A new diet trend called the 80/10/10 diet is making the rounds, and several of you have asked me to weigh in. The goal is to get 80% of your calories from carbohydrates–primarily raw fruit–and 10% each from raw, plant-based protein and fat. Raw food and vegan diets are nothing new, of course. But the catchy new name has breathed new life into an old trend.
As with any diet fad, this one comes with big claims, such as weight loss, reversal of chronic disease and aging, and better energy, sleep, mood, and athletic performance. The 80/10/10 diet also boasts a best-selling book by a guru with questionable credentials, a bevy of true believers, and a crowd of equally passionate critics and detractors.
I’m going to steer clear of the personalities and the politics, though, and try to focus on the nutritional aspects of the diet itself. Is the 80/10/10 diet a healthy way to eat? Is it necessary to go to these extremes in order to feel and function at our best? Is it safe? Here are what I see as the primary pros and cons of this approach:
Nearly 80 Percent Calories from Fruit
Sometimes people will decide to follow the 80-10-10 diet and dive into that 80 percent part by eating a ton of fruit, almost to the point of filling that category with only fruit.
That’s actually not a good idea for a couple of reasons, even though the plan does recommend getting almost all of your carbohydrates from fruit.
I’ve actually tried to eat all fruit, to experiment in my own body, but after two weeks I felt a little too “vata,” which may be great in a hot environment, but not so much in a cold one.
What does “vata” mean?
By vata, I’m referring to the Ayurvedic idea that there are three principles. Vata is one; the others are pitta and kapha. All of them have a purpose in the body, certain things they control, and they need to work in harmony for you to feel your best.
Vata has to do with the movement in your body and it spans several systems—nervous, circulatory, excretory, and respiratory.
Feeling too vata is often characterized by feeling colder than you should, maybe a little restless or anxious, craving warm foods for grounding, and you may have trouble sleeping or staying focused.
Overall, I feel that eating 80 percent fruit may be too imbalancing. Anyway, there are so many delicious mineral-rich vegetables (as well as gluten-free grains that you cook), that are nourishing to the body out there—it makes sense to include them into your diet.
Enjoy your fruit each day, but be sure to get plenty of variety of beauty foods and nutrients.
The stews and soups I eat at home and abundance and here in Asia feel almost medicinal to me, and eating such cooked foods are a big part of the diets recommended by traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.
In these ancient practices, and all raw diet is not recommended (more on this below).
Candida and Fruit
As I mentioned earlier, if you’re in the Blossoming Beauty phase or you’re trying to remove candida, sweeter fruits aren’t right for you—yet—because the sugars will feed the candida that’s already living in your body.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have fruits that are lower in sugar, though you may wish to cut all fruits out for a little while (not permanently).
According to Dr. Douglas Graham, creator of the 80-10-10 diet, the problem with sweet fruit as it relates to candida has to do with fat intake, which is too high in most people’s diets (even some raw vegans get way too much fat, and the Standard American Diet is loaded with them, of course, and not the healthy kinds).
In other words, the fat’s slowing down digestion and “keeping” the sugar in the blood for far too long. That causes problems. I totally agree.
When the sugar in fruit is eaten alone, and there’s not a lot of excess fat slowing things down, the sugar doesn’t stay in the blood for long and it’s utilized for immediate energy.
When it’s eaten in a diet–or too soon after–food that’s high in fat, the fat slows down digestion, the sugar stays in the blood longer, and candida grows to eat the sugar.
If there’s already candida in the body, you should restrict or minimize your sweet fruit intake until it’s gone or reduced significantly; otherwise you’ll just be feeding the candida.
Just remember that fruit itself is not the problem. It’s the combination—fruit in the context of a diet filled with dense, slow-digesting fats and/or proteins—is what slows down the digestion of the fruit and leads to the weight gain and bloating that people often mistakenly attribute to the fruit itself.
Again, it’s not the fruit; it’s the combination of the fruit with other things. Once you know you’re free of candida, you can enjoy lots of sweet fruits and move up to the Radiant Beauty phase—just enjoy those fruits on their own.
How Do Cooked Foods Fit In?
Well, in the 80-10-10 diet, they don’t! But I believe they do have a place in a nourishing, healthy diet. Cooked foods are some of man’s staples from traditional and ancient cultures all around the world.
Think of all the healing medicinal teas and stews used for wellness and enjoyed throughout the centuries. Think of how you feel in the winter when you sit down to a delicious meal with warm squash, a serving of quinoa, or a soup.
Much better than coming in from the snow and having only a pile of fruit salad, right? 😉
Pros of the 80/10/10 Diet
1. You eat a lot of produce. The primary advantage of this approach is that you eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, foods that provide a lot of nutrients for relatively few calories. Compared to the typical American diet, where adults average just 2 servings of vegetables a day, this represents a big upgrade. But the amount of produce you eat on the 80/10/10 diet is probably overkill. While diets higher in fruits and vegetables are associated with longer, healthier lives, recent analysis suggests that the benefits peak at around 5 or so servings a day. Eating 10 (or 50) servings a day doesn’t seem to bring any additional dividends over the long haul.
2. You don’t eat any processed foods. In my previous show on raw food diets, I concluded that a mix of raw and cooked foods is probably ideal. While some nutrients are lost when foods are heated, others are made more absorbable. In my view, the primary advantage of raw food diets is simply that they exclude most of the highly processed, nutrient-poor food that junks up so much of the American diet. Similarly, the 80/10/10 completely eliminates refined grains, added sugars, fried foods, and processed foods.
The Pros and Cons of 80-10-10
- You eat tons of fresh produce.
- It’s easy to eat light-to-heavy with this diet, which coincides with the Beauty Detox principles, too. Just keep the denser, heavier, higher calorie fats and proteins (avocados, nuts, beans, lentils, and grains, for example, which are beauty foods but not part of 80-10-10) toward the last part of the day.
- It’s low-fat, which is important for several reasons—weight gain, digestion, and it even affects candida growth (I’ll talk more about that in a minute).
- It’s an improvement if you’re on the standard American diet because you’re eating whole foods and no refined sugar.
Cons of the 80/10/10 Diet
1. It’s very high in sugar. On the 80/10/10 diet, you eat a lot of fruit – 20 servings a day or more. Why? In order to get 80% of your calories from raw vegetables, you’d have to eat virtually around the clock. Because fruit contains a lot of sugar, the calories add up a lot quicker. But even natural sources of sugar, like fruit, can be consumed to excess. For those with diabetes or blood sugar issues, eating massive amounts of fruit all by itself can even be harmful. So, while I want you to load up on the vegetables, I usually advise keeping fruit to 2-4 servings a day.
2. It’s very low in fat. Although the fat you get on the 80/10/10 diet is from healthy sources, such as avocados, I don’t think there’s nearly enough of it. For one thing, fat helps slow down the absorption of sugar from foods, which helps to keep blood sugar, energy, and appetite on a more even keel. But fat also supplies important nutrients that keep your heart, brain, skin, and other systems healthy, and enhances the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. Although I wouldn’t be that worried if you only did it for a day or two, eating a very low-fat diet such as this one for extended periods can lead to nutrient deficienes.
3. It’s very low in protein. The 80/10/10 diet provides enough protein to meet basic biological needs–but no more. As I’ve talked about before, there are several advantages to getting a bit more than the minimum amount of protein. Protein helps regulate appetite and preserve lean muscle mass, supports immune function and tissue repair, and fuels brain function. If you are losing weight on the 80/10/10 diet (or you are over 60 years old), you are likely to be losing a substantial amount of lean muscle tissue.
4. Risk of incomplete or inadequate nutrition. Along with all cooked and processed foods, the 80/10/10 diet eliminates meat, fish, eggs, dairy, grains, and legumes. Although no one of these foods is essential to a healthy diet, highly restrictive diets like this one greatly increase the chances of nutrient shortfalls.
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Benefits of the Diet
Eating fruit and vegetables is one benefit to the 80/10/10 diet. Filling your diet with plenty of fresh produce is one way to cut your risk of heart attack, stroke and certain types of cancer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is also associated with lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis. You’ll also get a wealth of key nutrients, including fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
Drawbacks of the Diet
The sheer amount of fruit you’re required to eat can be daunting for many people. For example, you might need to eat 4 pounds of watermelon at one meal to get the number of calories you need, Everydiet.org notes. You might also experience nutritional deficiencies. For example, you might become deficient in protein, and a protein deficiency can interfere with normal hemoglobin, antibody, hormonal and digestive functions, as well as inhibit normal nutrient absorption. Some people following the diet might also become deficient in zinc, selenium and vitamin B-12, a nutrient essential for brain function and the formation of red blood cells.