If you’ve come across the term “pegan diet” and are confused what on God’s green earth is this now, this post is just for you. The pegan diet, created by Mark Hyman, M.D., is a hybrid which combines the ideals of the paleo diet with veganism. This diet, which is made up mostly of plant foods and grass-fed meat and healthy fats, promises that it may help you fight disease while also being good for the environment.
However, there are still some aspects of this diet that are under debate. There are several health professionals who warn against this diet, and they point to a variety of drawbacks, including the skipping of essential nutrients as well as its potential expense.
In this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know about the pegan diet, including its drawbacks and potential health benefits.
Ok, What’s the Pegan Diet?
First introduced by Dr. Hyman in a 2014 blog post, The pegan diet is a hybrid of paleo and vegan diets and is based on the idea that nutrient-dense, whole foods can reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote good health.
To put it another way, it’s a paleo-vegan cross that prioritizes “real, whole, fresh food that is responsibly produced. A pegan diet entails 75% of your plate to be filled with plant-based foods and the other 25% with lean proteins, such as sustainably raised meats and eggs.
Pegan is all about boosting consumption of non-starchy and lower-glycemic plant foods (such as non-starchy vegetables) and healthy plant fats such as avocado, nuts, and seeds, while minimizing consumption of animal foods and starchier or higher-carb plant food—like beans and whole grains—and avoiding all highly processed or refined meals. It also encourages people to eat more organically and grass-fed animal products rather than conventionally produced ones.
Dairy is another food group that Dr. Hyman recommends avoiding. “While some can tolerate it, for most, it contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer and may increase (not decrease) the risk of osteoporosis,” he argues in his blog post introducing the pegan diet.
In the long run, the pegan diet promises weight loss and a long life by reducing inflammation, improving detoxification, optimizing gut microbiota, and controlling blood sugar and insulin levels.
So, What To Eat On Pegan Diet?
Peganism does not have any restrictions on what to eat for breakfast, lunch, or supper, unlike some diets. Rather than laying down rigid rules, it offers a broad framework of dietary recommendations based on a few fundamental principals.
Vegetables and Fruit
Plants with a low glycemic index (such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries) and vegetables (such as leafy greens, cucumbers, and broccoli) should make up 75 percent of your diet. The brighter the colors and the more variety there is, the healthier it is. Because it contains a high phytonutrient content that protects against most illnesses,
Because grains and legumes might influence blood sugar levels, they are generally avoided on the pegan diet. Some gluten-free whole grains and legumes are allowed in amounts that have been determined to be safe.
Eat only half a cup of whole grains every meal and no more than one-quarter cup per sitting, according to this plan. Low-glycemic whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and amaranth, are good sources of protein while also providing fiber.
Beans—particularly lentils—are also advised, but in moderation, with a daily maximum of 1 cup. These are rich in plant protein and fiber, which help to promote satiety, heart health, and gastrointestinal health. However, Dr. Hyman recommends avoiding big, starchy beans.
Grass-Fed and Sustainably Sourced Animal Proteins
The primary distinction between pegan and veganism is that the pegan diet allows for the consumption of modest servings of sustainably sourced (grass-fed, pasture-raised) protein, such as eggs, chicken, lamb, and wild salmon. These are excellent sources of high-quality protein that assist with muscle recovery and development. However, the pegan diet discourages eating conventionally farmed meats or eggs.
It also promotes the consumption of fish, especially those with low mercury content such as sardines and wild salmon.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are permitted on the pegan diet, as they are heart-healthy and fiber-rich fats that also provide some protein. There is evidence that a greater amount of nuts in diet reduces the risk of cancer, particularly gastrointestinal tumors.
Healthy/minimally Processed Fats
Avocados, avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are all heart-healthy fats included in Dr. Hyman’s list of foods to eat for the pegan diet.
While on this diet, you may consume healthy fats from specific sources, such as: nuts (except peanuts), seeds (except processed seed oils) , Avocado and olives (cold-pressed olive and avocado oil may also be used). Also, coconut (unrefined coconut oil is permitted) as well as omega-3s (especially those from low-mercury fish or algae)
Its worth noting that grass-fed, pasture-raised meats and whole eggs also add up to the overall fat content of the pegan diet.
Got it, now tell me what to avoid eating?
Because it allows almost any food to be eaten on occasion, the pegan diet is more adaptable than a paleo or vegan diet.
However, several foods and food groups are strictly prohibited. Some of these meals are recognized to be unhealthy (by the adherents of peganism), while others may be considered quite nutritious – depending on who you ask.
Since our goal is to provide an in-depth look into peganism with a neutral perspective, we are going to talk about food items typically avoided on the pegan diet:
- Dairy: Cow’s milk, yogurt, and cheese are not recommended. However, foods produced from sheep or goat milk are permissible in very limited amounts. Grass-fed butter is occasionally permitted.
- Legumes: Legumes are discouraged as they have been shown to cause high blood sugar levels. Lentils, for example, are low-starch legumes that may be eaten.
- Gluten: As mentioned earlier gluten-containing grains are strongly discouraged.
- Gluten-free grains: Yes, you read it right! Even grains that don’t contain gluten are discouraged from being consumed in huge amounts. Small amounts of gluten-free whole grains, on rare occasions, may be consumed.
- Sugar: Almost every additional sweetener is avoided. Sugar may be used occasionally as a treat, but only in moderation.
- Refined oils: Almost without exception, high-refined or highly processed oils such as canola, soybean, sunflower, and corn oil are avoided.
- Food additives: Artificial colors, flavorings, preservatives, and other additives are avoided.
Sounds great! What are the benefits of pegan diet?
First thing first, while there are no direct scientific studies of the pegan diet, its principles may support a number of potential benefits.
Promotes Weight Loss
This diet is ideal for weight reduction since the calorically-dense, nutrient-poor refined foods that have become a large part of the ‘standard American Diet’ are avoided. Also, the pegan diet specifically allows sugar as an occasional treat only, while also avoiding chemicals, preservatives, additives, dyes and other artificial sweeteners.
On top of it, the intake of high calories foods, like whole grains, starchy vegetables and dairy, which are high in calories and easy to consume in large quantities are avoided. So yes, limiting them will very likely lead to a decrease in overall caloric intake.
Improved Heart Health
Non-starchy vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, and unsaturated fat sources such as nuts, seeds, and avocado form the bulk of the pegan diet. Many of the foods permitted are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients as well as fiber and unsaturated fats—all of which have been proven to benefit heart health. Other dietary components, such as starchy vegetables and fruits, can also support heart health.
Improved Gut Health
Some non-starchy vegetables, such as asparagus, alliums (such as garlic and onion), and mushrooms, are particularly high in prebiotic fibers, which nourish good gut bacteria so they can survive and grow.
The pegan diet promotes high consumption of these foods, although it restricts other prebiotic-rich items such as legumes and certain fruits and whole grains. On a well-planned pegan diet, you should be able to get enough prebiotic fiber and fibre in general, but it may be challenging. Fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso, are good sources of probiotics which are suggested in a pegan diet.
Potential Risks Of Pegan Diet
Despite its positive attributes, health experts express a number of concerns with this eating pattern that are worth considering.
A Bit Too Many Restrictions
Although the pegan diet is more flexible than a vegan or paleo diet alone, many of the suggested limitations are excessively harsh on very nutritious foods such as legumes, whole grains, and dairy.
Some individuals, of course, are allergic to gluten or dairy which can induce inflammation. Also, some people find it difficult to manage blood sugar when eating high-starch meals like grains or legumes. So its understandable and advisable to, reduce or eliminate these foods.
However, unless you have a serious allergy or intolerance to them, its unnecessary to avoid them.
Furthermore, the removal of large numbers of foods may result in nutritional deficiencies if those nutrients aren’t replaced. As a result, you’ll need a basic understanding of nutrition to execute the pegan diet successfully.
Not Enough Scientific Evidence
Its true that the pegan diet encourages a healthy eating pattern— encouraging high intake of plant-based vegetables and fruits, low consumption of lean red meats, limiting sugars and high-glycemic foods and low mercury-containing fish and emphasizing organic—some of the restricted foods mean missing out on scientifically-backed health benefits. For ex, In addition to beans, coffee is restricted on the diet, which could lower the risk of diabetes and heart issues, among other benefits.
Could Trigger Disordered Eating
Because the pegan diet restricts or eliminates numerous healthful foods like legumes, grains, starchy veggies, fruit, and dairy products, and there being a lot of fear mongering in Pegan diet descriptions as to why you should avoid them. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this plan to anyone who has had an eating problem in the past.
Lack of accessibility
Although a diet containing only organic fruits, vegetables, and grass-fed, pasture-raised animals may appear to be ideal in theory, it might be out of reach for many individuals.
To be effective, you’ll need a large amount of time to spend meal prepping, some cooking expertise, and access to high-end foods that may be costly.
Which brings us to our final point
The pegan diet can also be costly and inconvenient. The diet encourages purchasing only organic, wild-caught, pasture-raised animal products and organic produce, which are typically more expensive than their conventional counterparts, which may not be affordable for many people.
The pegan diet may benefit your health in a variety of ways, for example its emphasis on fruit and vegetable consumption is a major plus point.
Fruits and vegetables are some of the most nutritionally varied foods. They’re high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals that have been shown to ward off illness and inflammation.
The pegan diet also emphasizes healthy, unsaturated fats from fish, nuts, seeds, and other plants that may benefit heart health.
However, a pegan diet may be too limiting for many individuals. Furthermore, compared to federal recommendations for a healthy diet, a pegan diet lacks balance because it prohibits grains, beans, and dairy products.
So my final thoughts on pegan diet are you can surely give this diet a try and figure how it works for you. Furthermore, the pegan diet may be simpler to adjust to if you’re already paleo or vegan and want to change your eating habits.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.