What Is the Japanese Diet Plan? All You Need to Know

What Is the Japanese Diet Plan?

All You Need to Know

The Japanese Diet Plan: A Brief History

In Japan, there are two types of people; those who like to eat and those who don’t. The first group consists of those who prefer eating meat or fish over vegetables, fruits and grains. They tend to be leaner than others because they eat less food overall.

The second group consists of those who prefer vegetables, fruit and grains over meat or fish. They tend to be fatter than others because they eat more food overall. This is due to their higher caloric intake from animal products such as beef, pork and chicken.

As you might expect, the average person falls into the middle category. He eats a mixture of both groups depending on what he’s doing at any given time.

So why does Japan have such a high rate of obesity?

Well, it all comes down to one thing: the way the country was originally settled. When Japan became a nation-state in 1868, its population consisted mostly of farmers and fishermen. These were people who ate primarily plant foods and didn’t get much exercise. Their bodies weren’t built for sustained periods of physical activity so they needed to restrict themselves to prevent health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Over time, things changed drastically. After the Second World War, the majority of Japanese citizens became middle-class. They moved away from farms and fishing villages to big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka where they worked in office jobs or industrial jobs.

Over the years, as their living standards improved, one thing remained the same: their dietary habits.

Because of this steady increase in wealth without a change in eating habits, the average Japanese citizen’s caloric intake increased steadily over time. As a result, most of the population became what we would call “overweight” or even “obese,” depending on how much they ate.

Nowadays, the average Japanese citizen eats three times as many calories as they need to, which contributes greatly to the high cancer rates in Japan. Certain types of cancer are as common there as they are in America, especially colorectal, prostate and lung cancer.

The Japanese Diet Plan: What You Need to Know

The average person living in Japan eats a lot of processed foods such as breads, noodles and cakes. They also eat a lot of white rice. This is why the Japanese diet is called “carb-heavy.”

In addition to eating too many carbs, the average person living in Japan does not get nearly enough exercise. The amount of walking most people do pales in comparison to the amount of exercise they need to do to stay healthy. The result is a skyrocketing rate of obesity in Japan.

The average person living in Japan eats more animal products than the average American does. This is because red meat and full-fat dairy products are much cheaper to produce there than in the US. Even though the average citizen eats more animal products, studies have shown that plant-based diets are much healthier than diets high in meat and dairy.

The most important thing to know about the Japanese diet is that it’s very different from the traditional Western diet. The average American consumes between 225-250 grams of carbohydrates every day. The average Japanese citizen consumes between 225-250 grams of carbohydrates every day.

This might not seem like a big deal at first, but the difference is that the overwhelming majority of those carbs come from rice, while the majority of the carbs in the American diet come from processed foods.

Before you go on some wild carb-cutting frenzy, keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with eating carbs, especially if you’re physically active and exercise regularly. The important thing is to be aware of the carbs you’re eating and to make healthier food choices whenever possible.

If eating more Japanese has got you craving some sushi, check out this awesome recipe for healthy veggie sushi that you can make at home.

The Japanese Diet in Action

The following meal plan is based on the government-endorsed dietary guidelines for healthy adults in Japan. Some of the guidelines are slightly different than those followed in the United States, but it’s still helpful to see what a typical diet looks like in this country.

On your quest to lose weight while on the Japanese Diet, you should make an effort to eat meals like this at least five times every week.


One cup of cooked white rice topped with a thinly sliced apple

One cup of canned tuna

Tea or coffee (without sugar)

Morning Snack

One medium-sized banana


Two cups of cooked white rice with one cup of miso soup

Salad with two tablespoons of low-fat dressing

Afternoon Snack

One cup of unshelled edamame (soy beans) or other unshelled nuts

One cup of fruit cocktail


Three ounces of tuna, shrimp or chicken (grilled, not fried)

One cup of cooked white rice

Boiled vegetables (your choice of either green beans, cauliflower, carrots or mushrooms)

One small piece of fruit

What to Drink on the Japanese Diet

Drinking plenty of water is always important, but it’s especially vital on this diet because you’ll be eating a lot more rice and other starchy carbs. Staying hydrated will help keep your energy up and prevent constipation, which can be a problem for some when they eat large amounts of rice.

The good news is that you can drink as much water or other non-caffeinated beverages as you want. Good choices include water, green tea, black tea, milk (without added sugar), unsweetened carbonated beverages and low-sodium V8 juice.

Alcohol should be consumed only in very small amounts and only by adults.

Supplements on the Japanese Diet

Both calcium and vitamin D are important for healthy bones and many doctors recommend vitamin D supplementation for everyone, even people who get adequate sun exposure. Since you may not be getting the recommended daily allowance of these two essential nutrients on this diet, supplements can make up the difference. Please consult your doctor to see what dosage is appropriate for you.

The Bottom Line on the Japanese Diet

Is the Japanese diet right for you?

While eating rice and fish every day gets boring, this diet does have some things going for it. It’s very simple to prepare, it’s well-balanced and you don’t have to count calories or pay much attention to what you’re eating.

However, this diet may not be the best way to lose weight if you’re significantly over your ideal weight. You would probably lose more by carefully counting calories and paying attention to the kinds of foods you eat.

Furthermore, eating large amounts of rice and fish can take a toll on your kidneys. If you have a medical condition or are at least 50 years old, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting this or any other diet.

Finally, if you do decide to follow the Japanese diet, you should make sure that you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals and that you don’t get tired of eating the same things every day. You might want to consider substituting fish for meat or adding a side of vegetables now and then.

Sources & references used in this article:

All you need to know about music & the internet revolution by C Mewton – 2010 – books.google.com

Economics explained: everything you need to know about how the economy works and where it’s going by RL Heilbroner, L Thurow – 1998 – books.google.com

The social science jargon buster: The key terms you need to know by J Norris, V Messina – 2011 – Da Capo Lifelong Books

Autism and diet: What you need to know by Z O’leary – 2007 – books.google.com