A bunch of really cool things about being a low fat raw vegan

For those of you that laughingly thought this would be a really short post with possibly no really cool things about being a low fat raw vegan, well, think again! Ha!

Far from being a pain in the butt, being a low fat raw vegan is not only a great conversation starter but also results in some pretty cool benefits.  I love educating people about the many benefits of veganism and so should you!  Going from vegan to high carb, low fat raw vegan is a big change.  But with all these benefits, how could you not want to try it out?

bananas
yummmm, bananas. not for banana bread.

You making banana bread with these?  Yep, every time I buy my usual amount of bananas, which is 20-30, this is the question I get from every single person that rings up my purchases.  Every single person.  No, I say.  I’m just eating them.  Then they’re disappointed.  Were they expecting me to bring them some banana bread?

Are you going to eat all of that?  Ummm, yes.  And I may even eat more.  Yes, I eat a lot of food.  It’s true.  My own personal record is when I ordered 4 salads at a restaurant for my entree.  Yep, 4.  That’s $40 in salads, in case you were wondering.  Raw vegans aren’t afraid to order up!  I have a salad bowl that most people would use on Thanksgiving to feed 5 people.  Nope, its just for my nightly salad.  Since raw fruits and vegetables are so low in calories, you’ll have to increase your quantity in order to get enough.

Change your tastebuds. I know this seems a bit farfetched, but stick with me.  The more raw, whole foods you eat, the more you will crave them.  The less you eat heavily processed food with added salt, sugar and fat, the less you will crave them.  Sooner than you think, you’ll begin craving fresh fruit rather than a cupcake or a cookie.  Yes, most people think I’m crazy when I make this statement.  But hear me out.  I’m an example of this.  Though I certainly look at a cookie and think, hey, that looks good, I don’t crave or want a cookie more than I want a piece of fruit.  I think a fresh, juicy organic mango is every bit as good as a chocolate chip cookie.  Plus, I know I’ll feel a lot better after eating that mango than I ever would eating the cookie.   This isn’t an overnight change, certainly.  It’s something that happens over time, as you accumulate more time eating a low fat raw vegan diet.

Everything I eat is compostable.  Yay!

Digestion. So simple.  Turns out the body really loves processing and digesting fresh fruit and veggies.  You’re welcome, body!

Bowel movements.  You knew this was coming, right?  Well sorry, but I had to mention it.  Because it’s easy.  No straining.  No worries.  Fast and easy evacuation.  P.s. that’s the way its supposed to be.

Awkward social situations.  When your brand-new next door neighbors offer to have you over for dinner and then off handedly, almost absent-mindedly asks if you have any dietary restrictions.  You can throw out the raw vegan thing and watch as their face scrunches up and they struggle with simultaneously how to withdraw the invitation and wait, what exactly is a raw vegan?  It’s fun if you offer them no specifics and they’re left to google raw vegan diet once they can scamper back through their front door.  The first recipe they bring up online will have no fewer than 20 ingredients and require at least 3 major kitchen appliances.

Hair.  Want silky smooth hair without using expensive toxic chemicals masquerading as shampoo and conditioner?  I used to have hair the texture of an SOS pad.  Now it’s silky.  Smooth.  Oh, and I wash my hair with Dr. Bronner’s hand soap only about once a week. Can’t get much more inexpensive and non-toxic than that.

Coupons.  Ever see a coupon for bananas, watermelons or red leaf lettuce?  Me neither.  Plenty out there for soda, chips and cookies.  All heavily processed foods.  Quit the coupons.  A good rule of thumb is if something you’re buying has a coupon, don’t buy it.

No cooking.  With apologies to Martha Stuart and virtually every show on the Food Network, you’ll have no need to cook.  No cleaning of greasy pots and pans.  No preheating ovens or working the flame over a saute pan.  You can even grow those arm hairs back!

Eating seasonally.  Amazing how much better produce tastes in season.  A navel orange right now tastes divine.  A blueberry tastes horrible and is 3x as expensive.  So eat oranges right now.  They’re on sale.  They taste as good as you’ve ever thought an orange could taste.  No worries blueberry, we’ll try you again in a few months.

You get to hang out in the produce section.  It certainly smells better than the meat and seafood areas of the grocery store.  Plus, produce aislelook at all the pretty colors!  An added bonus, the produce section of my grocery store is usually empty.  Meanwhile, the chips and cookies aisle is a bottle neck.

Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc. Sure, you can make Safeway or any of the other big box stores work but TJ’s and Whole Paycheck are certainly a much more enjoyable experience.   TJ’s has a  limited variety of fresh produce but their prices are awesome and quality is top notch.  Whole Foods boasts a decadent salad bar and hot food area which is perfect for when you’re visiting a new town and need some grub.  Also ideal for traveling with non-raw vegans or even carnivorous friends and family.  Everyone can find something to eat at Whole Foods.  Living in a town with no TJ’s or WF?  Move then.  Just kidding.  Find your closest equivalent natural market.

Easy peasy food preparation.  Someone asked me recently if being a raw vegan took a lot of time?  As in, does it take a lot of time to prepare meals?  Sure, there are some people eating a high fat raw vegan diet that do a lot of dehydrating and recipes and hours trying to mimic the taste of cooked foods.  However, I don’t do any of that.  My meal prep often times involves peeling a banana or an orange.  I may spend 10 minutes chopping up items for my salad.  That’s it.  Anyone spending more time preparing food on a raw diet is doing it wrong.

Ease of travel. I always throw a few bananas, apples or dates in my carry on luggage.  Since most raw food doesn’t require refrigeration, it’s easy to travel with fruits and veggies.  They’re incredibly portable! Every road trip involves an insulated bag full of fruit to nosh on as we gobble up the pavement.  One note on eating while in the middle seat of the airplane.  Be careful that you don’t bite into a piece of orange and have it spurt onto your seat mate.  Not that I’ve done that. That would be weird. But just in case.

Your new and improved immune system.  Welcome to a world of not getting sick.  I rarely got sick as a vegan, but going to a raw vegan diet seems to have amped up my immune system even more.  I never worry about seasonal allergies, cold or flu season.  What are these things you speak of? is what I feel like asking when friends tell me about being in bed for 4 days with a terrible flu.  I often take it for granted that I don’t get sick but it feels pretty dang good to not remember the last time I didn’t feel well.

Boundless energy No need for caffeine on a raw food diet.  You won’t need it.  I drank coffee for 2 decades plus, then last April I gave up coffee.  Boom.  Just like that.  I went from 4 cups a day to none.  I actually had more consistent energy without caffeine than I did with.  If you nap during the day, need more than 8  hours of sleep or rely on caffeine to get up in the morning, try a raw food diet! Be aware though, you might need a few new hobbies to keep yourself busy with all that free time.

Athletic recovery.  As an endurance athlete, both a runner and cyclist, I need to recover quickly from my workouts.  With a training schedule that doesn’t typically include any days off, feeling sore and tired from yesterday’s workout really hampers my performance.  kayleebarton about meGoing raw during my peak training for the Boston Marathon in 2014 helped me set a new PR at that event and to make it though training without missing any time for injury, sickness, or sore muscles.  I even ran my first ultra trail race in 2014, the Foothills Frenzy 50k.  Running nearly 32 miles with no muscle soreness the next day is not something I’ve ever experienced.  I used to be super sore after hard track workouts or long runs.  Unless I’m doing hard strength training like box jumps or tons of push ups, I’m never sore the day or 2 days after a workout.

frisco kitchen
Frisco, waiting patiently for her evening walk

No post meal energy drain.  You know the feeling after eating a big meal of tasty vegan food high in fat, salt or sugar.  You feel drained and ready for a nap as your body attempts to break down and process all that food.  You feel warm, your heart rate increases and that last thing you want to do is move around. You look for the closest large piece of furniture to prostrate yourself on until this unpleasant feeling goes away.  Is that really the way you want your food to treat you?  With a low fat raw vegan diet, your post-meal energy suck disappears.  It’s replaced with a feeling of being energized, with all those fruit and veggie carbs fueling your cells.  After meal walks, maybe including a certain adorable chocolate lab, sound better than lying on the couch. Something to think about next time you’re regretting a big meal of foods high in fat, sugar or salt.

You’re still reading?  Well I’m out of amazing things about being a high carb low fat raw vegan for now.  Wasn’t that enough?

Try incorporating more raw foods into your diet.  Or heck, go all raw for a couple of weeks, or 30 days.  You might experience some or all of these benefits.  Or none.  No guarantees.  But at least you’ll have given it a try.

In the meantime, EatPlantsLiveWell!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: 30 Day Vegan Challenge

It’s tough writing a book review when the book in question is written by someone you idolize.  Oh well, I hate to use that word, but seriously, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau fits the bill perfectly.  She spreads the vegan word with a thick spatula of creamy delicious Vegenaise.  She’s eloquent.  She’s witty.  She speaks and writes with a level of confidence in her vegan beliefs that somehow makes becoming vegan not only desirable, but duh, why haven’t you done it yet?

The first time I heard of Colleen it was through a friend that had attended a book signing and lecture at Changing Hands in Tempe.  As my then vegetarian friend and her carnivore boyfriend walked outside after the lecture, he grabbed her elbow and directed her towards the Trader Joe’s in the adjoining parking lot.  If I’m going to be vegan we’ll need to get some groceries, he said earnestly.  Boom!  That’s the power of a Colleen Patrick-Goudreau lecture.  No matter how rooted in your beliefs you may be, it’s hard to deny the  pleasant but firm logic she uses to point out the incongruities of eating animals.

Lets be clear.  If you didn’t pick up on it already, I’m already a vegan.   I don’t need a 30 day vegan challenge.  I bought the book anyway.  I’m also a mostly raw vegan.  I don’t cook.  I don’t use recipes. But I read through every recipe and examined the decadent food pictures as if I had the definite intention of ever actually tackling one of those recipes.  Who knows?  Maybe I will.  If ever I feel compelled to tackle an actual recipe it will most definitely be from The 30 Day Vegan Challenge.

As someone who likes to keep things on the low fat side when I do eat cooked foods, I appreciated  The 30 Day Vegan Challenge offering up alternatives to higher fat recipes, like sauteeing vegetables in water instead of oil.  I will also be trying out her Green Machine smoothie and the Carrot Ginger Apple juice.

As gifted a writer and cookbook author as Colleen is, I dare say it pales in comparison to her speaking ability.  I’m an avid listened to her Vegetarian Food for Thought podcast as well as YouTube videos of her speaking engagements.  I can actually credit her with a revelation in my vegan outlook, a sort of epiphany I had after listening to her discuss her vegan lifestyle.  You see, Colleen doesn’t allow any animal products to be brought into home.  None.  At first blush, I thought this was absolutely ridiculous.

So if your otherwise lovely-but-carnivorous in-laws visit and want to add some grilled chicken to their meal, or buy some eggs to cook themselves for breakfast, they’re out of luck.  Or let’s say you have carnivore friends (gasp!) that are house/pet sitting.  They can’t bring any animal products into your home.  Since I’ve had both scenarios, asking people not to eat animal products in my home seemed both rude and well, sort of preposterous.

But after hearing how adamant she was about this, and reflecting carefully on what was really involved, it started making sense.  Sure, if I’m vegan only because I’m concerned about living the healthiest lifestyle, then no, it probably wouldn’t make a difference whether or not those products are in my home.

But I wasn’t just vegan for my health.  I was against cruelty to animals and everything that  went into producing that pink mound of ground flesh wrapped in plastic and supported by styrofoam and sadness.  There was real suffering in that package.  Did I really want that in my home?   Of course not.  I wanted nothing to do with enabling that cruelty to continue, whether or not people understood their food choices directly contributed to it or not.  Because they do. Of course they do.

So thank you CPG, for all that you do.   For the animals, for long time vegans and especially for new vegans that need a little support along the way.  I hope The 30 Day Vegan Challenge is a phenomenal success.  Though I loved the book, the format, the pictures, and particularly Day 17’s Demystifying Tofu: It’s Just a Bean, (ha) I think if I had opened the Kindle version and there were just a book full of x’s and o’s I would have still found something to like about that.

As always,  EatPlantsLiveWell, and pick up a copy of this book!

 

 

 

Why I don’t use recipes on a raw vegan diet

I admit it.  I’m not a recipe person.  Whenever I see a recipe with more than a few ingredients and prep time over 15 minutes I sort of lose interest.  Recipes that have several steps and involve the words “soak overnight” really lose me.

I’m not saying recipes are bad necessarily.  If you find yourself happily using recipes to create amazing vegan fare worthy of publication in VegNews, then that’s awesome!  Keep it up! I even occasionally will crank out a recipe if I’m feeling like trying something new, but for the most part, I like to keep my day to day food as simple as possible.

You can lead a healthy, happy existence eating a plant-based and even high carb low fat raw diet without ever really using recipes.  In fact, I would argue you have a much greater chance of being successful long term by avoiding complicated recipes and simplifying the way that you eat.  Here’s why:

Groceries

My grocery list is fairly simple and is never more than 10 items long.  I shop at Trader Joe’s and 99% of what I buy is in the produce trader joe'ssection.  I am in and out of the store in less than 15 minutes. I sometimes make a shopping list, but often I buy the same few items every time I go.  Oranges, bananas, spring mix, celery, cherry tomatoes.  Repeat. As seasonal items become available I add those to my cart.  Grocery shopping isn’t difficult or time intensive.  I enjoy my every other day sojourn to the grocery store.

Food prep

The time I spend preparing meals is fairly minimal.   For my breakfast and lunch I typically eat bananas and oranges.  If it’s summer I’ll have watermelons and blueberries.  I may take time to cut up the watermelon and peel the oranges, but food prep time is only a few minutes even then.

For dinner, I’ll take about 10 minutes to prepare my salad.  I’ll chop tomatoes, jalapeños, onions, cilantro, avocado and then add them to some lime juice and cumin to go with my spring mix.  Then I’ll eat typically eat more fruit for dessert, which may require some peeling or cutting.

Lower Cost

By eating a few simple items and buying produce according to what is in season and typically the lowest price, I keep my costs as low as possible.  Though no one would argue a diet high in fresh produce is cheap, I’m still not buying multiple ingredients for recipes or obscure items or produce that isn’t in season.

But what about variety?

Sure, if you were to look at my typical day you would probably wonder if I go crazy eating the same things day after day.  But I don’t.  I truly enjoy eating bananas and oranges.  I don’t know that I could eat them every day forever, but through a solid winter season of a few months I wouldn’t mind at all eating those same 2 food items every morning.  I’ll look forward to adding in melons and berries when they become available, but I’m certainly not suffering with a lack of variety.

The salad I make for dinner doesn’t vary often.  Though I may add or subtract items as they are available. Last night I chopped up a couple of  Medjool dates and added them to my salad.  The lime juice and caramel taste of dates go together quite well and since dates are readily available this time of year I may add that to my salad repertoire.

big salad
love my big salad. Keep it simple and delicious!

My nightly salad used to be quite a production.  I probably had, instead of the handful of ingredients I do now, at least twice that many.  Eventually though, I realized adding more ingredients didn’t necessarily make the salad any better.  It just made shopping and prepping the salad that much harder, and more expensive.  So I dropped half a dozen ingredients and simplified both my meal prep and grocery shopping.  Not to mention a significant drop in  cost.

Digestion

Eating only a few simple foods during the day tends to make it easier for your body to digest and utilize what you’ve eaten.  This makes sense, right?  If your body only has to digest a meal of oranges and bananas, you can imagine how easy that is compared to if I were to eat something with 15 different fruits, vegetables, herbs and combine cooked and uncooked foods.

Transit times through your system will vary with each different item and your body will need additional time and energy to process all those foods.  Eating some cooked items and uncooked items together may also complicate the digestion process.  Typically, either eating mono meals (one fruit only) or just a couple of different fruits is optimal for digestion purposes.

When recipes make sense

Though I don’t use them often and suggest for day to day meals you keep your food simple and easy, recipes are a great way to experiment with new food combinations and preparation.  They are also a great way to share vegan food with your non-vegan friends and family.  There are so many amazing vegan websites out there with amazing recipes offered for free.  Check out Gena’s Choosing Raw and Angela’s Oh She Glows.

So remember to…

Keep it simple.  Sure, it’s an overused and cliched phrase, but when it comes to a vegan or raw vegan lifestyle, it really can be so simple.  You don’t need a new recipe every night to be successful on this lifestyle.  You don’t need to spend hours and tons of cash vegan-izing traditional dishes.

Part of the allure of vegan food and definitely an all raw diet is in its very simplicity.  You don’t need to cook. You don’t need to buy hard-to-find and expensive super foods or soak cashews overnight.

Sure, it might be fun to tackle an occasional recipe, but just know that it’s not necessary or really even ideal.   Many people succeeding and thriving on a vegan or raw vegan diet eat quite simply.   Give yourself the greatest chance for success and do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intermittent fasting for raw food weight loss update.

It’s day 15 of my experiment with intermittent fasting.  Check out day 15my previous post if you’re interested in learning about IF and the reasons why I chose to try the restricted eating window plan.

Weight loss

I’ve lost a total of 3.6 lbs in 15 days.  While this is a good sign, much of the weight loss occurred in the first few days and perhaps was mostly water weight that I lost as a result of also increasing the amount of raw foods I was eating vs. cooked foods.

I’m not super happy about the total.  I would like to see a faster progression given that I’ve cut down the number of calories I’m consuming.  However, I haven’t measured my body fat and probably won’t for a couple of months.  So I may seeing some progress in that even though the weight loss isn’t where I want it to be at the moment.  Isn’t it funny how hard it is to be patient with weight loss?

Forming new habits

Not eating until 11 am came with some challenges in the first week.  I typically at around 8 am, so waiting an additional 3 hours wasn’t exactly easy at first.  However, as time progressed I began to realize that if I was really honest with myself, I wasn’t really actually hungry until later on in the morning anyway.  I felt like I had the urge to eat simply because that is what I’ve always done.  That was my habit.

With my new habit ingrained of eating at 11 am, I’ve noticed my discomfort gradually decreasing.  Though I am certainly ready to eat when I’m able, I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself much anymore.  It’s almost as if now it would feel weird to smash in some carbohydrates at 8 am.  I like giving my body a chance to recover from my workout and to get the day started without having to concern myself with food preparation.  I like just grabbing some water and starting my day.  It’s becoming a habit.

Fasted workout

Many people ask me if it’s healthy to workout as hard as I do without anything in my stomach.  Actually, it feels great.  I was never a big eater before my morning workouts anyway, as I typically start my workouts around 5 am.  Certainly being a runner and cyclist and yogi, I always shied away from having too much food in my stomach prior to my hard workouts.

I don’t feel as if I’ve had better performance in a fasted state necessarily, but I do feel better putting out hard efforts.  I feel lighter and better able to sustain long intervals on the bike.  This may be a result of not eating after 7pm.  Typically I may have eaten more fruit up until 8pm previously, so probably my body has had more of a chance to digest my dinner since I’ve given it another hour to do so.

I do think I’ll see some more gains from working out in the fasted state as my body adjusts to it.  Looking forward to that!

Calorie restriction

I’m not a fan of either calorie restriction or portion control.  My favorite part of eating raw vegetables and fresh fruit is that the relatively low calorie count of these foods allows me to eat until I’m satisfied, rather than eating tiny portions and feeling deprived.  This is why I chose to follow the 80/10/10 diet and why reading this book by Douglas Graham truly changed my life.

However, with IF and the restricted eating window plan, I am taking in less calories.  But not because I’m actively restricting how much I eat.  Simply because I’m limiting the amount of time I’m able to eat.  So though it is resulting in less calories consumed, I certainly don’t feel as if I’m deprived.  I’ve dropped from around 2600-2700 calories to about 2,200.  This should help with weight loss and get me closer to my goal.

Take a look at my youTube video on my IF update to day 15.  Also check out my other videos on various subjects regarding the high carb low fat vegan diet I follow and heartily endorse.

Please post comments and/or questions below.  Any ideas for future videos or blogs posts you would like to see are strongly encouraged.

Thanks for reading.  As always, Eat Plants, Live Well!

Why moderation doesn’t work

Moderation is a word I hear far too often.  Mostly, I hear people mutter something about moderation after they’ve heard that I eat a raw vegan diet.  To them, my diet is extreme.  I need a little moderation, or so they think.  Perhaps I need to eat a donut, or a piece of cake.  Or a whole cake.  They feel sorry for me.  They throw that moderation word in there because they can’t imagine a life without cake or donuts.  But does moderation even work?

There are foods that I won’t eat.  Of course, being vegan, I wouldn’t eat animal products.  But there are also other foods I wouldn’t eat.  Like candy.  Or chocolate.  Or movie theater popcorn.  I know, I know, it’s shocking, right?  You can’t go to the movies and not eat popcorn!

Why, why, why?  What about just a square of chocolate?  Well, I suppose if I was in a life raft having just had my plane shot down like a scene from the movie Unbroken and that was all the food I had, then yes, I would eat chocolate.  But, do I buy chocolate, do I have it in my house, do I even crave chocolate?

I don’t buy chocolate, I don’t ever have it in my house, and I don’t crave it.  I also never eat anything deep fried, I don’t eat chips or candy.  Basically, if it’s not a piece of fruit or a vegetable I don’t eat it. I found I’m much better at abstaining completely from something than I am from moderating.  In other words, I can give up something completely easier than I can be okay with just having a small amount.  I believe most people are abstainers like me, though they think they’re good at moderating.  And they’re not.

What is moderation?

Let’s talk about moderation.  Everyone likes the idea of moderation.  It gives you an out.  You can have it on special occasions.  A birthday.  Christmas.  Hanukkah.  Boxing day.  But then what about Christmas Eve?  What about your spouse’s birthday?  They can’t eat cake all by themselves, right?  Next thing you know, these “exceptions” are happening more and more.  There are a gazillion holidays, not to mention your own personal celebrations, promotions, and days when you just want to reward yourself.  Then there are all those special days that end in y.  Okay, you get the point.

Moderation is a slippery fish to hold on to.  Is moderation indulging 1x a week? 2x a week?  Is it eating healthy 90% of the time?  80%?  Who can possibly calculate that? I propose that unless you are an uber-disciplined person, the likes of which I’ve never met before, it’s extremely unlikely that your idea of moderation and your execution of said moderation is really anything like true moderation.

Avocado moderation fail

avocado
just need 5 people to share one avocado with

Let me give you an example.   I love avocados.  I think they’re the most amazingly delicious fruit (yes, fruit) ever created.  They’re savory and when blended or mixed with anything else, they add the creamiest of creamy textures.  As a natural extension of my love of avocados,  I also adore homemade guacamole.

My love affair with avocados ended tragically when I decided to randomly count my calories.  I thought it was a mistake when I entered the whole avocado into Cronometer and bankrupted my entire day of eating.  Holy calories, holy fat grams Batman.  Of course, we can talk about it being good fat vs. bad all day long, but bottom line, eating a whole avocado is sabotage if you’re watching your calorie and fat intake.

So I whittled myself down to a half an avocado.  Hello moderation? Sure, I’ll moderate.  Everything was good for awhile. Until I found out a serving size of avocado is actually 1/5 of an avocado.  Here it is, right on the official avocado website.  WTH?  Who eats 1/5 of an avocado?  More importantly, who wants to eat only a fifth of an avocado?

I thought moderation was half an avocado.  Turns out, moderation is really that stupid tiny little 1/5 of an avocado.  I hate moderation. So now I go without the avocado.  Also, it’s hard to find 5 people that want to share one with me.  They don’t keep well.

Movie theater concession moderation fail

Let me try another example.  Last month I went to the movies with my in-laws.  I accompanied my mother-in-law to the concession stand in search of something I knew we wouldn’t find; a small popcorn and a small soda.  We returned with a medium popcorn and a super tanker 476 ounce soda for the bargain price of $13.75. Of course the medium popcorn was nearly the size of a grocery bag, so not so much a medium as an XL.

After the movie, I didn’t see the finished bag of popcorn or soda, but I’m willing to bet they ate much more than they would have had we actually been successful in obtaining a small popcorn and small soda.  Who wouldn’t, given the temptation?  It’s a long movie and you have sugary soda and salty, fatty popcorn within reach.  I challenge anyone to limit what they eat. So much for moderation.

Everything in moderation

Moderation is also often thrown around as in “everything in moderation.”  In other words, there are no bad foods, as long as you only eat them moderately.  I disagree with this notion.  Vehemently. There are, indeed, bad foods.  We all know it.  Or at least when you’ve finished eating these foods you know it.  There are foods out there with virtually no nutrients and obscene amounts of fat and sugar and salt.  Like just about any fast food.  Or Hot Pockets.  Or the poster child for toxic fast food , the Double Down from KFC.  Sporting  2 slabs of fried chicken, bacon, and double cheese, the DD has an impressive 32g of fat and 2261 calories.

So no, I don’t believe in moderation and certainly not “everything in moderation.”  I believe that there is definitely food or food-like substances that should never be consumed.  I believe it’s perfectly okay to stand up and say, hey, I don’t eat that.  Ever.   It’s not a pre-cursor to an eating disorder.  It’s not a shame.  Or a cry for help. It’s not a sign you’re ready to get rid of all your worldly possessions and walk the earth in search of something divine. It’s a perfectly healthy way to approach a world that continues to offer more and more all you need is lesswhen all you need is less.

What a raw vegan eats in a day

So everyone is curious, as I was when learning about the raw food lifestyle, what does a raw foodie eat in a day?  Of course everyone’s diet varies a bit, particularly when eating a raw food diet.  What I eat is heavily influenced by what is in season and available.  I make a point of not eating or purchasing fruit that isn’t in season.  It won’t taste as good if it’s not in season, plus it’s uber expensive and just generally hard to find.  Not to mention it probably comes from a million miles away.  Not cool!

For example, I would love, love, love a giant bowl of blueberries right about now.  But they’re about a gazillion dollars per lb. at my local Whole Foods, and they don’t even look good!  I also saw Trader Joe’s had a few watermelons rolling around on the shelves the other day but I resisted the urge to buy them as they were expensive, non-organic and they didn’t look that great.

A word on seasonality

Right now, it’s January in my neck of the woods, so the seasonal produce available is mostly citrus.  Grapefruit, clementines, navel oranges, mandarins and minneolas all look amazing!  Bananas are in season all year round, so those are a staple.  Apples are also in season most of the time, and lately Pink Lady and Gala varieties are at the peak of flavor.

Buying seasonally is super easy, as you can tell from the produce displays and the sale items what’s in season and what isn’t.  Right now when I walk into my local Trader Joe’s it’s an explosion of color as they have bags and bags of navel oranges reaching to the ceiling and bright red Pink Lady apples stacked into a giant pyramid of fruity goodness.  Sure, winter won’t avail itself of some of the finer berries and other delectable fruits we all love, but winter is a wonderful time of year for juicy citrus fruits.  And I love me some of these high water content fruits.

I should mention that one way I get around not having a larger variety of fruits available is to buy some frozen fruit.  I will buy, if fresh isn’t available, some frozen mango chunks and let them thaw before blending them into a giant delicious smoothie.  That’s it, just mango thawed to room temp and then blended in a smoothie, no water or anything added.  Simple and delicious.

What I eat in a day is typically, well, kind of boring.  I tend to eat some mono meals, where I’ll eat a bunch of clementines, or bananas, or oranges, but mostly all my meals are a combo of these items. I try and keep it simple with the number of different items I eat kept to a few fruits.  This helps with shopping and also just tends to make me feel good.  Maybe it’s better on digestion?

Juicing and Smoothies

I’m a bit unique in the raw food community as I don’t tend to juice or make smoothies, at least during this time of the year.  I like juicing but I always feel wasteful when throwing out the giant ball of pulp after making one.  I used to do a lot of smoothies as well, especially when I first purchased the VitaMix.  I still do occasionally, but I tend to enjoy eating just fresh whole fruits and vegetables.  I may go back to smoothies in the summer as the temperatures rise, but for now I’m eating all the fresh whole fruit and vegetables I can.

Water

Sure, water is not a meal but I give water as much importance as any meal.  I start drinking water as soon as I wake up in the morning and continue to drink it throughout the day.  I encourage anyone to drink more fresh, clean, filtered water.

Breakfast/Lunch

I typically follow an intermittent fasting plan where I don’t eat breakfast until 11am.  I get a good workout in around 5 or 6am. My “fasted” state  lasts from 7pm until 11am.  By not eating immediately in the morning and getting a good workout in, it allows my fat burning enzymes to do their magic so that I can be as lean as I would like to be.

Of course, not all high carb, raw foodies follow an intermittent fasting plan as I do.  Prior to starting IF, I would typically have an earlier breakfast of the same thing I have for lunch.

Today’s breakfast/lunch is some frozen mango that I thawed and blended, 6 bananas, 2 oranges and 2 lbs of clementines.   Lots of food, right?  I know!  This is an enormous clementines bananas oranges mangoamount of food, but I typically only eat twice a day, so my meals tend to be large even by raw vegan standards. Don’t judge me. 🙂

Throughout the afternoon I’ll drink more water but typically won’t snack at all.  I hope not, given the size of my lunch, right?  Some people like the multiple meals a day but I stick to 2 larger meals simply because it works better for me.

Dinner

My next meal is around 6 pm and will typically be a giant salad of 5 big saladounces of organic spring mix topped with a mixture of 1 lb of sliced cherry tomatoes, diced red onion, celery, cilantro, cumin and lime juice.  It’s hard to get a good idea of the size of my salad from the picture but my salad bowl is one you would imagine feeding 4 or 5 people.

Dessert

 

After I’ll typically have 3 or 4 bananas and/or some clementines. Usually, I’m around 90/6/4, as I don’t typically take in any overt fats in the form of avocado or nuts.  So my fat percentage and protein percentages are a little lower than is prescribed by 80/10/10.  Calories are typically between 1900 to 2300 per day.

Questions? Please ask below if you have any questions about what I eat in a day, why I eat what I do, or anything else you want to know.  Though this day was all raw, I do occasionally eat cooked foods, such as rice, potatoes or lentils.  I tend to cook these foods myself rather than order them at a restaurant so I can make sure there is no salt or oil added during the cooking process.  If you’re not sure how I feel about restaurants, check out this post.

For now, I’m eating all raw and also experimenting with intermittent fasting.  I like to tweak my diet often in order to find the best possible combination for me.  However, one thing that I never stray from is a vegan diet free of any and all animal products.

Thanks for reading and Eat Plants, Live Well!

 

Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

An email dropped casually into my gmail inbox the other day that I wasted no time in opening.  Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss read the title. From TrueNorth Health Center.  What?  Was this some kind of joke? And what is intermittent fasting?

TrueNorth Health Center is a company I am very familiar with.  I firstpleasuretrap found them after reading an amazing book by the center’s co-founder, Dr Alan Goldhamer.  The Pleasure Trap is in my top 5 books of all time.  I’m also a big fan of all of Dr Goldhamer’s  and the co-author, Dr Doug Lisle’s youTube presentations.

I’ve even considered doing a water-only fast at their center is Santa Rosa, CA, which was made quite popular by an article last year in  GQ magazine with one of my favorite titles ever, How the Terrible, Insufferable Six Day Water Fast Made me a New Man. I’ve spoken with Dr Goldhamer as part of the initial patient screening process.

The reason I wondered if it was a joke is that I’ve never seen the center endorse any sort of fasting for just weight loss.  Typically, fasting of the sort done at the center is for people suffering from serious medical issues, such as diabetes, arthritis or heart conditions.  Simply wanting to lose weight is not a great motivator for going on a water-only fast for two weeks. Being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease in addition to wanting to lose weight is more of a sufficient motivator to only take in water for days and days and days.

The article, Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss, got my attention because though I’ve wanted to fast at TrueNorth, I have very little reason to go there.  I don’t have any chronic health conditions or concerns.  I am in no way unhealthy or in need of a complete overhaul of my dietary habits.  I’ve even given up my one and only vice of 4+ cups of coffee a day since my initial phone screening with Dr Goldhamer.  Every question pertaining to diseases or health issues was a no.  I didn’t appear to be a good candidate for a water-only fast.

Why Fast?

So why would I even want to fast?  Like many people, I do battle with the numbers on the scale.  I eat a vegan diet of mostly raw vegetables and fruits.  I even had my blood tests completed recently and almost all tests came out near the middle of the range of normal.  Though I’m lacking in Vitamin D, all else if good. But I still hang on to body fat like a alcoholic to his last drink.  Typically, I weigh anywhere from 10 to 15 lbs more than my ideal weight.

grand canyon rim to rim to rim
running Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon in 2013 with Ed

As an endurance athlete that regularly runs marathons, ultras and even tackled the Grand Canyon running Rim to Rim to Rim, I have a very vested interest in staying close to my ideal weight.  Packing around extra weight in the form of fat as an endurance runner really hampers race performance.  Big time. It can make the difference between hitting the wall as I did around mile 21 this year at Boston, or striding confidently across the finish line ready to sign up for next year.

So with great gusto I clicked on the article written by Jennifer Marano D.C. , who it turns out is married to Dr Alan Goldhamer and co-founded the True North Health Center.  I learned Ms Marano suffers from the same difficulty in shedding those last few lbs.  Despite a healthy diet free of added salt, sugar and fats, she can’t get those numbers on the scale to budge. Thus the investigation into Intermittent Fasting, or IF, as a means to lose weight.

Options for IF (Intermittent Fasting).

There are 3 options for IF.  Alternate Day Fasting Plan, the 5:2 plan and the Restricted Eating Window Plan.

Alternate Day Fasting is fasting every other day for 24 hours.  You can have 500 to 600 calories on your fast day, and eating days are unrestricted.  This is the hardest of the 3 options, and really appropriate for those that have a lot of weight to lose.

5:2 Plan is fasting 2 days a week and eating a normal healthy diet the other 5 days a week.  Some plans allow calories on the fasting days but typically one five or six hundred in a day.  If it were me, I would opt to not take in any calories at all.

The Restricted Eating Window Plan is fasting for 16 hours per day and eating 8 hours.  The 16 hours of fasting can be mostly sleep, with  a late start to breakfast (11am to 2pm).  This is the most manageable of the 3, as you are likely just skipping the morning meal so you can still have lunch and dinner with family or friends. This one won’t make you seem like such a freak.

Why IF works for weight loss

Calorie restriction is why IF works.  Though I am not a fan of calorie restriction, as I don’t believe it works long term, it makes sense as it works with IF.  Rather than restrict calories by eating smaller portions, with IF one is restricting calories by either fasting for 24 hours or for fasting for 16 hours every day.  With only an 8 hour window in the Restricted Eating Plan, one will likely not eat as many calories as one does with a typical 12 hour window of eating.

Why IF works for fat loss

It takes 8-12 hours to digest and assimilate the food we eat, according to Dr Marano.  Once this process is complete, the body turns to fat stores to burn for energy, using enzymes to mobilize fat stores.  However, if we don’t ever get to this 8-12 hour period before taking in another meal, the body and it’s fat enzymes never have the opportunity to burn body fat.  With IF and it’s 24 or 16 hours of fasting, it gives the body a chance to burn those fat stores.

While I understand the appeal of fasting, I had difficulty determining whether IF would do the job on my fat reserves and weight loss. Would I emerge as toned as Madonna, with blue veins popping up along my hands and arms and a body fat percentage in the single digits? I could live with that. Could IF be the answer to all my problems, not the least of which appears to be a complete inability to burn off any body fat whatsoever, despite eating a very low fat diet in the tradition of 80/10/10?  The only way to know is to try it out!

My Plan

I’ve chosen the Restricted Eating Window Plan to give IF a try.  I vacillated between the 5:2 and the REWP, but I’m trying the restricted eating plan first, then I may throw in some 5:2.  I’ll be eating from 11am to 7pm, with my workouts happening in the fasted state between 5am and 6am.  I’m likely only going to get in 2 meals during the eating window, as I typically eat a lot (about 1,000-1,200 calories) at each meal.

I’ll keep you posted on progress during the next few weeks of trying out IF.  In the meantime, you can always start your own IF plan if you’re curious about it’s effect on your body weight or body fat levels.