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Tuna is a staple in many kitchens as it boasts of being a superfood. It is packed with healthy fats, proteins, and vitamins necessary for overall health. It is also inexpensive, and canned tuna can last in your pantry for a few years.
However, despite all these perks, you might be wondering, “Is tuna good for weight loss?” Some experts claim that eating tuna can help accelerate weight loss, provided you eat the right kind. Tuna is high in protein and low in calories, unlike other protein sources.
It is important to note that tuna doesn’t automatically guarantee weight loss unless healthy lifestyle changes accompany it. This article will discuss the nutritional value, health benefits, downsides, and impact of tuna on your weight loss journey.
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Tuna for Weight Loss – Is It Healthy?
As part of a healthy diet, tuna is an excellent choice for weight loss due to its high protein content. It is a lean fish rich in all the essential amino acids necessary for bodybuilding and muscle maintenance.
The proteins keep you satiated for longer making it easier to stick to your weight loss plan. Protein takes longer to digest, and it has a high thermic effect, thus increasing your body’s metabolism and burning more calories.
Proteins also help lower your food cravings by increasing satiation, thus reducing your hunger pangs and indulgence in unhealthy foods. This allows you to consume fewer calories leading to subsequent weight loss.
Tuna also helps in post-workout recovery for people combining diet and a fitness routine for weight loss.
Is Tuna Fattening?
Tuna is not fattening, as it is a high-protein and low-calorie food. It has low-fat content and only contains omega-3 fatty acids that have benefits such as protecting against heart disease and stroke.
Unlike high-calorie foods that tend to make the body accumulate fat and make muscles weaker, tuna has a low-calorie count, and eating tuna as part of a healthy diet will help you lose weight over time.
Does tuna fish have carbs?
Tuna contains no carbs, thus making it a perfect dish for a weight loss diet. The most common types of tuna are canned and light tuna, and they have a low-calorie count allowing you to maintain a calorie deficit.
How to Eat Tuna for Weight Loss
To lose excess body weight, you need to incorporate tuna as a part of a healthy diet. Smothering your tuna steak in mayonnaise, covering it with rich sauces, or serving it with white bread cancel out some health benefits.
For a more filling meal, you can use tuna in salads with steamed non-starchy vegetables. Lettuce, spinach, kale, or kidney beans help make a crunchy low-carb tuna salad.
Boiling or grilling your tuna is also the healthiest and tastiest form of tuna preparation. However, there are also fad diets you need to avoid, such as the three-day tuna diet, that promise rapid weight loss.
The tuna diet involves eating only tuna and water for three days. People then include low-fat dairy products like cottage cheese, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables after three days.
The tuna needs to be plain to supply you with at least 1.5 grams of protein per every pound of body weight. Though the tuna diet can cause rapid weight loss, it is highly restrictive and can cause harm to your health.
It does not provide all the nutrients necessary for healthy weight loss, and it impairs your muscle mass and metabolism. It can even lead to fast weight gain once you are off the diet.
Eating just tuna and doing away with other food groups denies your body the essential nutrients for growth. Therefore, please do not go on a crash diet of only tuna, but instead, enjoy it as part of a balanced diet for sustainable weight loss.
What Are the Benefits of Tuna Fish?
Consuming tuna has numerous benefits and should be a regular part of your diet. Below are the associated health benefits of tuna fish.
#1 Good for heart health
The most common health benefit of tuna fish is its impact on heart health. A tuna steak has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and it helps lower cholesterol levels in your blood vessels.
These fatty acids also help improve immunity and brain function. Tuna is also a suitable replacement for foods with high saturated fat content, further lowering the risk of heart disease.
Research suggests that people who incorporate fish more in their diet have a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
#2 Rich in vitamin B
Tuna fish has the vitamin B complex, which plays a crucial role in skin health. Vitamin B complex is good for red, acne-prone, and irritated skin and also improves the appearance of wrinkles and dry skin.
Vitamin B directly improves brain health since it is associated with a reduced risk of dementia and memory loss. It also increases energy levels and boosts the immune system. It also helps in nerve functions and improves overall cell health.
#3 Helps with eye health
The omega-3 fatty acids in tuna fish improve eye health and prevent age-related eye disease. Studies show that they help protect one against the occurrence and development of eye disease.
Some eye complications are also a result of diabetic complications, and eating fish helps minimize the risk of diabetes-induced eye damage.
#4 Improves skin health
Tuna fish is a good source of vitamin B, E, and collagen, which help improve skin health. Collagen also helps improve skin hydration and elasticity, and wrinkles.
Vitamin E is good for skin health as it protects one against the harmful effects of the sun and skin conditions like acne and eczema.
#5 Rich in selenium and vitamin D
Vitamin D is among the essential vitamins that improve immunity and bone health. Though we get a considerable amount from sunshine, we get the rest from food, and tuna is a good source of vitamin D. A serving of tuna meets 10% of your daily quota of vitamin D.
Tuna also has a significant amount of selenium, a crucial mineral in boosting immune, reproductive, and endocrine health.
#6 Helps build muscle
Tuna is packed with high protein levels, and a single can of tuna meets 80% of your daily protein requirement. Protein is the basic building block for your body, and it helps in muscle growth, recovery from wounds and illnesses, and improved muscle tone.
When you have more muscle mass, your body burns more calories while resting. Protein also minimizes risks such as stunted growth and low iron levels hence allowing for optimal conditions of muscle growth.
#7 Great food for weight loss
Tuna helps promote weight loss due to its high protein content. It also has the essential amino acids that help build muscle after exercise. Eating a high-protein diet also boosts your metabolism and overall calorie burn, leading to weight loss.
It also has essential nutrients such as B vitamins, which help support an active lifestyle while losing weight. It is best to consume tuna packed in water instead of oil for weight loss to avoid consuming excess calories.
Possible Downsides of Eating Tuna
Consuming tuna once every few days can be an excellent way to increase your protein intake.
However, moderation is crucial, as consuming too much tuna has some possible downsides.
Some of these downsides include:
#1 Mercury poisoning
Tuna and other small fish have a high mercury concentration, leading to serious health problems. The FDA advises not eating more than two servings of canned tuna a week as tuna has high amounts of mercury.
Most people have reasonable amounts of mercury in the system, but consuming too much tuna can spike the concentration to toxic levels. High mercury exposure can lead to health complications such as impairment of the central nervous system and neurological and kidney disorders.
Exposure to toxic mercury amounts is also harmful to small children and pregnant women. It causes learning disabilities and developmental delays in small children. It also leads to cognitive difficulties, deafness, blindness, and cerebral palsy among infants and fetuses.
For adults, it can lead to memory loss and vision loss. You can keep your mercury in check by consuming light tuna, as it is lower in mercury than other varieties.
#2 Allergic reactions
Some people experience sweating, dizziness, facial flushing, or a peppery taste in the mouth shortly after eating tuna. If this happens to you, you could be experiencing an allergic reaction from consuming tuna with some marine bacteria known as scombrotoxin.
These bacteria are majorly due to improper handling of fish during the canning process. If you experience these symptoms, see a physician for medical advice.
#3 High sodium content
Canned tuna has a high salt content, which may lead to an increase in blood pressure. Foods high in sodium content also pose a risk of heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea. If your doctor advises you to reduce your salt intake, it would be best to consider fish low in salt.
How Much Tuna Should I Eat?
Though tuna is incredibly nutritious, healthy, and rich in high-quality protein, you should not consume it daily. The FDA recommendation is 3–5 ounces of fish 2–3 times a week to get the necessary fatty acids.
However, overconsuming tuna above the recommended intake can increase mercury levels in the blood and spur a lot of health complications. Therefore, people should consume tuna in moderation and add other fish low in mercury as part of a regular diet.
Tuna for Weight Loss FAQs
Below are the answers to the frequently asked questions about tuna.
What is the healthiest way to eat tuna?
The best way to prepare tuna steak is by grilling or boiling it. It is tasty and enhances the full, rich flavor of the fish. You can brush it lightly with olive oil or lemon juice and serve it with fresh fruits and vegetables for additional nutrients.
How do you make tuna taste better?
You can improve the taste of tuna by adding avocado, tomatoes, bell pepper, or cream cheese. You can also add celery, lettuce, or red onions to make it more flavorful.
Can I eat canned tuna directly from the can?
You can eat it directly from the can as it is cooked enough to be edible during the canning process. You can now use it in soups, sandwiches, pizza, or pasta.
Is it okay to eat tuna every day?
No, it is not okay to consume tuna every day as you are likely to expose yourself to mercury poisoning leading to adverse health effects.
A Word From Our Dietitian
There are numerous ways of trying to lose excess weight. Consuming tuna once in a while is good for health as it has many important nutrients necessary for a balanced diet, thus helping you shed excess pounds.
However, avoid going on a crash diet that entails eating only tuna. Though it promises rapid weight loss, it may cause nutrient deficiencies and health problems such as mercury poisoning. Crash diets will also make it hard to keep off the excess weight.
When it comes to weight loss, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the best way to stay healthy and lose weight sustainably is by making lifestyle changes such as adopting fitness and healthy eating habits.
Before making diet changes, it is best to consult your healthcare provider to find something that works for you.
Tuna on its own is not a miracle for weight loss, but it forms a part of a healthy weight-loss diet.
However, if you are on a fish-only diet that skips food groups, it will not help you lose weight much, and you are likely to miss out on the essential nutrients necessary for optimal health.
It is also necessary to check your serving sizes and mode of preparation. For instance, tuna salad loaded with mayonnaise may make it harder for you to lose weight.
Tuna is an excellent addition to a weight loss diet, and this superfood can help you gain back control of your health.
Dennis is a seasoned writer who focuses on writing health and wellness articles. His career goal is to educate people on how to reprogram their lives by breaking free from unhealthy eating habits and fostering new sustainable habits. Dennis tries to give easy-to-follow advice based on scientific research. He strongly believes that regardless of age, fitness level, a person can always learn something new and reach their health goals if they have a positive mindset.
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD