If you think there is something fishy about a pescatarian diet, you’re right.
By definition, a pescatarian (or pescetarian, with an e) is one who eats similar to a vegetarian diet, yet also includes seafood, but does not include red meat or poultry. Whether or not the pescatarian diet includes dairy or eggs varies by person; however, it is worth noting that most major vegetarian organizations, including The Vegetarian Society, do not recognize pescatarians as true vegetarians.
To clear up any confusion: a pescatarian is NOT a vegetarian, and a vegetarian is NOT a pescatarian.
Do pescatarians only eat seafood as a protein source?
Hardly. While most experts recommend seafood 2 – 3 times per week, pescatarians generally eat seafood up to once a day, along with other protein sources, such as tofu, edamame, yogurt, cheese, and eggs at other meals. Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are also exceptional protein sources.
I personally would also recommend supplementing a pescatarian diet with a protein shake, such as our BioTrust Low Carb, as all-natural sources of protein.
What do pescatarians eat?
Here is a quick breakdown of the pescatarian diet:
- Make at least 50 percent of your meal vegetables (or 50 percent fruit at breakfast).
- Add a little healthy fat, such as olive oil, nuts, or avocados, when sautéing vegetables or dressing salads.
- Fill one-fourth of your plate with high-quality protein.
- Enjoy one-half cup of whole grains and/or other starchy foods (like sweet or white potatoes) four or five times a day.
What are the benefits of a pescatarian diet?
For starters, I would argue that the pescatarian diet is kind of the best of both worlds. It is a happy medium between a plant-based diet and a Mediterranean diet that provides all of the essential micronutrients and macronutrients needed for optimal health, body composition, and performance.
If you have followed my articles for any length of time, you will notice I am not a huge fan of eliminating any one particular food group, unless of course you have a health concern or allergy/sensitivity that dictates otherwise.
The pescatarian diet is a little different in that while it does NOT include steak, chicken, or poultry, it does include fish, which technically is a meat, so there really isn’t an elimination of any whole food group.
In addition to this, a pescatarian diet has been shown to:
- Lower bad cholesterol
- Raise good cholesterol
- Support mental wellness
- Help manage body weight (by stabilizing blood sugar and increasing satiety)
- Reduce the risk for obesity, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and cardiovascular disease
Are there any downfalls to the pescatarian diet?
If you are a red meat and potatoes kind of person, then you may not be too keen on the idea of going pescatarian; however, there are certainly some alternatives that will satisfy your hunger.
Because a pescatarian diet includes a high amount of seafood, there may be a higher risk of exposure to certain toxic chemicals, including mercury, lead, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB). Reports have found that nearly half of the fish being sold in America today are actually less expensive, potentially harmful fish that have been deliberately mislabeled as a higher quality, more sought-after fish.
These cheaper substitutes are fed inferior food, which negatively affects their omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content and are frequently riddled with contaminants, toxins, and allergens, which can also cause potential health problems.
My recommendation would be to find a reputable source for obtaining your seafood, and if possible, shop local.
So, what did I notice from my pescatarian journey?
My regular diet consists of BioTrust Low Carb Protein shakes as well as MetaboGreens 45X as my supplements. I generally consume these as my morning meal replacements. On occasion, I will have a cup of black coffee, but I have been limiting those recently—not for any particular reason other than I have been so busy that by the time I get around to taking a sip, the coffee is cold, and I just put it aside. That combined with the fact that I have been consuming MetaboGreens first thing in the morning, which provides me with enough energy to get up and go, so I am not looking elsewhere for a boost.
My whole foods meals usually include a healthy balance of the following:
- Copious amounts of dark, leafy green vegetables and seasonal vegetables
- Quinoa, rice, beans, and tubers
- Grapefruit, various berries, avocados
- Chicken is my primary source of protein
- Seafood is my secondary source of protein
- Red meat is usually consumed once or maybe twice a week
- Pork is rarely in my diet, but it is not ruled out.
By implementing the pescatarian diet, I basically removed chicken as my primary source of protein and replaced that with seafood. I opted for fish, mainly, as I live in a coastal community where I can visit local fishermen bringing their fresh catch right from the ocean.
I decided to keep dairy and eggs out for this experiment, just because my regular diet does not typically include very much of these foods anyway, so it wasn’t really too important for me to add those in.
I also consume a TON of vegetables, so it wasn’t a far stretch for me to load up my plate with vibrant, colorful veggies along with some healthy fats.
My 14-day meal plan looked a little something like this:
To break my fast: MetaboGreens 45X mixed with 8 ounces water
Breakfast: Harvest Plant Based Protein Shake with 8 ounces water
Lunch: Heaping handful of raw spinach with grilled salmon (topped with avocado and a balsamic drizzle)
Snack: Bell pepper strips with hummus
Dinner: Shrimp lettuce wraps (faux tacos)
I generally included fish in at least one of my meals each day; however, sometimes seafood was consumed for both lunch and dinner. I had crab cakes, scallops, and shrimp several times. There are so many ways to prepare shrimp that you really can’t go wrong with this as a main ingredient. One of my favorites is to whip up some zoodles (zucchini noodles) and toss them in with lightly sautéed lemon and garlic shrimp. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
One thing I immediately noticed during this meal plan was that I was not experiencing any hunger or cravings throughout the day. I was very satiated and not looking through the cabinets for something to graze on mid-afternoon as I often found myself doing with my regular meal plan.
Another thing I noticed immediately was that I seemed to be more attentive and focused. For lack of a better way to put this, I found I was more present in my everyday life. I was able to complete more tasks at work, which allowed me to have more free time for other projects.
One thing worth noting is that I also lost 9 pounds in the 14 days I was consuming a pescatarian diet. Coming off the holidays, I had indulged a little bit more than I typically would on my regular diet, so maybe I had a few extra pounds to lose, but I certainly wasn’t looking to deprive myself or go on a strict diet to do so. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see the extra couple of pounds I had put on quickly vanished along with a few more just by making a few tweaks to my regular meal plan.
I suppose it isn’t too shocking considering fish is high in protein but low in calories, which makes it an attractive option for dieters and folks who want to build lean muscle mass without increasing body fat.
I would recommend this type of meal plan for anyone who is looking to enjoy the nutritional and culinary rewards of seafood, as well as the omega-3 fats which markedly reduce triglyceride levels, which can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and metabolic disorders. Or if you are looking to take a break from red meat, poultry, or pork for yourself and/or the planet. Or perhaps you have been a vegetarian or a vegan and have felt limited in your diet and are looking for additional ways to optimize your protein intake. I found the experiment surprisingly easy, enjoyable, and effective.