What Is The Pescatarian Diet – Is The Diet Good For Runners?

You might be a runner who is either thinking of dropping meat from your diet or is already vegetarian, thinking you might need a boost. Is the pescetarian diet the solution to your goals?

The pescatarian diet includes the traditional staples of a vegetarian diet with the addition of seafood. Some pescatarian diets also exclude animal products like eggs and dairy. This diet can be a good balance for runners since the nutrients in seafood make up for the missing nutrients when you remove meat from your diet.

In the rest of the article, we will take a deep dive into pescatarian diets to give you a better understanding of what they are, how they work, and what effects they will have on you.

What Is the Pescatarian Diet?

A pescatarian diet includes plant-based foods, fungi, and seafood but excludes either meat alone or all non-seafood animal-based ingredients.

Another way to think about the pescatarian diet is to take either the vegetarian or vegan diets, depending on the type of pescetarianism, and add seafood to it.

The defining feature of a pescatarian diet is the focus on fish and seafood, as is evidenced by the etymology, with pesce being the Italian word for fish.

See the table below for a comparison of what these diets allow.

  Vegetarian Vegan Pescatarian (V) Pescatarian (VG)
Plants and Fungi X X X X
Other Animal Products X   X  
Seafood     X X


Is the Pescatarian Diet Good for Runners?

The pescatarian diet is good for runners that want to avoid meat because the fish and other seafood included in it have a lot of the nutrients they would be missing from the meat.

Runner’s World identified deficits in protein, iron, and zinc as those that can have a negative effect on runners who choose to go vegetarian or vegan. Although there are foods that runners on these diets can eat that are fortified with iron and zinc or that have smaller amounts of protein, seafood is a direct and natural replacement for the missing meats, making the pescatarian diet a great solution.

Is a Pescatarian Diet Good for Weight Loss?

The pescatarian diet can be a good solution for weight loss because it eliminates one big downside of meats and dairy products – saturated fats. Fish and other seafood can give you a lot of the same nutrients as other animal products, but without this glaring downside.

If your pescatarian diet focuses heavily on fish, the increased protein intake will also help you burn fat faster.

Is a Pescatarian Diet the Healthiest?

A pescatarian diet can bring a whole host of health benefits, but it is difficult to say that any one diet will be the healthiest diet for every person who tries it.

While the pescatarian diet can give you a relatively balanced overall nutritional profile, there can still be exceptions. For instance, eating too much fish with mercury can be bad for you, and if you are not consuming dairy products, you might find yourself deficient in calcium if you do not specifically source it elsewhere.

What Do You Eat on a Pescatarian Diet?

On a pescatarian diet, you can eat everything except for meat, or in a stricter variant, everything except for animal products that are not seafood. Foods like vegetables, grains, fruits, mushrooms, and the fish and seafood for which the diet is named are all on the table for pescatarians.

What Happens to Your Body When You Become Pescatarian?

In addition to all of the positive changes that are going on under the hood, you will start noticing a number of visible changes to your body when you adopt a pescatarian diet.

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in many fish are great for your skin’s health, keeping it hydrated, fighting against sun damage, and slowing down aging. These acids have also been linked to healthy eyes.

What Are the Pescatarian Diet’s Deficiencies?

Seafood is a great substitute for meat because it has a similar enough nutritional profile to meat to make up for the deficiencies that going vegetarian leaves you with, but there are some that you will nonetheless be left with, especially if you choose the vegan-aligned type of pescetarianism.

The most notable deficiency in a pescatarian diet is calcium. Calcium is usually sourced from dairy, and if you have the type of pescatarian diet that does not permit animal products, you will be left short.

What Are the Benefits Of the Pescatarian Diet?

The fat profile of seafood is very different from that of meats and other animal products, and one of the most important ways in which this manifests is by stabilizing your body’s cholesterol levels.

Abstaining from meat has also been found to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes even when you reintroduce or maintain seafood in your diet.

What Are the Drawbacks of the Pescatarian Diet?

Mercury is a very common element in seafood, which can harm people in high enough quantities. Pregnant women are especially discouraged from exposing themselves to too much mercury in their diets, as are mothers who are nursing and have young children.

A lot of pollutants and heavy metals in the oceans can also end up harming you if you eat seafood that has been contaminated by them.

Will a Pescatarian Diet Help Me Lose Weight?

By getting rid of saturated fats and potentially increasing your protein intake, a pescatarian diet can help you lose weight. It is important to remember that the pescatarian diet is not a weight loss solution itself and that you will still have to practice some combination of additional proper nutrition, maintaining a calorie deficit, and exercise to ensure weight loss.

Is the Pescatarian Diet Hard to Adhere to Long-Term?

If you are not used to the meat or do not like it that much, you should have no problem adhering to a pescatarian diet long-term. If you have enjoyed the variety that meat offers and are choosing to go pescatarian for health reasons, or if you are adopting the kind of pescetarianism that does not allow animal products, you might be frustrated by the lack of variety.

What Is The Biggest Macronutrient I Have to Minimize While on the Pescatarian Diet?

Which macronutrient you will want to minimize on a pescatarian diet will depend on your lifestyle, but for most people who are after general good health, minimizing carbohydrates will give you the best results. Seafood is quite rich in fat and protein, so you will be able to meet these requirements and make up for lost benefits from a low-carb intake with them.

Are There Any Side Effects to the Pescatarian Diet?

The main potential side effect to watch out for in a very fish-heavy pescatarian diet is mercury poisoning. Mercury is a neurotoxin, quite harmful when consumed in high quantities, and present in many types of fish.

Final Thoughts

We’ve learned the answers today to the dual question of what is the pescatarian diet – is the pescatarian diet good for runners? If you feel confident that this will suit your purpose, you are now ready to give it a try, put your running shoes on, and see how you fare.

Related: Which Diets Are Best For Runners? Paleo, Mediterranean, Whole 30 Diet, Vegan, or Keto?

Coach Scott's Credentials: He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 17th half marathon race. 

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