Salmon definitely deserves a place on your weight-loss menu. It won't help you lose weight unless it's just one part of a reduced-calorie diet supported by regular exercise, but salmon does have some qualities that can help you lose extra pounds. Its nutrient-dense calories are easy to work into your daily goals, and it's packed with protein. As an extra benefit, salmon's omega-3 fatty acids may help increase weight loss.
Nutrient-Dense With Reasonable Calories
The challenge of cutting calories -- beyond discipline and fending off hunger -- comes from getting all the nutrients you need while reducing caloric intake. This is where salmon really shines as part of a weight-loss plan. You can enjoy a 3-ounce serving of coho or sockeye salmon for only 118 and 144 calories, respectively. They're also rich sources of niacin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and selenium. Both types of salmon are sources of vitamin D, which is not naturally found in most foods. A 3-ounce serving of coho provides 64 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D. You'll get 75 percent of the RDA from a serving of sockeye salmon.
Rich Source of Lean Protein
Protein can help you lose weight because it makes you feel full longer. It also does not spike blood sugar, which is inevitably followed by a drop in blood sugar that stimulates hunger, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. A 3-ounce serving of sockeye or coho salmon supplies about 40 percent of the daily value for protein, based on consuming 2,000 calories daily. Coho and sockeye qualify as lean protein because they only have 4 grams and 6 grams of total fat, respectively.
Fish Oil for Weight Loss
The fish oil you'll get from eating salmon may boost your weight loss. In one study, young, overweight men who ate fish or took fish oil supplements lost 2 more pounds over four weeks than participants who did not consume fish, according to a study in the October 2007 issue of the "International Journal of Obesity." Fish oil and exercise independently reduce body fat, but when omega-3 fatty acids are used together with exercise, you may lose more weight than exercise alone, concluded researchers in an article in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in May 2007. Sockeye and coho salmon each have about 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids in a 3-ounce serving.
Keep It Safe
The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that you can freely eat fresh salmon because it's low in mercury. But farmed salmon has a higher chance of being contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, which may cause developmental problems in children, cancer and liver damage. PCBs don't degrade in the environment and end up in rivers and lakes where salmon are farmed. They accumulate in fatty tissues in the fish, so these tips from the Oregon Health Authority can lower your potential consumption of PCBs: Throw away all organs, remove all skin, cut away the dark fat along the backbone and discard all belly fat along the bottom of the salmon. Bake or broil the fish on a rack or grill to eliminate drippings.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Fish, Salmon, Coho, Wild, Cooked, Dry Heat
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Fish, Salmon, Sockeye, Cooked, Dry Heat
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein: Moving Closer to Center Stage
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (12. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients)
- International Journal of Obesity: Randomized Trial of Weight-Loss-Diets for Young Adults Varying in Fish and Fish Oil Content
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Combining Fish-Oil Supplements With Regular Aerobic Exercise Improves Body Composition and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors
- Natural Resources Defense Council: Consumer Guide to Mercury in Fish
- Oregon.gov: Oregon Health Authority: Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Fish
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: A Guide to Federal Food Labeling Requirements for Meat and Poultry Products
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D