Eating out is one of life’s pleasures. There are very few things that are more enjoyable than having your food made for you. Invariably, when dining out, most people choose foods that they can’t or won’t make at home.
However, if you are on a weight loss diet, eating out can become something of a nutritional minefield. Serving sizes are invariably bigger, there are complimentary dinner rolls and breadsticks to contend with, and who can resist a dessert or after-dinner drinks? This can add up a whole lot of calories.
While you could just forget about your diet for a day and eat what you like, if you eat out regularly, you may want to seek out healthy, low-calorie meals so you don’t undermine your weight loss or even start to gain weight.
This is easier said than done, especially as some eateries are as famous for the size of their portions as they are for the quality of the meals they serve!
This raises the question, is sushi good for weight loss? Or will eating sushi derail your diet?
In this article, we discuss whether eating sushi could help you lose weight and some of the additional benefits of this Japanese delicacy.
Is Sushi Good For Weight Loss?
What is Sushi?
Sushi is cooked rice, vegetables, and raw or cooked fish rolled in nori seaweed to make bite-sized pieces.
It’s usually served with soy sauce, pickled ginger, and hot and spicy wasabi.
First made in Japan, sushi rose to prominence in the 7th century as a way to preserve fish.
The fish was washed, cleaned, and salted, and then packed into rice, where it fermented.
Later, the rice was steeped in vinegar to speed up the fermentation process.
Modern sushi is not fermented, and today’s ready-to-eat varieties have very little in common with the original 7th-century recipe. However, the rice is still cooked with vinegar, which gives it its distinct sticky texture and taste.
There are lots of different types of sushi, and recipes vary from restaurant to restaurant and chef to chef, but it remains popular, and many people enjoy this Japanese food.
Sushi is often regarded as healthy and weight loss friendly because it contains several high-nutrient ingredients. However, the actual nutritional values of sushi depend on the type and size of each portion, which can vary enormously:
The nutritional values of a roll of sushi (six small bite-size pieces) ranges from:
Carbohydrates: 8-64 grams
Fiber: 1.3-5.8 grams
Fat: 0-21 grams
Protein: 2-24 grams
Sushi also contains beneficial amounts of vitamins and minerals.
How to Eat Sushi and Lose Weight
Depending on the variety you choose and how much you eat, sushi could lead to weight gain. The main ingredient is white rice, which is highly refined and high in carbs and calories.
Some varieties also contain a lot of fat, especially those made with cream cheese, mayonnaise, or avocado. Some types of sushi are battered and deep-fried too.
However, despite this, if you follow these guidelines, you can still eat sushi and lose weight.
1. Choose low-calorie sushi options – some sushi varieties are very high in calories and are best avoided when eating for weight loss.
Instead, order the following diet-friendly sushi options:
- Cucumber rolls
- Avocado rolls
- Tuna rolls
- Yellowtail rolls
- California rolls
2. Avoid high-calorie sushi varieties – the following types of sushi contain many more calories, so avoid these varieties on your weight loss diet:
- Shrimp tempura rolls
- Eel and avocado rolls
- Philadelphia rolls
- Spicy tuna rolls
- Rainbow roll
Most of these sushi varieties contain mayonnaise, cream cheese, or sweetened soy sauce, are deep-fried, or have other high-calorie ingredients.
3. Eat with chopsticks – unless you are a chopstick pro, eating with chopsticks will force you to eat more slowly. It takes time for your stomach to register its full, and eating slower means you are less likely to overeat.
4. Ask for less rice – if your sushi is being made to order and by hand, you could ask your chef to use less rice. This will cut carbs and calories. However, not all sushi chefs will be prepared to do this.
5. Avoid all-you-can-eat sushi buffets – one of the easiest ways to eat way too much sushi is to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Even if you have just one piece of all the options available, you’ll end up consuming a whole slew of unwanted calories.
6. Limit your portion size – most sushi rolls are cut into six servings. If you choose two or three varieties, you can end up consuming a lot of calories. Split your order with a friend to half the number of pieces you eat. You’ll still be able to enjoy a variety of flavors, but with half the calories.
7. Order cone-shaped sushi – cone-shaped varieties of sushi tend to contain less rice than round rolls. This small adjustment could save you a lot of calories.
Additional Benefits of Eating Sushi
Eating too much sushi could lead to weight gain, but consumed in moderate amounts, sushi could be part of your weight loss diet. There are also a few benefits to eating sushi:
A good source of omega-3 fats – while some sushi varieties are made from just rice, vegetables, and seaweed, the most popular types contain fish, such as tuna and salmon. Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have a wide range of benefits, including improved heart and brain health.
Contains antioxidants – sushi is usually accompanied by pickled ginger and wasabi paste, both of which are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect against free radicals, which are linked to a host of illnesses and diseases, not least cancer.
A source of vitamins and minerals – vitamins and minerals are crucial for health. Sushi contains several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, D, E, calcium, selenium, magnesium, and phosphorous.
Eating sushi won’t automatically lead to weight loss. In fact, it could cause you to gain weight if you eat too much.
That said, consumed in reasonable amounts, there is no reason not to include sushi in your diet. That said, there are a few drawbacks to eating sushi:
Heavy metal toxicity – the fish in sushi may contain trace amounts of mercury. If you eat a lot of sushi, an excess of mercury could be harmful to your health.
High salt/sodium content – sushi contains a lot of sodium, which could increase your blood pressure, raising your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems. Soy sauce is also a concentrated source of sodium.
Bacterial and parasitic contamination – the fish in sushi is usually raw, which means it could harbor dangerous bacteria and parasites, such as salmonella and anisakis.
Lower the risk of contamination by only eating sushi from reputable restaurants and sushi made from fresh ingredients. Eating takeout sushi from gas stations is not a good idea, and it could make you very ill.
Sushi is not a magical weight-loss food, although some varieties are low in calories. Made from rice, vegetables, fish, and seaweed, some types of sushi also contain ingredients like cream cheese and mayonnaise, making them very high in calories.
More than a small serving could cause weight gain rather than weight loss.
That said, several sushi varieties are relatively low in calories, and eating sushi with chopsticks and steering clear of all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants can go a long way to reducing the risk of weight gain.
Weight issues aside, sushi also has some nutritional benefits and is a good source of various vitamins and minerals. The fish varieties are also high in omega-3 fats, which have numerous health benefits.
Sushi is generally healthy, but the high sodium content may be an issue for some people. Raw fish can also harbor bacteria and parasites, so fresh sushi made in a reputable restaurant should always be your first choice.
Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system should not eat sushi.