet tend to maintain a steady weight, but there’s no guarantee that it can produce any significant weight loss in those who are already obese or overweight. On the contrary, if you have a body type that tends to convert excess glucose to fat, you may experience weight gain when you start on this diet. This effect may be temporary, but can be extremely discouraging for dieters.

Level of Effort

Asian diet plan is not very difficult to follow if you like cooking your own meals with simple ingredients. The whole diet is based on preparing fresh food from scratch. Vegetables are only lightly cooked, usually by adding to boiling soup or broth or quickly stir frying in a small amount of oil. Chicken and fish are often steamed and then added to vegetable dishes.

Nevertheless, food preparation obviously takes time and effort, so some people may find it rather difficult in their busy schedule. It may not be easy to source freshly prepared traditional Asian food either. Commercially available Chinese dishes are a far cry from healthy Asian food and may not provide any benefits.

People who are not exposed to Asian food may need some time to adjust to the high-carb, low-fat diet. There are no specific instructions on exactly how much of each type of food you should have. General rule is moderation in everything, and then fine tuning the quantity according to individual body weight goals.


Traditional Asian Diet is considered healthy, and good for maintaining a slim figure on the premise that Asians have lower incidence of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and cancer compared to Americans. While diet may be partly responsible for this difference, genetics may be another factor.

Shifting from a high-protein diet to a high-carbohydrate diet can have unforeseen consequences for some people, even a perceptible gain in body weight. Cutting down on dairy and red meat may have some health benefits, but it may affect your energy levels. Traditional Asian diet is not a high-energy diet; it may not be suitable for those who are engaged in physically taxing activities. It can probably help you maintain a steady weight, but if you have a lot of weight to lose, this diet may not be of much help.

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