Note from Russell: This is a guest blog post by Rita G, a researcher on one of my favourite books, The China Study, and soon-to-be author in her own right.
If you’ve been thinking of starting up on a raw food diet, it’s important that you carefully plan out this diet approach in accordance with your workouts. Those who are very involved in their workout programs have specific nutrient requirements, and if these requirements are not met, problems can and will likely arise.
You don’t want to take a blind approach here, as the consequences can be high levels of fatigue, muscle mass loss, decreased strength and muscular endurance, as well as poor sports performance if you happen to be involved in athletic events.
Here are some of the most important things to remember if you’re planning on going raw.
Get complex carbohydrates before the workout
The first thing that you must make sure you do is get enough complex carbohydrates in your diet before you head out to do your workout. These complex carbohydrates are what will provide the fuel your body needs to get through those gruelling workout sessions, so without them, you’re going to sputter out quickly.
One of the simplest complex carbohydrates to have before a workout is raw unprocessed oats. Mix these with a small amount of died fruit and some honey for added sweetness. Then form into tiny balls that can easily be consumed before you head off to the gym.
Finish the workout with fast-acting carbohydrates
Second, you also must make sure you get a head start on proper recovery by including a fast-acting carbohydrate source immediately following your workout. This is when the muscles are most likely to suck this glucose up instantly, helping to regenerate the muscle glycogen that powers you through your exercise session.
Fresh fruit or dried fruit works great in this case, as the sugars will be broken down faster in the body than a grain source, which requires more reactions to take place.
Juice also works well, so if you’re not in the mood to consume solid foods after a hard workout, that’s a good option to turn to.
Do not neglect protein
Protein is a nutrient that is often quite low in those practicing a raw food diet because unlike typical diets, you will not consume any cooked meat.
Instead, turn to hemp seeds, nuts, as well as beans to get as much dietary protein in as possible. Beans, also mentioned as a good pre-workout carb, are really ideal for before your workout as long as you don’t find them so heavy that you cannot work out.
You should aim to get one gram per pound of body weight if you can; however, you may find this increasingly difficult, especially if you choose not to incorporate a form of protein powder in with your diet.
Just be sure you don’t go below half a gram of protein per pound of body weight, or you may risk losing muscle mass while exercising. Being sure to get in enough carbohydrates will also help to eliminate the risk of this occurring as well, since that will help prevent incoming protein being utilized as a primary fuel source.
Take in enough calories total
Finally, the last thing that you must be sure to be on the lookout for is total calorie intake. If your meal plan on your raw food diet contains mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, your calorie intake is going to end up being very low, and this can make it incredibly hard to get enough energy in to get you through your activities.
Active individuals who exercise three to five times a week should aim to eat fourteen calories per pound of body weight, so do a quick calculation for yourself.
If you’re aiming to lose weight, you will want to eat slightly less than this but do remember that there is definitely a limit as to how low you can take your calories. If you bring them too low, you risk your metabolism slowing down, preventing further fat loss from taking place.
So be sure you keep these tips in mind if you’re starting up on a raw food diet and are an active individual. You want to be extra sure you’re getting the right foods at the right times of the day, because this is what will help you see optimal results from your workout plan.
About guest blogger Rita G: Rita is a nutritionist, researcher for books such as The China Study, and soon-to-be author. She is also head editor of the gift ideas site snubbr.com.
For more information, take a look at my other Raw Food Recipes.