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What is the Okinawa Diet™?

By R. Anacan
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Okinawa Diet™ is a weight loss and healthy lifestyle program based on the eating habits and lifestyle of the inhabitants of the Japanese island of Okinawa. It is believed that this island has one of the highest percentage of individuals living to the age of 100 and beyond in the world. During the course of a 25-year study, three doctors conducted extensive research to discover what contributed to the longevity and excellent health of so many Okinawans. The Okinawa Diet™ was formed and created from the results and conclusions derived from the study.

The major principles of the Okinawa Diet™ revolve around consuming less calories on average per day by not eating until one is completely full, eating the right combinations of food, eating foods that are fresh and not processed, and reducing the amount of meat, dairy, and eggs that are eaten on a daily basis. In many ways the Okinawa Diet™ sounds like many other diets that are so prevalent today. After all, most diet programs stress the importance of reducing the amount of calories consumed while increasing the amount of calories burned.

The difference between the Okinawa Diet™ and other programs is that it is not simply and only a “lose weight now” program. Proponents of the Okinawa Diet™ stress that the program is more about living a certain lifestyle inspired by the example of Okinawan centenarians. In fact, many people on the program feel that, unlike other diets, the Okinawan diet program is sustainable over a longer period of time. In addition, the creators of the diet have adapted the traditional Okinawan diet to appeal to both Eastern and Western tastes.

One of the major reasons that the diet is sustainable over a longer period of time is that while it is a calorie restriction type of diet, people may actually eat more food while on the diet, reducing the instances where the dieter feels hungry. The study that the Okinawa Diet™ is based on found that Okinawans generally consumed about 500 fewer calories per day than people in other cultures. While eating fewer calories per day, the study determined that Okinawans actually consume foods that are more nutrient-rich and less dense calorically than the staple foods of other cultures. This means that while they consume fewer calories on average than other people, they actually end up eating more food.

The Okinawa Diet™ divides food into four major groups. The first group is known as featherweight foods. These are foods such as vegetables, miso soup, tofu, tea and water. The second group is known as lightweight foods and includes foods such as brown rice, whole grain bread and lean proteins such as certain types of fish. The goal of the program is for featherweight and lightweight foods to comprise the majority of a person’s daily food consumption.

The next category is known as middleweight foods and this includes lean red meats and fattier fish. The heavyweight category rounds out the Okinawa Diet& and these include high fat and high caloric density foods such as eggs, butter, oils, certain meats and poultry, and foods high in sugar such as desserts, fruit juices and soft drinks. Heavyweight and middleweight foods should comprise no more than 25% of a person’s overall food consumption under the Okinawan program.

Those interested in the Okinawa Diet™ can find more information and resources about the program on the Internet. As with all diet programs, those interested in the Okinawa Diet™ should consult with their doctor or health care provider before starting the program.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon1005651 — On Oct 17, 2021

This is so true. Even for other non-Okiwana Blue Zoners, beans and legumes are an important part of their sustainable diet. These are usually inexpensive, durable and minimally-processed—in the context of traditional food at least.

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