This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Putting together your weight loss diet can be a challenge with all the options. What about sauerkraut, is it good for weight loss or not?
Sauerkraut is the name for fermented cabbage. This food has a distinct sour flavor. The fermentation process makes it so sauerkraut offers some extra benefits over regular cabbage both for health and potentially weight loss.
Like most vegetables, many people will benefit in terms of weight loss by eating more sauerkraut. Find out just how good it is and what you need to keep in mind when buying and preparing sauerkraut for weight loss.
Micronutrients in sauerkraut
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in sauerkraut.
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 sauerkraut provides you with approximately (1):
- Vitamin C: 24% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Vitamin K: 16% of the DV
- Sodium: 13% of the DV
- Iron: 8% of the DV
- Manganese: 8% of the DV
- Folate: 6% of the DV
- Potassium: 5% of the DV
- Copper: 5% of the DV
And some other vitamins and minerals in less significant amounts. The amount of vitamins and minerals is decent compared to many other whole foods.
Sauerkraut alone will likely not be enough to hit your daily nutrient goals but it can contribute a small amount to a balanced diet.
Some people are worried about the sodium content of fermented foods like sauerkraut. Consuming too much sodium may cause negative side effects like increased blood pressure because of excess water retention.
In this example of the nutrient content in sauerkraut the amount of sodium is manageable. Different brands of sauerkraut can contain varying amounts of sodium. If this is an attention point for you make sure you check the nutrition label. Low-sodium sauerkraut versions (<140mg/serving) are recommended.
Fermented foods and weight loss
Sauerkraut is a fermented food which means if prepared right sauerkraut contains something called “probiotics”. Eating more probiotics, both in food and supplements, may help you with weight loss (2, 3, 4).
For now, the claims about the potential of probiotics for weight loss are not waterproof (7, 8). More studies are required to make statements with more confidence. In any case probiotics will likely not be bad for weight loss and good for health so you might as well include them.
When buying sauerkraut keep in mind that some brands of sauerkraut are pasteurized. This heating process destroys the bacteria. When cooking with sauerkraut you also don’t want to heat it too much to avoid destroying helpful bacteria.
Fiber in sauerkraut for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
Sauerkraut contains around 2.5 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
That’s a good amount of fiber per 100 grams compared to many whole foods.
Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in sauerkraut you can reduce the time you spend craving for food a good amount.
Does sauerkraut help you lose weight?
You still need a final piece of the puzzle. The amount of calories in sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut contains 22 calories per 100 grams. 17.5 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (4.3 g per 100 grams of which 2.5 g fiber).
You should be able to fit in sauerkraut in low carb diets like the keto diet.
The amount of calories in sauerkraut is even on the low side compared to many other vegetables. Fruits, legumes, meats, and everything in between are usually higher in calories per 100 grams than sauerkraut.
This means that sauerkraut will benefit your weight loss by helping you feel fuller without adding too many calories to your diet. This can help you consume less of calorie-rich foods. In turn, this is enough for most people to lose weight.
Additionally because sauerkraut is a fermented food, it has a little weight loss advantage over other foods with similar macronutrients.
If you are gaining weight while eating sauerkraut, the first place to look at is the rest of your diet and other lifestyle habits. Sauerkraut is generally not fattening.
How much sauerkraut should you eat daily?
Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing.
Consuming enough micronutrients is important for both your short and long-term health and weight loss. Sauerkraut can help you with this but you will need other foods as well.
A serving size of sauerkraut is about 50 grams.
Whether this is the right serving size for you personally depends on the rest of your diet and lifestyle habits. When you are close to your daily vitamin and mineral goals you can see how much sauerkraut still fits within your daily calories. The amount will be different from individual to individual from day to day, it can be 0 too.
Sauerkraut buying guidelines
You can find sauerkraut in many stores but you have to keep in mind that some brands are not optimal for weight loss. Some preparation and packaging methods reduce the probiotic content that can improve health and benefit weight loss.
When buying sauerkraut keep an eye on the following things:
- Is it pasteurized? Pasteurization is a heating process meant to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf life. In the case of sauerkraut, this can also destroy and/or reduce the probiotics.
- Does it contain preservatives? Preservatives are substances that prevent or slow down the growth of microbes. For sauerkraut that again means fewer probiotics.
- Does it contain sugar? Some sauerkraut brands add sugar to the mix. When trying to lose weight this is not what you want.
An alternative to buying sauerkraut in the store is making your own. This way you are certain none of the above points mess up the weight loss potential of your sauerkraut.
Different ways to incorporate sauerkraut into your diet
If you want the full weight loss potential of sauerkraut you want to avoid recipes where you heat up your sauerkraut a lot. If it stays cold more probiotics will survive.
If you eat sauerkraut hot you are still eating a low calorie, medium fiber food. An example of a recipe with heated sauerkraut is sauerkraut soup.