Tuna has been a staple of the hardcore bodybuilders diet for decades. Its been embraced and loved by so many fitness experts and dieters because its not only high in protein – its cheap and convenient. It’s the snack you can literally take anywhere.

So why the hell in my program, Eat Your Way To Abs do I tell you to reconsider Tuna as the ultimate protein food?

One word – Mercury

You might be thinking that’s all fine and dandy, but a little tuna won’t hurt me?

While I’ll be the first to admit, a little Tuna wont ‘hurt you’, however you need to define how much a little tuna is. In my definition, a little Tuna is no more than three cans per week.

So why 3 cans and not 4?

The first person to warn me against the consumption of too much Tuna was world renowned strength coach, Charles Poliquin. And just like everyone else, I got pissed off because I love tuna and ate it all the time. But then I researched it…

The recommendation actually comes from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and other government organization (eg. the W.H.O.) The FDA are a conservative bunch, so when they (of all the organizations) warn against the intake of consuming ‘too much tuna’ because of the Methyl mercury intake – I take notice. The funny thing is however, many other government organizations actually recommend much less than the FDA.

The allowed level of mercury in the U.S. is double that of Canada (.5ppm), Europe (.5ppm), and Japan (.4ppm).

I’m not against tuna – I’m against the Mercury that’s in tuna. And because mercury is the enemy you might want to heed the advice taken directly from the FDA website:

Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.


People look at me for the best advice in getting in shape and achieving optimal health. If you want what is optimal, consume tuna no more than 3 times a week.

Mercury toxicity can affect many areas of health, including thyroid, weight loss, body and muscle aches, headaches, trouble sleeping, troubles with thinking and memory.

Buffy Martin Tarbox, Campaign Coordinator for GotMercury.org, said, “Eating tuna can be a toxic gamble, especially for pregnant women, mothers, babies and children,” he has a great website at http://www.gotmercury.org

To know for sure how much tuna you can eat per week, use this tuna calculator, http://www.ewg.org/tunacalculator (Just enter your weight in pounds). The gotmecury.org site also has a mercury calculator.

I hope that answers the questions I’ve been getting about tuna. If not be sure to check out the links below.

Health & Wisdom,

Mark Ottobre


PS. In French, tuna means garbage of the sea

PPS. More information regarding tuna and mercury:

2 Responses

  1. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the very good article.

    I haven’t eaten Tuna since I saw a program on 4 Corners or 60 Minutes a
    couple of years ago where they showed farmed Tuna in Thailand and they
    showed the muck that the Tuna were fed on in their ponds. As in most Asian
    countries it was the cheaper the better and included effluent.

    The water they swam in was putrid, so bad that if your dog fell into it the
    humane thing would be to put it down!

    If you check the fine print on the cans you will find Thailand listed as
    country of production on most of the canned Fish, except Sardines.



    1. another reason not to eat canned tuna – Source your tuna wisely if you are going to have it at all. I much prefer to have it raw or cooked in lemon juice over night. Some studies have shown that 98% of the mercury in tuna when had raw is able to be excreted.

      Thanks for your comments Rob

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