A new trend has hit the world these last years – a combination of the words vegan and paleo has emerged into a new, healthy diet plan meant to eliminate many of your health issues, and with that, most of your worries as well. For the longest time now, it seems as if people have been looking for something beyond the many limitations that the vegan and the paleo diet have been known to bring.
As an answer to their prayers, the idea of the famous pegan diet has been born. What will follow are some of the basic guidelines for the pegan diet, including its many health benefits and, most importantly, a discussion on whether or not the pegan diet can help you shed those last couple of body pounds!
What is the pegan diet?
Developed by Dr. Mark Hyman, the pegan diet is based on two of the most popular eating trends right now – the paleo diet and the vegan diet. The pegan diet is not as restrictive as the paleo, and the vegan diet is known to be (1). The main aim of the pegan diet is to reduce inflammation, eliminate oxidative stress, and stabilize the blood sugar levels with the use of nutrient-dense foods only.
When it comes to the pegan diet, the focus is mainly on eating fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies, although unlike the paleo or vegan diet, the pegan diet also allows small to moderate amounts of nuts, seeds, certain fish and meat, and some legumes to be consumed as well. What makes the pegan diet more distinctive as compared to the paleo and the vegan diet is that it also allows small amounts of oils, processed sugars, and some grains to be consumed as well. If you think about it, the pegan diet combines the best of both the paleo and the vegan diet to help you get the most out of these two amazing diet plans.
Because of the wide choice of food products that can be incorporated as a part of this diet plan, instead of being designed as the typical short-term diet plan, the pegan diet is encouraged to be thought more as a lifestyle rather than a diet plan. Its high sustainability allows it to be used in the long run as compared to most diet plans, including the paleo and the vegan diet.
Foods to eat while following the pegan diet
The main focus when it comes to the pegan diet is to eat whole, unprocessed foods. Anything that has undergone little to no processing is allowed as a part of the pegan diet. In the following, we will list all of the foods that you need to focus on if you decide to follow the pegan diet.
Fresh fruits and veggies
75% of your total daily intake needs to be comprised of fresh, seasonal fruits, and veggies. This means that the majority of the pegan diet is plant-based, and for a good reason, that is. As you may know, most of the valuable vitamins and minerals are hiding in our favorite fruits and veggies – vitamins and minerals that help us stay healthy and strong.
If you have ever been introduced to the guidelines of the paleo diet, then perhaps you know that the paleo diet comes with lots of rules as to which fruits and veggies should be eaten and which should be avoided. This is one of the things that makes the paleo diet different from the pegan diet.
The pegan diet encourages the intake of all fruits and veggies, as long as they are fresh and seasonal. But there is one thing, though. The pegan diet also encourages you to focus on fruits and veggies with a low glycemic index such as berries, apples, oranges, pears, plums, and kiwis, then lentils, beans, chickpeas, carrots, and green vegetables (2). This rule helps the pegan diet to lower your blood sugar levels and avoid causing a spike, which is a health benefit that we will discuss in a little while.
Grass-fed and sustainably raised meat
And now ought to the biggest difference between the pegan and the vegan diet that you can find – eating grass-fed and sustainably raised meat which is allowed during the pegan diet, but strickly forbidden during the vegan diet. This is the part that the pegan diet has taken from the paleo diet.
As long as they have been grass-fed and/or sustainably raised, you are allowed to include meats such as beef, chicken, lamb, and even ostrich and bison. By doing so, you will be choosing responsibly sourced protein that our body needs, even in the slightest amounts. Fish is also allowed to be consumed during the pegan diet. However, you will need to focus mainly on fish that has low mercury content like sardines, herring, and wild salmon for a change.
But be careful – the pegan diet allows less the 25% to remain on animal-based products. This means that you will need to learn to think about meat as more of a side-dish or condiment, rather than something that takes half of your plate.
Another thing that makes the pegan diet different from the vegan diet is the encouragement to consume eggs, although they need to come from sustainably raised chickens in the form of whole eggs. Eggs will also help anyone who is following the pegan diet to consume enough protein on a daily level (3).
Nuts and seeds
The pegan diet does not forget about the importance of healthy fats. But your healthy fats will need to come from specific sources such as nuts, except peanuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and coconuts. Coconut, avocado, and olive oil are allowed as well.
Grains and legumes
Although the pegan diet discourages the use of most grains and legumes because of their ability to cause a spike in the blood sugar levels, not all grains and legumes are forbidden. For example, a variety of gluten-free grains and legumes are allowed. This would include quinoa, black rice, oats, and teff, among others, as well as chickpeas, lentils, black, and pinto beans to take part in your diet (4).
There are some limitations that need to be respected though. Your grain intake should not exceed more than half a cup per meal. As for your legumes intake, you should focus on consuming no more than a cup of legumes per day. Further restrictions on the consummation of these foods can be applied as well, especially if you are struggling with diabetes or another health issue that causes poor blood sugar control.
Foods to avoid while following the pegan diet
Like any other diet plan, the pegan diet plan as well focuses on certain foods that are not allowed to take place in your daily diet. You will quickly discover that many of these foods are considered to be unhealthy, and figuring out why you would need to stay away from them is not that difficult.
For other food groups, you may find yourself feeling surprised, as many of those foods are supposedly healthy. Know this – as long as they are included in the pegan diet, there is a pretty good reason as to why that is, even when it comes to the healthiest foods on the face of the planet Earth (5).
Foods that you will need to avoid while on the pegan diet include:
- Dairy products – including cow’s milk, yogurt, and cheese Sheep and goat milk and dairy products are allowed only in small quantities.
- Gluten – all products that contain gluten should be eliminated from your diet.
- Sugar – any form of added sugar is encouraged to be avoided, although it can be used occasionally, not in too big of quantities.
- Refined and highly processed oils
- Food additives, flavorings, preservatives, etc.
Potential health benefits of the pegan diet
Oh, the many health benefits that are to come from you incorporating the famous pegan diet into your life! Trust us; you will not be sorry.
First and foremost – all of the fruits and veggies that you will be eating will give you all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that you need on a daily level. By regularly eating lots of fruits and veggies, you will be able to prevent multiple health issues, giving your immune system a real boost, reducing all of the inflammation that is possibly happening in your body, and highly important – eliminating the free radicals and oxidative stress at the same time (6, 7, 8).
In addition, you will be adding healthy, unsaturated fats to your diet as well, thorough the fish, nuts, seeds, and natural oils that you will be used to improve the taste of your meals. As you probably know, healthy fats have multiple beneficial effects for your health, with improved heart health being one of them (9, 10).
One of the most important things is the fact that you will be using natural foods that have not been processed, thus improving your overall mental and physical health. At the same time, you will be eliminating all of the health risks that are to come with the use of ultra-processed foods such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, etc. (11, 12).
The pegan diet is perfect for anyone who is struggling with diabetes or the risk of diabetes. Since the pegan diet is encouraging the use of unprocessed foods and the use of fruits and veggies with the low glycemic index, while avoiding the use of any form of sugar, it can certainly bring some good news to all of you out there who are interested in lowering your blood sugar levels. The pegan diet will also help you prevent any yo-yo of ups and downs in your blood sugar levels that can have too many harmful effects for you to count (13).
Is the pegan diet going to help you lose weight?
So if you are not in it for the health benefits that we discussed so far, perhaps you will be interested to learn that the pegan diet will also be helping you lose weight in a healthy, controlled matter. Not only that – if practiced in the long-run, the pegan diet will also help you prevent weight gain in the future and manage your weight better.
Because your diet will now consist of around 75% fresh fruits and veggies, you will satisfy your body's daily requirements for fiber, along with other nutrients. By consuming fiber, you will help prevent overeating as well as reducing the calorie intake throughout the day – a much-needed effect when you are trying to lose weight. You will not feel hungry or feel the need to starve yourself since you will be following a healthy diet that will actually help you lose weight in a healthy matter for a change (14).
But those are not the only benefits you will be getting thanks to your high fruits and veggie intake. Remember that most fruits and veggies are low in calories, so you will be able to eat many tasty fruits and veggies easily without stepping over your daily calorie intake. They will work as a great addition to your meals and as a snack in between, conquering your hunger and energizing you along the way (15).
In the process, you will feel more energized and be in a better mood since you have cut off sugar and unhealthy, processed foods, but have replaced them with some much better options. You will have the energy that you need to move around during the day and visit the gym to help with the weight loss process.
Using what Mother Nature has offered us, the pegan diet introduces a new lifestyle – one that can finally help us lose weight and improve our health in a healthy, sustainable matter. The pegan diet shows that we can easily lose weight without having to say goodbye to our favorite foods in the world and that even a bit of sugar would do such harm when used in a controlled way.
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