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Nutrition » Diets » Pescatarian Meal Plan: Why This Fish-Centric Diet Is Exactly What The Doctor Ordered

Pescatarian Meal Plan: Why This Fish-Centric Diet Is Exactly What The Doctor Ordered

Pescatarian Meal Plan

Why do we use pescatarian meal plan?

Are you interested in living on a plant-based diet but not willing to give up all kinds of meat? You could achieve this eating routine through a pescatarian meal plan. It’s true that this eating plan is not as popular as the vegan, vegetarian, Mediterranean, or keto diets, but the pescatarian meal plan could possibly best help you achieve your weight loss goals.

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In recent years, plant-based diets such as veganism and vegetarianism have been gaining popularity. Many people claim that such diets have offered them multiple benefits, not the least of which is weight loss. Despite this, not everyone is willing to give up their meat consumption. Here is where a pescatarian diet can be a right fit, so what are the health benefits could you get by trying it out?

What is a pescatarian diet plan?

A pescatarian meal plan is mainly a vegetarian or plant-based diet wherein participants get their protein supply from fish and fish products. It is known as one of the branches of a vegetarian diet. This makes it a bit special because when most people think about vegetarianism, they tend to believe that it involves eating nothing but plants, which means excluding all meat, poultry, and fish.

A pescatarian meal plan definitely shows us a different variation of common vegetarian diets. Types of vegetarians include (18)

1. Lacto-vegetarians

They do not eat meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. However, they can consume dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter.

2. Ovo-vegetarians

They eat eggs but exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products.

3. Lacto-Ovo vegetarians

Their diet excludes meat, fish and poultry, but allows dairy products and eggs.

4. Vegans

Yes, vegans are vegetarians too. Their eating plan excludes meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, including foods that contain all these products. They exclude all food that is derived from animal sources.

Pescatarians are also known as peso-vegetarians.

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Why is fish not meat?

Since the pescatarian meal plan allows fish but not other types of animal flesh, some wonder why fish is not considered meat. This depends on several things. They include (11)

  • Religion

Catholics during Lent, refrain from eating meat on Fridays. However, they only abstain from meat from warm-blooded animals. Since fish are cold-blooded, they have been exempted from this rule during lent.

  • The presence of fur

Others claim that meat only comes from animals that are covered by flesh with fur. Those who think like this do not consider both fish flesh and chicken muscle as meat.

  • Warm or cold-blooded

Even without religion being a factor, some people believe that meat is only from warm-blooded animals such as cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep, and birds. Since fish do not fall into this category, then they are not meat sources.

pescatarian meal plan
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What don’t pescatarians eat?

Do pescatarians eat eggs? It depends on who you ask. Some say that a pescatarian meal plan does not include eggs(18) while others say that eggs are part of the diet (19). Other foods that people on the pescatarian meal plan do not consume include meat, poultry, and wild game meat. In relation to dairy, it should be noted that some pescatarians consume milk and dairy, while others do not (19).

What to eat on a pescatarian weight loss meal plan

Just because you have replaced all red meat from your diet does not mean that you will automatically start losing weight. A pescatarian meal plan for a weight-loss plan must be meticulously planned with a focus on limiting the amount you eat related to calorie deficiency and exercising. You should reduce your caloric intake to between 3500 to 7000 calories a week for gradual and sustainable weight loss. This means a potential deficit of 500 to 1000 calories a day (5).

An energy deficit diet works even better when you eat the right kind of healthy meals. Here are all the foods that pescatarians can eat and their health benefits

  • Fish

Fish are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet and are the primary protein source on the pescatarian meal plan. Not only are they high in protein and iodine, but they also have vitamin D, something that most people lack. Fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, and mackerel have omega-3 fatty acids.

These fatty acids reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke. They also boost body, eye, and brain function. Fish may also help prevent and treat mental health-related issues such as depression.

An increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D could also lower your risk of rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and asthma in children (2).

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  • Legumes and lentils

These include beans, tofu (soybeans), peas, and hummus (chickpeas). Lentils and legumes are both rich in protein and fiber, which keep you satiated for longer and help with bowel movements. When you are satisfied, you are less likely to overeat or snack, which helps keep your energy intake low, leading to noticeable weight loss.

In relation to your health, these foods also reduce the risk of heart diseases, lower LDL cholesterol levels, and they may reduce blood pressure and triglycerides (13).

  • Nuts and seeds

Examples include pecans, chia seeds, peanuts, hazelnuts, flax seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and hemp seeds, among others. They are a fantastic source of protein, healthy fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in antioxidants, which help combat oxidative stress, thus lowering cell damage.

Nuts such as pistachios can lower triglycerides in diabetics and obese people. Almonds and hazelnuts appear to raise “good” HDL cholesterol while reducing total and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. People suffering from diabetes and metabolic syndrome can benefit from consuming nuts and seeds because they are low in carbs and do not raise blood sugar levels.

They may also reduce inflammation and are high in fibre, which keeps your gut healthy and helps you maintain a level of satisfaction, thus reducing the number of calories you eat and absorb from meals (1). Nuts also help prevent arrhythmias, reduce blood clotting, and relax blood vessels easing blood flow (21).

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  • Dairy and dairy products

Dairy and dairy products have gotten a bad reputation in recent years due to factors concerning weight management issues, lactose intolerance, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or cardiovascular disease (9). In light of this, milk alternatives and low-fat options are taking up more and more space in the supermarket aisles.

However, dairy and dairy products have some health benefits. A glass of milk is a great source of calcium, protein, potassium and phosphorus, all of which are essential for your heart, muscles, and bone health (6). Remember that not all pescatarians consume milk. You could opt for milk alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk if you do not want to drink dairy.

  • Eggs

Some people do not consume the whole egg because they claim that the yolk is not good for your health. However there is plenty of evidence to suggest that having the whole egg is good and beneficial for your health. This chicken product is a complete protein, giving our body the essential amino acids it can not produce.

They are also full of nutrients, help boost the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, may lower triglycerides, and are fantastic for your heart health. Eggs also have the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that prevent eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (10).

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  • Fruits and vegetables

No healthy diet is complete without fruits and vegetables. Some health experts even recommend eating 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day (20). This is because a diet rich in fruits and veggies can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower the risk of eye and digestive problems, and positively affect blood sugar levels, which particularly relates to keeping an appetite in check.

Some of the healthiest fruits to include in your pescatarian meal plan include grapefruits, bananas, different kinds of berries, apples, avocados, apples, oranges, and mangoes (17).

  • Dark leafy greens

While they may still be considered as vegetables, dark leafy greens are a step above other veggies. This is because dark leafy greens have high fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium levels. They are also high in folate, which promotes heart health and helps prevent certain birth defects.

Concerning weight loss and heart health, these greens have low carbohydrate, sodium and cholesterol contents (7). This means you can eat as many leafy greens as you want in your pescatarian meal plan for weight loss without worrying about going over your calorie intake for the day. Popular and easy to find dark leafy green vegetables include Romaine lettuce, cabbage, arugula, kale, spinach, Swiss chard and collard greens.

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  • Whole grains

Examples of whole grains include whole-wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice. These are also known as complex carbohydrates. Unlike refined carbs – white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweet desserts – whole grains are not usually stripped off their nutrients.

Whole grains are a fantastic source of fiber and other important nutrients, such as B complex vitamins, iron, folate, selenium, potassium and magnesium (23). They help maintain a steady blood sugar level, lower cholesterol and may prevent some cancers (22).

What is a paleo pescatarian meal plan?

A paleo diet is an eating plan based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era – approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. On the paleo diet, participants rely on foods that in the past could have been obtained by hunting and gathering and at the same time, eliminate all foods that come through farming. This means that people on a paleo diet consume unprocessed meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds but exclude dairy products, legumes and grains (15).

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Can you survive on a paleo pescatarian meal plan?

This could be hard. On the pescatarian side, this diet’s followers exclude eggs but consume whole grains, legumes, and some dairy. As a paleo diet follower, you mostly consume protein and do not eat any dairy, whole grains or legumes.

Thus, if you are trying to be a paleo pescatarian, following both of the two eating plans’ rules, your diet will only consist of fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. While this could help you lose weight, it is quite restrictive and could lead to mercury poisoning and nutrient deficiencies.

We do not recommend you switching to a paleo pescatarian meal plan. Pick either one or the other and stick to it. Please also note that a paleo diet works best for a short term and not for a long term weight loss (8).

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1200 calorie pescatarian meal plan
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Can you eat fish everyday?

Yes, you can. It is actually safe for most people to consume fish every day. After all, white meat is considered healthier than red meat. However, pregnant women and children should take caution. They are advised to avoid larger fish with longer lifespans, such as swordfish and tuna because they have higher mercury levels and other toxins (12).

Should I try a low carb pescatarian meal plan?

If you are looking to lose some weight, then this might be a good idea. A low carb meal plan is one that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in grains, starchy vegetables and fruit, and emphasizes foods high in protein and fat. It promotes weight loss and can improve or prevent illnesses such as metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.

However, drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake could cause temporary side effects such as headaches, bad breath, muscle cramps, fatigue, constipation, and diarrhea. Some more serious side effects include nutrient deficiencies, bone loss, and gastrointestinal disturbances (20). Instead of concentrating on a low carb pescatarian meal plan, it might be a good idea to focus on a well balanced diet.

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Sample of a 1200 calorie pescatarian meal plan

Meal one – Baked eggs in avocado

  • 1 large egg, 1 medium-sized avocado, 1/2 tsp chives, salt and pepper to taste

Calories: 310. Fats: 27 g, Protein: 9 g, Carbs: 13 g.

Meal two – Pineapple-blueberry smoothie

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 tbsp peanut butter

Calories: 289. Fats: 10 g, Protein: 7 g, Carbs: 44 g

Meal three – Baked sea bass with lemon caper dressing (3)

  • 400 g sea bass fillets, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp small capers, 2 tsp gluten-free Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp chopped parsley

These ingredients are enough for 4 servings

Calories for one serving: 196. Fats: 13 g, Protein: 20 g, Carbs: 1 g

Meal four – Coconut fish curry (4)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 onion, grated thumb-sized ginger, 3 garlic cloves, 1 tsp shrimp paste, 1 small red chilli, 2 lemongrass stalks, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tbsp sugar, small bunch coriander, 400 g coconut milk, 450 g skinless hake fillets, 220 g pack frozen raw whole prawns, 1 lime.

The above ingredients make 4 servings

Calories for one serving: 412. Fats: 24 g, Protein: 33 g, Carbs: 15 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1207. Fats: 74 g, Protein: 69 g, Carbs: 73 g

Disadvantages of a pescatarian diet

There aren’t many disadvantages of this diet. However, people are advised to stay away from fish that have a higher mercury content. Such fish include bluefish, shark, Chilean sea bass, Spanish, king, and gulf mackerel, swordfish, canned albacore and yellowfin tuna, among others (16).

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The Bottom Line: Is the pescatarian meal plan healthy?

Yes, it is. The pescatarian meal plan is considered to be healthy as long as people stay away from fish that are high in mercury. For effective weight loss on the pescatarian diet, please ensure that you are eating healthy foods, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, and consuming food while on an energy deficit. However, remember that just because this diet worked for someone else does not mean that it will work for you. Before switching to this meal plan, please make an appointment with a doctor and dietitian for professional advice in regards to your weight loss goals.

If you are interested in healthy meal plans, you may be curious about other methods of supporting your body health. Supplement a proper meal plan with some exercise and take up this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 8 Health Benefits of Nuts (2019, healthline.com)
  2. 11 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Eating Fish (2019, healthline.com)
  3. Baked sea bass with lemon caper dressing (2014, bbcgoodfood.com)
  4. Coconut fish curry (2015, bbcgoodfood.com)
  5. Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics (2020, mayoclinic.org)
  6. Dairy: Health food or health risk? (2019, health.harvard.edu)
  7. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (2016, ars.usda.gov)
  8. Diet Review: Paleo Diet for Weight Loss (n.d, hsph.harvard.edu)
  9. Effects of Dairy Products Consumption on Health: Benefits and Beliefs—A Commentary from the Belgian Bone Club and the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  10. Health Benefits of Eggs (2020, webmd.com)
  11. Is Fish Meat? All You Need to Know (2019, healthline.com)
  12. Is it okay to eat fish every day? (n.d, hsph.harvard.edu)
  13. Legumes: Good or Bad? (2019, healthline.com)
  14. Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight? (2017, mayoclinic.org)
  15. Paleo diet: What is it and why is it so popular? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
  16. The Best Types of Fish to Avoid Mercury (2020, verywellfit.com)
  17. Top 12 healthful fruits (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
  18. Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition (2020, mayoclinic.org)
  19. What Is a Pescatarian Diet? (2019, verywellfit.com)
  20. Why 5 A Day? (2018, nhs.uk)
  21. Why nutritionists are crazy about nuts (2017, health.harvard.edu)
  22. Whole Grains (n.d, hsph.harvard.edu)
  23. Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet (2020, mayoclinic.org)
Clare Kamau

Clare Kamau

Clare is an excellent and experienced writer who has a great interest in nutrition, weight loss, and working out. She believes that everyone should take an interest in health and fitness, as not only do they improve your way of life, but they can also have a significant impact on your health.
As a writer, her goal is to educate her readers about the ways they can reprogram themselves to enjoy exercise, as well as break free from bad eating habits. In her articles, Clare tries to give advice which is backed by scientific research and is also easy to follow on a day-to-day basis. She believes that everyone, no matter their age, gender, or fitness level, can always learn something new that can benefit their health.

Soraya Ziou

Soraya Ziou

Hi everyone! I am a Canadian Registered Dietitian (RD) who graduated from the University of Ottawa, Canada. I worked at the Montreal Pediatric University Hospital and the Ottawa Heart Institute before joining the International Clinic of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. With a strong interest in community nutrition, I worked in Haiti and in Syrian refugee camps affected by the scourge of malnutrition. I am passionate about food and its science!

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