A raw foodist is someone who doesn’t eat any cooked foods and their diet consists of only raw foods, which can include both vegans and meat eaters (yes, they eat raw meat.)
A raw vegan is someone who only eats raw veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds exclusively, some people eat 75% raw but are still considered raw vegans. Raw vegan for weight loss is a very popular and effective strategy, later on I’ll talk a little bit about how I lost 20lbs on a raw vegan diet for 3 weeks.
Raw vegan foods are referred to as “living foods” that have not be cooked at above 118°F or 48°C, therefore they retain their enzymes, fiber, and nutrients.
A Break For The Body
Living foods like fruit, raw greens and sprouts takes very little effort to digest in the body compared to cooked foods, and especially meat. This means less energy is spent on digesting food, and with the extra energy going toward healing and getting rid of toxins that may be trapped in the body.
Here are some comparisons in the speed of digestion for different foods, meaning how long they spend in the stomach before going to the intestines:
- Fruit & Vegetable Juices – 20 mins
- Smoothies (Blended Fruits & Greens – 30 mins)
- Fruit – (Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Oranges, Grapes, Grapefruit – 30 mins) (Apples, Peaches, Cherries, Pears – 40 mins)
- Vegetables – (Kale, Spinach, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Bell Peppers – 40 mins)
- Starches – (Potatoes, Yams, Squash, Taro Root, Corn – 60 mins)
- Grains & Legumes – (Rice, Quinoa, Oats, Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas – 90 mins)
- Nuts & Seeds – (Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Peanuts, Walnuts, Cashews – 2.5 hours)
- Animal Proteins – (egg – 45mins) (Chicken – 2hrs)(Beef & Lamb – 4hrs)(Pork – 5hrs)
The raw foods takes just 40 minutes at most to leave the stomach while meat can take up to 5 hours.
Juicing fruits and vegetables is the easiest on digestion, no wonder some people choose to detox by doing juice cleanses. If you’re someone looking to start juicing, I suggest you check out the best juicer on the market in terms of quality and affordability.
The Process Of Detoxing
Why Do We Detox?
In modern society we are constantly exposed to a variety of chemicals and toxins on a daily basis. From the chemicals sprayed on the foods we eat to the car-polluted air we breathe outside, it’s all around us and most people are aware of this. But they probably don’t realize just where these toxins go after entering into the body, and that a lot of these toxins are headed for long term storage.
Toxins are typically stored in places like fat cells, connective tissues and joints where they are unlikely to do harm, since it is safely kept away in areas that are far away from the vital organs and the central nervous system.
When you eliminate certain things in your diet such as meat, dairy and heavily processed foods, the body will start to eliminate stored toxins. The body will expel the toxins through your liver, through your skin, and in the bowel movements.
Not A Fun Process
Sometimes you might feel uncomfortable, you might feel nauseous or sick. This is due to the high amount of toxins being released from the storage areas of the body and is now traveling through your blood stream getting ready to be expelled.
Imagine you’re cleaning out a really dusty room. As you are sweeping the dust will fly everywhere into the air making breathing difficult, but once the dust is gone the air quality becomes drastically improved, but the process can be unpleasant.
How To Handle Detox
You should get a lot of sleep. The body goes into recovery mode when you’re resting and the cells will start to repair and you replenish and feel a lot better. So make sure you take time off during the day and be sure to get sleep and rest.
If you do not want to experience the full on symptoms of the detox, you can just add a few foods back in. For example if you’re experiencing headaches that you feel is too uncomfortable, you can add in some cooked starches which will slow down the detox. You can control how fast you wanna do it.
Feeling Better After Detox
Many people choose to go on a raw vegan diet challenge for a period of time to detox, because after detox they know they’ll feel much better. Without all the toxins slowing it down, the body will be running much more efficiently, just like a car running on the cleanest fuel. Assuming they don’t ruin their efforts by going back to their previous ways, they will continue to sustain the benefits of the detox.
Benefits You’ll Notice After Detox
1. Helps With Weight Loss
A lot of people cut down their calories during detox, so if you go from 2,500 normally to 1,200 calories per day during detox, then it’s easy to see how weight loss can be a result.
But even if you didn’t cut calories and assuming your calories come from mostly fruit, the body does not like to convert sugar to fat because it’s a very inefficient process, that’s why weight loss will surely come from a raw vegan detox.
You will never find a person who is obese and eats only raw fruit and vegetables for a long term period.
Back in 2012 I went on a raw vegan diet for about 3 weeks and results were noticed immediately. Within days I felt lighter and had more energy. Granted, most of the weight I lost was probably just water weight, but after 3 weeks I was down about 20lbs total.
The reason why raw vegan is so effective for weight loss is two-fold. First, any excess water weight will come off because raw fruits and vegetables are low in sodium which means your body won’t be retaining as much water. This means you will lose about 5lbs right off the bat within a few days, the excess weight from fat will take a bit longer to come off.
Second, people tend to eat less calories when they’re doing raw vegan. This is because raw fruits and vegetables are low in calories and it’s pretty hard to over-eat. By eating less calories than you normally do, weight loss is just inevitable.
If you ever need to lose maybe 10-15lbs in a very short time period, doing raw vegan is definitely going to be one of the most effective ways to do so.
2. Improved Energy Levels
A lot of people report feeling they have more energy. This makes sense because when you eliminate the high fat and processed junk and replacing them with natural whole plant-based foods, you will get clean burning energy that is sustained throughout the day without any crashes. Drinking enough water is important on the detox because the water helps remove the toxins out of the body, the water in your system can also be a cause for higher energy levels.
3. Better Immune System
When you do a detox your immune system will improve and get stronger because your organs are healthier and can absorb more nutrients like vitamins C, which is one of the biggest immune system boosters. Many teachers of the raw vegan diet also talks about the importance of daily exercise, which helps move your lymph fluid around the body and get it drained, this can give the immune system a boost as well.
4. You’ll Notice Better Skin
There are a lot of testimonies of people saying they have gotten rid of skin problems like acne after going on a raw vegan diet. You should be aware that the acne may worsen before it gets better as toxins are releasing through the skin, which is a normal part of the process.
5. Mental Clarity
Other testimonies include a clearer mind and losing any fogginess that they may have had before. Some people say this helps with their ability to carry on a conversation or in a discussion in which they can focus and better articulate their thoughts.
6. A Natural High
You may feel an inner sense of excitement and happiness that wasn’t there before, some call it a “raw high” and is very powerful. It’s very pronounced and impossible to overlook. The benefits of detox has been described as being a major upgrade to the mind and body, and a general improved sense of well-being.
Going from eating cooked foods to eating 100% raw is an enormous shift to the body, after the period of detox comes some unmistakable gains. You will find out what being truly health really feels like, and experience for the first time the way your body and mind was intended to work.
How To Get Started On A Raw Vegan Diet
100% Is Not The Only Way
You can wean yourself off cooked foods by slowly adding in raw foods. Start with 25% and slowly increase the amount. Even if you just do 25% raw you will still get some of the benefits. You can stop once you reach 75% or keep going till you’re fully raw. The higher the percentage of your diet that becomes raw, the more benefits you will experience.
Eating a raw vegan diet is generally very healthy and comes with little health risk if done properly, this means eating enough calories and having enough different things in the diet.
The overall plan should be to get enough variety, I mean from enough different kinds of fruits and leafy greens to cover the wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Nuts and seeds should be eaten sparingly, most raw vegans tend to make fruits the main source of their source of calories, followed by leafy greens, and then they might have a small handful of nuts and seeds a few times per week.
Careful with the fats consumption, people have been known to gain weight eating too much excess of those nuts, seeds, and avocados.
When I used to eat only 10 bananas in one meal I’d get the kind of comments you’d expect like “that’s unhealthy because you can’t get all the nutrients you need from just bananas! it’s not a balanced meal!” and I feel that while it’s important to get variety over the long term, having mono-meals can be beneficial as well.
I love starting off the day with a big mono-meal breakfast, mono-fruit meals are the easiest foods for digestion and will give you lots of clean energy.
If you’ve been eating the SAD (standard american diet) for most of your life, then eating 10 bananas for breakfast may seem kind of boring, but to a raw vegan it would be mouth watering. Their taste buds are no longer used to the high fat and high salt foods, instead they’re able to enjoy the natural taste of fruits and vegetables.
Good news is your taste buds change every 10 days, so you won’t have to wait long till your brain switches to finding fruits and vegetables more tasty.
A typical raw vegan lunch could be another mono-meal of a different kind of fruit. So if I had bananas for breakfast, I could have 10 large oranges for lunch.
One of the benefits of eating only raw fruit is that you’ll be feeling light and full of energy all day (or at least until you eat heavier things again,) and even more so if you’re having only fruit and vegetable juices. I’d been known to drink 2 liters of orange juice for a meal, and not only did I felt more energetic, my mental state improved and I felt more focused.
If juicing sounds appealing, you could juice up the oranges for a mono-orange juice meal instead. 10 oranges might sound like a lot of food but it’s mostly water content, you need a much bigger volume of food when replacing the calorie dense foods such as meat and dairy.
If you’re starting out and you’re doing 50% raw, dinner or around 4-5pm would be a great time to start eating cooked foods again. If going with 100% raw you could do a big salad of mixed leafy greens, onions, avocados, and some kind of tomato dressing. Then I could make a big bowl of carrot soup (warmed below 118°F) with some other chopped veggies thrown in.
Some of the more fancy raw vegan foods like cheesecakes, cookies, and cakes are often made with lots high fat ingredients like nuts, avocados and oils, keep in mind they’re not helpful if you’re looking to do raw vegan for weight loss. But it can be a great transition food for those coming from a SAD, just doing fruits all day long can be too boring and cause many to fall off the wagon too soon.
There are plenty of healthier but still tasty raw vegan snacks like dehydrated kale chips and frozen banana ice-cream made with 100% bananas and water using an Ice Cream Maker Like Yo Nannas.
If you’re starting out I’d say go slow and make some small changes first, it will be easier and more likely to become permanent changes in your lifestyle. Ultimately a 100% low fat raw vegan would yield the most benefits but you can still do quite well at 50% raw. In fact, in recent years there’s a popular idea in the vegan community called “raw till 4.”
Raw Till 4
The idea of raw till 4 is where you eat only raw fruits and vegetables for breakfast and lunch, and then after 4pm you can have a bunch of cooked high carb low fat vegan foods for dinner such as rice, potatoes, corn and pasta.
Calorie restriction is not necessary in the raw till 4 world, so you can eat as much as you want until you’re full. Many people have reported sustained long term weight loss and improved health when doing raw till 4 as a lifestyle.
Raw till 4 is great because it gives people a lot more options to choose to and stick with, and so a lot more people are able to have success. Whether you do 25% raw, 50% raw, or 100%, in the end it’s better to stick whichever one will give you more benefits in the long run. What good is doing 100% raw if it’s too difficult?
You might digress back into unhealthier ways thinking the raw vegan diet didn’t work out for you. But if you can do raw till 4 because it’s easier, you might find it so easy that you can do it for all your life and find a much healthier lifestyle.
If you are starting your raw vegan diet journey let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you.