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I’ve heard of it, but what is it?
Raw-till-4, the catchy, flexible and effective approach to raw veganism that will make it a doddle to access the infinite benefits of the lifestyle. Originally created by Freelee the Banana Girl (ring a bell?), the controversial YouTuber who, shockingly, loves a banana, advocates a mostly raw vegan lifestyle, with which you can combat a range of diet-related diseases, lose excess weight, and finally feel energized.
Until 4pm, she suggests you stick to high-carb, low fat raw vegan foods, mainly fruits and veggies, and says that, for dinner, you can eat a cooked meal as long as it’s vegan, low fat, and containing lots of healthy carbs, like potatoes, gluten-free pasta, or rice. It also emphasizes the benefits of mono-meals – meal comprised of one type of food only.
Why should I try it?
Eat as much as you need!
There are absolutely no calorie restrictions on this diet. No, you’re not hallucinating, and you are indeed still on planet earth. Unlike fad diets, the lifestyle is based on the idea that restriction will lead to undernourishment and frustration and, in fact, we need lots of healthy carbohydrates and fruit sugars to fuel our brains and bodies. These principles are similar to those of the 80/10/10 lifestyle, encouraging an abundance of carbs (about 80% of your total calories), with around 10% of your total calories from fat and 10% from protein.
So this diet actually encourages you to eat, a lot. Fed up of feeling so ravenous and restricted that you start dreaming of sickly donuts and grease-laden burgers? Only to give in to these cravings because you’re so undernourished, binge on junk, feel terrible afterwards, and try to diet again? Well, raw till 4 might be your answer. Eat away! On the right foods, of course..
Shed excess weight
But what about weight gain? Actually, Freelee explains how not all calories are created equal. She makes the excellent point that a person eating 3000 calories of junk a day will experience chemical reactions in her body very differently to someone eating 3000 calories of high carb, low fat, mainly raw vegan food.
Given that we are continually replacing our cells with what we put in our bodies, ‘the foods we eat are constantly in the process of becoming us’. It’s easy to see, then, how diets full of grease, salt and a myriad of toxins might not only make us heavier, but will make us ill, whereas a diet full of raw fruits and veggies, with some cooked carbs, will give your body the energy it needs to thrive, without piling on the pounds. As Dr Colin Campbell explains in ‘The China Study’, diets low in protein and fat, but high in complex carbs, can help you to shed excess weight.
Too much protein can damage our health
If you’ve read my post on the 80/10/10 lifestyle, you already know about two of the biggest nutrition myths around: carbs are evil and you need 80,000g of protein per day to maintain your health, and around 100,000g if you’re a gym-goer. Okay, so this is a slight exaggeration, but these myths really are everywhere, and they’re just downright dangerous.
David Gerow Irving, author of ‘The Protein Myth’ explains how humans only lose about 10 grams of protein a day, so we need just a small amount to make up for what we lose. He similarly describes how the body accumulates toxic by-products the body cannot store protein. In fact, researchers from Loma Linda University, California, concluded that those who ate more meat had a 60% increase in risk for heart disease. In stark contrast, those who ate mostly vegan protein, such as nuts and seeds, reduced their risk by a massive 40%.
With the raw-till-4 lifestyle working on the same principles of 80/10/10, with only around 10% of your calories gained from protein, and healthy vegetable protein at that, you won’t have to worry about these horrifying risks to your health.
Eating lots of healthy carbs will do wonders for your body
Unless you fancy a life of no carbs, heart failure and an early death (I’m okay, thank you very much), the Atkins principles are certainly to be avoided on this diet, which says you should eat carbs galore. As Dr Campbell explains, diets high in complex carbohydrates can reverse diabetes and heart disease and prevent a range of chronic illnesses. They fuel our brain, red blood cells and nervous system, and give us the energy to speed through our day, knocking chores out of the way like Iron Man, no sugar-laden energy drinks or expensive lattes required. Your wallet will also love you.
One of the best things about this lifestyle is its flexibility. If the idea of going fully raw intrigues you, but you’re concerned about how to transition from the standard American diet, raw till 4 is the perfect solution, and one that still includes a hot meal at night. It also suggests having at least one day per week which is fully raw, allowing you access to all the amazing enzymes present in raw food, that will switch your brain and body to full power.
What can I eat?
Despite what her name suggests, Freelee and other raw till 4 vegans, eat a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates, like potatoes, rice and gluten-free pasta, not just the yellow stuff. You can buy Freelee’s book here, and watch her videos, where she offers hints, tips, nutrition information, meal plans and recipes galore.
The rawtill4diet.com site also offers some excellent advice and meal plans to get you started on this flexible diet. It offers an example of a day on the raw till 4 lifestyle as follows:
Banana smoothie: 7 bananas, 2 medjool dates and 2 oranges, blended
A mono-meal of 5 large mangoes
2 pounds organic potatoes, cut into fries and baked
Several large lettuce leaves
No salt, no fat sweet chilli sauce
(Fries? Sign me up!)
Suffice to say, you’ll be pretty full on this diet, and will not be going hungry any time soon! In fact, it may take a while to get used to eating so much fruit, so, as I always say, introducing gradual changes to work up to a fully or partly-raw vegan diet is always preferable.
The raw-till-4 lifestyle also encourages mono-mealing. An alien concept for most, but one that makes complete sense nutritionally, mono-mealing simply involves eating one type of food only at any given meal.
We’re certainly in the habit, especially in the Western world, of eating an array of different foods at every meal, regardless of the consequences for our digestive system. When’s the last time you stopped to wonder how quickly your body would digest the bread, butter, fat-laden cheese, and raw salad of a cheese sandwich, along with that sugar-topped doughnut of a ‘typical’ American lunch? You never have, I’ll bet. And you probably don’t want to..
Different enzymes are needed to digest carbs, fats, proteins and sugars and so, if too much is going on in our gut for the body to handle, acids can cause food to decompose or ferment, and not digest. Your body try to use all of its energy dealing this toxic concoction, causing you to become really fatigued – 2pm slump sound familiar?
Popular new posts on Berry Abundant Life last month:
- How to start a raw vegan lifestyle
- 9 Unbelievable Benefits of Celery Juice, And How It Should Replace Your Morning Coffee
- The Protein Myth, and 13 Fantastic Sources of Raw Vegan Protein
- The 7 Must-Haves for Every Raw Vegan Kitchen
To combat this, mono-meals may be the answer. The body won’t have to work anywhere near as hard to digest a single food, so say goodbye to that afternoon fatigue, and give your digestive system a well-deserved break.
But really, as long as you get approximately 80% of your calories from healthy carbs – raw fruits and veggies in the day, and cooked rice and potatoes in the evening – with 10% fat and 10% protein from avocadoes, nuts and seeds, you’re good to go.
Are there any cons?
Cooking food damages its enzymes
You might argue that, by including some cooked food, you’re losing vital enzymes and nutrients present in whole, raw foods. Of course, biting into a raw potato can’t be too pleasant, and eating raw rice will not only be an assault on your tastebuds, but may cause food poisoning too. Suffice to say, if you’re going to eat potatoes and rice, cook them properly!
Having said that, eating (properly cooked) rice has been linked to the reversal of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, John McDougall and Mary McDougall, authors of the Starch Solution, explain how a diet rich in carbohydrates, such as rice and potatoes, also help to shed excess weight. So if you want to experience the benefits of a raw food diet, but without losing all cooked food, then you should undoubtedly give raw till 4 a go.
Don’t like bananas? You kinda have to…
If you’re not a fan of bananas, you might struggle somewhat. These yellow powerhouses feature heavily in the diets of most raw till 4ers, given their numerous health benefits, including their ability to improve digestion, moderate blood sugar levels and maintain your kidney and heart health. If eating them as they come doesn’t appeal, try this recipe for some seriously incredible blueberry swirl banana nicecream from Fully Raw Kristina. You’ll wonder how something so delectably delicious can be healthy and forget you’re even eating fruit! Be sure to pour it into a mason jar and share it on Instagram with 20 raw vegan-related hashtags, to live up to the annoying vegan stereotypes that we are. I never do that, of course…
Getting used to mono-mealing might be tough at first
Lastly, mono-meals also take a bit of time to get used to. I suggest mono-mealing with fruits such as mangoes, bananas or grapes, as these provide enough calories to satiate us. So please don’t think that eating bowls of lifeless lettuce is what raw vegan is about, or is enough for a meal. You’ll be left unsatisfied, annoyed, and absolutely ravenous. I don’t know about you, but you don’t want to cross me when I’m hungry. I might be a raw vegan, but I can still be pretty feisty. To avoid moments of Hulk-like rage, whether mono-mealing or not, eat plenty!
When it comes to raw-till-4, flexibility is the main advantage. If you’re not yet ready to give fully raw vegan a try, this approach, allowing for some cooked food, will provide you with the benefits of the lifestyle, with the option to still eat fries. Now you can’t say fairer than that…