When I was younger, I simply hated eating Asian food. I guess growing up as an Asian American with a slight identity crisis complex made me want to assimilate more into American culture, which means taking on the American diet. I’ve also always been the exception to the “all Asians are thin” stereotype with my weight fluctuating up and down. This was all attributable to my miseducation regarding proper nutrition and what I thought were healthy dieting decisions. After being down in the dumps for so long, I decided to take control of my diet and started to look towards Asian dieting to stay at a healthier weight.
How Do Asians Stay So Thin?
Although genetics can play a major role in influencing a person’s body weight, dieting is still a more crucial piece to the puzzle. The math is simple: eat nutrient dense and low calorie foods and burn more extra calories via light exercise in order to lose weight. The first part of that equation can be solved using Asian dieting methods. As a background, Asian diets are known to be low in fat and calories all while providing essential nutrients during each meal. That’s not to say that all Asian food is healthy (yeah, I’m looking at you General Tso), but staying within the realm of what is reasonable will go a long way. Now, let’s get started on our list of top 10 tips to help you stay thin like Asians!
1. Embrace the Lifestyle Change
Sticking to any diet or exercise goal is not a short term fix. I’ll tell you right now that Asian dieting isn’t a cure all method to burn fat within 24 hours. Asian dieting is a way of life and therefore requires a commitment from you to embrace a lifestyle change.
There are never any shortcuts in life and this is especially true for dieting. You just need to stay focused and trust that your new found dieting habits are for the better.
2. Begin Counting Your Calories
One incredible strategy that I found to be super effective in my weight loss was when I started to count my calories. It’s incredible how much more aware and conscious if what I was eating simply by keeping a daily log. All of the Asian food that you would eat throughout the day can also be easily found in popular applications.
My favorite app so far is MyFitnessPal. You can create an account for free and also track your calories on your mobile phone. Yay, technology!
3. Learn to Use Chopsticks
Chopsticks, at first glance, may look like an archaic eating utensil, but they actually serve an incredible purpose. The mere fact that you need to pick up your food piece by piece enables you to control the amount of food you are actually eating. In other words, chopsticks can help prevent you from accidentally overeating, which plagues 99% of most dieters before they focus on portion control.
If you’re a beginner, I always recommend staying away from thin metal chopsticks and lean towards more thick wooden or lacquer set of sticks. I personally enjoy using Japanese style chopsticks since they have more thin and pointy ends to help you pick up food with better precision.
For more cool and hipster chopsticks, I’d go with these Supreme Chopsticks and Sake Set from on eBay. Supreme had an amazing release for hipster skaters that also love sushi with an awesome chopstick and sake set. They’re super rare to find and usually people resort to online bidding to get their hands on these. Get started on using chopsticks and making that more of a daily habit.
4. Flip the Script on Protein
This is probably one of the most important tips on the list. In the Western world, heavy meats are typically the star of each dish with a small side of vegetables and carbohydrates as the supporting cast members. However, in an Asian dieting sense, the complete opposite is true. Asians tend to feature rice or vegetables as the primary food with meat as a side dish.
Studies actually show that Americans are eating 3 to 5 times more protein than what is required. This can have a major effect on weight gain, body fat storage, kidney disruptions, etc. Begin changing the way you approach mealtime and what foods should take higher priority.
5. Drink Green Tea to Boost Metabolism
Many countries around the world often drink tea as a social activity or as an alternative to coffee. However, drinking green tea can not only provide incredible antioxidants, but can also help you lose weight.
The Daily Mail reports that researchers have finally settled the debate on whether green tea can actually boost metabolism. In their controlled study, they found that a group of men who drank green tea daily actually lost 1.63% of their body weight and their fat oxidation levels (aids in weight loss) increased by 25%.
Now, buying any old green tea from the supermarket won’t do you any good. It’s important to find the right type of tea before you start boiling a pot of the stuff everyday. I personally like to drink Kenko Green Tea Macha Powder, which is a bit more pricey, but has over 100x more antioxidants per serving. Just add to boiling water, stir vigorously, and enjoy!
6. Limit Dairy Intake
Dairy is only a recent trend that has been surging throughout Asian countries. However, Asians are actually more naturally susceptible to lactose intolerance, which can affect close to 90% of Asian adults in certain regions. This is due to cow’s milk being a very Westernized import that made it’s way over to Asia. Turns out that avoiding dairy can actually be beneficial due to the high levels of lactose found in milk.
For those of you that are not Chemistry nerds, anything that ends in ‘-ose’ is typically a designation for a form of sugar. Lactose is a milk sugar that can make you gain weight by elevating insulin levels and causing your metabolism to slow down. These days, milk can be avoided altogether with great alternatives, such as almond, coconut, or rice milk.
7. Learn Tai Chi to Reduce Stress
This tip is one of my favorites. I tend to work in an office that is pretty high pressure, so you can definitely believe that I have my fair share of stress. However, managing your stress can be a major dieting deal breaker.
It is a known fact that high levels of stress can increase your body’s level of cortisol, which drives up appetites and increases the likelihood of eating junk food. One of my favorite ways to reduce stress is by practicing Tai Chi. I placed a Tai Chi basic tutorial above for your viewing pleasure.
8. Drink Hot Water With Meals
In China, it is a common practice in all restaurants to be served hot tea or water with your meal. This is because Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) strongly believes that hot water can provide amazing health benefits, such as aiding in digestion, promoting blood circulation, and can even help detoxify the body.
Many medical practitioners around the world believe that ice water can be detrimental since the body needs to work overtime to warm up the cold water. Next time, ask for waiter for a cup of hot water and lemon!
9. Avoid All Processed Foods
Traditionally, Asians stick to home cooked meals using fresh, organic, and whole ingredients in order to achieve maximum nutrition. The idea of processed food is a very Western form of culture that spread to Asia due to sheer popularity.
However, as seen in the movie, Super Size Me, eating processed food can not only make you gain weight but it can actually negatively impact your internal well being. The star of the movie ended up gaining over 25 pounds, increased his bad cholesterol by 60 points, obtained non-alcoholic hepatitis, etc. If there are zero options, however, and you must eat fast food, then try to stick with a healthier option, such as grilled chicken.
10. Learn to Move More
Many Asian and European countries are either densely populated or accessible via public transportation, which calls for its citizens to generally walk to subway stations or bike to their preferred destinations. This is a great method of integrating exercise with a need for transportation. Although this may not be totally possible in certain areas of the States, I would highly recommend incorporating small active improvements, such as taking the stairs at work.
Learning how to stay thin like Asians isn’t hard, but it does take commitment. You need to be open to the idea of trying new things, but also implementing a major lifestyle change. Subscribe to our blog to find out more tips on how to lose weight using Asian dieting tips!