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Slimmed-down comic sings praises of tofu & natto based diet

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"I'm 170 centimeters tall, and six months ago I weighed 80 kilograms with a 98 centimeter waist," remarks veteran "rakugo" (comic monologue) performer Enso Sanyutei in Shukan Gendai (Nov 27).

Sanyutei has discovered what he claims to be a veritable fountain of youth, in the form of one meal a day of soya-based products. By substituting natto (fermented soybeans) over tofu (bean curd) for rice every evening, he's managed to slim down considerably. "Now there's enough extra room in the waist of my old trousers to accommodate my little grandson," he grins.

Sanyutei's miracle diet is surprisingly simple, and requires no calorie counting. "Instead of white rice for my evening meal, I make tofu my staple food," he explains. "On top of that I put natto. It's delicious. Sometimes I season the natto with hot pepper oil. To accompany this, I'll eat sashimi or grilled fish or stewed vegetables -- anything else is okay."

The magazine turns to a nutritional expert, Hidemi Sato, to explain why Sanyutei was able to shed so much weight seemingly effortlessly.

"A 300-gram block of 'momen tofu' (the firmer variety with a low water content) has about 216 kilocalories, as opposed to 250 kilocalories for a 150-gram bowl of rice," says Sato. "So switching to tofu alone reduces caloric intake. Moreover, the proteins in the tofu aid in consumption of body fat, making the calories in the tofu easier for the body to use up. And natto is also high in protein, so eating the two together is even more effective. The nattokinase bacteria (which causes natto to ferment) promotes a healthier neurovascular system, so in that respect it's even better."

Not to mention that the vegetable proteins of these two soya-based foods are highly digestible.

Sanyutei said after taking his evening meal at 7 p.m., he refrains from other food consumption. "If I feel hungry late in the evening, I just drink water. Or, I can suppress hunger by folding up a sheet of dried "nori" (edible seaweed) and putting it in my mouth. I eat about two sheets a day."

Sanyutei had quit drinking and smoking some time ago, but had been fighting a losing battle of the bulge. "I was constantly nibbling on snacks, like sweets, or rice crackers, or peanuts," he relates. But then four years ago, he suffered a back ailment that required a month's hospitalization.

"I suffered numbness, felt weak and endured swellings," he said. "The cause was too much weight on my lower back. At times I was even confined to a wheelchair. Even walking became difficult, and since I couldn't walk it off, my weight remained high. It was a vicious circle."

He had experimented with a variety of weight-reduction diets, all of which failed. Sanyutei learned about this particular diet from a student at one of rakugo classes he teaches, a tall man in his 50s. "I'd noticed he'd become noticeably slimmer and asked how he did it, and he told me, 'In the evening I just substitute tofu for rice,'" the comic relates. "I figured it that was all it took I could do it too. I love tofu, so I never tire of eating it, and you can just buy at any supermarket -- preparation is easy."

The loss of 12 kilograms may have also helped to extend his career. "Before I lost weight, kneeling in the formal 'seiza' position caused discomfort in my back and knees after 15 minutes," Sanyutei says. "Now I can do it for an hour with no difficulty."

"In the performers' world, they say that it's the voice that starts to go first," he adds. "If your voice loses its timbre, you can see it on the faces of your audience. Thanks to this diet, even the timbre of my voice has made a comeback."

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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This is actually a very healthy substitution... lower carbohydrate intake is great. Have used similar principles to great effect, though eating tofu every single day might be a bit too much soy.

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Thanks to this diet, even the timbre of my voice has made a comeback

tofu contains so much estrogen that soon he will sound like a female.

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There's a lot of quackery on the net about estrogen and tofu. If it turned men into women, China wouldn't have a billion people since they've only been eating it for 2000 years. From the mayoclinic dot com site:

Due to limited human study, there is currently not enough evidence to recommend for or against the use of soy for weight reduction.

and

Dietary soy may decrease the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men

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I believe it wasn't the natto and tofu that had the desired effect, so much as the fact that he cut out the rice. Grains are evil, folks! I've been doing the no-grain thing for several weeks now (yes, incorporating plenty of natto - two or three packs a day - and a little bit of tofu in my diet) and I feel great! My waistband feels looser, too. Kudos to Sanyutei for his weight loss, and his healthy gains.

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Grains are evil, folks!

No, again there are over a billion rice-noshing Chinese who would dispute that. Too much of anything is evil, very little is evil in itself. (Apart from refined flour, white sugar and Manchester Utd.)

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"On top of that I put natto. It's delicious."

It is not. It is disgusting.

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Need to try that diet.

But what is a good substitute for Natto? Can't stand that stuff.

We already eat Tofu-Hamburgers(mostly mushroom + Tofu) often. Add a bit of stir-fried veggies,etc makes a yummy meal.

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170cm, 80kg, 98cm waist...

Jesus, this person must have been all gut, and nothing else anywhere else!

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I agree, it's largely the rice that makes you fat. Cut out the rice and replace it with something that has actual nutrition (especially protein) and you're bound to lose weight. You don't even have to eat natto or tofu. Simply reducing carbs and sugar would do it.

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I quit eating breakfast foods and switched to fresh fruits in the morning and lost 25 pounds. I believe it was simply due to reducing the carbs and sugar.

Taka

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Think I'll stick to the tried and true Twinkee diet by Mark Haub.

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Simply reducing carbs and sugar would do it.

Correct

I believe it was simply due to reducing the carbs and sugar.

Correct

I love it when a new diet comes along in Japan (or anywhere in the West actually) and all the idiots race out to buy it.

Cut out the refined flours and sugars. Thats it folks.

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I switched from eating mostly breads, rice, and eggs for breakfast, and now alternate between a bowl of oatmeal with fruit, or a fresh-fruit smoothie blended with low-fat no-sugar yogurt and soy milk. Three months later and I haven't lost an ounce. (I eat a fair amount of tofu, too). Back to the drawing board!! But nothing will convince me to go the natto route, sorry...

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What is wrong with being 80KG at 170cm tall? I am 84kg and 176cm tall. Hardly what I would call fat. In fact when I go to the US I feel incredibly slim..

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*tokyokawasaki What is wrong with being 80KG at 170cm tall? I am 84kg and 176cm tall. Hardly what I would call fat. In fact when I go to the US I feel incredibly slim.

.*that's because most of the people you're looking at in the usa are obese. so, compared to them you're slim. i'm 84 kg at 186cm & considered fat (overweight) in japan

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To natto and tofu can be added soya milk (tonyu). It's flavour is a little grassy to some, but it's like drinkable tofu and any supermarket or convenience store sells it. It will help you lose weight if you reduce your solid food intake.

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Three months later and I haven't lost an ounce. (I eat a fair amount of tofu, too). Back to the drawing board!! But nothing will convince me to go the natto route, sorry...

If you can sk4ek, try reducing your caloric intake (if you're able to measure it reasonably accurately) and portion size. It's good that you've switched off from a carb-loaded breakfast as well, try to implement that throughout your entire diet. It might be quite an adjustment initially but once you get used to smaller portions and lowered calorie counts, you will notice yourself dropping pounds. Couple that with an exercise regimen of some sort, and be sure to stick with it! Good luck mate.

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eat healthy food, exercise, no smoking, no drinking....no mystery to losing weight and looking healthy....

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Grains are evil, folks!

No they aren't. I eat plenty of brown rice, whole grain bread, bran and oatmeal, and I credit those grains along with plenty of fruit and veg with keeping me slim and healthy. Eating a lot of white bread and white rice isn't the best thing for you and will probably contribute to constipation, but saying "grains are evil" is throwing the baby out with the bathwater in a big way.

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Shaolin7 -- thanks for the sensible advice. I don't know why I'm finding it so difficult to cut back on carbs here, but at least I've switched to whole-grain breads and 16-grain rice (really good stuff), which is a start of sorts. The rest, well, I should know better.

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low carb is the way to go. whenever i slip and start getting back heavily into carbs, i'll invariably gain weight again. but each person has his/her own carb tolerance

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A(1) banana or another of your favorite fruit(1) for breakfast. Lunch whatever but be reasonable. Dinner, huge tofu salad (with tomato, cucumbers, lettuce)or 3 or 4 natto makiiis, or a huge western salad etc something without too much rice, any pasta or bread. when hungry have a fruit. I started this new lifestyle of healthy eating 2 weeks ago :) I feel good. Dont feel like im starving, so i dont crave. Here and there i cheat. But I do exercise 3 to 4 times a week for 30-60 min each time. I guess the magic comes with the exercise.

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iron chef, agreed. I've been on a very low carb, high fat, high protien diet for almost the last 10 yesrs. Feel great too. Bad cholesteral is low, good cholestrol is right on target and body fat is between 9-13% constantly.

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Eat sensibly (not snacking, eating late at night, lots of fast food), just exercise then its all plain sailing. If i want to eat something ill eat it, i dont think of fat/carb content. Just eat and enjoy. I go to the gym 4-5 times a week for weights and run 2 times a week. Not rocket science. I`m no adonis but 178cm and 75kgs is not too shabby.

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I had tofu + natto yesterday. Yummy!

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I am ripped. I am a true specimen. I just say my prayers and eat my vitamins!

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What is wrong with being 80KG at 170cm tall?

If your muscle mass is really tiny (average for Japanese) then 80kg for 170cm is ALOT!

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tokyotales, my Japanese friends are lean, mean wrecking machines. You dare to step up to the plate?

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All the information about soy and estrogen that you find online isn't quackery. Most us us here don't have a biochemical background but simply put in some men a large amount of soy, in particular genistein and daidzein which asct as plant phytoestrogens can lead to lower sex drive because of the damper on the testosterone cycle. Most people eating a little soy here and there won't notice. especially here in Japan where men are accustomed to eating it since birth. Have you ever looked at testosterone levels in Asian Americans vs.those in Asia? do you even know what a "normal" lever is? 250ng/per deciliter of blood up to 1200. Most don't exceed 800 especially after you settle in when you ar done growing etc. Many men in Japan are at the lower end of that scale. many western men get there from abuse of diet/weight gain in the mid range. Your doctor may say you are in the normal range even though you are not as horny as you could be (among other less than pleasant reactions). All that said eating natto may not be as bad because of the fermenting process. But from a personal standpoint I have been through the high soy diet thing twice and I have been to the doctor on a few occasion in America and Japan. As a life time lifter used to a higher sex drive and a close to 400 lb bench press I am very sensitive to how my body works. I first got into the soy thing as a personal trainer in my twenties. Big mistake. But, as I said as an occasional taste I eat or drink soy but to drink large quantities, do so at your own risk. The reasearch is now there from respectable western universities. The soy conglomerate (like Monsanto who develop lots of GMO stuff including soy) in the US for example don't want us to know this. They control most of the world soy source including a large amount of what is used in Japan. do your own research.

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Rememeber this though, some things in the Japanese diet are anti-aromatase such as green and black tea. This basically means that it can block estrogens that increase in the male body as you age and or gain weight. I studied with a former bichemist who swam in the Asian games in the 80's. trust me I am no scientist (he was one of my profs in grad school.) My eyes were opened to the chemistry of food and I still look at stuff every month if not every week to help my body.

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His height and weight stats are good and all.. but 98cm (39 inch) waist is the number to pay attention to... leading one to believe that the majority of that 80kg was not lean body mass.

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The only soy you should consume is the fermented variety - i.e natto and miso. Tofu and soy milk are going to screw you up. Google Dr Mercola and see his analysis of Soy. Grains are bad, we didn't evolve to consume them, constantly spiking your insulin and interfering with natural fat metabolism processes. Wheat and Corn are the worst, rice and oats the lesser of the the evils. In the modern world they are are so entrenched and pervasive and so many groups, entire countries, big corporations, farmers et al have a such vested interest in grains, they will spin any thing to keep the world on our diet of grains. It's really hard to avoid them, but if you can do it, it's better for your body in the long run. What other animals eat grains? - force fed cows and chickens, why? - to fatten them up. Think about it.

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Carcharaodon...I feel you on that. hard to avoid them but ok if done in smaller quantities. Look at the foot chart and lower the grains and increase the plants....

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Get a bike, ride it, ride it HARD, don't sit around so much, stop eating sweets, don't have any dessert (you are not 6 years old), and basically man-up.

Not rocket science.

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virgo; agree with you totally.

I am a road bike rider, regularly knocking out 600km+ a week. Used to be a hardcore lifter - probably not as heavy as you, but topped out at 374lb deadlift for a few reps. I watch what I eat, and I know what works, as I can feel it.

Soy just ain't for real men.

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