Losing weight is not an easy task, and there is more to it than meets the eye since eating healthy is but the first step. According to a recent 2017 study, obesity is reaching a record-high peak in some countries, with the USA leading the charts with almost 110 million people, meaning 1 out of 3 Americans is currently obese.
Inversely, the same study reveals most Asian countries rank among the least obese in the planet. For example, India presents only 4.9%, Vietnam ranks at 3,6%, Japan and Nepal both sit at 3,3%, and North Korea scores a record-low 2,4%.
Which factors are involved? Is their lifestyle so different compared to ours? Are there cultural markers to consider? Is Asian food healthier than American food? Or could it be something else, completely unrelated to eating habits?
The truth is, all answers are partially correct, and here's why. Sometimes, even when you do everything right, there might be a hidden variable playing against you. You need to understand every metabolism is unique, which means that fad diet which worked wonders for that friend of yours, might do nothing for your weight loss efforts.
Asian cultures on the other hand are quite aware of the dangers of obesity and being overweight, which is why we're going to review the best 6 Asian diet plans.
1. Chinese Diet
According to this 2017 study which analyzed the Chinese population, both elders and young people have shown almost identical gut microbiota. The research also suggests that healthy bacteria is responsible for fending off obesity, diabetes, and even cancer - which explains why less than 5% of the population suffers from obesity.
A simple, typical Chinese dish you'd see on a Chinese menu is stir-fried vegetables (eg. broccoli, long beans, capsicum, unions) with a bit of meat. A hearty dish like this is full of fiber, vitamins and iron, and it tastes great without all the trans-fat.
The simplest way to incorporate Chinese wisdom into your life is by including these for your next Asian diet tea: Chinese yam, citrus peels, wild cardamom, and Chinese dandelion.
2. Japanese Diet
When we think of Japan, we can't help but link it with a healthy lifestyle, and these numbers don't lie. Okinawa Island scores a record-high number of people over the age of 100, and Japanese people rank among the lowest in the world for BMI, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. The following 2016 study suggests that it all comes down to a healthy gut microbiota.
A Japanese diet plan is not only high in soy and fish, but also in fermented foods like miso and natto, which offer good probiotics for weight loss. Additionally, for a killer Asian diet tea, look for matcha - a powdered green tea.
3. Thai Diet
Contrary to popular belief, traditional Thai food is considerably different than a typical Thai takeout option. In Thailand, their diet consists mainly of soups, but not of any kind. Most (if not all) of these soups are broth-based, and they usually contain roots and herbs linked to healthy gut microbiota.
A typical Thai diet consists of seasoned salad, stir-fried meat with basil leaves, a bowl of soup and plain rice. It's a simple and hearty meal that refreshes your senses for the day.
Arguably, the most famous Thai soup is Tom Yum, containing Kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and lemongrass - which this 2013 study has proven to prevent Irritable Bowel Syndrom, as it also promotes a healthier gut bacterial culture.
4. Mongolian Diet
Before we discuss this diet, it's important to understand a few factors first. Mongolia is the least populated country in the world, density-wise. Resources there are scarce, the environment is harsh, and most of its population still adhere to the same nomadic behaviors as their ancestors from thousands of years ago.
They consume whatever they rear, namely their cattles and lambs for meat. Growing vegetables is not an option in their harsh environment, so they make the fullest use of their animal products like boiling their milk to make yogurt.
Although life expectancy here is not that high (only 68), given the circumstances, Mongolians are leading an extremely healthy lifestyle, and it's all because of their diet. If you're a meat lover like them, you might benefit from this Mongolian habit: fermented mare's milk, also known as "airag".
According to this 2016 study which analyzed gut bacterial culture among Mongolians, there is a considerable presence of good bacterial culture due to a combination of their high protein intake combined with regular consumption of fermented mare milk.
5. Korean Diet
From a devastating war-torn scenario to a leading first-world potency is less than half a century. South Korea has broken all kinds of records and, by 2030, is set to break yet another one. According to this 2017 study, South Korea will lead the charts in life expectancy among all countries in the world, with women tending to live up to 91 and men up to 84.
Of course, top-notch medical care and a culture of consciousness are involved, but the secret might also lie upon kimchi.
Made with vegetables, ginger, and garlic, all fermented with probiotic's lactic acid, you can effortlessly add this small dish of ancestral wisdom to your eating habits.
6. Indian Diet
Since we're talking about ancestral wisdom, we cannot neglect the Indians and their Ayurveda legacy - present for more than 5000 years. Among its benefits, we can mention a calmer, anxiety-free, and more relaxed state-of-being, improved metabolic processes, advanced range of motion and decreased inflammation.
According to this 2009 study, an Ayurvedic diet excels at managing weight and fighting obesity.
You can easily include these Ayurvedic Asian foods into your diet: ginger roots, raw honey, ghee, takra, lemon and other citrus fruits, cumin seeds, and especially fermented foods like miso, amasi, and yogurt.
Adopting An Asian Diet For Weight Loss
When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, we most definitely have a lot to learn from the Asians. Their botanical and anatomical knowledge is unrivaled, and as evidence, their lifespans rank among the highest while their obesity-related problems rank among the lowest in the world.
As you can see, the common factor among all these Asian weight loss diet plans is that they all promote a healthy gut microbiota, which means they all help with weight loss.
But consuming an Asian diet can be challenging, especially when the ingredients are not so readily available in your area. Researchers have been formulating a weight loss probiotic supplement specially designed for improving obesity-related gut health and inflammation. And they have been intrigued to see their patients' belly fat fall by as much as 4.6% without having to starve themselves.