10 Best Fish You Can Eat for Weight Loss

If you’re trying to shed some pounds and if you’re tired of eating chicken and turkey, and want more healthy high protein food choices, then these are the top 10 fish you can eat for weight loss.

Adding fish to your diet can help you lose weight by consuming high-quality protein that makes you feel full and satisfied. Plus, fish is generally low in calories to help keep moving that scale down while leaving your hunger satisfied.

If you’ve been struggling with weight loss, then adding these healthy fish can help get the needle moving again. But eating wrong and unhealthy fish can sabotage your weight loss and ruin your results… and your health!

In my nearly 20 years as a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I’ve found that the fish below are the best for fat loss and weight loss. So, let’s dive into the top 10 fish and seafood choices to drop that excess weight.

Top 10 Fish to Eat to Lose Belly Fat

So why is eating fish good for weight loss?

First, it’s quite high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Many studies have found that omega-3s are quite effective for increasing weight loss and lowering belly fat.1

Omega-3 fatty acids boost weight loss and belly fat by:

  • Boosting Metabolism: Omega-3 fatty acids increase the efficiency of your metabolic functions. This will increase how many calories and body fat your body burns, resulting in weight loss.
  • Lowers Inflammation: Stubborn belly fat and obesity are linked to chronic inflammation. Omega-3s have high antioxidant properties and make it easier for your body to burn fat.
  • Regulates Fat Storage: Research has found that omega-3s influence your body’s ability to shift the balance from storing fat to burning fat. Omega-3s can also prevent the formation of new fat cells in the abdominal area.
  • Suppresses Appetite: Omega-3s help regulate blood sugar levels and increase leptin (the satiety hormone). By taking omega-3s, you can lower your appetite, thus eating less and then losing more weight.

The Journal of Lipid Research found that omega-3s can turn off stomach fat genes.2 The DHA in fish can be 40-70% more powerful than EPA at down-regulating fat genes in your abs.

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 of omega-3 fatty acids is fish.

Fish is naturally high in protein, and eating a high-protein diet has been found to increase weight loss and improve body composition.3 Eating higher-protein foods promotes fat loss by increasing metabolism, promoting muscle building, and helping you feel fuller for longer.4

Most fish are also lower in calories and free of carbohydrates. If you’re eating low-carb, adding more of the fish on this list to your weight loss diet is an easy way to get more protein. Fish are generally low in unhealthier saturated fats too.

The best fish choices below are associated with decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.5 Fish contains high-quality protein and healthy fats that slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes.

Alaskan Wild Salmon

The healthiest fish to eat for weight loss is Alaskan Wild Salmon. Salmon is such a good fish for weight loss that it’s my top choice if you’re trying to lose belly fat and get healthier.

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is the best salmon since it’s significantly high in omega-3 fatty acids, which numerous scientific studies have proven to reduce inflammation in the body.6 Body inflammation can cause weight gain by impairing the hormone functioning of insulin and leptin. Fat cells themselves can develop inflammation, which can cause more fat tissue to grow.7

Salmon is a fatty fish loaded with protein, vitamin D, and omega-3s. These are natural anti-inflammatory compounds that help improve the integrity of bones and joints. The omega-3s found in salmon have also been found to help prevent neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.8

Salmon contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which greatly reduces damage-causing free radicals in your body. This will help prevent unnecessary accelerated aging. One study found it to be the most powerful natural antioxidant in the world.9

Just make sure when you’re buying salmon that if it’s labeled “wild-caught,” it may not be what you think. Some salmon labeled as “wild-caught” are actually born in hatcheries and 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 the Alaskan style as they’re the least contaminated species, according to the George Mateljan Foundation.10 Wild Alaskan Coho salmon is the top choice, followed by Wild Alaskan Chinook (King) salmon.

Keep in mind that if weight loss is your goal, 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, depending on what else you’re eating in your weight loss diet, you might need to check your portions.

An average 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 but great for weight loss. With its high protein content and amino acid profile, Wild Pacific cod is another one of my favorite fish for boosting weight loss.

Cod is a lean fish that’s one of the best, highest-protein fish with low calories. A cod fillet only contains 189 calories but packs 41 grams of protein. Cod protein can improve body composition by reducing fat and building muscle.

A study by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people ate 11% less at dinner when they ate cod for lunch versus beef.11 This means you’ll end up eating fewer calories throughout the day, so you can keep losing weight.

Another 8-week study found that eating cod resulted in losing 3.75 pounds more than a counterpart group that consumed the same amount of calories.11 Just make sure you don’t eat fried cod, which is often used in Fish and Chips.

I’d choose cod over tilapia as the best lean white fish. Tilapia is usually farmed in crowded conditions, treated with antibiotics, and thrown into waters with harmful pathogens and chemicals. Wild Pacific cod is a much healthier and nutritious lean white fish.

Be sure to search out wild Pacific cod, as most Atlantic cod are higher in mercury and nearly on the endangered list.12 Wild Pacific cod live in the pristine waters in the North Pacific, including Alaska, which have strict environmental protections and regulations.

Halibut

Doin’ it for the halibut! All jokes aside, halibut is seriously another great lean fish to eat if you’re looking to lose weight.

Halibut is a white fish with a sweet yet mild taste and a firm texture. This makes it a terrific choice for healthy cooking methods. Since halibut is quite low in calories, you can eat bigger portions if you’re following a low-calorie healthy diet.

Halibut is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals and low in fat and calories. While halibut isn’t the highest in omega-3 fatty acids, its overall health profile is still pretty good. With halibut, you’ll also get crucial vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, phosphorous, magnesium, and selenium.

Wild-caught halibut is a healthier choice since it is on its natural diet in the ocean. This gives it a more well-rounded and robust nutrient profile without worrying about contaminants like farmed halibut. Look for halibut from cold water sources like Alaska, which has stricter environmental protection.

An average halibut fillet contains 290 calories and packs almost 50 grams of protein.

Canned Light Tuna

If your goal is weight loss, the best canned tuna is light canned tuna. Canned light tuna is made from smaller species like skipjack or yellowfin. These smaller species of tuna contain less mercury than white tuna like albacore.

Canned light tuna is a low-mercury lean fish that’s a quick and easy high-protein snack you can take anywhere. It’s low in calories, high in protein, low in fat, and rich in nutrients. A typical can of light tuna only contains 100-120 calories, 28g of protein, and 1g of fat.

The FDA recommends that if you’re going to eat tuna, go with canned light tuna.13 Even though albacore tuna has a higher amount of omega-3s, it’s also much higher in mercury than light canned tuna.14

Tuna is not only super high in protein but also a great way to get your omega-3 fatty acids for the day.15 Plus, canned light tuna is super convenient to eat and for storage.

Some examples of canned light tuna are:

  • Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Water
  • StarKist Chunk Light Tuna in Water
  • Chicken of the Sea Light Tuna
  • Wild Planet Skipjack Wild Tuna (my personal #1 choice)
  • Safe Catch Wlite Wild Skipjack Tuna

The FDA recommends eating 2-3 servings of canned light tuna per week.16 When drained, one serving is 4 oz. But if you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, a nursing mother, or a young child, then be even more cautious with only 1-2 servings per week.

If you decide to go with albacore tuna, limit your weekly intake to 6 oz. Light tuna is a great source of lean protein, but putting mercury in your body will not be good for you; it’ll be a better choice than other tuna sources.17

Sardines

Sardines are another one of my favorite fish to eat, and they pack a lot of health benefits in such a small form. Sardines contain high protein (while low in calories), omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, selenium, calcium, and vitamin D.

Sardines contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help you lose weight and stay young. One study found nursing mothers had more beneficial omega-3 breastfeeding milk.18

A study found that eating sardines lowered insulin resistance while also lowering fatty tissue oxidative stress and inflammation. These findings suggest that sardines could improve metabolic health issues caused by obesity.

Another huge benefit of eating sardines is that you don’t have to worry about mercury and sustainability. Sardines are naturally at the bottom of the food chain, so they’re more sustainable than other fish.19

Since they eat plankton, you’ll also have a much lesser chance of being exposed to mercury as much as other fishes. Sardines have such a short lifespan (2-3 years), so it’ll minimize their exposure to mercury and other environmental toxins.

I 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. I eat them straight out of the can or add them to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.

But be careful not to eat too many sardines at once. Sardines are considered to be higher in purines, which break down into uric acid in the body. This can worsen gout symptoms for those who already have gout.

See my post on Why Eating More Sardines Is Good For You for more on this awesome superfood.

Rainbow Trout

I have fond childhood memories of camping and fishing for rainbow trout in a nearby lake. At the time, I didn’t know how healthy this fish was for me!

Rainbow trout are very rich in high-quality protein. An average 3 oz. serving contains up to 22g of protein. This high-quality protein builds and repairs body tissues, making it a great fish for muscle growth.

A typical 3 oz. serving of rainbow trout only contains up to 145 calories. You’ll be well off eating fish like rainbow trout, which is high in protein but low in calories.

Rainbow trout is a moderately fatty fish with plenty of omega-3 fats, but not as much as other fatty fish like salmon or sardines. They’re also rich in nutrients like B vitamins, potassium, and selenium.

If you’re looking for a low-mercury fish, rainbow trout is on the list. Trout have a shorter lifespan than other predatory fish like swordfish or marlin. They’re low on the food chain, eating mostly insects, plankton, and larvae.

Farmed rainbow trout are generally grown in controlled aquaculture environments. This can help to make sure the trout isn’t exposed to environmental contaminants like heavy metals.

Oysters

I know oysters aren’t technically a fish, but they are a seafood with many health benefits, including weight loss. They’re low in calories, high in protein, and rich in nutrients.

Oysters are super high in omega-3s, along with iron and zinc.20 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 because of their high zinc content. A zinc deficiency is associated with impotence.21 Zinc is an essential mineral for testosterone production. It also contains the amino acids D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, both of which have been found to increase sex hormones.22

This is one of those rare circumstances when eating farmed can be better than eating wild. Oyster farms improve the quality of life in oceans and bays by feeding on particular matter and nutrients that would otherwise pollute waterways.

Just like canned light tuna and sardines, you can conveniently find canned oysters in your local grocery health store.

Scallops

Scallops are low in calories, high in protein, low in fat, and rich in nutrients. They help you feel full too, by promoting satiety.

They’re not only delicious pan-seared, but they also contain a good amount of protein. A typical 3.5-ounce serving contains 20 grams of protein.

Scallops are naturally high in taurine and glycine, both of which have a strong anti-obesity and weight loss effect.23 Research has found that nutrients in scallops can increase muscle strength and repair body tissues.

Clams

Even though clams are very low in omega-3s and protein, their high B12 content still earns them a spot on this list. Clams are low in calories, high in protein, low in fat, and nutrient-rich. They’re also a seafood option that’s low in mercury.

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.24

Cooked clams are very high in iron, with 3.5 ounces containing 28 milligrams. An average man needs 18 milligrams per day. Iron is an essential nutrient for energy production, muscle function, preventing fatigue, appetite regulation, and metabolic efficiency.25

Women and vegans have a notoriously rough time getting enough iron in their bodies. Low iron levels are associated with many serious health problems, including obesity.26 So eating more clams can really help to fight this iron deficiency.

Fish Oil & Krill Oil

I’ll admit fish oil and krill oil aren’t technically considered fish to eat in common sense, but they really deserve a spot on this list of the best fish to eat for weight loss.

Taking omega-3 has been found to reduce belly fat regardless of changes to one’s healthy diet or exercise.27 Taking omega-3 has also been found to reduce the signs of skin aging by reducing wrinkles, dryness, and thinning.28 You can also activate new hair growth and strengthen your hair by taking an omega-3.29

Which is better… krill oil or fish oil? Krill oil is overall better than fish oil for these three reasons:

  • Higher levels of DHA than EPA
  • Astaxanthin (the most powerful antioxidant known to science)
  • More bioavailable (easier to absorb more of it)
  • Smaller pills (no big horse pills)

But fish oil does have its benefits as well, and in an ideal world, you would be taking both. A six-week study found that fish oil significantly increased lean mass while also significantly reducing fat mass.30

Kyoto University researchers found it actually transformed fat-storing cells into fat-burning cells.31 They found it activated receptors in the digestive tract, fired up the sympathetic nervous system, and forced 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.32

I recommend combining krill oil and fish oil to get the best of both worlds. OmegaKrill by BioTrust Nutrition is a 2-in-1 omega-3 supplement that contains 1040mg of DHA, which is a really high and more powerful fatty acid. It also uses AstaREAL Astaxanthin, making it 120x more absorbable than other forms of it.

My Pick
BioTrust OmegaKrill

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Benefits:
  • Each serving is packed with 1040mg of DHA providing support for brain, heart, eye, joint & immune health
  • Omega-3 fatty acids provided in natural triglyceride form for maximal absorption
  • 3mg of AstaREAL Astaxanthin - one of nature's most powerful antioxidants
  • Premium, pure & potent omega-3 fatty acids from wild, cold-water sources… no fish burps!

Conclusion

If you’re trying to lose weight and belly fat and improve your overall health and mood, eating more fish can help. Fish is right up there with chicken as two of the best protein-rich foods for weight loss.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition fully endorses dietary fish as a major component of weight loss and should not be avoided.33 It’s good to eat fish often if your goal is weight loss and to lose belly fat. But stay away from the worst unhealthy fish that can harm your health.

It’s a good idea to add fish to your healthy diet several times a week. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating 8 oz. of seafood per week. You can eat fish every day, but be careful with fish with higher levels of mercury. Stick with low-mercury seafood and fish if you’re eating it every day.

Eating fish is associated with a reduction of cardiovascular disease, which is even 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.34

Fish are also very important for brain health, as they’ve been found to prevent serious neural diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.35 Not to mention, fish consumption has been found to ensure good neuron development in children for cognitive and visual development.36

Just make sure you eat the right fish and stay away from the bad ones.