Choosing the right protein sources when trying to lose weight can be confusing. What about mackerel, is it good for weight loss or fattening?
Mackerel is the common name for a wide variety of fatty fish species.
Like most fish, many people will benefit in terms of weight loss by eating more mackerel. You do have to keep in mind that some types of mackerel contain a lot of mercury, a substance that can cause negative side effects if you overconsume it.
Find out the nutritional details of mackerel, how to cook mackerel when trying to lose weight, and how it compares to other types of fish to see whether this food deserves a place in your weight loss diet.
Micronutrients in mackerel
The first thing to look at are the micronutrients in mackerel.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of cooked mackerel contains (1):
- Vitamin B12: 70% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Selenium: 67% of the DV
- Niacin: 53% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 32% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 19% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 16% of the DV
- Potassium: 15% of the DV
- Thiamin: 9% of the DV
- Magnesium: 9% of the DV
- Iron: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 6% of the DV
- Zinc: 6% of the DV
- Copper: 6% of the DV
- Sodium: 5% of the DV
And a few other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts. The amount of vitamins and minerals in 100 grams of cooked mackerel is great.
The first thing you do have to keep in mind with mackerel is that you can also consume too much of certain vitamins and minerals. In the case of mackerel fish, you want to keep an eye on selenium.
There is a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of selenium. In simple words that means that too much selenium can cause negative side effects (2). As an adult you would have to eat over 850 grams of mackerel to reach this UL so not very likely (3).
The amount of selenium is still something to keep in mind if you also eat other foods high in selenium like for example brazil nuts.
Mercury in mackerel
There are fish that contain a substance called mercury in bigger than usual amounts. Different fish species absorb and retain mercury in varying amounts.
Consuming too much mercury can have severe negative health consequences. For pregnant women high mercury foods are out of the question. For other people the recommendations vary. The amount of mercury in mackerel depends on the type of mackerel.
If you want to be completely sure, you would not consume mackerel altogether. You can check out the recommendations on the webpage linked in the paragraph above to find out what kinds of mackerel, and other fish, you can consume in what amounts per week.
Protein in mackerel for weight loss
Another thing in food that can help you on your weight loss journey is the amount of protein in it.
Cooked mackerel contains about 25.7 grams of protein per 100 grams. To compare, salmon contains around 25.4 grams per 100 grams (4).
Even compared to other fish, mackerel is a great source of protein per 100 grams.
Eating enough protein will also help you prevent muscle loss. Since muscle helps you burn extra calories throughout the day this is a big plus for protein and mackerel for weight loss.
Do keep in mind that overdoing it with protein isn’t good either.
Will mackerel help you lose weight?
To know whether or not you can eat mackerel while trying to lose weight you still need a final piece of the puzzle. The number of calories in mackerel.
Cooked mackerel contains around 201 calories per 100 grams. All of these calories come from fat and protein.
This makes mackerel a great option for low carb diets like the keto diet. Keep in mind that too much protein can also kick you out of ketosis.
The fats in mackerel are mostly kinds of fat that are considered to be healthy like for example omega 3 fat. It’s not yet clear exactly how much of a difference that makes when it comes to weight loss but it will likely benefit your health.
Mackerel is on the high side in terms of calories compared to many other types of fish. Most vegetables and fruits are lower in calories. Even with that in mind mackerel is generally low-medium in calories.
That makes mackerel a good food option when trying to lose weight. It will help you feel fuller without adding too many calories to your diet. This will help you avoid higher-calorie foods. On top of that protein is such a valuable nutrient for weight loss.
In theory, you can overdo it with mackerel in terms of calories, selenium, and mercury. In that case mackerel could be bad for your health. If you choose to eat mackerel consume the right kind of mackerel and don’t consume this fish too often.
Is it OK to eat mackerel every day?
Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing that depends a lot on your goals.
With mackerel the main thing to keep in mind is its mercury content. Some types of mackerel contain amounts of mercury you don’t want to eat every day. Other types should be fine. When in doubt, check the recommendations.
How to cook mackerel for weight loss
The best way to cook mackerel for weight loss is boiling it. You can then eat the boiled fillet on its own or as part of healthy recipes like soups and salads.
Baking mackerel in the oven or grilling it is also acceptable when it comes to losing weight. In this case you preferably want to use a healthy cooking oil.
Mackerel vs other fish for weight loss
You now know how good mackerel is for weight loss but how does it compare to certain other fish? Find out how good mackerel is for weight loss vs sardines, salmon, tuna, and herring.
Mackerel vs sardines
The first comparison is between mackerel and sardines. If you look at the calorie numbers you can see they are about the same. Mackerel contains around 201 calories per 100 grams vs the 208 calories per 100 grams of sardines (5).
Mackerel contains around 25.7 grams of protein per 100 grams, sardines 24.6 grams. Sardines contain bigger amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Mackerel will likely be better for weight loss than sardines.
Mackerel vs salmon
Next the comparison between mackerel and salmon. Salmon is lower in calories than mackerel, 182 calories per 100 grams vs the 201 calories per 100 grams of mackerel (6).
Salmon contains around 25.4 grams of protein per 100 grams so about the same as mackerel. These two types of fish contain similar amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Salmon will likely be slightly better for weight loss than mackerel.
Mackerel vs tuna
There is a reasonable difference in the amount of protein in these fish. Mackerel has about 25.7 grams of protein per 100 grams vs tuna with 29.9 grams. The amount of vitamins and minerals in these two fish is similar.
Tuna is likely better for weight loss than mackerel. You do have to keep in mind that some types of tuna contain a lot of mercury. Mercury is a substance in certain kinds of food that can be harmful in higher amounts. Make sure you read the guidelines if you plan on eating a lot of tuna.
Mackerel vs herring
Lastly there is the comparison between mackerel and herring. Herring is about the same in calories, 203 calories per 100 grams (8).
Herring is lower in protein, 23 grams per 100 grams. In terms of vitamins and minerals, herring contains slightly bigger amounts.
The difference won’t be that big but mackerel is likely slightly better for weight loss than herring.
Chart of mackerel vs other fish
All in all, the differences between these fish won’t make that much of a difference when it comes to losing weight. If you like all these fish equally you might as well choose the ones that are slightly better for weight loss.
The amount of vitamins and minerals in the foods does matter for weight loss and health but you can’t simplify that in one number. You can check out the numbers for mackerel (1), sardines (5), salmon (6), tuna (7), and herring (8) to compare.
|Values Per 100g||Mackerel||Sardines||Salmon||Tuna||Herring|
|Calories||201 calories||208 calories||182 calories||184 calories||203 calories|
|Protein||25.7 g||24.6 g||25.4 g||29.9 g||23 g|