Is Tofu Keto Friendly?

With a rise in popularity of plant-based diets, tofu is gaining significant attention within the western world. It is now widely available in most supermarkets, but for people following certain food diets, the question of whether they are compatible with tofu remains.

What is tofu?

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food made from curdled soybean from which the water content has been reduced. Tofu dates back many centuries where it has been a staple in East Asian cuisine. Primarily a meat alternative, tofu is a blank canvas for many recipes and flavours; from tofu scramble to tofu cubes.

Nutritional profile

The nutritional profile of half a cup (approximately 124 grams) of tofu is:

  • 94 calories
  • 10g of protein
  • 6g of fat
  • 2g of carbs
  • 1.5g net carbs1

The soybean product is full of many healthy components:

  • Protein
  • Vitamins A, C, D, E, K
  • Vitamin B: riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B-6, B-12, folate
  • Minerals: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, selenium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Tofu is a great meat alternative due to its high protein content. It is recommended that individuals consume 0.8g of good quality protein per kilogram of body weight per day; one serving of tofu can equal up to or over 18% of this requirement.

One serving of tofu also meets one-third of daily iron requirements.2

Types of tofu

Tofu varies slightly depending on how curdled the soybean is, and therefore how much water has been removed from the product:

Silken tofu

Is the least curdled, allowing it to have a smooth and light texture. Its creamy consistency makes it ideal for sauces and desserts.

Medium tofu

Is the in-between consistency, where it has been sufficiently curdled and has a reduced water content.

Firm tofu

Becomes firmer as the water content is even more reduced and has a more crumbly texture. Some recipes call for squeezing the water out of the block of tofu even further - paper towels are placed under and on top of the block of tofu with a heavy item (such as a chopping board with food cans) on top, in order to squeeze out the water.

This is the best type for cutting into cubes for frying or as a meat alternative.

The ‘water’ removed from the tofu can be made into soy milk. Coagulants are added to allow the fats and water to combine.

Is tofu healthy?

Tofu is considered a healthy option as it is a low-calorie, high-protein product. With respect to its nutritional profile, tofu is full of a wide range of vitamins and minerals. 

What is a ketogenic diet?

The keto diet has recently grown considerably in popularity. This diet involves limiting carbohydrate intake to 20-50g of non-fibrous carbohydrates a day. This is a considerable reduction in carb intake from the typical daily intake of 150-250g. The reduced carb intake then makes up 5-10% of total daily energy intake, as opposed to approximately 50%.

The aim of the ketogenic diet is to switch the main source of fuel in the body from glucose, the derivative of carbohydrates, to fatty acids. This then allows the body to break down existing fat resources for energy, and therefore allows for weight loss to occur.3

As a result of this, the keto diet involves consuming foods that have a high-fat content. 

The fat is used to make ketone bodies in the liver, which act as the fuel source. The production of ketone bodies is done by breaking down the fat reserves in the body, therefore decreasing the amount of fat and resulting in weight loss. However, this process can only occur after a few days following the restriction of carbs in the diet. 

It is primarily the consumption of saturated fats that is encouraged when following a keto diet. This includes oils such as coconut oil, palm oil, and certain butters. 

Unsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and tofu are also allowed but in a smaller ratio in comparison to the saturated fats.4

Can you eat tofu on a keto diet?

Tofu is primarily used as a meat alternative, making it an unpopular choice for meat-eating followers of the keto diet, as it contains less protein than meat. However, for vegetarians and vegans who follow a ketogenic diet, tofu may be a much more common source of protein in their diets and a great meat (or even egg) substitute for many recipes.

Is tofu high in carbs?

Being a protein source, tofu has a low carbohydrate content, making it keto-friendly. As mentioned above, half a cup of tofu contains two grams of non-fibrous carbs.1 This makes it low in carbs and therefore perfectly fine to eat within a keto diet. 

Can you eat soybeans on a keto diet?

In comparison to tofu, soybeans have a higher carbohydrate content; half a cup (100 grams) of boiled soybeans contain a total of 10 grams of carbs, 6 of which are fibre. This leaves a net weight of 4 grams of carbs. 

The rest of the nutritional profile of half a cup of soybeans is as follows:

  • 173 calories
  • 9g fat
  • 17g protein

Soybeans are a great protein source, and especially important for meat-free diets. The low-carb, high-protein combo makes soybeans a great option for veggie and vegan keto diets.1

Is tofu good for weight loss?

Although tofu is deemed a healthy and nutritional food, all components of a healthy lifestyle are required for weight loss, not just eating tofu!

This includes limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, and eating a balanced diet alongside regular physical exercise.

What is not allowed on a keto diet?

To reiterate, a keto diet involves cutting out carbohydrates in order to switch the body’s fuel source from glucose to ketone bodies; they are produced by the liver using stored fats as well as other healthy fats that are consumed.

Based on this, a keto diet involves avoiding:

  • Sugary food: ranging from the typical ‘junk food’ to even most fruits. These items can contain sugar that uses up the carb allowance of keto diets.
  • Starchy food: this includes breads, pastas, potatoes, cereals, and many more products. However, with the gain in popularity of the keto diet, most of these are now available as keto equivalents that are low in carbohydrates.5


Ketogenic diets cut out the majority of non-fibre carbohydrates and instead involve increasing healthy fats in the diet, such as avocados and nuts, as well as ensuring good quality protein is present. 

As a result of this, tofu can be considered a keto-friendly food, given its low carbohydrate content. Tofu is also packed full of vitamins and minerals, making it a great option for any diet. However, when compared to meat protein sources, it has a much lower fat content as well as protein content, meaning tofu is more commonly seen in vegetarian and vegan keto diets. 


  1. Lodge S. Is Tofu Keto Friendly? All You Need to Know About Tofu on a Keto Diet [Internet]. Perfect Keto. 2018. Available from:
  2. Bakhsh A, Lee S, Lee E, Hwang Y, Joo S. Traditional Plant-based Meat Alternatives, Current, and Future Perspective: A Review. Journal of Agriculture & Life Science. 2021;55(1):1-11. 
  3. Tuck C, Staudacher H. The keto diet and the gut: cause for concern?. The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2019;4(12):908-909. 
  4. Should you try the keto diet? [Internet]. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020. Available from:
  5. Eenfeldt A. Keto Diet Foods: What to Eat and Avoid – Diet Doctor [Internet]. Diet Doctor. 2022. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Aisha Yasin

Biomedical Science - Biomedical Sciences, General, Lancaster University, England

"I am a recent biomedical science graduate, with ambitions to go on to do post-graduate medicine. During my biomedical science degree I have done a variety of modules including anatomy, physiology, clinical biochemistry and many more... Currently working as a healthcare assistant for P&O Cruises"

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