Japanese Weight Loss Diet: Shoku Iku - DailyAchiever

Japanese Weight Loss Diet: Shoku Iku

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Written By Joanne Cochran, MS, CCN, PharmD
Fact Checked by Dortha Varney, Ph.D.
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There is a very popular saying, which goes as, “we are, what we eat”. This means that whatever we eat, it just shows up in our personality, body, and face. You will have to agree with the fact that the way our body is just because of what we eat and in which way we eat.

If a person always remains on a diet, then that too will show up.

Now, Japan happens to be the healthiest country in the world. Their secret behind this is a unique food technique that they follow. It is called Shoku-Iku. People in Japan never are on diets or skip their meals for losing weight.

They keep on monitoring their nutritional intake with every meal they consume. This is what Shoku-Iku is. Here are some more details related to it.

What is Shoku-Iku?

The meaning of Shoku-Iku is ‘food education’. It is the Japanese way of dieting or a food habit you can say. It is because of this diet that you won’t find the Japanese having any problem related to food or health.

You will be glad to know that Japan happens to be one of the fittest and healthiest countries of the world and people over there manage to have a proper physique even in their old age. They know quite well about the nutritional value of the food they are consuming.

Hence, they are very conscious about what they are having and keep on monitoring their nutritional intake at every meal every day.

Shoku-Iku is Buddhist-inspired propaganda that speaks of the Power of Five to boost variety. This simply means that whenever we are eating, we must eat food from five groups.

This may include, grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, and dairy. All of these are very important in your diet as they appeal to your five senses. Your meal should contain the foods that have all the five tastes, sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and savory umami.

They should also reflect five colors green or blue, red or orange, white, black or brown, and yellow. This forms the foundation of Shoku-Iku.

Food To Include In Your Diet

We have already discussed that there should be fine types of food in every meal that you are consuming, belonging to 5 different groups of food if you want to eat the Shoku-Iku way. Well, if you want to lose weight, you will have to do this according to the Shoku-Iku technique.

So, here we are pointing out those five food items that should be there in your meals.



The very first group of food that you need to include in your diet is grains. They should be included in some form or another in every meal that you are having. For example, rice is a grain.

It is rich in carbohydrates and has a very less amount of minerals like sodium, saturated fat, trans fat or cholesterol. So, when you are in Japan, you can’t have a single meal without having rice in it.

Above all, it is filling and a replacement of all those alternatives that are less nutritious. Another option that you should go for, is noodles. They are low in fat, but are full of filling carbohydrates.

Now, you might be wondering, why we are talking about noodles instead of grains. Well, noodles in Japan are usually made from mung beans and buckwheat. Buckwheat is also known as Soba and it is not just wheat.

One should have at least one serving of grains in each meal of the day. The target should be of five to seven servings daily, where every serving must be of the quantity 40 grams or the measurement could be done as a 1/4 cup of rice.



The second and the most important food group that you must include in your meal are vegetables. They have the lowest fat content in them and are packed with fiber. Even with the little intake you can feel filled up and then will stop eating too much.

To make this work for yourself, make a lot of green and colorful vegetables the part of your diet. In this way, you will have a variety in the taste too. If we talk about the Japanese way, then we should have five to six servings of a vegetable dish in the entire day. You can keep the serving size up to 70 grams or about 1/3 cup.



One of the staple food of Japan is seafood and you might get surprised to know that they consume almost 10 percent of the world’s fish. If you want to go with this Japanese way of eating, you can have three to four servings of fish and meat or any other food item with protein every day.

Here, you need to keep a check on the portion size, which should be 6 grams per serving. You should note that the people in Japan want to have their protein from fish and legumes. They do not consume pork and beef for protein.

The two very popular fishes are salmon and tuna as both of them are excellent sources of omega-3 fats. Apart from protein, this one is very important as it is good for a healthy heart and mind.

Fishes provide lean protein and are low in saturated fat. They also contain essential vitamins and anti-inflammatory substances like omega-3 fatty acids, which is great for weight loss.

Along with seafood, the Japanese take a lot of plant-based protein. For example, soy is great for weight loss. It influences our metabolic rate and promotes weight loss in our bodies.

Not just this, but one can have tofu, edamame, soybeans, and tempeh in their diet to take advantage of it.

Fruits & Dairy Products

fruits and dairy

With these two products in your meal, you complete the 5 group food concept. However, fruits and dairy come at the bottom of the Shoku-Iku food chart. Fruits and dairy products should not have more than two servings every day.

The portion size for these products maybe 100 grams. When we look at these servings and measurements, it means 2/3 cup of chopped fruits or less than 1/2 cup of milk.


When we talk about tea, it is green tea in Japan, and the Japanese love it. The reason behind it is that it gives you the protection from heart diseases, diabetes, and helps you in weight loss.

It is probably because of this habit of consuming green tea that only 3.6 percent of adults are obese in Japan. It is so good to know that adults in Japan are three times less likely to be overweight than adults in America.

This was proved in a joint study and research by scholars from the University of Minnesota and Masahiko Gemma Waseda University in Japan.

Food Rules They Follow

As we have mentioned earlier, Shoku-Iku is nothing, but the way of eating food. As per its literal meaning, it will never tell you what to eat. It will rather tell you how you should select your food.

Along with food preferences, there are some rules that this Japanese technique tells us to follow. We have listed some of them in the section below.

Eat-in Between Meals

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that, if you want to lose weight, you don’t need to starve yourself. It is just that, you should know to eat smartly. If we talk about Japanese people, then they eat 3 meals a day and an afternoon snack too.

The afternoon snacks can be anything from your choice. It could even be rice balls, candies, or chocolate. Now, if we talk about the secret of their diet, then it lies in the tiny portion size of their meals.

People over there believe that depriving us of the food we want to have will lead to binging. So they do moderation in everything.

The Concept Of Hara Hachi bu

Forget about Shoku-Iku, any good diet plan that we follow will have this tip that one should never full their stomach completely. So, Hara Hachi bu means that people should eat only till their stomach is 80 percent full.

Believe it or not, but it is a great weight loss tip. Now, the question is, how do we overeat. Well, it takes about 20 minutes for our brain to register that our stomach is full.

So, one should know how much their stomach requires and should eat accordingly. Otherwise, we will keep on overeating all the time.

Move Your Body

You won’t hear the concept of the gym in Japan, then also Japanese are the healthiest and fittest people on earth. This is simply because they walk a lot and do a lot of physical activities. You will be amazed by the concept that works here.

The cost of cars is high here and public transportation is inaccessible. Being the citizen of any other country, you may find this strange, but the benefits are there for all of us to see.

The reason why physical activities are important is that they benefit bone health, cardiovascular health, and promotes mental well-being.

Say Yes To Fermented Foods

Two of the very popular food items in Japan are fermented soy and pickled foods and are eaten almost daily in Japan. The reason why they are consumed by everyone is that they have a positive effect on gut health. This promotes weight loss and that too in such a simple and comfortable way.

Soup At The Beginning Of Every Meal

Having a bowl full of soup is a great strategy for weight-loss. This particular form of food contains very fewer calories and at the same time can fill you up. You are like to eat less if you start every meal of yours with soup.

According to a recent study published in Appetite, a bowl of any low-calorie vegetable or fruit soup before any meal can reduce your total caloric intake. Hence, it will promote weight loss at a higher pace. Shoku Iku can be very effective in losing weight. We do recommend reading this weight loss journey which is based on Shoku Iku philosophy

Dishes You Can Try

Here, we are sharing two dishes that you can make in Japanese style.

Pear & Avocado Quinoa Power Sushi


For preparing this dish, the ingredients that will be required are 200g of quinoa, 1 tsp of white wine vinegar, a pinch of sea salt, 1 tsp of lemon juice, 3 tbsp of pureed mango, 1 medium-sized pear, 1 finely sliced avocado, four to five full sheets of dried nori seaweed.

For preparing the dish, the quinoa needs to be washed with tap water into a sieve and then it needs to be cooked with 400ml of water. First, you need to boil it and then let it simmer.

This should be cooked for 13 minutes after which water needs to be drained. Take the quinoa in a bowl and add in vinegar, lemon juice, sea salt, mango puree.

Spread this in a tray very thinly. Now, grill the slices of the pear on both sides. A nori sheet needs to be placed on a sushi rolling mat with the rough side up. Spread the quinoa mix on this.

In the middle of it, place three slices of grilled pear and four slices of avocado. The nori needs to be rolled tightly to the end. Cut it into six pieces and serve.

The Dancing Prawns


For making this dish you will need half leek which has been sliced into julienne, 1tsp salt, 5tsp sake, 4 drops sesame oil, 1 spring onion (sliced into julienne), 1tsp soy sauce, 5 oyster mushroom (1cm thick sliced), 250g large head-on prawns.

Place the leek in a saucepan with the mushrooms over it and the prawns on top of both. Add sake and cook until sake starts steaming. Now, reduce the flame and add soy sauce, salt, and sesame oil. Now, this needs to be covered again and then allowed to simmer for 2 min. Serve in a plate with spring onions.

We have tried and mentioned every detail you will need to understand Shoku-Iku. You can understand how simple it is to follow this technique if you read it thoroughly. Along with the type of food, we have even shared two recipes to make it easy for you.

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