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80/10/10/Diet: Meal Plan, Risks & Benefits
The Beginner’s Guide

Rafid Nassir
Published by Rafid Nassir
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: March 7, 2021

Maybe you’ve heard about this diet before but under different names, such as 811, 811rv, or LFRV (low-fat raw vegan diet).

While many people remain skeptical about this food protocol’s healthfulness and feasibility, many raw food enthusiasts swear by the 80 10 10 diet.

But what exactly is it, and how does it work?

Let’s go over some facts and main features of the 80 10 10 meal plan to help you decide if it’s worth trying.

What is the 80 10 10 Diet?

person checking her waist measurement

This entirely plant-based diet was created by Dr. Douglas Graham, the author of the bestselling book “The 80/10/10 Diet”, who has been a lifetime athlete and raw food specialist since 1978.

The book is based on the premise that the optimal diet should include 80% of calories from carbs, with no more than 10% calories from fats and 10% from protein.

It features alternative meal preparation methods, such as soaking, blending, sprouting, juicing, and dehydrating, instead of cooking, and is definitely worth reading if you need some encouragement or ideas that will help you incorporate more veggies and fruit into your menu.

This low-fat vegan diet is promoted as a long-term meal plan that increases lifespan, reduces obesity, and may help people with diabetes, so it’s often a diet of choice by those who are motivated by health reasons.

But is the 80 10 10 diet really effective? Can eating only raw food be dangerous? Let’s go over some facts you should know before taking the plunge and changing your eating habits.

What Foods Does it Include?

egg plants in a tray and spinach leaves

Focusing on low-fat vegan foods should be your goal if you choose the 80 10 10 diet. If you’re planning to stick to this diet, your menu should consist of at least 75% raw food or food cooked at temperatures below 104–118°F (40–48°C).

Just like in other vegan diets, animal products should be completely excluded, while fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds should dominate.

Grains and legumes are not totally prohibited but must be sprouted or soaked before consumption.

According to Dr. Doughlas Graham, the main portion of the diet should consist of the following food groups:

1. Soft greens:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Leafy greens

Whether you choose to eat these as a part of a big salad or blended in a green smoothie, the diet recommends eating at least a pound of leafy greens per day.

2. Non-Sweet Fruits:

  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Zucchini
  • Other squashes

If you’re not planning to stick to this diet religiously, you can throw in other types of vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprout, and celery. Still, you should avoid using them frequently since they’re considered to be more difficult to digest.

These vegetables tend to “scratch and scrape our delicate digestive system as they pass through,” [1] says Graham, and that’s one of the reasons why these are not included in the program.

3. Sweet Fruits

Unlike other diets, with the 80 10 10 diet, there is no limit to sweet fruit intake, so dieters are encouraged to eat a lot of:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Tangerines
  • Dates
  • Plums
  • Berries

According to the book, fruit is the ideal food for humans and should be used as the primary source of energy.  The diet also includes so-called “mono-meals,” where you are encouraged to consume large quantities of a single fruit.

Considering the limited food choices while on this diet, heaping portions of fruit are necessary to meet your daily calorie demands.

Most people get their calories from fat, but this 80 10 10 diet relies on large quantities of fruit as a source of calories.

4. Fatty Fruits:

  • Avocados
  • Durian fruit
  • Ackee
  • Olives
  • Coconut
  • Nuts and seeds (as the main sources of fatty acids)

The diet 80 10 10 advises that you reduce the intake of fatty fruits to less than 10 % of total calories. It’s fine to just throw a handful of nuts in your fruit bowl or add a slice of fatty avocado to your green smoothie, as long as you don’t overdo it.

80 10 10 Diet Sample Meal Plan

Here is a sample meal plan to give you an idea of how you can incorporate so much fruit into your daily menu:

BREAKFAST:
Cherries:
2 lbs. sweet cherries

LUNCH:
Sweet peach salad:
1 lb. bananas 1 lb. peaches 8 oz. blueberries

DINNER:

  • Course One:
    Apricot Blueberry Salad:
    1 lb. apricots 8 oz. blueberries
  • Course Two:
    Mango Fennel Soup:
    1 lb. mangos and 1 large sprig of fennel
  • Course Three:
    Apricot Celery Salad:
    1 lb. butter lettuce 4 oz. tomato 4 oz. celery 1 lb. apricots

What Sets it Apart from Other Vegan Diets?

person eating salad sitting down

While most diets limit sweet fruit intake, this raw food diet suggests eating large portions of sweet and non-sweet fruit per day as the main source of carbs.

Unlike other diets that aim to eliminate carbohydrates altogether, the author of the 80 10 10 underlines the importance of carbs:

“By meeting our needs for carbohydrates, we tend to feel great energy and mental clarity,” he says.

Another thing that sets it apart from other vegan diets is that the 80 10 10 meal plan relies entirely on plant-based carbs and fats instead of protein.

Although it’s plant-based, this diet is actually not about eating all fruit and veggies you can put your hands on. Instead, it prioritizes certain types of fruit and vegetables over others, such as leafy greens and sweet fruits.

On the other hand, it excludes some types of food that are common in vegan diets, such as soy, legumes, and grains.

Finally, while most diets are short-term, the 80 10 10 diet aims for long-term effects and can potentially become a lifestyle.

What Foods aren't Allowed?

True to its name, the 80 10 10 diet is based on a belief that cooked foods are not as packed with nutrients as raw or and minimally heated foods. So, no baking, frying, boiling or sauteing.

As you would expect, all sorts of processed foods are not welcomed either, but the list goes on and includes some common starchy foods, such as:

  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes

To mask these foods' natural blandness, we tend to add flavor enhancers such as salt and sweeteners, which diminishes any potential health value of starchy foods.

This low-fat raw diet also excludes:

  • Legumes
  • Superfoods
  • Dehydrated foods
  • Oils
  • Juices
  • Condiments
  • Salt

Yes, that’s right, apparently salt is a big no-no, so if you happen to enjoy flavorful savory dishes, you might have a hard time getting used to a salt-free menu.

What are the Benefits of the 80 10 10 Diet?

woman holding a heart toy with her two hands

The whole idea behind the raw food diet is to consume only foods in their natural state. Proponents of this diet believe that we can get enough minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients only by consuming fresh greens and fruit, which comes with many health benefits.

While there is not any conclusive research of the 80 10 10 diet, some studies [2] back up the claim that eating plenty of fresh produce comes does have some advantages, such as:

  • Heart health - low-fat content may help reduce cholesterol and promote heart health [3]
  • May help prevent and combat type 2 diabetes symptoms - Dr. Graham argues that overconsumption of fat is the real cause of blood sugar problems, including diabetes. Some studies back up the claim that a low-fat vegan diet may help reduce insulin sensitivity [4]
  • May help healthy digestion - raw foods are rich in both insoluble and soluble fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, promoting healthy digestion.
  • May aid weight loss - Some studies have confirmed the link between raw diets and weight loss: “People following a raw food vegan diet had a total body fat percentage between 7–9.4% lower than those eating a typical American diet” [5]

The best thing about this type of diet is the absence of processed foods - we all know that the more foods are processed, the fewer health benefits they have, so minimizing the intake of overcooked or processed foods is a big plus of the 80 10 10 diet.

What About Protein?

This is a common concern with most similar dietary protocols, including the regular vegan diet, but as you go completely raw, it seems that protein deficiency risks grow higher.

This concern may be justified since raw vegan diets tend to be low on the amino acid lysine and methionine. To avoid protein deficiency, you must consume a great variety of plant-based foods.

The protein levels in the system largely depend on our ability to absorb protein, which can be a problem with plant-based protein since it’s more difficult to absorb than animal protein.

However, there are some ways to go about it while on a low-fat raw food diet:

  • Soaking and sprouting of legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds starts the breakdown of their protein, making it more absorbable for the body
  • Eating enough nuts and seeds - eating walnuts, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds is a great way to increase your protein intake
  • Consuming sufficient amounts of non-sweet fruit and leafy greens - large and balanced portions of leafy greens can help you get all the protein your body needs

If you are serious about implementing this food protocol, forget about supplements. Proponents of the 80 10 10 diet believe that eating raw veggies and fruit provides all the nutrients the human body needs — which is why supplements are often discouraged.

Is the 80 10 10 Diet Good for Athletes?

female athlete warming up outdoors

Yes, the creator of the diet himself is an athlete, and he believes that a diet based on raw foods can improve “uptake, transport and deliver oxygen to the cells” [6], thus improving sports performance.

Even some Olympic athletes have reported that the 80 10 10 diet improved their athletic performance [7].

It makes perfect sense when you think about it; eating this way requires lots of movement and exercise so that more calories can be consumed, allowing you to get all of your nutrients from plants.

The book provides detailed guidelines for calorie consumption for active, athletic folks but also for those who are less active.

Is This Diet Good for Weight Loss?

Eating a lot of sugar-packed fruit is usually associated with weight gain, and that’s why the main principle of the 80 10 10 diet may seem counterintuitive at first.

How can you even curb hunger if fruit and vegetables take up the most part of your menu? Well, the answer is “large portions.” According to Douglas Graham, eating enough carbs from fruit and vegetables can successfully suppress appetite:

“Carbohydrates are required in order to use fats properly, and consuming enough carbs is the key to satiation, [which means] keeping food craving at bay. This can improve and balance sugar levels, proved beneficial for people with diabetes, but also for weight loss,”

he says [8].

Keep in mind, though; the 80 10 10 diet is not designed as a “lose weight quickly” short-term protocol but rather as a long-term meal plan, which doesn’t mean that you cannot reap the benefits by eating large amounts of uncooked fruits and vegetables:

“If you adopt a diet of raw foods, your body can easily cope with cleansing itself of past toxic accumulations and normalize its weight”,

the book claims.

However, if shedding extra weight is your primary goal, maybe you should consider more flexible diets like vegan carb cycling rather than putting yourself on a strict 80 10 10 protocol. But we do recommend checking how to make your own vegan-friendly weight loss plan first.

Dr. Graham’s diet seems to be more than a simple fat-burning meal plan - there’s a whole philosophy behind it that requires serious commitment and a drastic shift in one’s outlook on eating habits.

Other Diets Worth Checking Out:

What are the Risks of Eating Only Raw Food?

female in pain holding her temples

The 80 10 10 diet is based on the idea that cooked foods are bad for health since high heat takes away most nutrients required for balanced nutrition.

However appealing the idea of cooking-free life may sound, there are some long-term effects of the raw vegan diet that you should consider before going fully raw:

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency - getting enough of this important nutrient is a challenge even for regular vegans and vegetarians, so those on the raw plant-based diet should be extra-careful about avoiding vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Low protein levels - 80 10 10 protocol recommends limiting your protein and fat intake to 10%, so you should watch out for the signs and symptoms of protein deficiency.
  • May weaken muscles and bones - studies have shown that many raw foodists experience a lack of calcium and vitamin D, which can weaken the bones and muscle tissue.
  • It may be nutritionally unbalanced - if not planned well, this type of meal plan can easily become unbalanced and fail to provide you with all essential vitamins and minerals.

Just like other clean diets, this one discourages supplementation since it’s based on a belief that all nutrients that a human body requires can be obtained naturally.

How to Get Started with the 80 10 10 Diet?

Dr. Graham claims that the diet is not as hard to adopt as it may sound to some, but is it really that simple? It probably is if you do it the right way.

According to Dr. Graham’s book ‘’The 80 10 10 Diet’’:

“If you eat a relatively typical American diet, 80/10/10 is a program that allows you to continue eating the foods you are used to while beginning to introduce the new foods that will lead you toward your goal.”

 

Dr. Graham, author & athlete.

So, take it slow. Start by making a meal plan and gradually adding more raw stuff to your grocery shopping list. Stock up on healthy food and snacks to keep you going when things get rough.

Give yourself a break - not everything has to be perfect, and you don’t have to follow the protocol to a tee. Experimenting with new raw food recipes is a great way to take the pressure off and have fun.

Another great idea is to commit to a short-term raw food diet challenge and see how it goes and whether you’ll get hooked.

Get inspired by other raw foodists in your community or on the internet. Joining workshops and forums can give you knowledge and boost your confidence before embarking on your raw food journey.

Should You Try the 80 10 10 Diet?

It depends on your overall health, goals, current lifestyle, how physically active you are, and a number of other factors.

While some people will absolutely thrive on this diet, it’s not for everyone.

Some people reported feeling great and more energized, while others suffered from fatigue and food cravings. Also, going fully raw may take more time and effort for those who rely heavily on cooked foods.

Another aspect that turns people off is large quantities of fresh produce with minimal choice, which is not always affordable, accessible, or even doable.

While this diet requires you to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, there are plenty of benefits. This 80 10 10 protocol is often challenging to stick to, especially in social situations. Depending on the level of commitment, being too strict about what and when you eat can take the joy out of sharing and enjoying food with your loved ones.

Also, if you commit to this but are not lightly exercising at minimum, then, according to Dr. Graham, you’re not following the program properly. He encourages doing aerobic exercise every day.

Many experts believe that finding a healthy balance between various nutrient sources is the key to success. It seems the safest bet would be to listen to your body. If you have any health concerns, it’s best to talk to your doctor before making any radical changes.

Have you tried this diet, and would you consider trying it if you haven’t? Share your experience in the comments below.

References:

  1. https://www.liveremedy.com/80-10-10-diet/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16443039/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-vegan-diet
  4. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20060726/low-fat-vegan-diet-may-treat-diabetes
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-vegan-diet
  6. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/is-801010-the-key-to-health-and-athletic-performance/
  7. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2149362/Fruit-meals-cooking-allowed-Is-80-10-10-raw-vegan-diet-secret-Olympic-athletes-body.html
  8. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2149362/Fruit-meals-cooking-allowed-Is-80-10-10-raw-vegan-diet-secret-Olympic-athletes-body.html

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