Are mushrooms fattening or good for weight loss?
There are thousands of species of mushroom, some of which are edible and others that aren’t. Mushrooms are technically not a vegetable, they are a fungi. However they do provide many of the nutritional benefits that vegetables do and so the USDA does classify them as a vegetable.
Mushrooms are versatile and can be prepared in a number of different ways; they are usually added to dishes for some extra flavour and to improve texture. They are also a nutritious food, providing you with various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In fact mushrooms are the only vegetable source of vitamin D.
But what about when you are try to lose weight – should you be eating them or will they make you fat?
There are lots of different types of edible mushrooms and their nutritional values differ slightly. Some popular ones include white button, portabello, cremini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms. The table below shows the nutritional values for 100 g of each, which is around a one cup serving.
|Fat||0 g||1 g||0 g||1 g|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 mg||0 mg||0 mg|
|Sodium||5 mg||10 mg||6 mg||9 mg|
|Carbohydrates||3 g||5 g||4 g||7 g|
|Fiber||1 g||2 g||1 g||3 g|
|Sugar||2 g||0 g||2 g||2 g|
|Protein||3 g||4 g||3 g||2 g|
As you can see, the various types of mushroom have similar nutritional profiles when compared weight for weight.
An important aspect when it comes to weight management is the number of calories that different types of foods contain. Most fruits and vegetables tend to have a high water content and are usually low in calories; this is because water contains 0 calories. Mushrooms are no different, they are made up of around 90% water and are low in calories.
Foods that contain a lot of fat on the other hand tend to be high in calories, because fat contains 9 calories per gram. You can compare the number of calories found in different foods here. For example 100 g of macadamia nuts, which have a lot of fat, contain 718 calories. Watercress on the other hand has only 11 calories per 100 g.
You introduce calories into your body via food and use them up naturally during the day, and when you exercise. If you use up more calories than you consume, you will begin to lose weight over time. This is because your body uses its fat stores as a source of energy. However if you consume more calories than your body uses, the excess calories are stored as fat.
Everyone is unique and calorie requirements differ, depending on age, gender, weight, height and how active a person is. You can use the calculator below to estimate how many calories you should be consuming.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 40 year old man who weighs 75 kg, is 160 cm tall and exercises 3 – 5 days a week will need to consume 2400 calories to maintain his current weight, 1900 calories to lose weight and 1450 calories to lose weight fast.
For this reason, mushrooms are a great food to add to a weight loss diet. On average, a one cup serving contains 30 calories which means that even on a 1450 calorie diet, they would still only contribute to 2% of total calories!
Mushrooms and weight loss
This study investigated if swapping red meat for mushrooms had any effect on the body. 73 obese adults took part and consumed a diet containing either red meat or mushrooms.
After 1 year, the results showed that participants in the mushroom group were on average consuming 173 fewer calories and 4.5 grams less fat per day. They therefore lost more weight and achieved lower BMI’s and waist circumferences.
Another study showed that mice who were fed a high fat diet and also given a high dose of a mushroom extract gained less weight than mice that were only on a high fat diet. However it is important to note that the extract was obtained from the Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) mushroom and that further testing would be needed in order to determine if the same effect could be experienced in humans.
Mushrooms contain small amounts of dietary fiber and protein, which assist with weight loss. Both help you feel full faster, which means you eat less. Various studies have shown that increasing protein and fiber intake leads to fewer calories being consumed in the long run. Mushrooms are definitely not the best source of protein or fiber, but they do help increase your overall intake.
Eating mushrooms also helps increase your water intake and this is important because many people mistake thirst caused by dehydration for hunger, causing them to overeat.
Can mushrooms be fattening?
As explained above, you gain weight over time by consuming more calories than what your body burns. The more excess calories you eat, the more fat is stored in your body. So eating any type of food in abundance would lead to weight gain.
However mushrooms contain so few calories that you would need to eat an incredibly large amount in order for them to make you fat. For example, 500 calories of mushrooms equates to 17 – 20 cups; it is very hard to imagine anyone would eat this many mushrooms on top of all their other meals of the day.
Mushrooms are an excellent food to add to a weight loss diet because they are low in calories and rich in nutrients. In order to lose weight successfully, you should follow a healthy weight loss diet plan and try to exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week.