You may have heard someone refer to themselves as “pegan” and wondered what the term meant. If you’re familiar with veganism and the paleo diet, you have the basis for understanding. Proponents of this eating plan claim it can reduce the risks of various diseases and supercharge your energy levels. But you still might be wondering: Why is the pegan diet trending, and is it safe?
Adopting this type of lifestyle does require you to restrict your eating, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. However, if you exercise precision, you can derive all the nutrients you need from plant-based sources that don’t cause your blood sugar to spike. Following this diet calls for a significant investment in time and preparation. Only you can decide if the benefits make the effort worth it. Who knows? You may try it for a limited period and love it so much you’ll choose to stay the course.
Why is the Pegan Diet Trending, and Will it Help You Lose Weight?
1. The Pegan Diet Focuses on Reducing Ultra-Processed Foods
You’ve probably heard the advice to avoid processed foods. However, nearly everything you consume is processed in some way. What we’re referring to here are ultra-processed foods. What are they, and why are they so detrimental to your health?
Processed foods are altered in a way that doesn’t impact human health. Examples of processed foods include most cheeses and oil, like olive oil. It also includes foods you cook or change from their natural state. For example, steamed broccoli is technically processed.
Ultra-processed foods, on the other hand, contain a ton of sugar, salt, or other additives. They also undergo processes involving chemicals, and they may include genetically modified crops — like some canola oils. These foods make up 50% of the typical American diet, which may explain skyrocketing obesity rates. Other examples of these foods include the following:
- Soft drinks
- Sweetened breakfast cereals
- Many frozen foods
- Many canned foods
- Hot dogs
2. Peganism May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
You only have one ticker, so you need to keep it healthy! The pegan diet could potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease for two reasons: It focuses on healthy fats, and it helps to control your blood sugar. While people on the paleo diet typically consume meat to round out their protein requirement, pegans must get a complete blend of amino acids from alternative sources. Some suggested high protein foods include the following:
- Deep, leafy greens: Deep, leafy greens contain high levels of several critical amino acids. They also contain non-heme iron, a mineral in which vegans can develop deficiency. Try including spinach in your diet by whipping up a Spinach Sauté with Pine Nuts!
- Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds both contain several amino acids, particularly lysine. If you combine them with legumes like chickpeas or lentils, you receive a complementary amino acid profile. Since the paleo diet involves limiting these foods, you need to consume them in small quantities. You can add chia or hemp seeds to a hummus dip to enjoy as a flavorful and protein-rich snack.
- Some whole grains: Although the paleo diet limits grains, you can occasionally indulge in ancient grains on a pegan diet, like quinoa and amaranth.
- Beans: The paleo diet also limits beans and members of the legume family. However, you can enjoy small quantities in moderation. You should strive to make 75% of your diet stem from paleo-friendly plants. You can use the remaining 25% to meet your protein requirement with these vegan alternatives.
3. A Pegan Diet Might Reverse Insulin Resistance
While the number boggles the mind, approximately 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. This condition predisposes you to cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as kidney failure. Frustratingly, insulin resistance can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes. It can also make it difficult to shed unwanted pounds — which is why the pegan diet is trending and appeals to those hoping to drop weight.
Most of the vegetables you can enjoy with impunity have a low glycemic effect. That means they don’t significantly alter your blood sugar. The same goes for nuts and healthy oils, like olive oil. If you find that your weight doesn’t budge, even when you restrict your caloric intake, you might give peganism a try for a few weeks. If insulin resistance played a role in your battle of the bulge, you should see the number on the scale drop.
4. Peganism Can Even Help Your Pearly Whites
It’s unfortunate, but many Americans lack dental insurance. While popular news items often focus on the cardiovascular or weight-loss benefits of changing your diet, it’s critical to consider how diet impacts other parts of your body, including your pearlies! Watching what you eat can potentially reduce the chances of many diseases that develop as a result of poor oral hygiene.
For example, pegan diet practitioners often snack on nuts. Unlike carb-laden chips, these goodies won’t stick to the grooves of your teeth, providing fodder for bacteria. They’re also naturally low in sugar! Try a delicious Herb-Roasted Nut recipe to whip up a fun snack.
5. You’ll Consume More Phytonutrients
Phytonutrients give plants their vibrant hues and act as the cancer-fighting powerhouses of the nutritional universe. Findings from laboratory studies find that these substances can potentially repair DNA damage and reduce inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely. They also slow the growth of cancer cells and boost your overall immune response.
A few popular phytonutrients include the following:
- Carotenoids: You find these in red and orange produce like tomatoes and bell peppers. You also find them in fruits like watermelon.
- Flavonoids: You can find substances like quercetin and anthocyanins in foods like blueberries and citrus fruits, as well as coffee and tea.
- Isothiocyanates: You find these antioxidant miracle workers in cruciferous veggies like broccoli.
6. Yes, You’ll Likely Shed Unwanted Pounds
If weight loss is your ultimate objective, this diet plan will help you shed pounds — and quickly. The critical component involves making sure you consume adequate nutrients. It’s a wise idea to consult with your physician before embarking on this plan, though. They can test you for deficiencies and suggest supplements to safeguard your health.
You’ll have to do considerable meal prep weekly to meet all your needs. Here’s a suggested daily menu:
Breakfast: Berry and Chia Yogurt Parfait (use dairy-free Greek yogurt)
Lunch: Sweet Potato and BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wrap, peanuts, and an apple
Dinner: One-Skillet Chicken Broccoli Dinner (featured in the top image)
Snacks:Veggie Sticks with Pesto Hummus or a handful of mixed nuts
Get in on the Pegan Diet Trend
The bottom line is that you can lose weight on the pegan diet. However, you do need to exercise caution to avoid nutritional deficiencies. If you follow this meal plan correctly and safely for a specified time, you can shed unwanted pounds and supercharge your energy levels!
Sources: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2010, American Society for Nutrition, Center for Disease Control, Sprout Pediatric Dentistry, Mayo Clinic