By Karen Reed
A Pegan diet… what is it? The root words involved here are vegan and paleo. Vegan refers to a diet consisting mainly of plants. Paleo, on the other hand, is a new term but is associated with a “caveman” and a caveman’s diet consists of meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and fruits. For the diet conscious, pegan is assimilating the best and most healthy of a vegan and paleo diet. It’s a eating style that incorporates the best of both worlds.
Cavemen ancestors were mostly hunters and meat were always a part of their daily consumption. Aside from these, they had eggs, fish, fruits, and vegetables. Legumes, grains, processed foods, sugars, and most kinds of dairy products were taboo. On the other hand, a vegan will only have fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and seeds. It disallows any animal products. In a way, both supplement each other.
The Pegan diet concentrates more on the glycemic load factor. The glycemic load is associated with the carbohydrates in a food. It indicates the effect of these carbohydrates on a person’s blood glucose level. Both diets can manage sugar levels. Logically, it would be easier for Paleo’s to maintain their glycemic index. This is because their diets consist of meats and fruits and involve minimum amounts of sugars. Vegans, however, will have a tougher time controlling this factor.
A Pegan diet is a combination of the different elements of both Paleo and vegan diets. It is a hybrid approach which combines the very best components of each and avoids the worst. Dr. Mark Hyman, the Pegan’s creator, wanted to put together the best of both diets without any prejudice on either. The emphasis on Dr. Hyman’s diet was eating whole foods which would apparently give the person the health benefits from both the combined lifestyles.
What are the Main Components of a Vegan and Paleo Combo Diet
A Pegan diet would entail a leaner version of paleo, meaning less meat and more vegetables. It would also center on whole, fresh, sustainable foods like healthy fats and veggies but will also include some meats and animal products. It is turning out to be a combination of both vegan and paleo diets.
Strictly following the glycemic factor, the Pegan plate should contain foods that fall between 55 and 69 on the glycemic index. The Pegan diet sees to it that its list of recommended foods is strictly followed, making the diet plan blood-sugar friendly. Listed below are the foods to consider in a Pegan diet:
Dairy, sugar, soy, and legumes. Foods classified in these categories are off limits for Pegan dieters. Dieters can forget yogurt, granola, edamame, and peanuts. These foods are hard to break down. They cause certain discomforts like gas, bloating, and sometimes constipation.
Fats and grains. Now, these are the real deal. Olive oil, avocados, and most nuts are highly recommended for the Pegan plan. So are whole grains like oats, quinoa, amaranth, millet, and wild rice.
Gluten. This substance is to be avoided by the Pegan diet. Therefore any form of wheat is a no-no as they contain gluten. Other grains like spelt, semolina, barley, and rye are also on the off-limits list.
Plants. Most of the foods in a Pegan diet include fruits and vegetables. Plant-derived foods support blood sugar levels. Favorite items on the plant list include apples, grapefruits, peaches, oranges, and almost all vegetables.
Protein. About a quarter of the Pegan diet contains lean animal protein, such as eggs, fish, chicken and lean beef. This need is inherited from our paleo heritage. It is important though that the sources of this protein should be grass-fed and free from antibiotics.
Veggies that don’t make the cut. Sadly, not all veggies can be included in the Pegan list because of their high glycemic indices. Say goodbye therefore to beets, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and parsnips.
Tips for Following the Vegan and Paleo Combo Diet
A Pegan diet is a combination of the healthiest foods found in Paleo and vegan diets. It concentrates mainly on unprocessed foods that are grown and raised sustainably. Here are some tips for following such a diet:
Eat more plants. Three-quarters of the daily consumption of foods should be plant and vegetable based. Giving special attention to these food’s glycemic indices as such are processed at a slower rate in the body. They won’t raise the blood sugar as much.
Consume healthy fats. Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. One needs to discern which are healthy or not. Remember that not all vegetable fats are healthy. Conversely, the same is true with animal fats, that not all of them are bad. It is a simple matter of choosing the “right stuff.” Fats from avocadoes, coconuts, other nuts, and even some animal products are good enough. Vegetable oils like sunflower, canola, soybean, and corn should be avoided. They are high omega-6 contents, genetic alterations, and they may lead to inflammation in the body.
Eat more nuts and seeds. Most people have been taught in the school of the importance of seeds and nuts. They are a great source of minerals, proteins, and healthy fats. Although Paleo diets do not have these, they are still recommended in a Pegan diet because they are healthy foods.
Avoid Dairy. Dairy foods are absent on a Paleo diet. According to the creator of the diet, dairy foods should be completely avoided. This is because the lactose, milk proteins, and hormones present in milk can cause digestive problems and can raise blood sugar levels.
Avoid gluten. Because of the adverse effects on the body, foods that contain gluten have been excluded in the Pegan diet. This substance has been traced to be the cause of several problems. These include fatigue, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Consume gluten-free whole grains in moderation. Whole grains are not a part of a Paleo diet. They substitute this with animal products and produce which are nutrient-dense. The Pegan diet, however, allows the consumption of whole grains. But only on an extremely limited scale and if the grains are gluten-free and are low on the glycemic index. Black rice and quinoa are good examples of these.
Eat beans in moderation. Going against the Paleo diet means avoiding legumes completely. Beans are recommended in a Pegan plan but only on limited amounts. Smaller-sized beans like lentils are far better than the bigger, starch-heavy ones.
Eat animal products but not as a main course. Both the Paleo and the Pegan diets allow the consumption of animal products. How much meat makes the difference in both. For a Paleo, animal meat is the main course, where a complete serving can be as much as four to six ounces. With the Pegan, meat servings are much less.
Eat sugar occasionally. The Pegan diet does conform to strict rules, but maybe occasionally, it can be flexible. On some rare occasions, sugar can be a momentary surprise treat. Indulge then while you can and while it lasts.
The Benefits of a Vegan and Paleo Combo Diet
On first impressions, vegan and paleo diets may be deemed as opposites. But a closer analysis will demonstrate that the two have many things in common. For starters, both diets are based on the consumption of whole foods. This means plenty of veggies and an overall healthy lifestyle. When people think of paleo diets, they immediately associate it with meat. Bear in mind that the foods paleos eat are like what our ancestors ate.
Foods in a Pegan diet are mostly plant-based. It’s almost like those of vegetarians except that the former allows the nourishing addition of eggs and meat of the highest quality. Plant-based foods take center stage on a Pegan diet with a minimum amount of meat on the side. Choosing vegetables with high nutritional contents can readily satisfy our nutritional requirements. These prevent illnesses and inflammations.
The Pegan diet combines the best and healthiest foods from Paleo’s and the Vegans. This is its biggest advantage. The Pegan diet becomes less restrictive by allowing more foods on its list. In other words, there will be more items to choose from. One can have a meal course with foods derived from both the Paleo’s and Vegan’s list.
The Pegan diet, which is mainly plant-based, offers a wider selection of nutrients for a healthier lifestyle. The choice of organic-grown high-quality fruits and vegetables can amply supply the daily requirements of calcium, folate, fiber, as well as all the minerals and vitamins.
Today’s diet-crazed world give more importance on the total calorie count present in consumed foods. This calorie-conscious fad concentrates on urging people to shed weight through the calorie-in, calorie-out approach. Some also use the ratios of macronutrients of the carb-vs-fat-vs-protein in their diets. There are a few, if any, have opted to give more importance to the organic quality of food. The Pegan diet recommends choosing organic foods. Those without the harmful antibiotics pesticides, and other such dangerous chemicals. Doing so will benefit the person with meals that are nutritionally denser.
The Pegan diet rigidly sticks to many Paleo diet principles. Disallowing foods like dairy, gluten, sugars, and soy is a long-standing rule of Paleo followers. They have good reasons to do so. Different health issues affecting millions are caused by consuming these paleo-banned foods. The Pegan diet believes this as well, prompting it to ban such on their food lists.
Will it Help a Person Lose Weight?
One sure way to lose weight is eating foods that make one feel fuller. Fiber-packed vegetables and satiating fats can do this for anyone, and this IS the Pegan way. Feeling full means that the person is not hungry.
A diet that concentrates on high-fiber vegetables will do the waistline good. Eating several servings of veggies will hinder the craving for food. This is because the person will always feel full. And much better, the calorie count of such intakes will still be low. But a pitfall for vegans is their craving to consume too many carbohydrates. Such cravings happen when the body wants a boost of glucose that comes from foods which cause the blood sugar to spike. Such foods are cookies and cakes. This can be countered by eating extra protein and fiber-rich foods, at the same time avoiding processed foods and sugar. This changes in the lifestyle will help the person lose weight and improve his health.
People need to consider some factors before starting a weight-losing plan. At the onset, one might feel a little bit restricted because he will be avoiding foods he’s used to. More especially so for athletes or people who are super-active. For such people, cutting on essential foods like workout-boosting protein, calcium, iron and other nutrients which are workout-boosting might not be a good idea. These foods help keep the body in top condition so avoiding them might adversely affect the body.
Stick to the diet. Anyone who wants to stick to the Pegan diet needs to make sacrifices. Doing so would mean crossing out dairy out of the food list. These are main sources of calcium and vitamin D in pre-Pegan days. So, a person might need supplements to be able to meet the body’s needs. Legumes will also be eliminated as per plan. These were the sources of muscle-building protein and energizing iron. Crossing them out can cause problems especially for those who indulge in heavy work-outs. Following the Pegan diet may make a person lethargic at the gym. This is because the body will be needing more iron that was derived from meats before the conversion.
With these premises, a person truly will be adopting a new lifestyle. Make compromises in diet foods to ensure success. It is not necessary to abruptly change one’s eating habits and choices. Beans, for instance, are not in the Pegan plan. But one can still include them in the diet because they are a good protein and fiber source. Just be conscious of the quality of food choices. They should be low on the glycemic index. They should be organic. They should not have refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and sodium.
The foods will still conform to the Pegan diet of eating more vegetables and less meat but with some slight customizing. It will take a little time to adjust to the rules but eventually, losing weight should not be far behind.
So, is the diet worth it?
Introducing something drastic which would affect the lives of people is important. One must be sure to offer viable alternatives that would compensate for such changes. Forcing people to accept this change will not work. Education will be a great factor in explaining to the people the benefits of change.
Healthy living should be accessible to everybody. What such lifestyle requires is a sustainability of foods that will have an impact on each. Production of meat and agriculture products should be organically inclined. This eliminates the use of chemicals that can adversely affect the human body. A plant-based diet, with a minimum of meat on the side, is the ideal option for the general population. This ensures that the health of every human is truly taken care of.