Diet Blog

Can You Lose Weight On A Raw Food Diet?

Friday, 27 July 2012
Perhaps you’ve heard of this diet that’s popular in vegetarian and vegan circles, but certainly not limited to it. The raw food diet requires you at least 75 percent of your dietary intake to be raw fruits and vegetables, and in some non-vegetarian cases, raw meat and fish as well! Other acceptable products incude dehydrated foods like dried fruit, nuts and seeds, and fresh fruit or vegetable juices. You are not allowed to eat beans, salt, potatoes (considered inedible when raw), or drink alcohol or coffee.

The primary premise of the raw food diet is that cooking food destroys enzymes and other nutrients. There is some scientific data to back up these claims: WebMD, one of the most trusted medical websites on the Internet, reports that eating raw cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts is associated with lower incidences of bladder cancer, while dozens of medical studies have shown that raw food lead are more likely to lower the chances of oral, throat, and stomach cancers. Please check the bottom of this article for more information on some of these studies.
However, one should be aware of some arguments in favor of raw foodism, citing studies that show a direct link between a diet high in vegetables and low in or lacking cooked meat with lower cancer risk and other health benefits: these are not endorsements of the raw food diet, as cooked vegetables and non-raw vegetarian diets yielded the same results.

The Benefits
A great benefit to the raw food diet is that it’s been proven to lead to weight loss, often dramatically. But as the study we discuss below in regards to the risks of this regimen, this weight loss also comes with some consequences.
In addition to the benefits discussed above of raw over cooked foods, raw fruits and veggies have a higher water content, keeping you hydrated, more focused (without the proper amount of water in your body, particularly your brain, you’ll lack energy and stamina!), and with lots of fibre in your body, so you’ll stay regular.
Raw foods are also more easily digested than cooked foods, leaving you with more energy after a meal.
Many people who go onto a raw food diet, especially raw vegetarian and vegan regimens, lose a lot of weight. Other benefits include lower blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol. Some people claim that eating raw food can cure cancer or assist in its remission, but no published peer-reviewed studies have confirmed this. As with many alternative health issues, it is important to ensure that the information you’re receiving is accurate and fact-checked, so wade carefully into raw food websites and other resources that may promise you the moon.

The Risks
There are numerous risks to a raw food diet. Food poisoning is a risk, especially if you eat raw or otherwise undercooked meat, raw eggs, or consume unpasteurised milk. A 1999 study conducted in Germany found that while a raw food diet definitely contributes to dramatic weight loss, it also discovered that approximately a third of women under the age of 45 suffered from amenorrhea (the absence of a menstrual cycle). Its conclusion reads:
The consumption of a raw food diet is associated with a high loss of body weight. Since many raw food dieters exhibited underweight and amenorrhea, a very strict raw food diet cannot be recommended on a long-term basis.
Amenorrhea is almost always caused by a lack of proper nutrients in the body. Eating raw foods may also lead to gastric disturbances, from indigestion due to the stomach producing different acids and flatulence.

Before you start any raw food diet, you should honestly assess whether you can maintain it over a long-term basis and whether doing so is a healthy option. It is very possible that you’ll get bored: consider options in diet variation or periodic breaks so that you are getting all the nutrients you need and are looking forward to what you eat each day.
While only you can decide whether to go onto a raw food diet or not, it’s recommended that if you decide to follow this diet, you should take vitamin supplements to make up for vitamins and minerals that you’ll most likely be lacking, including:
• Calcium
• Protein
• Vitamin B12
• Vitamin B2
• Vitamin D
• Zinc

For more information:
Michaud DS, Spiegelman D, Clinton SK. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of bladder cancer in a male prospective cohort. J National Cancer Institute 1999; 91(7):605-13.
Link LB, Potter JD. Raw versus cooked vegetables and cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2004;13(9):1422-35.

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