6 Ways Eating Fish Can Help You Lose Weight, Say Dietitians
Protein bars and protein shakes? Nah, eat a fillet of salmon! Fish is one of the healthiest foods you can add to your weekly meal plan. It's rich in all kinds of nutrients that benefit your body in multiple ways, including weight loss. Fish is an essential part of the Mediterranean Diet, which is considered the best diet for weight loss. So it's easy to conclude that eating fish is a huge part of this diet's success.
But how so? How does eating fish help you lose weight? We spoke with a few registered dietitians about how fish can help with your weight loss efforts, as well as other incredible benefits that eating it provides. Here's what they had to say—and for even more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Fish is a complete protein.
"Fish is a great source of complete protein, which is important to help you feel full when trying to lose weight," Jinan Banna, PhD, RD says. "This can help prevent overeating. A diet that is insufficient in protein may leave you feeling hungry. If your diet is made up mostly of simple carbohydrates, for example, you may not easily feel satisfied. So, rather than consuming a lot of potatoes, white rice, and other such foods as part of your meal, you will want to be sure to consume these moderately and include a serving of protein-containing foods such as fish."
Fish keeps you feeling full.
"Fish is a great source of high-quality protein. While protein does a lot of things in the body, from a digestion standpoint, it helps you get full faster and stay full longer," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. "So, when you add a protein like fish to meals, you're more likely to stay satisfied longer. And if you choose a fatty fish like salmon, trout, or tuna that contains omega-3 fatty acids, you get a double benefit! Fats also contribute to satiety and omega-3s are heart-healthy fats, so it's a win-win!"
Along with fish, here are the 26 Best Omega-3 Foods to Fight Inflammation and Support Heart Health.
You significantly cut down on your fat intake.
"By opting to eat fish over high-fat animal products like beef or pork, you are significantly cutting down on the [number] of calories you're taking in at one meal," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD from Balance One Supplements. "Fish can also be prepared in tasty ways without adding excess fat and calorie-dense ingredients like cheeses and creams. Fish is also often paired with nutrient-dense vegetables like asparagus and squash, making the overall nutrient quality of your meals go up while the calorie density comes down."
Not sure how to cook fish at home? Try one of these 61+ Best Healthy Fish Recipes for Weight Loss.
Fish decreases inflammation.
Did you know that decreasing your body's inflammation not only helps you to live longer, but also it's linked to weight loss? One study published by the Archives of Medical Science points out that finding ways to "manage obesity" can help reduce the risk of diseases by decreasing inflammation.
"The omega fatty acids in fish will help to decrease the inflammation you are likely experiencing in your body," Best says. "As this inflammation decreases you'll see a change on the scale, but also in your energy. Low-grade, chronic inflammation is linked to mental and physical fatigue. Once your energy has improved you may be more apt to engage in physical activity, which can lead to weight loss."
Fish is low in calories.
"Fish is a low-calorie, high protein choice that is perfect for a weight loss plan," Brenda Braslow, MS, RD with MyNetDiary says. "Per ounce, fish (uncooked) averages about 30 calories. It is one of the lowest-calorie protein foods when compared to other protein sources, such as lean beef at 56 calories per ounce, lean pork tenderloin at 33 calories per ounce, or kidney beans at 36 calories per ounce. Of course, you want to prepare fish without a lot of extra fat. Grilled, baked, boiled, or sushi is very low-calorie. Frying fish or adding rich sauces racks up the calories and won't help you lose weight."
Fish keeps your blood sugar stable.
"Protein-rich foods like fish also help keep your blood sugar steady," says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. "This will help you stay satisfied and keep your calories under control (without you actually having to count calories.) Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have an added boost, as they also contain heart-healthy omega 3 fats which are anti-inflammatory and good for your heart."