RAW FOOD VS. COOKED FOOD
Raw food diets have gotten a great deal of publicity in recent years.
However, raw foodism dates back to the 1800s, when Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner cured his own jaundice by eating raw apples and then began experimenting with other raw foods.
A great deal of research has been done about whether raw or cooked foods are healthier for human consumption, and there are valid points on both sides of the debate.
For example, scientists who published a study in the “Journal of Nutrition” concluded that:
“…consumption of a strict raw food diet lowers plasma total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, but also lowers serum HDL cholesterol and increases tHcy concentrations due to vitamin B-12 deficiency.”
The Raw Food Argument
Advocates of raw food diets state that the cooking process kills naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals in foods. Raw food diets are almost always plant-based, with very few (if any) raw meat or dairy products included. Many vegetarians and dieters turn to raw diets because they eliminate trans-fat and have very low levels of sugar, sodium, and saturated fat.
According to Dr. David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, “Heat can destroy many nutrients, notably some water-soluble vitamins, many antioxidants, and unsaturated fats, including omega-3s. The beneficial effects of dietary fibers, both insoluble and soluble, may be altered and at times, reduced by cooking.” Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. wrote, “Many vitamins are water-soluble, and a significant percent can be lost with cooking, especially overcooking.
Similarly, many plant enzymes function as phytochemical nutrients in our body and can be useful to maximize health. They, too, can be destroyed by overcooking.”
Cooking some fruits and vegetables zaps the vitamin B and vitamin C right out. Rui Hai Liu, associate professor of food science at Cornell University, found that vitamin C levels in tomatoes declined by 10% after cooking for two minutes and by 29% after cooking for 30 minutes at 190.4-degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re interested in incorporating more raw foods into your diet, check out the creative recipe ideas at Raw Food Home Recipes, We Like It Raw, and Gone Raw.
Pros of Raw Food
- Focuses on lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Promotes weight loss and detoxification (low in calories, fat, and sodium)
- High in fiber
Cons of Raw Food
- Tends to be less savory (doesn’t taste as good as cooked food options)
- Virtually impossible to eat out, so it requires continuous meal preparation
- Risk of contamination from uncooked food
The Cooked Food Argument
Advocates for cooked food point out how crucial cooking is to the human diet.
Cooking softens food to help our teeth and jaws break it down, and it helps our bodies digest food without expending too much energy.
And as Dr. Katz points out, cooking is our best and final defense against pathogenic bacteria like salmonella and E. coli that might be lingering in our foods.
The heating process of cooking is known to boost some nutrients, such as beta-carotene and lycopene. A medical study published in “The British Journal of Nutrition” concluded that the group of 198 test subjects who ate strictly raw diets had significantly low levels of the antioxidant lycopene.
A report in the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” concluded that boiling and steaming (as opposed to frying) carrots, zucchini, and broccoli best preserved antioxidants and carotenoids.
A recent study published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” suggests that cooking foods allowed the human species to evolve and develop superior brains.
The study concurs with primatologist Richard Wrangham’s theory that “in order to be able to apply a sufficient number of calories to the brain, you have to be able to cook your food.”
His argument makes two interesting points.
It states that raw food simply doesn’t provide adequate calories, it is an inefficient means of food intake (as a vegan bodybuilder, I’m agreeing so far), and that the convenience of cooking allows people to focus their energy on human advancement and self-cultivation.
By using chimpanzees and other apes as a basis of comparison, the recent study shows that other primates cannot achieve human-sized brains because of the metabolic limitations of their raw food diets.
Pros of Cooked Food
- Greater nutrient diversity
- More antioxidants, cartenoids, and ferulic acid from vegetables
- More satisfying taste and sense of fullness
Cons of Cooked Food
- Loss of some nutrients from high-heating temperatures
- Loss of anti-cancer compounds and enzymes from heat
Balancing Raw and Cooked Food
Healthy Raw Foods
- Freshly-squeezed (or juiced) vegetable juice
- Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
Healthy Cooked Foods
Foods Still Under Debate
- Brussel sprouts
Raw Eggs vs. Cooked Eggs
Many lacto-ovo vegetarian bodybuilders can’t live without eggs, which are a great source of protein and biotin. Biotin is necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of fats and amino acids. Raw eggs contain avidin, a protein that deactivates this biotin nutrient.
Therefore, cooked eggs with an uncooked egg yolk (over easy, over medium, sunny side up) are best, because they are richer in nutrients like biotin that build strength and power.
What All This Means for Vegetarian Bodybuilders
Raw food diets typically include many whole fruits, freshly-squeezed juices, green salads, raw nuts, kale, smoothies, beans, sprouts, seeds, hummus, and protein-supplemented drinks.
Some raw food bodybuilders take amino acids like ornithine and arginine to increase muscle growth before working out and going to sleep.
Bodybuilder and raw food expert, Peter Ragnar, authored a book titled, “How to Build Muscle on a Raw Food Diet,” which has an abundance of helpful advice about developing a muscle-building base, the importance of sleep, and powerful raw foods to eat.
It’s not for me, but it is possible for raw vegan bodybuilders to build strong, beautiful physiques. Here are some sample raw meals Ragnar uses to build muscle:
Breakfast (1120 calories, 32 grams protein)
- ½ cup soaked organic oat groats (soak them in hot water in a wide-mouth thermos the night before)
- ¼ cup organic raisins
- ¼ cup organic pine nuts (these can also be soaked or just added to the liquid)
- 1 banana
High Nitro Lunch (1000 calories, 15 grams protein)
- 1 handful sea lettuce
- 1 handful dulse
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup oat groats
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup organic tomato sauce (see raw recipe for sauce earlier in this book)
- 3 tbsp dehydrated onion flakes
- 1 hot pepper, finely chopped
- 1 cup warm water
Spicy Broccoli Dinner (4040 calories, 60 grams protein)
- ½ cup almond butter
- 1 cup sesame oil
- ½ cup soaked raisins
- 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 2 heads broccoli
- Half a red onion, chopped
- 1 lime with peel, finely chopped
- 1 cayenne pepper, finely chopped
Directions: Mix together the almond butter and sesame oil. Break up the broccoli heads into fine pieces, then grate the stalks. Add the other fruits and vegetables to the broccoli and pour the almond-sesame mixture over them, mixing to make sure everything is saturated. Transfer to a casserole dish and place in dehydrator for two hours. Serve warm on a bed of fresh greens.
Ultimately, it’s all about feeling out what diet works best for your unique biochemistry and lifestyle.
Your body will tell you if you listen closely.
Whether you choose to eat your fruits and vegetables raw or cooked, the important thing is that you’re eating them every day. Many people find cooked foods taste better, so they are more inclined to eat them after a little preparation. Although cooking takes time, blending, juicing, dehydrating, and shopping for raw foods is a substantial time investment, as well.
In fact, there seem to be as many ill raw-foodies as fast-foodies out there for a variety of reasons.
Bodybuilding aside, a raw vegan diet can work well for some people.
I wouldn’t say all people will thrive off that diet, however. While the jury is still out on many aspects of the well-researched raw vs. cooked food debate, healthier diet plans tend to include a balance of both.
For more ideas on raw vegan bodybuilding meal plan, watch this video – RAW VEGAN MEAL PREP RECIPES – healthy + easy ideas!
Chris Willitts (creator of V3), is the founder and owner of Vegetarian Bodybuilding.
V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System is a mixture of science and author’s advice, providing users with optimal diet and exercise. This system is designed for vegans and vegetarians only.
A lot of research has been put in this program. Furthermore, a lot of professional bodybuilders and athletes tried and tested the program, praising its progressiveness and efficiency.
The program is about taking control of your own body and health according to your potential and needs. And worry not; you’ll get plenty of proteins with this system. It will boost you with energy, and you’ll feel just a strong as any carnivore would (perhaps even stronger, depending on how much you invest in your exercise). It avoids vitamins deficiency and provides you with a lot of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Instead of saying things like “I think a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders,” the V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System claims “I know a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders, and I have results to prove it.”
To find out more, visit the website at V3 Bodybuilding – Raw Vegan Bodybuilding Meal Plan