A raw food diet can be done many, many ways.
Generally-speaking, raw food diets fall into two camps: high fat and low fat.
In the high fat camp, some people still enjoy eating raw animal products, like unpasteurized milk, eggs, raw meats and fish.
I have no experience eating a raw animal-containing diet, so I will leave that approach to others.
I do have four years of experience with high fat and low fat raw vegan lifestyles.
I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work…painstakingly.
High Fat Raw Vegan Diet
On a high-fat raw vegan diet, calories from fat predominate.
The percentage of fat varies according to practitioner and plan, but can far surpass 50-60% of calories from fat.
That’s a lot of fat!
High fat raw foodies enjoy loads of avocados, coconuts, nuts, seeds, and cold-pressed oils. They usually also eat lots of greens, non-starchy vegetables, sprouted seeds, and fresh vegetable juices.
Superfoods like maca, cacao, spirulina, chlorella, and many more are often promoted to enhance nutrition.
Fruit is largely avoided with only small amount of low glycemic fruits consumed, such as berries and green apples.
Eating high fat, moderate protein, and low carb is thought to help address candida overgrowth and blood sugar imbalances.
Weight is typically controlled with an appropriate caloric deficit. Eating such high levels of fat is thought to reduce appetite.
My Experience with a High Fat Raw Vegan Diet
Every time I have eaten this way, I have experienced cravings through the roof.
I undereat calories for a while, then have cravings, then binge. It doesn’t work for me. Inevitably, I crave fruit.
Candida, Insulin Resistance & Blood Sugar
When I eat fruit with all that fat in my bloodstream, the sugar can’t get to my cells. Insulin cannot unlock the cells to let sugar inside, because too much fat is present.
As a result, candida overgrowth and blood sugar problems abound, which is the exact opposite goal of eating high fat in the first place.
According to Dr. Doug Graham in The 80/10/10 Diet, candida is a fail-safe mechanism that the body needs. It’s a last resort to make sure blood sugar is dealt with and doesn’t hang out in the bloodstream too long.
When insulin doesn’t work properly due to elevated blood fat, candida feeds on the sugar.
It sucks for us, because the sugar we ate doesn’t reach our cells. Fatigue, weakness, and other candida overgrowth symptoms set in, along with prediabetes and diabetes.
But, we don’t die. Candida is our friend. We don’t want to get rid of candida completely. We just don’t want overgrowth!
Low Energy & Motivation
Moreover, when I eat high fat raw vegan, my energy sucks. I can barely make it through a work out, and I want to spend all my time sitting around. Not fun!
Inevitably, I start thinking, “Hey, why not include some cooked vegetables?” Thus, I stop eating raw. Food choices spiral out of control from there.
Low Fat Raw Vegan Diet
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the low fat raw vegan diet.
Fruit, instead of fat (nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, oils), is the dietary staple.
The low fat range is typically anywhere between 5-20% of calories from fat.
A good rule of thumb is: 80/10/10.
When eating 80/10/10, 80% of calories come from carbohydrates, 10% of calories come from protein, and 10% of calories come from fat.
It is an average over time. Not every meal will be perfectly 80/10/10.
For example, if I drink my Candy Cane Lane Cocoa for breakfast, 95% of calories come from carbs, 3% from protein, and 2% from fat for that given meal.
For lunch, I might have Snickerdoodle Persimmon Nice Cream. The breakdown of this meal is: 93% of calories from carbs, 4% from protein, and 3% from fat.
Dinner may be Lissa’s Red Pepper Cashew Dip with 4 hearts of romaine. This meal contains 71% calories from carbs, 11% calories from protein, and 18% calories from fat.
My daily ratio: 86% calories from carbs, 6% from protein, and 8% from fat. Perfectly fine.
This day will balance out with other days I may eat a little more or a little less fat. The idea is that the average for the week, month, and year is 80/10/10.
Whether you are doing cooked vegan, raw vegan, or plant-based (with miniscule amounts of animal products), the 80/10/10 ratio seems to be the magic number for high energy levels, great digestion, awesome athletic and mental performance, blood sugar balance, decreased inflammation, adequate hydration, weight loss/ideal weight maintenance, and reversal of Type II diabetes and heart disease.
My Experience With Low Fat 80/10/10 Raw Vegan:
- I feel amazing.
- Weight loss is easy.
- I easily maintain my ideal weight.
- My skin is clear and glowing.
- My eyes are clear and bright.
- I have plenty of energy to do HIIT workouts, cardio, hot yoga, be on my feet making food, work creatively, study, be present in my relationships, and more.
- My sleep is deep.
- I awaken naturally at 5-6am with loads of energy.
- No cravings and no food obsessive thoughts (as long as I eat enough calories, which turns out to be more than I thought I needed…more on that in another post)
- I enjoy my food immensely.
- My mental focus and concentration are enhanced.
- My thinking is so clear.
- Emotionally, I am balanced.
- I feel my feelings, and emotionally regulate well.
- My attitude is positive and optimistic.
- I am able to see and appreciate the beauty of life.
- I am disciplined and focused in other aspects of my life. (This is probably my favorite benefit!)
In essence, things fall into place in a beautiful way when I get my diet right. It’s actually freaky…in a good way!
And trust me, I’ve been on and off a low fat raw vegan diet enough to see that the connection is real. All these benefits promptly disappear when my diet changes.
You can also get great results on a low fat cooked vegan diet that follows the 80/10/10 ratio.
Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. John McDouggall, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Garth Davis, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and many more promote low fat whole foods plant-based diets, and have written great books describing their particular approaches to nutrition.
Are you serious about improving your health?
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