"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