Is shrimp fattening or good for weight loss?

Shrimp is one the most commonly consumed types of seafood in the world. It is a versatile ingredient that can be prepared in lots of different ways, and is also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, selenium, iron, phosphorus and zinc.

But if you are watching your weight, you may be wondering whether eating shrimp is a good idea. The short answer is that it depends on how the shrimp is prepared and the amount that you eat. Read on to find out more.

What causes weight gain?

The food that you eat is made up of one or more of the 3 macro-nutrients: protein, carbohydrate and fat. These macro-nutrients are the reason why foods have calories. Protein and carbohydrate provide 4 calories per gram whereas fat provides 9 calories per gram.

When it comes to weight management, calories are very important. Consuming more calories than you require leads to weight gain because the excess calories are stored as fat in the body. So if an individual requires 2000 calories per day, eating 3000 calories daily will cause him or her to gain weight over time.

The opposite is also true – a deficit in calories will result in weight loss because the body will be forced to make use of its fat stores as a source of energy.

Calorie requirements can vary significantly from person to person, depending on age, gender, weight, height, activity levels and overall goals. You can use the tool below to estimate your calorie requirements.

Gender Age Weight Switch to lbs Height Switch to feet and inches Activity Level

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 lady who weighs 85 kg, is 170 cm tall and exercises 3 – 5 days a week would need to consume approximately 2400 calories to maintain her weight and 1900 calories to lose weight.

So how does shrimp fit into all of this? A 3 ounce (85 g) serving of shrimp that has been cooked in moist heat has 84 calories, which is a very small amount. Even on a 1500 calorie diet, this would amount to only 5% of total calories. This means that shrimp can be part of a weight loss diet if prepared correctly and eaten in moderation.

How shrimp may be beneficial for weight loss

Besides being low in calories, shrimp is also rich in protein; a 3 ounce serving provides you with 18 g of high quality protein. Out of the 3 macro-nutrients, protein has been shown to be the most beneficial for weight management.

This is because it helps on both ends of the calories in – calories out equation: increasing protein consumption not only reduces overall calorie intake (as seen in this study), it also boosts metabolism.

Together with protein, shrimp is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Research seems to suggest that the consumption of omega-3 fats (which are abundant in fish and seafood) may assist with weight loss and reducing belly fat.

Can eating shrimp cause weight gain?

As mentioned previously, net calorie balance will determine whether an individual gains weight or not. This means that eating any type of food in large enough quantities can result in weight gain.

The way in which shrimp is prepared can have a large effect on the number of calories it contains. For example, 3 ounces of shrimp cooked under moist heat has less than 100 calories, whereas 3 ounces of breaded and deep fried shrimp has over 200 calories.

Shrimp is also often eaten with a variety of sauces and dips (such as tartar sauce or flavoured butter), many of which contain almost as many or sometimes more calories than the shrimp itself. This is one of the ways extra calories manage to sneak into your body, so it is important to keep an eye on the amount that you eat.

Is shrimp considered healthy?

Even though shrimp is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, you should be wary of the type of shrimp that you eat, because not all store bought shrimp is created equal.

Due to its increasing demand, most of the shrimp available on the market is the farmed variety, which means that the conditions the shrimp grow in are often not the best.

Research has shown that some types of farmed fish and seafood can be toxic, because they are contaminated with antibiotics, pesticides and disinfectants.

For this reason, it is a good idea to opt for shrimp that has been clearly marked as wild caught. Whilst this variety will be more expensive, it is thought to be much healthier.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that even high quality shrimp should be eaten with care because shrimp are bottom dwellers that feed on parasites. Eating raw shrimp should generally be avoided because of the increased risks of food poisoning. Your best bet is to cook shrimp under high temperatures before you eat it.

Finally, be aware that shrimp is a cholesterol rich food, with a 3 ounce serving of shrimp providing you with more than half of your daily requirement of dietary cholesterol. If you have a history of high blood cholesterol levels or are concerned about the amount of cholesterol that you should be eating on a daily basis, speak to your doctor.

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