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You know your old uncle’s joke: “I’m on a seafood diet … I see food, and I eat it.” And his physique bears out this philosophy. But seafood may be an ideal protein choice for women trying to maintain muscle tone while cutting calories to lose body fat.
Many forms of shellfish provide a large amount of protein in an 8-ounce serving, and they often do so with far fewer calories than land-animal protein sources. Eight ounces of chopped, skinless, roasted chicken breast contains about 370 calories and 70 grams of protein (8 grams of fat); the same amount of 90 percent lean ground beef contains 490 calories and 59 grams of protein (27 grams of fat). One of the advantages of these seafood choices is that they provide the right amount of protein (at least 40 grams) that you need for a meal while dieting and keeping calories low.
Without getting into a lot of biological complexity, the forms of shellfish we’re referring to can be divided into two categories: crustaceans and mollusks. Crustaceans include shrimp, crab and lobster, while scallops, oysters and mussels fall into the mollusk group. When it comes to dieting, fish get lots of love for their high-protein and low-fat content (including tuna, tilapia and many others). But shellfish should have a place at the table, too. They provide unique nutrient profiles, and they’re virtually devoid of carbs (scallops and mussels aside) and dietary fats (oysters and mussels aside). That, by the way, makes them very high in protein content, per calorie.
When you’re going low-carb, you can even afford to add a pat of butter to make these delicious treat meals even more savory. A pat of butter contains 36 calories and 4 grams of fat. So whether you’re trying to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle or both, you should consider incorporating more seafood into your program.