Korean Weight Loss – What is it and Does it Work?

When it comes to weight loss, there is no shortcut. Moderate eating and exercise are always the way to go! But why do Koreans seem to look effortlessly good all the time? Although obesity rates have been increasing steadily worldwide, Korea’s number is still among the lowest in the world! Only about 4% of the adult population is obese (1). Given this fact, there is no denying the fact that the Korean diet is the new one on the horizon. 

The lure of fast food and Western eating habits has greatly affected many cultures around the world, but not Koreans. Their diet remains largely untouched by unhealthy eating patterns. Their cuisines are not that rich and do not require sophisticated cooking techniques. Their focus also lies on not just losing off inches and toning down, but more on optimizing overall health. 

Starving or simply cutting off the size of your meal won’t do any good! Let’s check out some of the most popular K-pop diets and some dieting and exercising tips that can help you lose weight the healthy way. 

What is the Korean Weight Loss Diet? 

More popularly known as the K-pop diet, this is inspired by traditional Korean cuisine. It involves eating of whole, minimally-processed foods and minimizes the intake of fatty and sugary products. 

This diet promises to help you lose weight and keep it off by modifying your lifestyle, without giving up your favorite foods. On top of getting a good-shaped body, it also pledges to help clear up your skin and promote long-term health. 

Korean weight loss diet puts an equally strong emphasis on nutrition and exercise. 

How Can K-pop Diet Help You Lose Weight? 

K-pop diets likely promote weight loss for several reasons. 

Traditional Korean meals are naturally rich in vegetables, which are packed with fiber. Fiber-rich diets can aid weight loss by reducing cravings and hunger while promoting satiety (2, 3, 4). 

Also, this diet limits snacking, fatty-rich foods, and those with added sugars, dairy, or wheat, further decreasing calorie intake. It likewise encourages physical activities, which can help boost the number of calories you burn daily. 

Lastly, followers of K-pop diets are influenced to reduce their portion sizes by gradually eating less until they find the right amount of food that will allow them to lose weight while still feeling satisfied and without starving. 

All of these factors can help you eat fewer calories than you burn, which is very important if you want to lose weight. Calorie deficits have consistently been shown to be effective in weight loss, regardless of the food taken (5, 6, 7, 8). 

What Are the Other Beneficial Effects of K-pop Diets? 

As mentioned earlier, aside from weight loss, the K-pop diet can offer several additional benefits. 

1. It Improves Your Overall Health 

The Korean weight loss diet promotes eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, which have consistently shown to promote health and protect against chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes (9, 10). 

A study in mice fed with a high-fat diet for 7 weeks to induce obesity also showed that the Korean diet may also be useful as a therapeutic diet to control metabolic disorders (11). In the next 7 weeks, the mice were given a Korean diet. It has helped decrease fasting blood glucose, insulin, and leptin levels, and improved glucose clearance. 

What’s more, this diet involves eating a lot of kimchi, a popular Korean side dish made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables. Studies show that it can help decrease blood pressure, blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol (12, 13). 

Fermented foods such as kimchi also benefit gut health by increasing the number of your good gut bacteria, which are more popularly known as probiotics (14). In turn, these probiotics can help prevent or treat a range of illnesses, including obesity, diarrhea, atopic dermatitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (15). 

2. It Reduces Acne 

The Korean weight loss diet is also popular because of its effect on the skin. It is believed to be effective against acne because it limits your intake of dairy products. This claim has been supported by some evidence. 

Dairy products can stimulate the release of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), both of which may play a significant role in the formation of acne (16, 17, 18). One review noted that people whose diets were high in dairy were around 2.6 times more likely to have acne than those who consume a much lesser amount (19). 

Similarly, another review says that adolescents and young adults eating any form of dairy are 25% more likely to have acne than those who are having dairy-free diets (20). 

3. Rich in Nutrients and Sustainable 

The K-pop diet puts a strong emphasis on making long-term, sustainable changes to your lifestyle, which includes eating patterns and exercise routines. 

It generally promotes nutritious, minimally processed foods and restricts your intake of nutrient-poor and calorie-dense foods. It doesn’t have strict guidelines, especially when it comes to the amount of food you eat. It also does not suggest measuring or weighing your food portions. Instead, it allows you to discover the portion sizes that are right for your needs. 

There are also a wide variety of Korean recipes that you can choose from. Are you a vegan? Do you like gluten-free options? This diet is really accessible to many! 

All of these factors contribute to this diet’s high nutrient content, thus increasing the likelihood of long-term weight loss. 

What Are the Best K-Pop Diets?

1. Banana Diet 

The banana diet is rather simple and can be accomplished by anyone. How does it work? Just take bananas and water for breakfast. Nothing more. For lunch and dinner, you can have anything you want, as long as the portions are not super-sized. Sounds very easy, right? You don’t have to count your calories or take care of too many things. 

Will it work? Yes, it will! The banana diet is quite popular all over the world. The diet works because of one simple reason – you are basically encouraged to cut out one entire meal. And what’s more nutritious than having fruits as snacks as a replacement for a full meal. 

2. Sweet Potato Diet 

During the sweet potato diet, you must basically eat sweet potatoes daily for each meal. Is this boring and will it make you quit easily? Not very fast. Sweet potatoes are extremely delicious and you can find several recipes online. They are also very healthy and good for your skin. If you want to lose weight and get healthier skin, then this is K-pop diet is for you. 

Will this work? While this may not help you lose weight too quickly because potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, it can help you slim down slowly. By having the sweet potatoes with several other veggies as side dishes, you should be fine! 

3. Paper Cut Diet 

The paper cup diet is perhaps the most famous of all K-pop diets! It is based on a specific portion per meal. Just take 3 paper cups or any small-sized cups and fill them up with the following: 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of vegetables or meat, and 1 cup of fruits. Do this 3 times daily. 

Is this effective? Several K-pop stars who started the paper cup diet said it works! Why? Because it allows you to monitor and control your portions. If you feel like the amount is less for your body to work properly for the whole day, get slightly bigger portions, especially during tough days. 

4. Danish Hospital Diet 

Many think that you will have to go to a hospital for this diet, but no! This diet comes from the Royal Danish Hospital and is all about taking low calorie and high-protein foods. This is also known as Copenhagen Diet and last normally for about 13 days. 

How effective is this diet? If you want to shed some pounds quickly, then this diet is for you. The amount of weight you can lose in 13 days would depend on how close you follow the rules. Others have lost between 3 and 15 kg. Again, focus on eating low-calorie and high-protein meals. 

5. Vegetable Diet 

As the name implies, you only eat vegetables in this diet. Meal plans can include salad or just vegetable dishes. This is pretty easy to understand, right? 

Does this work? Yes, it does! By cutting down on carbs and not eating too much sugar, you will surely shed off some pounds. If you are a vegan, this is perfect for you! If not, there’s nothing to worry about as there are a wide variety of vegetables to choose from and they are delicious! 

6. Lemon Detox Diet 

The detox diet is rather a way of fasting and cleansing your body. Many celebrities succeeded with this, so why not try it? Just mix lemons, pure maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water. You should aim for 6-12 glasses a day. 

Does this diet work? By keeping yourself feeling full with lemon water and reducing your food intake, you will surely lose weight. But this has to be done with caution and some may need help or guidance from a doctor or a dietician. Compared to other K-pop diets, this one is quite extreme. 

Are There Risks Involved? 

Despite all the positives, the Korean weight loss diet also comes with some downsides. 

1. Too Much Emphasis on Physical Appearance 

K-pop diets put a strong emphasis on losing weight to look like Korean celebrities. Using sociocultural appearance standards as motivation to get fit and healthy may pose a serious risk of developing eating disorders, especially among young adolescents (21, 22). 

2. Lacks Professional Guidance 

K-pop diets often have very little guidance in terms of creating balanced meals. While many find it easy and more convenient to choose whichever meals appeal to them most, some may not know how to distinguish nutrient-rich Korean recipes from the poor ones. This may cause others to select overly salty recipes or ones that fail to meet their daily requirements. 

3. Contradictory Guidelines and Less Science-Based Evidence 

The Korean weight loss diet may advise you to avoid snacks, despite evidence studies that you can lose more weight when including them in your regular diet (23, 24). Also, the meal plans and recipe suggestions you can see online often contain foods or ingredients that the diets suggest avoiding. Most would include wheat, dairy, and fried foods. 

Korean Diet Tips You Can Follow 

To further help you get nutritious foods that can benefit your weight loss journey and overall health and make sustainable changes, follow the tips below: 

1. Start Eating Veggies 

Vegetables are very important to K-pop diets. They are the healthy side dishes that will help fill you up without adding weight on your hips. The huge variety of veggies will ensure that you will find something that you will surely like. 

2. Drink More Water 

Keep yourself well hydrated all throughout the day. Water will help fill you up and reduce your snack cravings.

Also, replace your soda with fresh water. Though water is plain and might not be appetizing, it will help decrease your sugar intake and get you the body you deserve. You may add some flavors to your water though! Pimp it up with some lemons and cucumber. 

3. Watch Your Portion 

Be sure that your meal portions are not big enough. Just get the right amount of food that your body requires. The paper cup diet should help you with this. 

4. Stay Motivated 

Motivation is very important when dieting. If you lose your motivation, you might quit pursuing a healthy lifestyle. So, it is important to always visualize your goals and your motivation regularly. Remember why you are doing the diet. It should not only be for physical appearance but more for optimum health. 

5. Do A Workout 

No matter how careful you eat, it will be hard to get a healthy and fit body without exercising. Don’t worry, there are easy K-pop workouts you can follow too to help you lose weight. Check them online. 

6. Create A Meal Plan 

Every diet needs to be well planned and structured. You need to have a diet or meal plan. You can create your own or get ideas from the available templates online. 

7. Add Some Spices 

You might think that K-pop diets are just mainly rice and vegetables, but they are not! There are several spices being incorporated in Korean cuisine. You never get bored of the amazing selections! 

8. Take Fruits As Your Dessert

Even if you are trying to lose weight, you don’t have to skip your dessert! We all love desserts and there are several healthy options! Fruits are very tasty and nutritious. These are perfect substitutes for sweet cakes, biscuits, and ice cream. Give this a try and see how big of a difference it will make. 

9. Never Skip Breakfast 

Do not skip breakfast. You can avoid eating a huge meal in the morning, but be sure to eat something like fruit. This is the concept of the banana diet, right? 

10. Sleep Enough

Be sure to get enough sleep regularly. This will give you enough energy for the next day and you will need it when dieting, especially if during the early phase. 

Key Takeaway 

The Korean weight loss diet focuses on whole, minimally-processed foods. It can help you lose weight, improve your skin, and promote overall health. 

Despite being sustainable though, it is best to get advice from a doctor or a dietician as some types can be extreme. Also, there are not enough guidelines, making it challenging for some people. 

The above-mentioned tips should help make your weight loss journey easier and healthier. K-pop diet can help you get fit and not just skinny when done correctly. 


  1. https://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/obesityandtheeconomicsofpreventionfitnotfat-koreakeyfacts.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24820437
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939539/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11396693
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2780863/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28765272
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15867892
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23035144
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4644575/
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352618117300057
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23444963
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23969321
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24456350
  15. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-HealthProfessional/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17989724/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21335995
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21335995/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29778512
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115795/
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5885084/
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2533817/
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21756320
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25862614
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