All you need to know about the 80 10 10 diet

The 80 10 10 diet is a low-fat raw vegan food eating plan designed by long-time raw foodist Dr. Douglas Graham. Dr. Graham is the author of many nutrition books and has been an advocate of raw eating since way back in 1978.

He is a lifetime endurance athlete, having successfully completed many Ironman triathlons and marathons. He is also a professional nutrition advisor and has worked with a wide range of sportspeople including tennis player Martina Navratilova, NBA pro basketball player Ronnie Grandison, and Olympic track sprinter Doug Dickinson. 

Raw vegan diets are nothing new and humans have been eating this way for thousands of years. However, the 80 10 10 diet is much more prescriptive in what and how much dieters can eat.

The 80 10 10 diet involves eating very specific amounts of the three food groups. According to Dr. Graham, followers of this diet should get:

  • 80% of calories from carbohydrates
  • 10% of calories from protein
  • 10% of calories from fat

Yes, the 80 10 10 diet is very low in both protein in fat, but according to Dr. Graham, overeating of either of these food groups can lead to weight gain and poor health.

What are the benefits of the 80 10 10 diet?

The 80 10 10 diet offers a wide range of advantages and benefits, especially over meat-based and cooked food diets. These include:

Easier digestion – cooking food is a relatively recent development in human evolution. According to the 80 10 10 diet, we are much better suited to eating raw food than we are cooked. Cooking changes the structure of food, making it not only harder to digest but less nutritious too.

Weight loss – more and more people are overweight, and many seek out diets to help them shed unwanted pounds. The 80 10 10 diet has gained a lot of popularity for being an excellent way to lose weight and keep it off. The 80 10 10 diet is naturally low in fat and, therefore, low in calories. However, raw vegan foods are also very filling, which makes the 80 10 10 diet easier to live with.

Very nutritious – like any raw vegan diet, the 80 10 10 diet is built around lots of highly nutritious plant foods. Following this diet will supply your body with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All of these nutrients are very good for your health.

Detoxification – many of the foods in the 80 10 10 diet are said to have a detoxifying or cleansing effect. They contain nutrients and water that will help your body flush out accumulated toxins more effectively. In addition, eating plenty of organic raw food means you won’t be ingesting new toxins. Detoxification should have a noticeable effect on things like the condition of your skin and hair, the frequency and severity of headaches, fewer allergies, more energy, and a stronger immune system.

No processed foodsprocessed foods are a leading cause of weight gain and disease. The 80 10 10 diet is free from all processed foods, so that means it’s exceptionally healthy. Processed sugar and fats are quickly and easily turned into body fat. They are also very unhealthy and not very filling.

Protection against a wide range of illnesses and diseases – according to Dr. Graham, the 80 10 10 diet offers protection against:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
  • Arthritis

Time-efficient – cooking takes and wastes a lot of time. Even an easy to cook meal means spending 30 minutes or more in the kitchen. Because the 80 10 10 involves no cooking and minimal food preparation, it’s very time efficient. This is a good diet for busy people. In most cases, all you’ll need to do is wash and chop whatever you are going to eat for your next meal. This can be very liberating.

What can you eat on the 80 10 10 diet?

The 80 10 10 diet is built around raw, low-fat plant foods. Unlike a lot of vegan and vegetarian diets, it does not allow things like soy or grains. Instead, dieters must stick to:

Sweet fruits such as:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Berries
  • Pears

Non-sweet fruits such as:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Okra
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Squashes

Soft greens such as:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Leafy greens

Fats such as:

  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts and seeds

80 10 10 is a low-fat diet, and these foods should only make up 10% of your daily calorie intake. Because fat is very high in calories, containing nine per gram, that means these foods can only be consumed in small amounts.

Note: Other foods such as carrots, cabbage, celery, and broccoli are also allowed on the 80 10 10 diet, but not in large amounts. They are viewed as harder to digest and should not make up a large percentage of food eaten.

To hit the recommended 80/10/10 ratio, dieters should get 90–97% of their calories come from sweet and non-sweet fruits, 2–6% from leafy greens, and 0–8% from other vegetables, fatty fruits, nuts, and seeds.

What about protein?

The 80 10 10 diet is purposely low in protein. Just 10% of your daily calorie intake should come from this food group. Protein is important for things like muscle repair, growth, and the condition of your nails and hair. That said, you don’t need a huge amount.

The good news is that you can get all the protein you need on the 80 10 10 diet by eating fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Good sources of protein on 80 10 10 include:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sunflower seeds
  3. Almonds
  4. Flaxseed
  5. Sesame
  6. Walnuts
  7. Hazelnuts
  8. Pecan Nuts
  9. Macadamia nuts
  10. Alfalfa seeds
  11. Raisins
  12. Dried figs
  13. Spinach
  14. Broccoli
  15. Guavas
  16. Lettuce
  17. Parsley
  18. Prunes
  19. Blackberries
  20. Bok choy

While each of the above only contains a small amount of protein, what little they do contain will be sufficient to ensure that you hit your 80 10 10 target for this food group.

How many calories should you eat?

Your daily calorie intake depends on several factors, including how active you are, your current weight and age, and whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain your weight.

Use an online BMR calculator to work out how many calories you need to eat per day, and then apply the 80 10 10 rules to your recommended calorie intake. You will need to use a food tracking app at first to make sure you are hitting your nutritional goals but, with practice, this gets easier and will only take a few minutes per day.

Foods not allowed on the 80 10 10 diet

As well as not eating animal products or cooked foods, followers of the 80 10 10 diet should avoid the following foods:

  • Processed fats including margarine, vegetable oils, and nut oils
  • Dehydrated or processed grains including beans, peas, lentils, and dried fruit
  • Taste enhancers such as sugar, MSG, and spices
  • Certain beverages, including alcohol, coffee, soft drinks, and energy drinks. Fruit and vegetable smoothies and water are allowed in abundance

Sample one day eating plan for the 80 10 10 diet

Dr. Graham has written several recipe books to make following the 80 10 10 diet as easy as possible. But, if you want to start this diet right away, here is a sample meal plan based on the 80 10 10 diet guidelines.

Breakfast – large fruit salad made with chopped mangoes, blueberries, and bananas

Lunch – spinach, Medjool date, and apple smoothie

Dinner – large green salad topped with strawberries and almonds

Snacks – freshly squeezed orange juice, vegetable sticks, and grapes

It’s also important to note that Dr. Graham recommends “mono meals” on the 80 10 10 diet. This means eating large quantities of a single food. For example, for dinner, you could eat six ripe bananas.

How to start the 80 10 10 diet

If you are already a practicing raw vegan, making the switch to the 80 10 10 diet should not present many problems. You’ll need to make some minor changes to your meals, ditching a few vegan staples like olive oil, nut butters, grains, and nut milks from your diet but, other than that, you should not find it a hard transition to make.

To avoid inadvertently breaking your new diet, take a few minutes to remove any forbidden foods from your kitchen. That way, you are less likely to eat something you shouldn’t by accident or out of habit.

Also, plan your menu for the next few days and create a list based on what you need. This will make grocery shopping much easier. You can find a guide to planning your grocery shopping here.

Finally, make sure you include a wide variety of 80 10 10-approved foods in your meals. That way, you will provide your body with not just calories, but a broad spectrum of nutrients too. It’ll also keep your meals interesting.

Summary and conclusion

The 80 10 10 diet is straightforward to follow and is good for your health and weight loss. There are a few guidelines you need to adhere to, but none of them are overly complicated. In many ways, 80 10 10 is just a slightly stricter, more structured version of a regular vegan, raw diet. The main difference is that 80 10 10 is very low in fat, whereas a lot of raw diets contain a lot of fat. 

If you are looking for a more disciplined approach to raw vegan eating, the 80 10 10 diet could be a good option.

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