The Korean Weight Loss Diet, also known as the K-pop Diet, is a whole-foods-based diet inspired by traditional Korean cuisine and popular among Easterners and Westerners alike.
It’s promoted as an effective way to lose weight and look like the stars of K-pop, a popular music genre originating from South Korea.
It also claims to help clear your skin and boost your long-term health.
This article covers everything you need to know about the Korean Weight Loss Diet.
How we rated this diet. X
We considered six important standards and assigned a rating to each, with 1 being the lowest score and 5 being the highest. The Overall Rating for each diet is an average of these ratings.
Weight Loss or Weight Gain: This rating considers how fast the diet will make you lose or gain weight, whether the weight change can be sustained for 3 months or longer, and whether the diet is a crash diet. A crash diet is a very low-calorie, restrictive diet that comes with lots of health risks. Crash dieting can cause muscle loss, a slowed metabolism, nutritional deficiencies, dizziness, and more. They’re not safe or healthy.
Healthy Eating: This rating considers whether the diet limits entire food groups, and whether it disrupts your daily life with complex, specific requirements on what to eat or how to track your food. It also considers whether the diet focuses on long-term lifestyle changes and encourages habits like eating more whole foods, cooking at home, eating without distractions, etc.
Nutrition Quality: This rating considers whether the diet is based on whole foods rather than processed ones. It also considers whether the diet will cause nutrient deficiencies or a calorie deficiency if you do it for longer than 2 to 3 months. Though you can add vitamin and mineral supplements to any diet, it’s best to focus on getting what you need through a balanced diet.
Whole-Body Health: This rating considers whether the diet sets unrealistic goals, makes exaggerated claims, and promotes an unhealthy relationship with food or appearance. It also considers whether the diet promotes exercise and focuses on overall health rather than just weight. While you may have a weight-related goal you hope to achieve through dieting, it’s important to nourish your body and make sure you’re staying healthy regardless of how you choose to eat.
Sustainability: This rating considers how easy the diet is to follow, whether you can get support for it, and if it can be maintained for 6 to 12 months or longer. It also takes cost into consideration, since some diets require buying premade foods or paying membership fees. Diets that are sustainable are more likely to be healthy in the long term. Yo-yo dieting can contribute to health issues.
Scientifically Backed: This rating considers whether there’s evidence to support the diet’s health claims. We review scientific research to see whether a diet has been clinically proven by impartial research.
Overall score 3.08
Weight Loss 2.5
Whole Body Health 2.5
Healthy Eating 3.0
Nutrition Quality 5.0
The Korean Weight Loss Diet is inspired by traditional Korean cuisine.
It primarily relies on whole, minimally-processed foods and minimizes the intake of processed, fat-rich, or sugary foods.
The diet promises to help you lose weight and keep it off by modifying your diet and exercise habits, all without giving up your favorite foods. It also pledges to help clear up your skin and optimize your long-term health.
In addition to its focus on nutrition, the Korean Weight Loss Diet puts an equally strong emphasis on exercise and even provides specific K-pop workouts.
Summary The Korean Weight Loss Diet is a diet and workout program designed to help you lose weight, achieve clearer skin, and enhance your overall health.
The Korean Weight Loss Diet is based around an eating pattern that mostly comprises traditional Korean meals.
It promotes eating whole, minimally-processed foods while limiting your intake of overly processed ones. It also recommends avoiding foods containing wheat, dairy, refined sugars, and excess fat.
Meals generally contain a variety of vegetables, rice, and some meat, fish, or seafood. You can also expect to eat plenty of kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish that’s a staple in Korean cuisine.
Additional diet rules
To succeed on this diet, you’re encouraged to follow a few additional rules:
- Eat fewer calories. This diet doesn’t specify portion sizes or a strict daily calorie limit. Instead, it suggests relying on Korean recipes, soups, and plenty of vegetables to cut calories without feeling hungry.
- Exercise regularly. K-pop workouts are provided for this purpose.
- Eat less fat. It’s recommended to limit oily foods and avoid sauces, oils, and seasonings whenever possible. Eating out should be limited as well.
- Minimize added sugars. You’re encouraged to replace soda with water and cookies, sweets, ice cream, and other baked goods with fresh fruit.
- Avoid snacks. Snacks are considered unnecessary on this diet and should be avoided.
The diet promises to be very flexible and sustainable. You’re encouraged to select whichever Korean foods you like best to tailor the diet to your taste.
Summary The Korean Weight Loss Diet encourages eating Korean-inspired dishes based on minimally processed foods. To optimize weight loss, it minimizes your intake of wheat, dairy, added sugars, excess fats, and snacks.
The Korean Weight Loss Diet likely aids weight loss for several reasons.
First, traditional Korean meals are naturally rich in vegetables, which contain a lot of fiber. Fiber-rich diets can help you lose weight by reducing hunger and cravings while promoting feelings of fullness (
Additionally, this diet limits snacking, fatty foods, and those containing added sugars, wheat, or dairy, further reducing your overall calorie intake. It also encourages regular exercise, which helps boost the number of calories you burn.
Finally, you’re encouraged to reduce your portion sizes by gradually eating less until you find the quantity of food that allows you to lose weight while still feeling full and satisfied.
All of these factors can help you eat fewer calories than you burn. Such calorie deficits have consistently been shown to help people lose weight, regardless of the foods they choose to eat (
Summary The Korean Weight Loss Diet is naturally rich in fiber, limits snacking, and reduces sugar- and fat-rich foods. It also encourages regular physical activity. Together, these factors are likely to help you lose weight.
The Korean Weight Loss Diet may offer several additional benefits.
May improve your overall health
The Korean Weight Loss Diet encourages you to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables — two food groups consistently shown to promote health and protect against chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease (
What’s more, it includes a lot of kimchi, a popular Korean side dish made from fermented cabbage or other vegetables. Research indicates that kimchi may help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels (
Fermented foods like kimchi also benefit gut health by boosting your number of beneficial gut bacteria, also known as probiotics (
In turn, these probiotics may help prevent or treat a range of illnesses, including atopic dermatitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, and obesity (13).
May reduce acne
The Korean Weight Loss diet is said to help fight acne by limiting your intake of dairy. There may be some evidence to support this claim.
One review noted that people whose diets were richest in dairy were around 2.6 times likelier to experience acne than those eating the least amount of dairy (
Similarly, another review suggests that adolescents and young adults consuming any form of dairy may be 25% more likely to experience acne than those eating dairy-free diets (
Rich in nutrients and likely sustainable
The Korean Weight Loss Diet puts a strong emphasis on making sustainable, long-term changes to the way you eat and exercise.
It generally promotes nutritious, minimally processed foods and limits your intake of calorie-dense yet nutrient-poor junk foods.
It doesn’t have strict guidelines on how much to eat, nor does it suggest weighing or measuring your food portions. Instead, it encourages you to discover the portion sizes that are right for you.
It also offers a variety of Korean recipes to choose from, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, making this diet accessible to many.
All of these factors contribute to this diet’s high nutrient content and increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to stick to it long term.
Summary The Korean Weight Loss Diet encourages making sustainable changes. It promotes nutritious and fermented foods that can benefit your health. It also limits dairy, which may offer some protection against acne.
Despite its many positives, the Korean Weight Loss Diet comes with some downsides.
Unnecessary emphasis on physical appearance
This diet puts a strong emphasis on losing weight to look like your favorite K-pop celebrities.
Using sociocultural appearance standards as weight loss motivation may put certain groups of people, such as young adolescents, at an increased risk of developing disordered eating behaviors (
This diet offers very little guidance in terms of how to build balanced meals.
While some may view the flexibility to choose whichever meals appeal to them most as a benefit, others may find it difficult to distinguish nutrient-rich Korean recipes from nutrient-poor ones.
This may cause some people to select overly salty recipes or ones that fail to meet their daily nutrient needs.
Non-science-based and contradictory guidelines
What’s more, the meal plans and recipe suggestions offered on its website often contain foods or ingredients that the diet suggests avoiding, such as fried foods, wheat, and dairy.
Summary The Korean Weight Loss Diet’s strong emphasis on external appearance, lack of guidance, and non-science-based and contradictory guidelines can be considered downsides.
The Korean Weight Loss diet encourages you to eat the following foods:
- Vegetables. No vegetables are off-limits. You can eat them raw, cooked, or fermented, such as in the case of kimchi. Soups are another great way to eat more vegetables.
- Fruit. All types of fruit are allowed. They’re considered a great natural substitute for sweets.
- Protein-rich animal products. This category includes eggs, meat, fish, and seafood. Small portions should be added to most meals.
- Meat substitutes. Tofu, dried shiitake, and king oyster mushrooms are most often used to replace meat in Korean recipes. They can make Korean recipes suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets.
- Rice. White rice and rice noodles are included in many of the Korean recipes promoted on this diet.
- Other wheat-free grains. Dumplings, pancakes, or glass noodles made from mung bean, potato, or tapioca starch constitute great alternatives to rice.
You’re encouraged to determine your portion sizes based on the amount of food that helps you lose weight without feeling overly hungry or low on energy.
Summary The Korean Weight Loss Diet is mostly based on whole, minimally-processed foods and smaller amounts of grains, meat, fish, seafood, or meat substitutes.
The Korean Weight Loss Diet minimizes your intake of the following foods.
- Wheat-containing foods: bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, pastries, or wheat-based flours of any kind
- Dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and any baked goods containing dairy
- Fatty foods: fatty meats, fried foods, sauces, oily seasonings, or foods cooked in oil
- Processed or sugary foods: candy, soft drinks, baked goods, or any other foods containing added sugars
This diet doesn’t require you to cut these foods out completely but recommends you greatly reduce your intake. However, it does strictly discourage snacking between meals.
Summary The Korean Weight Loss Diet discourages the intake of wheat- and dairy-containing foods. It also warns against processed, overly fatty, or sugary foods and discourages snacking between meals.
Here’s a 3-day sample menu suitable for those on the Korean Weight Loss Diet.
Breakfast: vegetable omelet
Lunch: kimchi-vegetable soup with pork or tofu
Dinner: fried rice and vegetables
Breakfast: Korean pancakes filled with vegetables, shiitake, or seafood
Lunch: bibmbap — a Korean rice dish made with egg, vegetables, and meat or tofu
Dinner: japchae — a Korean glass noodle stir-fry
Breakfast: mandoo — Korean meat or vegetable dumplings made with rice and tapioca flour
Lunch: spicy Korean coleslaw salad
Dinner: kimbap — also known as Korean sushi rolls — filled with your choice of vegetables, avocado, shrimp, or tofu
Additional recipe suggestions for this diet can be found on The Korean Diet website.
However, keep in mind that they may include foods or ingredients discouraged on this diet, such as fried foods, wheat, or dairy.
Summary The Korean Weight Loss diet includes a variety of minimally processed Korean recipes that are generally rich in vegetables and low in added sugars or fat.
The Korean Weight Loss Diet focuses on whole, minimally-processed foods.
It may aid weight loss and improve your skin and overall health.
Despite being sustainable and nutritionally balanced, this diet’s strong emphasis on physical appearance may increase your risk of disordered eating.
Plus, its contradictory and sometimes insufficient guidelines may make it challenging for some people to meet their nutrient needs.