[Editor's Note: This article was originally written in May 2010. The information in this article may not reflect my current dietary practices.]
The 80-10-10 diet is a low fat approach to raw veganism promoted by Dr. Douglas Graham, a long-term raw foodist and athlete. Basically, this version of the raw food diet recommends obtaining at least 80% of your total calories from carbohydrates (typically sweet fruits) while restricting both fat and protein to less than 10% of total calories each. Dr. Graham does not believe in the need for supplements or superfoods and stresses the importance of exercise, athleticism, sunlight and a variety of other lifestyle habits that support the diet to promote optimal health.
In contrast, the typical raw food diet that you’ll see represented in the many “cook” books and raw food restaurants around the country supply most of the calories from fats like nuts, seeds, avocados and coconuts. While you will never hear it called the “high-fat, raw food diet”, it is. Many raw foodists unknowingly get up to 80% of their calories from fat! A typical gourmet raw meal can have more fat than a triple cheeseburger with a large order of fries!
The 80/10/10, also known as 811 or 811rv, provides a sensible alternative to the typical fat-laden raw diet.
My 80/10/10 Journey
Almost immediately after switching from a fat-based raw diet to the 80/10/10 fruit-based raw diet, I noticed significant improvements in digestions, energy and mood. I felt full of life.
The most noticeable benefit I feel on the 80/10/10 diet is improved digestion. Fruit digests quickly and efficiently because fruit is what we are physiologically meant to eat. I don’t get any bloating, indigestion, heartburn or other digestive difficulties that I got on my old diet or even the high-fat raw food diet. Fruit moves quickly through your digestive tract and supports efficient digestion and greater energy levels.
My energy levels are through the roof. Maybe it’s all the carbohydrates, but I am motivated and inspired to exercise. I took up running in the mornings and have been making steady gains in my distance. 80/10/10 is a great diet for athletes and active people, or for those who wish to be more active and fit.
When you start on 811rv, you need to eat more than you think you will. This is sometimes a challenge. I eat a LOT of fruit in a day to get my calorie needs. For example, on the high-fat raw diet, I can eat one whole avocado and get about 300 or so calories. The same amount of calories on the 80/10/10 would have to come from 2 and a half bananas, or 3 and a half apples. The volume of food I eat now is greater than when I ate high fat. I need to eat four large meals each day.
Dr. Graham discusses this in his book in detail. He cites the fact that many animals, including our fellow primate cousins, eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables every day so eating more than just three small meals a day is not unusual at all. I’ve been eating about four meals throughout the day and it works well. It took about a week to adjust to it, but as long as I stay within 80/10/10 ratio, I don’t have any discomfort eating this way.
My mood is a lot better and more stable on the 80/10/10 diet. I feel confident, inspired and motivated.
Fruit Sugars and Teeth
A huge concern about eating so much fruit is with potential problems with your teeth. Dr. Graham discusses this at length in his book and puts to rest many of the misconceptions about tooth decay and its potential link to sugars and fruit. In fact, nuts and other fats can be equally as detrimental to your teeth.
The first few days on 811, I did have some tooth sensitivity. It’s normal for me to have sensitive teeth, even before I was raw and 80/10/10. After a few days, and following the advice in Dr. Graham’s book, the sensitivity went away. Simple, practical dental hygiene will keep your teeth strong. Fruit isn’t the enemy of your teeth.
No More Cravings For Sweets
This probably goes without saying but I simply do not crave sweets anymore. That was a big challenge when I was on the typical (high-fat) raw diet. I CRAVED sweets – cake, donuts, candy – whatever had sugar in it! I used to eat a lot of raw desserts which had an unhealthy combination of concentrated sweeteners like agave nectar and lots of nuts. I would end up eating lots of fat AND sugar together which is a health disaster waiting to happen.
Now I don’t crave anything sweet because my sweet tooth is more than satisfied with all the delectable, ripe fruit I eat every day. Occasionally, I do crave something savory, so I’ll snack on a chard leaf or a stalk or two of celery or make a savory soup which is just exquisite!
No More Superfoods/Supplements
Dr. Graham does not advocate the use of supplements and superfoods in his book. After reading his thoughts on the subject and taking a good look at my nutrient intake, I agreed with his stance and I stopped buying superfoods. I just don’t find them necessary anymore and I don’t feel that I really need them. If I did need to buy expensive superfoods to be healthy, then the whole raw food diet concept is flawed, as Dr. Graham states in his book.
Where I differ, however, is with supplementation – particularly with vitamin B12. Women under the age of 50 may need to monitor iron intake and supplement where needed. I think it would be dangerous to take a philosophical approach against supplementation.
811rv Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping is easier. I just stay in the produce section and fill my cart. I bought a lot of fruit and vegetables even on the high fat diet, but now I buy even more. Sometimes it feels a bit strange rolling up to the checkout with 6 pineapples, 4 large papayas, 6 cantaloupes, 12 bunches of bananas and 15 pounds each of mangoes and oranges in my cart and knowing that all this food will be gone in just a few days!
As far as cost, I would say I am spending about the same on groceries that I spent when I ate the high-fat raw diet with superfoods like Goji berries, cacao and maca. What I used to spend on expensive, organic raw nuts and superfoods now go to more fresh, organic and ripe fruit.
Forget about water ionizers and other expensive, fancy water gadgets. The 80/10/10 diet is ideal for proper hydration. I drink a lot less water because everything I eat is so water-rich. On a typical day, 80-100% of my water needs are met by the food I eat, which is the proper way to be hydrated. Not only that, but the water in fruits and vegetables is mineralized, alkaline and filtered through the roots of the plant so it beats any tap, spring or distilled water out there.
More 80/10/10 Experiences
I plan to blog more about my experiences on the 80/10/10 diet. So far, I am absolutely loving it! I’ll be sharing some delectable and creative recipes and lots more articles, experiences and videos as we continue exploring this fruity raw food lifestyle.
I highly recommend reading Dr. Graham’s book, The 80/10/10 Diet. I wish I had read this book first when I got started with raw foods.
Are you on the 80/10/10 or another low fat raw food diet? Share your experiences below!
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Tracy Russell is the creator of the Green Smoothie Health & Weight Loss Program and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She is passionate about helping people improve their health with green smoothies and a whole foods lifestyle.