Try It or Skip It: The New Pegan Diet

Does paleo plus vegan equal a balanced diet?

The Claim: When you combine principles from the paleo and vegan diets, you get the "pegan" plan. This mash-up gives you the fruit and vegetable emphasis of both, adds a little meat and shuns processed foods à la paleo, then mixes in healthy grains and legumes (say, quinoa and black beans) that are the hallmarks of a vegan diet. While the pegan plan helps some people lose weight, it's designed more as a way to eat better than to drop pounds.

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Oz Says: Pegan isn't the only smart approach, but I really like what this hybrid is all about. First, it's lifestyle-friendly; people often find the no-grains part of paleo hard to stick with, and vegans may lean too much on processed soy foods for easy protein. This diet helps you avoid both traps.

Second, the key concepts are smart: You eat real foods rather than processed ones, fill up on produce, stick to grains that have a low glycemic load (they have less sugar and refined flour and are high in fiber, so brown rice, not white bread), and have healthy proteins like fish and eggs, using meat as a side dish, not a centerpiece. I've always liked those ideas, because they bring you a balance of nutrients and keep your blood sugar from spiking and dropping like crazy, which can mess with your energy and raise your risk of diabetes. All these rules are easy to implement, and you don't need to chase down exotic foods.

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One part of the pegan plan can be a bit harder to follow: Eat just 1⁄2 cup of beans or grains a day. I recommend doing that in some of my weight-loss plans, but only as a short-term thing. This might be too low for the average person to live with all the time, and I think it's OK to eat a little more than that, but don't let grains edge out other healthy foods. Make it as easy for yourself as possible so you can stick with it for life.

The Verdict: TRY IT

This story originally appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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