No doubt, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is a good way to improve your health and your weight. But it may not be so healthy if that's all you're eating. The 80/10/10 raw food diet is a trendy, fruit-focused fad diet that claims it can help you lose weight and cure whatever ails you. If you're considering this all-plant-based diet, consult your doctor to discuss the pros and cons before making changes.
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What It Means to Eat Raw
Eating raw isn't a new concept. According to U.S. News and World Report, Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner discovered in the 1800s that eating raw apples cured his jaundice, and the raw food movement began with continued experiments on how eating this way improved health. Eating "raw" means the food has not been cooked or processed in any way or exposed to pesticides or herbicides. The theory is that cooking or processing food destroys valuable nutrients, nullifying all the health benefits. A raw food diet typically consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds and fresh herbs, although some raw diets also allow raw grains and legumes. While the majority of raw diets are vegan, which means animal products are off limits, a few do allow raw, unpasteurized milk and cheese.
While foods are not cooked on a raw diet, the raw ingredients may be manipulated in various ways to alter taste and texture. Raw foodists use dehydrators, juicers and blenders to alter food and create meals.
People follow a raw food diet in a variety of ways, but true believers say 75 to 80 percent of what you eat must be raw when following this type of food plan.
About the 80/10/10 Diet
The 80/10/10 raw food diet, also known as 811 diet, was developed by Dr. Doug Graham. Graham, a chiropractor and athlete, has followed a raw food diet since 1978, according to his website FoodnSport. Graham says that most raw food plans include too many high-fat foods, such as nuts and avocados, to meet calorie needs. But Graham says getting too much fat in your diet is bad for your health.
The 80/10/10 diet plan gets most of its calories from carbs -- 80 percent -- with 10 percent from protein and 10 percent from fat. Known as a low-fat vegan diet, Graham's diet claims to not only help you lose weight and improve health, but also sleep better, up your energy levels and help your athletic performance.
Additionally, Graham says eating a raw diet helps cleanse and heal your body, alleviate constipation, and improve gastrointestinal transit time to prevent fermentation of waste in your colon.
What You Eat on 80/10/10
Since it's a very high-carb diet, you eat a lot of fruit on the 80/10/10 diet, as well as leafy greens and other vegetables, which act as a source of carbs and a bit of protein, along with nuts and seeds, which provide protein and fat. The diet comprises two to three large meals, consisting of fruit throughout the day and a large salad for dinner. Graham says fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds provide the body with the same essential nutrients as any other food, including grains, meat, milk and vegetables, making them the ideal food choice for the diet plan. The ideal 80/10/10 diet plan should get 90 to 97 percent of calories from fruit, 2 to 6 percent of calories from vegetables and 0 to 8 percent of calories from nuts and seeds, according to FoodnSport.
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, and, since they include fiber and water, they're very filling. Because of the low-caloric density, you may have a hard time eating a large enough volume of fruits and veggies to meet your daily calorie needs initially, says Graham, and you may need to track your calorie intake to ensure you're getting enough.
What's Good About 80/10/10
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people don't eat enough fruit and vegetables, getting only half the recommended amount of 2 to 2 1/2 cups of fruit and 3 to 4 cups of vegetables a day. The 80/10/10 diet plan can help you up your intake of these important health-promoting foods. The Harvard School of Public Health says eating more fruits and veggies improves blood pressure, lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke and reduces your risk of cancer. Fruits and veggies are also good for your eyes and digestion. And a connection exists between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and healthier weight, according to a 2015 study published in PLoS.
Eating only raw foods eliminates all processed foods from your diet, which is also beneficial to your health and waistline. While not all processed food is bad for you -- frozen veggies and canned fruit are OK, for example -- many are full of fat and sugar, such as fast food, frozen meals, potato chips, cakes, cookies and soda. These processed foods contribute calories without offering much nutritional value and are associated with weight gain.
80/10/10 Is Not a Balanced Diet
While the 80/10/10 raw food diet is filled with nutritious foods, it's not a balanced diet; it's very low in fat and protein. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines suggest a balanced diet contain 45 to 65 percent of calories from carbs, 10 to 35 percent of calories from protein, and 25 to 35 percent of calories from fat. These guidelines are designed to ensure you meet all your essential nutrient needs and are based on the latest scientific findings of what constitutes a healthy diet. Severely restricting your protein and fat intake on the 80/10/10 diet may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Additionally, this diet also eliminates major food groups, including grains, dairy and protein foods, such as meat, poultry and fish. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics warns any diet plan that severely eliminates food options increases your risk of omitting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs for good health. Not only that, you may have a hard time eating only fruit for an extended period of time, making this diet a difficult one to follow long-term. If permanent weight loss is your goal, the only diet that works is the one you can follow for life.
Although fruits are a healthy source of sugar, if that's all you're eating, you may get too much sugar in your diet. This is especially concerning for people with medical conditions such as diabetes.
Incorporating Fresh Fruit and Veggies for Balance
You can't go wrong eating more raw fruits and vegetables, but for overall health and diet satisfaction, it's better to include them with a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups. Aim for the amounts recommended by the dietary guidelines: 2 to 2 1/2 cups of fruit and 3 to 4 cups of veggies a day.
Fruits and veggies make easy additions to any meal. At breakfast, eat a half a grapefruit or fresh melon, or make a smoothie with bananas, blueberries, spinach and yogurt or almond milk. Make salad a regular part of your lunch and dinner, and eat fresh fruit for dessert, such as a bowl of strawberries or sliced watermelon. And whether you're on-the-go or at home, raw fruits and veggies also make good snacks.