Adventures in Raw: 80-10-10 or Gourmet?

I want to preface this post by saying I don’t believe there’s one right way of eating for everyone. Not only is it a matter of personal preference, but it’s also a matter of what works for YOU and your body and lifestyle. I do think that the SAD (standard American diet) way of eating isn’t good for anyone, but within the spectrum of healthy eating, there are millions of variations and one way doesn’t work for everyone.

If you do any research into the world of raw foodism, you’ll most likely stumble upon two different ways of thinking and eating. The most-discussed one is the 80-10-10 diet, which is based primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables, with the addition of some overt fats (things like avocados, coconut and raw nuts) very occasionally. The name ’80-10-10′ refers to the macro breakdown: 80% carbs, 10% protein, 10% fat. 80-10-10ers believe that it isn’t fruit or the sugars in them that make us fat, but the combination of sugars (primarily processed ones) and fats. They consume mostly fruit in order to get enough calories (and they generally recommend at least 2500 calories per day) and eat greens and other veggies to get more vitamins and nutrients.

An 80-10-10 approved mono meal of peaches.

An 80-10-10 approved mono meal of peaches.

On the other end of the raw spectrum is gourmet raw foodists. They also shun processed foods but focus their diets on raw, plant-based sources of fat–coconut, nuts and seeds, avocados. They generally get upwards of 50% fat in their diet, with relatively low carbs and moderate protein from the more protein-rich fat sources. They still eat plenty of fresh produce, but veggies and especially fruit are rarely the base of their diet.

Even though I’m not strictly 100% raw right now, I’ve still been considering both of these forms of raw foodism. Where do I fall, and which one is better? For me, I believe a balance between the two is optimal. I think fresh produce should be the base of everyone’s diet, but I’m not about to eat 15+ bananas in a day and nothing else. I also think greens are very healthful, but there’s honestly no point in eating them if they aren’t consumed with a fat. The nutrients found in fresh veggies can’t make it to the bloodstream as easily if they aren’t eaten with a fat–numerous articles and studies are coming out saying that having some fat with your salad is actually a good thing, and better than having a salad with fat-free dressing, for many reasons. I’m not a fan of most salad dressings from the store, but I love topping my salads with raw seeds or guacamole or a homemade cashew-based dressing. Am I freaking out because I’m eating more than 10% fat? Heck no! I definitely don’t want to go back to my eating disordered days where I was scared of fat. I’ve come to love my healthy plant-based sources of fat and I don’t feel guilty for enjoying these whole foods. However, I don’t plan on going to the other extreme and consuming most of my calories from fat–there is a limit to how beneficial fats can be and I wouldn’t want to crowd out other nutritious foods just to eat more fats.

I prefer more balanced macros, as seen in this banana softserve creation--still raw, but with protein (Sunwarrior) and fat (pumpkin seeds).

I prefer more balanced macros, as seen in this banana softserve creation–still raw, but with protein (Sunwarrior) and fat (pumpkin seeds).

I’m also probably eating more than 10% protein, from the nuts and seeds and Sunwarrior powder and sprouted legumes I eat, and that’s okay too! I don’t buy into the hype that we need so much protein (because we actually don’t), and 10% seems to be the magic number or at least the minimum for even active people, but I do like to have a little more than that to fuel my lifting workouts. Protein is in so many things, even vegetables, that it isn’t hard to hit 10-15% or more eating just plant-based sources.

A lot of things, especially eating, always seem to be so black-and-white, like one way is wrong and the other’s right, but it doesn’t have to be that way! You can eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and still enjoy plant-based fats and protein on a raw diet–it doesn’t have to be high carb low fat or high fat low carb. Moderation is always best, and when it comes to diets that are already pretty dang healthy as it is, there’s no need to nitpick over the logistics. Just eat whole foods from the earth, raw if you roll that way and don’t stress if it isn’t ‘perfect’.

What’s your take on the ongoing diet battles?