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You Asked: Is the Raw Food Diet for Weight Loss Really Healthy?

By Rob Poulos...

We all know that eating processed food isn’t good for our waistlines–but what if all you ate were vegetables, fruits, and nuts?  Even to the most conscious dieter, the idea seems extreme, but in some parts of the United States, such as southern California, it’s soon becoming the latest diet fad.

The name?  The raw food diet.

What is the Raw Food Diet?

So here’s the claim: By eating nothing but raw fruits, vegetables, and the obsessional handful of nuts, you’ll load your body with healthful enzymes–and lose weight naturally in the process.  Theoretically, this isn’t far from the truth; fruits and vegetables are swimming with those good-for-you phytochemicals that can do everything from improve your immune system to cancer prevention.

And, of course, if you’re eating nothing but fruits and vegetables, you won’t eat many calories.  Weight loss? A cinch.

According to U.S. News, getting slim couldn’t be easier with this plan–typical raw food dieters eat half the calories consumed during a normal cooked diet plan.  Their intake of saturated fat and sodium is also virtually non-existent, since these components are commonly found in cooked, and oftentimes processed foods.  That sounds like a great boost to your health–but not so fast.

Is a Raw Food Diet for Weight Loss Healthy?

Although you can expect your calorie (and fat) count to be low with a raw food diet plan, it’s not a perfect plan: Some nutritionists even say it’s dangerous.

Why?  Turns out raw food diets are often correlated with a higher risk of disordered eating or eating disordered behavior because it promotes severe food restriction; many people who follow this plan are also former anorexics.  Some nutritionists even say raw food dieters could develop an eating disorder called orthorexia, an eating disorder where a person is overly concerned with the purity and health of foods.  While worrying about the health of some foods isn’t a bad thing, it is when it becomes an obsession–an obsession raw food dieters could develop.

Furthermore, raw food diets may be rich in phytochemicals but they lack other healthful nutrients you’ll only find in meat and fatty sources.  The biggest risk: Not getting enough fat, which can trigger depression and reproductive problems.  You’ll also struggle to get enough protein, since most protein sources are cooked, not served in raw form.

Is the Raw Food Diet Right for Me?

Although the raw food diet is more likely to make you slimmer, it’s not always the best bet: With a severe lack of fat and protein, you may also lose more muscle mass in the process, which can decrease your metabolism and actually make it harder to lose fat.  Raw food diets also aren’t a good idea because of its highly restrictive nature; for most people, abstaining from cooked foods for the rest of their lives seems unfathomable, and it probably is.

Recommendation: It may seem healthy, but it’s far too restrictive and protein-deficient to make it a good diet plan.  We recommend a diet plan that includes a balance of micro nutrients  protein, fat, and carbohydrates for long-lasting, maintainable results instead.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ben Tristem

    When my wife I were vegan, we ate about 80% raw food for many months. I do remember spending a lot of time hungry, and going to the loo a lot. I know feed it’s tough (but certainly possible) to get enough protein that way.

    We have graduated to full-blown meat-eaters now, and I personally have had fantastic results since.

  2. Lalita

    I have tried eating high raw for a few months & I never felt better than I did then but did find out that for me eating 60-70% raw was good. Why?

    I am lacto vegetarian & have been for over 25yrs. Because of continuing weight gain for no apparent reason (I dont eat alot of fat nor am I on a diet + I train with weights+cardio). I realised that my diet in general was not varied. Could this be part of the weight gain problem? I ate the same most days- only my evening meal of pulses, rice (or other grain) & veggies cooked as a casserol varied.
    To kick start things, I decided to do a full detox (The Master Cleanse) & then start eating more raw. The master cleanse is hard-core but not so hard & after that I was FINALLY able to eat cabbage of all kinds- something I could NEVER digest before. Now I can have green smoothies. Because of the salads you eat in a raw food diet- it opened up a world of interesting ideas as to how to eat & prepare foods. eg. soaking pulses & some grains or sprouting which provides alot of protein & variety.

    What I like about the FBF program which I am just starting, is that it looks like I can go back to eating more raw (& varied) & get fat burning benefits. Rob, do you think this is possible? If I am 50-60%raw?

    I have found it hard to incorporate “grazing” in my diet so its hard going for me at the moment. I am soon going to visit my homeland, Australia, for 2mths where it will be summertime & amazing varieties of fruit & veggies will be available. Something I dont have usually have here in Scandinavia.

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