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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Weight Management arrow Is Tilapia Good For Weight Loss?

Is Tilapia Good For Weight Loss?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: May 19, 2023
8 min read 1613 Views 0 Comments
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In this fish story, we explain what the fish is and where it comes from as well as three ways it can benefit your health. You’ll also learn how to make diet-friendly and easy meals from tilapia.

is tilapia good for weight loss

A flaky white fish called tilapia has been getting a lot of attention recently. While some people claim that it is an excellent source of protein at a very low price, there are also those who say it is not a real fish and that it is grown in wastewater. 

On the web, farmed tilapia have a bad reputation, but we decided to explore deeper to find out what the real story is. (Spoiler – the rumors about supermarket tilapia are overblown, don’t be scared.)

This article walks you through all the nutritional benefits of tilapia, where it comes from, and how to cook it if you are trying to lose weight. 

Is Tilapia Good For Weight Loss?

Having baked tilapia for dinner can help you lose weight because it contains protein and healthy fats. A single filet of tilapia provides 111 calories, about 80% of which are from protein and 20% from fat.

The first step to a weight loss diet is to find a right balance of protein, fats, and carbs. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, 10-30% of your calories should come from protein, 45-65% from carbs, 25-35% from fat.

You may have to adjust these proportions based on your diet and weight loss goals. For example, on a keto diet you should get 70-80% of your calories from fat, 20-25% from protein, and 5% from carbs.

On the other hand, a diet and exercise regimen aimed at losing weight and building muscle require you to eat foods that are high in protein and low in fat. Any way you slice it, fatty fish are always a good choice, so tilapia is the way to go.

What Is Tilapia?

Tilapia is a farm raised fish with high nutritional value and affordable price. It’s low in fat and high in protein, as well as packed with essential fatty acids.

Tilapia is a small fish known for its mild flavor that is slightly sweet and buttery, which is why it is often called aquatic chicken. It has white meat which offers almost the same amount of protein that chicken breast does.

There are boneless and skinless tilapia filets available in most supermarkets. So you can easily make a protein rich dinner with baked tilapia filets and a salad with some colorful veggies, fresh herbs and extra virgin olive oil.

Is tilapia a real fish?

There is a high demand for tilapia in the United States, so most of it is harvested from industrial fish farms. That’s why tilapia is mistakenly considered a man-made fish.

Tilapia have been produced in fish factories for years under strict sanitary and aquaculture standards. The fish are fed a balanced diet of vegetables, giving their meat a mild taste and buttery texture. In contrast, tainted flavors are associated with tilapia raised in poor conditions and fed algae.

The majority of these farms in the U.S. are certified with leading third-party certification programs, such as Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

Worldwide, there are 98 BAP-registered farms and 74 BAP-registered processing plants that produce 230,000 tons of tilapia each year. All major U.S. retailers, such as Walmart, Wholefoods, and Target, carry certified tilapia. 

Where did tilapia come from?

Tilapia is imported to US from China and Taiwan, followed by Indonesia, Ecuador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Columbia, and Thailand

Tilapia is one of the most exported fish in the world. It is always sold frozen and freezing is still the primary method of sanitization. Hence, internet articles that claim the fish in China, which makes frozen tilapia filets, live in contaminated water and eat garbage don’t make sense. 

If it is not from a Vietnamese grandmother in a Saigon market cage, then you should not avoid buying tilapia in the supermarket. Eating tilapia is no more dangerous than eating catfish or carp, which aren’t picky about what they eat either. 

Tilapia Nutritional Value

Calories: 96Potassium 302 mg
Protein: 20.1 g (46% of daily value)Phosphate 170 mg
Total fat: 1.7 gCalcium 10 mg
Saturated fat: 0.585 gSelenium 41.8 µg
Monounsaturated fat: 0.498 gNiacin 3.9 mg
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.363 gFolate 24 µg
Carbohydrates: 0 gMagnesium 27 mg
Fiber: 0gVitamin B12 1.58 µg
Sugar: 0gVitamin D 3.1 µg

Is Tilapia Healthy?

Tilapia filets offer great nutrition at a good price, making it an excellent choice for anyone on a tight budget who wants to eat healthily.

There are a number of health benefits associated with tilapia that stem from nutrients it contains. In the nearby supermarket you will find a variety of tilapia filets that will provide you with a lot of potassium, phosphate, calcium, magnesium.

It has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but the proportion isn’t perfect. It has more omega 6 than omega 3 which may cause inflammation in the long run. However, to create a healthy ratio of omega 3 to omega 6, some producers are producing tilapia enriched with omega 3.

The shorter lifespan and faster growth rate of tilapia mean it doesn’t absorb toxins (like mercury) like other fish with long lifespans like flounder or wild salmon. Even pregnant women can safely eat this fish.

In recent years, the healthiness of this fish was questioned because of rumors about tilapia farming practices. To make sure you are buying a healthy tilapia, check the source country or look for the Ocean Wise symbol on it. This means the product is made without polluting the ocean. There was no overpopulation, so the tilapia grew in clean water.

Three Benefits Of Tilapia For Your Diet

Now that it is clear that eating tilapia is absolutely safe, the question is how healthy it is and does it help with weight loss..

Here we have described the top three health benefits you will get if you eat tilapia more often.

#1 Rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Tilapia can help to lose weight because it provides essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation and insulin resistance. In particular, a 3.5 ounce serving contains 0.363 grams of essential fatty acids including omega 3 and omega 6.

Because our body cannot synthesize these fatty acids on its own, we need to obtain them from food sources like fatty fish, nuts, vegetable oil and leafy greens..

#2 Source of vitamin B12

Eating tilapia can help prevent obesity, heart disease, dementia, and poor athletic performance, because it contains 1.86 mg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams. This is more than half of the recommended daily intake for adults (2.4 mg). 

Moreover, vitamin B12 can only be absorbed if you consume enough omega-3 in your diet. As this fish provides both, you can be sure it will benefit your health, especially your brain. 

#3 Might lower cholesterol levels

Tilapia’s omega 3 content reduces the build-up of plaque in blood vessels. A sufficient intake of omega 3 over the long term has been proven to lower cholesterol levels in the blood and prevent heart attacks. 

Furthermore, replacing salty and fatty foods like bacon and deli meat with fish like tilapia can help to lose weight, prevent high blood pressure and improve heart health.


Does tilapia have protein?

There are 26.2 grams of protein in 100 grams of cooked tilapia, which is almost half of the recommended daily protein intake for a 150 lbs woman. This flaky white fish is not only a good source of protein, but also of essential fatty acids, vitamins B12 and D, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and others.

Is tilapia a fatty fish?

Baked tilapia contains 2.65 grams of fat, of which 0.6 grams are essential fatty acids. Compared with cooked salmon, it contains 6 times less fat (12.4 grams in 100 grams), and 8 times less essential fatty acids (4.55 grams).

Is tilapia healthier than chicken?

Tilapia and chicken are similar in so many ways that tilapia is often called sea chicken. Both tilapia and chicken, especially chicken breast, are healthy because they’re rich in protein. Compared to chicken, tilapia has fewer calories and less fat, but also a little less protein. Since their differences are insignificant, both can be part of a healthy diet.

How To Cook Tilapia: 3 Ways To Have A Tasty Dinner or Breakfast

Tilapia is a versatile fish and its neutral taste makes it easy to cook and fun to try new flavors. These flaky white fish filets are available in supermarkets as frozen filets, the meat is dense, white, soft, without a fishy odor. 

The most common methods of preparing tilapia are baking, pan frying, deep frying, and grilling. Take your weight loss diet to the next level with these easy tilapia recipes.

On a small baking sheet, season the fish with salt and pepper and drizzle with melted butter, minced garlic, red pepper, and a little lemon juice. Bake the tilapia for 15 minutes in a baking dish with lemon rounds on top. When the meat falls apart with a fork, it’s ready. For dinner, serve it with steamed vegetables or brown rice. 

Cook the mushrooms and red bell pepper straws over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until soft and golden. Heat a skillet with a few drops of oil and season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper, place the fish in the pan and fry for about 3 minutes. Place the spinach leaves on two dinner plates, top them with the grilled fish, veggies, and cherry tomatoes. These what they call a perfect lunch!

Cook several filets of tilapia and flake them finely. In a bowl, mix fish flakes, eggs, salt, pepper, and chili. Put the butter mixture and eggs in the pan, along with the coriander leaves, and simmer for a couple of minutes until the eggs are set. You can either eat it alone or with toasted bread for breakfast.

With these recipes, you can enjoy the health benefits of tilapia and lose weight without sacrificing taste or quality.


There’s nothing wrong with eating tilapia from time to time because it’s a low-fat, protein-rich, easy to cook fish that’s both nutritious and affordable. Also it is an excellent choice for people who are trying to lose weight.

If you want a quick dinner, go for baked tilapia with vegetables. For breakfast, make an omelet with flaked tilapia filets. You get a healthy meal that is perfect for a weight loss diet either way.

It goes without saying that you should eat fish and seafood because they are packed with healthy nutrients and taste amazing. There is no reason to exclude tilapia from your shopping list. It’s safe to buy it in any big supermarket if you see the producers have quality certificates and the fish was grown in a healthy environment.

There is no single food that is perfect enough to replace the others in your diet, so it’s important to consume a variety of nutrients. There is a lot of nutrition in tilapia: essential fatty acids, vitamins B12 and D, calcium, and other microelements.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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