Japanese or Okinawa diet: how does it work?

Sushi, ramen, soba, udon, onigiri and okonomiyaki, so many delicious recipes that you can savor if you go to the island of the rising sun or even to a good Japanese restaurant, but they have nothing to do with the Japanese diet (or even so-called Okinawan). This follows one low calorie scheme focused on very few sweets, sugars, cheeses and fried foods and which gives ample space to proteins and foods of plant origin. A diet that allows you to lose weight by eating in a healthy and balanced way.

What is the Japanese Diet?

The Japanese diet is also called dieta di Okinawa, as inspired by the lifestyle that leads the inhabitants of the Okinawa island of the same name to be among the longest-lived on the planet. Famous for having given birth to karate and having been the scene of famous battles during the Second World War, the island of Okinawa also seems to have discovered the elixir of longevity. In fact, they live on the island many centenarians who are in excellent health and who most likely owe it all to a healthy diet and lifestyle.

The Japanese or Okinawa diet is a diet based on the daily introduction of approx 1500 kcalwhich mainly come from the consumption of green leafy vegetables, fish, cereals and ricebut also from wild pig (limited) e soy products. The inhabitants of the island usually drink a lot of tea to which they also add turmeric. in their diet sugars, red meats, sausages have no place and especially refined flours.

What foods are included in the Okinawan diet?

We can say that the Okinawa or Japanese diet is a diet that has its roots in the Japanese food tradition, made up of foods low in fat but high in nutrients. Unlike contemporary Japanese cuisine which has undergone a process of Westernization, with an increase in the consumption of red meat, spreads, sauces and other ingredients that cover flavors and bring saturated fat and calories into the body, the original Japanese diet follows the concept of “washoku“. This principle provides for the consumption of many small dishes of simple, fresh ingredients e Seasonalwhich have effects on longevity, waist size and improvement of the body’s digestive processes.

The foods most present in this diet will therefore be:

  • steamed rice,
  • noodles,
  • pesce,
  • tofu e natto,
  • seaweed,
  • fresh fruits and vegetables (cooked or pickled),
  • eggs, dairy products or meat (consumed in a limited way),
  • water, matcha green tea and jasmine tea.

The Japanese usually prefer seasonal and seasonal foods very small portions which stand out more for quality than quantity. The most important meal of the day is also for them breakfastwhich is very varied and accompanied by the inevitable green tea.

Furthermore, i Japanese eat very slowly, enjoying the meal even with the eyes. This is why their recipes are carefully presented and the visual aspect becomes a fundamental point in their diet. “To satisfy the eyes to satisfy the body” it is one of the cornerstones of the Japanese diet mindset and concept.

Examples of foods from the Japanese diet:


Perhaps the best known noodles are the Ramen and Udonbut there is also variety Soba which consists of much tastier buckwheat noodles, rich in minerals, proteins and vitamins and above all less in calories than normal ramen noodles. Soba, rich in antioxidants such as lutein, can be served both hot and cold and can be accompanied by broths or soups.


Compared to the previous food, it can be said that tofu is much more widespread in cuisines around the world. There are many varieties, which represent the pillars of the Japanese diet. Chosen and included in Western diets for its high in protein, tofu gives a sense of satiety with few calories, and is the perfect substitute for meat. It is a very versatile food that can be served as a salad, or scrambled, or even grilled.

Miso soup

It is a tasty appetizer popular in Japan, with a high nutritional level and which is present as an accompaniment to many meals. The term “Miso” is used to define a fermented soy bean paste, available in many varieties (more than 1000). Miso soup can contain ingredients such as seaweed or tofu, and ranges in flavor from salty to slightly sweet. It is appreciated for its satiating capacity, its richness in micronutrients and macronutrients (such as proteins). It turns out instead low in fat and useful for lower cholesterol.


It is a fermented food produced from soy beans, which the Japanese make extensive use of for breakfast, as it guarantees a valid supply of nutrients thanks to thehigh in protein and vitamins. This food is certainly not appreciated for its unusual and not very inviting appearance, but for its nutritional profile and unique flavour.

Black sesame ice cream

It must be said that in Japanese culture sweets are not widespread and are often replaced by fruit, which is seen as a food to be consumed in the most important lunches and dinners or during particular events. To give a little sweetness to Japanese dishes, ice cream takes care of it and in particular one of the most appreciated is the one at black sesame. One of the oldest condiments used in Japan and known for its amazing anti-aging benefits. Micronutrients help relieve constipation, normalize blood pressure and promote the well-being of the entire body.

Before starting a diet of any kind, especially if it is restrictive, it is always a good idea to contact a nutrition professional who will be able to indicate the most suitable food plan for your personal needs.


Here are some studies that have analyzed the effects of the Okinawan diet on longevity, weight loss and metabolism.

“The Okinawa Diet: Health Implications of a Low Calorie, Nutrient-Dense, Antioxidant-Rich Dietary Pattern Low in Glycemic Load” pubblicato nel Journal of the American College of Nutrition nel 2007.

“The Okinawa program: how the world’s longest-lived people achieve healthy longevity” pubblicato nel 2001 dal Dr. Bradley Willcox, Dr. D.Craig Willcox, e Dr. Makoto Suzuki.

“The impact of a traditional Okinawan diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study” pubblicato nel Journal of General Internal Medicine nel 2009.

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