An Overview of the Pegan Diet: A Detailed Guide

By Summer Banks FNS, SPT on Jan 14, 2021

If you are looking for a way to eat healthier and lose weight, then you are not alone. There is a good chance that you have tried multiple diets kind of multiple exercise routines, and have asked the doctor for additional assistance. You may have become frustrated by just how hard it can be to lose weight and live a healthier life. The good news is that there are multiple alternative diets available, like the pegan diet.

The pegan diet is a specific way of eating that combines two of the most popular and most successful diets out there: the paleo diet and the vegan diet. At the same time, it is important to take a closer look at just how this Diet Works, some of the benefits of this diet, and some of the drawbacks that you may face.

Even though this kind of meal plan may not work for everyone, there is a chance that it may work for you. Therefore, if you have struggled to lose weight with other diet and exercise routines, then take a look at the pegan diet below and see if it can help you accomplish your goals.

How Does the Pegan Diet Work?

pegan diet

The goal of the pegan diet is to combine the Paleo and vegan diets to help you promote optimal health. According to the creator of the diet, Dr. Mark Hyman, the overall goal of the pegan diet is to help you balance your blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation.

Even though there are a lot of positives to this diet, there are some components that are still being actively researched. In order to adequately understand how this diet works, it is important to take a closer look at the two diets that go into it as well.

The first compound is the paleo diet. The paleo diet was initially designed to help people eat a diet that resembled what people used to eat thousands of years ago. Before farms, industrialization, and processed foods, most people ate what they could gather hunt. Even though it is impossible to understand exactly what people ate and various parts of the world, the paleo diet consists mostly of whole foods.

The goal is to lead a physically active life while consuming whole foods that have been “gathered” or “hunted” as they were in the past. Another primary goal of this diet is to help people avoid the development of chronic medical problems down the road. Some of the most common foods in the paleo diet include meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and seats. The meal plan also encourages people to avoid soft drinks, processed food, vegetable oils, margarine, and artificial sweeteners.

The other component of the pegan diet is the vegan diet, which is one of the most popular diets in the world. This kind of meal plan is designed to avoid all animal products or food that contains animal products. Even though the vegan diet does have its benefits, avoiding all animal products can lead to a few nutrient deficiencies, so it is important to keep an eye on their vitamin and mineral levels closely so that they can compensate for them in other areas.

People who follow a vegan diet need to make sure they consume enough protein from other sources, such as beans. Overall, people who are able to stick to the vegan diet can dramatically improve their overall health and lose weight in the process.

In essence, the pegan diet combines the vegan diet and the paleo diet to help people reach their weight loss and health goals. With all of this in mind, it is time to take a closer look at some of the key pointers regarding the pegan diet that everyone should understand.

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The Key Principles of the Pegan Diet

The goal of the pegan diet is to help you combine a few of the key principles from the vegan diet and the paleo diet. The idea is that nutrient-dense, whole foods can help optimize your health, balance your blood sugar, and reduce inflammation throughout your body. This can help you prevent the development of some health problems down the road.

Of course, the paleo diet and the vegan diet are both known for being relatively restrictive, so you might be thinking that combining two restrictive diets together is going to be just about impossible to follow. If so, then you are not alone, but the reality is that the pegan diet is actually less restrictive than either the vegan diet or the paleo diet by itself.

This meal plan puts a major emphasis placed on fruit and vegetable intake. Unlike some of the restrictions that have been placed on the vegan diet, you are allowed to eat moderate amounts of fish, meat, cheese, and nuts with this diet as well.

Even though you are going to be encouraged to avoid oils and sugars, you are still allowed to consume these in very small amounts. This is another way that the pegan diet has loosened its restrictions in comparison to its constituent parts. In contrast to a lot of other diets that are designed to be followed for a certain period of time, the pegan diet is supposed to be sustainable.

In the end, even though the pegan diet is based on principles from both the vegan diet and the paleo diet, it does have its own rubric.

Does the Pegan Diet Help with Weight Loss?

One of the biggest concerns that people have when they decide to start this diet is whether or not it is going to help them lose weight. Ultimately, this diet is still relatively new, so research is still ongoing. However, there is evidence published in Nutrients and the Journal of Internal Medicine showing that both the paleo diet and the vegan diet can help people lose weight. As a result, it only makes sense that the pegan diet is going to help people lose weight as well.

Of course, the vast majority of specialized diets are designed to help people lose weight and live a healthier life. The big question is whether or not people are going to be able to stick to it. If you are able to follow the pegan diet closely, then you should be able to lose weight.

Even though it may take a while for you to see results, following the pegan diet should help you reach your weight-loss goals as long as you’re able to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables while limiting your other food intake to lean meat sources and healthy fast.

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Finally, make sure that you exercise on a regular basis. One of the ways that you will enjoy greater amounts of success on the pegan diet is if you combine this diet with a regular exercise routine. Even walking for 30 minutes per day can go a long way toward helping you reach your weight-loss goals.

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What Are the Potential Benefits of the Pegan Diet?

pegan health benefits

If you decide to give this diet try, there are several benefits that you are going to enjoy.

The biggest benefit of this diet is that it emphasizes fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are among the most diverse foods on the planet, so you can cover a lot of your necessary nutrients with fruits and vegetables alone. That is why the pegan diet emphasizes them so strongly.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with plenty of fiber, according to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Fiber is important for the overall health of your gastrointestinal tract. It can also slow the rate at which your body processes carbohydrates, limiting blood sugar spikes.

Fruits and vegetables are also high and numerous vitamins and minerals, which serve as co-factors for enzymatic reactions throughout the body, according to research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Finally, fruits and vegetables also contain a lot of antioxidants that can help you reduce oxidative stress and inflammation throughout your body.

Next, the pegan diet encourages you to avoid saturated fats. This is primarily because it encourages dieters to stay away from anything that might have a negative impact on the health of the cardiovascular system. Since you are going to be consuming a lot of fish, nuts, and seeds whole on this meal plan, you may stay away from trans fats that might otherwise clog your blood vessels.

You can improve the overall health of your heart this way while on this diet, according to Advances in Nutrition. Additionally, by eating a lot of fish, seeds, and nuts, you are going to be consuming a lot of healthy, unsaturated fats that are important for the overall health of your body without harming your cardiovascular system in the process.

Finally, because the pegan diet encourages you to rely on whole foods, you are going to be avoiding processed foods. Processed foods contain a lot of added sugar, food coloring, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients that are otherwise harmful to the health of your body, according to Population Health Metrics. This means the pegan diet can help you improve the overall quality of your food intake.

Ultimately, the emphasis of the pegan diet is on foods that are packed with nutrients such as fruits and vegetables. Your fat will be coming from protein sources that are incredibly lean and avoid saturated or trans fats. As a result, following this diet can help you prevent the development of long-term health problems while also improving the health of your heart, brain, lungs, and tissues as a whole.

What Are the Potential Downsides of the Pegan Diet?

Even though the pegan diet does have a wide range of benefits, there are a few drawbacks that you should know as well. It is important to compare both the benefits and drawbacks of this diet before deciding if it is right for you.

First, a lot of people complain that this diet leads to unnecessary restrictions. It is true that this diet is less restrictive than the paleo diet or the vegan diet. On the other hand, there are still restrictions on this diet to some people say are overboard.

For example, the pegan diet states that you should avoid dairy, legumes, and whole grains. Many say that dairy, legumes, and whole grains can be viewed as healthy. Whole grains are certainly better than processed grains too, as your body will not experience the major spikes in blood sugar that tend to accompany simple carbs.

In terms of nutrients, dairy is an important source of calcium and legumes can be an important source of protein. That being said, one major concern with all the restrictions is that you may experience vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

Even though there are some situations where avoiding gluten is important, following a gluten-free diet unnecessarily can lead to major nutrient deficiencies, according to one research study published in Clinical Nutrition. Remember that the pegan diet does allow for a limited intake of dairy products, whole grains, and certain legumes, so consume them and careful amounts when you can.

Another drawback of following the pegan diet is that there may be accessibility issues that you run into from time to time. For example, when it comes to animal products, the diet encourages you to only consume beef, poultry, and pork that has been grass-fed and cage-free. Though this is great in theory, this may be inordinately expensive for some people who are on limited budgets.

Some stores don’t even carry protein that has been raised in this manner. That means you may need to devote a significant amount of time to find these protein sources. In addition, if you are trying to find organic fruits and vegetables, which are important for this diet, this may also add to your cost. You are going to spend a lot more time planning your meals carefully that you may not have available to you, and the added restriction on certain oils only makes things more difficult

With all of this in mind, it is important for you to think carefully about whether or not the pegan diet is for you. If you have an easy time finding these types of food sources, then this diet may be easier for you to follow. If you are experiencing a lot of frustration with the restrictions and the food sources, then it is important for you to weigh the stress of following this diet against the overall benefits.

The health benefits of the pegan diet are important to note, but it is not going to matter much if you spend most of your day stressed out about what you are going to eat.

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What Foods Can Be Eaten on the Pegan Diet?

pegan foods

Given that the pegan diet is designed to be slightly less restrictive than the paleo diet or the vegan diet, it is important to take a closer look at what you are allowed to eat if you decide to follow this diet.

The focus of the pegan diet is on whole foods. These are foods that have not been processed in any way before they have landed on your plate. The idea is that going with complete food items will allow you to consume more of their nutrients instead of destroying them during the processing steps.

Focus on Plants

If you decide to follow this diet, you are going to be eating a lot of plants, since the pegan diet is primarily based on vegetables and fruit. These food items are going to compose three-quarters of your total food intake.

When you are deciding which fruits and vegetables to eat, you should reach for fruits and vegetables that have a relatively low glycemic index. For example, you may want to target dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach.

Dark leafy green vegetables are beneficial for you because they are incredibly high in antioxidants. Specifically, spinach has a lot of lutein and beta-carotene. These two antioxidants have been closely linked to a reduction in chronic medical conditions in research published in Biomedical and Environmental Sciences. It is the job of antioxidants to scavenge free radicals throughout your body.

Free radicals are compounds that are usually generated as a byproduct of some of the reactions in your body. When these free radicals get loose in your body, they can damage your body’s DNA, which can lead to long-term health issues. That’s why antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lutein found in spinach are important for your overall health.

You are also going to be encouraged to eat a lot of fruit, which can provide you with a lot of benefits as well. For example, grapefruit is one of the healthiest citrus fruits on the face of the Earth. In addition to being an outstanding source of numerous vitamins and minerals, grapefruit can also help you lose weight while improving the sensitivity of your body to insulin, which helps you control your blood sugar levels.

One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food focused on close to 100 people who consumed half of a fresh grapefruit before their meals. The study found that individuals who consumed the grapefruit ended up losing three pounds more than individuals who did not consume grapefruit.

Additionally, individuals who ate grapefruit were more sensitive to insulin, allowing them to regulate their blood sugar levels better. When you are able to regulate your blood sugar levels closely, you reduce your chances of developing long-term metabolic issues.

Given that three-quarters of your diet on the pegan diet is going to be made up of fruits and vegetables, it is important for you to think carefully about which foods you want to consume. Try to stay away from vegetables that have a lot of starch, such as potatoes, and target fruits that have a lower glycemic index. Even though it is okay to eat starchy vegetables and sweeter fruits from time to time, try to limit them.

Select Protein Carefully

On the pegan diet, you are still going to be consuming plenty of protein. Unlike the vegan diet, intake of food from animal sources is still going to be encouraged. Remember that only a quarter of your intake is going to come from animal proteins. That means you are going to eating significantly less meat than you would a typical paleo diet.

You are also going to be eating more animal protein than you would be on the vegan diet. As a result, you should try to target grass-fed animal protein such as beef, pork, and poultry. Try to avoid meat that has been raised on a farm that is not free-range. You are also allowed to eat eggs, though this should be limited.

Seafood is incredibly healthy for you and if you focus on eating fish on the pegan diet, you are going to enjoy a wide range of benefits. Fish is packed with countless nutrients that a lot of people lack in the typical Western diet. This includes certain types of protein, countless vitamins and minerals, and even iodine.

One of the biggest benefits of consuming fish on a regular basis is that you are going to be consuming plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. These are incredibly important for the health of your central nervous system, including your brain. In fact, numerous studies have linked omega-3 fatty acids to a reduction in numerous chronic medical conditions. By consuming more of these fatty acids, you protect the health of your brain, protect the health of your cardiovascular system, and lead a healthier life.

Seafood also contains a lot of vitamin D. Even though you can generate vitamin D yourself by spending more time outside, a lot of people simply have too much to do on a daily basis and do not get to go outside. You can replace a lot of the vitamin D that you are missing by eating plenty of fish.

Overall, there are not nearly as many restrictions on protein intake with the pecan diet when compared to his constituent diet. However, it is still a good idea for you to focus on seafood and grass-fed mammalian meat instead of reaching for farm-raised meat.

Make Sure To Choose Healthy Fats

On the pegan diet, you are going to have to choose your fats very carefully. Make sure that your fat content is coming from healthy sources. Here are a few of the key points to keep in mind:

  • You should be eating plenty of nuts, but try to stay away from peanuts, which do not necessarily provide you with healthy fat
  • You are allowed to eat plenty of seeds, but stay away from processed seed oils, which are not allowed in this diet
  • If you are looking for oils, you are allowed to use cold-pressed olive and avocado oil
  • When choosing coconut oil, reach for an unrefined version

Following these guidelines will help you choose your grains more carefully. You want to stay away from any fats that have been processed, as there is a good chance that these are going to be trans fats or saturated fats, which are incredibly unhealthy for you.

Whole Grains and Legumes

In general, the pegan diet is going to discourage the intake of grains and legumes. This is because they can have a negative impact on your blood sugar.

Still, you are allowed to consume whole grains and legumes in limited quantities, particularly if they are gluten-free. Try to limit your grain intake to no more than 1/2 cup per meal. In addition, legume intake should not exceed 1 cup per day.

If you are looking for grains and legumes that you can eat, try to target sources such as black rice, amaranth, quinoa, oats, and millet. You can try consuming pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils, and black beans as well. If you are struggling to control your blood sugar, then you should stay away from grains and legumes altogether.

As a whole, the pegan diet can still be restrictive, but it is far less restrictive than the vegan diet or the paleo diet. Remember that 75 percent of your diet is supposed to consist of vegetables and fruits. The remaining quarter of your diet should be divided into healthy fats, meat, and eggs. You are allowed to consume a sparse amount of whole grains and legumes in certain situations as well.

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What Foods Must Be Avoided on the Pegan Diet?

In addition to understanding what you are allowed to eat on the pegan diet, you also need to make sure you know what you should avoid. There are several foods that you should avoid when you are following the pegan diet even though it is more flexible than the vegan diet or the paleo diet. Most of the foods that are discouraged on the pegan diet are known to be unhealthy.

Some of the foods that you should avoid on the pegan diet include:

  • Dairy Products: Try to stay away from dairy products if you are following this diet. Yogurt, cheese, and milk that comes from cows are strongly discouraged. However, food that has been made from the milk of goats or sheep can be consumed in sparse amounts. Make sure you read the nutrition labels carefully to understand the differences.
  • Gluten: You should avoid all gluten grains if you are following this diet.
  • Refined Oil: You should certainly stay away from any refined oils if you are following this diet. Some of the key examples include soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil. Choose a different oil if you are looking for seed oil.
  • Food Additives: Avoid all food additives. This includes preservatives, artificial coloring, and flavorings.

The reason why the pegan diet is encouraging you to stay away from these types of products is that they can have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels and inflammation. By limiting many of these products, the pegan diet is trying to help you reduce the level of inflammation throughout your body and improve overall health.

A Sample Menu: The Pegan Diet

pegan menu

If you are thinking about following the pegan diet, it might be a good idea for you to take a look at a sample menu. That way, you can see what it looks like to shop, cook, and eat on this diet. Some of the meals that you may want to follow if you are considering the pegan diet include:

Monday

  • Breakfast – For breakfast, reach for a green smoothie. Consider combining hemp seeds, almond butter, apples, and kale together. This will provide you with a nice nutrient boost to start the week.
  • Lunch – For lunch today, go with a salmon salad. Consider combining some pieces of salmon, some spinach leaves, a few strawberries, and dress it in a nice vinaigrette.
  • Dinner – For dinner, eat some vegetable kabobs top with some grilled shrimp. Then, serve everything over black rice pilaf. This is a nice way to switch up the diet every once in a while.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast – For breakfast this morning, go with chia seed and coconut pudding. Top everything with some fresh raspberries or blueberries and a few walnuts or cashews.
  • Lunch – Lunch today is going to be Thai style salad roll. Serve it with a few orange slices. Top the salad rolls with a cashew cream sauce.
  • Dinner – For dinner, go with a vegetable stir-fry. Think about adding some bell peppers, a few black beans, some cashews, a few stir fry onions, and some tomatoes.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast – Breakfast this morning is going to be some overnight oats. Try to include some fresh berries, such as strawberries or blackberries, some walnuts, some chia seeds, and some cashew milk.
  • Lunch – For lunch today, reach for a unique Bento Box. Consider adding some raw veggie sticks, some boiled eggs, a few pieces of sliced turkey, some blueberries, and a few fermented pickles.
  • Dinner – Dinner this evening is going to be a salad that contains guacamole, jicama, and radishes. You can swap out the jicama for something else if you find that it is difficult to find. Top it off with some beef strips from grass-fed beef.

Thursday

  • Breakfast – Think about cooking a sweet potato toast. Then, top this with a lemon vinaigrette, and sliced avocado, and a few pumpkin seeds.
  • Lunch – Lunch today is going to be a mixed green salad. Consider adding some grilled chicken, a few pieces of avocado, some slices of cucumber, and dress everything with a fruit cider vinaigrette.
  • Dinner – Dinner this evening is going to be a salad of roasted beets and pumpkin seeds. Consider adding a few sliced almonds, some walnuts, and a few cooked Brussel sprouts that have been fried in olive oil.

Friday

  • Breakfast – Breakfast this morning is going to be kimchi, braised greens, and fried eggs. You can talk two eggs with a few slices of onions, bell peppers, or spinach if you prefer.
  • Lunch – Lunch today is going to feature grilled chicken with a side of steamed spinach and a side of black rice.
  • Dinner – For dinner, consider going with some salmon patties that feature a lemon vinaigrette, some steamed leafy green vegetables, and a few roasted carrots.

Saturday

  • Breakfast – Breakfast this morning is going to feature half of a grapefruit served with some hard-boiled eggs and a side of kale.
  • Lunch – Consideration for a kale salad that has avocado, strawberries, and chickpeas. You can add other fruits and vegetables if you believe it would make the salad taste better.
  • Dinner – For dinner, tonight, throw some grass-fed beef in the slow cooker and add a few carrots, some spinach, and some onions. Top it all off with a few herbs and spices.

Sunday

  • Breakfast – Eat a vegetable omelet that has a simple green salad that features a vinaigrette dressing or an olive oil dressing. Remember that you can add certain vegetables and meat to the omelet to make it taste better.
  • Lunch – Watch today is going to be a stew made out of lentils and vegetables. You can serve it with a side of sliced cantaloupe, which actually goes well together! If you need to spice up the dish a little bit, think about adding some red pepper flakes.
  • Dinner – Sunday night dinner is going to be leftovers from the beef stew from the night before. If you have any other leftovers from the week, finish them off!

Ultimately, this is just one menu that you may want to follow if you are looking at the pegan diet. Remember that you can mix and match a lot of the meals, sides, and food items in the menu above. That way, you don’t feel like you were eating the same thing over and over again. If you have a lot of variety in your diet, it is easier to follow.

Once you get going with the pegan diet, you may realize that the restrictions are not nearly as limiting as you previously thought.

The Bottom Line on the Pegan Diet

In the end, the pegan diet can be an outstanding diet for people in certain situations. It is a diet that combines the paleo diet and vegan diet while loosening some of its constituent restrictions. The pegan diet stresses fruits, vegetables, organic meat, and healthy fats while avoiding processed foods, dairy, grains, and saturated fats.

Even though the pegan diet can be healthy for your brain, your heart, your lungs, and your waistline, there are some people who are concerned that this diet is unnecessarily restrictive and challenging to follow. Plus, even though this meal plan is less restrictive than its constituent diets, the paleo diet and the vegan diet, there are still some restrictions that people believe are unnecessary.

It is important for you to take a look at your goals when it comes to your weight and your overall health, then weigh the restrictions of the pegan diet with what you are able to tolerate. That way, you will be able to make a decision that is in the best interest of not only your diet but also your overall health.

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About the Author:

Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.

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