Eat More Fish for Weight Loss and Good Health

Eat More Fish for Weight Loss and Good Health
More than 66 percent of Americans are obese or overweight. Excess fat is unattractive and can lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and premature death. It is little wonder that gym memberships soar in January and February. Unfortunately, many gyms look like desert wastelands in April or May. It isn’t laziness that accounts for the drop-off in most cases, rather it’s frustration over the lack of results.

While exercise helps, you can’t lose weight unless you cut down on calories. One important aspect of weight loss is following the best diet. Scientist can’t agree on whether low-fat or low-carb diets are best for losing weight. The two are fairly equivalent when calorie intake is the same. Protein is an essential component of the weight loss diet because it suppresses appetite, promotes satiety (fullness) and maintains muscle mass. Which protein source is best?

Whey, casein and other proteins (e.g., egg, beef, pork, chicken, soy) can be part of a weight loss diet. Fish protein is an underappreciated food for weight loss and promoting health. Researchers at Laval University in Canada, in a study on rats, found that cod protein prevented type 2 diabetes and reduced C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation. The scientists suspected that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil (DHA and EPA) provided these health benefits, rather than the fish protein. So they removed the fat and oil from the fish and fed the raw protein to the animals. The fish protein decreased inflammation, even without the omega-3 fatty acids. Other studies found that fish protein increases a hormone called calcitonin, which increases metabolic rate and burns more calories. The take-home message is that eating fish provides health benefits in addition to what you get from consuming fish oil supplements.

We have plenty of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil promotes cardiovascular health and might aid weight loss. It appears that fish protein can help promote health, insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and cut visceral fat. Salmon is particularly attractive because it is high in omega-3 fatty acids and fish protein.

References

Lavigne C, Tremblay F, et al. Prevention of skeletal muscle insulin resistance by dietary cod protein in high fat-fed rats. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2001 Jul;281(1):E62-71.
Pilon G, Ruzzin J, et al. Differential effects of various fish proteins in altering body weight, adiposity, inflammatory status, and insulin sensitivity in high-fat-fed rats. Metabolism, 2011 Aug;60(8):1122-30.
Rocha VZ, Folco EJ. Inflammatory concepts of obesity. Int J Inflam, 2011;2011:529061.
Tai CC, Ding ST. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids regulate lipid metabolism through several inflammation mediators: mechanisms and implications for obesity prevention. J Nutr Biochem, 2010 May;21(5):357-63.