The Okinawa diet is a commercially promoted weight-loss diet based on the standard diet of Ryūkyū Islanders. People from these Japanese islands (of which Okinawa is the largest) are reported to have the longest life expectancy in the world. This has in part been attributed to the local diet, but also to other variables such as genetic factors, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
The diet consists of a relatively low intake of calories, with fish and other types of marine foods as some of its main staples. The principal focus of the diet consists of knowing how many calories per gram each food item contains. They posit that there is a tight correlation between the high proportion of Okinawans over 110 years of age and the relatively low caloric density of their diet.
The proponents of this diet divide food into 4 categories based on caloric density. The "featherweight" foods, less than or equal to .8 calories per gram which one can eat freely without major concern, the "lightweight" foods with a caloric density from .8 to 1.5 calories per gram which one should eat in moderation, the "middleweight" foods with a caloric density from 1.5 to 3.0 calories per gram which one should eat only while carefully monitoring portion size and the "heavyweight" foods from 3 to 9 calories per gram which one should eat only sparingly.
The typical Okinawan reaching 110 years of age has had a diet consistently averaging no more than one calorie per gram and has a BMI of 20.4. The average overweight 50-year old American of today with a BMI of 28 eats a diet averaging 1.7 calories per gram.
Source: The Okinawa Diet Plan, Bradley Wilcox, MD, D. Craig Wilcox, PhD and Makoto Suzuki, MD, copyright 2004.
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