Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes are growing in popularity for their delicious flavors and many health benefits, but are mushrooms good for weight loss?
Yes, they are, and studies reveal that including mushrooms in a weight loss program may help you shed those extra pounds while still feeling satisfied.
But mushrooms alone won’t help you lose weight.
Using them as part of a balanced, low-calorie diet together with regular exercise and a focus on overall health is a more successful approach.
Read on to discover why eating mushrooms for weight loss works, the best edible and medicinal mushrooms to try and how to include mushrooms in your daily menu with mushroom meal ideas.
Why Mushrooms Are Good for Weight Loss
Mushrooms are nutrient-dense functional foods that you can consume in large amounts without adding loads of calories to a meal.
If you want to shed a few pounds, consider turning to mushrooms to help your weight loss journey.
Apart from adding a burst of delicious umami flavor to meals, gourmet and medicinal mushrooms offer many health benefits for those looking to slim down.
So, let’s have a look at why mushrooms are good for weight loss.
1.Low in Calories
One of the best weight-loss qualities of mushrooms is their low caloric content. With only around 20-30 calories per cup, they make a satisfying and guilt-free addition to a meal.
They’re not only low in calories but also low in cholesterol, fat and carbohydrates, making them ideal as a replacement for higher-calorie ingredients in your favorite recipes.
Mushrooms are also keto-friendly because they’re low in net carbohydrates, allowing people to include them in meals without going over their daily carb limit.
2. High in Dietary Fiber
Mushrooms are full of dietary fiber, helping curb your appetite and prevent unnecessary snacking between meals.
The human body cannot digest dietary fiber, so it moves through the digestive system intact, making you feel full for longer and promoting healthy digestion.
3. Help to Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
The dietary fiber and protein in mushrooms help slow down glucose absorption during digestion, preventing large glucose spikes after a meal.
When glucose levels in your blood are high, it triggers insulin production to move the sugar from the blood into your cells.
This hinders weight loss, as the human body only burns fat when insulin levels drop again.
Keeping blood sugar levels stable reduces the amount of insulin produced and allows your body to burn fat for energy between meals, leading to weight loss.
4. Nutrient Dense
Mushrooms are nutrient-dense and full of antioxidants and vitamins, many of which aid with weight loss.
The vitamin B and zinc in mushrooms help to break down body fat, and some mushrooms are also a good source of vitamin D, another vitamin associated with weight loss.
5. Delicious and Easy to Use
Mushrooms go well with almost anything, absorbing the flavors of other ingredients in dishes and adding rich umami flavor to meals, making it easy for people to include them in their diet.
And, if you don’t like the texture of mushrooms, you can still get many of the benefits they offer by adding mushroom powder to your dishes or taking a few drops of mushroom tincture daily.
Are Medicinal Mushrooms Good for Weight Loss?
Yes many medicinal mushrooms are good for weight loss, and several studies have examined their impact on weight management, with promising results.
A study on the weight management effects of shiitake mushrooms using rats discovered that adding shiitake mushrooms to a high-fat diet can help prevent weight gain and fat storage.
Another study, this time using reishi mushrooms and mice, revealed that reishi can help prevent weight gain by modulating the composition of gut microbiota.
Additionally, the bioactive compounds in several medicinal mushrooms help with weight management by regulating blood sugar levels, thereby preventing excess fat storage.
Mushrooms vs Meat for Weight Loss
When comparing mushrooms to meat for their weight loss benefits, there are several factors to consider, including:
1. How Much Protein They Contain
This means your body uses more energy to break down, absorb and store proteins than other nutrients and this helps to boost your metabolism.
One of the differences between meat and mushrooms is their protein content. Although many mushrooms contain complete proteins that are easily absorbed, they provide less protein than meat.
For example, a 3.5 oz (100g) serving of chicken contains 1.09oz (31g) of protein, while a 3.5 oz (100g) serving of oyster mushrooms has 0.12oz (3.3g) of protein.
Our article, “Do Mushrooms Have Protein? The Answer May Surprise You!” has more information and compares the protein in mushrooms to meat and vegetables.
2. Calorie and Fat Content
Although meat contains more protein than mushrooms, it often comes with lots of calories and fat.
Mushrooms, however, are extremely low in calories and virtually fat-free, making them a wise choice for people looking to lose weight.
A comparison of the nutritional values of beef and button mushrooms reveals that while beef has 721% more protein than button mushrooms, the mushrooms have 92% fewer calories and 99% less saturated fat.
3. Amount of Dietary Fiber
Mushrooms are a rich source of dietary fiber, comparable to cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables, whereas meat has no dietary fiber.
The dietary fiber in mushrooms helps with satiety and promotes gut health. But that is not all. Studies show it may also have immune-enhancing and antitumor properties.
4. Source of Zinc
Studies show that zinc aids weight management by reducing appetite, insulin resistance and inflammation.
Meat is an excellent source of zinc, especially red meat, and a 3.5 oz (100g) serving of raw ground beef contains 4.79 mg of zinc.
Mushrooms are also a good source of zinc, better than most vegetables but significantly less than meat.
And if it’s zinc you’re after, shiitake mushrooms are the best, with 0.76 mg of zinc per 3.5 oz (100g) serving.
Best Edible Mushrooms for Weight Loss
Mushrooms, in general, are low in calories, fat and cholesterol and high in dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, making all of them beneficial for weight loss.
But some provide additional benefits. Here are some of the healthiest edible mushrooms to use as part of your weight loss program:
Lion’s mane mushrooms are delicious edible and medicinal mushrooms that are best known for their ability to help improve brain function, boost immunity, and promote digestive health.
But they can also support your weight loss journey and offer various benefits that can aid in shedding excess weight.
Firstly, lion’s mane mushrooms are extremely low in calories and fat, containing only 35 calories per 3.5oz (100g) serving.
They also contain 0.08oz (2.5g) of protein per 3.5oz (100g) serving and are high in dietary fiber, helping to keep you feeling full and reducing the temptation to snack on unhealthy foods.
Research using mice on a high-fat diet suggests that lion’s mane mushrooms have the potential to boost fat metabolism, helping your body break down fat more effectively.
The mice that consumed lion’s mane mushroom extract for 28 days had lower body weight gain, fat weight, and triacylglycerol levels when compared to the control group.
Lion’s mane also helps to manage blood sugar levels. One of the ways it does this is by inhibiting the activity of α-glucosidase, the enzyme that breaks down carbs in the small intestine.
And as we mentioned above, lower blood sugar levels lead to lower insulin levels and more fat burning.
Large-scale commercial farmers cultivate shiitake mushrooms worldwide to meet the growing demand for their rich umami flavor and potent medicinal properties.
Shiitake is a tasty, healthy addition to any meal with a nutritional profile that’s one of the best for weight loss.
One key reason shiitake mushrooms are great for weight loss is their high fiber content, keeping you feeling full for longer.
While there are no human trials using shiitake mushrooms, a study using rats on a high-fat diet investigated the effects of consuming powdered shiitake mushrooms for 6 weeks.
Researchers divided the rats into groups, each getting a different amount of shiitake mushroom powder.
The results showed that shiitake mushrooms can help prevent body weight gain and fat storage, and the benefits increased according to the dose. The rats given the most powder gained the least weight.
They’re low in calories and carbohydrates, reducing your daily calorie intake, and contain lots of healthy dietary fiber that enhances satiety and aids weight loss.
Although limited, research indicates that maitake mushrooms contain polysaccharides and phenolic compounds that help to reduce fat accumulation.
Additionally, maitake mushrooms can regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance by modulating the composition of gut bacteria, allowing your body to burn stored fat reserves.
Portobello mushrooms are readily available in grocery stores and are popular meat substitutes due to their large size and meaty texture. In fact, they’re often referred to as steak mushrooms.
Extremely low in calories and carbohydrates, with only 22 calories per 3.5oz (100g) serving and high in dietary fiber, portobello mushrooms are ideal for use in a weight loss program.
They’re also packed with vitamins, minerals and amino acids and are an excellent source of niacin, vitamin B5, copper and selenium.
Best Medicinal Mushrooms for Weight Loss
People don’t often eat medicinal mushrooms as they’re fibrous and woody, and eating them, especially when they’re older, would be like chewing on tree bark.
They are usually taken as a tea or an extract supplement like mushroom powders, capsules or tinctures.
Here are some of the best medicinal mushrooms to use as part of a weight-loss program:
Reishi mushrooms are one of the most potent medicinal mushrooms available, and Chinese healers have been using them for over 2000 years.
Known as the mushroom of immortality or divine mushroom, they offer numerous health benefits and make a valuable addition to your weight loss program.
As mentioned earlier, researchers have examined reishi mushrooms for their potential impact on weight management.
And found that they reduced body weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet by modulating the composition of the gut microbiome, supporting weight loss.
Another way that reishi may help with weight loss is by reducing stress levels and improving sleep quality.
Traditional healers have used reishi mushrooms for centuries to treat anxiety, insomnia, and other stress-related conditions.
Although there are no studies to back this up, there are studies that prove that the quality and duration of your sleep affects fat retention, weight and hunger levels.
Chaga mushrooms are strange-looking medicinal mushrooms packed with antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, several of which may help with weight loss.
The dietary fiber in chaga mushrooms increases feelings of fullness, and studies indicate that the polysaccharides in chaga help to reduce blood sugar levels, allowing you to burn stored fat.
Chaga are also considered adaptogens, meaning they help your body adapt to stress by restoring balance and modulating the production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Studies reveal that elevated cortisol levels can cause cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods.
For more chaga mushroom health benefits take a look at our article, “13 Remarkable Chaga Mushroom Health Benefits That Will Amaze You.”
This is another medicinal mushroom that traditional healers have known about and used for centuries. Turkey tail mushrooms offer several health benefits, including boosting the immune system and aiding cancer treatment.
And the beta-glucans in turkey tail mushrooms provide potential anti-obesity effects by increasing beneficial bacteria in the gut and regulating the body’s metabolism.
The beta-glucans also help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance by slowing carbohydrate absorption in the gut.
And as we mentioned earlier, steady blood sugar levels lead to lower insulin levels and allow the body to burn stored fat reserves between meals.
Cordyceps, also known as the caterpillar fungus, are some of the most expensive mushrooms in the world.
And apart from making you feel more inclined to exercise, studies on obese rats show that the active compounds in cordyceps may help to reduce weight by regulating gut microbiota.
Another study, also using rats, indicates that cordyceps may be able to regulate hormones and help combat menopause-induced obesity.
Easy Ways to Add Mushrooms to Your Diet
Mushrooms are exceptionally versatile, and incorporating them into your daily menu is easy, even if you have a little mycophobia.
Here are some of the ways to eat mushrooms for weight loss:
1. Blending Mushrooms With Meat
One of the easiest ways for meat lovers to incorporate mushrooms into their diet and aid weight loss is to blend mushrooms and meat.
Blending is the process of adding finely chopped fresh mushrooms to ground meat to create tasty, filling, nutritious and sustainable dishes.
Blending is easy to do, bulks up your meals and saves money as you use less meat. You can experiment with the ratio of mushrooms to meat to find what works best for you.
According to the Mushroom Council, blending 25% mushrooms and 75% meat creates the perfect consistency for burgers, meatloaf and meatballs.
Sloppy joes, tacos and burritos work well with a 50/50 blend, and pasta sauces and chili can have up to 75% mushrooms and 25% meat.
2. Substituting Mushrooms for Meat in Dishes
In a year-long study, researchers examined the effects of substituting mushrooms for red meat and discovered that it enhanced weight loss, weight maintenance and overall health.
This may be a little harder for meat lovers, but with so many superb mushroom meat substitutes, you’ll most likely find a variety that satisfies your craving.
Our article, “Can Mushrooms Replace Meat? 10 Best Mushroom Meat Substitutes,” has more information and tips on the best mushrooms to substitute for beef, pork, chicken and seafood.
3. Adding Mushroom Powder to Drinks and Meals
Most people love the unique flavors and textures that fresh mushrooms add to meals, but not everyone is a fan.
Mushroom powder is a popular solution for these people, and you can easily add a teaspoon or two to coffee, tea, smoothies, soups, stews and sauces.
Mushroom Meal Ideas
Including mushrooms in your diet to support weight loss can add new dimensions to everyday meals.
Mushrooms work well in egg dishes, making them perfect to serve for breakfast, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare them.
You can enjoy your sauteed mushrooms on toast, add them to scrambled eggs or use them as an omelet filling.
For a low-calorie mushroom lunch, try caprese stuffed portobello mushrooms, a mushroom and vegetable stir fry or your favorite salad greens topped with mushrooms.
Another quick and easy lunch option is a low-calorie mushroom soup.
For dinner, the options are almost endless.
You can replace some or all of the meat in your favorite dishes with mushrooms. This delicious chicken and mushroom casserole is a tasty, low-calorie option.
For more inspiring mushroom meal ideas, including our favorites, have a look at “30 Of The Best Mushroom Recipe Ideas” ,”5 Easy and Delicious Oyster Mushroom Recipes” and “25 Of The Best Vegan Mushroom Recipes.”
All mushrooms are nutrient-dense and contain dietary fiber, protein and several vitamins, minerals and amino acids that offer a range of health benefits.
Mushrooms are also low in calories, fat and cholesterol, making them ideal for use as part of a healthy weight loss program.
Due to their growing popularity, grocery stores now carry a broader range of fresh gourmet mushrooms, but for more unusual species, try your local farmer’s market.
And, of course, there’s no better way to have an ongoing supply of fresh gourmet and medicinal mushrooms than to grow them yourself, and it’s easier than you think.