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The 80/10/10 Diet

Yay! It’s finally available via Amazon:

As I have been asked via email (Contact link on right) for my opinion on this book, and having promised as much in a previous comment, I guess it is time to weigh in with my thoughts.

First things first, the presentation. This is a large book with good binding, easy to read type and layout, and well-edited. Approximately half those pages consist of the appendices, which include complete, week-long, menu plans for each season, with nutrition information, a question and answer section, and many testimonials. These are back-pages you’ll actually find yourself reading.

The premise of the diet, and the meaning of its moniker, is that at least 80% of your calories should come from carbohydrates, 10% or less from protein, and likewise for fat.

When I previously looked into raw foodism, I was put off by the high levels of fat. Even if they were good fats like avocados, nuts and seeds, it still seemed excessive. Indeed, Dr. Graham postulates this is the reason many fail when attempting to eat raw. It was refreshing to so quickly find a point of agreement, and I liked that he mentioned Pritikin and Ornish (though he forgot Esselstyn). Furthermore, he has not been swept up in all the coconut hype and describes it as “artery-clogging,” whether heated or not.

The protein recommendation has been more of a struggle for me, despite already having been exposed to the evidence from The China Study (to which he also makes reference) and the more recent methionine restriction studies. I’m still mulling all these over. However, he does a good job making his case, for example, information showing the current RDA’s for protein contain a significant and deliberate safety margin over the minimum physiological requirements.

Now to the bulk of the diet, i.e., What does he want you to eat? We are left with the whopping 80% portion of the macronutrient ratio (what he annoyingly renames the caloronutrient ratio) as carbohydrates. The main contributors are to be fruits and some tender leafy greens. To be avoided: grains (see his Grain Damage), legumes, root vegetables, roughage, and even “condiments,” including garlic and hot peppers.

Although this is one of the more researched books on raw, his support for a frugivorous diet rests largely on poorly-backed assumptions about the nature of free-living animals. The argument seems to be essentially, if you would eat and enjoy it in the wild as is, then it is good. But, if it requires any preparation whatsoever or would be more palatable in combination, then we were not meant to consume it. Like Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow of the late 80′s, this theory could be called Eat What You Love, The Health Will Follow. My fellow CRONies will also have a hard time with his admonition that high fruit necessitates high calories and intense exercise.

I hasten to add I got a lot out of this work, and it has had a clear influence on my diet and thinking. For one, I’ve been having a lot of fun trying many new (to me) tropical fruits! :) And whereas I had already eliminated gluten, now all grains are taking more of a back seat. It reinforced my impression that a raw food diet could and should be low in fat and can be simplicity itself. Perhaps most importantly, it provided some science for the benefits of uncooked foods and the harm done by high heat beyond the usual unsubstantiated enzyme theories, etc..

In conclusion, if you like to be challenged and are willing to put in the effort to discern compelling reason from hyperbolic extrapolation, this book is worth reading. Put into practice, at least to the extent you are convinced, it will surely serve to improve your general well-being.

[FYI: The good doctor is admirably active in answering questions on his forum over at vegsource.com.]

7 Responses to “The 80/10/10 Diet”

  1. Mizzi says:

    That looks like a very interesting book. I’ve been thinking a lot about macronutrient ratios lately and have been intuitively drawn towards this style of eating – total simplicity.

    But like you I question especially the very low protein recommended. Definately something to explore further though. Thank you for posting this – I will have a look at his forum.

  2. Marjorie says:

    Thanks for the great review. The only thing stopping me from devouring this book is the $30 price tag! (Not that I think it’s unfair… I just can’t afford it.)

  3. Roger Haeske says:

    Regarding the protein issue.

    Personally I’ve been eating 100% raw and low protein levels for over 5 years. Most of that time eating Dr. Grahams low fat raw approach. In that time I’ve built bigger muscles than I ever have before.

    Might be hard to do if I lacked the protein. But I think the most commonsense argument is that even mother’s milk only averages 6% of total calories from protein. BTW, Those protein levels go down as the baby gets older.

    A baby doubles in size within about a year. As adults we stop growing. Why would adults need higher levels of protein than a baby doubling in size in a year?

    Another question is the viability of the protein. On a raw diet the proteins are not denatured and damaged by the cooking process. It’s quite possible a raw foodist could absorb higher amino acid levels than a cooked food eater.

    I know over 100 raw foodists and none of them has ever had a protein deficiency.

    Protein is not a problem at all.


  4. Alison M says:

    Well, I have read it. I didn’t find it compelling in any way. Books from the
    chiropractic practice tend to be emotional but unconvincing. In the Okinawa Diet book, a figure of 0.4grams protein/pound of bodyweight is quoted. This can be 10% depending on the amount of calories one consumes. Glycation is bound to be an issue, I think, considering fructose is the major contributor along with galactose. The argument that humans are designed to be frugivores is weak.

    The book is interesting but I don’t find any convincing evidence to put it into practice. Also, I think that removing meat and animal from the diet takes care of the methionine issue.


  5. fat loss 4 idiots says:

    You have an interesting article right here. And you’re right. you don’t have to deprive yourself of the food you love. No food deprivaton. and this 80-10-10 diet of yours seems like a great plan. Actually, I have come across a book about this green algae that is good for the health which says you need more alkaline food (vegetables, fruits, etc.) than acidic foods (meat, poultry, etc.) Well, it seems they have the same principle. 70% on alkaline and 30% on acidic. Good thing I’ve come across this site of yours. Thanks!

  6. diet says:

    Dieting and loosing weight is all about feeling good about yourself. Forcing your self to diet goes contrary to what dieting is all about. Loosing weight is a bout making effort and taking the extra step. But if someone doesn’t understand the basis, there will be lack of motivation.

  7. Ree @ Diet Tips says:

    The book makes well presented arguments, however I could not stick to the diet. In real world practice in todays society it is too expensive and unrealistic unless you live in a community or have a strong support network that is comprised of likeminded peoples.

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