Can a raw food diet actually be effective for weight loss?
If a raw food diet is done right, it can do wonders for your weight loss plans. But if you don't know what kind of foods to avoid, you could end up gaining weight instead of losing it. Not all raw food diets are created equal and you will not automatically become lean if you eat just about any kind of a raw food diet. But if you do it right, how much weight can you expect to lose and how quickly will you see the results?
How would a raw food weight loss diet look like?
The most eager proponents of a raw food diet will go out of their way to avoid any cooked foods. The main reasoning behind such behavior is that in nature (without modern inventions) we also wouldn't have been able to consume foods that have been thermally processed (cooked). Quite a number of different raw food diets have emerged lately both with weight loss and health goals in mind. Basically, a raw food diet can contain anything that has not been heated above a certain temperature threshold. You can include anything from fresh fruits, vegetables and even some meats, while you need to avoid grains, legumes and any other vegetable that can’t be eaten raw (like potato). If we restrict our diets to raw foods alone, we are promised optimal weight levels and numerous other health benefits. But just like with most weight loss promises, there is a catch.
How to lose weight on a raw food diet?
The raw food diet can include plenty of raw foods that can actually lead to great weight loss results. Fruits and vegetables are at the top of this list, since most of them are low calorie-per-volume foods. This means that you can eat large quantities of them while still consuming relatively few calories. They are also foods rich in fiber and water, providing you with a greater feeling of satiation after the meal than most other calorie-dense foods. In other words you can literally stuff your face with such foods and still keep your calorie intake under control. Sticking to mostly fruits and vegetables will also help you keep the sodium intake low, which means that you could be shedding some of the unnecessary water weight.
However, eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables until desired weight loss goals are achieved can represent quite a challenge for most people. Even though larger quantities of food can be consumed, sooner or later the desire for something different can still kick in and start interfering with your weight loss goals.
How to avoid gaining weight on a raw food diet?
Why is it that some people, who decide to give a raw food diet a go, end up gaining weight instead of losing it? The foods in their natural state have not magically lost their fattening properties and they still contain calories (unless some very specific conditions have been met, but that is a story for another day).
The first weight loss problem with raw foods is that they can be very high in sugar. Dates, honey, various raw syrups or dried fruits are at the top of the list. Raw foods can also contain large amount of fats. Among them are oils, raw butters, nuts and seeds, etc. Hell, even wine can be called a raw food (since it is not cooked), but we know that drinking alcohol is almost as good for gaining weight as eating fatty foods is. Then there’s the sodium (salt) content that can also be pretty high in some cases. You need to be especially careful with some of the more advanced (gourmet) raw food recipes.
How quickly can you expect to see some weight loss results?
Like I said, there are many different raw food diets in existence and this makes it impossible for me to give you a universal answer. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters for weight loss is your calorie balance (calories ingested minus calories burned). If you go on a green juice diet where you will be ingesting only 300 calories you can expect to see some pretty rapid weight loss results. But if you go on a high-sugar-high-fat gourmet version of a raw food diet (where you are ingesting who knows how many calories) don’t be surprised if you don’t see any weight loss results or even experience weight gains instead.
For weight loss (and your health) you can safely introduce more raw foods in your diet. Just be careful to choose proper raw foods (fruits and vegetables) and avoid the calorie-dense raw foods (fatty foods, especially if they also contain sugar and salt). Keep in mind that the newly introduced foods (calories) have to replace old ones. If you keep everything the same and just eat a few bananas after every meal, this will only help you gain weight faster. But if you replace a 1,500 calories worth of pizza with a huge banana-spinach smoothie, you could easily be reducing your calorie intake by 1,000 calories (that is if you are even capable of consuming a 500-calorie smoothie).