This is the number one Raw Food FAQ! The raw food diet is typically a vegan diet, which means no animal products are used or eaten. Instead, a wide variety of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, superfoods and seaweeds provide the protein content. All of these raw plant-based foods contain easily assimilated proteins that have not been destroyed, altered or denatured through cooking. Excellent raw food protein sources include: spinach and other dark leafy greens, zucchini, peas, legumes, broccoli, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, mung bean or lentil sprouts, nuts, seeds and spirulina. Eating a wide variety of raw foods will typically provide more than sufficient protein to account for the recommended minimum of 10% of your calories from protein. (Sources: USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center).
If you are looking to add more protein into your raw food diet with a quality vegetarian protein powder that is completely dairy-free (no whey!), my favorite is Young Living's Power Meal. It provides an impressive 20 grams of easily absorbed protein per serving, a complete vitamin, mineral and enzyme profile and is rich in calcium. Made from whole-grain, pesticide-free brown rice, one of the very best sources of protein available, and a great alternative to whey or soy. It also has a super delicious Vanilla Cream flavor that goes great in smoothies, nut-milks or in breakfast recipes. I LOVE it!
The adult RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. (Sources: USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center).
Here are some calculations:
100 pounds body weight (approx. 45 kg) = 36 grams of protein / day
150 pounds body weight (approx. 68 kg) = 55 grams of protein / day
200 pounds body weight (approx. 91 kg) = 73 grams of protein / day
250 pounds body weight (approx. 114 kg) = 91 grams of protein / day
Most standard nutrition resources say that your specific calorie intake should be determined according to your own current weight level.
Following is a rough weight loss calorie intake guideline for a 40 year old 5'-10” male who exercises 3 times a week, and a 40 year old 5'-6” woman who exercises 3 times a week:
125-150 pounds: 1,633-1,758 calories (men), 1,380-1,505 (women)
150-175 pounds: 1,758-1,883 calories (men), 1,505-1,755 (women)
175-200 pounds: 1,883-2,008 calories (men), 1,630-1,755 (women)
200-225 pounds: 2,008-2,133 calories (men), 1,755-1,880 (women)
225-250 pounds: 2,133-2,258 calories (men), 1,880-2,005 (women)
250-300 pounds: 2,258-2,508 calories (men), 2,005-2,400 (women)
300-350 pounds: 2,508-2,800 calories (men), 2,400-2,800 (women)
350-400 pounds: 2,800-3,200 calories (men), 2,800-3,200 (women)
Now, personally, as a highly educated long time raw foodist with my own very successful experience of weight loss, I tossed all these rules out the window and focused instead on eating the healthiest 100% raw food I could for the purpose of obtaining the highest level of nutrition possible. Of course, I ate sensibly, and didn't stuff myself silly. I also didn't starve myself silly. I ate healthy food that satisfied me and as my body healed and came back into balance, I was naturally less hungry, ate less, and lost weight without counting every calorie.
Typically, a raw foodist will eat a diet composed of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, superfoods, seaweeds, herbs and spices. This wide variety of ingredients can be eaten simply as is or combined into a raw soup or fresh vegetable salad. Or they can be creatively put together with an easy raw food recipe into a delicious entree such as raw versions of burgers, pasta, burritos, pizza, lasagna, chicken nuggets, stir-fries, side dishes, breakfasts, smoothies and desserts...all raw, of course, and all vegan. Just check out any raw food recipe book and you'll see the choices are practically limitless!
Because raw foodists are generally extremely health conscious, they tend to stick to healthy beverages such as purified water (perhaps with lemon or lime squeezed in, or with an added greens powder), caffeine-free herbal teas, fresh juices or smoothies made with fruits and/or vegetables, nut-milks and occasionally an organic wine. A fermented drink such as Kombucha is also known to have excellent health benefits.
I personally do not ever drink any alcohol, nor do I advocate drinking any form of alcohol for multiple health and safety reasons (NEVER drink and drive). However, since I realize some raw foodists do choose to have an occasional drink, I have included some general guidelines based on what my research on the topic revealed. Wine is actually considered raw as it is fermented. Avoid beer or hard liquor as they have been distilled (produced with heat). Look for a USDA labeled organic, biodynamic, raw, vegan wine with minimum sulfite content. A lighter alcohol and sulfite content, such as white wine, would be preferable over red wine. Pay attention to how you feel and drink less wine than you would on a cooked diet because raw foodists tend to develop a lower tolerance for alcohol. Due to the dehydrating effects of alcohol, drink 1 or 2 glasses of water for every glass of wine. Also, consume lots of alkaline green foods, juices or smoothies when you drink wine which acidifies the body. A better alternative to alcohol would be switching to freshly made grape juice, or kombucha tea, which is also a fermented beverage.
Every single day I start my day with a glass of Ningxia Red, a goji berry puree powerhouse of nutrition that I consider my "vitamin supplement" for the day - it has the highest antioxidant profile of any product available, the equivalent of many quarts of fruit and vegetable juices in every ounce! We also grow our own wheatgrass and barley grass and have them juiced almost every morning.
We only drink the purest water we can get, and usually our water has something healthy in it. Almost every drink has some essential oils in it, typically lemon, orange, lime or even cinnamon. I'm a big fan of herbs for healing, so I drink freshly made herbal teas. I usually have a cup of Slique Tea as well to balance my blood sugar and keep my appetite in check. I may also add a powdered supergreens mix to my water. And of course, we also make giant blenders full of fruit and vegetable smoothies every day. Sometimes we'll make fresh juice such as carrot/apple/beet/ginger.
My own raw food diet varies throughout the year as I eat foods abundant in their season. In the early part of the year, I eat lots of citrus fruits. In the summer, it's watermelon season. And in the fall, we eat lots of apples. All year long I will have great big salads full of greens such as romaine, arugula, dandelion greens, kale, collards, swiss chard, and spinach. Additions to my salads often include avocados, tomatoes, celery, grated carrots, broccoli, green onions, sprouts, sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds and dried fruit. I make my own fresh salad dressings. I'm a real "foodie," so I love experimenting with raw food recipes and make all kinds of delicious entrees from every culture using creative combinations of herbs and spices. We also eat a lot of superfoods in our household, so most of our recipes sneak in some form of chia (for Omega 3s) or nopal (for fiber) or spirulina (for protein) or goji berries (for antioxidants).
Excellent raw food vegan sources of Vitamin B-12 include supplements or Nutritional Yeast. For a tasty and easy raw food recipe using Nutritional Yeast, see my Dinner Recipe for Spaghetti! Yummy!
You can look at this from the perspective of good-better-best. It would be best if all your food could be organic. You want to avoid all those toxic pesticides used on conventional produce. But just getting in lots of fruits and vegetables, organic or not, is at least better than eating the standard American diet. If you could at least avoid the 10 worst pesticide-laden foods (strawberries, peppers, grapes, etc.) by buying those organic, that would be better. Good would be just eating conventional, non-organic produce, but at least choosing a healthy diet vs. an unhealthy diet. So choose for yourself. It's your body. Eat the best foods you can to feel your best every day.
We do both, as they have different advantages. Juicing removes the indigestible fiber, so you can drink a large amount of easily absorbed nutrition in a single glass. Juicing can be very healing, especially on a detox diet. Blending breaks open the fibers so you ingest both the juice and the fiber, which helps slow down the absorption rate, therefore avoiding blood sugar spikes. Blending is great for smoothies, which can be nicely filling. We tend to like blending best as we know we are gaining extra nutrition from the phytonutrients that are usually locked in the fiber juicing removes. I will often add my favorite protein powder to a blended smoothie to make it a satisfying meal.
About one year. In the very beginning, I knew nothing about the raw food diet - I hadn't even heard of it. So I fumbled around learning how to be a vegetarian and then a vegan for a while and lost the first 30 pounds that way. Luckily, most of the vegetarian foods I was eating were raw, so I was already partially there before I knew what I was doing. After I discovered that there was such a thing as a totally raw food diet, it made so much sense to me that I chose to eat all of my meals 100% raw. And that's when the next 70 pounds just melted so easily off my body and I started having much more energy and felt this radiant sense of super healthy well-being.
I do now. At first there was a learning curve, and I read everything I could about the raw food diet to understand how to do it. Back then, I didn't have a website like this one to walk me through the step-by-step process so easily. I had to figure out by myself what foods to buy and how to set up a raw food prep kind of kitchen and learn new recipes and how to change the way I ate. Now that I know what to eat, I just eat that way. Every meal, every day. It's my new normal now, and it's just what I do. I actually find it all quite simple now. I feel so healthy now, I would never want to eat any other way or feel any other way again.
Never. Who would I be cheating? Myself. I don't want to be obese again. I don't want to hurt and suffer again. I don't want to be unhealthy again. I don't want to die unnecessarily early from some disease I could have prevented through my choice of foods. So I won't eat any foods that will hurt me. Only foods that will keep healing me. If I "miss" eating a certain cooked food, I will find an alternative delicious raw food version of that food to enjoy. I still find great satisfaction in all kinds of fabulous tasting food - just all raw and all healthy!
It's all in your mindset. You just make the decision to eat raw, no matter what "food situation" you find yourself in. Then you do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and you make yourself raw meals. If you have to cook meals for another, choose to see it as just making something different for what different members of your family want. Your spouse likes liver, your daughter likes mac-n-cheese, your son likes sandwiches. You like salads and raw burrito wraps. So that's just what you make. If their food reminds you of your previous cravings, you just keep repeating to yourself, "I made a commitment and I'm sticking to it." The world is full of cooked food and ultimately it is always your personal choice what you put in your mouth. Even if you are making cooked food for another, you can still choose not to eat it. Now, if you could just make your own food, and your family members could make their own food, that would be easier on you. Better yet, if over time your family sees the healthy changes in you and it inspires them to start eating healthier like you do, perhaps you could all someday eat the same raw food together. Then you could all be healthier, too!
What would you like to know more about the raw food diet for weight loss? Ask Angela your most burning question, and if chosen, it may be featured on this page, with Angela's answer!