There might be a lot of fish in the sea but some of which will help you lose weight while others will cause you more harm than good.
Fish are a very important part of your diet not only helping with weight loss but will also improve your overall health (1).
Eating fish can help reduce the chances of getting lifestyle-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (2,3,4). These serious health problems are rising to an alarmingly high rate.
Fish are an excellent source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Yet, for some fish, the benefits will not outweigh the risks associated with them.
And it can be confusing since there are so many different fish you can eat. But here you’ll discover the best fish you should be adding to your diet to lose weight.
The 9 Best Fish For Weight Loss
So why is eating fish good for weight loss?
First off it’s quite high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. There are many studies out there finding just how effective omega-3s are for increasing weight loss and lowering belly fat (5).
The problem is it can be hard to get omega-3s since your body can’t make them on its own. You need to get them through your diet and the best source is fish.
Fish is naturally high in protein and eating a high protein diet has been found to increase weight and improve body composition (6). Eating higher protein foods promote fat loss by increasing your metabolism, promoting muscle building, and help you feel fuller for longer (7).
Most fish are lower in calories and are free of carbohydrates. An easy way to get more protein on your diet if you’re eating low carb is to add in more of this fish on this list.
Eating fish is associated with a reduction of cardiovascular disease, which is ever more important these days considering it’s the number one killer in the United States.
This three-cohort study found those who consumed fatty fish had a 34% reduction in cardiovascular diseases (9).
Fish are also very important for your brain health as it’s been found to prevent serious neural diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (10).
Not to mention fish consumption has been found to ensure good neuron development in children for cognitive and visual development (11).
The fish choices below are associated with helping you decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes (12).
But you also need to be careful to stay away from the worst fish for weight loss as well since they can cause a lot more harm to you than their supposed benefits. Eating these bad fishies could be putting you at risk for environmental toxins (13).
So what are the best types of fish to eat for weight loss? Here they are…
Alaskan Wild Salmon
Your healthiest choice for fish is Alaskan Wild Salmon. It’s my top choice of fish to eat if you’re trying to lose belly fat and get healthier.
It’s significantly high in omega-3 fatty acids which have been proven by numerous scientific studies to reduce inflammation in your body (14).
Salmon is loaded with protein, vitamin D and the omega-3’s as a natural anti-inflammatory helping improve the integrity of your bones and joints.
The omega-3’s found in salmon have been found to help prevent neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (15).
Even the antioxidant astaxanthin will greatly reduce the damage-causing free radicals in your body. This will help prevent unnecessary accelerated aging in your body. One study found it to be the most powerful antioxidant in the world (16).
Not to mention these omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent cancer in your body (17). The more of these cancer-fighting foods you can put into your body the better.
Just make sure when you’re buying salmon if it’s labeled “wild-caught” it could not be what you think. Some salmon labeled as “wild-caught” are actually born in hatcheries, then released into the wild before being caught again.
This is definitely not the same as finding Alaskan Wild-Caught Salmon. I like to go with Alaskan style as they’re the least contaminated species according to the George Mateljan Foundation (18).
Keep in mind if weight loss is your goal then eating salmon all the time might not be the best idea. Since salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids it’s also higher in calories. So you might need to check your portions depending on what else you’re eating on your diet.
A fillet of salmon contains 824 calories and contains 80 grams of protein. But you could easily cut this salmon fillet into thirds and spread it out in your meals.
Wild Pacific Cod
Cod is a flakey white fish that’s mild in flavor. With its high protein content and amino acid profile, Wild pacific cod is another one of my favorite fish to boost weight loss.
If you’re looking for a fish on this list that’s lowest in calories then cod is going to be at the top. A fillet of cod only contains 189 calories but packs in 41 grams of protein.
White fish is generally lower in calories than other oily fish. Cod is the best white types of fish you can eat.
Wild Pacific Cod is a great fish to eat since its satiating effect. Cod can lower the feelings of hunger so you end up eating less.
A study by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people ate 11% less at dinner when they ate cod for lunch versus beef (19). This means you’ll end up eating fewer calories throughout the day so you keep can keep losing weight.
Another 8-week study found eating cod resulted in losing 3.75 more pounds than a counterpart group that consumed the same amount of calories (20).
Be sure to search out wild pacific cod as most Atlantic cod is higher in mercury and nearly on the endangered list (21).
Word of Warning: Fish’n’Chips even though made from cod is not on my approved fish list for weight loss. Haha
Doin’ it for the halibut! Ok, all jokes aside halibut is seriously another great fish to eat if you’re looking to lose weight.
Halibut is a white fish that has a sweeter taste but still mild. It’s high in protein, vitamins, and minerals while not the highest in omega-3 fatty acids the profile is still pretty good.
When you go to nearly any grocery store you’ll be sure to find halibut there unlike some of the other awesome hard-to-find fish options on this page. The easier it is for you the more likely you are to do it.
A fillet of halibut contains 290 calories and packs in almost 50 grams of protein.
Canned Light Tuna
It’s pretty well known that most tuna is high in mercury so consumption of it should be limited (22). This is why it’s important to search out light canned tuna next time you’re at the grocery store.
Canned light tuna is a low mercury fish that’s a quick and easy high protein snack you can take anywhere. The FDA recommends if you’re going to eat tuna then go with a canned light tuna (23).
Light tuna contains significantly less mercury than white tuna (albacore).
It’s not only super high in protein but it’s a great way to get your omega-3 fatty acids in for the day (24).
Even the Journal of Lipid Research found omega-3’s had the ability to turn off your stomach fat genes (25). The DHA in fish can be 40-70% more powerful at down-regulating fat genes in your abs compared to EPA.
Just make sure you keep your intake of tuna on the lower end throughout the week to be on the safe side. The FDA recommends you keep it at 2-3 per week. Even though albacore tuna has a higher amount of omega-3’s it’s also much higher in mercury than light canned tuna (26).
If you do decide to go with albacore tuna limit your weekly intake to 6 oz a week or so. Light tuna is a great source of lean protein but putting mercury in your body is not going to be good at all for you but it’ll be a better choice than other tuna sources (27).
And if you’re pregnant then it would be a good idea to avoid albacore tuna completely. For me, canned light tuna is the king of the tunas, but it should still be limited.
Sardines are another one of my favorite fish to eat with their high protein, B12, selenium, and vitamin D content.
The high amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in sardines will help you lose weight and stay young especially compared to the worst fish on the list below (28).
Another huge benefit to eating sardines is you really don’t have to worry about mercury and sustainability. Sardines are naturally on the bottom of the food chain so they’re more than sustainable (29).
Since they eat plankton you’ll also have a much lesser chance of being exposed to mercury as much as other fishes.
I really like to keep some Wild Planet Sardines around the house, in my to-go bag, and in the car so I always have a quick and easy high protein meal with me at all times.
See my post on Why Eating More Sardines Is Good For You for more on this awesome superfood.
Oysters earned a well-deserved spot on my superfoods list for a very good reason.
They’re super high in omega-3’s along with iron and zinc (30). Considering most people are deficient in zinc eating just 3 oz. of oysters will give you nearly 500% of your daily requirement.
Oysters are also considered a libido raising aphrodisiac mostly from their high zinc content. A deficiency in zinc is associated with impotence (31).
This is one of those rare circumstances when eating farmed is better than wild (32). Oyster farms improve the quality of life in oceans and bays as they feed on particular matter and nutrients that would otherwise pollute waterways.
Oyster farms also help to prevent the depletion of wild populations by controlling and regulating their growth.
Just like canned light tuna and sardines, you can conveniently find canned oysters in your local grocery health store.
Scallops are one of my favorite meals to eat at any seafood restaurant.
They’re not only delicious pan-seared but they have a good amount of protein in them as well.
Even this study in the Journal of Food Science found the bioactive compounds in scallops had a significant anti-obesity effect on your body (33).
Scallops are naturally high in taurine and glycine. Both of which have been found to have a strong anti-obesity effect (34).
So you’ll not only get a delicious meal from eating scallops, but they’ll also help you lose weight.
Even though clams are very low in omega-3’s and protein they still earn a spot on this list with their high B12 content.
Clams are totally safe to eat after cooking and a half dozen of them contain 40 times your daily requirement of vitamin B12. Studies have found a strong link between having higher vitamin B12 levels and losing weight (35).
Clams are lower in fat and calories while packing in some other critical vitamins and minerals such as selenium, zinc, iron, and magnesium.
Women and vegans have a notoriously rough time getting enough iron in their bodies. Low iron levels are associated with a lot of serious health problems including obesity (36). So eating more clams can really help to fight these deficiencies.
Fish Oil & Krill Oil
I’ll admit fish oil and krill oil aren’t technically considered fish to eat in the common sense, but they really deserve on spot on this list of the best fish to eat for weight loss.
Along with a greens supplement like MetaboGreens, the other must-take supplement everybody should be using is either fish oil and krill oil.
Taking omega-3 has been found to reduce belly fat regardless of changes to one’s diet or exercise (37). Taking omega-3 has also been found to reduce the signs of skin aging by reducing wrinkles, dryness, and thinning (38). You can also activate new hair growth and strengthen your hair by taking an omega-3 (39).
Krill oil is overall better than fish oil because of these three reasons…
- higher levels of DHA than EPA
- contain Astaxanthin (the most powerful antioxidant known to science)
- more bioavailable (absorb more of it)
- smaller pills (no horse pills)
But fish oil does have its benefits as well and in an ideal world, you would be taking both. A 6-week study found fish oil significantly increased lean mass while also having a significant impact on reducing fat mass (40).
Kyoto University researchers found it actually transformed fat-storing cells into fat-burning cells (41). They found it would activate receptors in your digestive tract, fire up the sympathetic nervous system and then force storage cells to start burning fat.
The problem with fish oil is the low standards of purity, freshness, and potency you’ll find in the supplements. Scientific Reports found less than 10% of fish oil supplements actually contained the amount of DHA and EPA they claimed to have.
I recommend getting the best of both worlds by taking a combination of krill oil and fish oil. OmegaKrill by BioTrust Nutrition is a 2-in-1 omega-3 supplement that contains 1040mg of DHA which is really high and is the more powerful fatty acid. It also uses AstaREAL Astaxanthin making it 120x more absorbable than other forms of it.
The Last Word
If you’re trying to lose weight, belly fat and improve your overall health and mood then eating more fish can help. Salmon is one of the best types of fish you can add to your diet but it’s not the only one.
It’s a good idea to add fish to your diet a couple of times a week. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating 8 oz. of seafood per week.
But if you’re pregnant then it’ll be a good idea to eat a variety of fish per week. Just make sure you pick fish that are lower in mercury.
The fish on this list will help you to lose weight and will also give you inflammation and disease-fighting omega-3’s. This is why it’s always a smart idea to supplement with omega-3 fatty acids too.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition fully endorse dietary fish as a major component for weight loss and should not be avoided (42).
Just make sure you eat the right fish and stay away from the bad ones.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.