Is Salmon Good for Weight Loss?

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Two raw salmon fillets seasoned with black peppercorns and sea salt on a wooden cutting board, garnished with a sprig of basil and lemon wedges in the background. (Is Salmon Good for Weight Loss?)

Yes, salmon is good for weight loss because it’s rich in protein and low in calories.

Additionally, its high protein content not only keeps you feeling fuller for longer but also increases calorie burn during digestion and metabolism (known as the thermic effect of food).

These factors are all advantageous when trying to lose weight.

So, if you’re wondering whether salmon is a good choice for weight loss, join me as I delve into its pros, cons, and everything in between.

This way, you can make an informed decision before adding it to your weight loss diet.

Nutritional Value Of Salmon

As per the USDA, when you eat 3 oz of salmon you get the following nutrients:

Serving Size: 3 oz (85 g)

  • Calories: 121

  • Carbohydrates: 0 g

  • Fat: 5.3 g

  • Protein: 16.8 g

  • Fiber: 0 g

  • Sodium: 37 mg

Potential Benefits Of Salmon For Weight Loss

Salmon has quite a lot of benefits for weight loss, let’s go over each of them one by one.

High-Quality Protein Source

When you’re on a calorie-deficit diet for weight loss, your body is forced to use stored energy, which ideally should come from fat.

However, the body can also break down muscle tissue for energy, which is not desirable because muscle mass is critical for a healthy metabolism.

Consuming a high-quality protein source like salmon can help prevent this muscle loss.

The protein in salmon provides the amino acids that your muscles need to repair and maintain themselves, even when you’re consuming fewer calories than your body uses.

This means that, with adequate protein intake, your body is more likely to turn to fat stores rather than muscle to make up for the energy deficit, leading to healthier weight loss.

Salmon, being rich in protein, can help ensure that the weight you lose is primarily from fat.

Promotes Satiety

Protein-rich foods like salmon have a powerful impact on satiety, which is the feeling of fullness after eating.

When you consume salmon, its protein content stimulates the release of hormones such as GLP-1 and PYY.

These hormones work by sending signals to the brain indicating that you’re full, which can help reduce appetite and lower the chances of overeating.

Additionally, protein takes longer to digest, which slows down gastric emptying — the rate at which food leaves your stomach.

This prolonged digestive process means you feel full longer, which can be beneficial in managing hunger and reducing overall calorie intake.

May Enhance Metabolic Rate

Salmon’s rich protein content can increase your metabolic rate due to the thermic effect of food (TEF).

TEF refers to the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients in your meals.

Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates or fats, meaning your body uses more energy to process protein.

This increased energy expenditure can contribute to weight loss by boosting the number of calories your body burns throughout the day.

When you include salmon in your diet, the body uses more calories to break down the protein compared to other nutrients, which can enhance your overall metabolic rate and support weight loss efforts.

Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important fats that our body can’t make by itself.

Omega-3s, especially EPA and DHA found in salmon, are good for weight loss in several ways.

They can make your body better at using sugar from your food for energy, which means less sugar gets stored as fat.

Omega-3s also help your body burn fat better and store less fat, which can help you lose body fat.

These fats also help control how hungry or full you feel. They might make your body produce more leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full.

This can help you eat less and make it easier to keep to a diet with fewer calories.

Plus, omega-3s can reduce inflammation in your body, which might help you perform and recover better from exercise, supporting your weight loss efforts.

Low in Calories

When you’re trying to eat fewer calories than your body uses, it’s important to choose foods that are low in calories but still give you lots of nutrients.

Salmon is perfect for this. It gives you a lot of nutrients like high-quality protein, B vitamins, potassium, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids, all with not too many calories.

A typical serving of salmon (about 3 ounces or 85 g) has about 121 calories, depending on how it’s cooked.

Eating salmon means you can eat fewer calories while still getting the nutrients your body needs to work well.

This is really important when you’re cutting back on calories because it helps you avoid not getting enough nutrients.

Also, because salmon is high in protein and healthy fats, it makes you feel full and satisfied without eating too many calories.

This can help you not eat too much and stick to your calorie limit for the day.

Also Read: Is Panda Express Good For Weight Loss?

Downsides Of Salmon For Weight Loss

There arent any major downsides of salmon for weight loss, it more has to do with external factors such as the following:

Cost and Accessibility

One big hurdle with using salmon in a diet for losing weight is how much it costs. High-quality salmon, especially the kind caught in the wild, usually costs more than other proteins like chicken, turkey, or plant-based options.

The price can change a lot based on where you are, what’s available, and whether the salmon is fresh, frozen, or canned.

Wild-caught salmon often costs more than farmed salmon because people think it’s better quality and healthier. It might have fewer pollutants and more omega-3 fats.

Getting salmon isn’t easy for everyone. If you don’t live near the coast, you might only find frozen or canned salmon, not fresh.

This can make a difference in how much you want to eat salmon regularly. For those living far from the ocean, fresh seafood is more of a treat than a regular part of their healthy diet.

Preparation and Add-ons

How you cook salmon can really change its health benefits, especially for losing weight. Salmon is flexible – you can grill, bake, broil, or poach it.

But, if you cook it with lots of butter or oil, or add rich sauces, you’re adding a lot of calories. This can cancel out the good stuff in salmon, like its protein and omega-3 fats, making it not so great for trying to lose weight.

Tips For Adding Salmon to a Weight Loss Diet

Here are some tips for including salmon in your weight loss plan.

Opt for Healthy Cooking Methods

Choosing the right cooking methods for salmon is key in a weight loss diet to keep its nutritional value high without adding extra calories.

Baking, steaming, grilling, and poaching are great options because they don’t need much added fat. For example:

  • Baking salmon wrapped in foil with herbs and spices keeps it moist and flavorful without needing oil.

  • Steaming lets the salmon cook in its own juices, keeping its omega-3 fats intact.

  • Grilling salmon gives it a smoky taste without extra fat. A bit of non-stick spray on the grill can prevent sticking.

  • Poaching in water, broth, or wine adds flavor with aromatics like onions, garlic, or herbs, without upping the fat content.

These cooking methods preserve salmon’s lean protein and healthy fats, which are vital for weight loss and health.

Pair with Low-Calorie Sides

Serving salmon with low-calorie sides makes for a nutritious, satisfying meal that fits weight loss plans. Go for non-starchy veggies and whole grains:

  • Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, and bell peppers are full of fiber and nutrients but low in calories. They’re great steamed, roasted, or raw.

  • Whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice add fiber and nutrients, helping you feel full without too many calories.

This mix gives you a good balance of proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.

Season Smartly

Flavoring salmon with herbs, spices, and citrus instead of high-calorie sauces or marinades can cut down meal calories. Try these:

  • Herbs like dill or parsley add fresh flavors without calories.

  • Spices such as paprika or cumin offer depth without extra calories.

  • Citrus juices like lemon or lime add zest and can tenderize the salmon, boosting its flavor.

Smart seasoning brings out salmon’s taste, making your meal delicious without derailing your weight loss efforts.

Incorporate Canned Salmon

Canned salmon is a budget-friendly, convenient option that still offers the nutritional benefits of fresh salmon, making it a great addition to a weight-loss diet:

  • High in protein and omega-3s, just like fresh salmon, canned salmon supports muscle maintenance and satiety.

  • Versatile and easy to store, it can be used in salads, sandwiches, or as a protein addition to soups and pastas.

  • Nutrient retention in canned salmon is high because it’s processed and preserved soon after being caught.

When choosing canned salmon, opt for versions packed in water rather than oil to keep calorie counts lower. Also, checking for low-sodium options can help manage sodium intake, important for overall health and avoiding water retention.

Watch for Add-ons

When incorporating salmon into a weight-loss diet, it’s crucial to be mindful of additional ingredients that might accompany the fish.

While salmon itself is nutrient-dense and beneficial for weight loss, certain add-ons can significantly increase the meal’s calorie content, potentially sabotaging diet efforts. Here’s why and how to watch for add-ons:

  • Sauces and Dressings: Creamy sauces or dressings often contain high amounts of fats and calories. Opting for lighter alternatives, such as yogurt-based sauces or simply using lemon juice and herbs, can enhance flavor without adding excessive calories.

  • Butter and Oils: Cooking salmon with large amounts of butter or oil increases fat and calorie content. Use non-stick cooking sprays, broth, or just a small amount of olive oil to cook your salmon healthily.

  • Toppings: Be cautious with toppings like cheese or breadcrumb coatings, which can also add unnecessary calories. Instead, top salmon with a mix of fresh herbs, spices, or a sprinkle of nuts for crunch without the calorie load.

Paying attention to these add-ons allows you to enjoy salmon’s health benefits while staying within your calorie goals for weight loss.

Educate Yourself on Labels

Understanding food labels is essential when purchasing salmon, especially if your goal is weight loss.

Labels can provide vital information on the salmon’s origin, nutritional content, and whether any additives have been used. Here’s what to look for:

  • Wild vs. Farmed: Wild salmon is often higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in contaminants compared to farmed salmon or smoked salmon. Labels should indicate whether the salmon is wild or farmed.

  • Nutritional Information: Check the label for information on calories, fats, protein, and sodium. This information can help you make informed decisions that align with your weight loss goals.

  • Preservatives and Additives: Some processed salmon products may contain added preservatives or flavors. Look for salmon with minimal additives to ensure you’re getting the most natural product possible.

  • Sustainability Certifications: Labels may also indicate whether the salmon was raised or caught in a sustainable manner, which is important for environmental reasons but can also impact the quality of the fish you’re eating.

By educating yourself on these label details, you can choose the best quality salmon that fits within your dietary preferences and weight loss plan.

Alternatives To Salmon For Weight Loss

Dont like salmon? no problem. There are many other options that can provide you with more or less similar benefits for weight loss.


Shrimp is a fantastic low-calorie, high-protein option for anyone looking to lose weight.

It’s packed with vital nutrients, including iodine, crucial for thyroid function and overall metabolism.

Shrimp can be prepared healthily by grilling, boiling, or sautéing with a bit of oil.

However, similar to salmon, it’s important to watch out for calorie-heavy sauces and preparations.

Also Read: Is Shrimp Good For Weight Loss?

Crab Meat

Crab meat stands out as a low-fat, high-protein choice, rich in zinc, selenium, and B vitamins.

It’s lower in calories compared to salmon but equally satisfying, making it a great pick for those on a weight loss journey.

Whether fresh or canned (opt for no added sodium or preservatives), the crab can be enjoyed in salads, soups, or as a steamed or lightly sautéed main dish.

Also Read: Is Crab Good For Weight Loss?

Chicken Breast

A go-to for many on a weight loss diet, chicken breast is celebrated for its high protein and low fat, particularly when skinless.

It’s incredibly versatile and easy to cook in a variety of healthy ways, fitting any palate.

Whether grilled, baked, or poached, chicken breast can be flavored with herbs and spices to keep meals interesting.

Also Read: Is Chicken And Rice Good For Weight Loss?


Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition, offering high-quality protein and essential nutrients like vitamin D, B vitamins, and choline.

They’re excellent for weight loss because they help increase feelings of fullness.

Eggs can be cooked in numerous healthy ways, including boiling, poaching, or scrambling with vegetables for a nutrient-packed meal.

Also Read: Are Devilled Eggs Good For Weight Loss?

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt, known for its protein, calcium, and probiotics, is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, offering a fulfilling option that can help with weight loss.

Opt for plain, unsweetened varieties to cut down on added sugars and calories.

It’s versatile enough to be enjoyed on its own, blended into smoothies, or used as a healthier alternative to sour cream or mayonnaise in various recipes.

Also Read: Is Oikos Triple Zero Good For Weight Loss?


Consuming salmon for weight loss is not just okay, but actually recommended. Its high protein content, omega-3 fatty acids, and low calorie count make it an excellent choice for a weight-loss diet.

However, be mindful of what you pair with your salmon, especially when it comes to high-calorie sauces, both at home and when dining out.

While salmon, as a fatty fish, is beneficial on its own, combining it with high-calorie or high-sugar ingredients can cancel out its health benefits.

Lastly, it’s important to consider the differences between wild and farmed salmon, as their nutrient profiles can vary.


Does salmon help you lose belly fat?

Yes, salmon can help lose belly fat due to its high protein content and omega-3 fatty acids, which may boost fat burning.

Is salmon better than chicken for weight loss?

Both are good for weight loss. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, while chicken is lower in fat. The choice depends on dietary needs and preferences.

Which fish is best for weight loss?

Lean fish like cod, flounder, or tilapia are excellent for weight loss due to their low-calorie and high-protein content.

Is it healthy to eat salmon every day?

Eating salmon every day can be healthy if consumed in moderation, considering its high omega-3 content. However, it’s important to vary protein sources to ensure a balanced diet.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission for purchases made through links at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Rahul is a professional nutritionist certified by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and a personal trainer certified through the American Council of Exercise (ACE). He has a special interest in the science of nutrition and how it can impact the body.

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