Are Sardines Good for Bodybuilding?

Looking for a high-protein snack on the go? Sardine might be one of the healthiest and most convenient options for bodybuilders. It has a high amount of muscle-building proteins and important micronutrients that are rarely found in other foods.

Sardines are an oily fish which means that it contains a higher fat profile compared to white fish. Foods with higher amounts of fat provide the body with more energy (calories) to burn which is beneficial for lifters with a goal of bulking. Sardines are a great snack that will help bodybuilders both fuel muscle growth and satiate hunger for an extended period of time.

Canned sardines are a great snack to take on the go and supply you with healthy proteins and fats
Are Sardines Good for Bodybuilding? 1

All bodybuilders know that getting enough protein is crucial for muscle development. When developing a diet plan, it is important to spend time experimenting with new foods so that you don’t get burned out on repetitive foods. New flavors and experiences will help you stay on track towards your goals. Sardines are unique in that portions are usually canned and ready to go for snack time.

Macronutrients in Sardines

Sardines canned in oil is likely the way you will find this little fish in the grocery store. In a 100g serving of sardines, there is 21g of protein and 10g of fat. This totals 208 calories. The fat content will be prioritized by the body to be burned first while the protein will be synthesized to repair your sore muscles from prior training. Sardines are also complete proteins which means that they contain all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential ones. This healthy snack is sure to keep you satiated throughout the day and help grow your muscles. 

Micronutrients in Sardines

Sardines are full of micronutrients that are tough to find in other foods. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that your body needs a very small amount of but can have a big impact on your health. Below are the top 10 micronutrients by daily value in sardines.

Vitamins and Minerals % of Daily Value
Vitamin (B12) 373
Selenium 96
Omega-3 69
Phosphorus 39
Niacin (B3) 33
Calcium 29
Vitamin D 24
Copper 21
Riboflavin (B2) 17
Iron 16
100g serving according to the USDA

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that helps make DNA and breaks down amino acids. The body cannot store excess vitamin B12 because it is water-soluble, which means excess B12 will be excreted from the body through the urine. Vitamin B12 is essential for proper brain function as it helps to regulate mood!


Selenium is a trace element that is found in very few foods. It can have a positive effect on hormones and has been shown to improve fertility rates. Selenium also helps prevent cells from being damaged or mutated which improves anti-aging. It also helps reduce the risk of cancer of the prostate, colon, and rectum.


Heart and Brain Health: Omega 3 helps to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as improving memory and cognitive function. Studies have also found that omega-3 may help lower blood pressure and improve symptoms of depression.

Pain Relief: Omega-3 reduces inflammation related to conditions such as arthritis and may even provide relief from some mild pain symptoms such as headaches, sore joints, and menstrual cramps.

Improves Exercise Performance: Omega 3s help reduces muscular aches and pains by reducing inflammation caused by exercise. Studies have also found that they can improve aerobic exercise performance in individuals with a prior diagnosis of coronary artery disease or major depressive disorder.

Nerves: Omega 3s help to promote healthy nerve function by strengthening the myelin sheath which is a protective coating around nerve fibers.

Skin: Omega-3 can help improve the appearance of your skin by strengthening the epidermal layer of the skin and improving hydration with its moisturizing effects.


Niacin is a vitamin that helps release energy from the food we eat. When ingested, Niacin binds to the receptor sites in the digestive tract. It then moves into our bloodstream and goes on to be involved in many different cellular reactions.

Niacin also helps with chemical reactions in the body for making molecules like DNA, proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters which are necessary for good health.

Niacin deficiency can lead to pellagra which is an autoimmune disorder that affects how your nervous system functions. Symptoms of pellagra include nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, skin infections, inflammation of gums, and redness of lip corners.


If you’re looking for a bone-building food, then you should definitely add calcium into your diet. Calcium is an essential vitamin that helps bones to grow and stay healthy. It also supports the nervous system and muscle function, and aids in proper brain functioning. Dairy products like milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium but luckily for you, so are sardines!

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of bones, for this reason, it is commonly called the “sun vitamin”. Vitamin D helps our body by regulating how we absorb calcium, phosphate, and magnesium. It also modulates an anti-inflammatory response which is important for athletes recovering from injuries.

In addition to these functions, recent research shows that vitamin D may have a protective effect against certain cancers. It has been shown to have a preventive effect against colon cancer by stimulating cell death of abnormal cells in the colon.

Vitamin D is also thought to be beneficial in the prevention of other cancers including breast cancer and prostate cancer.


Copper is an essential mineral that helps to form connective tissue and makes up a key component of certain enzymes.

Supplementing with copper aids in the absorption of iron, improves immunity, helps to eliminate free radicals, and has been shown to be beneficial for those who are experiencing hair loss.

Copper deficiency may lead to anemia which is characterized by fatigue, muscle weakness, irritability, pallor of complexion, soreness of mouth or tongue, depression, or anxiety.


Riboflavin is involved in the process of making energy. It also helps to create red blood cells and enhance skin elasticity.

A deficiency in riboflavin can lead to delayed healing, soreness of the mouth, inflammation of the tongue, and dermatitis. Riboflavin deficiency has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer.


Iron is a mineral that plays an important role in the production of red blood cells. It also plays a crucial role in the transport of oxygen to all parts of our body from the lungs. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia and poor cognitive function.

As you may tell, Sardines are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on Earth. They contain an abundance of protein and omega-3 fatty acids which can help build muscle tissue. Sardines also provide a healthy dose of vitamin D (which is essential for bone growth) as well as calcium to strengthen your bones and teeth. So next time you’re looking for ways to get more protein into your diet, don’t forget about these tiny fish!

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