Archive for the ‘Raw Food Health’ Category

Meal Frequency And Counting Calories

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Ever hear that skipping breakfast would make you fat, or that eating six meals a day would fire up your metabolism? These are ideas parroted in the popular media and even by professional personal trainers, but is there any science to back them up?

In this article on meal frequency we’ll see if you should really be eating every two hours.

Ally wants to know if we count calories or follow our hunger when we’re trying to lose weight?


Overcome Adversity And Thrive On A Raw Food Diet

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Are you tired, fat, and miserable? How about depressed or stricken by disease?

Many think they’ve got bad genes that curse them to a sub-par life, or that they’re just not good enough, or smart enough to get what they want.

Yet when we’ve fallen very far, when we’re backed into a corner with nowhere to go, we have our greatest chance of doing the utterly amazing.

History is filled with examples of outcasts, the maimed, and the oppressed achieving things that seemed impossible by those relying on rational predictions. The badly burned, wheel-chair-bound boy becomes a champion track star and olympic athlete, the exile from a communist dictatorship with pennies to his name starts a million-dollar company in the United States.

We are quick to bemoan our handicaps, complaining that life hasn’t given us a fair shake.

Some seem cursed to always be fat. Others have poor memories, were born into dysfunctional families, or develop an intestinal disease which tortures them.

But if you’re miserable and your goal seems unobtainable, I assure you that you’re closer to greatness than all the “blessed”, and “normal” people around you, to which life seems to come so easily.

Suffering: The Forge Of Greatness

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world, but are they all equal?

Interestingly, no.

In the wild, cheetahs have been clocked running at 65 miles per hour when chasing down prey. Their zoo-raised cousins, though, are much slower. Researchers haven’t been able to find a zoo-raised cheetah that can run faster than 40 mph.

Why? Researchers think it’s a life of never having to work for anything, of always having their meals thrown to them by their caretakers, that leads them to never develop the full extent of their abilities.

Those zoo-bound cheetahs have never missed a meal because their prey got away, and never had to go hungry as a consequence.

In other words, they never had a burning need to run fast, so they were content to trot.

Lucky, Healthy Humans: Not All They’re Cracked Up To Be

When it comes to humans, it’s very much the same.

Why is it that 1st generation immigrants to the United States are three times more likely to start a business and become millionaires than the children of US citizens?

Have you been keeping track of who becomes valedictorian at your local high schools? I was formerly a newspaper reporter and occasionally wrote stories about valedictorians, and I can tell you that the vast majority are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

It’s not that these immigrants and their 1st generation children are naturally smarter, but they are very much like the cheetahs in the wild.

In many cases they are people who have had nothing their whole lives. Raised without political rights or economic freedom they arrive in the United States with little in the way of money or social connections, but make up for it with burning desire to make it.

They get here and they work, refusing to be discouraged by setbacks.  They’re willing to put in more effort than the native born in many situations, and their results are telling.

The Sick, The Fat, The The Defective: Our Drive To Succeed

I spent the early part of my life overweight and suffered from numerous health problems like severe headaches and colitis. I was also “learning impaired,” in the lingo of the education system, and was stuck in a number of special education classes.

So I know a thing or two about the desire to just be “normal”.

Why can’t I just be thin? Why can’t I be healthy? Why did I get cursed with this dysfunctional body and mind?

It is incredibly tempting to just throw in the towel and curse our genes, accepting that we’re doomed to a sub-par life.

Some will unfortunately give up and accept their dysfunctional status, but like those immigrants who make it to the United States against all odds and the the hungry leopards who have to run to survive, many will refuse to be satisfied.

They’re going to go after a better life, and they’ll do what they have to to get there. They’ve tasted real suffering, and they’re not going to put up with it anymore.

My Own Life

I don’t consider myself to be greatly accomplished in the grand scheme of things (I generally feel like a slacker because I don’t try as hard as my mind tells me I should) but when I tell people where I was and where I am now, they’re generally impressed.

Here are some of the changes I’ve brought into my life:

Before After
Fat: 220 pounds at age 17 Thin: 158 pounds a few years later
Horrible colitis symptoms, regular migraine headaches, painful back No colitis, migraines, or back pain
Special education classes. Couldn’t read beyond a kindergarten level in third grade, couldn’t master basic math concepts Graduated college as an English major on the dean’s list.
Feeling like I wasn’t good enough to do anything well Worked as a successful newspaper reporter after college.
Sedentary Marathon Runner
Weak Strong
Feeling like I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. Starting in my spare time, which has grown into my full-time occupation.
Convinced I would never be able to travel freely and see the world as I had dreamed due to financial and time constraints. Just finished two years of traveling around southeast Asia.
Depressed through most of my childhood and teen years. Despondent over my future. Happy most days and never depressed. Excited about the possibilities of the future.
Rarely remembered facts, dates, numbers, and names. Now remember about 50-65 percent of names and have vastly improved my recall of a wide variety of info

The techniques I’ve used to find and achieve the solutions to my problems are quite varied.

Mostly, I rely on two things: A complete refusal to put up with less than satisfactory results in my life, and a series of 30-day trials to test solution after solution until I find one that works.

I’m far from perfect in many area. There are dozens of compartmentalized areas of my life which I’m trying to improve, and I continuously seek satisfactory techniques and ideas to bring about the changes I want.

I’m imperfect, pathetic, even, in a wide variety of areas, but I’m not giving up on myself.

You see, my own suffering over the years didn’t break me. All of these disadvantages I was born with only fired in me a desperation to do better.

I never had life handed to me on a golden platter, so I’ve learned to work hard for myself until I achieve my goals.

The end result is that I’ve surpassed, in many area, the “normal,” “average” people I envied for so many years.

Desperate Raw Foodists Become Successful Ones

It’s no secret that most successful long term raw foodists come from a background of suffering.

Survey the field and you’ll find the formerly fat, sick, depressed, mentally ill, and disabled now thriving at a higher level than their “normal” counterparts.

These people have suffered, and so they understand desperation and how good feeling healthy feels; they’ll go the extra miles just to experience it.

Of those that don’t fall into this category, you’ll find that they none-the-less have developed an impressive desperation and drive index score, one of the two factors you really need to succeed.

Adversity, really, is not the negative that it appears to be at first glance.

I would never have explored a raw food diet if I was never sick, so my pain has brought me to an end result that I consider far more enjoyable and beneficial than the what I’d be dealing with had I been “normal”.

So If you find yourself, like many, faced with a health shortfall, realize that you are blessed in a round about way.

That suffering will bring you farther than you would likely go on your own.

Stop delaying and start eating a healthy raw food diet today

Dealing with depression over your problems, or unsure of how you can get onto a better track? I highly recommend you check out The Raw Food Lifestyle, where I talk about what I did to get free of my depression and achieve some impressive results.


How I Got Strong While Eating A Raw Vegan Diet

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

In October I decided I was going make myself strong again.

Although never ridiculously weak, for the last five years or so my training regimen has almost entirely consisted of endurance running, yoga, hiking, biking, and a random assortment of whatever came up, a mix that did not put me on the path to brawniness.

In my late teens I took up Ninjitsu, and in my early 20s I did a fair amount of mountain climbing, both of which had left me fairly strong.

But after getting my colitis and other health conditions squared away, and feeling really energetic on the raw food diet that brought about those improvements, I got into distance running. I found that by shedding both fat and muscle I became a much faster runner, and so shed them I did.

I’ve talked about the weight loss extensively. The muscle loss was just a matter of atrophy, and it occurred slowly over the course of years.

Fast forward to October of 2011.

I had reached the lowest weight of my adult life – 158 pounds, a far cry from the 220 that I’d known at age 17. I was running better than ever, and felt great in most respects. Yet my increasing weakness was starting to annoy me.

On a hike in the mountains one day I saw a promising boulder and decided to haul myself up. After five minutes of strain, I realized that I couldn’t, and as has happened a number of times in my life, something snapped inside of me.

While lying in the dust, having fallen off the damned rock, I realized that I was done with being weak.

I decided that I was going to pursue a more generalist approach to fitness; I was going to be strong again.


Can You Be Strong On A Raw Diet?

Rumor has it that raw food vegans, with their lower-than-average protein intake, have a hard time gaining muscle.

Cooked food vegans have largely dispelled the myth that animal protein is required to be muscular, with multiple vegans competing in and winning body building contests. However, some make use of concentrated vegetable protein supplements, or at least eat cooked legumes and other protein-rich whole foods.

But if you’re eating a low fat raw vegan diet, with its emphasis on whole fruits and vegetables, you’re going to be taking in less protein than is considered ideal for building muscle.

One muscle-bound weight lifter, upon hearing about my diet, insisted that I would never get stronger sunless I changed my diet. I generally have little patience for arguing, so I merely smiled and got to work, confident that I’d be fine.

On an average day I might take in 60 grams of protein (7 percent of calories), which is short of the 1.41 g/kg which is recommended for strength athletes.

But I’ve worked with a number of clients who had success gaining muscle on raw diets, and I’ve posted some success stories, such as that of my friend Sam.

I’ve written more about protein requirements here.


The Results

My results are apparently visible, because I’ve gotten several emails mentioning that I was looking more brawny in my recent video on standing.

For comparison, here is a picture taken of me shortly before my strength training began at a salad bar buffet in Thailand. The manager was impressed by my eating ability, and posted this to his facebook page.

Skinny Raw Foodist Pre Strength Gaint
I’ve increased from 158 pounds last October to 178 pounds today

Note that approximately five pounds of my weight gain are from fat. I decided to ditch the hollow-cheeked look, and ate hardy for awhile to increase my body fat.

Strength Gains

I am not a particularly competitive person, and I rarely enter races or fitness events. I have no idea how my strength progress would be interpreted by those who are really into strength activities.

Yet by my own standards, my progress has been fantastic.

I feel tremendously better, simply because my body now has so much more utilitarian value. Boxes that were once heavy are now light, I can haul myself up ropes, and I’ve scaled a few boulders, for revenge purposes, of course :)

Yet statistics tend to have more pull when it comes to these things, and I’ve gathered my fair share.

For the purposes of providing a strength-gain gauge, I’ll be giving my stats over time for three exercises which are considered to give a fairly well-rounded representation of a person’s utilitarian strength when added together, at least in some fitness circles.

These are my 1 rep max lifts for the back squat, strict press, and deadlift.


Back Squat Strict Press Deadlift Total
10/10/11 135 75 135 345
12/11/11 165 93 215 473
04/03/12 210 100 250 560
06/11/12 225 110 275 610
Percent Increase 66.60% 46.60% 103.70% 76.80%



My Training


My strength training began in early October, and with the exception of a month off due to an unrelated injury, it has continued straight through to today.

It consists of a fairly standard Crossfit-style mix up of Olympic weight lifting, kettlebell swings, pull ups, situps, burpees, tire flips, sprinting, sledghammering, slam balls, rope climbing, wall balls, prowler drags and pushes, box jumps, and whatever else comes up.

I generally do at least four days a week of strength training, with some endurance activities mixed in. Generally I do some sort of strenuous exercise six days a week.


By my standards, I’ve succeeded admirably.

As far as I can tell, my diet is not impeding my strength gains, despite my protein intake being less than is considered ideal for strength athletes.

It’s my opinion that as long as you’re eating sufficient vegetables (I generally eat 2-3 heads of leafy greens a day), enough calories, and you’re meeting the lifestyle requirements of health (sufficient sleep and sunshine, etc), muscle gain should not be an issue for raw food vegans.

I think it’s likely that much of the food-and-supplement information you hear about in strength circles is based around hype and money-making schemes.

I have met bodybuilders who eat almost nothing but animal foods, as well as those following  cooked vegan diets, low carb diets, tons of fast food pizza and KFC, and now, I’ve just gained a considerable amount of strength while eating only raw fruits, vegetables, and a few nuts and seeds.

Progressive strength training leads to increasing strength; food is likely secondary.

Learn more about eating a healthy raw food diet here.