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Whether you are a pescatarian or just enjoy eating fish and shellfish occasionally, opting for seafood is a smart move if you want to lose weight without feeling hungry. Why? Seafood provides a lot of satiety per calorie, meaning it can help you feel full and satisfied for very few calories.
This guide features satiety scores for all types of fish and shellfish. As you can see, most of them have excellent scores. We also provide delicious high-satiety recipes created to enhance the unique flavors of seafood.
What are high-satiety foods?
High-satiety foods help you feel as full as possible for the fewest number of calories. In other words, they provide high satiety per calorie.
As part of our higher-satiety eating approach, we assign all foods a satiety score from 0 to 100. The score is calculated using four factors related to satiety:
Protein percentage: the percentage of a food’s calories that come from protein rather than fat and carbs. Protein is an essential nutrient that reduces hunger and helps you feel full. For this reason, protein percentage is given the most weight when calculating the satiety score.
Energy density: the calories (or energy) in a specific weight of food, such as 100 grams (3.5 ounces). Studies show that eating less-dense foods leads to eating less.
Fiber: the non-digestible portion of carbs that can stretch your stomach and help you feel full.
Hedonic factor: ascore reduction for the decadent foods that can drive overeating.
If you want to lose weight, aim to eat at least one high-satiety food at each meal. Foods that score 60 or above are considered high-satiety foods. And most types of fish and shellfish have satiety scores above 60. So choose your favorites — with a few exceptions, which we’ll soon discuss.
However, don’t feel that you must limit yourself to only high-satiety foods. For instance, you can combine high-satiety seafood with smaller amounts of lower-satiety foods, like butter or oil for preparation, or tartar sauce or melted butter at the table. This will make your meal more enjoyable, and you’ll end up with an overall satiety score that’s well above 50 — a good overall score for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
More high-satiety guides:
Fish are packed with protein and other essential nutrients. So it may not be surprising to hear that eating more fish can help you feel full and potentially lose weight, according to some studies.
Which type of fish should you choose? The short answer is, any type that you enjoy eating. While fatty fish like salmon and sardines have slightly lower satiety scores than lean fish like halibut and tuna, fatty fish provide higher amounts of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which research has linked to health benefits.
Farm-raised fatty fish are higher in fat than their wild counterparts, so their satiety scores are slightly lower. However, with a satiety score of 80, farmed salmon is still a great choice for higher-satiety eating.
Select fish based on the types you like, what’s available in your area, and your budget. (Canned fish is a great, inexpensive option.) But if your goal is feeling full and satisfied with fewer calories, stay away from seafood that’s been battered or breaded and deep-fried.
Also, avoid or limit high-mercury fish like fresh or frozen albacore or yellowfin tuna and fresh, frozen, or canned bigeye tuna, King mackerel, swordfish, and shark. Women who are pregnant or are trying to conceive, nursing mothers, and children should be especially careful to avoid high-mercury fish.
Here are the satiety scores and grams of protein per 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of cooked fish — about the size of a deck of cards.
About 25 grams of protein per serving
with 1 tablespoon of tartar sauce
with 2 tablespoons of tartar sauce
*(such as cod, halibut, flounder, orange roughy, sole, snapper, and tilapia)
Tuna, canned or raw (sashimi)
About 24 grams of protein per serving*
About 24 grams of protein per serving
About 24 grams of protein
*(Limit to once a week due to its higher mercury content)
If you want a high-satiety meal that’s tasty and fun to eat, shellfish is a great choice. All shellfish are high in protein and low in fat. Like fish, shellfish are a great source of important vitamins and minerals.
Dipping shellfish in melted butter can make your dining experience more enjoyable without lowering its satiety score too much.
However, battered, deep-fried shellfish isn’t a good choice for higher-satiety eating. Another type of seafood that scores low on the satiety scale is imitation crab meat, which is made from fish combined with sugar, starch, and additives. It may resemble crab’s taste, but it’s far lower in protein, and its nutritional profile is much less favorable.
Here are the satiety scores and grams of protein per 100-gram (3.5 ounces) serving of cooked shellfish:
About 20 grams of protein per serving
with 1 tablespoon of melted butter
with 2 tablespoons of melted butter
*(approximately one small lobster tail or two-thirds of a cup of lobster meat)
Shrimp and prawns
About 24 grams of protein per serving
About 20 grams of protein per serving
About 20 grams of protein
About 26 grams of protein per serving (approximately 10 medium slices)
About 25 grams of protein per serving (approximately 10 small clams)
About 19 grams of protein per serving (approximately two-thirds of a cup of squid)
About 20 grams of protein per serving (approximately 10 medium slices)
About 17 grams of protein per serving (approximately four to six medium links)
About 17 grams of protein per serving (approximately one-half cup)
Imitation crab meat (surimi)
About 8 grams of protein per serving ((approximately one-half cup of surimi)
Battered, deep-fried shrimp
About 14 grams of protein per serving (approximately 6 pieces of shrimp)
Seafood is a winner for higher-satiety eating. Plus, adding a little butter or sauce to a generous portion of fish or shellfish increases its flavor while keeping its satiety score high. So go for tasty, filling seafood meals often, whether you prepare them at home or order them at a restaurant.
Higher-satiety eating: what & how
Learn how our new higher-satiety eating approach can help you lose weight and improve your metabolic health.
The best high-satiety foods
Which foods can help you feel full and satisfied while you lose weight? Find out in our guide to the best high-satiety foods.
Introducing our new satiety score
Using our new satiety score will help you pick the right delicious foods for sustainable healthy weight loss.
In a 12-day randomized crossover study, people were allowed to eat as much as they wanted on a high-protein, normal-protein, and low-protein diet. During the high-protein portion of the trial, they consumed 500-550 fewer calories than they did during the normal-protein and low-protein portion of the trial:
In short-term trials, overweight and lean women ended up eating fewer calories when they were allowed as much food as they wanted at low-energy-density meals compared to high-energy-density meals – even though they reported having similar hunger and fullness levels after all meals:
In a one-year trial, overweight women who cut back on fat and increased the amount of low-energy-density foods in their diet lost more weight than women who simply cut back on fat, even though both groups were allowed to eat as much as they wanted:
In a study conducted in an inpatient hospital ward, 20 people ate a non-calorie-restricted ultra-processed diet and non-calorie-restricted minimally processed diet for two weeks each, in random order. The participants ate an average of 500 calories more per day on the ultra-processed diet — entirely from carbohydrates and fats — and gained 2 pounds (0.9 kilos), on average:
In a trial of 324 people, men who ate either lean or fatty fish as part of a weight loss diet lost an average of 2.2 pounds (1 kilo) more in four weeks than men who ate less seafood. However, in this study, women lost the same amount of weight regardless of their seafood intake: