Vegan Weight Loss: Is There a Bad Side to the Much Praised 80/10/10 Diet?
However, there are voices that speak against it and call it too restrictive or even dangerous. The promises for a better health, not just silhouette, are often countered by such worries and complaints. Discover the truth about the 80/10/10 diet: can it be really beneficial or rather harmful?
What the 80/10/10 Diet is about ?
Also called the 811, this diet plan was developed by a doctor, Douglas Graham.
A former athlete and a raw food enthusiast, he developed a vegan diet – therefore, it is clear from the start that we are dealing with a plan which restricts all animal food.
At the same time, this plant-based diet is low fat and raw. According to Dr. Graham, the real needs of the human body are way different from that which we are led to believe (usually by the meat and dairy industry and the protein supplement producers).
80% of the total count of calories we ingest during the day should come from carbohydrates, with 10% from fats and only 10% from protein. Based on principles and data outlined below, Dr. Douglas Graham connected modern humans to their very distant ancestors and revealed the science behind the raw vegan food diet.
The claims may seem exaggerated, but it is worth trying. It is a completely revolutionary method, persuading one to drastically limit their protein and fat intake and doing what was counter-intuitive before: increasing the carbohydrate amount to 80%.
However, these carbs must come from raw, fresh, easy to digest sources like leafy vegetables and fruits, which are filled with precious nutrients. Thus, the diet ensures all the needed vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc. for the body to heal itself and function properly.
All these must come from raw food because cooking denatures and destroys many of the nutrients. Cooking might even produce toxic compounds and thus lead to numerous health issues.
The science backing the 80/10/10 diet
Veganism is not a trend, it is actually the result of looking deeper into human anatomy, our history of disease as a species, plus the comparisons with different other species.
The human dentition alone brings sufficient proof that we are not designed to be omnivores. Our teeth resemble the most those of frugivore monkeys, meaning we are made to have a fruit-based diet.
Along with fruit, says Dr. Graham, as well as many others, we can also eat what was easily available in nature to the gatherer type: vegetables, nuts and seeds.
All other foods that we introduced as we evolved (products of agriculture and of hunting activity, such as grains, dairy, meats) got us to adapt to new diets.
However, since such habits are not entirely natural to the human species and were developed in time, the body could not fully adjust and thus new various diseases appeared.
While we may eat certain foods on a daily basis and feel no consequences immediately, symptoms develop with time and people get cancers, cardiovascular disease, auto-immune disorders and so on. Many such health problems disable individuals at a relatively early age, when they could still be functioning well and working at their best capacity.
The do’s and don’ts
The 80/10/10 diet is highly controversial – it appears to go opposite ways compared to many of the well-known diet and health guidelines. For example, it encourages eating plenty of raw leafy greens and fruits. However, other dietitians claim that having too many fruits can lead to weight gain, due to the high content of sugars.
After all, countless diets and nutritionists tell you to limit fruit intake for that exact reason. How does Dr. Graham fight this idea? According to his diet, one is already getting all the needed nutrients and calories through it.
Since there isn’t much protein, nor fats, the body will use up the calories from fruits and vegetables. This way, you’re not getting fat. On the other hand, if you’re eating plenty of fruit but you’re also indulging in protein and fat, you’re having a surplus of calories, which get stored as fat in your body.
Here is what you should consume, as per Dr. Graham’s recommendations:
- All types of sweet fruits (bananas, apples, berries, mangoes, oranges etc.)
- Soft greens (spinach, lettuce etc.). Cabbage, broccoli, celery and cauliflower are not considered soft greens, as they are harder to digest.
- Non-sweet fruits (avocado, olives). These also have a high fat content.
- Nuts, seeds
What you must not eat:
– Dairy or anything containing dairy
– Butter, margarine, vegetable oil
– Most grains
– Processed foods
– All kinds of junk food
– Food with added sugar
– Alcohol, coffee, soft drinks.
Also, you should not use meal replacements such as protein shakes – these will take the protein intake too far. Try to have your recommended foods in raw state. This means avoiding all high temperature processing (no boiling, steaming, baking or frying).
You can, however, use food processors and blenders to make smoothies, purees etc. It is in fact highly recommended to do so. You won’t be chewing on raw food all day; it’s far easier to make smoothies and have bigger amounts at once.
80/10/10 Diet health benefits
This controversial diet seemingly does the following:
- increases longevity
- reduces obesity
- helps keep a healthy weight
- avoids disease
- stops cravings
- improves sleep
- clears the skin
- boosts mental clarity.
As a low-fat vegan diet, ‘the 811′ is particularly good for weight loss – a fact backed by solid scientific research. As with all vegan diets, this one too lowers the risk of type II diabetes with up to 80%.
Th diet brings some very interesting aspects into the discussion. Its high carb content makes one satiated and thus there is no more need to want carb-rich foods. Everything is already supplied. In this context, it becomes impossible to develop a carb craving (for sweet treats for example). It is then easy to see the impact it can have on someone’s weight.
Because the diet aims to eliminate cooked food, it means the individual won’t be filling their stomach with ’empty calories’. Cooked food loses a great part of its nourishing capacity; raw food delivers plenty of nutrients instead. This means it is more efficient at feeding someone and providing their body with everything it requires.
The 80/10/10 diet can indeed draw many benefits from eating more raw food and less of the processed kind. This will lower the risk of getting certain types of cancer, diabetes, dementia, as well as cardiovascular problems.
However, this particular ratio of macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates) was not found to be superior in some sense; the percentage could well be exaggerated, with a too high count of carbs and too little protein and fat.
For how long should you do the diet?
The 80/10/10 diet has no time limit whatsoever. It is considered safe to adopt it for the rest of your life.
There are no strict rules in this regard, though. You may alternate periods of raw dieting with more permissive ones, but don’t try to ‘compensate’. This means you should not overindulge in unhealthy or calorie-rich foods while you’re not on the diet, as this will cancel your slimming efforts.
Is there a risk of deficiencies?
The biggest risk is that of developing a Vitamin B12 deficiency, as frequently seen in vegans and vegetarians. Nevertheless, there are plenty of easily available supplements on the market to help with this issue. A lot of people tend to be Vitamin B12 deficient, even among those who opt for a varied diet. It is a very common occurrence.
If you feel like you’re becoming anemic or you’re hungry all the time, you may need to increase your food intake. As previously mentioned, the 80/10/10 Diet requires you to eat much more than usual to reach satiety.
Another problem is that of not getting sufficient iodine, for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and not only. This is easily solved by adding a bit of iodizes salt or by consuming seaweed (although both are best avoided, according to Dr. Graham – perhaps for the fear of salt overdosing).
How difficult is it ?
There is no answer valid for everyone. People may digest certain foods with more or less ease, need more of a specific nutrient and so on.
Besides, certain individuals feel more inclined to have fresh, raw, plant-based and low-calorie food, while others crave fatty and proteic cooked meals.
Your lifestyle and culinary habits will determine how easy or difficult the transition to a vegan diet will be.
The difficulty usually lies in the beginning. The more raw vegan food the body gets, the better accustomed it becomes. It is like a rewriting of its ‘software’, its habits and perceived needs.
This happens with time but once it does, all such needs have subsided. What most people complain about with this vegan diet is that they can hardly cope either with their initial hunger or with the sheer volume of food.
Fruits and vegetables have a high content of water, aren’t as dense as meat, grains, lentils or beans and have much fewer calories. Still, a human being requires about 2,000 calories per day to function properly and maintain their weight. In order to reach this count, you have to eat large amounts of the recommended foods.
Therefore, your blender or food processor will become your best friend. You can also allow yourself to rely a little more on nuts and seeds, since these provide important quantities of nutrients and calories in a very low volume.
The 80/10/10 diet is more restrictive than the generic vegan diet, which allows for more plant-based protein and fat. It can be quite difficult to follow, at least to some. Also, it appears a bit exaggerated, yet it still enables many great health benefits, including weight loss. Certain amendments can be made, though. Cooked food isn’t as bad as fans of this diet claim. Also spices aren’t that bad.
The rationale behind such restrictions is that these would be beneficial to people who already have certain issues, like internal inflammation, gut problems and so on. When the digestion has been affected one way or another, a vegan diet can fix it with great effectiveness. Otherwise, to healthy individuals cooked food and spices aren’t that harmful.
Low-fat is definitely good, especially when aiming to lose weight, but there is no solid evidence to support the idea that 10% would be a good amount to have. It would be fairly safe and beneficial to alter the 80-10-10 ratio in favor of the latter two and maintain a habit of eating uncooked food. Perhaps it would be good to have a counter-example, too: the typical (and very fattening) American diet contains about 30% fat.
You must therefore never get too close to that percentage. Aiming between 15% and 20% fat seems like the best way to go. Or, it is also possible to keep the lipids at low levels while upping the protein intake.
This would be especially rewarding if you’re planning to be active and hit the gym regularly, in order to build muscle. Increasing protein (but without exaggerating) is bound to make bone mass more dense, preserve muscles while losing weight and feeling satiety much sooner.
On a final note, never strive to eliminate lipids completely, as this would be extremely harmful. It’s an ambition not worth having. Always have at least 10% of your food intake as fats, as these helps with absorbing many of the nutrients in green vegetables and fruits. The 80/10/10 diet isn’t bad and can accomplish much but it would be recommended to alter it by changing the macronutrient percentage a little.