Nutritionists have long been aware of the benefit that protein provides to a diet, especially if you are looking to build size and strength. We have also known for a long time that meat is one of the best sources of protein but the relatively high levels of saturated fat has steered people away from filling their diet with lots of red meat. Instead, white meats and fish have become increasingly popular and are now a common feature in most bodybuilder diets.
But with an increase in demand comes an increase in cost and that has seen prices for salmon and tuna, two particularly popular oily fishes that have high protein levels, creep up and up. You could be forgiven for thinking they are the only two options. Supermarkets now provide a wider selection of fish and seafood than ever before but so many nutritional programmes still suggest tuna and salmon as the only fish to eat.
Obviously there are a whole number of nutrients in food that we compare when we try to decide what to include in our diets but here I want to look primarily at two of them: protein and fat. When it comes to seafood people are naturally worried about mercury levels and look to other nutrients as well, so make sure you are aware of these figures too if you think it will have an impact on your training.
So let’s compare tuna and salmon with a few of the less commonly discussed and eaten fish. All of this data is based on the US Department for Agriculture and are based on 100g servings:
Tuna (in oil) – protein = 29g, fat = 8g
Salmon – protein = 19.84g, fat = 6.34g
Mackerel – protein = 18.6g, fat = 13.89g
Herring – protein = 17.96g, fat = 9.04g
Sardines (in olive oil) – protein = 29.38, fat = 22.5g
So what does that data tell us? Well the first thing to notice is that we have far more on offer to us than just tuna and salmon! All five of those fishes can be found in most decent size supermarkets in the UK. It also tells us that we should be matching our fish to our goals. If you want to be increasing size, you want to be increasing the amount of protein you eat. So sardines and tuna look to be the obvious choice. If you are on a low fat diet then tuna is your best bet, if you are looking to increase the amount of fats you want to be looking more at sardines, and so on.
By just sticking to the popular foods that we constantly hear about, we actually disadvantage ourselves. Global trade means that we have all sorts of food produce, not just fish, on our doorsteps. All it takes is a little bit of research to find out what you might be missing out on!