Is Soondubu Jjigae Healthy? (Healthy Korean Tofu Soup)


Is Soondubu Jjigae Healthy? First, we need to look at what Soondubu is and what goes into this hardy Korean soup. The tofu that goes into Soondubu is made from soybeans and is  solidified from boiling the beans and then cooling them.

Unlike tofu made by compressing solidified soymilk, the tofu in Soondubu retains the various nutrients and minerals of soymilk itself. It has around 5.3 grams of protein per 100 grams served and various vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron.

So, the answer to the question ”Is Soondubu healthy?” is Yes, there are many health benefits to eating your favorite Korean stew. Although Soondubu has a lot of health benefits it does not mean that it’s the best for dieting.

So, how do we make sure that we can eat Soondubu while we diet? Here are three key points that will help you lose weight and stay lean while eating your favorite Korean dish. 

  1. How Many Calories Are In One Pot of Soondubu?

  2. Eat High Protein Meals Before or After You Eat Soondubu

  3. Focus On The Side Dishes and Eat Half The Rice

Let’s get into this. 

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How To Lose Weight Eating Soondubu

Anyone who lives in a city like Los Angeles has probably eaten at a Korean restaurant that sells Soondubu at least once in their lives. As such, Soondubu is loved by many people for its taste and well balanced nutrition. When people eat Soondubu, most people eat it with a serving of either Galbi (Marinated Short Ribs) or Bulgogi (Grilled Chuck). One thing to watch out for when eating any meal is to not consume too  many calories. 

Soondubu rarely comes on its own as mentioned above. It is usually served with a serving of rice or beef with various different types of side dishes called Ban Chan. What you want to do is to make sure that you minimize the amount of calories that you are consuming by eating only around four ounces of the meat. This can save you on 200-300 extra calories that you could eat on your vegetables and fibers for the day. 

Speaking of vegetables and fiber, the banchan, or Korean side dishes, are a perfect way to get your greens in for this meal. Traditional banchan is served with Kimchi, spinach and other great vegetables. However, there are some fattening banchan options such as the glass noodles, the rice cakes, or the rice jelly. Just focus on the greens and you’ll be fine 

Let’s get into some more in-depth details on how you can eat Soon Doo Boo and still lose weight.

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Tip 1. How Many Calories Are In the One Pot of Soondubu?

I love Soondubu so I often go to a ton of Korean restaurants that serve it. As someone who has become a bit of a Soondubu connoisseur, I’ve figured that they usually serve around 7 different kinds of Soondubu. These dishes range from different types of proteins or different levels of spice which makes it so that you neve have the same Soondubu experience again. It’s a lot of fun to go to these restaurants as the options are limitless!  So, let's look at the calories for the 7 different kinds of Soondubu that are usually served within every Korean restaurant. 

The most basic type of Soondubu is the seafood Soondubu. The seafood Soondubu has around 208 calories while the Dumpling Soondubu contains  3-4 dumplings which add around 150-200. This is an option that you typically want to avoid if you’re someone that wants to stay in shape.

Now there are higher protein options such as beef (Sirloin 126/100g) or pork (182/100g) which can add an extra calorie range of 25 to 36. These are calories that come from protein and fats so it’s totally fine to eat this. In fact, what Soondubu lacks is protein, so adding meat to your dish would be even better for you since protein is the best macro nutrient for staying in shape.

Small intestine(231/100g) Soondubu has an added calories of 46 coming mostly from protein and fats while the Ham (50/100g)  & sausage(262/100g) Soon Doo Boo can have an extra calorie range of anywhere between 70-80 calories. These calories are coming from a lot of fats as ham and sausage usually contain a lot more fat than any other meat. So, these two would not be recommended for anyone trying to stay in shape.

Assorted Soondubu is made of Shrimp, Beef and Clams which add an extra 15 calories of. This is considered the classic Soondubu dish and is usually at the top of the menu as the specialty soup that they serve that day. 

So, which ones do we recommend? We recommend you either get the classic Soondubu with shrimp, beef, and clams or the beef Soondubu as both of these options have minimal calories coming from fats and high amounts of protein. These two are the most delicious foods anyway and you’ll see that most Koreans order this as their main go to dish. 

Tip 2. Eat High Protein Meals Before or After You Eat Soondubu

As mentioned above, Soondubu lacks protein as most of its calories come from the soup base and the tofu inside the soup. The tip here is to add some high protein meals to your diet and to make sure your other meals have a lower carb count than the meal with the Soondubu. 

Protein is the building block of muscle and is the main macronutrient in charge of building and repairing muscle. Muscle is important when staying in shape as it allows you to burn more calories at rest. Basically, you directly increase your metabolism when you have more muscle on your body. Without consuming a lot of protein in your day, you will be eating carbs and fats to fill up those calories which are the two other macronutrients that will most likely be transitioned into fat on your body. 

So, make sure that your other meals are high in protein and low in carbs as that’s all you’re really getting when you eat Soondubu! 

Tip 3. Focus On The Side Dishes and Eat Half The Rice 

When you go to a restaurant that sells Soondubu, they serve you Banchan as discussed above. Some restaurants serve small fried fish while others serve small sized Korean pancakes called Bindaetteok. The calories in the fish served runs at 40 calories per 30 grams and the Bindaetteok is 180 calories per 100 grams. So, you need to keep in mind that these side dishes can also add some calories to your meal.

Banchan is not an appetizer but is rather seen as a dish to be eaten alongside your meal in traditional Korean standards. These side dishes can range from bean sprouts, seasoned cucumbers, fish cakes, and more. The tip here is to make sure that you eat the veggies along with your meal as they are actually designed to be eaten that way. If you take Soondubu for example, you’ll see that the flavor can get repetitive and is one note. When you add some savory bean sprouts or acidic cucumbers with each bite, you’ll be given different flavors combinations in between every bite. Try it out when you go to your next Korean restaurant, you’ll see what I mean. So what are the calories for these side dishes? 

Bean sprouts have 20 calories per 100 grams

Seasoned cucumber has 42 calories per 100grams. 

Fish cakes have 124calories per 100 grams

Cucumbers have 20 calories per 100 grams

Kimchi has 15 calories per 100 grams 

Everything looks great except for the fish cakes which usually have 124 calories every 100 grams. So, make sure you eat everything but take it easy on the fish cakes.

In Korean food, soup must be eaten with rice as it’s flavor is too savory without a neutral catalyst such as rice. It is not only because rice is a staple food amongst Asian cuisine but also since the soup is seasoned under the premise that it is eaten with rice. Eating soup without rice is unthinkable for Korean people. However, the amount of calories in a bowl of rice is 380. One pot of  basic seafood Soondubu is 208 calories while one bowl of rice has almost double that. So, instead of eating one spoonful of Soondubu with a spoonful of rice, it is better to just put half of the bowl of rice into the Soondubu soup and enjoy the texture of rice with Soondubu. You’ll be able to shed 140 calories of rice all coming from carbs! We get that there’s a sacrifice but it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

By adding only half the rice you can take the calories of your Soondubu meal to 500-550 calories rather than 600-700 calories.  In addition to the Soondubu, you can’t forget about the meats served. The average calorie of one Galbi dish is 270 calories/100g . However, if you order the Soondubu and Galbi combination menu, the amount of Galbi is usually cut in half. So, what we’re saying is to just be mindful of how much you’re eating and stay on track with your fitness goals. 

There it is! 

Our three tips on how you can eat your favorite Korean comfort food without feeling too guilty afterwards. We hope you can take these tips into consideration when you eat any food that you know is really high in carbs. It goes a long way to understand how many calories and what macronutrient ratio your body needs to stay lean. Go check out our other blogs if you’re looking for more healthy tips! 

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Phillip Pak is a fitness expert who has been training clients for 5 years. Throughout his fitness journey, Phill has done it all when it comes to diet and nutrition. He is now the owner of Aspire Fitness Walnut where his main goal is to help those who are seeking to find the best version of themselves. He’s been through the struggle of obtaining an good physique and knows how to share it with others.