Is Sushi Good For Bodybuilding? Truth Revealed

  • By: Dave Moffat
  • Date: December 16, 2023
Is Sushi Good For Bodybuilding?

Sushi, a delicious and beautiful food from Japan, has become very popular all over the world. It’s loved by many because of its tasty flavors, cool looks, and lots of different ingredients.

For bodybuilders, what they eat is super important for reaching their fitness goals. The right food helps their muscles grow, helps them recover after workouts, and boosts their overall performance.

So, the question is: can bodybuilders eat sushi?

In this blog post, we’ll look at what’s in sushi. We’ll also discuss how it might affect bodybuilders. Finally, we’ll share some tips for including sushi in a bodybuilding diet plan.

Benefits of Sushi for Bodybuilders

Lean protein for muscle growth and recovery

One of the main reasons sushi is good for bodybuilders is because it has a lot of lean protein. Protein is super important for growing and repairing muscles. Fish and seafood, such as salmon, tuna, and shrimp, have high-quality protein. This protein helps bodybuilders keep and build their muscle mass. It also helps protect their muscles from breaking down during tough workouts. Some sushi rolls even have tofu, a plant-based protein, which is great for bodybuilders who are vegetarian or vegan.

Complex carbohydrates for energy

Sushi also gives bodybuilders complex carbohydrates. They come from the sushi rice and vegetables. These are really important because they give a steady supply of energy for workouts and help with overall performance.

Complex carbohydrates take more time to digest and turn into glucose (that’s a type of sugar our bodies use for energy). This means that the energy from these foods is released slowly. It helps bodybuilders keep going through tough training sessions. By eating sushi, bodybuilders can make sure they have enough energy and can work out for longer.

Omega-3 fatty acids for heart health and inflammation reduction

Sushi, especially the kind with fatty fish like salmon and tuna, has something called omega-3 fatty acids. These are really good for bodybuilders because they have a lot of health benefits. Omega-3s help make your heart healthier by lowering levels of certain fats in your blood. They also reduce blood pressure and stop gunk from building up in your arteries.

Plus, these special fatty acids can help reduce swelling in the body. This could help bodybuilders recover faster and keep their joints healthy. It’s super important when you’re working out a lot and putting stress on your muscles and joints.

Micronutrients for overall health and Performance

Sushi is packed with lots of vitamins and minerals. It has iodine, vitamin K, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, potassium, iron, vitamin D, and B vitamins. All these little nutrients are super important for keeping our bodies healthy and helping bodybuilders do their best.

For example, vitamin D is really important for keeping our bones strong and helps our bodies use calcium. B vitamins help us make energy and keep our brains working well. By eating sushi, bodybuilders can make sure they’re getting all the important nutrients their bodies need. This helps them stay healthy, perform at their best, and feel good.

Potential Drawbacks and Considerations

High sodium content

Even though sushi has a lot of good things for bodybuilders, it’s important to also know about some things that might not be so good. One thing to watch out for is the high amount of salt, or sodium, in some sushi ingredients like soy sauce and pickled items.

Eating too much sodium can make your body hold onto more water than it needs, raise your blood pressure, and put extra stress on your kidneys. If you’re a bodybuilder who likes sushi, just make sure you’re not using too much soy sauce or eating too many pickled things to avoid getting too much sodium.

Mercury levels in certain fish

Another consideration when consuming sushi is the presence of mercury in some fish species. Fish like tuna, swordfish, and king mackerel tend to have higher mercury levels. This can pose health risks if consumed in large quantities over time.

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To minimize mercury exposure, bodybuilders should choose fish with lower mercury levels, such as salmon, shrimp, or tilapia. They should also vary their seafood choices to maintain a balanced diet.

Caloric density

Some sushi rolls can be surprisingly caloric due to added ingredients like tempura, cream cheese, and heavy sauces. These additions can quickly turn a seemingly healthy sushi roll into a calorie-dense meal. It may not align with a bodybuilder’s nutritional goals. To avoid consuming excessive calories, opt for simpler sushi rolls with minimal added ingredients. Be mindful of portion sizes.

Raw fish risks (foodborne illness)

Raw fish in sushi is generally safe to eat. However, there is a small risk of foodborne illness from consuming raw or undercooked seafood. To minimize this risk, ensure you are eating sushi from reputable establishments. They adhere to strict food safety standards.

Pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems should be extra cautious when consuming raw fish.

Cost considerations

Finally, the cost is an important consideration for bodybuilders when incorporating sushi into their nutrition plan. Sushi can be quite expensive, especially if consumed frequently or in large quantities. To make sushi a more budget-friendly option, consider preparing it at home. Also, look for affordable sushi restaurants. They should offer quality ingredients without breaking the bank.

Does Sushi Fit your Bodybuilding Macros?

Sushi can fit into your bodybuilding macros, provided you make informed choices and pay attention to portion sizes. To ensure that sushi aligns with your macro goals, consider the following tips:

  • Protein: Opt for sushi rolls or sashimi that feature lean protein sources, such as salmon, tuna, or shrimp. If you follow a plant-based diet, choose rolls containing tofu or other plant-based proteins.
  • Carbohydrates: Be mindful of the carbohydrate content in sushi, primarily from sushi rice. You can opt for rolls with brown rice or even try “naruto-style” rolls wrapped in cucumber instead of rice to reduce carbohydrates if needed.
  • Fats: Select sushi options that contain healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish like salmon) and monounsaturated fats (found in avocado). Be cautious of rolls with added ingredients like cream cheese or mayonnaise, which can increase unhealthy fat content.
  • Calorie control: Keep an eye on calorie-dense ingredients like tempura, sauces, and cream cheese. Choose simpler sushi rolls with minimal added ingredients. Alternatively, opt for sashimi (raw fish without rice). This way, you can have better control over your calorie intake.
  • Portion sizes: Monitor your portion sizes to ensure sushi consumption aligns with your macro goals. Overeating sushi can quickly lead to exceeding your daily macro targets.

Does Sushi Fit Your bodybuilding Meal Plan?

Yes, sushi can fit into your bodybuilding meal plan if you make informed choices. Prioritize lean protein sources, control carbohydrate intake, avoid calorie-dense additives, and practice portion control.

Is Sushi A Good Cheat Meal For Bodybuilding?

Yes, sushi can be a good cheat meal for bodybuilding as it provides lean protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients. However, it’s important to choose sushi options with minimal calorie-dense additives. Also, practice portion control to prevent excessive calorie intake during the cheat meal.

Tips for Choosing Sushi for Bodybuilding

  • Opting for sashimi or nigiri over rolls

When selecting sushi for bodybuilding, consider choosing sashimi or nigiri over rolls. Sashimi is thinly sliced raw fish without rice. Nigiri is raw fish atop a small bed of rice. These options typically contain fewer calories and carbohydrates compared to rolls. They still provide high-quality lean protein from the fish. This allows bodybuilders to prioritize protein intake while controlling carbohydrate consumption.

  • Avoiding high-calorie ingredients and sauces

If you’re a bodybuilder and want to make sure sushi fits into your workout plan, avoid sushi with tempura (deep-fried batter), cream cheese, or mayonnaise. These can add a lot of extra calories. Also, be careful with heavy sauces like eel sauce or spicy mayo because they can make your sushi have more calories too.

Instead, go for simpler kinds of sushi. Pick ones that don’t have a lot of extra stuff added and focus on the natural tastes of the fish, rice, and veggies. This way, you can enjoy your sushi and still stick to your bodybuilding goals.

  • Incorporating vegetable-based rolls for added nutrients
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Adding vegetable-based sushi rolls to your meal plan can provide extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They support overall health and performance. Options like avocado rolls, cucumber rolls, or veggie rolls containing a variety of vegetables can offer added nutrients without significantly increasing calorie content. Combining these rolls with fish-based options can create a balanced and nutrient-dense meal.

  • Practicing moderation with sodium intake

Soy sauce and pickled ingredients commonly found in sushi can significantly increase sodium intake, which may lead to water retention and elevated blood pressure. To prevent excessive sodium consumption, use soy sauce and pickled items in moderation. Opt for low-sodium soy sauce or use alternatives like ponzu sauce or a small amount of wasabi for added flavor without excessive sodium.

  • Selecting lower-mercury fish options

Some types of fish, like tuna, swordfish, and king mackerel, can have more mercury in them. This can be bad for your health if you eat a lot of it. To avoid too much mercury, try picking sushi that uses fish with less mercury, like salmon, shrimp, or tilapia. Mixing up the types of seafood you eat can help keep your diet balanced and lower the chance of eating too much mercury.

Alternatives to Traditional Sushi

For those looking to enjoy sushi flavors while adhering to specific dietary preferences or bodybuilding goals, there are several alternative options available that provide similar taste profiles and nutritional benefits.

  • Poke bowls

Poke bowls are a Hawaiian-inspired dish featuring raw fish, rice, vegetables, and various seasonings. These bowls are customizable and nutrient-dense. They provide a healthy alternative to traditional sushi. You can more easily control portion sizes, ingredients, and macros.

  • Brown rice sushi

Swapping white rice for brown rice in sushi rolls can increase fiber content and provide a healthier carbohydrate source. Brown rice sushi offers a more nutrient-dense option. It doesn’t sacrifice the familiar sushi experience.

  • Vegetarian or vegan sushi rolls

Vegetarian or vegan sushi rolls exclude fish or animal products. Instead, they focus on plant-based ingredients like avocado, cucumber, carrots, and tofu. These rolls are cruelty-free and environmentally friendly. They also deliver essential nutrients and satisfying flavors.

  • Deconstructed sushi bowls or salads

Deconstructed sushi bowls or salads combine sushi ingredients like fish, rice, vegetables, and seasonings in a bowl or salad format. This alternative allows for greater customization and portion control. It maintains the essence of traditional sushi.


Sushi can be a great food for bodybuilders because it has things like lean proteins, healthy fats, and important nutrients. But, there are also some things to watch out for, like ingredients that have a lot of calories, too much salt, and fish that has a lot of mercury.

If you’re smart about your choices, you can definitely include sushi in your diet as a bodybuilder. Choosing things like sashimi, nigiri, or rolls that have lots of good nutrients can help you enjoy sushi and still meet your fitness goals.

Remember to not eat too much at once and to watch how much salt you’re getting. Try to eat a balanced diet overall and make sure you know what’s in the sushi you’re choosing.

This way, you can still enjoy the yummy taste of sushi while keeping up with your workouts.

Dave Moffat

Hi, I'm Dave Moffat the founder and Chief Editor of and certified International Personal Trainer and Certified Nutritionist. My passion has always been bodybuilding but with 15 years' experience in weight loss programs too, it's hard not to mention all that when you're working at your fitness level fullest (I hope). When Im not in the gym or spending time away from my family i often think about what advice would help others achieve theirs goals just like these inspired mine.