I see that you're a supporter of the raw food diet for bodybuilding.  Could you explain the benefits of this please.

I'm more of a supporter of healthy eating for all sports rather than being specific about a particular diet for particular sport, but yes I do support the current decision that Rachelle Chase has made to repair her body through a raw food diet.  Now, I don't any more about Rachelle's diet than what was seen on Campbell Live, so I can only speculate on what she is eating.  The show reported that Rachelle was fatigued and just not feeling right and has put it down to the very high meat diet along with the stimulants and additives in diet drinks, supplements and gum.  The story never indicated whether Rachelle was removing supplements from her diet.

But let's look at the raw food diet in general.  This diet is based on the idea that raw and living foods provide the body with greater nourishment, the active enzymes in raw food assist in digestion and transportation of nutrients making these areas of metabolism work more effectively.  For example, a fresh pineapple contains the enzyme Bromelain which digests proteins.  Tinned pineapple on the other hand has been processed which renders this enzyme is inactive.  Try it yourself, Gelatine is a protein - try setting fresh pineapple in jelly in one bowl and tinned pineapple in another bowl - which one sets best.  You can try this experiment with a range of fruits, kiwifruit contains actinidin another protease (protein digesting enzyme)... but cooked kiwifruit will lose this.

On the flipside, cooking something like meat means the proteins in the meat are denatured, which may make for easier digestion, but the denaturation makes the protein less functional.  So there is very much a debate over certain aspects of the diet.  And just for your interest, protein is partially digested in the stomach, the rest is digested in the small intestine and absorbed through the small and large intestine.

While some foods give up their nutrients easier after cooking, this doesn't necessarily mean they have retained all nutrients and enzymes.  As the saying goes, fresh is best.

The raw food diet contains loads of raw veg and fruits, nuts, seeds, egg yolks, raw fish (sashimi), raw meat (carpaccio), sprouted and unsprouted grains, coconut milk, sprouts, legumes and beans.  Some people will following variations of the raw food diet with perhaps 70-80% of the diet coming from raw food.

The raw food diet may lead to deficiencies in Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, B12 and protein if not undertaken with expert advice.  But here's an interesting fact 25g of pumpkin seeds contains more iron that 100g of beef and 40% of the protein.  Nutritional Yeast is a popular staple of the vegetarian and raw food diets, and contains B Vitamins, however can contain levels of glutamates that some people are sensitive to.  Reports have emerged with a fair amount of conclusiveness that most of us aren't getting enough Vitamin D anyway, regardless of the type of diet we eat.

200g of broccoli contains 22% of the calcium and 78% of the protein that milk does.  Calcium should be taken in amounts less than 300mg at a time to enable the body to absorb it better.

100g of almonds contains the same amount of protein as 100g of lean beef.  The nuts contain a fair fat hit, so balancing the diet amongst all foods is essential.

The protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) is used to assess the digestibility of a protein, and the biological value of a protein tells us how efficiently protein is converted into tissue.  What raw foodists are interested in, is the biological value.  Whey protein has the highest BV of 104, and beef has a BV of 80, but beef loses some of its BV through cooking.  It is reported that raw food has a higher BV, now I cannot confirm, but only speculate that this is what the raw food expert on Campbell live was referring to when she said raw food "has more protein".  BV is all dependant on the source of the protein, how the protein is prepared for consumption and other limiting compounds that may be in the food source.

Which brings us to the question of how is Rachelle going to get enough protein to maintain or build her lean mass?

Much of the protein we ingest is catabolised.  Theory shows 10g of a 30g protein meal will be utilised for protein synthesis.  In athletes this will is likely to be more, but the exact figure of optimal protein is still widely debated.  So let's just assume that Rachelle might retain 20g per meal...

200g broccoli, 2 egg yolks and 15 almonds will give us 18g of protein, with 21g of fat and 6g of carbs.  A total of 286 calories.  The story on Campbell Live focused around Rachelle needing to be a on a low carb, higher fat and protein diet to get ready for her show in October.  Of course we wouldn't eat the same meal the whole time, but you can see that if you repeated this for 6 meals you will get around 1700 cals with 120g of protein.  One meal like this will give you a whopping 1168mg of potassium, 86mg of magnesium, 172mg of calcium, 114mg Vitamin C.  You'll even get nearly a cup of water out of this meal also.

Rachelle should have more energy to train with as her body becomes more nourished and the ability to push heavier weights will ensure she will have no trouble maintaining, if not growing lean mass.  Fats and carbohydrates have a protein sparing effect, so between her training, net protein balance and protein sparing nutrients she really should have no trouble at all.  But as the raw food lady said, "So long as everything goes according to plan".

Overall, in my opinion, Rachelle really only needed to cut the additives, review her supplements and decrease the meat portions in order to start feeling better, I'm not entirely sure if an entire raw food regime was needed, but it will certainly benefit her in feeling better.

To the rest of us, if we can keep our diets at least 80% wholesome and nutritious, we can still remain healthy while including some of the nasties.  To put 80% into perspective.  Think of a food diary grid, with let's say, 5 meals per day, 7 days per week.  That's 35 meals, 80% of this is 28 meals.  It's something else tangible to strive for that doesn't focus on weight loss, but simply health and wellbeing.

9 August 10

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