Is the Pescatarian Diet Good for Weight Loss?

by Marixie Ann Obsioma
Published on January 19, 2022 and last updated for accuracy on February 6, 2022

What does it mean to eat a Pescatarian diet?

Fish and other seafood, such as shrimp, are the primary animal protein sources in a pescatarian diet.

A diet high in plant-based foods has several health benefits, which you may enhance by adding fish and fish products.

However, some varieties of fish may acquire mercury from their surroundings, so some people may need to limit their consumption.

In this post, we’ll look at the health benefits of a pescatarian diet as well as what people can eat on it.

The health benefits of a Pescatarian diet are numerous!

Heart health is essential. The health benefits of a pescatarian diet are numerous. Some of these advantages are discussed below.

Eating fish, particularly fatty fish, increases your long-chain omega-3 fatty acids intake. An omega-3 fatty acid is an unsaturated fat with health benefits, and some omega-3s are essential for living a healthy lifestyle.

People who consume fish have lower blood pressure, are less likely to develop irregular cardiac rhythms and have fewer fatal heart attacks than people who do not eat fish.

The pescatarian diet consists primarily of plant foods, aside from fish. According to one 2017 investigation, those who have a diet heavy in veggies and other plant foods had a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

According to the study’s authors, improved blood lipids and decreased blood pressure are two of the heart health benefits of a plant-based diet.

The same research finds that a vegetarian diet could repair atherosclerotic plaques when paired with exercise and stress management.

Plaque builds up in the arteries, causing atherosclerosis. The arteries stiffen, narrow, and restrict blood flow due to this.

Cancer

Colorectal cancers, or cancers of the colon and rectum, may also be protected by a pescatarian diet.

Colorectal cancer is the second biggest cause of cancer death in the United States, according to a 2015 study.

The study examined data from a cohort of over 77,650 persons and concluded that the pescatarian diet had a high protective impact against colorectal malignancies.

Inflammation and diabetes

A plant-based diet has been shown to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and obesity are all symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

Omega-3s found in fatty fish have also been shown to lower inflammation, albeit this evidence comes from supplement trials.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances, such as flavonoids, are abundant in plant-based diets. These are plant-derived natural chemicals. Anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects are found in flavonoids.

A 2016 study that looked at varied dietary patterns among more than 77,000 persons in the United States found that pescatarians had the most significant flavonoid intake of all those who took part.

Benefits to the environment and animal welfare

Some people follow a vegetarian diet because they oppose factory farming and the slaughter of animals for food.

The pescatarian diet may be more acceptable for those concerned about animal welfare. This is because some experts believe fish are incapable of feeling pain. According to a 2015 study, while fish can sense psychological stress, they lack the brain network required to feel pain.

Those who prefer to eat items from what they believe are sustainable farming practices may find the pescatarian diet appealing.

Is it possible to maintain a Pescatarian diet?

Although a pescatarian diet is more environmentally friendly than farm mammals or birds, it has some drawbacks.

Some people argue that raising pigs and ruminants like cattle, sheep, and goats has negative environmental consequences. Ruminants and pigs produce greenhouse gases, with ruminants emitting methane and ammonia.

These gases contribute to global warming on a worldwide scale. Deforestation for grazing and agriculture, on the other hand, exacerbates the greenhouse gas problem.

Even though fish do not emit greenhouse gases, fishing and fisheries threaten aquatic ecosystems.

Eating wild line-caught fish, for example, is not always healthier for the environment than eating farmed fish, and trawlers used to catch trawler-caught fish can have a variety of adverse effects on ocean ecosystems.

Some individuals regard fish farming to combat overfishing and dwindling fish stocks, and the practice has exploded in popularity in recent years.

Fish aquaculture, on the other hand, has the potential to:

  • damage water ecosystems
  • introduce invasive species
  • use wild fish for feed
  • cause overcrowding
  • cause disease

A pescatarian diet might be costly or difficult to maintain when people live far from coasts or fresh waterways. Some people may have difficulty finding responsibly sourced tinned fish.

What foods are allowed on a Pescatarian diet?

The following are some fish sources that a pescatarian diet can consume:

  • canned sardines
  • canned salmon
  • canned tuna
  • fish sticks
  • frozen salmon, trout, and herring
  • frozen shrimp
  • fresh fish, such as salmon, pollock, catfish, and sardines
  • fresh shellfish, such as shrimp, clams, and scallops

Other foods to consider include:

  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • cereals and whole grains, including oats, bulgar wheat, amaranth, corn, and rice
  • food containing grain products
  • pseudo-grains, such as quinoa and buckwheat, which are gluten-free
  • legumes, including kidney beans, pinto beans, and peas
  • legume products, including tofu and hummus
  • nuts and nut butters
  • seeds, such as flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia
  • eggs and dairy, if lacto-ovo-vegetarian

If a person eats a rigorous pescatarian diet and eliminates eggs and dairy, their calcium intake may need to be monitored, and supplements are taken.

Plan for a Pescatarian diet

This weeklong pescatarian diet plan combines healthy plant-based components with delectable fish and seafood.

A pescatarian diet is ideal for people who want to reduce their meat consumption but aren’t ready to switch to a plant-based diet completely. This nutritious meal plan includes a week’s worth of healthy pescatarian diet meals. While eliminating meat and poultry, we eat a lot of fish, eggs, dairy, and vegetarian dishes. Furthermore, eating more omega-3-rich seafood and plant-based meals has numerous health benefits, so upping your consumption is always a brilliant idea.

What does it mean to eat a Pescatarian diet?

A vegetarian diet that includes fish is known as a pescatarian diet. A pescatarian diet excludes meat and poultry from the diet. We had eggs and dairy in this plan because most pescatarians eat both.

Benefits of a Pescatarian diet

“Is a pescatarian diet healthy?” Yes, it’s a resounding yes! Because of the emphasis on fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils, those who eat more plant-based meals consume more fiber. Fiber provides numerous health benefits, including fostering a healthy gut and lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and assisting with weight management. Furthermore, because the pescatarian diet contains fish, you can still obtain plenty of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, which can be difficult to come by on a vegan diet.

The answer to the question “Is the pescatarian diet healthy?” is a resounding yes! Because of the emphasis on fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils, those who eat more plant-based meals consume more fiber. Fiber provides numerous health benefits, including fostering a healthy gut and lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as assisting with weight management. Plus, the pescatarian diet contains fish, which means you can still receive sufficient vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids—both nutrients that might be difficult to obtain enough of in a vegan diet.

How to meal-prep for a week’s worth of food?

  • Bake a batch of Maple Granola to have throughout the week. Store in an air-tight container to keep fresh.
  • Make the Green Goddess Quinoa Bowls with Arugula & Shrimp to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5. Store in an air-tight container to keep fresh during the week.
  • Cook a batch of Parmesan & Vegetable Muffin-Tin Omelets to have throughout the week. Store in an air-tight container to keep fresh for the week.
  • Mix up Citrus-Lime Vinaigrette to have throughout the week. Store in a leak-proof container for the week.

Day 1

Breakfast (290 calories)

  • 1 serving Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie
  • 1 clementine

A.M. Snack (97 calories)

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup blackberries

Lunch (366 calories)

  • 1 serving Vegetarian Niçoise Salad

P.M. Snack (64 calories)

  • 1 cup raspberries

Dinner (395 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,213 calories, 63 g protein, 119 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 57 g fat, 1,273 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt and 20 unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Include all additions for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1 whole-wheat English muffin with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to breakfast and add 1 large pear to lunch.

Day 2

Breakfast (278 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 serving Maple Granola

A.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 medium orange

Lunch (365 calories)

  • 1 serving Green Goddess Quinoa Bowls with Arugula & Shrimp
  • 1 large pear

P.M. Snack (37 calories)

  • 1 medium bell pepper, sliced

Dinner (468 calories)

  • 1 serving Cheesy Spinach-&-Artichoke Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. Citrus-Lime Vinaigrette

Daily Totals: 1,209 calories, 57 g protein, 149 g carbohydrates, 37 g fiber, 50 g fat, 937 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Include the addition for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to breakfast, increase to 2 bell peppers and add 1/3 cup hummus to P.M. snack, and increase to 1 whole avocado at dinner.

Day 3

Breakfast (247 calories)

  • 1 serving Parmesan & Vegetable Muffin-Tin Omelets
  • 1/2 cup raspberries

A.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 medium orange

Lunch (365 calories)

  • 1 serving Green Goddess Quinoa Bowls with Arugula & Shrimp
  • 1 large pear

P.M. Snack (116 calories)

  • 1 large apple

Dinner (421 calories)

  • 1 serving Spicy Shrimp Tacos

Daily Totals: 1,210 calories, 53 g protein, 158 g carbohydrates, 32 g fiber, 47 g fat, 1,506 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add 22 walnut halves to A.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Include the addition for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack and add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 4

Breakfast (278 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 serving Maple Granola

A.M. Snack (77 calories)

  • 1 small apple

Lunch (365 calories)

  • 1 serving Green Goddess Quinoa Bowls with Arugula & Shrimp
  • 1 large pear

P.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (429 calories)

  • 1 serving Curried Sweet Potato & Peanut Soup
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 2 Tbsp. Citrus-Lime Vinaigrette

Daily Totals: 1,211 calories, 57 g protein, 168 g carbohydrates, 31 g fiber, 43 g fat, 992 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add 1 medium peach to breakfast and add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to A.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Include all additions for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 15 walnut halves to P.M. snack and add 1 whole avocado (sliced) to dinner.

Day 5

Breakfast (247 calories)

  • 1 serving Parmesan & Vegetable Muffin-Tin Omelets
  • 1/2 cup raspberries

A.M. Snack (66 calories)

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Lunch (365 calories)

  • 1 serving Green Goddess Quinoa Bowls with Arugula & Shrimp
  • 1 large pear

P.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (478 calories)

  • 1 serving Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole
  • 1 serving Jason Mraz’s Guacamole

Daily Totals: 1,218 calories, 59 g protein, 144 g carbohydrates, 33 g fiber, 51 g fat, 1,182 mg sodium

Meal-prep note: Refrigerate 2 servings of the Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole to have for lunches on Day 6 and Day 7.

To make it 1,500 calories: Add 1/3 cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Include the addition for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1 whole-wheat English muffin with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to breakfast and add 1 serving Maple Granola to A.M. snack.

Day 6

Breakfast (255 calories)

  • 1 serving Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie

A.M. Snack (101 calories)

  • 1 medium pear

Lunch (357 calories)

  • 1 serving Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

P.M. Snack (78 calories)

  • 1 large hard-boiled egg
  • Pinch of salt & pepper

Dinner (406 calories)

  • 1 serving Baked Halibut with Brussels Sprouts & Quinoa

Daily Totals: 1,198 calories, 56 g protein, 145 g carbohydrates, 31 g fiber, 51 g fat, 1,406 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add 1 medium orange to P.M. snack and add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Include all additions for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 1 whole-wheat English muffin with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to breakfast and add 18 unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack.

Day 7

Breakfast (247 calories)

  • 1 serving Parmesan & Vegetable Muffin-Tin Omelets
  • 1/2 cup raspberries

A.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Lunch (357 calories)

  • 1 serving Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

P.M. Snack (16 calories)

  • 1 cup sliced cucumber
  • Pinch of salt & pepper

Dinner (466 calories)

  • 1 serving Coconut-Curry Cod Stew with Sweet Potato & Rice
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 2 Tbsp. Citrus-Lime Vinaigrette

Daily Totals: 1,218 calories, 52 g protein, 148 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 51 g fat, 1,567 mg sodium

To make it 1,500 calories: Add one slice of whole-wheat bread with 1 Tbsp. Natural peanut butter to breakfast and add 1/4 cup hummus to P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Include all additions for the 1,500-calorie day, plus add 22 unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack and add one whole avocado (sliced) to dinner.

A pescatarian diet can have drawbacks

The presence of heavy metals and contaminants in marine fish is a global problem. There is a risk of contamination because marine fish account for 92 percent of human consumption, most of it coming from coastal fisheries.

Mercury is found in the environment and bodies of water, and as a result, practically all fish could be a mercury source.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, mercury in fish poses little risk to most people (FDA).

However, they urge women who are planning to get pregnant, pregnant women, nursing moms, and young children not to eat certain fish.

You should avoid the following fish:

  • shark
  • swordfish
  • king mackerel
  • tilefish

Fish low in mercury include:

  • canned light tuna
  • salmon
  • pollock
  • shrimp
  • catfish

Summary

As long as people avoid fish with high mercury levels, a pescatarian diet can be healthy and beneficial. This diet, however, may not be as sustainable as some individuals believe.

Plant-based diets can help people maintain a healthy weight and, in some instances, help them lose weight. A pescatarian diet may also be more beneficial than some weight-loss programs that concentrate on calorie restriction.

Canned tuna and sardines, and smoked fish may be the most convenient foods to purchase and consume. These are richly flavored alternatives, but frozen white fish and fish sticks have a milder flavor.

People should aim to buy fresh fish from sustainable sources wherever possible. Seafood Watch is a useful website that might assist you.

References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323907
  2. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/pescatarian-diet-food-list-meal-plan-benefits-risks-more/
  3. https://pescetarian.kitchen/faqs/pescetarian-diet-losing-weight/
  4. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7677248/pescatarian-diet-plan/
  5. https://www.verywellfit.com/pescatarian-diet-4174528
  6. https://fishyvegetarian.com/nutrition/pescatarian-diet-weight-loss/
  7. https://www.goodto.com/wellbeing/diets-exercise/pescatarian-diet-490376
  8. https://www.webmd.com/diet/pescatarian-diet-overview#1
  9. https://betterme.world/articles/pescatarian-meal-plan/
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