The Pegan Diet is a combination of the paleo and vegan diet principles. Mark Hyman has created an easy to follow food pyramid that visualizes the concept.
What does Dr. Mark Hyman, author of the book The Pegan Diet and The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, eat every day?
His pegan food pyramid includes a healthy balance of plant-based protein and carbohydrates from whole grains, vegetables and fruit.
It also contains “good” fats such as avocado oil and omega 3s like salmon and walnuts.
The good fat in this diet helps to slow down digestion and absorption which reduces blood sugar spikes that can trigger cravings for sugary foods or alcohol. It’s not just about what you eat but how you ate it!
Read on to learn more about this revolutionary way of eating for optimal health.
Table of Contents
What is the Pegan Food Pyramid?
Understanding what the pegan food pyramid is and why you need to eat this way for optimal health
The book Dr Mark Hyman wrote is called The Pegan Diet: The Healthy Middle Ground Plan to Fight Disease, Lose Weight and Gain More Energy so you can guess that he’s suggesting eating a healthy balance between veganism / paleo diets. What are the benefits of eating a pegan diet?
Dr. Hyman’s pegan diet is a low-processed, whole foods plant-based vegan/paleo diet that can help with weight loss and help you feel better in your body.
A plant-based diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, healthy fats from nuts, seeds, fish and non refined oils, high quality carbohydrates from unprocessed gluten free grains and legumes.
It includes healthy fats like olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids in fish and even…gasp…bacon!
The goal is to include enough animal-based fat so that you don’t feel deprived but not so much that the diet feels like a free-for-all like Paleo.
Dr Hyman’s pegan food pyramid encourages you to eat unprocessed foods and avoid sugar, gluten, wheat, GMO products and other harmful ingredients that can cause inflammation in your body such as high fructose corn syrup and trans fats.
Dr Hyman is not the only Doctor to capitalize on his or her status – Dr Nowzaradan’s diet – 1200 calories a day is brutal but effective.
Because the idea is to provide an overall healthier way of eating, the pegan food pyramid includes organic, wild-caught fish 2x per week.
A few of the benefits you may experience when following a pegan diet:
- Weight loss and reduced belly fat
- Increased energy
- Better digestion and less digestive issues
- Improved mental clarity and mood
- More sustainable way of eating
- Looking and feeling great
Does this mean I can eat whatever I want on Dr Mark Hyman’s Pegan Food Pyramid?
You already know that a vegan/paleo diet excludes sugar and refined carbohydrates which can leave you feeling drained over time.
It’s true that the pegan diet encourages you to include more protein from animal sources as well as some healthy carbs from fruit, legumes and gluten free whole grains but it also encourages eating more plant-based protein foods like tofu, tempeh, edamame beans and quinoa. You get the best of both worlds!
The food pyramid includes a healthy balance of plant-based protein and carbohydrate from whole grains, vegetables and fruit.
It also contains “good” fats such as olive oil and omega 3s like salmon and walnuts. The good fat in this diet helps to slow down digestion and absorption which reduces blood sugar spikes that can trigger cravings for sugary foods or alcohol.
It’s not just about what you eat but how you ate it!
The author strongly suggests chewing your food slowly, putting your fork down between bites (no TV please!) and eating without distractions like your phone or computer.
These are all helpful suggestions for reducing stress that can otherwise trigger cravings for sugary foods or alcohol.
Does Dr Mark Hyman’s Pegan Food Pyramid include Wine?
Dr Hyman only includes red wine in his pegan diet, not white because of the sulfites.
However, just like the vegan and Paleo diets, he encourages you to drink in moderation. A glass of red wine with dinner is much better for your health than eating a whole bag of potato chips!
Dr Hyman’s pegan food pyramid includes organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, coconut oil/butter/milk/cream, healthy oils from avocado and coconut, organic grass-fed meats and fatty fish like salmon.
You can also have some organic red wine with dinner but no more than one glass a day.
How does Dr Mark Hyman define a vegan diet?
A vegan diet is a plant-based vegan lifestyle which excludes all animal products and by-products such as meat, poultry, seafood and dairy. There are many different types of vegan diets including raw vegan, juice cleanse, low fat, high carb etc…
Does Dr Mark Hyman’s pegan food pyramid include grains?
Grains can be included in a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. An example is the pegan diet which includes small amounts of organic whole grains such as quinoa or steel-cut oats.
What is Dr Mark Hyman’s pegan food pyramid made of?
Dr Hyman’s pegan diet includes mostly plant rich foods but also allows healthy fats like nuts and seeds, fatty fish and grass-fed meats. It excludes processed and sugary foods as well as gluten, most dairy and caffeine.
But is the pegan diet a vegan or vegetarian diet? The pegan diet allows meat and some dairy but excludes gluten, grains and ultra processed foods containing sugar. It is not vegetarian however you can eat mostly plant-based foods when following this way of eating.
What is Meant by “good” and “bad” fats
Dr Mark Hyman distinguishes between “good” and “bad” fats in his book The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet explaining that good fat is important for health, energy and weight loss whereas bad fat can contribute to inflammation, heart disease or obesity.
Good fats include organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, omega 3 rich fish such as wild salmon and grass-fed meat whereas bad fat includes nonorganic meats and processed vegetable oils such as soybean, sunflower or canola oil.
He also recommends that you avoid foods that contain high amounts of omega 6s which encourage inflammation.
These include refined vegetable oils, nonorganic animal products and any processed foods such as chips or crackers.
Know where to find the foods on the pegan food pyramid
The pegan food pyramid from Dr Mark Hyman provides an example of a healthy vegan diet for weight loss and health.
It includes foods from the plant-based food group such as non starchy veggies, fruits, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds plus fatty fish in moderation.
On Dr Hyman’s pegan food pyramid you can also eat organic gluten free grains including quinoa, steel-cut oats and brown rice.
You can eat meat in moderation like grass fed beef available in most grocery shops nowadays.
You should also include grass fed butter but avoid dairy products like cow’s milk or goat milk.
What are the top weight loss foods on Dr Mark Hyman’s pegan food pyramid?
The top weight loss foods on Dr Hyman’s pegan food pyramid include mussels, cold-water fatty fish such as salmon for protein, vegetables, fruits, beans and balsamic vinegar.
Other pegan diet foods include avocado, blackstrap molasses and tempeh. Avocado is a healthy fat which can help you lose weight whilst blackstrap molasses is loaded in iron and calcium and good for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and stress management.
Tempeh is made with fermented soybeans and contains probiotics which promote healthy gut bacteria. Women going through the change (menopause) are advised to increase the daily consumption of probiotics [source]
What does Dr Mark Hyman mean by “clean” foods?
Dr Mark Hyman recommends you eat clean foods on the pegan diet to lose weight and get healthier. He defines these as whole, unprocessed plant-based foods that are low in sugar or processed carbs plus organic fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
Learn how to make a healthy meal using ingredients from both pyramids
You can make a healthy recipe using ingredients from both the vegan and pegan food pyramids such as rice, black beans and tempeh.
One example is to marinade tempeh in tamari (gluten free soy sauce), maple syrup, coconut oil and garlic then bake it with red peppers. Combine this with cooked brown rice and black beans then serve with vegetables such as kale or broccoli.
What are the two pyramids made of?
The vegan food pyramid is made of mostly fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes plus whole grains such as quinoa or steel-cut oats. It also include nuts and nut butters plus seeds such as chia, flaxseeds or hemp seeds.
The pegan food pyramid is made of lean meat or fish, eggs, healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil plus non-starchy veggies which you can eat in abundance. It also includes gluten free whole grains like brown rice or steel cut oats but excludes refined fat or sugar.
What does Dr Hyman mean by “good” and “bad” carbs?
Dr Mark Hyman recommends you avoid bad carbs on the pegan diet for weight loss. These are refined sugar, white flour and high-fructose corn syrup which can inhibit your energy from burning stored fat.
Good carbs include whole grains, legumes and fruit plus healthy fats such as that found in avocados or fatty fish.
How long should you follow a vegan or pegan diet?
Dr Hyman recommends you follow a vegan or pegan diet for the first 21 days of each month to detoxify your body and lose weight. You can then reintroduce certain foods such as gluten, dairy or sugar on alternate days. This is because food sensitivities can cause inflammation which prevents you from losing weight.
Can you eat processed vegan or pegan foods on the plan?
Dr Hyman recommends avoiding processed vegan or pegan foods as they contain refined sugar and gluten. You can have a treat once a week if you choose an organic option such as dark chocolate or coconut ice cream but limit to one portion per week at most.
What are the best snacks for people on the vegan or paleo diet?
Dr Hyman recommends snacking on apples with nut butter, vegetables with hummus or fruit salad as vegan or pegan snacks.
You can also have a morning smoothie made from plant milk and fresh fruits such as berries and avocado. Cashews, peanuts and almonds make good choices of nuts to eat on the pegan diet and can be combined with vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli.
How often should you exercise on a vegan and pegan diet?
Dr Hyman recommends exercising for at least 30 minutes each day to burn fat and lose weight.
You should also incorporate resistance exercises into your routine two days per week such as bicep curls or squats with weights. Yoga and walking are also good choices on the pegan diet to move your body and boost metabolism.
Can you eat sugar on a pegan diet?
Dr Hyman recommends avoiding all sugar on the vegan and pegan diets as refined sugars such as table sugar or fruit juice can cause inflammation in your body which prevents weight loss.
You should also avoid artificial sweeteners such as those found in diet soda and processed foods, which contain chemicals linked to negative effects on your health. Sugar substitutes such as stevia or xylitol are a healthier option but should only be used sparingly.
What are the health benefits of the pegan diet?
The health benefits of the pegan diet include weight loss, lower cholesterol levels and reduced risk or cancer plus improved sleep quality, skin tone and immune system function.
However this is not an appropriate plan for everyone. A person with diabetes should limit fruit intake on the pegan diet though lean protein may help manage blood sugar. The purely vegan diet is also unsuitable for pregnant women, children or seniors due to their different nutritional needs.
What are bad health effects of following a pegan or vegan diet?
The pegan diet can be high in fat and protein which increases the risk of osteoporosis, colon cancer and heart disease.
It may not provide sufficient calories and protein to help maintain muscle mass and strength either. It can be high in processed carbs and low in healthy fats plus may lead to nutrient deficiencies such as calcium, B12 or omega 3 fatty acids.
Why you should switch to a pegan diet from the paleo diet?
The paleo diet can be high in saturated fat, which increases your risk of heart disease, and may cause digestive problems such as bloating and constipation. It can also be low in fibre which prevents you from losing weight effectively plus lead to nutrient deficiencies over time.
The pegan diet is a good choice for those who want to lose weight as it is low in saturated fat and focuses on plant foods which are high in fibre. It also provides a wider range of nutrients than the paleo diet.
Get tips for transitioning into this new lifestyle from
In his book 21-Day Food Revolution, the founder of the Pegan Diet is sharing his 21-day protocol to take the illusions out of healthy eating and help you create a personalized plan that fits into your lifestyle.
You’ll feel better, lose weight, look younger (yes, you can turn back the clock) and get off medications for good along with tips for eating out and staying on track with others. And of course, you’ll discover foods that taste better than your old food pyramid diet provided.
- Tip #1: The main rule in shopping is to buy real food: organic, whole and unprocessed
- Tip #2: Stop Dieting – Now. Instead choose your food according to the food guide pyramid.
- Tip #3: Eat lower carbs and higher fats for more energy and better brain function
- Tip #4: Eat three square meals a day, every day of the week—including weekends!
These ideas and many more will help you transition into a lifestyle that’s better both for you and the planet. It’s time to stop thinking of food as something we avoid and start viewing it as something we can enjoy—and even crave!
Dr Hyman’s favorite recipes that are perfect for any day of the week
Below are some ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner that you could have eating a pegan diet!
Dr Hyman’s book contains lots of recipes so you can get creative with your meals. This is a very balanced way to eat including all the macronutrients that we need to thrive.
Breakfast: Smoothie made from a base of fruit and veggies. You can have this smoothie with a handful of nuts for healthy fats and protein too, to keep you full longer. Or try a green smoothie with avocado instead of nut milk.
Lunch: Try making large salads that will last you all week if possible. Use leafy greens, meats, nuts and avocado.
Dinner: Try making large vegetables portions with your meat instead of rice or potatoes. You could also have guacamole on the side of your meal too!
In this nutritionally confusing world, not to mention the barrage of conflicting research, it can be hard to navigate what is best for our health.
The pegan diet is a combination of the paleo and vegan diets meaning that there are no restrictions when it comes to food groups unless you have an allergy or intolerance.
It focuses on whole foods that are naturally nutrient dense which are less likely to lead to inflammation in the body. It is a nutrient dense diet that focuses on whole foods which are naturally healthy and avoids processed ingredients, sugar and refined carbohydrates.
It encourages a focus on plant foods which are high in fibre and nutrient dense while avoiding anything that causes inflammation in the body.
The Pegan Diet is highly recommended for those who suffer from autoimmune conditions or have digestive issues as it’s been proven to be great at boosting gut health.