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Korean Diet Trends

August 21, 2014


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We talked for a bit about different Korean Diet Trends, and mentioned a few people in the Kpop industry that have rather interesting diet stories. Here are a few more:


Hyuna is famous now for, among other things, her body, but supposedly when she was a teenager, she was quite chubby, and when she told people that she wanted to be a dancer – even though she was a great dancer – people didn’t take her seriously. The diet she went on is one I heard of before; Alton Brown did it, I think. The Non-White diet. Basically, don’t eat anything white. No rice, no flour, no sugar, no bread. Makes total sense! It’s basically like a low-carb diet, which is what we did to lose a lot of weight in Korea. Though, cauliflower should not be on the non-white list. It’s really healthy and delicious. Here’s a Korean article for more reading.


IU is, by our standards, skinny as hell. But even she had to go for a crazy diet. Hers was the sweet potato diet, but a little bit better than that. She supposedly just ate one sweet potato and one apple per day. That’s it. She’d lose 4kg in 4 days. So, sure, it’s effective, but it just sounds terribly unhealthy. With the amount of active dancing kpop Idols do, they need way more energy than that to survive the day. More on it in Korean, because we’re being all

Uee (from After School)

Her diet is called the 1000kcal diet. Basically, it doesn’t really matter what you eat
as long as your daily total is less than 1000kcal. She said she would mostly eat salad the whole day to keep full but she said when she craved something, she did eat it as long as she was under 1000kcal by the end of the day. So you best not waste all your eating options for the day by having something really junky or else you won’t eat for the rest of day! I actually know this diet concept because my mom and I used Weight Watchers (which is a diet program) to successfully lose weight. The difference is that you had weekly meetings, weigh-ins, and a health guide that you had to follow to ensure healthy weight loss and all that was combined with an exercise regime. I don’t know if Yui had a weight loss mentor or a doctor to check her using weigh-ins, but I seriously doubt it. But from the example picture I saw of her meals they seemed pretty well balanced with meat and vegetables so that made me happy!

Park Boram (from Superstar K)

A lot of K-pop fans may not have heard of her unless you watched Superstar K. At the time she was considered to be chubby but under the Korean beauty standard, she was considered fat. While preparing for her debut, she lost 70lbs (32kg) over 2 years. She did so by doing lots of exercise but at the same time, she said she would only eat salad and a health drink, but majority of the time eggs or a banana was her meal. She released a picture of her strict diet routine online and it’s actually a pretty legit and healthy way for someone to loose weight when combined with exercise:

8:00am – 1 tomato, 1 sweet potato (120-150g), 1 chicken breast (100g roasted or boiled), salad (with cabbage, cucumber, without dressing)
10:00am – workout
12:00pm – chicken breast salad, a diet drink (with nutrients/dietary fiber/vitamins)
3:00pm – 1 banana, 3 egg whites, 1 egg yolk
5:00pm – 1 sweet potato, 1 chicken breast, vegetables
9:00pm – 1 banana, 2 egg whites, 1 egg yolk, 3 walnuts

We’re really happy to see an actually healthy diet and not just a crash course diet! More pics below!


We hinted at this in our video, but not everyone’s doing crazy diets. Some exercise, like Park Boram above. Suzy from Miss A loses arm fat through a penguin exercise, which we linked to here, just because of the awesome video, which – hell – let’s embed here as well.

Also, not really related to the video above, but for those of you who played Wind Waker: anyone remember the dialogue being this mean?

So that’s it for this week’s TL;DR. We won’t be able to put up a TL;DR next week because we’re all going on our road trip and we’ll be out of the studio from Sunday to Saturday, but we’ll have one the week afterwards! Click on the button below so you don’t miss out on any vids :D



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Korean Diet Trends


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  1. Aaaahahaha, why did you name Link “Asshole”??! xD

    Anyway, I talked to a Greek girl once through Twitter, and she had been away for a while so I asked her why. Apparently she had been to the hospital a couple of days because she tried the “apple diet”, which means she only ate apples and I was like “Why did you do that?? Apples doesn’t have all the nutrition you need!” and made her promise me she’d never do it again. So I hope she haven’t, I haven’t spoken to her for some years now.

    7 months ago
  2. The best way to lose weight is to find out how many calories you’re supposed to eat in a day and then subtract 500-1000 calories from your diet. That way, with exercise, you’ll lose 1-2 lbs a week.
    But most people don’t do that because it’s not fast enough! If anyone should have a healthy diet, it’s the superstars because they have so many young people watching them and copying what they’re doing. And dancing is a really really hard workout! As Colonel Chester Phillips from Captain America said, “Somebody needs to give that kid a sandwich.”

    12 months ago
  3. Well, the 5:2 diet was very popular in Sweden this year, and it’s still going pretty strong even though it went through a lot of changes.

    As of next month I’m gonna try a diet that an old school mate is currently on, called LCHF, and it stands for Low Carbs, High Fat, and it’s basically that you cut out all the carbs (*cries and strokes my noodles*) and replace it with fat. So lots of egg and bacon, cheese, meat, fat fish (for example salmon), chicken, butter, oils, creme fraiche, youghurt, all that you increase instead.

    I’ve never really believed in diets (and I still don’t for a lot of them) but since I started uni and moved out a year ago, I’ve gained 10-15 kilos, but it was because I was a bit like you, Simon. I ate quite a lot of crap, but I also did a lot of horse riding at my high school (it was a “farming” school so I studied science – equestrian). Like. A lot. And not only riding, but also mocking out the stables, fixing food, cleaning up etc etc. every time I was there which was around 4 times/week. I was on my feet a lot, did tons of walking, had a lot of muscles along with a semi-broken body because whoa, horses are not ergonomic! Dad also dragged me out on walks with the dog nearly every day, so that also burned a lot of calories.
    But then when I graduated and moved, I no longer had access to the wonderful horses, and I became very stationary, with very few walks, I took the bus to school, ate more junk, sat in school, sitting and studying at home etc.
    But now I’m gonna try the diet, I’m going to renew my gym card, fix my broken knees, and hopefully loose some weight.
    Thank you guys for being a great inspiration!

    1 year ago
  4. I hate it when idols go on diets when they already look like they’re going to pass out anytime. :(

    1 year ago
  5. This is competently out of context, but how do you all feel about Jessica being kicked out of Girls’ Generation? I read she was forced out by the management and the members because she started her own business. Is this true and how do you guys feel about it? Thanks!

    1 year ago
  6. My mom is on the Basil seed diet and I warned her about it. I totally agree with you on the kpop stars and losing weight thing. It happened to Aliee she said it herself on asc and said everyone was talking about her physical appearance and not her music and she is a role model to hundreds of girls and seeing her putting herself in a diet scares me cuz that’s what those hundreds of girls will do because they want to be like her this really needs to change or we r going to be in big trouble

    1 year ago
  7. Ha, Asshole! That reminds me of when my cousin played Plague Inc. and he named his disease Stupidity. Stupidity has taken over America. Stupidity has killed more people than the Black Plague. Doctors in China are working on a cure for Stupidity. Oh, the memories…

    1 year ago
  8. the penguin moves haha xD .. that’s cool, i will try it .. i really want to lose some weight.

    1 year ago
  9. Hi Simon and Martina! I’ve noticed that Korean baseball has been getting more popular these couple of years, and I always see so many foreigners when I catch live streams during the season. The fan culture seems to be as crazy as the Kpop scene and there are even cheerleaders! I managed to catch a couple of matches when I was in Korea and am now a huge Korean baseball fan~ It would be interesting to have a TL;DR on Korean baseball and the sports culture in Korea! Thanks =DDD

    1 year ago
  10. Since Simon talked about his favourite video games a few weeks ago, could Martina talk about her favourite K-Drama’s for the next TL-DR;?

    1 year ago
  11. Hmmm, I’ve heard a lot about this diet where they only eat one meal for one day. Like they will have a bigass lunch and eat sooo much, but then they dont eat for the rest of the day? I wonder if thats bad for your body?

    1 year ago
  12. I can see how unhealthy those diets are. about 80%-90% of Korean female singers’ hair is so weak. their hair line is so open. some of them have bald spots at the top of their heads. wonder why they spend so much for their bodies and faces but not do anything for their hair (not talking about their made stage hairs but how less hair they have).

    1 year ago
  13. Hey EYK! I just read this article http://www.viralnova.com/drop-box-babies/#.VAUcHpeAdeQ.facebook on a facebook link, and was wondering if it is true there are that many babies that are being abandoned on South Korea? If you guys know anything, could you do a TL;DR on this? Or at least lemme know it it is true? Thanks! :)

    1 year ago
  14. In the mags lately there’s stuff about the 5:2 diet where you eat normal for 5 days and diet for 2. Or is it diet for 5 days and eat normal for 2? I can’t remember. Omg can’t believe you named Link that! hehe xD if you play skyward sword you should name him “bates” because Fi always addresses him as Master Heh heh heh! >:)

    1 year ago
  15. Crayon Pop have the best diet. Eat, eat all the time. Best dietu video of all time: http://youtu.be/60rLIECAaUM

    1 year ago
  16. Even though the 1000 calorie diet sounds healthy I don’t think it is from what I remember from a basic nutrition course I had to take a healthy sedentary woman should be eating at least 2000 calories per day because that is the minimum amount the body uses in a day to function and I think for men it is higher, somewhere around 2400 calories

    1 year ago
  17. Martina makes for one sexy witch

    1 year ago
  18. My mom actually did the lemon juice cleanse when she used to be a university level swimmer. You’re only supposed to do it for a week or two, and it’s meant to cleanse your colon. Athletes do it sometimes before big competitions, because the cleanse is supposed to help you perform at your best. But, again, you’re only supposed to do it for a relatively short period, and weight loss is only a secondary effect. It’s really meant to be used to cleanse for your digestive system.

    1 year ago
  19. Hi guys! Can you please do a TL;DR on the fact that we can see more and more foreigners or half koreans invited as guests on tv shows (of course, they are all fluent in korean). I am french and those days I see Fabien Yoon, who’s half french, a lot on Quiz to change the world, Happy Together or Star Gazing. I think it’s super interesting in because the shows are talking about cultural differences between korea and other countries. Do you think it’s a sign that korea opens up more and more to forigners? You were yourselves kind of part of the first wave of foreigners on korean tv, what do you think about that change?

    Ps: I love you Eat Your Kimchi Crew, wish you the best! I hope to come Korea and visit the You Are Here Café soon!

    1 year ago
  20. I grew up in Aus and i hink body imagery is pretty lax here, so i never really dieted, just did lots of sports and ‘turned brown’.
    We had two homestay students though, one boy and 1 girl from China. And i must say starvation diet is kinda big! The girl told me she was on an apple diet where you only eat apples and drink water… And what surprised me was even the boy dieted… He had normal weight.
    I didnt feel overweight though. They thoughtit was cool i played lots of football and ate double their portions (im a girl)… So i think because they had high academic pressure they dont have time for active lifestyle so turn to starvation diets

    1 year ago
  21. Hahahaha Simon XD
    I love that game, I’m playing it for the second time
    About the diets though, it’s incredible how someone can go to those kinds of extremes just to look “acceptable”. It’s terrible :O

    1 year ago
  22. Hey there!!! I’m so glad you two did a video about this, I’m a Holistic Nutritionist in Mississauga Ontario, and I deal with this all the time.
    Don’t know if Doctor Oz is big in Korea, he is huge here, and it frustrates me and many of my colleagues.I really wish he would approach his show in a different like and focus more on healthy living instead of “the miracle of weight loss”.
    Weight loss supplements: green coffee bean, raspberry ketones, CLA, garcinia cambogia, green tea extract, yacon syrup, supposedly now probiotics help with curbing belly fat as do B vitamins and meal replacement shakes, L-carnitine and caffeine pills.
    This stuff MAY help, it MAY work, but it is all dependant on the individual. Weight Loss is simple and yet it may be complex. You have to look at your bowels first. The main place people like to lose weight is in their gut area. Never do they consider the fact that they are constipated and go to the washroom as little as once a day to 3 times every month (I get quite a few people like this), is not normal, and not “their bodies natural cycle”. If you are eating three times a day, you should do your best to eliminate your waste that often as well, and not in tiny rabbit pellets you want your poop to be from your wrist to your elbow and two fingers in width. That food plant based, but especially meat, if not eliminated on a daily bases starts to ferment and gases are formed, bloating happens, bad bacteria flourishes and your tummy grows bigger.
    You have to look at your thyroid if it is not working effectively, if you have hormonal imbalance (both men and women), don’t waste your money on weight loss supplements, they won’t work, and you have just wasted your money.
    Another thing that wont be said is that with any weight loss supplementation that you do it needs to be paired with changes to diet and lifestyle. Otherwise you may lose five, maybe ten pounds feel super awesome, get off the supplement and pow!!! the weight slowly comes back on.
    IN terms of a detox, they are great, but again you have to go back to looking at the gut. If you are constipated don’t touch it. you are cleaning your body of toxins just to have them re-enter your cells because you can’t eliminate the waste fast enough. You should also not approach a detox as a way to lose weight. It is a process of cleaning the body of impurities to make you feel better.
    I battled with anorexia for a really long time, I still have trouble today with body image, but I know that starving myself won’t make me health or happy. It is a mental problem, and some people have a hard time realizing that there is something wrong with them, until it is too late.
    The hardest thing I have to convey to people is that fat is good. Not all fat, but healthy fats. Coconut oil, organic pastured butter, MCT oil (actually does speed up metabolism and is great from the brain), cold pressed olive oil, seeds and fish and meat fat, especially them egg yolks!!! why people eat an egg without them I do not know. I would not go Atkins, I do like the Paleo lifestyle, I have been Vegan/vegetarian for seven years ( i like that too), but you need, for both really focus on where you are getting your food from, and do not, ever count calories, eat real unprocessed, whole , local organic food and get your butt moving!!
    And if you need to lose weight for health reasons, figure out why you gained it in the first place and what might be preventing you from losing weight today.

    – sorry that was so long, you guys are awesome!! BE well!! <3

    1 year ago
  23. The only time I ever dieted was with my family. The unspoken rule in the house was “If one parent goes on a diet, we ALL go on the diet”. It worked out pretty well though because, with little to no junk food in the house, we all felt encouraged to lose weight and eat healthy. The diets that we did in the past though were Atkins (low carb) and the Lemon Detox at the same time (so we weren’t starving to death).

    Recently, we changed everything around. Everyone wakes up in the morning and does their own exercies. I stretch and dance in the morning (one day I plan on posting my dance covers on YouTube:)). While we all eat healthy, I am the only one who has a limit. In order to avoid breaking out (my acne gets out of control), I control how much junk food I can eat (which sucks because I LOOOOOOOVE junk food). I also try to avoid eating after 8 pm. I only recommend not eating after 8 to those who feel that they are on a safe diet. I am absolutely against suggesting this to anyone who is feeling pressured. In my opinon, if people are telling you to diet when you absolutely love your figure, they need to shut their mouths. We don’t live in their perfect world, they live in our wonderfully imperfect one:)

    1 year ago
  24. It makes me sad to know that idols have been forced by their managers/producers to take such extreme diets, and even more so for the fans who want to take on the same diet because they want to look like their idols. It baffles me because they all look so healthy and skinny in the first place. But through your videos I’ve learned that Korean society thinks otherwise.

    I live in the States so to me they actually look underweight rather than chubby or even fat. It makes me a bit hesitant to travel there someday because I’d be considered obese; worst part is if I went there I wouldn’t even look like a foreigner because so many people mistake me for being Asian. So I guess my fear is that people will talk behind my back about my weight, but that’s a bit silly: isn’t it.

    Off topic from korean diets but on topic for Wind Waker: Simon, have you gotten to the small island with the windmill? It’s not terribly far in the game but there is a lot of cool spots on that small island. Just though I’d tell ya,make sure to check every nook and cranny!

    1 year ago
  25. I guess you can categorize me under the “mentally ill,” when it comes to eating habits. I developed an extreme eating disorder at the age of 14 where I had anorexia/athletica/bulimia nervosa (that’s the worst ones to have). I didn’t eat very much because of all the stress in my childhood home, I constantly paced in my room because I couldn’t sit still and was grounded so I wasn’t allowed to leave home except for school and I couldn’t even read unless it was homework. I also was force fed to eat fish as punishment and I developed bulimia because my child self was like: “this ain’t staying inside me, you cannot make me.” But I am a rare case as this all resulted from being in an abusive home.

    Now, over six years later and a lot of therapy for multiple mental disorders, I still struggle with eating because it has become a learned part of my life. For now I just eat when and what I want. My body has acid reflux, is anemic, and my sphincter muscle does not close all the way. I desperately hope one day all of my eating disorder is over. I’ve come to terms with my other mental health issues but the one I want most changed is the acceptance that feeling full is okay. I can’t eat until I feel full because then my body pushes it all back out. Though I can eat what I want without mentally beating myself up, my body makes it so I have to eat slowly and only eat snacks throughout the day and not full meals. My stomach is too small to handle a lot of food.

    I would never advocate anything that promotes eating disorders. When I hear people are going on diets I ask why they don’t exercise and eat more healthily instead.

    1 year ago
    • I am really sorry to hear that you went through all of that. It sounds horrible :( I hope that over time your eating becomes more regular and you are able to enjoy food more in the future. I completely agree with you though – eating disorders are bad and they don’t actually work in the end anyway since diets are only a temporary fix. Only through exercise and eating healthy can you keep off the weight.

      1 year ago
  26. Damn Simon! You’re a beard growin’ champ!

    1 year ago
  27. hi simon and martina I was wondering do Koreans use coupons in south korea and if they have them would you use them.if they don’t do they have something similar .love spudy meemers soooooozeee and leigh ohhhh you so naaasta

    1 year ago
  28. Here in the US, schools have been working on talking to kids about body image in the media. I remember in PE we did a unit where we watched videos and discussed the way models you often see on magazines or TV are often photoshopped. There’s a lot of concern about anorexia and bulimia.

    1 year ago
  29. Wow. The Tylenol diet scared me the most (this is coming from a former pharmacy student). Acetaminophen poisoning is said to be the number one reason for calls to the poison control center in the US. It causes fatal liver damage and it happens really fast! Acetaminophen overdose has been such a problem that they are just recently regulating how much acetaminophen is being placed in different drugs because it is often found in so many kinds of drugs (cough and cold products) that people end up OD without knowing. Please, if you value your liver and LIFE, do NOT ever try the Tylenol diet.

    1 year ago
    • I’m glad someone commented on the liver issues with the acetaminophen diet. I don’t know how things roll in Korea, but I imagine damaging your liver in this fashion would place someone low on the transplant list.

      1 year ago
  30. Well I know that in the US anyway Gluten-free is really trendy. Though people are starting to learn that “gluten free” is not really any more healthy unless you have gluten intolerance. Still, I will see so many things with the “Gluten-free!” label. It’s even on products that have no business having gluten in them in the first place, for example- potato chips, and soda.

    1 year ago
  31. There quite a few diet trends out here in the USA but there is one that is always on my facebook page which is the Garcinia Cambogia and Raspberry Ketone supplement diet and they advertise as “see how kim kardashian and beyonce lost all there baby weight in just a month. So being that im a little overweight I give it a try and have take both pills twice a day and 30min before meals, but it didnt work for me a became very sick and I had to stop taking them.

    1 year ago
  32. Park Boram would be considered fat in Singapore as well,and nobody wants to be nitpicked because of their figure

    1 year ago
  33. I also wanted to add, most diets that are popularized by celebrities are ridiculous, and should not be attempted by mere mortals. If you’re job was to look good all the time, I see why they go to such lengths (not encouraging it!). There’s a hilarious column where this woman test-drives celebrity fad diets and makes you realize how insane most of them are – http://nymag.com/tags/yeah-it's-a-diet-story/

    1 year ago
  34. Hey there,
    In my “darker days” I have done a lot of crazy dieting. Including the 4-hour body, south beach and last but most certainly not least the Lemon Detox. Before that I just stopped eating for some time unless people were in there to check on me and excersize untill I dropped :p Yeah, good times (not).

    About the lemon detox, I would like to add, It really does work. You have the 2 tblsp maple syrup, 2 tblsp lemon and some cayennepepper and fill the rest of your longdrink glass with water. You’re supposed to drink between 6-12 glasses of that stuff a day, and not eat anything. The problem with it for me was that the stuff is gross, like vomit inducing nasty. After sometime (3 days) I figured I’d rather go hungry than drink that crap so I stopped drinking it. I had like 1 or sometimes 2 glasses per day (about 50kcal?). So yeah lost 7 kilo’s in 2 weeks.
    There were some problems though, in the end I couldn’t do much anymore. Walking became a serieus excersize that was very tiring and climbing stairs would make me almost faint. But I was thin :) In the month after I only ate fruits and honestly, -after I regained some muscle- I never felt better.

    For the people that are unhappy about their body:
    “Are you your body, or is your body yours?”

    1 year ago
  35. The lemon diet or “master cleanse” has been huge in the states for awhile now. I remember when my boyfriend and his roommate did it 4 years ago. You basically lose a ton of weight right away, but it’s mostly water weight. Then Beyonce popularized it as a way to drop pounds right before a performance or appearance. The biggest diet trend right now is not really a diet at all, but people want to be “gluten-free” even though only a small percentage of the population has Celiac disease. People equate gluten with carbs, but they’re not the same thing at all. I don’t think American diets have ever been historically healthy. When I was in high school and college there was a crazy diet pill trend but they were finally banned since most of them contained Ephedra which will literally give you a heart attack. The thigh-gap trend is the biggest thing right now. The worst I’ve seen was a model I knew who used to eat cotton balls soaked with pedialyte to help her “feel full,” apparently it’s common practice in the industry. I think every culture has crazy diet fads, but I will agree that when thin Korean-American friends go back to Korea, they’re considered chubby. It’s just a different standard.

    1 year ago
    • The glutenfree diet trend is great for me though, I have celiac disease so I’m really happy with all the new products and alternatives coming out.. hhhehehehheheeeee

      1 year ago
    • About the gluten-free thing, I actually work in a gluten-free store in the Netherlands. I would like to second your statement that eating glutenfree is not at all beneficial for your health :D All the glutenfree products are loaded with sugars and fats. Not to mention preservatives and things to make it taste better… Not healthy at all.

      1 year ago
  36. Ok, totally off topic here, BUT: Question. Is there a way to get notified when someone comments on your comment? AND, I asked on your facebook thread, but Imma ask here as well. Where is the Giveaway Page? I would like to shake my Nasty tail feather on over there and win me some Korean goodies. Thanks! love you guys. Ciao.

    1 year ago
  37. Many I have to say that American diets are more healthful… sort of. There are lots of diets out there and at their roots are fairly healthy. Usually the urge people to make overall life changes, not just a few months to loose weight. But I know people abuse them. Calorie counting is pretty standard. A lot of women don’t eat more than 1,200 calories, which I find crazy since they eat GARBAGE! I knew one girl who ate only a few sweet tarts for breakfast because she was saving her calories up for a chili dog at a baseball game. WTF?

    And Martina mentioned the “laxative craze” in the United States. I want to put it out there that girls who did it, were considered mentally ill. They got put under the label of being bulimic, so if girls went on an Advil craze here they probably would be hospitalized.

    1 year ago
  38. I think it’s important to say that not only girls suffer from the extremely high standards in the Kpop industry… It’s true that most male idols just do a lot of exercise to try and built a “sculptured body” but it’s not always the case. Also, a lot of times it’s the companies that force their idols to go on crazy diets (and when they don’t force them they just encourage it). As a Cassie I know that DBSK were forced to go on a water diet (where you eat and drink absolutely nothing but water, extremely unhealthy) for 3 whole days before their debut.

    1 year ago
  39. Now I can’t even think about diets while laughing at poor old Link. TL;DR has been hijacked. I’m tempted to crank up my copy with that added dimension to game play.

    1 year ago
  40. It’s interesting you mention the witches soup. I watched a documentary i *think* it was ‘the men who made us fat’ one or maybe the 5.2 diet one? I think it was a Michael mosely one at least. Anyway they did an experiment where they laid out a table and fed one group some veg some meat and a glass of water which they had to drink before their meal, another group ate the same but drank the water after the meal and the third ate the food with the water in a soup. Then they all had to get into their cars and drive for as long as they could and stop when they were hungry.

    Soup drove the longest, water after meal the second longest and water before meal stopped first.

    Water stretches the stomach so you have to eat more food to fill it but water after fills in the gaps between the food and soup stays in your system longer!

    Also I just started playing wind walker last weekend it is uh,amazing!

    1 year ago