Monday, July 23, 2012

The Raw diet experiment: first half.

In case you missed the beginning of the diet study, I began with 30 days of Paleo.  You can check those blogs out HERE and HERE. Now, I am half way into the Raw vegan portion. I'm practicing an 80% or higher level of Raw foods, with no animal products. Here is my experience so far...

The Raw part of this diet study has gone extremely quickly for some reason. When I first thought of the idea of doing these studies I sort of freaked out at the thought of having my foods so strictly controlled (and monitored!) for 60 whole days!  But the time has really been a non-issue.  I get bored easily, so this is a huge plus.

As I stated earlier on in my diet study, I am a blood type A+ and really wanted to see if the Blood Type Diet held any truth for me.  According to that book, I should do really well on a vegan/vegetarian diet.  But, I actually did well on Paleo, technically, if you only look at weight lost.  Losing ten pounds in one month is a pretty good chunk. Typically it is recommended you lose only 1-2 pounds per week, and I lost more than that.  But as I said in my Paleo review, I was tired a lot and didn't feel like exercising, and my pH was not improving. I guess that makes it a toss up.

I actually did a Raw diet detox for 7 days back in March for school. I was unbelievably grumpy the entire time.  Completely irrational and miserable.  This didn't exactly make me overly anxious to follow the Raw diet for 30 whole days, but I was still curious to see how my body would react.  The first few days I did experience some withdrawal symptoms, which surprised me. I had gone through several days of withdrawal on Paleo and didn't think I'd have anything else to withdrawal from!  But, apparently I did. Headaches, fatigue and bloating happened almost immediately.  By day 2, I was starting to see some new energy though and even went for a run, which is unheard of for me.  It's been years since I have been able to run, let alone wanted to.  Not only did I run that day, but I also swam and went for a bike ride.

Sadly, the next few days brought more fatigue.  I was starting to think something must be seriously wrong with me if nothing I was doing made me feel more energetic.  But, I kept following the diet and hoping for the best.

My weight was still coming down steadily (four more pounds lost in the first week) and my body fat (according to my bathroom scale) was also coming down, both good signs, I thought.

Then on day 9, I headed to Michigan to visit a friend. I knew I would have a little cooked food while I was there, but planned to stay vegan and mostly Raw.  I did pretty well most of the day but our evening meal consisted of some sushi and half of a cookie.  I paid the price for that meal. Oy.  I found this interesting, since as I stated in my final Paleo blog that I had no stomach issues on day 30 of Paleo after eating some pizza and breadsticks.  It could have just been bad food, or maybe Raw is changing my digestion even further. Time will tell!

I got right back on the Raw train the next day and by day 12 my pH was up to 6.5. This was still on the acidic side, but was a welcome improvement. My weight has gone up a bit from what I lost in the beginning of Raw, but, more importantly, my energy was really picking up.  Since day 12 my energy has been through the roof!  I wake up looking forward to working out, and excited to see how I can push myself. Before and during Paleo I never looked forward to working out. Sure, I went ahead and MADE myself work out, but excited for it?  No way.

So, if you only look at weight loss as a way to determine a diet's success, then the Raw diet is a big ol' failure for me so far!  However, if your energy level, pH level, fitness level and mood factor into your successful diet, then this is by far the best one I've ever been on. Funny how that works.

Here are some additional thoughts and notes:
I was off all junk, plus dairy, sugar and grains for 30 days on Paleo, so this energy could technically be residual effects from that. However, it does seem strange that those effects happened to take place two days into Raw, and not in the last days of Paleo.

I have added grains back in pretty regularly with the Raw diet. Either through soaking or cooking them, or simply in my protein shakes, and I have had zero issues. I never felt like I had issues with grains before, but it is nice to know that they aren't a problem now.  I do believe some people truly cannot digest grains, maybe short term, maybe for the rest of their lives, but it's worth going grain free just to see where you stand on that issue.

My pH is better, but still not great.  It could take a while for it to get up in the 7.2-8 range, but it's definitely headed in the right direction, and I'm very happy about that.

I had really weird cravings for thousand island dressing and fried green tomatoes. I can't even tell you the last time I had either of those things, let alone craved them.  Thankfully I found raw and/or vegan options for both of those!

Cashews are my boyfriend.

Meat does not repulse me the way it did on the first 7 day detox, in fact occasionally I have found myself staring at it longingly once or twice.  I'm not a natural born vegan and I just came off a 3x/day meat diet, so cut me some slack.  ;)

Overall, I am super happy with the way this is going.  I can't wait to see how the next two weeks unfold!

Here are some of my very favorite recipes for the Raw diet so far:
Sour cream
Macaroni and cheese
Avocado Fries
Kelp noodle pad thai
Thousand Island
Walnut taco meat
Raw caramels
Raw cacao puffs
Mimi Kirk's Caesar salad (parmesan recipe too)
Raw vegan macaroons

And my favorite Green Lemonade juice:
4-5 stalks of kale
1 head of romaine
1-2 lemons
2 apples (I like using one gala and one fuji)
1 small slice fresh ginger

*For those of you wondering how my O+ friend Addie is doing on her side of this study, she struggled during Paleo a bit, lost 5 pounds, and was hungry quite often. There are other factors that could be triggering that hunger, and, unfortunately, she had a personal tragedy that will delay her start of Raw until August. I will continue to update you on how she's doing, as I do believe that her experience will show an interesting part of the study. If nothing else, it shows that each individual is unique in their nutritional needs and should not get caught up in dietary games of what exactly we need to consume to be healthy. It also shows that life carries on, and we deal with circumstances as best we can and hope we turn back around and are stronger for our experiences.  <3

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