It is no secret that people are using various diet plans to fall back in shape. Every diet plan promises you a different thing. Some promise results overnight, while some promise long-term yet slow results. As much as you may be focused on these diets’ promises, you also have to prioritize their safety. Healthy weight loss is what you should target. Some of the two most popular diet plans that most people consider for safe weight loss, are the vegetarian and pescatarian diets. That being said, there is an unending tug of war when it comes to people comparing vegetarian vs. pescatarian diets.
The question is, vegetarian vs pescatarian, which is better? Which guarantees faster results when it comes to weight loss? Do you want to get back in shape and are considering either one of these two nutrition plans? Read on to find out more about each plan and which wins this long-term nutrition battle.
Vegetarian Vs Pescetarian Definition
Before we even analyze which is better, you must first understand the definition of each of these nutrition plans. Let us start with the vegetarian diet plan. A vegetarian diet plan refers to a diet free of fish, meat, and fowl flesh (11).
With that said, there are numerous eating habits under vegetarianism, which leads us to the various types of vegetarians. Under the wide spectrum of vegetarianism, you will find the following types (18):
- Lacto-vegetarians. These refer to vegetarians who consume dairy products like milk but avoid eggs at all costs.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians. In this category, we find vegetarians who neither eat meat nor fish. However, they do consume eggs and dairy products.
- Ovo-vegetarians. Ovo-vegetarians do eat eggs but avoid dairy products at all costs.
People following a vegetarian diet need to know precisely where they lie. You can choose to be a lacto-ovo-vegetarian if you do not want to follow a meat diet. The key is understanding what each category emphasizes and evaluating whether they align with your dietary and nutritional goals and needs.
On the other hand, the pescatarian diet is a diet where animal protein’s primary sources come from fish and seafood (14). Eating a plant-based diet already helps you reap the various health benefits. However, when you add fish and seafood to the mix, you enhance your health benefits.
Understanding these two definitions is not only important in helping you differentiate these two nutrition plans. More than that, this knowledge comes in handy in depicting the recommended and banned foods in each diet plan.
Vegetarian Vs Pescetarian: Banned And Recommended Foods For Consumption
As mentioned earlier, several diets come under the wide spectrum of vegetarianism. So, you cannot generalize the foods that are banned for consumption in a vegetarian diet. They differ, depending on the type of vegetarian diet plan one is following.
Worth noting is that the vegetarian diet recommends consumption of all healthful and nutritious plant-based foods. However, Lacto-ovo vegetarians should not consume any meat or fish. Likewise, Lacto-vegetarians are banned from consuming eggs, and ovo-vegetarians are banned from dairy consumption (18).
Like with the vegetarian diet, the pescetarian diet also recommends consuming whole and nutritiously dense plant foods. However, meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy products are banned from this diet plan (12). It only allows for animal protein sources from fish and seafood like shrimp.
Judging from this list, you might be confused on how to proceed with creating either a vegetarian or pescatarian diet plan. Truth be told, if you were used to consuming some of the banned foods, creating such a meal plan could be tricky.
Despite this, it is not impossible. Here are some meal plan ideas for both diet plans which can help show you how to incorporate the various suggested foods. Take a look.
A 1-Day Vegetarian Meal Plan Sample
Below are some vegetarian meal plan ideas to try or consider. These recipes are all obtained from the Medical News Today website and are as follows (1):
- Oat porridge with berries
- Lentil, beetroot, and hazelnut salad
- Roasted cauliflower, fennel, and ginger soup
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A 1-Day Pescetarian Meal Plan Sample
The following meal plan idea is obtained from the Medical News Today website and is as follows (14):
- Sardines on crostini
- Classic baked falafel
- Roasted salmon with shallot grapefruit sauce
Pescetarian Vs Vegetarian Health Benefits: Which Is More Promising?
The battle between the pescetarian vs vegetarian benefits has been going on for quite some time. Of course, vegetarians want to hear that their nutritional plan is more beneficial, and pescetarians also want to hear the same of their diet plan.
The bottom line is that both of these diet plans have significant health benefits. In fact, the two are almost similar, as they have similar health benefits and encourage healthy eating habits. Despite these facts, the two diet plans could also have potential health risks.
Understanding the potential health benefits and risks of the two diet plans is crucial. Such knowledge will help you decide what nutrition plan to follow when comparing the two. Let us evaluate the health benefits and risks of each of these diets.
The Health Benefits And Potential Risks Of The Pescetarian Diet
Some of the health benefits of following a pescatarian diet include:
Improved Heart Health
Fish is a primary component in this meal plan. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are significant for healthy living. According to Medical News Today, these fatty acids may help reduce the triglyceride levels responsible for increasing your cardiovascular disease risk (17).
Likewise, fish consumption may also reduce your blood pressure and lower your risk of fatal heart attacks and abnormal heart rhythms (15).
Reduced Cancer Risk
Following a pescetarian diet plan can also help reduce your risk of colorectal cancers or cancers that affect your rectum and colon (14).
Reduced Diabetes Risk And Inflammation
A pescetarian diet is an example of a plant-based diet. Plant-based diets have been known to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (14). Metabolic syndrome entails health conditions such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and obesity.
The omega-3 fatty acids you acquire from fish consumption may also help reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have anti-inflammatory properties (15).
As with any diet plan, the pescetarian diet also has its disadvantages. The drawbacks and potential health risk of this diet include:
Risk Of Mercury Contamination
Mercury is a heavy metal that is associated with numerous health problems. It especially affects babies and children, so most pregnant women are advised to avoid consuming various types of fish.
Some fish types, including swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, contain moderate to high mercury levels (14). Instead of such, you are advised to eat fish with low mercury content, such as catfish, shrimp, salmon, Pollock, and canned light tuna (14).
Possibility Of Reduced Iron Content
Eliminating red meat from your diet may also rob you of the opportunity of getting enough iron. Iron is vital in our bodies as it delivers oxygen to body tissues as part of hemoglobin and helps with many functions. Some of these include maintaining general energy and focus, the immune system, and regulating the body temperature (3).
Talk to your nutritionist to determine the best iron sources in this diet to meet your daily iron requirements. They might recommend eating more foods like dark leafy greens, lentils, and tofu (15).
The Pros And Cons Of Following A Vegetarian Diet
The following are some of the health benefits of following a vegetarian diet plan:
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Like the pescetarian diet, this nutrition plan can also boost your heart health. It is because it helps lower your cholesterol levels, which is one of the risk factors of poor heart health. Studies conducted in western countries and India have found that a vegetarian diet can lower your heart disease risk (9, 13).
Reduced Cancer Risk
A vegetarian diet tends to limit your red meat intake. Consequently, it reduces or protects you from various cancers. This is because red and processed meats have been linked to cancer risk. The exact mechanisms are unknown but they may involve a carbohydrate known as Neu5Gc, which is present in foods derived from mammals (5).
Reduced Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
Following a vegetarian diet can also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to Medical News Today, this is possible because as a vegetarian you tend to eat healthy and nutritious foods. These include foods like vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts (18).
Likewise, the site also argues this happens due to limited intake of processed foods, alcohol, and unhealthy fats. You can further reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by doing more physical activity and stopping smoking (2).
People who follow a vegetarian diet may also bear various health risks. Fortunately, these health risks may be avoided, especially if you work with a licensed dietitian or nutritionist when creating your meal plan. However, if you fail to do that, you may bear the following health risks:
Nutrients are essential in your body for the proper functioning of various body processes. You are required to meet your daily nutritional needs to avoid nutritional deficiencies and other related health problems.
It means that you must first understand your daily macronutrients and micronutrient intake. For example, adults must consume 700 mg of phosphorus daily and 8-18 mg of iron daily (16). Talk to a professional to determine all these daily nutritional needs and how you can attain them. Failure to do so will have you missing out on important nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
If you compare all the health benefits and risks of the vegetarian vs pescetarian diet, you might still find it difficult to determine which is better. This is because each of these nutrition plans has its pros and cons. Well, let us evaluate their contribution to weight loss and see if you will determine which is better.
Vegetarian Vs Pescetarian Weight Loss: Which Is The Best Strategy?
You might feel as if you are sabotaging your weight loss results using a specific diet plan. It might explain why people compare diet plans, for example, vegetarian vs pescetarian, when it comes to weight loss. Let us evaluate both plans and see which one guarantees safe and faster weight loss.
The Vegetarian Diet
The thing is, a vegetarian diet can help you shed pounds. According to Medical News Today, research indicates that people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to have a lower body weight (8). This happens because the meal plan they are on tends to focus primarily on plant-based foods.
Those foods tend to contain high fiber content, which increases your satiety levels (7). As a result, you tend to snack and eat less, helping you maintain a calorie deficit, a vital weight loss principle. However, this diet plan is only known to promote short-term weight loss.
By short-term, this means months and not days. With this in mind, do not start this diet plan with the assumption that you can lose weight with it in two or three days. More research is required to determine how the vegetarian diet can promote weight loss long-term (18).
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The Pescetarian Diet
Like the vegetarian diet, the pescetarian diet can also promote weight loss because it is plant-based. People who follow plant-based diet plans tend to have a lower body mass index for various reasons.
They consume high fiber foods, complex carbs, and extra water from both fruits and vegetables (4). All these help increase your satiety levels and your energy use even when you are resting (4). This is to mean that you can also follow the pescetarian diet for weight loss.
Looking at the two diets and how they promote weight loss, it is safe to say that the concept is almost similar. Both promote weight loss because they are plant-based diets that encourage healthy eating patterns. This does not make it easier for you to determine which is better when it comes to weight loss. For more insight, let us evaluate the impact of the two nutrition plans on muscle gain.
Vegetarian Vs Pescetarian For Muscle Gain: What Do You Opt For?
If you are looking to build muscle, the fact remains that you need to increase your protein intake. Protein is the nutrient needed for muscle development and other functions, including regulating your hormones, immune system responses, and fluid balance (6).
The protein sources recommended in these two diet plans highly differ. You must be cautious about what foods you recommend to increase your protein intake to follow the nutrition plan still.
Since both diet plans have various protein sources, it means that you can use either for muscle development. The only thing you must do is sit down with your nutritionist and determine to what extent you will increase your protein intake.
You might want to focus on increasing your protein sources to fish, tofu, edamame, tempeh, chickpeas, or lentils in the pescetarian diet. Similarly, you may consider adding protein sources such as quinoa, almonds, chia, and hemp seeds in your vegetarian diet for more muscle mass (10).
These nutritional plans can help in muscle development using the same concept. This returns us to the drawing board, and we continue to ask ourselves which is the better diet of the two.
The fact is that both diets have various health benefits and can promote weight loss as well as lead to muscle gain.
The trick of differentiating which is better of the two is by evaluating which meets your weight loss and dietary needs. The best way to make this determination is by talking to a healthcare provider for more insight and help planning for either diet plan.
As you already know, there are plenty of numerous diet plans in today’s society. Some of the two most popular ones, especially among weight watchers, are the vegetarian and the pescetarian diets. There has been an unending battle between the vegetarian vs pescetarian diets. The underlying question is which is better of the two weight-loss nutritional plans.
If we take a look at both diets’ health benefits, it is clear that they have almost similar benefits. They both improve your heart health, reduce your cancer and diabetes risk. However, neither of the plans is safe from various risks.
The vegetarian diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies, while the pescetarian diet may lead to mercury contamination and iron deficiency. Given that they both have their cons, it is hard to pinpoint precisely which is a better nutritional plan.
When we consider weight loss and muscle gain, it is also clear that both plans can yield such results. It is, therefore, once again more challenging to pick a winner between the two diets. To help get an answer, you will need more insight from a licensed nutritionist or dietitian.
You will need to gather more insight on factors such as their nutritional values. Again, you will need help determining which of the two meets your nutritional requirements and fitness goals. With this it becomes ten times easier to pick the best diet plan of the two.
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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 for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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- What is a pescatarian diet? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What is a Pescatarian? (2019, webmd.com)
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- What to know about omega-3 fatty acids (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to know about the vegetarian diet (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)