Lifestyle factors, dietary patterns, physical activity levels, genetics, and socio-cultural influences contribute to variations in body weight among different populations. Asian people are thinner than Western people. When you get off a plane to Asia, you suddenly feel chubbier.
Chances are it’s not that you gain weight. It’s that everyone else around you are so skinny. Asian girls are often perceived as slim. I’m talking about K-Pop idols or celebrities in Asia and regular people on the streets across Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea.
I understand that many body types and composition masses depend highly on our genetics. The beauty standards for what is slim or what is considered beautiful can be pretty toxic in the Asian diet culture. Some of the differences and lifestyles in the Western and Eastern cultures that help a lot of Asian stays skinny could be beneficial information for us all.
Why are Asians so skinny (10 Factors)
Some Asians may have genetic variations that influence their body composition and metabolism. Additionally, cultural dietary habits, such as predominantly plant-based diets, may contribute to lower overall calorie intake. Asian people don’t eat bread, and they don’t eat dairy products. It helps to lose weight because they sometimes have a sweet bread cake for breakfast. But generally, they don’t eat bread: no butter, cheese, or milk.
All of this helps when it comes to losing weight. However, on the flip side, the Asian diet is usually rice, and vegetables, at least the downside to rice, vegetables, and lean meats. So it’s either fried up or steamed up north.
The general thing that people eat every day is rice. It leads to a situation where people can eat and get food but doesn’t store much energy. So most of my Chinese and Indian friends have three square meals daily. However, skipping one of those meals makes them feel incredibly lackluster, and their stomach hurts. So you get a situation where they eat a lot, but they don’t put on much weight or store a lot of energy. Here are 10 factors behind why Asian are skinny and don’t tend to gain weight. Let’s see!
1. Fiber intake
Vegetables are stapled dishes in an Asian meal. The portions of vegetable dishes compared to the meat and carbs are also significantly larger. Fiber is a staple in weight loss or maintenance because it makes you feel fuller and longer at such low calories.
In addition, fiber and vegetables help improve gut health and reduce blood sugar or insulin spikes. Asian vegetable dishes are also not boring to eat, as there are many creative ways to cook vegetables that make them enjoyable.
2. Meat intake
Due to scarcity, Asians don’t eat much red meat in the Western diet. Meat consumption makes up a bigger portion of the meal, as seen in the kilograms of meat consumption per person in the top five countries in the world. I am not saying that meat is not a good source of protein. But meat, especially red meat, is more calorie-dense than fish or plant-based proteins.
Red meat, not a staple in Asian but Western diets, has more saturated fat that could raise blood cholesterol and is not weight loss friendly. Speaking of plant-based proteins, eating different soy or being products is more prevalent in the Asian diet.
3. Fish intake
Fish consumption is a common source of protein in the Asian diet, especially in the Japanese diet. Fish oil rich in omega-three fatty acids is correlated with enhanced metabolism.
So eating good fat and fish could help you burn more fat. In addition, as a high source of unsaturated fat, fish oil will help lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation, and help you feel full longer without spiking your insulin levels.
4. Soup intake
Soup is very common in a meal in the Asian diet compared to Western soup, which tends to be more cream and butter based. Asian soups are often vegetable or bone-broth-based, making them less calorie-dense.
Observational studies have found that people who regularly consume soup tend to have a lower body mass index and are less likely to have obesity than those who don’t. Soup can help increase feelings of fullness, which helps Asian girls stay lean.
5. Cooking method
Western and Eastern cultures love fried foods, but Asian countries have more variety of ways of cooking, steaming, boiling, slow cooking, etc. Fried food is welcome but less frequently found in the Asian diet. I’m not talking about the orange chicken at Panda Express. That’s American Chinese food. You can’t find orange chicken anywhere in China.
6. Dishes size
Portion-size Asian dishes, especially Japanese and Korean, come in small portions. We tend to eat a larger variety of smaller pieces, and family-style eating gives off less pressure to finish off a whole plate of food. If you go to McDonald’s in Asia, there are large sizes that are probably a US small. It’s simply not part of the Asian food culture that more is better to attract customers.
7. Drinking habits
Even in America, it defaults to warm water or tea without sugar or cream. Drinking warm water has beneficial impacts on digestion, and the tea-drinking culture in the Asian diet is also a great way to bloat, detox, and boost metabolism. Soda consumption in Asia is also not as high as in Western countries. Also, sugary beverages in Asia come in significantly reduced sizes.
8. Fermented foods
Fermented foods (natto, kimchi, kombucha, miso, dosa) are great for gut health and reducing inflammation. They help with microbial imbalances, as low diversity in the gut microbiome can cause our bodies to extract more calories from food. Therefore, making weight gain more likely.
9. Differences in desserts
Asia’s sweetness and tolerance levels are pretty low. If you go to an Asian bakery versus an American bakery, you’ll notice how the sweetness level of modern desserts is much lower. Plus, for many Asian desserts, including Boba, you can choose the sweetness level or go sugar-free. Traditional Asian desserts are much healthier and packed with nutrients, such as red bean soups, rice balls, ginger-based desserts, and tofu pudding. Interestingly, the standard dessert for Asian restaurants is fruit plates instead of cheesecake.
Lifestyle factors, including physical activity, can influence body weight and composition. Asian countries are more densely populated, leading to serious traffic issues and great public transportation systems. Everything’s more crowded and conveniently located than driving everywhere to scatter locations like the US. People in Asia tend to take walking, cycling, or public transit as their primary ways of commute. It’s almost like being forced to do some extra cardio every day. So people tend not to put on weight as quickly.
In China, I walked about three or four kilometers from my house. It’s no big deal because, in a place like America or elsewhere, you hop in your car and drive four kilometers away because it’s not convenient to walk. There aren’t excellent pedestrian walkways. On top of that, it’s easy to drive. Driving everybody in a car in China or India is cheap, especially in the cities. Driving is a nightmare. Nobody wants to go because the roads are a little disorganized.
For me to drive here would have taken me about 5 to 6 times longer than it did walking here. People walk often, but it doesn’t mean they’re interested in sports. Asian people, in general, don’t do a lot of sports. However, a trend is happening these days with these gyms and fitness centers opening up.
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