I’ve received many email and comments relating to eating a raw diet. Why? What do you eat? How do you prepare? How much money does it cost? and unfortunately, what about the protein? That’s the most unfortunate comment of all; it shows that so many buy into the great protein myth. After reading and researching so very much, it turns out we really only need approximately 20-25 grams of protein each day. I hit at least that many grams each day eating only fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I am usually in the 40-45 gram range.
For the past few years I had been eating a diet high in animal protein. I believed that I needed in excess of 100 grams of protein each day to create a lean muscular build. I hadn’t researched plant based diets at this point.
During April and May of this past year I received mailed letters from Costco stating that the beef I had purchased during these two months had been contaminated with ecoli.
In June I received a phone call from the processor of the grass fed steer I had purchased stating that my beef had been processed in a facility where ecoli had been detected.
In July I watched the movie FOOD, INC. The movie struck a chord deep within me. I began to read all that I could about a plant based diet. The books by Michael Pollan: In Defense of Food, Omnivores Dilemma and The Botany of Desire fueled my curiosity. I researched the topic thoroughly.
One day in June, I recall it vividly, I decided that for this day I wasn’t going to eat any animal products. No chicken, no beef and no eggs. No eggs! I was eating egg whites every single morning. Even though I really didn’t like them, I felt that I ‘should’ eat them. I felt that I needed to begin my day with protein so that is what I was doing.
For this one day I began the day with oatmeal and a banana. For lunch I had a large salad with a variety of field greens, kale, onion, carrot, mushrooms and topped it off with garbanzo beans. I was well satisfied and it was a great tasting lunch. For dinner I was at a loss. No beef. No chicken breast? What would I eat? I had found that if I ate more than one processed carb meal during the day I could usually count on a weight gain. I was very leery of having the corn tortilla, bean and veggie wrap that I was preparing. I ate the burrito and it was very good. I snacked on fruits during the day. I was satisfied and I didn’t miss the animal products at all. I didn’t even miss the skim milk in my coffee!
I was eating a vegan diet and was really surprised at how good it felt. I wondered if my muscle would shrink away. I wondered if I would be able to lift weights as heavy as I had been. I wondered if I would gain weight from the carbohydrates.
No, I didn’t lose any muscle, I could lift just as heavy and the carbohydrates didn’t make me fat. Cutting back on the meat, thereby cutting back on the total calories and fat in my diet, created a weight loss, not a weight gain.
I happily went along eating a vegan diet for the next few weeks when I began to realize I felt best when eating mostly raw vegetables and fruits. I would realize at the end of the day, when I was full of energy, that I had consumed only raw items. A smoothie of spinach and banana for breakfast, a huge fruit plate for lunch and a big green salad of kale, onion, tomato and carrot for dinner with fruit for snacks in between was when I felt best. I began to eat this way more often and began to notice a few things.
I had a bit of a detox period. The initial detox period seemed to last about two weeks. My symptoms included bad breath, chills, headaches, some daytime drowsiness, and dry skin. My teeth felt like they were growing carpet upon them. I began to carry my toothbrush with me to work. I seemed to be shedding my skin. Even dry brushes didn’t help during this two week detox period. At about day 10 I began feeling consistently good on this diet.
After the first 10 days I began to notice other changes.
Mental clarity. When eating raw foods I found that it felt as though a cloud had lifted. I didn’t realize the full feeling of clarity I felt mentally until I went back to cooked foods, then I noticed it immediately. As soon as I went back to eating non cooked items, the clarity returned.
Digestion. By eating raw foods my digestion process was very quick. I didn’t have any stomach upset, or problems running with a stomach that wouldn’t empty.
Energy. I couldn’t believe the energy I felt. I wasn’t tired. I needed less sleep. I began to wake at 430 on weekends because I wanted to and my body was ready to wake up for the day. Amazing.
I find that sometimes the fruit is too sweet to me. I have to ‘tone’ it down with a cleansing stalk of celery or cucumber. A shake of bananas, romaine and celery is wonderful. For some reason blended or juiced pineapple with garlic is good. The garlic cuts the sweetness of the pineapple.
I have run 2 100 mile races while eating a high raw diet.At Leanhorse 100, in August, I consumed a few vegan items pre race. Microwaved sweet potato and oatmeal pre race and Hammergel during the race. The race was fabulous. Recovery was quick and swift.
By the time Javelina Jundred 100, last week, came around I had been eating a raw diet for 7 weeks. I consumed raw pre, during and post race. Again, the race went terrific and recovery was even better. I had no swelling, no aches or pains at all. I was, I am, amazed.
My endurance level hasn’t dropped at all while changing my eating habits, nor has my weight lifting. As a matter of fact I seem to expend less energy now while running. I can run faster without raising my heart rate as high as before. I can’t explain it.
I have been researching raw diets and raw diets for athletes , in particular. I’ve found a wealth of information and other ultramarathoners who are eating a raw diet. Who knew?
High fat or low Fat? I found that when I consumed raw sunflower seeds, cashews and whole avocados as well as olive oils, I felt like I had a barrel of oil in my stomach. Many of the raw recipes that I found were full of plant fats; over 60% of the recipe’s calories came from fat!
I found that there are two camps of raw foodists: high fat and low fat. There are some who believe you can eat all the nuts/seeds/oils/fat fruit and veggies necessary to raise your calories to the necessary level and there are those that believe one should consume a low fat raw vegan diet of approximately 80/10/10. I have to agree with the 80/10/10 camp. High fat is just not a healthy way to eat. Even high plant fat. Some raw diets consist of 70% of calories coming from fat as the veggies don’t provide many calories. If you don’t consume higher calories from fruits (bananas, mangoes) to reach your daily calorie requirement you will do so with fats instead. While researching low fat raw vegan diets by Dr. Douglas Graham, Roger Haeske and Frederick Patenaude I was happy to see that I could trust the way that I felt and the way that the higher fats were making me feel.
At this point I continue to eat a raw diet, however I can’t say that I won’t eat steamed yams or roasted brussel sprouts again. I love the flavor of those two items and when Ifeel the need, I will consume them. I don’t believe I’ll eat animal products again, ever. I just feel so good without them, I wouldn’t want to feel the way they make me feel again.
Cost. The average cost for my food is $53 a week. Yeah! I can't believe what a bargain it is. I shop at either Costco or Cub Foods. Most of the time I can find organic for every item I want to purchase. Costco has a great selection of items and I can buy bananas by the case.
There are a few questions that I’ve answered. I’m certainly not an experienced raw foodist. I am just eating as to what feels good, or great, to me.
I’m finding that juicing is something else that I enjoy very much. I may try a 7-10 day juice feasting trial soon after a bit more research...just out of curiosity.