The raw food weight loss diet is one of the most hyped-up diet fads in recent years. It has been endorsed by celebrities, approved by doctors and nutritionists, and is the subject of many weight loss books. Its claims are certainly worth looking into: according to its proponents, it's impossible to gain weight on raw food, and you can eat as much as you want without gaining an ounce!
Of course, such claims should be taken with a grain of salt. Before starting a raw food weight loss diet, it's important to know its risks and benefits. Read on to learn more about raw food diets and what they can do for you.
What is it?
The raw food weight loss diet promotes the consumption of uncooked and unprocessed plant foods. By "uncooked," they mean subjecting food to temperatures above 116oF, which is believed to destroy enzymes that help the body absorb nutrients. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, sprouts, seeds, and seaweed make up most of the diet.
Raw food proponents believe that eating right is only part of the process that make up a good life. According to them, cooking deprives food of its "life force" and makes eating simply a means of sustenance, rather than part of one's overall well-being.
How much raw food?
It's near impossible to limit yourself entirely to raw foods. The raw food weight loss diet recommends that raw food make up around 75% of your diet; any more that and you're at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Raw food also includes meat and seafood: raw shrimp, sashimi, and rare to medium rare meats. However, most raw food dieters prefer plant foods because they are lower in fat and preservatives.
What are the risks and benefits?
Raw foods contain little to no saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium. These are the most common culprits of serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A study featured in the Journal of Nutrition shows that a raw food weight loss diet significantly lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Raw foods are also high in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals that contribute to cancer risk. Other nutrients abundant in raw foods are fiber, folate, potassium, and magnesium. Proponents of the raw food weight loss diet also have more energy, clearer skin, and better digestion.
One common reaction to the raw food diet is detoxification symptoms, which indicates that the body is flushing out toxins. Symptoms include nausea, mild headaches, and food cravings. They usually last several days and may be more severe in people whose previous diet was rich in meat, sugar and sodium. Raw food diets are also not recommended for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, anemics, and people at risk for osteoporosis.
What cooking methods are allowed?
"Raw" doesn't mean you have to eat foods right off the counter. There are ways to prepare your foods without breaking the 116oF mark. Here are some techniques you can use.
1. Blend vegetables together to create a dip or salad.
2. Make a healthy shake using fresh fruits.
3. Dress salads with fresh juice extracts instead of prepared dressings.
4. Soak dried fruits and nuts to enhance their taste and make them easier to digest.
5. If you're eating grains or seeds, you can eat them young or sprouted. Eat them together with citrus fruits to improve iron absorption.
6. Replace processed drinks like coffee, tea, and soda with homemade juice or purified water.
What will you need?
If you're considering a raw food weight loss diet, you will need to adapt your kitchen to your new lifestyle. Be sure to have the following:
A food dehydrator. Dehydrators remove water from your food, making them easier to store for longer periods. It uses temperatures below or just above boiling, so you're still within the 116oF limit.
A juice extractor. Fruit and vegetable extracts are a major part of the raw food weight loss diet. It's not just for making juice--you can also use extracts to flavor your food or create salad dressings.
A blender, chopper or food processor. This helps save time when chopping or mixing your vegetables.
Glass containers. If you're sprouting your seeds and grains, put them in large glass containers. This allows you to check their progress at a glance. Plastic and metal containers also leave residues which may affect the taste of your food.