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What is raw till 4 diet?
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 4 pm, 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.
Benefits of the raw till 4 diet
1. 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.
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..
2. It can help you to 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.
And, unlike so many diets that involve restriction, frequent high impact exercise or expensive (and completely useless) pills, raw till 4 is not a fad.
It’s a way of life that can not only help you to shed excess weight, but improve your lifelong health.
3. 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.
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.
4. 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.
► Healthy carbs help to fight disease
As Dr Campbell explains, diets high in complex carbohydrates can reverse diabetes and heart disease and prevent a range of chronic illnesses.
Carbs get a lot of bad rep, which is fair when it comes to processed carbs like cookies, bread and cakes. They’re not so helpful when it comes to fighting disease.
But in the case of fruits, veggies and carbs like rice and potatoes, they’re undeniably the superstars of the food world. If Beyonce was a food stuff, if you will.
► Healthy carbs fill the body with energy
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. Spending 5 dollars a day on fancy coffees, only to experience a crash half an hours later, is not the one.
► The food you’ll eat on the raw till 4 diet has tons of vitamins, minerals, beneficial antioxidants and fiber
Thanks to the tons of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber found in the abundance of fruits and veggies you consume with this lifestyle, your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to fill your cells with goodness. We need vitamins and minerals to function, antioxidants to fight disease and strengthen our immune systems and fiber for health digestion.
► It’ll improve your digestion
Fiber is, of course, essential to the health of our digestive systems. Most Americans aren’t getting enough of the stuff, which can contribute to everything from constipation to type 2 diabetes.
So eating a raw till 4 diet, abundant with fresh fruits and veggies (and therefore plenty of fiber), helps to protect the body against digestive ailments, as well as aid weight loss and lower cholesterol levels.
► You’ll have clearer skin, stronger nails, shinier hair
Want clearer skin, stronger nails and shinier hair? No, this isn’t an advert for a new bank-busting beauty product. A high carb diet full of fresh produce will do the trick. It’s that simple.
Vitamin C, found in abundance in loads of fruits and veggies like leafy greens and tomatoes, can strengthen your hair and stimulate its growth. It can also keep skin firm and help prevent wrinkles.
Vitamin E is also great for the skin and can slow down the ageing process. Found in fruits and veggies like mango, papaya and sweet potato, get plenty, and get rid of the face creams.
In terms of minerals, it’s zinc and selenium we’re looking for when it comes to strong and health hair, skin and nails. Nuts, beans and wholegrains like rice provide us with plenty on a raw till 4 diet!
► You’ll experience heightened mental clarity
The advantages of a high carb diet full of fresh fruits and veggies know no bounds, it seems. Leafy green veggies (which you’ll get plenty of with this lifestyle), are packed full of antioxidants, which boost your brain power. And studies have even suggested that eating raw fruits and veggies can improve our mood and mental health, we well as combat depression.
The fruits found to have the most benefit for mental clarity and health included bananas, fresh berries, apples and cucumber. I’ll take them all, thanks.
5. It’s flexible
One of the best things about this lifestyle is its flexibility.
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.
Raw till 4 FAQs
1. How many calories should I aim to consume?
Because this diet is all about abundance, and because fruits and veggies tend to be pretty low calorie, it’s super important to eat plenty. A couple of salads and a banana in a day ain’t gonna cut it. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to raw till 4, it’s generally recommended that women aim for around 2500 calories and men, 3000. This will depend on your height, weight and activity level, of course, and it’s important to find the right amount for you.
It might take a while to get used to eating so much fruit and veg, but with plenty of high fruit sugar snacks like dates and bananas, you’ll have plenty of energy throughout the day.
2. How can I get enough protein on the raw till 4 diet?
One of the biggest myths out there in the world of nutrition is the myth that we need to munch several animals a week to get enough protein. In fact, David Gerow Irving who penned the bestselling ‘The Protein Myth’, explains how we only actually lose around 10 grams of protein a day. We therefore don’t need to consume much at all to replace what we lose. And in fact, too much can make us seriously ill, with studies showing that increased meat consumption is linked to an increased heart disease risk.
So what about the small amount of protein we do need (about 10% of your daily calories a day should come from protein). Spinach, kale, mushrooms, avocados and nuts and seeds are some of the best protein sources on a raw till 4 diet. With plenty of these, there’ll be no issues getting the protein you need! Despite what diet fads and magazines tell us…
3. I am so bloated eating raw till 4 – what can I do?
It’s super important to drink plenty of water throughout the day on a raw till 4 diet. If you don’t drink enough when eating plenty of fiber, you may become constipated, which can cause bloating. So drinking plenty throughout the day should help to improve digestion, and combat this.
Regular physical activity is also crucial to preventing and combating bloating, even if this is just a brisk 20-minute walk. You don’t have to be a gym buff to be a raw-till-4-er!
4. Can I gain weight on the raw till 4 diet?
It’s pretty normal to gain weight temporarily on a raw till 4 diet, as your body becomes used to the extra calories. But our metabolisms can adjust to this, and so the extra weight will be lost.
If you’re wanting to gain weight, eating plenty of high fruit sugar foods like dates and other dried fruits should help, as well as small quantities of nuts and seeds.
And if you’re after shedding excess weight, raw till 4 is awesome. You may experience weight gain temporarily, but a long term shift in lifestyle to a low-fat, high-carb diet, filled with fruits and veggies, should help to stabilize your weight. In order to lose excess weight, be careful not to eat too many nuts and seeds on this diet.
5. What is mono-mealing?
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 – 2 pm slump sound familiar?
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 avocados, nuts and seeds, you’re good to go.
The main principles of the raw till 4 lifestyle
The famous Freelee the banana girl is the pioneer of the raw till 4 diet. She discovered this amazing way of living after struggling to overcome various health issues and lose excess weight.
She outlined some basic principles of the lifestyle, which’ll have you experiencing the same epic benefits as she and so many others have when switching to this diet.
◆ At breakfast, eat approximately 1000 calories of fruit
Ever heard of the phrase, ‘Breakfast like a King’? Raw till 4 takes this principle very seriously and the original principles advocate a 1000 calorie breakfast to fuel you up for the day. Bananas are a great way to get plenty of calories in the morning and watermelon is a fab breakfast fruit, because it digests super fast. You therefore don’t wanna eat it on top of other food (your stomach will not thank you), so eat it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. And lots of it!
Whether it’s a banana and date smoothie or a fruit salad platter, aim for 1000 calories to keep you energized and fueled through to lunch.
◆ At lunch, eat approximately 1000 calories of fruit
Lunch should similar to dinner, in that you should be aiming to eat plenty. Throughout the day is when you’re expending the most energy, so eating plenty is crucial! You’ll probably feel satiated with these two meals to the point of not needing to snack. Of course, if you do get hungry, snacking on fruit or a small handful of nuts and seeds is best!
◆ Dinner should be a light meal using the staples
By the time dinner comes, you’ve had the majority of calories you’ll need for the day. Now it’s time for a light meal of cooked carbs, like potatoes, pasta, rice and veggies.
◆ Keep your meals simple in the first 30 days
It’s best to keep your meals simple in the first month of this lifestyle, to give your body and digestive system chance to get used to this wonderful new way of eating. Try to limit take away food as you can’t control what goes into it, and it may be chock full of fat. Monomeals (where you eat lots of one food in one meal) of fruit work really well on this lifestyle. Mangoes, bananas and grapes are all great mono-meal foods.
◆ Go big on carbs and small on fats
This is a low fat, high carb lifestyle, so load your meals with healthy carbs and try to limit fats, like nuts and seeds, to around 5-10% of your daily total. Protein should also make up about 10% of your total calories (not that we’re counting, so an approximation is fine).
◆ Try to avoid oils
Oils aren’t great for the body, so it’s best to avoid them. It’s easy to sauté something using just water.
◆ No fruit after cooked meals
Because raw fruit digests much quicker than cooked fruit and other foods, it’s essential to eat raw before cooked, and not after. Again, your stomach will not like you very much, as it will probably cause bloating: the last thing you need to tackle with a busy day ahead!
◆ Keep up your water intake
When eating so much fiber, drinking plenty of water is crucial, as it supports the digestive system and helps to prevent bloating and constipation.
◆ Take care of yourself
This lifestyle is about complete and holistic wellness. It’s not enough to just eat well. Getting plenty of sleep, meditation and exercise are all crucial parts of feeling fabulous on the raw till 4 lifestyle. Your body needs time to rest and de-stress, so getting a good night’s rest and doing some form of exercise and relaxation activity is recommended.
You don’t have to go full-on yoga master, but try to take some time out every day to reset.
What can I eat on the raw till 4 diet?
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.
Here’s some suggestions for meals on the raw till 4 diet!
Lunch and BreakfastFruit, fruit and more fruit – go for it! Munch whatever beautiful, in-season fruits you love and as much as you fancy. Bananas and dates are a firm favorite for breakfasts and lunches as they’re great carb sources, as are mangoes. Have at it until you’re satiated, and marvel at the fact that you do not have to calorie count with this epic way of life. Hallelujah.
DinnerRaw till 4 is an amazing diet for those on a budget. At night, fill your boots with potatoes, pasta, rice and rice – they’re cheap and easy to buy. Make sauces with no-sodium-added tins of tomatoes and spices like basil and oregano and add veggies to your heart’s content. Whether your favorite veggies are fresh or frozen, it doesn’t matter!
From sushi (all you need is seaweed and sushi rice) to stews to pizza (make a base with rice flour and water), if you’re after a super healthy diet with no restrictions and plenty of variety, you’ve found it.
SnacksThis way of life is not about restriction (it can’t be said enough, really), so if you find yourself hungry between meals, reach for the fruit! Life’s too short to feel deprived and frustrated, so make sure you always have some fruit, fresh or dried, or a few nuts and seeds handy. If you’re anything like me when you’re in need of a snack, it’s best for everyone to stay away until you’ve found something. ‘Hangry’ pretty much covers it.
So what does this look like in a typical day?
And these are just examples, of course. Because the raw till 4 diet is so flexible in terms of its combination of raw and cooked foods, there are endless possibilities when it comes to the raw till 4 lifestyle!
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.
Are there any cons to Raw till 4 Diet?
1. 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!
Related Post: Raw Food vs. Cooked Food Nutrition
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.
2. 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…
3. 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…