Choosing the right protein sources when trying to lose weight can be confusing. What about sardines, are they good for weight loss or fattening?
Mackerel is the common name for a wide variety of fatty fish species. You can eat sardines cooked, baked, and grill but they are also often canned.
Like most fish, many people will benefit in terms of weight loss by eating more sardines. Find out the nutritional details of sardines, how to cook sardines when trying to lose weight, and how they compare to other types of fish to see whether this food deserves a place in your weight loss diet.
Micronutrients in sardines
The first thing to look at are the micronutrients in sardines.
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 canned sardines contains (1):
- Vitamin B12: 149% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Selenium: 75% of the DV
- Vitamin D: 68% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 49% of the DV
- Calcium: 38% of the DV
- Niacin: 26% of the DV
- Sodium: 21% of the DV
- Iron: 16% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 13% of the DV
- Potassium: 11% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 10% of the DV
- Magnesium: 10% of the DV
- Zinc: 9% of the DV
- Copper: 9% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 6% of the DV
- Thiamin: 5% of the DV
- Manganese: 68% of the DV
And a few other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts. The amount of vitamins and minerals in 100 grams of canned sardines is amazing.
One thing you do have to keep in mind is that you can also consume too much of certain vitamins and minerals. In the case of sardines, 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 750 grams of sardines 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.
Protein in sardines for weight loss
Another thing in food that can help you on your weight loss journey is the amount of protein in it.
Canned sardines contain about 24.6 grams of protein per 100 grams. To compare, salmon contains around 25.4 grams per 100 grams (4).
That is a good amount of protein per 100 grams compared to many other protein sources.
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 sardines for weight loss.
Do keep in mind that overdoing it with protein isn’t good either.
Will sardines help you lose weight?
To know whether or not you can eat sardines while trying to lose weight you still need a final piece of the puzzle. The number of calories in sardines.
Canned sardines contain around 208 calories per 100 grams. All of these calories come from fat and protein.
This makes sardines 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.
Sardines are 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 sardines are generally low-medium in calories.
That makes sardines a good food option when trying to lose weight. They 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 sardines in terms of calories and selenium. In that case sardines could be bad for your health. In reality, you will likely feel too full before you reach that point.
Can you eat sardines 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.
Even so, most people can eat sardines every day while moving towards their health goals. Do keep in mind that a wide variety of different foods is a good principle when it comes to nutrition.
How to eat sardines for weight loss
The best way to cook sardines for weight loss is boiling them. You can then eat the boiled fillet on its own or as part of healthy recipes like soups, an omelet, and salads.
Another way to eat sardines that is generally weight loss friendly is canned sardines. In this case you preferably want the ones canned in water instead of oil. If canned in oil is the only option, try to go for something like olive oil.
Baking sardines in the oven or grilling them is also acceptable when it comes to losing weight. In this case you preferably want to use a healthy cooking oil.
Sardines vs other fish for weight loss
You now know how good sardines are for weight loss but how do they compare to certain other fish? Find out how good sardines are for weight loss vs anchovies, herring, mackerel, and tuna.
Sardines vs anchovies
The first comparison is between sardines and anchovies. If you look at the calorie numbers you can see that anchovies contain about the same number of calories. Canned sardines contain around 208 calories per 100 grams vs the 210 calories per 100 grams of canned anchovies (5).
Sardines contain around 24.6 grams of protein per 100 grams, anchovies 28.9 grams. These two foods are similar when it comes to the amounts of vitamins and minerals.
The difference will not be that big but anchovies are likely better for weight loss than sardines.
Sardines vs herring
Next the comparison between sardines and herring. Herring is about the same in calories, 203 calories per 100 grams (6).
Herring is lower in protein than sardines, 23 grams per 100 grams. In terms of vitamins and minerals, sardines contain slightly bigger amounts.
The difference won’t be that big but sardines are likely slightly better for weight loss than herring.
Sardines vs mackerel
The difference in the amount of protein in these fish is also no that big. Sardines have about 24.6 grams of protein per 100 grams vs mackerel with 25.7 grams. Sardines have bigger amounts of vitamins and minerals.
All in all, mackerel is likely slightly better for weight loss than sardines. You do have to keep in mind that some types of mackerel 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 mackerel.
Sardines vs tuna
There is a reasonable difference in the amount of protein in these fish. Sardines have about 24.6 grams of protein per 100 grams vs tuna with 29.9 grams. The amount of vitamins and minerals in these two fish is similar, slightly in favor of sardines.
Tuna is likely better for weight loss than sardines. With tuna, it’s the same as mackerel in terms of mercury. Make sure you check the guidelines before implementing large amounts of tuna.
Chart of sardines 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 sardines (1), anchovies (5), herring (6), mackerel (7), and tuna (8) to compare.
|Values Per 100g||Sardines||Anchovies||Herring||Mackerel||Tuna|
|Calories||208 calories||210 calories||203 calories||201 calories||184 calories|
|Protein||24.6 g||28.9 g||23 g||25.7 g||29.9 g|