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Is Salmon Good For Weight Loss? Benefits & Ways To Eat 2023
When it comes to weight loss, salmon probably isn’t the first food you think of. Many people eat salmon for its taste and multiple health benefits, from improving heart health to reducing blood pressure. But is salmon good for weight loss?
Read on to find out why we recommend eating salmon as part of a healthy weight-loss diet.
Is Salmon Good For Weight Loss?
Salmon is considered a superfood by some because it’s rich in protein and essential nutrients such as healthy fats. And, yes, salmon can help you lose weight.
Studies show that regularly eating fish can help you lose more weight, even though it’s only a moderate amount than when not eating fish, i.e., on a meat-based diet.
A “moderate amount” may not sound like much, but it’s body composition that matters. And that’s where the effects of salmon consumption on weight loss start to get interesting.
Now we know salmon is good for weight loss, but which types are best to include in your healthy diet?
Salmon Nutrition Facts
Nevertheless, all types of salmon are a good source of a range of micronutrients, including:
Salmon is high in protein and low in calories, with 100 grams providing:
- Calories: 182 kcal
- Protein: 25.4 g
- Total fat: 8.13 g
- Carbohydrate: 0 g
- Fiber: 0g
Health Benefits Of Eating Salmon
Apart from weight loss, the health benefits of consuming salmon include:
Reducing The Risk Of Heart Disease
A diet high in unhealthy fats such as omega-6 increase the risk of heart disease. The problem is many of us have omega-6 levels that are too high.
Chronic inflammation is associated with multiple diseases, from cancer to diabetes.
Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. Eating more salmon lowers a range of inflammatory biomarkers and improves overall health.
Protecting Brain Health
Studies show that eating more fatty fish and other seafood can slow cognitive decline.
Eating two portions of salmon per week can cut your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by up to 30%.
Improving Mental Health
Low levels of omega-3 are associated with mental health problems – especially depression.
Helping Maintain Healthy Vision
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid shown to prevent eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin A is essential for vision throughout the lifespan.
Supporting Bone Health
Vitamin D is crucial for you to absorb calcium, with low levels of vitamin D associated with low bone mineral density. Phosphorus is another mineral important for maintaining bone strength.
What’s The Best Type Of Salmon For Weight Loss?
Is Smoked Salmon Good For Weight Loss?
Fish is one of the most protein-rich foods, and smoked salmon is no exception.
Eating more high-quality protein such as fish aids weight loss by improving feelings of fullness and satiety, plus helping build muscle mass.
As a lean protein, salmon is low in carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and calories, making it even better for losing weight than fatty meats such as red meat.
Is Salmon Skin Good For Weight Loss?
Most people leave the salmon skin behind, but they’re missing a trick.
Salmon skin is high in omega-3 and protein, and it’s just as good for weight loss as salmon flesh.
Is Canned Salmon Good For Weight Loss?
Canned salmon contains just as much protein as fresh fish. But, while canned fish can also be a good source of omega-3, the omega-3 content of canned salmon varies due to the natural variation in levels of this fatty acid across the salmon muscle.
On top of that, the heat processing involved in canning salmon triggers micronutrient loss, making some canned salmon potentially less beneficial for weight loss compared to eating fresh salmon.
Now we know salmon can help us lose weight, but the big question remains: why does eating a fat-rich food help us lose weight? Is eating salmon fat healthy?
Is Salmon Fat Healthy?
Salmon is rich in a specific healthy fat: omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) have a range of benefits, and science now shows they can also help promote weight loss – specifically by helping you lose unwanted body fat.
In fact, not only can omega-3 fatty acids cut down on visible belly flab and reduce your waist size, studies show they can help you lose visceral fat – the invisible but unhealthy fat that builds up around your internal organs.
So, there’s no doubt that salmon fat is healthy, but how does eating more fat help you lose fat?
It sounds counter-intuitive, but it may come down to omega-3’s effect on brain health, fat burning, and the gut microbiome.
Omega-3 Triggers Brain Changes
Fascinating studies suggest that omega-3 regulates hypothalamus function – the part of your brain regulating hunger levels. A well-functioning hypothalamus is crucial for weight management.
This region of your brain responds to two hormones regulating food consumption – leptin and ghrelin, your “fullness” and “hunger” hormones, respectively. Leptin goes up as you eat and, when it reaches a certain level, your hypothalamus tells you to stop eating.
So, when your hypothalamus is functioning properly, you respond to leptin accordingly and stop eating when you’re satisfied. The problems arise when your hypothalamus isn’t functioning as it should.
It takes around 20 minutes for leptin levels to peak, so even a leptin-sensitive person can eat too much if they’re a fast eater. If you’re insensitive to leptin, the stop-eating signal can be delayed even longer.
Brain Inflammation Leads To Weight Gain
We’ve known for a long time that brain inflammation is linked to reduced brain function and even mental health disorders. But scientists may also be able to predict someone’s tendency to gain weight by looking at how inflamed their hypothalamus is.
The more inflamed your hypothalamus is, the more likely you are to be overweight. But animal studies show that injecting an obese rat’s brain with omega-3 instantly reduces food intake and stops further weight gain.
This isn’t surprising, as omega-3 is a potent anti-inflammatory, hence reducing hypothalamic inflammation and regulating its function. However, what is surprising is how quickly it changes eating behavior. These changes are accompanied by increased sensitivity to leptin – the fullness hormone – which leads to reduced calorie consumption.
But omega-3 fatty acids have other superpowers to help you lose weight – by changing the composition of your body fat.
Omega-3 “Activates” Fat Tissue
There are two main types of fat (also called “adipose”) tissue – white (WAT) and brown (BAT). People with more BAT and less WAT tend to have a lower risk of obesity.
Too much WAT is bad because it doesn’t need much energy to maintain. But BAT has a higher thermogenic capacity, meaning it uses up more energy by producing heat.
But you don’t have to be a victim of your white fat. Studies show that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can “activate” fat by turning white adipose tissue brown. This improves insulin sensitivity, slows down fat formation, and increases fat burning – all of which can help you lose weight.
Other than eating more fish, things that can activate BAT include exercise, cold exposure, and polyphenols – of which colorful fruits and vegetables are a good source.
Omega-3 And The Gut Microbiome
Finally, omega-3s can even impact the levels of healthy bacteria in your gut.
An imbalanced gut microbiome – that is, higher levels of “bad” bacteria and lower levels of “good” bacteria – is associated with a tendency to gain weight.
Studies suggest that the relative levels of two families of bacteria are an especially good biomarker for obesity: the Bacteriodetes/Firmicutes ratio. Higher levels of Firmicutes relative to Bacteriodetes is a risk factor for weight gain.
That’s where salmon comes to the rescue. Animal studies suggest that consuming fish, or fish oil, rich in omega-3s can increase the Bacteroidetes-to-Firmicutes ratio, which is more favorable for weight loss.
A healthier gut microbiome slows digestion, limiting the absorption of things counterproductive to a healthy weight; it also favors absorption–selectively–of the things you should absorb.
Adding Salmon To Your Diet
The best thing about being told to consume salmon is that it’s so versatile and easy to add to your diet.
Some healthy salmon recipes include:
- Baked wild salmon with lemon and thyme
- Grilled salmon fillets with rice and ginger-miso sauce
- Smoked salmon with avocado and cream cheese on rye bread
- Salmon-mayo and cucumber sandwich made with canned salmon
- Salad with canned salmon, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, and tomatoes
As avoiding fried foods is best for health, opt for a healthy no-oil way to cook salmon. There is a variety of healthy ways to prepare salmon, such as:
Fresh salmon can even be eaten raw, such as in sushi.
The Bottom Line
With all salmon’s health benefits and weight loss potential, there’s no wonder it’s the most commonly consumed fish worldwide.
In addition to being good for your weight loss journey, salmon can also boost your brain health, heart health, and even your mood.
We recommend consuming salmon once to twice per week as part of a balanced diet for maintaining muscle mass, optimal omega-3 levels, and weight loss.
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