Move over Paleo, Whole 30, and Keto, there’s a new “healthiest diet ever” in town: The Pegan Diet.
I should start by explaining that I don’t believe in diets. Here’s why: diets do not equal lifestyle changes, nor do they give us the tools to make healthier choices. So once we finish them, we tend to go right back to face planting into pints of Ben & Jerry’s. (Or at least I do.) Instead, I try to prioritize eating more plants and fewer processed foods, which is why The Pegan Diet caught my eye.
Like paleo and vegan diets, The Pegan Diet is a series of lifestyle changes, not a weight loss plan. Instead, the end game is better health through food, which is exactly how I think about nutrition.
What Is The Pegan Diet?
Basically, it’s paleo 2.0. You’re cutting out processed foods and sugars, gluten, and most dairy but with a vegan-like emphasis on vegetables. The goal is to make 75% of your diet plant-based. That translates to eating one 4-6oz serving of meat per meal, plus three or more veggie sides. I can almost feel my body thrumming with energy and health just thinking about it!
The Pegan Diet’s creator, Dr. Frank Hyman, recently wrote an in-depth how-to on how to eat pegan. As someone who eats mostly paleo, but occasionally enjoys foods like beans and gluten-free grains, his protocol seems less restrictive and even healthier than what I’m used to.
Five Reasons To Try The Pegan Diet
1. You’ll reduce your sugar intake.
Refined sugars and carbohydrates are not your friends. They cause spikes in insulin levels that lead to everything from mood swings to weight gain. And who needs any of that? Personally, I don’t believe in cutting anything completely out of my diet. I feel like the forbidden fruit is almost always more appealing. So when I want to enjoy a beautiful handmade pasta, or if I’ve baked up my signature chocolate pecan pie at Thanksgiving, I dive right in. But that handful of gummy bears or slice of bread? Not worth it. The Pegan Diet is built with the same philosophy.
2. You’ll eat more plants.
A mounting body of evidence points to plant-based eating as the cornerstone of good health. The converse is also true: diets high in animal proteins have been linked to everything from heart disease to Alzheimer’s. The Pegan Diet addresses these concerns by viewing meat more as a condiment, hence that 4-6 oz serving size.
As a longtime member of the fitness community, this is an area that I need to work on. For so long, we’ve been told we need huge amounts of protein to build muscle and stave off hunger. It turns out that was bad info, so this is one adjustment I really need to make.
3. You’ll Ditch Hidden Frankenfats
One of Whole 30’s biggest eye-openers for me is how often processed oils like soybean and canola sneak into our foods. At best, these unhealthy fats clog up the system and cause indigestion, at worst, they’ll contribute to or create serious health problems. The Pegan Diet is free of these unhealthy fats, emphasizing olive and avocado oils instead.
4. You Can Still Enjoy Grains In Moderation
When I’m working out really hard, I need to eat a serving of grains with every meal, otherwise I start feeling tired and dizzy. This is a BIG struggle when I’ve tried to do Whole 30 and BBG at the same time. In fact, I’ve never been successful no matter how much sweet potatoes and squash I piled onto my plate. This adjustment from traditional paleo seems much more closely aligned to my body’s needs. It also makes eating out a whole lot easier.
5. Your Skin Will Thank You
As someone who suffers from cystic acne, I can tell you that gluten, dairy and sugar are your skin’s worst enemies. The Pegan Diet reduces all three. In theory, this creates a skin-soothing, anti-inflammatory effect that reduces acne and may even prevent wrinkles. I’ve personally seen a huge improvement since incorporating paleo principals into my diet, and I’m hopeful that taking them one step further will eradicate my acne for good.