How Eating Sushi Can Help You Lose Weight

I am an absolute lover of Japanese food, especially sushi. From the divine taste and texture to the artistic presentation, sushi just makes for an amazing dining experience. My husband and I recently dined at Miku Sushi, a great little spot situated on Chicago’s North Side that offers an extensive menu of creative maki rolls, nigiri, sashimi, and much more!

While I normally eat 1-2 large meals a day, I generally prefer to eat a variety of smaller-portioned foods when dining out, which is why sushi generally fits the bill. As we enjoyed a range of Miku Sushi’s rich, flavorful, wonderfully balanced small dishes, I couldn’t help but wonder why sushi itself has such a bad reputation these days, particularly when it comes to weight loss.

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Indeed, numerous studies have shown that consuming smaller portions of food tends to be more “rewarding” to the body’s hunger signals making it easier to eat less in a single sitting. In addition, when the right combination of ingredients is chosen, sushi is an incredibly enjoyable way to get in substantial doses of high-quality carbohydrates, good fats, and protein.

So why is the notion of eating sushi often shunned by weight loss enthusiasts?

Well, some mention the presence of processed carbohydrates as a problem—The primary culprit being the vinegared white rice that’s traditionally used to prepare maki rolls.

Believe it or not, this “sticky rice” is one of the richest natural sources of resistant starch, a type of fiber that’s “resistant” to digestion by the small intestine. Due to its high content of resistant starch, eating sticky rice can actually help you feel fuller, sooner and for a longer period of time reducing the urge to overeat. Resistant starch also helps to rev up the body’s natural fat burning capabilities in ways that support weight loss.

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Now, in spite of the potential benefits of eating sticky rice, moderation is still key. But, this holds true for carbs in general. Personally, in an effort to manage my own body weight I typically stick with a combination of nigiri and sashimi sushi arrangements as opposed to maki rolls.

Miku Sushi Nina Cherie Franklin PhD 3For the sake of illustration, I’ve included some images depicting a couple of the many delectable preparations my husband and I enjoyed while dining at Miku Sushi. Nigiri is essentially made up of raw or seared fish draped over a small bit of rice while sashimi simply consists of thin slices of fish prepared without rice.

Miku Sushi Nina Cherie Franklin PhD 2In addition to containing little or no rice, nigiri and sashimi are better sources of protein and good fats, as they are comprised of more fish. For weight loss, it’s best to opt for sushi varieties made with salmon, crab, shrimp, squid, and tuna. The collection of protein and fat in these fish helps enhance both the breaking down and burning of body fat while also inhibiting the storage of more fat, thereby reducing the likelihood of weight gain.

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Another commonly cited reason for sushi being an enemy to weight loss relates to the use of excessive condiments in preparations. This includes maki rolls commonly prepared with large amounts of cream cheese and mayonnaise as often done with Western varieties. Seriously, let’s not question the overall nutritional value of eating sushi over stuff like this!

In fact, I’ve got the simplest solution ever—Avoid any sushi densely comprised of unhealthy condiments or other subpar ingredients. This essentially means avoiding anything prepackaged at your local grocery store as I always do.

Sushi preparations comprised of fresh vegetables and other high-quality ingredients are most ideal for weight loss. Some great choices include mushroom, cucumber, bell pepper, asparagus and daikon (white radish). In addition to being extremely low in calories, such ingredients can supply whopping doses of fiber and health-promoting micronutrients like beta-carotene, B-vitamins, and vitamin C.

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Many sushi preparations are also traditionally made with avocado and this savory fruit just happens to be among the best add-ins for weight loss. Avocado is a potent natural source of fiber, monounsaturated fat, and other valuable nutrients. Interestingly, the combined presence of fiber and fat helps keep your hunger levels at bay while also supporting the burning of belly fat.

Miku Sushi Nina Cherie Franklin PhD 5Avocado is also unbelievably versatile! For instance, during my dining excursion at Miku Sushi I thoroughly enjoyed their “Spicy Tuna Ravioli” comprised of spicy tuna, crab meat and all-natural seasonings wrapped in freshly sliced avocado. Just goes to show that careful selection of weight loss-promoting foods definitely requires thinking a little outside of the box.

So, hopefully I’ve provided you with some valuable insights that you can use when incorporating sushi into your weight loss plan. At the end of the day, losing weight doesn’t require you to exclude sushi from your diet, especially if you love it like I do. It’s all about being mindful about the ingredients you choose and also understanding that quality and quantity both matter.

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