What Is A Pegan Diet? A Paleo + Vegan Fusion Plan To Elevate Your Health

What Is A Pegan Diet

As a functional medicine expert, I am familiar with the most common health diets, and as the author of the widely popular book, Ketotarian, I also know a thing or two about plant-based diets. So when the Pegan diet started to trend, I knew people would have a lot of questions as to whether or not it was something worth trying for themselves.

Rooted in the synergy of two seemingly contrasting dietary philosophies – paleo and vegan – the Pegan diet is a holistic lifestyle choice aimed at nurturing your body and the planet with a variety of benefits. From blood sugar balance to heart health, read on to learn more about the Pegan diet, its principles, and exactly how it can benefit your health.


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What is the Pegan diet?

Developed by fellow functional medicine practitioner, Dr. Mark Hyman, the Pegan diet is a dietary approach that combines elements of both the Paleo diet and the Vegan diet as a way to balance blood sugar and inflammation levels within your body. Essentially a hybrid of these two popular diets, the Pegan diet is a primarily plant-based diet that aims to incorporate the benefits of both while addressing some of their limitations in order to facilitate healing from multiple chronic health conditions.

What are the benefits of doing a Pegan diet?

Even though the Pegan diet is a relatively new dietary approach with no research specifically focused on its benefits, it is believed to have several benefits due its emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods and its combination of principles from the paleo and vegan diets that have been clinically studied. Here are some of the most common potential benefits:

1. Stabilizes blood sugar

The emphasis on low-glycemic foods and the avoidance of refined sugars and grains may contribute to better blood sugar control, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing it.

2. Supports heart health

By limiting processed foods and unhealthy fats while emphasizing sources of healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and olive oil, the Pegan diet may support heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. Enhances gut health

A diet rich in fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can promote digestive health and regular bowel movements.

4. Improves nutrient intake

The Pegan diet promotes the consumption of a wide variety of whole, nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins. This can lead to a higher intake of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can support overall health.

5. Supports weight loss

The Pegan diet's focus on whole foods and low glycemic load may help with weight management by promoting satiety and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

6. Encourages ethical practices

The Pegan diet encourages ethical and sustainable food choices, which can contribute to a more environmentally friendly and socially responsible approach to eating.

Foods to eat

The pegan diet encourages the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods and discourages the use of highly processed and refined products. Therefore, a pegan diet consists mainly of the following categories:

1. Plant foods

On the Pegan diet, the majority of your food should be from plant-based sources including vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, nuts, seeds, and some legumes.

2. Clean animal protein

While the Pegan diet is primarily plant-based, it does allow for some animal products in moderation like grass-fed or sustainably raised meats, poultry, eggs, and wild-caught fish due to their high-quality and ethical sourcing.

3. Healthy Fats

The Pegan diet is very mindful of where you get your fat intake from and focuses on sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

In general, a good rule of thumb when following a Pegan diet is to keep at least 75% of your diet plant-based with meat, poultry, eggs, and fish making up the remaining 25%.

Foods to avoid

The Pegan diet doesn’t have set limits on how much you can eat in terms of calories, but it does have a list of recommended foods to avoid or greatly minimize due to their impact on blood sugar and inflammation for most people.

1. Dairy

Like the Paleo diet, the Pegan diet typically avoids dairy products due to concerns about lactose intolerance and the potential negative health effects of dairy. This includes cow’s milk, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. However, some sheep or goat’s milk products can be ok in moderation.

2. Legumes

Although legumes are a great plant-based source of protein, the Pegan diet often discourages legumes due to their impact on blood sugar and digestion. But with that said, lentils and other low-starch legumes can be eaten in moderation.

3. Industrialized seed oils

Canola, soybean, corn oil, sunflower, vegetable, and other refined oils should be avoided on the Pegan diet since they are highly processed and can promote inflammation.

4. Sugar

Since the Pegan diet promotes the consumption of foods with a low glycemic load, all types of sugar should be avoided due to their direct impact on blood sugar levels.

5. Grains

Both gluten-containing and gluten-free grains should be avoided on a Pegan diet since these can also impact your blood sugar and inflammation levels. 

6. Food additives

Processed foods and anything with artificial colorings, preservatives, sweeteners, and flavorings should be eliminated or greatly minimized.

It’s important to note the Pegan diet is not a strict set of rules but rather a flexible framework. Depending on your personal preferences and dietary needs, you may interpret and implement the Pegan diet differently than someone else.

Should you try out the pegan diet?

Overall, the Pegan diet is a healthier alternative to the average American diet and can result in multiple health benefits. However, your individual experience with the Pegan diet can vary, and not everyone will experience the exact same benefits. 

If you are new to clean eating, the Pegan diet can be a great place to start as this is a less structured way of eating compared to some other diets, and can therefore be easier to implement. By following the basic principles of eating clean, whole food sources of plants and animals while limiting sugar and highly processed foods, you can begin to move the needle on a lot of health problems associated with high blood sugar and inflammation levels.

But, as a functional medicine expert, I understand that a lot of people today need more help overcoming lifelong health problems in order to achieve long-term, sustainable healing. That’s where a diet like Ketotarian comes in. 

Highlighting the pros and cons of conventional plant-based and ketogenic diets, Ketotarian set out to show you a way to elevate your health through eliminating the common pitfalls associated with both of these diets. Ultimately, The Ketotarian diet makes it easier to create a plant-based food plan that’s full of healthy fats, clean protein, and colorful, nutrient-dense vegetables without all the dangers and nutritional mistakes of other trendy diets. 

Not only are you getting in all the nutritional benefits of plants, since it also follows the low-carb, moderate protein, and high fat principles of a ketogenic diet (without the inflammatory effects of conventional  meat and dairy) you’re able to transition your body from a sugar burner to a fat burner and put your body into a state of ketosis which has been clinically proven to help improve everything from brain health to blood sugar. 

Overall, Ketotarian is a practical and sustainable dietary strategy that can not only limit cravings and overeating through fat-adaptation (cravings and the compulsion to overeat are two major reasons diets fail), but it also reverses the inflammatory storm so your body can work the way it should, unimpeded.

Just remember that with any major dietary shift, whether you want to go Ketotarian or give the Pegan diet a try, it’s important to talk to your doctor to make sure you’re choosing the best foods for you.

If you are ready to take the next step in reclaiming your health by learning how to use food as medicine in relation to your health case, schedule a telehealth functional medicine consultation today.

As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe.

Photo: unsplash.com

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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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Evidence-based reviewed article

Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is also the host of the popular The Art of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, Gut Feelings, and The Inflammation Spectrum.

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