Every week, we’ll be featuring a specific health condition as it relates to raw food (diabetes, hypothyroidism, cancer, etc.). If you’re looking for information about a concern that hasn’t been included in this course, please let us know and we’ll do our best to get you the information. Note that we use the term “diet” below because it’s a commonly used term, but we think of this as a lifestyle, not a diet. After 30 days, we think you’ll come to this conclusion, as well!
There’s no doubt that one of the most immediate effects of a raw food diet is weight loss. When we decided to go raw, our immediate focus was on our health, and if weight loss came along with it—great! As you know, within just a few months we’d each lost 20 pounds, then 30..and we felt better than we had in 20 years.
Frequently Asked Questions
For this post, we’ve included a list of the most frequently asked questions about weight loss on a raw food diet (including how to NOT lose weight, if that’s a concern). If there’s anything we’ve missed, feel free to comment below and we’ll include your question in this post.
Q: Can I really eat everything I want and still lose weight?
A: Yes! If you’re someone who’s counted calories, fat grams, and portions throughout your adult life, congratulations—you’re free! My mother once picked up a jar of raw almond butter in my kitchen and comment on the fat content: “Did you take a look at this label?!” I responded, “Does it look like it’s a problem?” One of the things that people remark on most is how liberating it is to know that as long as you’re choosing a raw, plant-based option (fruit, vegetable, nut or seed), you don’t need to worry about whether you’re eating too much or too often.
A: There’s a BIG difference between cooked fats and raw fats, animal fats and plant-based fats. Ron Brown, author of The Body Fat Guide, notes: “The fat in raw nuts and avocados is emulsified, which means it is not sticky, and doesn’t clump together or cling to other objects. This is easily verified in comparison to fats contained in animal foods and refined oils. The emulsified fat that coats dishes from chopped nuts and avocados simply wipes clean with water. Not so the fat that coats dishes and cooking pans from animal foods and cooking oils.”
You can see it when you’re washing the dishes–make yourself a big bowl of Sunflower Seed Cheese and notice that you can literally run the dish under the water and wipe it clean with your fingers!
Q: How much fat is OK?
A: The average person consumes 35-40% of their total calories as fat, and it’s been advised to eat no more than 30% of our total calories from fat (although Dr. T. Colin Campbell notes in The China Study that there’s “no evidence to suggest that this is a vital threshold.”)
Let’s look at this table from The China Study (Chapter Four, table 4.6):
Percent of calories derived from fat
|McDonald’s double cheeseburger||67%|
|Whole Cow’s Milk||64%|
|Wheaties Breakfast Cereal||8%|
|Whole Baked Potatoes||1%|
- Avocados: 7%
- Cashews: 19%
- Raw almond butter: 17%
- We’ve added:
Dr. Campbell concludes:
“With a few exceptions, animal-based foods contain considerably more fat than plant-based foods. The correlation between fat intake and animal protein intake is more than 90%…this means that fat intake and animal protein intake is more than 90%. In other words, dietary fat is an indicator of how much animal-based food is in the diet. It is almost a perfect match.”
Given that over the next 30 days, you’re going to be eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables, very little oil, and some nut pates and nut butters here and there, you can understand that it will take some effort to reach that 30% threshold!
Q: What if I’m not losing weight, or I’m not losing it fast enough?
A: Although during the first 2 weeks, we really recommend eating a LOT of food in great variety so that you don’t feel hungry, after a few weeks or months you may find that you’ll naturally want to reduce the amount of nuts you’re consuming. We’ve found that after four years of eating this way, we just don’t crave those foods in the way that we used to. We use oils in small amounts, eat a few very small servings of nuts per week (only when we crave them), but because we grow them here at the farm, we eat a LOT of avocados!
A good example of a raw foodist who realized that she needed to cut back on certain kinds of plant-based foods is raw food author and chef Karen Knowler. Although she’d been eating raw food for a number of years, she found that she was still a “wobbly girl.” As she explained,
“…you can do raw food “wrong” OR, at least, you can hold excess weight even when you eat the good stuff. For me it was a combination of eating too much sugary fruit, too much fat (lots of nuts and seeds), very little green stuff, eating for the taste and NOT hunger AND I also had issues around losing weight, which is why I now specialise in helping women with body issues.”
Q: What if I DON’T want to lose weight?
A: This is actually a question we’ve gotten quite a bit. Not everyone who’s eating a raw food diet is doing it because they want to lose weight–in fact, the majority of people who come to Viva Institute have a health condition that they’d like to address or are generally interested in eating better.
To maintain or gain weight on a raw food diet, you’ll need to increase the amount of monounsaturated fats you’re eating. More than 10% of calories as polyunsaturated fat is not recommended, but obtaining up to 40% of calories from monounsaturated fats should be perfectly healthful.The following foods are all are all dominated by monounsaturated fats, which are the safest fats to consume in large quantities: