Putting together your weight loss diet can be a challenge with all the possibilities. What about kimchi, is it good for weight loss or fattening?
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of salted and seasoned fermented vegetables. Some kimchi ingredient examples include cabbage, garlic, chili powder, spring onions, ginger, radishes, carrots, and more.
The exact nutritional values will vary from kimchi to kimchi but by looking at an example you get a good impression of how good kimchi is for weight loss.
Many people will benefit in terms of weight loss by eating more whole kimchi. This is due to the weight loss friendly nutrition composition of kimchi and fermented foods having the ability to increase weight loss.
You do have to keep in mind the relatively high sodium content in kimchi. If your diet is already high in sodium it might not be smart to eat more kimchi.
Micronutrients in kimchi
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in kimchi.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of this example of kimchi provides you with approximately (1):
- Vitamin K: 55% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Sodium: 21% of the DV
- Iron: 14% of the DV
- Folate: 13% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 12% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 11% of the DV
- Niacin: 6% of the DV
And a few other vitamins and minerals in less significant amounts. That’s a good amount of vitamins and minerals per 100 grams compared to a lot of other foods.
Kimchi alone will likely not be enough to hit your daily nutrient goals but it can contribute to a balanced diet.
You do have to keep in mind that overdoing it with certain vitamins and minerals is not good either. In the case of kimchi the main mineral to keep in mind is sodium.
Consuming too much sodium may have negative side effects. If you already get a lot of sodium from your current diet adding kimchi on top of that might not be a smart idea.
Fermented foods and weight loss
For now, the claims about the potential of probiotics for weight loss are not waterproof (7, 8). More studies are required to make statements with more confidence. In any case probiotics will likely not be bad for weight loss and good for health so you might as well include them.
Keep in mind that heating up kimchi too much destroys a lot of the bacteria. This is something you preferably want to avoid.
Fiber in kimchi for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
This example of kimchi contains around 1.6 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
That’s a decent amount of fiber per 100 grams compared to many whole foods. For most people more fiber is a good thing for weight loss.
Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in kimchi you can reduce the time you spend craving for food a decent amount.
Is kimchi good for losing weight?
To know whether or not you can eat kimchi while trying to lose weight you still need a final piece of the puzzle. The number of calories in kimchi.
This example of kimchi contains around 15 calories per 100 grams. 9.6 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (2.4 g per 100 grams of which 1.6 g fiber).
You can certainly fit in some kimchi in low carb diets like the keto diet.
The amount of calories in kimchi is even on the low side compared to many vegetables. Fruits, legumes, meats, and everything in between are usually higher in calories per 100 grams than kimchi.
Kimchi is a very low-calorie dish that can help you feel fuller with its fiber content. This can help you avoid higher-calorie foods. For most people that, and thus eating more kimchi, is enough to help them lose weight. Just make sure you don’t overdo it with sodium consumption.
If you are gaining weight while eating kimchi, the first place to look at is the rest of your diet and other lifestyle habits. Kimchi generally not fattening.
Another thing you have to keep in mind is that kimchi can contain relatively high amounts of vitamin K. This may interfere with certain blood-thinning medications (9). If you take these types of medications you want to consult with your doctor before implementing large amounts of kimchi in your diet.
Kimchi vs sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is another type of fermented food simply made by fermenting cabbage.
If you look at the calorie amounts you can see that sauerkraut contains negligibly more. Kimchi contains around 15 calories per 100 grams vs the 22 calories per 100 grams in sauerkraut (10).
Kimchi contains around 1.6 grams of fiber per 100 grams. A small amount lower than the 2.5 grams of fiber per 100 grams in sauerkraut. Kimchi contains slightly higher amounts of vitamins and minerals than sauerkraut.
The difference won’t be that big but kimchi is likely better for weight loss than sauerkraut.
Besides nutritional values kimchi also has a richer taste which can be relevant for weight loss too.