Sushi Is Fattening: Fact or Myth?

We're going to show you below if sushi can be included relatively regularly in the diet. Or if, on the contrary, it's fattening and shouldn't be consumed too much.
Sushi Is Fattening: Fact or Myth?
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 21 March, 2023

Sushi has become increasingly more popular around the world, but many people have doubts about its nutritional value and whether sushi is fattening or not. The truth is that the quality may vary depending on the area. There are even varieties that aren’t very healthy at all.

However, it should be noted that quality sushi isn’t only a delicacy, but it has beneficial nutrients too. Of course, you’ll need to guarantee a series of hygienic measures to ensure the healthiness of the product.

Nutritional contributions of sushi

From a nutritional point of view, we need to emphasize that sushi is full of energetic nutrients. It contains complex carbohydrates from the rice, but also simple sugars.

Be careful with the latter. High glycemic carbohydrates have been shown to increase the risk of developing metabolic illnesses.

Sushi also provides a good number of high biological value proteins. These have all the essential amino acids and a good digestibility score.

They’re necessary to prevent the onset of problems associated with muscle mass, as evidenced by research published in the journal Nutrition Research. However, to get the most out of them, they must be combined with exercise.

On the other hand, the fish used to make sushi is a source of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients help to keep inflammatory mechanisms in the internal environment under control.

They also serve to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular pathologies, according to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Keeping the intake of these elements in balance with omega-6 is essential.

Some fish.
Several fish are a source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Read more here: The Benefits of Bluefish

Is sushi fattening?

Now that we have discussed the nutritional value of sushi, the time has come to confirm whether or not it’s fattening. The truth is that this question is a tricky one, as no food or recipe included in our diets affect the state of body composition in itself.

Becoming thinner or fatter has to do with a series of habits maintained over time, not with the consumption of a foodstuff in question.

However, we have already mentioned that sushi has fairly high energy values. You can include it in your diet on a frequent basis and still lose weight, but its presence may also increase the risk of exceeding the recommended number of calories per day.

On the other hand, most sushi contains sugar, and this ingredient can affect metabolic health, reducing the efficiency of energy substrate utilization and hindering fat mobilization and oxidation. A situation of insulin resistance could develop.

You may also be interested in: 6 Types of Risky Fish that You Should Never Eat

What is the lowest calorie sushi?

As we mentioned at the beginning, there are countless ways to prepare sushi. The lightest from an energetic point of view is the one in which there is more fish than rice.

There isn’t a problem if it contains a lot of seaweed either. What you should be careful with are the sauces, as they’re frequently used in this type of recipe, and increase the energy density.

In addition, many of the condiments can be made with poor quality seed oils, and are prone to concentrating trans fats. These elements are harmful to health, as they increase the levels of internal inflammation.

Some sushi.
Sushi ingredients may vary. These variations modify the energy content of the dish.

Sushi isn’t fattening

It isn’t possible to affirm that sushi is fattening.

As long as it’s included in the context of a balanced and varied diet, it shouldn’t create harmful changes on the state of body composition. However, not all types of sushi are the same and this is something that should always be kept in mind.

Finally, it should be noted that to maintain a good state of body composition, diet isn’t the only important thing. Practicing physical exercise on a regular basis is also essential.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Yoshida, Y., & Simoes, E. J. (2018). Sugar-Sweetened Beverage, Obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adolescents: Policies, Taxation, and Programs. Current diabetes reports18(6), 31.
  • Naseeb, M. A., & Volpe, S. L. (2017). Protein and exercise in the prevention of sarcopenia and aging. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.)40, 1–20.
  • Innes, J. K., & Calder, P. C. (2020). Marine Omega-3 (N-3) Fatty Acids for Cardiovascular Health: An Update for 2020. International journal of molecular sciences21(4), 1362.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.