There is no secret ingredient to losing weight. To lose weight, the National Institutes of Health advises, you must take in fewer calories than you burn over an extended period of time. The ideal way to lose weight is to eat a nutritionally balanced, low-calorie diet and increase physical activity. While eating tilapia does not guarantee weight loss, including this low-calorie protein source as part of a nutritious diet can help.
The food industry has dubbed tilapia ''aquatic chicken'' because it breeds easily and has a mild flavor, according to a "New York Times" article. America's annual consumption of this white fish quadrupled from 2003 to 2007, from a quarter pound per person to more than a pound in 2007, according abouttilapia.com. Tilapia is the fifth most popular seafood consumed in the United States, the website reports. To meet this demand, tilapia is farmed in more than 85 countries.
Some researchers say antibiotics, pesticides and other chemicals used in farmed fish may make it less healthful than wild-caught fish. However, the heart-healthy benefits of eating any fish usually outweigh any possible harmful effects of contaminants, according to the American Heart Association:
Tilapia is a low-calorie, high-protein food. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, a 4-ounce piece of raw tilapia contains 108 calories and 21 grams of protein. That is one-third the calories of 4 ounces of lean ground beef, which has about 300 calories and 28 grams of protein. Tilapia even contains fewer calories than half a chicken breast, which has 164 calories and 24 grams of protein. Substituting a serving of tilapia for a serving of beef or chicken will result in a lower-calorie intake at mealtime. The healthiest, lowest-calorie method of preparing tilapia is to broil or bake it without added fat.
The American Heart Association recommends people eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week. Omega-3, the unsaturated fats in fish, is thought to reduce inflammation throughout the body and promote heart health. When substituted for the saturated fatty acids founds in red meat, omega-3 fatty acids may also lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring and tuna contain the most omega-3 fatty acids. Tilapia also contains omega-3, but in lower amounts. A 1-ounce serving of cooked tilapia contains only 240 milligrams of omega-3s, while a 1-ounce serving of salmon contains 2018 milligrams of omega-3s.
Most adults require about 2,000 calories per day, but that number can vary widely depending on activity level, age, weight and other factors. To lose 1 pound a week, you must burn 500 calories per day more than you consume. This can be achieved with a combination of increasing physical activity and decreasing caloric intake. One way to do this is by substituting options such as tilapia for higher-calorie entrees such as beef. The Calorie Control Council advises that losing weight slowly is the safest and most effective method, and the most likely to result in long-term loss of body fat.