Mark Hyman, MD is the author of more than 20 books on nutrition.  Like me, he trained in family medicine and is now a champion for functional medicine. As a leader in the field, he has served as chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine for many years.  He founded and still practices at The UltraWellness Center in western Massachusetts. 

Dr. Hyman coined the term “pegan” to combine the best of paleo and vegan diets. He began using the term in 2014 after moderating a debate between two founders of paleo and vegan diets. When asked what he was, he answered that he must be a pegan.  From there, he developed The Pegan Diet which is, in my opinion, the best of Dr. Hyman’s books as it brings together the teachings of his previous works.

The highlights of the pegan diet are:

  • Very low in carbohydrates – especially sugar, flour and refined carbohydrates of all kinds;
  • Higher in vegetables and fruits; the deeper the colors and the more variety, the better;
  • Higher in good quality fats such as in olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocadoes;
  • Animal products such as eggs and meat should be grass fed, pasture raised and organic whenever possible;
  • Fish should be low in mercury and other toxins;
  • Dairy and grains should be avoided.

I agree with Hyman on these simple rules to live by with your nutrition:

  1. Focus on the glycemic load (number of carbs) every day and work to stay below your glycemic threshold to lose and maintain a healthy weight. A good target is 50 grams for men and 30 for women daily.
  2. Eat the right fats and stay away from vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, corn and soybean. Focus on tree oils such as olive, coconut and avocado.
  3. Eat mostly plants; a pegan diet is 75% or more from plants with vegetables at every meal.
  4. Focus on nuts and seeds as a source of protein and healthy fats.
  5. Eat beans sparingly and make sure they are well cooked.
  6. Eggs, meat and fish are more of a condiment rather than the main part of any meal.
  7. Fast for 12 or more hours daily to help your body repair, restore and burn off excess fat.

The Pegan Diet serves as a “how to guide” with 21 “principles” rather than chapters. The last part of the book describes what to eat at meals, snacks and desserts. The Pegan Diet is so current and comprehensive that it could be the only nutrition book to recommend.

Dr. Scherger is founder of Restore Health in Indian Wells, a clinic dedicated to weight loss and reversing disease. To schedule a consultation or for more information, visit or call (760) 898.9663.

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