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Is Tuna Good for Weight Loss? Key Things You Need To Know

Exploring your healthy food options is essential when trying to lose weight, as well-balanced, nutritious, easy-to-make meals can make the whole process a lot easier for you.

If you’re a fan of seafood and searching for an affordable way to include more of it into your diet, tuna fish might be the way to go.

Tuna is a low-fat, lean protein source packed with essential nutrients, which might make it an excellent choice for people on a weight-loss diet.

This article will discuss all you need to know about this saltwater fish, its nutritional value, and how it may help you lose weight. We’ll also go through the different types of tuna and evaluate which is best for you.

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Will Eating Tuna Help Your Weight Loss Efforts?

Yes, eating tuna fish can help with your weight loss goals.

Tuna is a lean fish with a moderate amount of calories, which is why it can be included in your weight loss diet and help you create a calorie deficit. However, you should prioritize light tuna packed in water instead of olive oil, as this latter version has more calories.

Moreover, this fish is rich in high-quality protein. Protein has a high thermic effect that can boost your metabolism—making you burn about 80 to 100 more calories per day. Additionally, protein can reduce appetite, which helps to reduce your calorie intake.

Tuna is low in fat and carbohydrates. As a result, it is not only beneficial to your weight loss goals, but it’s also a healthy addition to your diet that can provide additional benefits.

You can usually find it in two formats in the supermarket:

  • Fresh
  • Canned

Let’s see the differences between these two options in more detail.

3 oz of fresh tuna offers you the following nutritional value:

  • Calories: 122
  • Fat: 4.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 32 mg
  • Sodium: 33 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Protein: 20 g

Fresh tuna also brings some interesting health benefits:

  • Rich in vitamin B12 (an essential vitamin for many functions of the body).
  • Can lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Can prevent vision problems.
  • Can reduce the risk of cancer.

On the other hand, one can of canned tuna (in brine) offers the following nutritional value:

  • Calories: 220
  • Fat: 5.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 72 mg
  • Sodium: 648 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Protein: 41 g

The main health benefits of canned tuna:

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Other Reasons To Add Tuna to Your Diet

Tuna fish is good for weight loss and might help you eliminate that belly fat, but there are other reasons to include it in your diet.

Highly nutritious

Tuna is highly nutritious since it includes plenty of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Eating high-nutritional-value foods like this can boost your overall health.

Tuna fish is also a great source of vitamin B12—an essential vitamin needed to synthesize DNA. This vitamin can also help prevent anemia by participating in the genesis of new red blood cells.

Moreover, tuna is high in vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin A is important for boosting your immune system, normal vision, reproduction, growth, and development.

Most significantly, tuna is an excellent source of vitamin D. 3 ounces of its canned version contain about 50% of the daily recommended intake. Vitamin D is essential for bone health as it helps the body absorb and retain calcium and hosphorus.

Vitamin D may also reduce the risk of heart disease and multiple sclerosis (MS), and support your immune system.

In addition, tuna also includes:

  • Selenium — which improves hair and nail health and boosts immune function.
  • Iron — needed for growth and development.
  • Potassium — an important mineral for hearth, muscle, and nervous system function. It helps maintain normal levels of fluid inside your cells, supports normal blood pressure, and promotes heart health.
  • Iodine — which promotes brain function and development and reduces the risk of thyroid disease.
  • Vitamin B6 — essential for brain development and maintaining your immune system and nervous system healthy.

High in omega-3 fatty acids

Significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in tuna can lead to various health benefits. For instance, it can prevent vision problems. One study revealed that participants who consumed the most omega-3 fatty acids had a lower risk of dry eye syndrome.

Omega-3 amino acids are considered immunonutrients, as they can reduce the risk or delay tumor development. In addition, this unsaturated fatty acid can help improve blood sugar levels in people with metabolic syndrome.

Lastly, the fatty acids in tuna can help reduce the creation of molecules and substances linked to inflammation (eicosanoids and cytokines).

Is It Dangerous To Eat Too Much Tuna?

Tuna is high in mercury, especially when compared with most other fish. This is because, in the wild, tunas eat smaller fish contaminated with different amounts of mercury.

For safety, it shouldn’t be consumed every day—as this can lead to some adverse effects.

Mercury is a toxic chemical element to living organisms. It is a gleaming, silver-white liquid used in thermometers, barometers, and fluorescent light bulbs. Metallic mercury is hazardous.

Tuna should be avoided by infants, young children, and women who are pregnant, nursing, or planning to become pregnant since it can cause various significant health problems. This includes brain health and development issues.

Mercury poisoning can lead to symptoms like:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness feeling in the hands and feet
  • Mood swings and memory loss
  • Impaired speech
  • Vision loss

Different types of tuna have varying levels of mercury in ppm (parts per million):

  • Light tuna (canned) — 0.126
  • Skipjack tuna (fresh or frozen) — 0.144
  • Bigeye tuna (fresh or frozen) — 0.689
  • Albacore tuna (fresh or frozen) — 0.358
  • Albacore tuna (canned) — 0.350
  • Yellowfin tuna (fresh or frozen) — 0.354

It is possible to exceed a safe amount of mercury by consuming tuna, which means that you should eat it in moderation and opt for light, canned varieties.

If you still want to add fish to your diet, remember to alternate tuna with other fish types and to eat 3-5 ounces of fish 2-3 times a week.

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Ways To Add Tuna to Your Weight Loss Diet

This section of the article will focus on several forms of tuna and how to include them in your diet.

Cooking fresh tuna

Fresh tuna meal ideas:

  • Tuna casserole with tuna
  • Baked lemon herb tuna steak
  • Grilled tuna with Mediterranean chopped salad
  • Seared tuna with tomatoes, basil, and cottage cheese
  • Grilled tuna skewers
  • Tuna tortillas
  • Tuna steak with parsley salad
  • Tuna steak with creamy dressing
  • Tuna pasta shells with sweetcorn
  • Pan-fried tuna with citrussy quinoa salad
  • Thai-style tuna and broccoli salad

Eating raw tuna

Yes, raw tuna is safe to eat. Just make sure that it’s been appropriately handled and frozen before serving it.

Raw tuna meal ideas:

  • Tuna tartare with olive oil
  • Tuna nigiri
  • Sushi with tuna
  • Tuna poke bowl
  • Raw tuna with fried veggies and teriyaki sauce
  • Tuna salad with vinaigrette dressing
  • Tuna salad with lemon juice

Making dishes with canned tuna

Canned tuna meal ideas:

  • Tuna shepherd’s pie
  • Tuna-ball puttanesca with spaghetti
  • Tuna, rice, and spinach salad
  • Potato, corn, and tuna patties
  • Tuna and avocado, rice paper rolls
  • Mediterranean-style tuna pasta salad
  • Tuna mornay
  • Tuna Caesar salad wraps
  • Tropical tuna and pineapple salad
  • Tuna and sesame rice balls
  • Tuna lasagne
  • Tuna and corn fritters

The Tuna Diet: Should You Try It To Lose Weight?

The tuna diet was created by bodybuilder Dave Draper with straightforward guidelines— to only eat tuna and drink water for three days. It’s a low-carb, low-calorie, and high-protein diet.

This eating plan promotes rapid weight loss, as it eliminates carbs and includes only one high-protein food. By following it, your macronutrient ratio should be 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fat.

It’s important to highlight that, while following this regime, you can consume only tuna—no mayonnaise, vinegar, spices, or oil are allowed. You should also drink 34 ounces of water and take supplements with vitamins, minerals, and branched-chain amino acids.

After three days of eating plain tuna, you can add chicken, low-dairy products, fruits, and vegetables to your diet.

The tuna diet can have certain benefits, like:

However, this diet can also have serious drawbacks:

  • Can lead to mercury poisoning — as we already saw, tuna has high levels of mercury, which means that you should limit your intake of this fish to a few times per week to avoid poisoning. However, the amounts this diet suggests exceed that limit by far.
  • Can lead to malnutrition — the diet fails to provide adequate calories, which can lead to malnutrition.
  • Offers short-term results — because the diet is so restrictive, you can only follow it for a limited time, resulting in only short-term effects and no changes in your daily habits.
  • Lacks scientific research — currently, this diet has not been backed by any studies.

Overall, this diet provides unsustainable weight loss results and lacks scientific research, which is necessary to confirm whether or not this weight loss approach is safe. If you want to improve your overall habits and achieve long-term weight loss results, try intermittent fasting instead.

Intermittent fasting is a scientifically proven weight loss method that can also bring various health-related benefits, such as a decreased risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, or cardiovascular disease.

There are various types of fasting aimed at beginners and experienced fasters. The length of the fast can also depend on your goals. Moreover, the DoFasting app can help you choose the right plan and give you a fasting timer, so you’ll always know when your fasting window opens.

Because the app includes a dedicated meal tab, you can also use it to search for healthy tuna recipes.

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Concluding Thoughts

Is tuna good for weight loss? Yes.

Tuna is moderate in calories, high in protein, and has appetite-suppressing effects. Moreover, it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

However, since this fish is high in mercury, you should stick to eating tuna 2-3 times a week. Children and other groups of people with special nutritional needs may have to avoid eating tuna altogether.

If you want to introduce new healthy ingredients into your diet, tuna can be a great choice for you.


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This is an evidence-based article that includes scientific citations. DoFasting’s professional writers and editors prepared the content, which a team of medical experts verified to be accurate.

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