Keto Diet Plan for Pescatarians

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Written by Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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For meat lovers, following a keto diet plan might be easy. Suppose you are looking to cut down on your animal protein intake but still don’t feel quite comfortable going full vegetarian. In that case, the pescatarian keto plan is the way to go.

This article will explore everything you need to know about having a pescatarian meal plan for keto. You will learn which foods to avoid and which foods to incorporate. An entire day worth of meals and a shopping list. Last (but not least!) you will find the most frequently asked questions regarding this eating pattern.


What is a keto diet for pescatarians?

A pescatarian keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat, and moderate in protein eating pattern. Its protein sources come from eggs, dairy, fish, and seafood. Red meat, pork, poultry, and any other land animal protein sources are eliminated.

How many calories a person needs depends on your weight, height, age, activity levels, and goals. A person looking to gain weight must have an adequate exercise routine and a meal plan high in calories. On the other hand, if you are looking to lose some weight, your program needs to have a calorie deficit.

The macronutrient percentage is based on ketogenic diets. It typically has the following percentages:

  • Carbs: 5-10%
  • Proteins: 20%
  • Fats: 70-80%

Following a pescatarian low-carb meal plan is easier than going full vegetarian, as it gives you extra sources of protein and other important nutrients.

This type of eating pattern is not suitable for everyone. Children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and people with certain health conditions are not advised to follow a ketogenic diet. Remember that if you are looking to change your eating habits, always consult with your healthcare provider.


Benefits of a pescatarian keto diet

A ketogenic diet has numerous advantages. Its most significant benefit is weight loss. However, following a low-carb lifestyle has other perks, especially if fish is your main protein source. Here is a list of some of the other potential benefits you get when following a pescatarian meal plan.

  • Better glucose levels
  • Better insulin sensitivity
  • Improved blood lipid levels
  • Reduction in PCOS symptoms
  • Increased satiety
  • Less carb cravings
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased energy levels

Fish on its own has several nutritional properties to celebrate. It is low in saturated fat and is made up of very high-quality protein. This means that it has all the essential amino acids the body needs. Additionally, it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which offer anti-inflammatory properties.

It is also rich in calcium, which can be difficult to obtain on a vegetarian keto diet. Fish is also a great source of iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. Due to having all of these nutrients, eating fish is recommended to decrease the risk of heart disease.


Drawbacks of a pescatarian keto plan

One of the main concerns when following a diet plan high in fish and seafood is the mercury content. Some marine animals can be high in this type of metal, which has toxicity levels that could lead to health problems. 

Not all seafood has the same mercury content. The smaller the animal, the less mercury it has.

  • Low in mercury: anchovies, sardines, shrimp, freshwater trout, squid, and clams.
  • Moderate in mercury: carp, bass, mahi-mahi, canned tuna, snapper, halibut, yellowfin tuna, and Chilean sea bass.
  • Highest in mercury: King mackerel,marlin, orange roughy, swordfish, bigeye tuna, tilefish, and shark.

Enjoy seafood with low mercury content 2-3 times per week. Those with moderate levels can be eaten about once a week. Foods high in mercury should be mostly avoided or eaten only a couple of times per month.

Besides the mercury levels, another drawback when following a pescatarian keto diet is that you might have some nutrient deficiencies. If you are not careful, you can have the same deficiencies often found in a vegetarian diet.

Possible vitamin deficiencies pescatarians should watch out for are:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D

Fortunately, seafood is high in all of these nutrients, so if you eat fish and shellfish on a regular basis, you are less likely to have a deficiency. However, if you eat seafood only occasionally, you are more at risk.

Planning will always be key to prevent any nutritional deficiency that might arise. Make sure to include sources of these nutrients regularly:

  • Vitamin B12: spirulina, eggs, and nutritional yeast.
  • Iron: dark green leafy veggies, broccoli, and sesame seeds.
  • Zinc: nuts, seeds, and tofu.
  • Calcium: dairy, fish, dark leafy greens, and cabbage.
  • Vitamin D: egg yolk, fortified foods, and fish.


How to start a ketogenic diet for pescatarians

Now that you know a little bit more about this type of eating pattern, how can you put it into practice? Here are some steps to follow when you are transitioning into a pescatarian diet.

  1. Calculate your calories and macro needs. First, you need to calculate how many calories you need during the day, depending on your goals. Once you have your energy intake, calculate the macros. Use the recommended percentages stated in the section above. You can use the PlanKetogenic Quiz to have the macros calculated for you.
  2. Create a weekly menu. It’s important to have a plan, and this will make sure you reach your daily macros and stay within your budget. There are a couple of tips to include when you are planning.
    • Increase your low-carb veggies. They will add fiber and nutrients. Add more leafy veggies, tomato, cucumber, mushrooms, celery, carrots, and tomato.
    • Add healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, olives, nuts, and seeds.
    • Replace grains with low-carb options like cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, or cauliflower pizza.
    • Add protein sources like eggs, dairy, fish, seafood, tofu, seitan, and tempeh.




Foods to eat on a pescatarian ketogenic diet

Now that you know how to calculate and plan the calories and macros that you need, the next step is deciding which foods you want to have on your diet. Following a pescatarian keto diet has certain foods you can include, and some to avoid.

Here is a list of some of the foods that you can include. They range from ingredients low in carbs to others that are great sources of protein or healthy fat.

  • Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, coconut*, and flaxseed oil.
  • Nuts and seeds: hemp, flaxseeds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, sunflower, and chia seeds.
  • Dairy products: plain Greek yogurt, butter, and sour cream.
  • Proteins: eggs, salmon, tuna, sardines, shrimp, lobster, oysters, cheese, tempeh, nutritional yeast, and protein shakes.
  • Non-starchy veggies: broccoli, leafy greens, celery, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, eggplant, and cucumbers.
  • Drinks: water, tea, coffee, sugar-free beverages, and sparkling water.

*Coconut meat or oil are the only coconut products allowed on a regular basis in a keto diet. Coconut water is high in carbs, which need to be consumed in moderation.

Now that we know which food to include, you might still be unsure what foods to avoid in this eating plan. 

Nutritious foods that are high in carbs are okay to eat on occasion. However, you always need to make sure to measure the portion size and subtract the carbohydrates from your total carb intake. Here is a list of most of the foods that are high in carbs that can be eaten on keto in moderation.

  • Starchy vegetables: sweet potato and regular potato.
  • Whole grains and legumes: oats, quinoa, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
  • Fruits: apples, banana, watermelon, pineapple, plums, peaches, and kiwi.

There are some ingredients that are so carb-dense and/or low on nutrients that you should avoid them. Otherwise, it could be easy to exceed your allowed carb intake.

  • Drinks: sports drinks, soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, and sweet tea.
  • Sweeteners: honey, brown sugar, white sugar, and agave.
  • Highly processed foods: chips, cookies, cake, crackers, and cereal.

Certain protein sources are limited on a pescatarian diet. The ones to avoid are:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Duck
  • Venison

Keto food alternatives for a pescatarian

The benefit of including fish and seafood on a keto diet is that it allows you to reach your protein intake easily. Remember to include a protein source in every meal, such as eggs, Greek yogurt, fish, shellfish, cheese, and minimally processed soy-based products like tofu.

Starting a ketogenic diet might make you miss certain high-carb-containing foods. Here is a list of alternatives to add that are low in carbs.

  • Coconut or almond flour
  • Cauliflower pizza crust
  • Cauliflower or broccoli rice
  • Cauliflower or broccoli tortillas
  • Lettuce or cheese wraps
  • Zucchini lasagna
  • Stevia or monk fruit as a sugar substitute
  • Zucchini noodles
  • Veggie chips


Shopping list for a pescatarian keto meal plan

Once you have a list of which foods you want to include and which to avoid, you can set up a grocery list. This helps save time and money when going to the supermarket.

Choose the veggies that are in season to have the more refreshing options, and always make sure to have variety in your diet. I always recommend eating the rainbow! Include every color by eating fruits and veggies. (Blue and purple can be tricky: try blueberries and eggplant!)

Here is a grocery list of foods you can include the next time you go grocery shopping.

  • Healthy fats:
    • Avocado
    • Olive oil
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Butter
    • Sour cream
    • Unsweetened coconut milk
    • Nut butter
  • Produce:
    • Berries
    • Zucchini
    • Tomato
    • Leafy greens
    • Lemon
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Mushrooms
    • Cucumber
    • Celery
  • Proteins:
    • Cheese
    • Tuna
    • Salmon
    • Shrimp
    • Anchovies
    • Tilapia
    • Greek yogurt
    • Eggs
  • Drinks:
    • Sugar-free beverages
    • Sparkling water
    • Coffee/Tea
    • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Sweets:
    • Sugar-free jello
    • Keto desserts
    • Keto ice cream


1-day sample of keto meals for pescatarians

Now we can put everything that we have learned into a delicious meal. Here is an example of a pescatarian keto-friendly eating menu.

  • Breakfast: Salmon deviled eggs
  • Morning snack: Celery sticks with almond butter
  • Lunch: Tuna stuffed avocado
  • Evening snack: Caprese salad
  • Dinner: Lemon garlic shrimp

Calories: 1,648 | Macros: 19.9 g net carbs – 96.9 g protein – 125.7 g fat

BREAKFAST Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Salmon deviled eggs Eggs 3 units 215 1.1 18.9 14.3
  Salmon slices (smoked) 1 oz 33 0 5.2 1.2
  Cream cheese 1 tablespoon 51 0.8 0.9 5
  Lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon 1 0.2 0 0
  Dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon 36 1.8 0.1 3.2
  Fresh dill 1/8 teaspoon 0 0 0 0
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
336 3.9 g 25.1 g 23.7 g            
MORNING SNACK Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Celery sticks with almond butter Celery sticks 1 cup 7 0.7 0.3 0
  Almond butter 1/8 cup 193 2.6 6.5 17.3
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
200 3.3 g 6.8 g 17.3 g            
LUNCH Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Tuna stuffed avocado Avocado 1/2 unit 183 3.4 3.4 15.4
  Canned tuna 3 oz 109 0 20.1 2.5
  Mayonnaise 1 tablespoon 94 0 0.1 10.3
  Lemon juice 1 teaspoon 1 0.4 0 0
  Celery 1 stalk 6 0.6 0.2 0
  Onion 1 tablespoon chopped 4 0.8 0.1 0
  Dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon 36 1.8 0.1 3.2
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
433 7 g 24 g 31.4 g            
EVENING SNACK Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Capresse salad Cherry tomatoes 1/2 cup 14 1.6 0.4 0
  Mozzarella cheese 3 oz 235 2.4 23.1 14.4
  Olive oil 1 tablespoon 119 0 0 13.5
  Fresh basil 1 tablespoon 1 0 0.1 0
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
369 4 g 23.6 g 37.9 g            
DINNER Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Lemon garlic shrimp Raw shrimp 3 oz 72 0 17.1 0.4
  Butter 1 tablespoon 102 0 0.1 11.5
  Lemon juice 1 tablespoon 1 0.4 0 0
  Garlic 1 clove 4 1 0.2 0
  White wine 1 tablespoon 12 0.3 0 0
  Olive oil 1 tablespoon 119 0 0 13.5
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
310 1.7 g 17.4 g 25.4 g            
DAILY TOTALS   1,648 cal 19.9 g net carbs 96.9 g protein 125.7 g fat

Remember that each person has a different calorie and macro intake. Make the necessary adjustments suitable for your goals.




Questions about a ketogenic diet for pescatarians

Do you still have some questions regarding a pescatarian and keto lifestyle? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

Fish, shrimp, oysters, mussels, clams, lobster, or any other seafood is low in carbs and high in protein. So these are all ideal foods to add to your keto diet.

Whichever you choose, it will help you balance your macros by adding protein.

Yes, fish is actually a great protein source to add. If you want to decrease your egg and dairy intake, make sure to add more fish or meat substitutes to reach your protein intake.

Nonetheless, remember that some seafood can be high in mercury. Choose the ones that are lower in mercury to prevent toxicity.

One is not necessarily better than the other. It will all depend on which is easier for you to maintain in the long run.

Having a vegetarian diet can be easy if you have no trouble adding plant-based proteins like nuts, seeds, and tofu.

On the other hand, if you have trouble reaching your daily protein intake through plant-based sources, having a pescatarian approach can make it easier.

Yes, shrimp is a high-quality protein source you can include in a pescatarian low-carb diet.

It will help you have more variety and manage to achieve your daily protein intake. Shrimp has no carbs and is high in nutrients, which makes it a perfect (and delicious!) food to add.

Yes, you definitely can have a plant-based diet if you are trying to lower your animal protein intake.

However, keep in mind that other plant protein sources like legumes are very high in carbs. You can include them, but you have to be very careful with the portion size.

It’s important to reach your daily protein intake to avoid losing muscle mass.

Yes, you can have raw fish on keto. (Hooray for sashimi!) It is a high-quality protein source.

However, there is always the risk of the fish being contaminated, and since it is not cooked, the bacteria it contains can make you ill.


Other alternatives for a pescatarian keto diet

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