We take a look at sushi and how it might be healthy and appropriate for weight loss.
When you think about sushi, you think of fish, seaweed and rice and you are more than forgiven for thinking that the combination is healthy. So, the question is, is sushi healthy for you?
Well, it really depends completely on the person you are asking the question to. The New York Times recently conducted a survey and the results found that about 75% of nutritionists agreed that sushi was a healthy food option but the interesting thing to point out here is that only 49% of the public thought the same.
In reality, the actual answer depends on a variety of factors including what the sushi is made of and exactly how much of it are you consuming (the second part may quickly explain why there is a disagreement).
It may be the case that nutritionists are overly optimistic or it may also be the case that they have never seen anyone single-handedly finish off a sushi platter.
Whatever may the case be, if you are familiar with the sushi menus of recent times, you are probably weary of the fact that there are options available that have the potential to turn a simple raw fish into the kind of meal where unbuttoning the pants might be a necessity.
If we consider salads, for example, any salad that is heavy on the serving of croutons than on the leafy greens leans a lot more to the side of junk food than what might be considered a healthy meal.
In the same way, a sushi order that is made up of ingredients that are unhealthy will be mainly unhealthy.
So, does sushi make you gain weight? Let’s check it out.
Make Sure The Protein is Right
When you are consuming proteins, you should ideally want to make it a lean protein as that is the kind that helps you lose weight.
As we have mentioned before, sushi with unhealthy ingredients is just that- unhealthy. So it is very important to start off right by choosing a kind of protein that is both lean and has low quantities of fat in it.
Lean protein does help a lot with weight loss and that is a good enough start. You should be aiming at getting after those omega-3 fatty acids- they are incredibly good for the heart and its properties are such that it protects against diseases of the heart and lowers blood pressure as well and on top of that it reduces the heart rate as well.
These are all things any health-conscious person would want. When we are talking about the protein choice for our sushis, salmon, trout, and tuna are all extremely good options. They definitely fall under the lean protein category and are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Nutritionists, however, do warn that we should not eat tuna too regularly as it is a kind of protein that is high in terms of mercury concentration.
Other types of fish that are also high in mercury include Mackerel, blue marlin, swordfish, and yellowtail. The consumption of these fishes should also be strictly monitored and controlled.
The last important piece of information is that imitation crab should be completely avoided as it is a thing that is made up of starches and it is packed with sodium.
Watch Out For The Extras
Sometimes, it is not the main ingredients of a food that makes it unhealthy or not good for us. It is the extra things that go on top of the regular ingredients that make it unhealthy and definitely not suitable for anyone who is trying to lose weight.
We have to be extra careful of these things and make sure that they do not ruin an otherwise very healthy food option.
Moreover, we should watch out for and make sure that we also know what it is that is being put as extra in the sushi before we consume it, just to make sure that it is not defeating our weight loss goal.
Two particularly good options for adding on top of our sushis include ginger and wasabi. Not only do they add a serious amount of kick and crunch to the sushi, it is important to mention that they have also got properties in them that make them anti-inflammatory and they have also got immunity perks.
The ingredients to watch out for include fried items like tempura. Also, watch for things like tobiko cheese. Not only do they have a lot of calories in them but they also tend to do the job of crowding out a lot of the healthy veggies and also the fish in the roll.
So, it would be best to avoid them as much as possible.
Remember that these small extra things that go on top or around the sushi can have a big cumulative effect on the overall calorie count of the sushis.
If you are trying to lose weight you should avoid these things like the plague.
Portion Sizes Matter
It is always a good idea to pay attention to the sizes of the portion of anything that you eat. Portion sizes matter and it especially does if you are trying to lose weight.
The ideal way to consume any food is to not overindulge in it. You should ideally be eating that much that it does not make you completely full and instead, you have a bit of space left in your stomach, that is the way to eat anything with the idea being that you are not stuffing yourself with anything, whatever it may be.
Sushi by the very nature of how it is made is not exactly super healthy, it is afterall made with sugar and rice vinegar and normally you would be consuming half a cup per sushi roll.
Those pieces even though bite-sized do add up and it sometimes add up to the very unhealthy amount of a thousand calories per meal if you say for example order multiple rolls of sushi.
If you are trying to lower your carb intake and as a result your overall calorie intake, you should consider sticking to just a single sushi roll and maybe instead rely on an order of sashimi (fish that has been thinly sliced, without any rice) or maybe even a naruto roll (rolls that are made with rice and are wrapped in cucumber) in order to fill you up.
When it comes to foods of most kinds, the brown variety is usually better than the white variety. Whether it is rice, sugar or even bread, the brown kind is always the healthier and the better option in terms of nutritional value as well.
The main thing about brown food is that in general, it consists of whole grains and other whole foods. This has the ability to make you feel much fuller even if you eat a lot less of the food and the biggest benefit of complex carbohydrates that are found in this type of food is that it makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time than does the food of the white variety of kind.
So when you feel full for longer periods of time, you are much more likely to indulge in snacks and other food that you just do not need.
If you are not willing to part with rice when it comes to sushi, we completely get it and it is ok, absolutely fine, there aren’t many people who do not like carbohydrates.
A good idea and a good compromise may be to go halfsies with rice. You may want to combine half of the regular sushi rice with brown rice in order to up the ante of the health benefits and factors.
Brown rice has a lot of fiber in it that helps to keep you full and it also has nutrients in it that are very beneficial.
These nutrients include things such as vitamin E, zing, manganese etc.
Not Too Much Salt
Eating too much of just about anything will make you feel bloated but it is much more easily attained, the feeling of being bloated, with just your regular intake of sodium.
In fact, it is recommended by the government dietary guidelines to not consume any more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium in a day.
Know that just about two spoons of soy sauce will get you there almost completely. Make it a point to order soy sauce that is low in sodium when you order sushi.
This type of sauce is made very much similarly to the other varieties of it but it has considerably less sodium in it, about 40 percent less than the other kinds.
Skip the Special Sauce
When ordering sushi, a good idea may be to skip the special sauce, while it may add to the overall taste and flavor of the thing that you are eating, it also adds a hefty amount of calories to that thing that you are eating.
Eel sauce should be avoided because it is a mix of soy sauce and sugar basically and you should also avoid spicy rolls which are also made with the not very healthy substances, mayo that is mixed with chili paste.
Most other rolls that are creamy should also be avoided. All that these extra sauces do nutritionally is to add calories and fat to your food.
It is important to point out here that if these are not of major concern to the consumer then it will be particularly difficult to make the case for proteins and the good omega-3s if the rolls that you are eating happen to be fish and mayo in equal parts.
How To Make Sushi?
While the main things have already been listed, let’s take a look at a step by step approach that you can use to make light and healthy sushi.
There are in fact a lot of different options available when it comes to sushi and not just the usual California Roll, you just have to be privy to know what to ask for.
A few things that you may want to consider is halve the amount of rice in the roll and to also ask for extra veggies and just keep it as simple as possible.
The following tips will help you:
- Brown Rice: Start with opting for brown rice instead of the white kind. It is much more tastier than the alternative and it is loaded with health benefits and nutrients and most importantly it is a very rich source of fiber. Fiber is one thing that we cannot get just enough of.
- Salmon or Tuna: In general, sushi is a typically low-calorie option in terms of dining out but have you ever wondered which fish has the most nutrients in them? When ordering sushi, go for tuna or salmon, both are extremely rich in omega 3-s, which are healthy and unsaturated fats. They also have a lot of protein in them which keeps you full and satisfied.
- Soy sauce low in sodium: Make it a point that you are using a low sodium soy sauce. It may shock you to know that even the low-sodium soy sauce variety has 25% of the recommended daily sodium intake?
- Keep it simple: It is no secret that the part of the menu that seems really fun is the part of the menu that has the special rolls, but if you happen to be trying to stay as low calorie as possible, it would be wise to indulge in items from the special menu. While they may look and taste delicious, they, in most cases, do have ingredients in them that are extremely not healthy and high calorie.
While sushi may seem like an alternative to junk food that is high in calories, it is important to note that if you are not careful, you could order sushi that has more calories than a Big Mac.
The main idea here is to maximize the health benefits of the fish in sushi while trying to cut out as much carbs and fats as possible.
Frequently Asked Question:
Q. What sushi is best for weight loss?
Q. Is sushi good for bodybuilding?
Q. Can you eat sushi everyday?
Q. Should I eat sushi after a workout?
Melissa Weimer is a nutrition expert who has helped thousands of people to create a healthy diet for weight loss and to maintain a good health. Weimer is the author of “Your Body’s Role in Weight Loss,” a healthy lifestyle book that you can use as a template to lose weight.