Fish is healthy, easy to digest, and contains good-quality protein. It is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which aid weight loss. Scientists have found that regular consumption of fish and fish oil can help reduce inflammation-induced obesity, reduce leptin and blood pressure levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and improve heart health (1), (2), (3). According to the American Heart Association, eating non-fried fish once or twice a week has a cardioprotective effect due to its omega-3 fatty acid content (4). Though following a fish diet is good for weight loss, not all types of fish are good for you. Read on to find out which fish are the best for weight loss, how they can help you lose weight, ways to consume them, and a weight loss diet that will help you mobilize the fat.
Table Of Contents
6 Best Fish For Weight Loss
1. Wild Salmon
Wild-caught salmon is a versatile fatty fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It is, therefore, regarded as one of the best fish for weight loss. You can get 121 calories from 3 oz of salmon. It is rich in vitamin A, folate, niacin, vitamin B 12, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and lean protein (5). Multiple studies have found a positive correlation between the consumption of salmon and weight loss (6). A study conducted at the University of Iceland found that eating 150 g of salmon as part of an energy-restricted diet three times a week helped the subjects lose an average 3.5 kg of weight (7).
Canned or not, tuna is good for you if you are trying to lose weight. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA. Tuna is a good source of protein, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A, folate, niacin, and vitamin B12 (8). Both fatty and skinny tuna are recommended for you (9). You can easily prepare tuna salad, sandwiches, casseroles, wraps, and pasta.
Mackerel contains a good amount of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, DHA, vitamin B12, and selenium (10). All these nutrients help reduce inflammation, improve metabolic rate, build lean muscle mass, and aid weight loss (11). You can have grilled or boiled mackerel, mackerel stew, or mackerel curry for lunch or dinner in order to lose weight.
Herring is a fatty fish that is similar to a sardine. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It is a good source of vitamins A, D, and B12, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and protein (12).
Three servings of fatty fish a week can improve insulin sensitivity and leptin levels and aid weight loss in obese individuals (13). Have poached or grilled herring with veggies to balance the daily requirement. The FDA recommends consuming herring twice a week.
5. Pacific Cod
Cod is a great source of vitamin A, choline, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium (14).
A study conducted at the University of Iceland found that consumption of 150 g of codfish for five days a week helps in losing more than 1.7 kg weight in obese individuals along with improvement in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity and reduction in triglyceride levels (15). Have it stewed or poached to get all the nutritional benefits.
Hilsa is a rich source of protein, fat, vitamin C, and calcium (16). A study conducted at the Dhaka University on hypercholesterolemic subjects has found that though hilsa is fatty in nature, it can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol (17). Though hilsa fish intake has not been found to be directly related to lower BMI, it is safe for your heart.
The six fish listed above can help you achieve your target weight. But, you can also include any other fish in your diet and see good results.
Fish For Weight Loss – Connecting The Dots
- Fish Are A Good Source of Lean Protein
If you want to lose weight, you must focus on losing fat and not lean muscle mass. Fish are a good source of lean protein and help you build lean muscle mass. Fish protein is effective in weight loss compared to any other animal protein as it improves satiety (18). Moreover, fish contains the amino acid taurine. Taurine could be beneficial in the prevention of obesity and diabetes (19).
- Fish Are Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish help your body achieve the recommended omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio. This, in turn, helps reduce inflammation caused by the excessive omega-6 fatty acids found in most junk foods (20). Unchecked inflammation can put the body in a state of stress and lead to weight gain. Consuming fish can help reduce inflammation and your chances of gaining fat.
If you find the smell of fish off-putting, you can opt for fish oil supplements instead after consulting your doctor to meet your daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fish Lowers Triglyceride Levels
The American Heart Association recommends1 g/ day of omega-3 fatty acids to people with coronary artery disease. A fish diet is beneficial for reducing triglyceride levels and the risk of coronary artery disease (21). This, in turn, prevents the risk of a range of cardiovascular diseases, keeps you active, and inhibits all obesity-inducing triggers.
- Fish Are Low In Calories
One more reason fish are a great option when you are on a weight loss mission is that they are low in calories. So, you can have grilled or poached fish with veggies without consuming more than 350 calories. You will not feel hungry for the next two hours, and your taste buds will also be satiated.
- Fish Acts As a Natural Antidepressant
Now, let me give you an idea of how your diet chart should look like after the inclusion of fish.
Fish Diet – A Diet Chart To Lose Weight
|Meals||What To Eat|
|Early Morning (6:00 a.m.)||2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in 1 cup of water|
|Breakfast (7:15 a.m)||Oatmeal + 1 cup freshly-pressed grapefruit juice|
2 egg white omelets + 1 cup milk + 4 almonds
|Mid Morning (10:15 a.m)||1 cup green tea|
|Lunch (12:30 p.m.)||Tuna salad with light dressing + 1 cup yogurt|
Poached herring with veggies + 1 cup yogurt
|Post Lunch (3:30 p.m.)||1 cup of coconut water|
Baby carrots and hummus
|Dinner (6:30 p.m.)||Grilled salmon/hilsa/mackerel with veggies|
Stewed fish with a small bowl of brown rice
|Bedtime (10:00 p.m.)||1 cup warm milk with a pinch of turmeric|
This sample diet chart gives you a good idea of what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. Follow this chart, and you will lose weight effectively. But, you must also be physically active to tone up. Here are a few other points that you should keep in mind.
Points To Remember
Consume other protein sources such as chicken breast, ground turkey, legumes, soy chunks, and mushrooms to provide your body the full set of essential amino acids.
- Have 3-4 types of veggies and at least 3 types of fruits per day.
- Include whole grains and healthy fats in your diet.
- Eat 5-6 times a day.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- Get proper rest. Sleep for at least 7 hours a day.
- Do a mix of cardio and strength training and workout at least 3-4 times a week.
- Do not starve yourself.
- Practice yoga and meditation to keep the stress away.
Caution: Due to increased water pollution, there is a greater risk of mercury poisoning through fish. Make sure you buy your fish from a trusted source. You can also take fish oil supplements instead.
To conclude, fish are low in calories and rich in protein and healthy fats, which makes them highly nutritious. By consuming fish regularly, you will be able to lose fat, improve bone health, and prevent skin and hair loss problems. So, go ahead, shed fat, and look and feel gorgeous all the time.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Which fish is the lowest in fat?
All fish are low in fat and rich in protein. They are a rich source of lean protein.
Is chicken or fish better for weight loss?
Any lean protein is good for weight loss. Fish is always a great choice because of its amino acid content and because it is easy to digest. But, if you don’t like the smell of fishy, you can eat other lean meats like chicken or lamb instead.
Does fish increase weight?
Eating anything in limited amounts does not increase weight. Fish are low in calories and loaded with protein and healthy fats. So, include grilled or baked fish for lunch and dinner to kickstart your weight loss journey.
- Effects of dietary fish and weight reduction on ambulatory blood pressure in overweight hypertensives, Hypertension, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effect of fish diets and weight loss on serum leptin concentration in overweight, treated-hypertensive subjects, Journal of Hypertension, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Dietary fish as a major component of a weight-loss diet: effect on serum lipids, glucose, and insulin metabolism in overweight hypertensive subjects, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- New AHA guidelines recommend eating fish twice a week to improve heart health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
- Nutritive value of Fish, salmon, Atlantic, wild, raw, FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Seafood intake and the development of obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, Nutrition Research Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Randomized trial of weight-loss-diets for young adults varying in fish and fish oil content, International Journal of Obesity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Nutritive Value of Fish, tuna, fresh, yellowfin, raw, FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- The skinny on tuna fat: health implications, Public Health Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Nutritive value of fish, mackerel, pacific and jack, mixed species, raw, FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Omega-3 fatty acids in obesity and metabolic syndrome: a mechanistic update, The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Nutritive Value of Fish, sardine, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone, FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Specific insulin sensitivity and leptin responses to a nutritional treatment of obesity via a combination of energy restriction and fatty fish intake, Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Nutritive Value of Fish, cod, Pacific, raw, FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Consumption of cod and weight loss in young overweight and obese adults on an energy reduced diet for 8-weeks, Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Nutritional Profile of Hilsa Fish [Tenualosa ilisha (Hamilton, 1822)] in Six Selected Regions of Bangladesh, Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences.
- Effect of hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) fish in hypercholesterolemic subjects, Bangladesh Medical Research Council bulletin, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- A comparison of the effects of beef, chicken and fish protein on satiety and amino acid profiles in lean male subjects, Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Potential role of taurine in the prevention of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, Amino Acids, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Fatty acids from fish: the anti-inflammatory potential of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, Nutrition Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The effect of lean fish consumption on triglyceride levels, The Physician and sportsmedicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Fish consumption and risk of depression: a meta-analysis, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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