LIFESTYLE

What Is The Pegan Diet And Can It Help You Lose Weight?

07/08/2015 12:23 BST | Updated 10/08/2015 13:59 BST

The pegan diet, in the tradition of celebrity couple mash-up names, is supposedly a mixture of the paleo and vegan diet.

Although this might sound like the restrictive eating plan from hell, it's actually meant to distill the best parts of both diets. Essentially, it's a leaner version of paleo in that it includes more vegetables, but unlike the vegan diet you do eat animal products.

quinoa salad

News.com.au quoted nutritionist Brigitte Zeitlin as saying that it:

  • Contains foods that fall somewhere between 55 and 69 on the glycaemic index (so it won't make your blood sugar spike and crash)
  • The majority of the diet is fruits and vegetables that fall within this index (but no sweet potato as it's too high on the index)
  • Around 25% includes lean protein (chicken, grass-fed beef, eggs and fish)
  • No wheat, but grains such as quinoa, amaranth and wild rice are fine
  • No dairy, sugar, soya or legumes but you can eat fats like nuts, avocado and coconut oil

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For a recap on what the paleo and vegan diets are, dietitian April who blogs at The Thin Kitchen and features Pegan recipes, says: "The Paleo (or “caveman”) diet, includes foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and fruit. Grains, legumes, sugars, processed foods,and most dairy products are forbidden.

"A vegan diet consists of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds—and prohibits anything that comes from an animal."

What do the experts think?

Alice Mackintosh at The Food Doctor says: "In all honestly, this diet is nothing new, it’s the way we used to eat and the way most of us really should eat."

She believes that the two diets when combined, actually compliment one another.

"In doing so minimise the risk of different deficiencies that both can put you at risk of," she adds. "Good quality grains, which are off limits with paleo are included in safe and healthy levels, and all important protein forms a considerable part of the diet also meaning that no fundamental food groups are excluded."

steak

However, dietitian Jo Travers is not so happy with the lack of legumes. A legume is a fruit or seed that usually has a split down the middle (like peas, lentils or beans) and are great sources of fat, protein and carbohydrate.

"I think any diet that demonises foods like legumes is a bit suspect! There is no need to be so restrictive and selective.

"If you want to be healthy and lose weight, just eat a balanced diet; at every meal, fill half of your plate with fruit or veg, a quarter with carbohydrate and a quarter with protein, it doesn't have to be complicated and you can still eat from the place across the road from work without having to pick out the edamame beans."

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Facts About The Paleo Diet

Dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietitic Association (BDA) Priya Tew also finds the exclusion of wheat misguided.

"Cutting out gluten when this is not needed leads to an unnecessarily restrictive lifestyle. Just because you are not eating gluten does not mean you are healthier."

Instead, she suggests rather than following a diet, that "it would be better to make long term changes to your lifestyle that you know you can stick to and will make long term differences to your health. For example eating more fresh, unprocessed, whole foods. Cook as much as you can from scratch, eat more oily fish, more plant protein and increase your fruit and vegetable intake."

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As for whether it will actually result in weight loss, nutritionist Karen Poole thinks it might, but that's not necessarily a good thing.

"At a first glance this diet could bring positive results and quite quickly too as it offers a mainly vegetarian high fibre menu with no added sugar, processed food or fat and lean animal or fish protein.

"Depending upon your previous dietary habits and lifestyle this could help with weight loss or management ,reduce the risks of certain conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular issues and inflammatory arthritic or skin complaints.

"However, with any diet that excludes certain food groups you have to be very careful to ensure you get all the vital nutrients your body needs to function efficiently."

These nutrients include making sure you're getting enough B12 - it "enables the maturation of red blood cells, aids the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates and is vital for good overall physical and mental health" says Poole.

Overall, the consensus is the Pegan diet isn't the worst of the lot out there and does align itself with healthy eating ideals rather than faddy weight loss regimes. However it is still restrictive, and may make sticking to it a bit harder than most.

Facts About The Paleo Diet