A Diet With Snacks AND Alcohol? A Look Into the Pegan 365 Diet

Vegetarian Paleo Diet

Let’s face it—most diets are drab. Often enough, following a plan means cutting back on the things that you love the most, such as alcohol and tasty snacks. Well, what if we told you that there’s a plan that allows you to have both of these things? It’s called the Pegan 365 Diet, and it’s basically a paleo-vegan combination diet. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the Dr. Oz Pegan 365 Diet?

If you’ve heard about the Pegan 365 Diet recently, you could be forgiven for believing that it’s a brand new fad. However, that is not the case. Dr. Mark Hyman MD invented this particular diet some years ago as a way to help people improve their health. “We now know that food is medicine, perhaps the most powerful drug on the planet with the power to cause or cure most diseases,” he explained on his blog when talking about the diet.[1]

Put simply, this particular diet is a combination of both the paleo and vegan eating plan. Hyman cites people of interest including Rich Roll and Lebron James, who have followed these two diets and achieved athletic success. The paleo-vegan (or pegan) diet takes the healthiest aspects of both of these eating plans and combines them. The idea is that you can lose weight, improve your health, and get fitter by eating this way.

Dr. Oz Pegan 365 Diet

Top-down shot of various fresh vegetables presented neatly on a white table

While the plan has been around for years, it has only lately begun to gain momentum. Perhaps the most popular variation of the plan is the Dr. Oz Pegan 365 Diet.[2] The famed TV presenter popularized the diet and now offers a year-round plan that covers the fundamentals of both the vegan and paleo diet. The celebrity has recipes, educational insights, and other resources such as checklists on his main site. All of the above are there to help people start on their journey toward better health by trying the plan.

Did you know that Dr. Mark Hyman came up with the term “pegan” and set out the first rules for the diet?

The Main Pegan 365 Diet Rules

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The choice of nutritional philosophies is endless these days…⁣ ⁣ We can go vegan; vegetarian; ketogenic; Paleo; flexitarian; pescatarian; Mediterranean; high-fat, low card; high-carb, low fat; raw; and on and on.⠀⁣ ⠀⁣ Trying to find the right one can be overwhelming, leading many people to want to give up and say, I am just going to eat whatever I want because no one can agree on anything.⠀⁣ ⠀⁣ The good news is that the truth about nutrition, the basic guiding principles of how and what to eat is pretty simple.⠀⁣ ⠀⁣ Keep in mind that we are all genetically unique and need to find a way of eating that matches our needs.⠀⁣ ⠀⁣ Vegan and Paleo diets focus on foods that don't raise our blood sugar, plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy protein and fats, and no crap.⠀⁣ ⠀⁣ I synthesized the best aspects of each and integrated them with the anti-inflammatory and detoxification principles of functional medicine to create a balanced, inclusive dietary plan I call the Pegan diet.⠀⁣ ⠀⁣ Anyone switching from the typical American diet where 56% of our calories come from processed foods, where the average American consumes 44 gallons of soda a year to a diet of real food—whether it is vegan or Paleo or anything in between—WILL get healthier.⠀⁣ ⠀⁣ We should not eat processed industrial food and we should eat real whole food that doesn’t harm us, the planet, or the economy.⠀⁣ ⠀⁣ *Thanks to @beingBrigid for inspiring this post!

A post shared by Mark Hyman, M.D. (@drmarkhyman) on

When Hyman created the pegan diet, he set out a variety of rules that would help people easily understand what the plan looks like.[3] That means that it shouldn’t take long to get to grips with this plan. With that in mind, here are the fundamentals of the vegan-paleo diet:

1. Load up on fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are at the heart of the paleo-vegan diet. Around 75% of what you eat should consist of these two groups. That means eating as much fresh produce as possible in your day-to-day meals. These should ideally be organic or locally grown.

2. Eat fewer glycemic foods

Glycemic foods include sugar, flour, and refined carbohydrates. Basically, these are foods that tend to cause your blood sugar levels to spike at a rapid rate.[4]

3. Avoid chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones

Do you know what’s in your food? The diet plan means that you should check for any extra chemicals or hormones that may be included. Always check the label of your products.

Two halved avocados, nuts, and olive oil in a small square glass bowl on a wooden table
Unlike many other diet plans, the pegan 365 diet includes a range of healthy fats.

4. Eat good quality fats

Unlike many other diet plans, the paleo-vegan diet includes a range of healthy fats. These may include omega 3 fats, for example. Sources include olive oil, seeds, nuts, and fruit such as avocado.

5. Get enough protein!

Here’s perhaps one of the most important Pegan 365 Diet rules. You need to make sure that you get as much protein as your body needs.

6. Eat sustainable animal products

While you may choose to be vegan and avoid animal products altogether, that lifestyle is not for everybody. If you choose to eat these products, you should ensure that they are raised sustainably and grass fed.

7. Eat low mercury fish

Similarly, if you choose to eat fish, you should make sure that it’s low in mercury and toxins. Examples include herring, sardines, and anchovies among others. Fish is a key source of Omega 3 fatty acids, a vital nutrient that many of us are lacking in.

Of course, these paleo-vegan diet rules are the original ones, but there may be variations of them now. Before you decide to embark on any diet plan, it’s worth looking at what the rules are and seeing whether they will suit you and your lifestyle. When you learn what foods you can eat on the pegan diet, you can decide whether it’s right for you.

Yes, You Can Have Alcohol and Snacks!

Flat lay of dried fruits and nuts laid out neatly on a white table

As you can see from the main Pegan 365 Diet rules, there’s nothing to say that you can’t drink alcohol while you’re following this plan. Of course, since the diet is a balanced one, when you decide to drink, you should do so in moderation. That means that if you fancy a juicy glass of red wine with your dinner, you should go ahead and pour one!

Equally, if you love nothing more than snacking, you might find that this is the diet plan for you. There’s no rule that says you should quit having snacks throughout the day. In fact, in his blog post on the matter Hyman says:[5] “Don’t worry about focusing on how much you eat, if you focus on what you eat, your body’s natural appetite control systems kick into gear and you eat less.”

Put simply, when you change your way of eating and start the pegan diet, you shouldn’t worry about snacking or portion control. The idea is that you listen to your appetite and eat the right types of food when you’re feeling hungry. Simple.

Which Foods Can You Eat?

Close up of asparagus, halved avocados, tomatoes, and garlic on a kitchen table
As the pegan diet has many of the same rules as the vegan diet, it could help you to shed some pounds.

Are you now considering taking up the pegan diet? If so, you’re going to need to know what foods you can eat. Luckily, the Dr. Oz website lays out a wide and varied shopping list that you can use as a basic guide.[6] Here are the staples that you can eat when you’re following this particular plan and some examples of the specific products you should buy:

1. Fruits

The pegan diet is about eating both fresh and frozen fruits. While there’s a wide variety of examples from which to choose, some ideas include mangos, bananas, plums, kiwis, pineapples, grapefruit, and all types of berries.

2. Vegetables

Don’t forget to eat your greens! Your paleo-vegan diet should include both starchy and non-starchy vegetables including beets, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, peppers, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, and squash. Variety is key.

3. Healthy fats

As we already mentioned in the Pegan 365 Diet rules, you should do all you can to include healthy fats in your diet. Some of the major sources you should try to include nut butter, seeds, nuts, oils, and more.

Flat lay of pegan (paleo-vegan) diet foods such as vegetables, fruits, fish, lean eat proteins

4. Paleo protein

Of course, getting enough protein is essential to your health. According to information from Harvard Health, protein should take up around 10% of your daily calories.[7] Examples of paleo protein include eggs, grass-fed meat, and low-mercury fish.

5. Vegan protein

You should also take the time to look into some of the most common vegan protein sources. These include tofu, tempeh, and beans. Making sure that you include these particular foods in your diet could boost your overall protein intake.

6. Whole grains

Choosing whole grain products is a central theme when it comes to the Pegan 365 Diet. You should make sure that you look for foods that are 100% whole grain, such as specific breads and even pastas too.

Top down view of spice powders on tablespoons, and fresh spices laid out on a white surface

7. Spices and sauces

Next, let’s take a quick moment to talk about how you’re going to make your food taste fantastic. You don’t want to stick with bland and boring meals. Including both spices and sauces in your plan is a must. Typical examples of spices include hot sauce, cayenne, ginger, paprika, garlic, and mustard, among other options. You can even make your own spice blends!

8. Dairy substitutes

Since you will be cutting out dairy, you might feel that your diet lacks something. If that’s the case, there are plenty of dairy substitutes you can try for yourself. These include nut-based milks, nut-based cheese, and non-dairy yogurts.

9. Sweeteners

Looking for a way to sweeten up dishes? Of course, it goes without saying that you don’t want to use regular white sugar. Instead, you could try using honey, agave syrup, stevia, and other plant-based options when it comes to sweeteners. Be careful of artificial sweeteners though, as they aren’t as nearly good for your health as they seem.

Which Foods Do You Need to Avoid?

dairy products such as cheese, jug of milk, glass of milk, and yogurt on a wooden table

Now that you know what foods you can eat on the pegan diet, it’s time to consider what foods you should avoid at all costs. Hyman also set out the foods that you should not eat when you follow the pegan diet.[8] Here’s a quick overview:

1. Dairy

Avoiding dairy is a common theme in both the paleo and vegan diets. So, it should come as no surprise to find that the basis of the pegan diet means avoiding dairy products at all times. That means cutting out milk, cheese, and yogurt.

2. Limited grains

Hyman also stated that people should be limiting the amount of grains they have and cutting out grains that boost their blood sugar. When you do choose to have grains in your diet, they should be whole grains and you should have them in small portions.

3. Legumes

While you can have some legumes – such as lentils – the diet states that you should limit the amount that you have. The reason is that some legumes could boost your blood sugar levels, which is what you want to avoid at all costs.

top down view of a donut with colourful sprinkles on a white plate with a fork on the side, two striped straws above it, and a mug of hot chocolate topped with cocoa powder and marshmallows in the bottom right corner

4. Sugar

Hyman stated that you can use sugar sparingly when you’re following the pegan diet. However, it’s worth trying to cut back as much as possible and avoid it when you can.

5. Additives

As already mentioned, the Pegan 365 Diet is all about cutting out foods that are full of chemicals. That includes additives. Much of the time, processed foods have a range of preservatives and flavorings, which you should be wary of.

6. Refined oils

While some oils, such as olive oil, could be a great source of healthy fats, there are others that you want to avoid. Steer clear of heavily processed oils including corn oil, sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil, among other options.

When you first glance at the list, it may appear rather extensive. However, it’s important to remember that many of the above items can be replaced with healthier alternatives. For example, you can switch sugar for a plant-based sweetener or swap yogurt for a dairy-free option. So long as you are creative with your eating plan, you should have no problem.

What Benefits Does a Vegan-Paleo Diet Offer?

There’s no doubt that the Pegan 365 Diet is gaining popularity. But why should you try it? There are a few strong advantages to giving this eating plan a whirl. Here are some of the science-backed reasons that you may want to try it.

1. Could boost heart health

top down view of a big bowl of green salad in the middle, with small white bowls surrounding it filled with other fresh fruits and vegetables

One of the major strengths of the pegan diet is that it focuses on healthy fats. Research published in the US National Library of Medicine suggests that consuming fats derived from nuts, vegetables, and fruit (such as avocados) could help to improve your heart health.[9] Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, looking after your cardiovascular health each day is a must.

2. Weight loss benefits

white plate filled with vegan lentil burger patties and a fresh salad with a fork and knife on the side of the plate

Looking for a way to kickstart your weight loss? As the pegan diet has many of the same rules as the vegan diet, it could help you to shed some pounds. Research in the Nutrition Journal found that a vegan diet is one of the best eating plans for weight loss.[10] Cutting back on dairy products, meat, and processed foods could make all the difference.

3. May prevent cancer

Top down view of pegan 365 diet (paleo-vegan) foods such as salmon, asparagus, carrot, lemons, and tomatoes on a wooden board being prepped for cooking

Another strength of the pegan diet is the fact that it focuses on whole foods, i.e. products that are not overly processed. This could improve your overall diet but also mean seriously positive things for your health.

For example, one study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests that eating more whole foods could lower a person’s risk of getting colon cancer.[11] Aside from that, choosing to eat these types of food means you have more control over your nutrition.

4. May prevent other diseases

White plate topped with a corn, cucumber and radish salad and a small portion of lean red meat

What’s more, because around 75% of the diet is made up of fruit and vegetables, this plan could help to prevent other diseases too.

Research suggests that consuming high levels of fruit and vegetables could lead to a reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress.[12] There is also evidence to suggest that this style of eating can also prevent diseases too.[13]

Did you know cutting back on meat and dairy products could help you to lose weight?[14]

Are There Any Downsides I Should Be Aware of?

Woman with a shopping cart filled with groceries looking at her shopping bill

Before you completely revamp your diet, you may want to consider any possible downsides. The has been some criticism of the Pegan 365 Diet and you shouldn’t ignore it. Here are some of the disadvantages that you need to know about before you start.

1. Inaccessible and expensive

While there are many health benefits of a pegan diet to consider, one of the biggest drawbacks is that it is expensive. Eating locally sourced products ultimately costs more than eating processed food. That means the diet may not be accessible to everyone. However, fruit and vegetables are generally cheap products, which should help to lighten the load when it comes to the cost.

2. Eliminating food can be dangerous

Cutting out entire food groups—such as dairy —is one of the main parts of the pegan diet. That in itself is not dangerous. However, you could argue that, if you don’t fully understand nutrition, you could end up lacking some essentials. Ensuring that you get enough of certain things, such as calcium, has to be your top priority.

3. Legumes and grains are healthy

Finally, one of the biggest arguments against the Pegan 365 Diet is the fact that it lacks both grains and legumes. These staple foods are quite good for you in terms of your energy levels as well as your overall health. Avoiding them altogether could be unnecessary.

A Look at Sample Pegan Menus

  BreakfastLunchDinnerSnacks
Monday Paleo blueberry muffins and one medium bananaQuinoa salad with spinach, fresh peppers, onions and tomatoesVegan chickpea curry with a side salad of leafy greensFresh apple slices and cashew butter
Tuesday Healthy smoothie including spinach, pineapple, pear, and cayenne pepperTwo-egg omelet with zucchini, onions, and peppersGrilled locally sourced chicken breast, broccoli, cauliflower, and bell pepperAvocado slices
Wednesday Poached eggs and asparagusSquash and black bean stewGrilled eggplant and a leafy green salad with bell pepper and tomatoesPaleo fudge brownies
Thursday Quinoa pudding (made with plant-based milk) and chia seedsBaked sweet potato and pinto beans in organic tomato sauceGrilled salmon fillet with lettuce, tomatoes, and onionsBanana and honey
Friday Two baked eggs and avocado slicesVegetable stir fry including beansprouts, peppers, onions, and chiliesLean turkey slices with a side of carrots, beets, and leafy greensGuilt-free Paleo chocolate cookies
Saturday Two-egg omelet with a side of kimchiRoast pork loin with a leafy saladWarming lentil stewSeeds and nuts
Sunday Sweet potato “toast” (thin pieces of grilled sweet potato) with tomatoesGrilled tofu drizzled with chili oil and served with greensLentil and chickpea chili stewMango and honey
What is the Pegan 365 Diet?

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got an overview of the pegan diet, it’s time to decide whether it’s right for you. As you can see from our guide, there are many advantages to the eating plan. However, it has been met with controversy due to its expensive nature and the fact it needlessly cutting out certain healthy food groups. If you want to give it a go, use our sample menu as a guide and create a plan that suits your lifestyle and tastes!

References

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