Fish is an excellent source of protein. However, if you are on a weight loss journey or simply saving your calories for something else, you might wonder what the best lowest-calorie fish is.
So, what is the lowest-calorie fish? Flounder is the fish with the lowest calories. It has 70 kcal in 100 g. However, its low protein content (12.4g) is something to consider when adding it to your diet. Other fish, like tilapia, have more calories (96 kcal) but also more protein (20g). It’s a good choice for weight loss due to its satiating effect.
In most cases, fish tends to be low in calories. However, some options (like salmon) have higher fat content, resulting in more calories. For that reason, it is essential to know the best options to include if you need a protein low in calories.
In this article, I’ll review 12 of the lowest-calorie fish available for you to include on your meal plan.
What Is Considered a Low-Calorie Fish?
On average, fish tends to have 150-200 kcal per serving. For that reason, a low-calorie fish should have less than 100 kcal per 100 g.
Fish is typically a very lean protein. However, there are some cases where the fat content might be too high, resulting in high-calorie fish. If a fish has more than 150 kcal, it will not be included on this list.
Why Do the Calories in Fish Matter?
The calories in fish are important because they can help you stay within your calorie budget. If you want to lose weight and consume a lot of fish, it’s especially important to consider low-calorie options. Adding low-calorie fish can help increase your protein content without significantly impacting your overall daily calories.
Protein plays an essential role in the body. It helps support muscle mass, increases metabolism, and can increase your fullness levels. Thus, a high protein intake while trying to lose weight can help you reach your goal.
But, in some cases, high-protein fish also have a high-fat content, which can increase the calorie content. So, it doesn’t make sense to increase your protein intake with these fish if it increases your calories too much. After all, you need a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than your body needs) to achieve weight loss.
12 Lowest-Calorie Fish
Below is a complete list of the best 12 lowest-calorie fish. As a reminder, a low-calorie fish has less than 100 kcal per 100 g.
|Fish||Calories per 100 g|
- Calories: 70
- Protein: 12.4 g
- Fat: 1.9 g
Flounder is high in nutrients like selenium and vitamin B12, though it’s not as high in certain nutrients as other fish. Additionally, while it is low in calories, it is also the lowest in protein.
So, if you need a high protein intake, you might want to find another fish high in protein or add other high-protein foods like protein shakes or eggs.
A good way of cooking fish is with butter and lemon. However, be careful how much butter you use since it can increase your caloric intake. Here is a Baked Flounder with Lemon and Butter recipe from TheSpruceEats.com for you to try.
- Calories: 76
- Protein: 14.5 g
- Fat: 1.5 g
One of the benefits of monkfish is that it is high in calcium. Calcium can help prevent bone diseases like osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Additionally, thanks to monkfish’s high selenium content, it can help reduce inflammation and improve the immune system.
However, one of the drawbacks of monkfish is its low protein content. This doesn’t make it a bad option, but if you have trouble reaching your protein requirements, it is something to keep in mind.
Since monkfish is a low-fat fish, some recipes add butter to add some flavor. However, if the point of the low-calorie fish is to help you achieve a caloric deficit, adding butter might be counterproductive. So, baking monkfish is a better option.
Here is a Grilled or Roasted Monkfish With Black Olive Sauce and Lemon Mash recipe from JamieOliver.com.
- Calories: 78
- Protein: 17.5 g
- Fat: 0.9 g
One of hake’s benefits is its omega-3 content. This type of fat is essential to the body, meaning the body cannot produce it. Thus, it needs to come from the diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in the body. Less inflammation in the body can lead to better digestion and improved sleep and might promote weight loss.
Since hake has a somewhat sweet taste, it pairs nicely with tomatoes. If you want a recipe that mixes both ingredients, the following Pan-Fried Hake Recipe with Red Pepper Relish from TheGreatBritishChefs.com will be right up your alley.
- Calories: 82
- Protein: 17.8
- Fat: 0.7 g
A benefit of cod is that it is a very low-fat fish, which is why it is also low in calories. In 100 g, you get less than one gram of fat, making it an ideal option for those who need to control their calories and fat intake (like people with heart conditions).
Another benefit of cod is that it is high in selenium. In 100 g, you get 43% of the daily recommended value. As mentioned earlier, this essential nutrient is a powerful antioxidant that can help decrease inflammation and boost the immune system.
As with the other fishes, you can cook cod in different ways. Since cod is very low in fat, you might want to add some olive oil to boost its flavor. If you want to avoid adding fat, the best option is to bake it.
Here is an Easy Baked Cod Recipe from Delish.com for you to try.
- Related Article: Is Cod Good For Bodybuilders?
- Calories: 88
- Protein: 18.6 g
- Fat: 0.9 g
Like other fish, mahi-mahi is high in vitamins B6, B12, selenium, and magnesium.
One of the benefits of mahi-mahi is its low mercury content. Mercury is a common concern when it comes to fish. High mercury levels can lead to symptoms of fatigue, tremors, and headaches.
While mahi-mahi is not completely free of mercury, it is a better option than other high-mercury fish like swordfish.
So, if you want to include low-mercury and low-calorie fish in your diet, mahi-mahi is the best option.
If you are new to mahi-mahi and don’t know how to cook it, here is an amazing Easy Perfect Mahi Mahi Recipe made with lemons and garlic from ChewOutLoud.com to help you get started.
- Calories: 91
- Protein: 18.6 g
- Fat: 1.3 g
Besides being low in calories, halibut is high in vitamins B6, B12, selenium, potassium, and magnesium.
Halibut is also a good source of iron since 100 g of halibut gives you 5% of the daily recommended value for iron.
Iron deficiency can lead to serious conditions like anemia. Iron is in charge of helping transport oxygen to the body through the blood, so a lack of iron can lead to poor body oxygenation. Ultimately, it could lead to more fatigue and a lack of energy.
You can cook halibut in different ways. If you don’t know how to cook it, here is a simple Crazy Easy Baked Halibut Recipe made with garlic and lemon from MomsDish.com to help you get started.
- Calories: 92
- Protein: 19.4 g
- Fat: 1.0 g
Grouper is a fish very high in nutrients. It is a good source of vitamins B12, B6, selenium, and potassium.
Potassium is an essential mineral in the body. You can lose it through your skin whenever you sweat. So, when you have an arduous training session, it is essential to replace electrolytes (potassium amongst them). Potassium helps regulate hydration levels, aids muscle contraction, and reduces blood pressure.
Cooking grouper with some vegetables can provide a simple and healthy meal while saving you time in the kitchen. Not only does it add flavor, but it also adds nutrients.
Here is a Mediterranean-Style Baked Grouper With Tomatoes and Olives from TheMediterraneanDish.com.
- Calories: 92
- Protein: 19.4 g
- Fat: 1.0 g
Pollock is high in selenium and vitamin B12. Additionally, it is a good source of magnesium since it offers 17% of the daily recommended value.
Magnesium is a vital nutrient in the body since it involves thousands of chemical reactions. It helps create proteins and energy.
Improved sleep and mood can lead to weight loss thanks to reduced cravings and hunger levels.
One of the best ways to consume pollock is to coat it with breading. To reduce the carb intake, you can substitute bread crumbs with almond meal or chia seeds. Here is a link to Sauteed Wild Alaska Pollock with Parmesan Crumbs from TridentSeaFood.com.
- Calories: 95
- Protein: 16.4 g
- Fat: 2.8 g
One of the benefits of catfish is that it is high in vitamin D. It contains 125% of the daily recommended value (in 100 g) of vitamin D.
Adding catfish during winter might help improve mood. You can naturally produce vitamin D through your skin when you receive sunlight. However, when it’s winter, there is an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency due to less sunlight exposure. This can lead to poor mood.
So, to avoid it from happening, adding catfish can boost vitamin D levels.
The most common way of consuming catfish is by frying it. However, if you are looking to save calories, frying is not the best option. Here is a Baked Catfish With Herbs Recipe from LanasCooking.com that can add flavor to the dish without piling on the calories.
- Calories: 96
- Protein: 20.1 g
- Fat: 1.7 g
Besides being a low-calorie fish, tilapia is high in nutrients like vitamin B12, selenium, and niacin.
Niacin is one of the vitamins from the B complex. It is in charge of transforming the food you eat into energy your body can use. Think of it as an exchange house.
Additionally, niacin may help reduce blood pressure. A study showed that for every gram of niacin, there is a 2% reduced risk of high blood pressure. So, this is an ideal fish that may increase heart health.
Like any other fish, you can bake it, pan-fry it, or place it in the air fryer. Here is a Garlic Butter Oven Baked Tilapia from DietHood.com that you can follow if you want to add tilapia to your diet.
- Related Article: Is Tilapia Good For Bodybuilders?
11. Sea Bass
- Calories: 97
- Protein: 18.4 g
- Fat: 2.0 g
One of the benefits of sea bass is that it is very high in selenium. In 100 g of sea bass, you get 52% of the daily recommended value for selenium.
A selenium deficiency may lead to a reduced immune system, which can lead to an increased risk of catching a cold or other illness. So, if you want to spend less time recovering in bed and more time doing the activities you love, sea bass is the best protein option to include.
Sea bass takes roughly 8-10 minutes to cook. You can place it on a pan or in the air fryer. On top of that, you can add different herbs and spices to add some flavor. I love adding tomatoes and garlic to cook with sea bass.
If you don’t know how to cook sea bass, here is one of my favorite Simple Oven-Baked Sea Bass Recipes from Food.com.
- Calories: 100
- Protein: 20.5 g
- Fat: 1.3
Snapper is low in calories and fat, making it an ideal option for those on a low-fat diet. Additionally, it is high in protein, which can help prevent muscle loss, increase satiety, and slightly increase your metabolism.
Snapper is high in nutrients like vitamins B12, B6, and selenium.
Vitamin B12 has a role in red blood formation, which are the cells in charge of transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. It is also beneficial for bone health since research suggests that low vitamin B12 levels can lead to an increased risk of fractures.
You can cook snapper in an oven, pan, or air fryer. If you don’t know how to cook snapper, here is a Lemon Red Snapper With Herbed Butter Recipe from MyRecipes.com to help you get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the Best Fish to Eat for Weight Loss?
Flounder is the best fish for weight loss because it only has 70 kcal per 100 g. However, it doesn’t have a lot of protein (12.4 g). For that reason, tilapia is also a good option for weight loss. It has more calories (96), but its high protein content (20 g) can help increase fullness levels and boost metabolism.
Other Fish Resources
- 19 Best Fish To Eat After A Workout (Plus 10 To Avoid)
- 29 Best Fish For Bodybuilding (Ranked By Cheapest Option)
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.