Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why I Became a RAW 80-10-10 VEGAN

So many people ask me about my diet, I’d like to write a concise article describing the “what and why” of my diet. Since this is intended as a brief explanation, I won’t include references or in-depth scientific information. Both are available in the resources listed at the bottom, all of which come highly recommended.

I eat a high calorie, high carbohydrate, low fat raw vegan diet, best described in the book The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Doug Graham. I eat only whole, fresh, ripe, raw, preferably organic plant foods. I get most of my calories from fruit, since vegetables are so low in calories that it would be impossible to build a sufficient diet around them, and grains and legumes are totally unappealing in their whole, unprocessed state.

Some typical food days for me might be:

¼ - 1/3 of a large watermelon for breakfast,
12 bananas and 2-4 mangoes for lunch

Mid afternoon or evening meal: 1-2 large Red Delicious apples, 1-2 heads of romaine lettuce, ½ lb fresh spinach, 2 celery stalks, ½ cup shredded cabbage, 1-2 large carrots, ½ cucumber, 1 bell pepper or 6-8 sweet peppers

On days when I am running 15-30 miles 20-30 fresh dates and 3-6 more bananas or more watermelon, mangoes, peaches to rehydrate and reload carbs and minerals.

I usually aim for 1700-6500 calories in a day depending on whether I am running that day or not and how far I go on those runs. I use a free program called Cronometer to track my calorie and nutrient intake occasionally to verify that I am taking in enough calories and nutrients to maintain about a 5-6% body fat ratio.

I grew up on SAD (Standard American diet) including meat, dairy, eggs, breads, fruit and vegetables, like most of us (Even though most of it was grown either in our yard or on a local free ranged farm. I had appendicitis at age 13 and they found a piece of rotting BBQ beef in it on removal! I transitioned over the next couple years to a Vegan diet and was discovered by a local Bicycle Race Team and invited to become a part of the Bicycle Race Community.

Before my appendectomy I was always super ripped with a very defined “6 pack” and afterwards I saw that no matter how active I was I held onto more body fat especially in the abs than I was used too. As a Vegan relying mainly on vegetables and some fruit, I did bring the fat ratio down but mostly in my legs. I had chronic cravings, I was too low in body fat everywhere except my abs and would resort to raw nuts for more calories and the included fat to try to satiate my cravings.

I had to break my Vegan streak by going back to cheese, yogurts, eggs and some wheat (even though I knew wheat inflamed my digestive tract like nothing else!) Over the years I kept exploring various versions of raw vegan diets. When I came upon Internet blogs and sites speaking about the RAW Fruitarian way of eating, I dismissively assumed that it was for spaced-out hippies and a video I saw by a raw food ‘guru’ confirmed this suspicion. However, I began to come across Ultra Marathon Runners who were performing at levels non Vegans dream about and were holding at 4-5% body fat without cravings and became interested in trying a 100% raw diet.

I tried the typical, “Hollywood raw”/gourmet raw diet, which is very high in fat (as much 60-80% calories from fat, compared to the already high-fat SAD around 25-30%), and includes ingredients like vinegar, oil, salt, spices, garlic, onions, superfoods, and supplements, all of which I now know create cravings, imbalances, overdoses and over eating. I was unable to stay on this diet because I was constantly hungry and craving cooked foods. Most “raw vegan” restaurants are of this design.

After a while in the raw vegan community, I heard about a crazy character called the Durianrider (real name Harley Johnstone). I watched one of his youtube videos and he immediately had my attention. He was talking trash about meat-eating and cooking foods, as well as the typical, high-fat, gourmet raw diet. He was promoting a simple, fruit based diet called the 80/10/10 Diet. I was impressed by his athleticism, his passionate, abrasive approach, and the health he displayed. His wife Freelee Love had beat out bolimea and candida and they were both beautiful examples of health and vitality. He mentioned getting a copy of the 80-10-10 diet book and I was still hesitant. Then through his Friend List on Facebook I connected with Victoria Arnstein and her husband Michael who both also exemplified what eating “811” could do and I bought the book. Sucked it up like a sponge!

During that reading time and at conclusion I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what I had done wrong in my prior attempts to find the most natural and functional way to fuel my body there is. Within days I experienced the inflammation in my guts dissipating, my cravings diminished, especially for salt, crunchy nacho chips, all desire for anything animal sourced disappeared, and my mind suddenly retained longer chains of information when I read a serious of numbers and needed to retrieve them later.

I did notice a few weeks of “cleansing” where I had periods of the day where I felt a bit sluggish as I fully expected my body to do some deep house cleaning since I no longer loaded up my digestive system with stuff that made it acidic instead of alkaline.

A partial list of some benefits I’m experiencing:

· At my perfect weight (and the return of my six-pack!)
· Greater muscle definition and vascularity
· I tan easily as a 80-10-10 RAW Vegan. Melanin: the hormone your body uses to regulate pigment production is thrown out of balance by eating animal products (which contain the melanin that the animal was using).
· Pleasant body odor
· Not weighed down after meals
· Natural 4-6% body fat without having to “diet”
· Food prep is no more complicated than peeling a banana, slicing a mango or tossing a salad (No more need to wash cook ware or other big messes!)
· I enjoy my food more with no concern about getting fat or becoming tired I am after a delicious meal.
· I know now when I’m hungry, and I only eat when I’m hungry. I have no impulse to eat for amusement, or emotional comfort. This leaves me much freer to focus on getting things done, running, and relationships, things that really matter to me.
· My diet doesn’t contribute to the white washed cruelty and killing of other animals. (I recommend reading Animal Liberation by Peter Singer for a very compelling argument in favor of equal consideration for non-human animals’ needs)
· By eating food grown in trees, we encourage the reforestation of the planet, which is vital to combat climate change and desertification.
· By eating fruit, we dramatically decrease water consumption in food production and even for personal consumption like from bottled or filtered water by several factors of ten compared to eating meat.
· I wake up feeling energized and happy.
· My breath always smells good, even right when I wake up.
· The Gout that was forming in my left foot – toes is 80% gone and continues to abate week by week as my body becomes more alkaline and replaces less than optimal tissues now that it has what it actually has always needed.
· Bowl movements take moments instead of half the morning and no longer stink up to bathroom. No more gas either!
· The quiet and peace I feel in my body whether I am at full throttle out running or sitting on the couch at my home with my family.
· I don’t waste money on excito-toxins, fractionated and broken foods or stimulants like vinegar, oil, spices, so called super foods, or supplements.
· I don’t consume energy cooking/heating my food. A significant amount of energy is consumed in America from household cooking.

I’m more excited about this way of fueling than any one else in my household but the results have some of my family reading The 80-10-10 Diet book and researching it online! It’s certainly subversive but I’m not at all the only person doing this. At an online community called 30 Bananas A Day , there are thousands of people interested in this lifestyle, including World Class Ultra Marathon Runners, Cyclists, Weightlifters, Cross Fitters and Body Builders, Rock Climbers, Speed Skaters, Gymnast, and many other athletes. There are several other LFRV (low-fat raw vegan) online communities that have sprung up in the last year as well. Now is the time for you to experience greater health than you have imagined possible!

Go bananas and eat some fruit!

If you’re interested in learning more about this diet, or vegan diets in general, check out these books and websites:

The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Douglas Graham (best prices @ Amazon

Food’n'Sport – Doug Graham’s website, full of great articles

The Fruitarian – website of Michael Arnstein, incredible Marathon and Ultramarathon Runner

Diet For a New America and Food Revolution by John Robbins

30 Bananas A Day – my online LFRV community of choice. Great people, great info, great support.

Raw Natural Hygiene – another great online forum

The McDougall Program by Dr. John McDougall

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell

Animal Liberation by Peter Singer

Charlie Abel – raw vegan bodybuilder


stacey'speace said...

Hi there! I love this article and thanks for your email to me, I have yet to respond. I am in this conversation in a new way and am excited to hear your story!!!!

I want to read more, learn more. My diet is at about 60% raw now (up from about 3% 12 months ago and 20% 6 months ago). I feel better, much better. I have 50 lbs to lose and a thyroid issue that I'm working on straightening out.

Lisa said...

Very interesting reading thanks Erskien. Enjoyed your interview on RunRunLive also. Clean fuel, clean machine, super power :-) I've been on and off raw for a few years now but have had a problem with consistency. I'll have a read of 80/10/10 because I KNOW the simple genius of the raw way. Arohanui from NZ

sites like service said...

Thank you for this wonderful blog

TeeJay said...

Hello Erskien,
I have recently also met Michael Arnstein (via email/Facebook for now, but will no doubt meet him in person soon, as we both live in New York), and I was likewise very intrigued by "The Fruitarian" and his laudits for Dr Graham. I will be increasing my raw/fruit levels soon, and just like you did, am sure I will realize immediate results. I definitely don't like the way I feel when I eat cooked food.
Thanks for the informative blog post! ~Todd J

Unknown said...

Thanks for the article and the websites etc. I've read 80/10/10 and am trying to follow it for 5 weeks now, but want more info from others following the plan.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the article and the websites. I've been trying to follow the 80/10/10 for 5 weeks and wanted more info.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Erskien, for this post. I'm fascinated with this topic!

I'm vegan and mostly eat raw fruit and greens (maybe 70%), and something has been eating at me, so to speak: There's a huge Paleo/Primal diet voice in the barefoot running movement. This normally wouldn't disturb me (I'd think of it as a bunch of SAD people who are looking for an excuse for their eating problems), but these are really strong athletes and, dare I say it, intelligent people with so much data behind their statements. I had to leave a forum I've been on for ages because the Paleo diet became completely on-topic there.

Do you have any thoughts about the Paleo diet in terms of the science they seem to be so confident about?

(And I'm looking forward to working out a time to interview you on Run Barefoot Girl.)

Kathy Lee said...

Great links, thanks for all the info! I've read 80-10-10 and really enjoyed the simplicity of it!