Posted by: dietingnow | April 16, 2007

The Raw Foods Diet for Health and Weight Loss

Though it will probably never become a mainstream way of eating, there are those who swear by the raw foods diet. Not only will this diet help you lose weight, but it is also supposed to be healthier than any other way of eating. The concept is simple, though it may not be so easy to follow. Because proponents of the raw foods diet believe that nutrients are destroyed when food is cooked, they eat all or most of their food in its raw state, or as close to raw as it can be.

Needless to say, the raw foods diet is a vegetarian diet. In fact, it contains no animal products at all, so it is a vegan diet. And it’s not for everyone – clearly, some people would find this way of eating too restrictive. However, it’s not quite as restrictive and monotonous as you might think. There are many great raw foods cookbooks out there and they show you how to prepare a wide variety of main courses, desserts and snack foods using only raw fruits and vegetables as ingredients. It may surprise you to find, for example, that there is a substitute for pasta that can be made on the raw foods diet – the ‘pasta’ is actually shreds of vegetable, such as squash, carrot or potato.

Though it’s called raw foods, some food on this diet is cooked a little – just not for very long, or at a high temperature. There is not doubt, though, that the bulk of the diet is made up of salads and other raw vegetable dishes. Of course, fruit and fruit juices round out this eating plan.

The good news is this – if you follow the raw foods diet, you can eat as much as you want, and there is almost no doubt that you will lose weight. Most fruits and vegetables are so low in fat and calories, and so high in water and fiber, that eating them will actually help you to lose weight. So, as long as you stick to the foods on the diet, you are almost certain to succeed.

In certain ways, this diet is also very healthy. Nowadays, many people consume more types of harmful fat than ever before. This has long lasting and far reaching implications for health. By eating raw fruits and vegetables, you avoid these problems altogether. Also, you are certain to get plenty of vitamins, certain minerals, and antioxidants, which have cancer-fighting properties.

On the other hand, the raw foods diet is not perfect. For one thing, it may not give you enough calories, especially for people who are still growing. This might be the last thing on your mind if you are setting out to lose weight – but believe it or not, it might be a problem. In the long run, eating too few calories might be as harmful as eating too many. It trains your body to expect only a reduced number of daily calories, and so your metabolism slows down. Eventually, if you do start eating more daily calories, your metabolism may not be able to adjust. You will burn calories at a slower rate, and that can lead to ongoing weight problems in the long run.

There is another potential difficulty with a diet this restrictive – because you are cutting out several full food groups, you run a serious risk of nutritional deficiencies. It may well be true that raw foods are higher in nutrients than cooked vegetables. Even so, you might be falling short in other areas – like protein, calcium and iron. It is possible to eat a healthy and adequate raw foods diet, but it takes some work and planning. Adding a protein source, like nuts (a godsend for many raw foods aficionados) or tofu is an excellent idea.

To lose weight or improve health, consider trying the raw foods diet. If you use it for a limited period of time, it may function as a cleanse or fast, allowing you to rid yourself of toxins and boost your vitamin intake. As a way of life, you have to think carefully before you decide to embark upon this way of eating. It has its appeal, but you do have to make sure you get adequate amounts of protein and minerals.

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