3 success tips for intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting isn’t a very popular recommendation for weight loss or health.  I have yet to see Suzanne Somers or Bob Harper touting the idea of restricted eating.  You’ll more likely see diet books and gurus recommending the exact opposite.  Lose weight by eating often, up to 5-6 times a day!  Indeed, I used to believe that eating that way would help me lose weight.

The rationale for multiple meals and snacks that I bought into and many people believe is healthy went something like this: by not getting too hungry, one would succeed in avoiding what a large majority of people do in this country – overeat.  By having smaller meals more frequently, one would avoid becoming too hungry and overeating at the next meal.

The only problem with this plan (and it’s kind of a big one) is that it doesn’t work.  According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman in the book Eat to Live, “more frequent eating has been shown to lead to more calories consumed by the end of the week.”

So the more often we eat, the more we eat. Yikes!

Which is why, about 8 weeks ago, I decided to give Intermittent Fasting a try.  Based on some research I’ve done starting with this article from TrueNorth Health Center and also this quote from Eat to Live:

The body needs time between meals to finish digesting.  To maximize health, it is not favorable to be constantly eating and digesting food.

Intermittent fasting differs from 5-6 meals a day as it restricts your eating window to 8 hours and follows that with a 16 hour fast.  So for 8 hours you would eat your normal healthy, vegan diet. Then the following 16 hours, beginning after your evening meal and ending with your next day meal, would be a fasting period.  Fasting is typically water fasting, with no food, only water.  Thus giving your body, as Dr. Fuhrman recommends, time to absorb and digest your food.

I’m just beginning my 8th week of intermittent fasting.  Though I’m certainly no expert, I have broken through some previously difficult weight loss plateaus and experienced some pretty significant changes in my health over the last 2 months.  Here are some suggestions for successful intermittent fasting;

Keep an open mind.

intermittent fasting open mind

Just the word fasting tends to elicit concern from friends and family.  The very American fear of skipping a meal is so ingrained in our culture that the mere mention of going without food is considered either a cry for help or at least the first signs of a serious eating disorder.  But wait, how did we get here?

In this food-obsessed land of ours, complete with full-on food courts in Ikea and Target to 54 different varieties of fountain soda at your corner gas station, we would all do well to skip a meal now and again.    Our food culture pushes the idea that constant eating is not only okay, but a normal and necessary part of a healthy diet.

Keeping an open mind has to do with realizing that although you may not have grown up with fasting as a part of a healthy lifestyle, many cultures and religions incorporate this therapeutic practice.  Whether fasting for healing, spirituality or overall health, many cultures recognize the value of allowing the body a break from digestion.

Being open to new experiences with your health could lead to breakthroughs you weren’t even expecting.  But first you have to be open to challenging and perhaps changing habits you’ve followed for years.  I’ve found this isn’t something that most people are willing to do.  Are you?

Prepare to feel bad.

intermittent fasting feeling badThe first week you may experience crushing headaches, fatigue and a general sense that you really wish you had never heard of intermittent fasting.  This is totally normal and will cease as soon as you stop threatening to kill whoever recommended this (that would be me).

But if you hang in there I swear it will get better.  If you think about it, a few weeks of not feeling your best is really not that much time in the big picture of your life.   Plus, of course, nothing worthwhile comes without a little work on your part.  You’ve spent a lifetime most likely eating too frequently and in too much quantity.  The change involved with this is not going to happen immediately and without a little suffering on your part.

After about two weeks waiting to eat until late morning or early afternoon felt quite natural.  I’m a little surprised how easily my body has acclimated to eating much later than I’m used to.  I’m an early riser so I thought waiting to eat until late morning would be impossible.  I’ve experienced no pain or suffering in waiting to eat, even after a long run or bike ride.

Recognize true hunger for once.

intermittent fasting hunger

Just sayin’.  I know we all think we feel hunger on a regular basis, but chances are most of us have felt hunger much less than we think.  When I started intermittent fasting, I quickly realized the difference between hunger and well, not hunger.  In Eat to Live, Dr Fuhrman calls that not hunger thing “toxic hunger.”

Toxic hunger is the hungry that you feel because of your environment.  You may smell a savory lentil soup cooking as you walk into a friend’s home, or the distinct smell of bread baking as pizzas are removed from the wood-fired oven at your local Whole Foods.  Even though you may not have thought you were hungry a moment ago, smelling and seeing those foods might cause you to think you’re hungry when you’re really not.  You may even experience physical feelings in your stomach and brain that tell you you’re hungry.

True hunger is different.  It’s felt in a different part of your anatomy (in your throat and mouth rather than stomach) and some other symptoms might include:

enhanced taste sensation

increased salivation

With true hunger, you have no trouble deciding what you want to eat.  All food sounds good, and you enjoy your food so much more when eating happens as a result of true hunger.

Ultimately, you may determine intermittent fasting isn’t for you. Or, you may decide (like me)  it’s exactly what you’ve been looking for and incorporate this practice into your life as a new habit.

Either way, intermittent fasting is an experience I would recommend to everyone trying to improve their health or achieve weight loss goals.  Giving your body time to digest and assimilate food is a powerful feeling that everyone should experience.

EatPlantsLiveWell!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m trying a minimalist raw vegan diet

minimalist vegan
seriously.

 

Some raw vegans take variety to a whole new level.  Juices with 7 or 8 ingredients, VitaMix blenders filled to the brim with exotic fruits, nuts, herbs and the latest, greatest, overpriced superfood are all the rage.  Salad or soup recipes require reading glasses and send you rushing off to the store to obtain multiple obscure items to chop, blend and juice together.  Sometimes they even dehydrate for 12 hours.  Yes, 12 hours.

I make fun, but I was all on board with the raw vegan obsession with variety, often having a dozen or more rotating ingredients in my prodigious dinner salad.  I would also throw multiple fruits and greens into the blender and produce a sickly brown or green sludge that actually tasted really good but I couldn’t identify any one ingredient I had used.

Recently though, I’ve looked to simplify my meals.  Sort of like the popular minimalism movement, but instead of whittling my possessions down to a suitcase, I’ve drastically reduced the variety of food I eat.  A sort of raw minimalist vegan diet.

Food tastes better with fewer ingredients

When you have so many items thrown together in a salad or a smoothie, it’s tough to even identify the taste of each item.  Even if you love all the items, something is lost in translation.  Or everything.

minimalist vegan
avocados will not be ignored!

For example, I love avocado.  Avocados have a wonderfully subtle flavor profile.  Much of their deliciousness is their texture of smooth creaminess.  But when combined with so many other items, avocados get a bit lost in the crowd.  It’s like being a short person at a concert.  It’s no fun and nobody can see you.  You might as well not even be there.  Poor avocado.  So I’ve recently given the avocado a stage of it’s own.  My favorite minimalist salad combination is only a few quality ingredients: organic spring mix, sugar plum tomatoes, cilantro, avocado and lime juice.  That’s it!  Sound boring?  It’s not.  Try it!  I can even taste the subtle differences  of the greens in the spring mix.  That’s pretty cool.

Mono meals 

I’ve also simplified my breakfast/lunch meal.  Since I’ve been trying intermittent fasting for the last six weeks, I eat only twice a day.  I typically make my 11 am meal a mono meal of organic bananas or navel oranges.  At first, this was a little unsettling.  I’m used to consuming 4 or 5 fruits or a smoothie so going with only one item seemed oddly unsatisfying at first.  Would I feel satiated?

Amazingly, eating one or two fruits for a meal is very satisfying.  I found my energy level a bit higher in the afternoon, which may very well be the result of only having to digest one food item.  You’re welcome, body!

Food combining may be another reason why eating mono meals feels good.  Food combining is a much talked about subject in the raw vegan community.  Fruits should be eaten before vegetables, and combining certain acid fruits with sweet fruits may result in digestive issues.  I haven’t paid much attention to this but I definitely see advantages to consuming only one type of fruit or 2 at the most after eating this way for the last 6 weeks.

Simple is inexpensive

Eating less variety certainly has advantages.  First of all, it’s a lot less expensive  when I’m eating a large quantity of seasonal fruit instead of a big variety of all fruits.  Most citrus are in season now, and bananas are pretty much always in season and fairly inexpensive where I live.  So I’m getting the most amount of fruit that is in season and at the peak of its nutrient value.  Of course, as the season changes I will switch my mono meal to whatever is in season, keeping my costs low and nutrient intake high.

Shopping is easy peasy

Eating less variety also simplifies my shopping.  I no longer have a list, and sometimes I don’t even need one.  I shop in one area of the store and rarely need to venture anywhere else.  Though I do get some raised eyebrows when loading up my cart with stacks of oranges and tomatoes, it’s certainly preferable to having a long list of items and trying to make sure I remember them all.

Less waste

Food spoilage is also kept to a minimum with less variety.  Though I didn’t find myself throwing out items much before because I couldn’t use them in time, I definitely never do that when I’m only buying a large quantity of a few items.  I also don’t buy obscure items that I use only once for complicated recipes.

Food preparation and cleanup, what is that?

Food preparation is certainly much simplified.  I have to peel some bananas or oranges for my morning meal.  Then I cut some lettuce, chop tomatoes, cilantro and avocado and squeeze lime juice on top for my salad.  That’s it.  I’m not blending, dehydrating or juicing anything.  I really use no appliances with food preparation, so I wash exactly two bowls a day, one is my salad bowl and the other is a stainless steel bowl I use in preparing my tomato mixture.  Dishes are a breeze!  No cooked on food pots to scrub, no juicer or blender to wash.

Less food cravings

I’m enjoying my meals even more these days, with so much less variety.  It’s an odd thing considering I’ve been eating the same few items for the last few weeks.  I don’t feel any sense of lack or desire to eat anything different yet.  I haven’t even craved any cooked foods! Though that may change at some point I certainly like feeling hungry for just simple raw fruit and salad.  Food cravings actually seem much less an issue than they were when I was eating a large variety of food.  Odd, but true.

I don’t have a desire to change at this point so I’ll keep experimenting with my version of food minimalism.  Eating this way seems so natural and simple, even liberating.

Why do we need such variety?

Since making this change, I started to notice the ridiculous variety of food items stocked at my local co-op.  Have you walked down the canned food aisle lately?  I cannot believe how many marinara options exist, and  the number of pasta configurations and variations also confounds me.  Rice pasta, corn pasta, gluten-free pasta anyone?  Penne, fusilli, angel hair or ravioli?

Aren’t we taking the idea of variety to a ridiculous level?  Don’t even get me started on the cereal options or the bread aisle.  It’s astonishing.

But maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I’ll suffer from a lack of nutrients by eating such a limited type of food.  I’m not sure what exactly I would be missing out on by eating this way, but for now I’m going with what makes me feel the best.  I’m listening to my body and giving it the quantity and type of foods that make it operate at it’s highest level.  Until something changes, I’ll be following the mantra that All I Need Is Less.

EatPlantsLiveWell!

 

 

3 amazing reasons why eating a high carb raw vegan diet rules

I could never do that!  This is the usual response I get when I talk to people about my diet of raw vegetables and fresh fruit.  A recent article ranking popular diets also corroborated this sentiment.  A vegan diet (not necessarily raw) was given high marks for nearly everything except for one.  Discipline.  The researchers determined that although a vegan diet is healthy and produces weight loss, it’s just too difficult for most people to stick to on a long term basis.

If only people understood all the benefits of eating first a vegan diet, and secondly, a raw vegan diet, discipline wouldn’t be a problem.  Let me explain.

Changing taste buds

This idea of giving of

 

Are Raw Vegans Protein Deficient?

But how do you get your protein on a raw vegan diet? If I had one wish in this world, you would think I would wish for money.  Fame.  Immortality.  Okay, maybe I would, but with 2 wishes I would definitely choose to enlighten every person on the planet that a raw vegans protein requirements are easily obtained through eating just fresh fruits and vegetables.

Of course, the protein question is a bit of an inside joke with the vegan community. It’s only a matter of time before someone brings it up.  These are educated, intelligent people asking me this question.  At the very least, most of these people can read.  How do they actually think the only place protein comes from is an animal?

Let me back up here a little.  I realize I’m a bit of a nutrition freak.  An outlier.  My twitter feed is full of all things vegan.  This is a vegan blog.  I have a vegan YouTube channel.  I’ve been a vegan for 7 years and a raw vegan for 2 years. All right.  I get it.  I’m a health freak. As such, I am perhaps a little overeducated about vegan nutrition.  I should give these people a break, right? Also, I do remember wondering the same thing all those years ago before I became first a vegetarian, then vegan and now raw vegan.

Greens and fruit are full of protein, yo!

So let me start from square one.  Spinach and greens have protein.  Oranges have protein.  Even bananas have protein.  Spinach actually has more protein per calorie than meat.  Yes, it’s true! Greens provide a ton of protein.  Not to mention nutrients.

Beans, nuts and tofu also pack a powerful protein punch if you incorporate cooked foods into your diet.  But even as someone who eats a mostly raw diet, I get plenty of protein from raw fruits and veggies.  I take in roughly 38-52 grams of protein a day while enjoying not one single animal-derived food.

Consider the whole package

Plant-based protein comes with some amazing additional benefits.  In addition to protein, you’re getting fiber.  Remember, animal foods have absolutely zero (zilch) fiber.  What are you getting with animal protein? You’re getting cholesterol and saturated fat.  Not to mention hormones and, oh yeah, pus.  I think I’ll go with the plant protein, thanks. Sheesh.

One nutrient you should really be worried about…

Virtually no one is deficient in protein. Ever heard of Kwashiorkor?  Me neither.  But it’s the medical term for protein deficiency from malnutrition. Unless you’re actually not eating enough calories, i.e. (you’re starving), you’re getting plenty of protein. Most people eating the standard American diet are actually getting too much protein.  Hence my favorite cartoon of all time.

protein vegan diet

Unfortunately, the marketing dollars behind the meat, egg and dairy industry have done a bang-up job of convincing the uneducated general public that protein is some sort of revered nutrient.  Sure, we need protein, just as we need carbs and fats.  But eating a healthy  vegan diet with sufficient calories will most certainly contain plenty of protein.

What most people should really be worried about but no one has ever, ever asked me about, is fiber.  Yes, fiber.  Apparently, 97% of Americans are deficient in this nutrient.   Fiber comes from plant foods, not food that comes from an animal.  Instead of asking vegans about their protein, we should be asking meat-eaters about their fiber.

Supplementation is bullshi*

Early this morning on my way to boot camp I passed by a CrossFit gym.  All the lights were on inside and I noticed a huge red plastic container sitting on the counter inside.  I couldn’t read the writing on the container but it was in big black letters and I’m willing to bet it was Costco sized container of protein.  I’m also guessing the big black letters said something like 30g of protein in every serving!  Not to pick on CrossFit, as this could have been any gym in the nation.  It could have been my gym.

protein vegan diet
me, face punching a protein obsessor

Whenever I talk to people about protein, I kind of want to punch them in the face.  I just can’t believe how many people think they need 150 g of protein a day.  Athletes, in particular, are obsessive about needing “more” protein.  But how much is more protein, and how did you determine you needed more? An article in Men’s Health magazine?  The meat head trainer at your gym? Your neighbor? A horoscope? Too often, I don’t get an answer.  Most people just believe they need more.  But more of a good thing isn’t always, well, a good thing.

Before you decide to supplement anything in your diet, I mean ANYTHING, you should have a dang good reason to do it.  If it’s something you can be tested for, get the test and make sure you need it.  And hey, how about reading some research to find out what appropriate levels of a particular nutrient are before you run off to Costco and plunk down your hard-earned money for the privilege of choking down some disgusting powder?

More protein is better, right?

Since studies show most people get plenty of protein in their diet, what happens when  supplementation results in excess protein?   What happens is a very confused liver that doesn’t know what to do with all that excess protein.  This excess animal protein triggers a cancer-promoting growth hormone known as IGF-1.  Watch this video to learn more about animal protein vs. plant protein and the dangers of excess.  Suffice it to say, ever increasing amounts of animal protein will not lead you to fitness gains or better health, but likely in the opposite direction.  Towards disease and sickness.

So let’s just stop with all the protein powders, protein shakes, protein bars and protein preoccupation.  Save that money you keep spending on all those heavily marketed and misleading industrial sized tubs of protein goop.  Go to a farmer’s market and buy some fresh, seasonal organic fruits and vegetables.  The kind without a list of ingredients that start with an x and end with a number 5.

Start with a little information.

Unless you know how much protein you’re currently getting in your diet, which most people don’t, then you have no idea if you need more.  Start logging your food consumption in those handy free apps, like cronometer.  Start paying attention to other nutrients, like say fiber, or calcium, or potassium.  Or even calories.  You might be surprised at what nutrients you’re deficient in after all.  I’m guessing it’s not protein.

Oh, and if you need further convincing, check out this video of a vegan guy that looks like he’s doing pretty well not eating animal protein.

Now go out and EatPlantsLiveWell!

Vegan blood tests results: I’m healthy!

blood vialI’m allergic to two things.  Doctors and shiitake mushrooms.  Really.  I projectile vomit within a half hour of eating shiitake mushrooms and while I don’t have a reaction as strong as this to doctors (thank goodness, that would be awkward), I still avoid them at all costs.  I haven’t had a primary care physician since, well, forever.

So it was with some trepidation that I scheduled a visit to a new physician in order to have my blood drawn and studied to see if, in fact, this vegan diet that I write about, recommend and heartily endorse is really working.  Having been a vegan for over 7 years, vegetarian for 14 and mostly raw for 2, I wanted a blood test to reinforce my suspicions that I would receive A++ straight across the board.  I was looking forward to the test results to reinforce my theory that I eat not only the best tasting diet, but also the healthiest!

To my new found physician’s credit, she did not drop her clipboard in astonishment when I informed her about my vegan lifestyle.  Not even a raised eyebrow.  Living as I do now in Idaho, not exactly a state known for being super evolved in regards to dietary choices, I expected more.  More questions, contemplative silence, maybe even some misguided advice to make sure and “get enough protein.”  Indeed, it seemed she wasn’t even concerned that the majority of my diet is fruit.

I requested as extensive of a test that my insurance would allow without additional money kicked in by me.  My test would include everything from blood pressure to a full thyroid panel and everything in between.  My physical exam went well, with the doctor proclaiming everything looked and sounded great.  I guess that means my heart was beating and I was standing upright.

After a few days I received the results of my blood test via the patient portal on their website.  My, how times have changed since my last visit to a doctor.  No phone calls or returning to the office, just a quick email notification with my user ID and password for the website.

Houston, we have a problem.

Low vitamin D. Okay, so not a big problem, and not unusual, seeing as how I live, as I mentioned, in Idaho.  Idaho has a full 4 seasons and I’m smack dab in the middle of the one I don’t like in which the sun cracks through the clouds once every 2 weeks for 20 minutes and then disappears as if never to return.  My vitamin D was at 8.0, and needs to be at 30-100.  Oops.

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No big deal, my doctor reassures me on the phone.  She prescribes a Vitamin D2 supplement and let’s me know all other results the tests are quite good.  I smile but I’m not happy about the Vitamin D diagnosis.  So I tell my husband later that we must pack up and move to Hawaii or California immediately, doctor’s orders.  I consider asking her to write me a prescription with those very words.

Deficient Vitamin D levels are common in Northern states, my doctor tells me, even before my test results come back.  She wouldn’t be surprised to see that at all.  So she sort of jinxed me.

But low Vitamin D levels are seen even in parts of the country with high sun exposure.  Check out the amazing website from Dr. Michael Greger, nutritionfacts.org for some succinct info on Vitamin D supplementation, starting with this video.

Vitamin B12 and folate

Though I am within the acceptable range of 211-946, it’s certainly something I may consider supplementing in the near future.  At 221, I’m good but teetering on the edge.  Still, as long as I don’t lose any more and test the same in another year, all is good.

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Many vegans supplement with Vitamin B12, though deficiency in these levels isn’t just common for those of us that eschew animal products.  Those eating the standard american diet are often diagnosed with low levels of B12.  Vitamin B12 isn’t made by plants or animals, but by microbes.  It can be difficult to obtain from food sources.

I’m considering supplementing with cobalamin, which I’ve researched and can be found online for as little as $2 per year.  This info is also on Dr. Greger’s site where I watched this video about Vitamin B12 supplementation.  Can you tell I kind of trust his site?  Let me tell you, it’s such a relief to find one place to look up all my questions about nutrition.  Plus, he’s a great guy.

Iron

My iron levels are 338, right near the middle of the recommended range of 250-450.  Good news.  I’m often asked about iron on a vegan diet and of course, I’ve heard my fair share of stories about people failing on a vegan diet because they became anemic.  Then, of course, their doctor recommended eating meat.  Or at least it goes something like that.  Or maybe they just wanted to eat meat.  Not sure which is more accurate.  Since I’ve never had my levels tested, it’s nice to know they are within the acceptable range.

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Hemoglobin

I volunteered a few years back to donate blood, but I was turned away because I lacked a sufficient amount of hemoglobin in my blood.  Well, they told me that but they also mentioned I didn’t have enough blood to spare.  Whatever that means.  I was thoroughly confused and also a little irritated that my blood wasn’t good enough to donate.  What?  Well I’m over that now, but at least my hemoglobin levels are good now.  Maybe I’ll give that blood donation another try.

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Calcium

For those (certainly not you) that believe calcium is only obtained by dairy products, my calcium levels are perfectly good eating fresh fruits and raw vegetables.  No animal secretions needed!  Or wanted, for that matter.  Did you know oranges, of which I eat a huge amount, contain 60 mg of calcium?  Kale, almonds, and my favorite, arugula, also pack a ton of calcium.  The best part?  No artery-clogging cholesterol and cruelty-free.

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Protein, oh yes, the protein.

Protein levels are all good and within the recommended range.  I take in anywhere from 30-50 grams of protein per day eating an all raw diet of fresh fruit and leafy greens.  My protein comes from the greens, tomatoes and oranges I consume every day.   I don’t supplement with protein powders.  I think those are a gigantic waste of money.  Eating fresh fruits and vegetables provides plenty of protein.  If you truly believe you need to supplement with powders, ask yourself why? Where are you getting your information? What amount of protein do you believe you need?  I find most people have a hard time answering those questions.  All they know is they need more.  More protein.

A good test is to use cronometer or another website to track your food intake for a few days and find out exactly how much protein you’re getting.  You can then determine if additional is needed or not.  My guess is that you don’t need additional protein.  I use the .4 to .5 g per lb of body weight that is also recommended by recent studies found here.

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I recently joined a gym here to take some boot camp classes.  The trainer and I were discussing diet and she remarked that they (I’m assuming that’s the gym) recommend 1g of protein per lb of body weight a day. What?  I was floored.  That’s an incredibly crazy amount of protein to be consuming.  I would have to somehow choke down at least 3-4 protein shakes a day in addition to my normal meals in order to get to 125g per day.

The question is, what would that extra 75-85g of protein give me?  Excess calories?   A toilet bowl full of protein? Less money?  No thanks.  This is a great reminder to question everything and do your own research before accepting something as true, especially when it comes to nutrition.

Lipids and thyroid 

All good here, as expected.  Cholesterol and lipids are good, along with my thyroid results. I would like to see my cholesterol below 150, but I’m not sure how that happens. Since I haven’t had cholesterol other than the tiny amount in plants for at least 7 years, I would think it would be lower.

Thyroid level  I’m happy about, as I’ve had several friends experience thyroid issues of late.  Several have had surgery to remove part or all of their thyroid gland.  Then they must also be on some sort of medication for the rest of their lives.  That doesn’t sound like fun to me.

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Takeaway

I’m happy with my results, and glad to have gone through the process of getting tested.  I recommend everyone get one.  Particularly if you’re starting a vegan or raw vegan diet.  Or just because you’re curious.  It’s interesting to see the information, and it can be motivating to improve.  I’m looking to increase my Vitamin D and B12 over the next year or so before I have another test.

Information is power and your health is a priority.  Treat it as such and get your blood tested.  Leave comments below on your results and any questions you have.

EatPlantsLiveWell!

 

How to get started on a high carb low fat raw vegan diet

Getting started on a high carb low fat raw vegan diet is super simple.  Well, actually, the whole lifestyle of eating HCLF raw is very simple.  After all, what could be easier than eating whole fresh fruit and raw vegetables?

A HCLF raw vegan typically follows the 80/10/10 nutrient ratios, with 80% of calories coming from carbohydrates, 10% from fat and 10% from protein.

I recommend getting started by changing out whatever you’re eating for breakfast with whole fresh fruit.  So for me, I replaced a big bowl of oatmeal with bananas, nuts and cinnamon with just organic bananas and blueberries. You could even do a mono-meal, which is just eating one type of fruit.  So your morning meal would be a few pints of blueberries, half a watermelon or even 7-10 bananas.

Quantity and quality

It’s important for people starting out eating just fresh fruit to realize you should eat a large enough quantity of fruit so you’re not hungry in an hour.  For me, this is typically around 700 -900 calories.  Though I don’t typically calorie count, I do have a rough idea of the number of calories I take in with my meals.  So don’t just grab a couple of bananas and head out the door.  You’ll be sad when in roughly an hour you’re wishing you would have had the big bowl of oatmeal or cereal or bagel or whatever it is you were eating prior to trying this whacky raw thing.

I’ve come to realize most people love the idea of eating fresh fruit, but I’ve also noticed they think a few handfuls of blueberries or a few pieces of mango are all that they should eat.  With a raw foods diet, you’ll have to get over the idea that fruit is a nice appetizer, or that it is something to be eaten in small quantities as if it’s being rationed out to you.  Fresh, seasonal, organic fruit should be eaten in abundance, until you feel full.  Not overstuffed. This will keep you satiated until your next meal.

Don’t be surprised, as I was, that I could actually feel full eating just fruit.  When I started eating raw food a few years ago, a breakfast of fruit seemed like a good idea, but it certainly didn’t seem hearty enough to eat exclusively.  Surely I would be hungry again in an hour or two.  But most fruits have a fairly high amount of fiber.  Fiber will make you feel full, as well as all the other benefits of fiber. 🙂  So eat up on your fruit in the morning.  It will take some getting used to, but eating fruit will not only taste excellent, but it will also make you feel full and satiated.

Keep it simple

If you’re wondering why I didn’t bust out some recipes for you to try or request you go out and drop $500 on a Vitamix blender, it’s because you don’t need them.  At least starting out, it’s important to keep everything as simple as possible.  You should only have to increase the amount of fruits you would typically buy at the store.  You don’t need complicated recipes with ingredients that you don’t have.  You don’t need to blend anything or worry about food combining issues.  You only need to eat your favorite fresh, whole, seasonal fruits.  How nice is it to just peel some bananas, or wash a few pints of blueberries, or cut open a juicy red watermelon for breakfast?  No ovens, no microwaves, no blender cleaning.

Post workout for endurance athletes

If you workout in the morning, as I do, a breakfast of easy to digest fruit is a great way to refuel after a hard workout.  Choose high water content fruits, such as watermelon, oranges or grapes.  Not only will you be refueling properly, but also supplying much needed re-hydration to your cells.  This is particularly important if you work out in a warm climate and sweat profusely.  More and more endurance athletes are switching to raw vegan diets as the benefits of fueling with fruit become obvious.

One of the most well know proponents of a low fat raw diet is The Fruitarian Michael Arnstein, a hugely successful marathon and ultra marathon runner.  He endorses high water content fruits for endurance athletes and a diet of mostly fresh fruit and some greens.   Check out his awesome YouTube channel here.  He describes his diet in detail and answers many common questions about eating lots of fruit and running really long distances.

Progressing beyond breakfast

When you’ve become comfortable just eating delicious fruit for breakfast, you’ll want to do the same for lunch.  As you progress on your raw journey, each meal is a bigger step to replace with raw foods.  It’s likely you won’t have much of a problem with eating fruit for breakfast, but lunch you might have a bit of a harder time with.  Perhaps you’re used to eating typical lunches, with a sandwich or soups or other cooked foods.  Replacing those with fruit may take you a little out of your comfort zone.  That’s when you’ll want to make sure you’re noticing the benefits of eating fresh fruit meals.

Benefits of fresh fruit meals

Eventually or maybe even right way, you’ll begin to notice the benefit of eating fresh fruit vs. your previous cooked meals.  You may notice a higher or more consistent energy level, a decrease in craving unhealthy foods (and possibly an increased desire for fresh fruit) , better digestion or just an increase in your overall well-being.

As an athlete, you may see some performance gains, or an ability to recover quickly from your hard workouts, or both!  This should make it easier to progress through to lunch and dinner since you’re seeing the benefits of eating lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

But wait, when do I get to try some recipes?

Okay, sure sure.  You will want to try some raw recipes, which you can find all over, like the amazing Choosing Raw.  You can try some smoothie recipes instead of just fresh fruit in the morning, or mix it up with a raw salad for lunch.  I know some of you out there love recipes, whether for smoothies or for salads.  Though a word of warning when it comes to recipes and smoothie concoctions.  Remember that you can always just eat fresh, whole fruit.  Don’t let recipes and complicated ingredients overwhelm you.  A huge part of the appeal of eating a high carb, low fat diet is in it’s simplicity.

A word about the costs of eating high carb, low fat vegan.

Keep in mind, buying fresh, organic and in season fruits may increase your grocery bill.  You can save money by buying only fresh fruit that is in season.  In other words, don’t buy blueberries in the middle of the winter.  They’re expensive and they won’t taste good.  Though I recommend organic when possible, it’s true that often it’s not available or is of poor quality.

Spending more on groceries isn’t the end of the world.  Try and buy additional quantity when items are on sale, and look out for farmer’s markets where you may also save some money.  The bigger picture is that you’re investing in yourself with the additional amount you may be spending on groceries.  You’re worth it!

Good luck with starting this amazing way of eating, you’ll love it.  Share your comments/questions/challenges below:

EatPlantsLiveWell!