The Pegan Diet Made Easy (An Ultimate Guide)
Can the pegan diet really help you lose weight?
Despite the fact that I have totally kissed my pre-pregnancy weight goodbye, I am still constantly looking for the best ways to stay healthy or lose weight.
So today i’ll be telling all you about the pegan diet.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
So What Is The Pegan Diet?
The pegan diet was developed based on the theory that whole, nutrient-rich foods can balance out the blood sugar and reduce inflammation.
For what it’s worth, It’s easier to stick to it as more of a long-term diet that aims to become part of your everyday lifestyle.
The Pegan diet was developed by Dr. Mark Hyman, the leading author of Food; what the heck should I eat and was actually created in 2014, even though it is only just starting to get popular.
It is basically a clean healthy eating plan and has been said to have a lot of amazing health benefits.
Needless to say, diets generally can be very restrictive, but the pegan diet provides a mixture of plant-based and meat foods.
So it is may be an option you may like to consider.
A Closer Look
The term ‘pegan diet’ was coined by Dr Mark Hyman, a leading functional medicine practitioner. The combination of vegan and Paleo diets is designed to create a healthy lifestyle with minimal restrictions. The pegan diet is a combination of the vegan and paleo diets, which are similar in the restrictions they place on consumption, but different in their reasoning for this diet.
The vegan diet is based on consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes which are unprocessed and free from animal products. This excludes meat, fish and dairy foods among others that provide high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. The paleo diet consists of food that can be hunted or gathered i.e. meats, fish, nuts and seeds while avoiding processed foods such as refined sugars and oils, legumes and grains .
Due to the restrictions placed by both diets there appears to be a large overlap between what each suggests should be avoided. These include highly processed low-fat foods which contain many additives , refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta, refined sugar which is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and trans fats which increase LDL levels . The diets also exclude alcohol as well as highly processed oils such as canola and vegetable oil.
The pegan diet is designed to focus on the areas where each of these diets differ: paleo focuses on low carb whilst vegan has no restrictions. This opens up choices for those who aren’t prepared to reduce intake to meet carbohydrate requirements. It suggests replacing grains with vegetables such as cauliflower that resemble ‘rice’ or ‘mashed potatoes, adding more protein into meals by way of legumes like lentils, peas and beans, trading fruit juices for whole fruits and nuts/seeds for starches like rice, potatoes and pasta.
The pegan diet looks to combine these dietary approaches as a lifestyle choice for those who don’t want to subscribe fully to either vegan or paleo diets but believe both have positive health implications.
The focus is on eating just plant-based foods.
The main rule for the pegan diet is to try and make your diet 75% plant-based and 25% animal-based.
Now get this, the pegan diet also focuses on gluten-free foods. This is because grains are not considered part of the caveman’s diet.
The focus on gluten-free foods is important because the paleo diet focuses on the foods that are part of the caveman’s diet, so to say.
The good news about this diet is that it doesn’t provide strict rules over what you should eat for each meal. Instead, it provides you with more of an outline that you can follow.
Being successful on the diet all boils down to sticking to it.
Some food groups are restricted, and others can be consumed in moderation.
The Pegan Diet Food List
Foods to eat on a pegan diet.
- Proteins – meat, poultry, eggs, legumes
- Fats – olive oil and other healthy oils such as avocado oil and coconut oil and nuts/seeds
- Carbohydrates – vegetables, fruit, whole grains
- Beverages – water, coffee , tea and low calorie drinks
- Desserts – dark chocolate (at least 70%), stone fruits such as peaches or plums.
- Nuts and seeds are a major source of vegetarian protein as well as being high in good fats so there is no need to rely solely on legumes/beans which are also high in carbohydrate content. This allows for a lower intake of carbs, making this diet easier to maintain than the vegan diet .
- Grains – quinoa, rice, buckwheat, and sometimes oats
- Fruits – any fruit
- Vegetables- all vegetables
- Nuts and seeds – include almonds, walnuts or flaxseeds (note these may need to be ground first) as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds along with hemp hearts which can be used like flour to make muffins or pancakes .
This is not an exhaustive list of foods suitable for the pegan diet but covers the main food groups.
Unprocessed lean meat and fish should feature heavily in the diet although they do contain more saturated fat than plant-based proteins such as legumes and soybeans.
This again is where nuts and seeds come into play as they are high in protein but low in saturated fat.
Paleolithic (paleo) – literally meaning ‘Stone Age’ the paleo diet looks to mimic that of early humans during the mid-Palaeolithic era. It is based on consuming whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, lean meat, and fish which were readily available at the time yet avoiding grains, legumes, and dairy products – all of which have been introduced into the human diet in the Neolithic era when humans became farmers.
Although grains are avoided on the paleo diet it does not necessarily mean that refined grains should be entirely excluded from meal plans.
In fact, any whole grain product is suitable for this diet as evidence has found that a high intake of fiber can reduce risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
Foods to avoid on the pegan diet
- Grains and cereals: wheat, corn, rice and other processed grains that contain refined sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Legumes: soybeans, beans, peanuts, and all processed foods made with legumes such as tofu.
- Sugar: cane sugar is allowed however the high fructose content found in corn syrup should be avoided. Instead, opt for natural sweeteners such as honey or agave nectar which both contain antioxidants.
- Dairy products: this includes yogurt, cheese, and milk although those who cannot give up their morning cereal may like to try soy milk instead of dairy (although it does be higher in carbs). Sugar shouldn’t be added to either plant-based or animal-derived dairy products unless they are unsweetened. Many people find that after a few weeks of reducing their intake of dairy products they no longer have a desire for them.
- Partially hydrogenated oils: these should be avoided as although they contain less saturated fat, polyunsaturated fats can have a similar effect on LDL cholesterol levels as saturated fats. The only exception would be fully hydrogenated vegetable oils such as those found in many processed items such as crackers and baked goods.
- Trans-fats: like partially hydrogenated oils these should also be avoided due to the fact that trans-fatty acids can increase triglyceride levels which raise risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Although not considered healthy practice the use of animal products was much more common during early hominid times therefore these foods should be included in the pegan diet.
Summary Guide For The Pegan Diet
- Ideally, a pegan diet should be gluten-free as well as containing no refined sugar.
- As with many diets it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day – 8-10 glasses is recommended. This not only helps flush out toxins but assists in weight loss as it contains zero calories making it an excellent addition for anyone looking to shed a few pounds.
- Although alcohol is not banned on this diet it is encouraged that people limit their intake to one glass of red wine per day.
- Additionally, caffeine should be avoided as much as possible – swapping coffee for green tea would be the healthiest option. When consuming caffeine make sure that it is organic, contains no sugar or additives and drunk in moderation (recommended maximum of 3 cups a day) .
- Processed sugars like honey and maple syrup are both considered acceptable for this diet however natural sweeteners such as stevia are recommended over artificial sweeteners which have been linked with certain cancers due to their toxic composition .
Potential Challenges Of The Diet
While the Pegan diet is said to deliver a lot of great benefits, there are some challenges to maintaining this diet plan.
If you’re using it to lose weight, you may find that it can be quite tough to follow all of the restrictions in place.
Compared to many other weight-loss diets, it will may a lot more effort.
First of all, sugar is eliminated. This may make the diet harder to stick to for some.
Obviously, a sugar-free diet is healthier; but the thing is, when a food group is eliminated from our diet, we tend to want it even more
So, resisting the cravings can be extremely difficult, particularly if your previous diet was high in sugar.
Other potential challenges include knowing what you can eat when you’re out with friends, as well as coming up with meal ideas at home.
Diary is also completely off the table, plus other restrictions that the diet comes with.
This may make recipes harder to create.
Even when you can decide what you’re going to eat, you’ll end up spending a lot more time in the kitchen.
This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be difficult for those who struggle with having enough time.
It also means that this diet might be a little more expensive to follow, which might not be ideal for those on a budget.
Now that we have covered an overview of the diet, let’s dig in a little deeper into the basic principles of the diet.
so you can decide if it works for you or not.
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The Basics Of The Pegan Diet
Although the Pegan diet isn’t as restrictive as the Paleo or vegan diet alone, it can still be quite challenging figuring out what you can eat.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Eat healthier fats
If I have a penny for how many times I’ve heard fats are bad, I probably will be rich. ok, maybe not rich, but ill have enough money to buy that pair of shoes. ( yes, the one I’ve had in my online shopping cart for as long as I can remember, lol)
The truth is, although fats get a bad reputation, some of them are actually good for us.
With the Pegan diet, you’ll want to stick to healthier fats such as Omega 3 fatty acids.
You can also consume saturated fats in moderation, provided they come from eggs, grass-fed meat, and virgin coconut oil etc.
Eat more plant based foods
The majority of the Pegan diet centers around plant-based foods.
This means that that your meals will consist of around 75% plant-based foods.
The trick is to aim for a variety of vegetables and fruits.
Limit starchy vegetables. Instead, opt for low-glycemic veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and cauliflower.
The bulk of your calorie intake will come from these veggies.
This is certainly a no brainer path to weight loss.
However, when it comes to fruit, try to limit your intake to low-glycemic fruits because many fruits can be high in natural sugars, which can easily cause a spike in the blood sugar level.
Some of the best fruits to add to your shopping list include apples, citrus fruits, cherries, kiwis, berries, watermelon, and pineapple.
Stay away from Dried fruits, and if you love grapes like i do, then I have a piece of not so great news for you.
You will need to limit your intake of grapes as well as bananas.
You undoubtedly can eat all types of fruits and vegetables on the pegan diet; it’s just better to choose the ones with a low-glycemic index.
One of the few strict restrictions on this diet, is to eliminate sugar.
The reason behind this is because sugary foods can play havoc with insulin production.
It isn’t just candy and sugary drinks you’ll need to avoid.
This means you will also need to avoid foods filled with hidden sugars—for example, flour and refined carbs.
The good news in all this is you can still have an occasional treat. I would save those for special occasions if I were you.?
Eat plenty of seeds and nuts
The pegan diet allows nuts, which I think is terrific because nuts and seeds are the easiest healthy snacks to grab when on the go.
It also helps you to stay fuller for longer, ensuring you aren’t as tempted to cheat on the diet.
To avoid getting hungry between meals, you can snack on seeds and nuts instead.
One of the key challenges of dieting is finding yourself constantly hungry.
So, by snacking on nuts and seeds you’ll stay satisfied while delivering great nutrients to the body.
Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber and omega 3 fats.
The great part about nuts being a part of this diet is, it provides the essential micronutrients that may be lacking when on a largely plant-based diet.
It sure can be a real struggle to get the nutrients you need from a largely plant-based diet.
The fiber found in nuts is also great for the digestive tract to prevent constipation.
Always avoid pesticides, chemicals, and additives
One of the key principles of this diet is that the foods you eat should be whole and clean.
This means, sticking to foods that are grown or produced without using pesticides, chemicals or additives.
Also, make it a habit to eat whole foods, free from additives, hormones, artificial sweeteners, dyes, GMOs, antibiotics, and preservatives.
Basically, if you can’t have it in your kitchen, dont put it in your body.
Stick to gluten-free foods
Another basic principle of the pegan diet is to avoid foods that contain gluten.
This essentially includes all grain-based products.
Do you already follow a gluten-free diet? or are you looking to eliminate gluten? Then this is probably a piece of welcomed news.
What about whole grains and legumes?
The only type of grains you can occasionally eat here are whole-grains.
A word of caution, you would have to still eat wholegrain in moderation.
What you can do is to eat small portions at a time. preferred options of whole grains are quinoa and black rice.
Here’s another thing, You’ll also want to take it easy on the legumes.
Why is this so? legumes are restricted from the diet because they have the ability to cause issues with blood sugar..
The only type of legumes you may eat occasionally includes lentils.
Diary is off the table
If you love diary and diary products, the pegan diet may be challenging for you.
This is because the diet calls for a restriction on dairy products.
However, if you find it too difficult to cut it out completely, it is ok to use it sparingly.
A good option is to swap cow dairy products for sheep or goat products.
If you are thinking about starting a pegan diet, these rules above are the main noteworthy rules you’ll need to follow. As you can see, there are some restrictions, but in comparison to other diets, it still provides a great variety of options.
Pegan Diet Foods To Avoid
You are probably wondering what foods you should totally avoid while on the pegan diet, right?
It is important to note that while the pegan diet is not as restrictive as many other diets, some foods must be completely avoided while on the diet.
So let’s get down to it.
The main rule of the pegan diet is to avoid any dairy, but let’s face it, you may not want to cut it out completely.
However, you could choose to start slowly by limiting your dairy intake if you do not want to eliminate it.
You’ll be surprised to know that the primary reason diary is restricted from the diet is that it is believed to lead to obesity and severe diseases such as cancer.
The main types of dairy to avoid include:
At glance, its is mostly cows milk and dairy products that are restricted.
So If you stick to goat or sheep dairy products, they can be eaten in small quantities.
To get around the non-dairy rule, you could opt for milk alternatives such as soya or almond milk.
I’ll be honest.
I was surprised to find legumes on the do not eat list because legumes are typically considered healthy and accepted in most diets.
However, if you’re following the Pegan diet you’ll need to to cut them out or reduce consumption significantly.
The reason is that Legumes can potentially cause an increase in blood sugar, so you’ll want to stick to low-starchy legumes like lentils if you want to keep them in your diet.
While vegetables make up the bulk of this diet, there are still some you’ll want to avoid.
Needless to say, starchy vegetables should be avoided. Eg potatoes, pumpkin etc
Most vegetable oils are prohibited on the pegan diet
This is because they are refined and are probably filled with additives.
The oils to avoid are sunflower, soybean, canola and corn oils.
Gluten and sugar
As already previously mentioned, gluten and sugar are prohibited on the pegan diet.
Although it is ok to consume whole gluten-free foods such as black rice and quinoa.
Its better if you aim to eat very minimal portions.
In addition, sugar should be completely off your diet or significantly reduced.
And remember to look out for hidden sugars in foods as well as the obvious sugar ingredients.
Finally, you’re going to want to cut out all processed foods from your diet.
It is not news that processed foods are no good for us.
The focus should be on whole, clean foods as much as you can.
So, if you like to fill up on foods such as chips, cakes, and fast food, you’re going to need to undergo a dramatic change in diet.
Processed foods contain a lot of bad ingredients, which can be harmful to our health. If you’re looking to get healthier and cut out the amount of junk you eat; therefore, this diet is ideal.
While there are no strict rules in this diet, it is better to avoid the foods on the do not eat list.
The truth is, the more you follow the guidelines, the better your results are going to be, and what’s more, It’s also going to be more beneficial to your health if you follow it correctly.
It’s important to consider what you can and can’t eat on the Pegan diet to establish whether or not it’s right for you.
The simple truth is that limiting anything from your diet can be a challenge, but there are ways to get around the limited diet challenges.
For example, try using herbs and spices to add more flavour to your meals.
Foods To Eat Moderately On The Pegan Diet
There are some foods that are alllowed on the pegan diet but in moderation.
- Legumes: should be eaten in moderation. Beans are a great source of pf fiber and can be included in minimal quantities.
- Natural sugars like maple syrup, dates, honey, and coconut sugar. Despite that, the consumption of these foods should be minimized.
All you have to do is make a shopping list in advance when you are just getting started with the diet.
Having a list of the allowed foods will make shopping for the diet a lot easier.
Benefits Of The Pegan Diet
So, we have covered how the diet works and the foods allowed on the diet as well as the foods you should avoid.
And you may be wondering, apart from weight loss, are there other benefits to the diet?
Ill just answer your question right off the bat.
The pegan diet has other benefits apart from weight loss.
So what are they?
It provides a diet rich in nutrients
Obviously, the pegan diet, which is all about eating clean and wholesome foods, surely offers a diet filled with nutrients and all your body needs.
In fact, the trouble with most diets that restrict what you can and can’t eat is that they often lack the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
This is especially true when you’re looking at the Paleo and Vegan diets by themselves.
With a vegan diet, what you can eat is significantly limited.
This means the potential for nutrient deficiencies can be quite high if you aren’t careful.
Similarly, with the Paleo diet, you’ll mainly be eating meat. This means you’d miss out on the nutrients you get from other food groups.
The Pegan diet allows both meat and plant-based foods. This provides a much higher nutritional benefit than vegan or paleo diets alone. You’ll especially be eating a high level of fruits and vegetables, which will supply you with the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Excellent for weight loss
I started the pegan diet in the first place to lose weight, so this benefit was certainly going to make a list.
Although the Pegan diet isn’t specifically projected for weight loss, it can help you lose weight effectively.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is because it is largely based on vegetables and plant-based foods.
The majority of the calories you’ll receive through the diet come from the vegetables.
And frankly, vegetables are super low on calories, so you’ll naturally be consuming fewer calories in a day than you would with many other diets.
This is going to help you lose weight quickly.
Another weight loss benefit here is that once you’ve lost the weight, you’ll be able to easily keep it off.
Most of all, the pegan diet isn’t a fad diet that you can only follow for a specific period of time. Instead, it’s more of a lifestyle change, so you can easily maintain it for the rest of your life.
It provides flexibility.
The pegan diet provides flexibility especially if you a e struggling with stricter diets like the vegan diet.
Vegan diets have become extremely popular and it isn’t hard to see why.
However, it is one of the strictest and most restrictive diets around.
Even those with the best intentions can struggle to stick to a vegan-only diet. So, for those that do, the Pegan diet can be the next best thing.
On the pegan diet, you can consume meat products but in small quantities.
This means you will be receiving the required nutrients or satisfaction you need from the meat, but it will take up a tiny part of your daily diet.
Also, The meat you will be eating is only coming from sustainable, locally sourced places.
This means there is less chance you’ll be supporting animal cruelty, which is rife in larger, commercial meat production chains.
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It is easy to stick to
The pegan diet is quite easy to stick to.
On the face of it, it might sound tough, but the fact is it is pretty flexible.
A little goes a long way,
On the pegan diet, you are left with a little wiggle room and will be completely fine even if you only stick with the guidelines 90% of the time.
The creator recommends sticking to the guidelines 90% of the time.
The key with the diet is moderation.
Unlike other very strict diet plan, you can actually satisfy your cravings in moderation while on this diet.
This makes it a whole lot easier to stick to as you dont feel like you anything os totally off limits.
Ideal for those with food allergies
Finally, another great benefit of this diet is that it’s great for those with food allergies.
A lot of people suffer from dairy and gluten allergies.
So, the fact this is a dairy and gluten free diet makes it great for those who need to be careful with their diets.
These are just a few of the amazing benefits you can expect from the pegan diet.
Ready To Try The Pegan Diet?
There you have it!
All you need to know about the diet to guide you to decide if is right for you or not.
That said, the pegan diet can be a great healthy alternative if you struggle with doing the vegan or the paleo diet as a stand-alone.
Will you be trying out this diet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. ill like to hear from you.