Should All Overt Fats Be Banned on a Low-Fat Raw Vegan Diet?
Today I would like to talk about overt fats and their role in the 80/10/10 diet. If you are not familiar with the term ‘overt fats’, you might want to check this article here to gain a better understanding on the subject of fats.
I see the current trend in a low-fat raw vegan movement is this: Some folks completely stay away from overtly fatty foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados, and even refer to their diet as the 90/5/5 instead of the 80/10/10 (this is because if you only eat sweet fruits, non-sweet fruits like tomatoes and cucumbers, vegetables and greens, and consume no overt fats whatsoever, you will average between 3 and 5% of your total calories from fat).
While this approach might be helpful to practice for a while if you have candida issues or need to release extra weight, is it absolutely necessary in order to achieve an optimal nutrition and vibrant health? Should we ban all overtly fatty foods from our diets and never touch that avocado again?
Let me tell you where I stand on this topic.
First of all, it is absolutely unnecessary to remove all overtly fatty foods from the diet in order to achieve an optimal health or even release extra weight. It’s true, though, that your fat intake should be limited, and, ideally, should not exceed 10% of total calories consumed. The number of calories consumed may vary from one individual to another depending on their age, sex and level of physical activity, but the caloronutrient ratio (the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in a person’s diet) should stay the same.
Secondly, foods like nuts, seeds and avocados provide valuable nutrition that can play an important part in already restrictive low-fat raw vegan diet. For instance, did you know that sesame seeds have one of the highest calcium content of all foods? And what about Brazil nuts, one of the best selenium sources known to humans? Just one kernel contains 96 micrograms, which is about 3 times the daily requirement for the average adult.
Speaking of selenium, a diet of fruit and greens only can provide much of the selenium you need, but this still wonʼt be quite enough for most people. Therefore, it will be a good thing to include some Brazil nuts in your diet every once in a while to make sure you get plenty of selenium.
As you may already know, fruits are rich in vitamins, but they lack important minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium and selenium. So, in order to achieve an optimal nutrition on a fruit-based diet, you will have to supplement it with a good amount of mineral-rich greens and a small amount of nuts and seeds that can also make your dishes more interesting.
Here I would like to give you a few simple rules that I personally follow when it comes to consuming overtly fatty foods on a raw vegan diet. You might find them helpful too.
1. Always buy high-quality nuts and seeds (or their butters, if you prefer to use those).
Ideally, they should be raw (or as minimally processed as possible), unroasted and unsalted. It’s true that most of the time you will have to pay a premium price for that kind of product, but it will be well worth it. Moreover, on a low-fat diet you’ll be using only a small amount of nuts or seeds every week, so they’ll last longer. I buy my nuts and seeds as well as raw tahini (sesame seed paste) from Living Tree Community Foods. This company has very high standards, and I have never been disappointed with the quality of products I purchased from them. Since raw nuts and seeds are more prone to rancidity then their roasted counterparts, make sure to keep them in an airtight container in a freezer — this way they’ll stay fresh longer.
2. Limit your intake of overtly fatty foods in order to stay within 10% of total calories range.
It is best to eat only small amounts of avocados, nuts, and seeds (not more than half of an avocado in a day or 1 oz of nuts for a sedentary person; twice that for an athlete), and not to eat them daily. You don’t have to calculate percentages every day to make sure you are eating properly. By eating primarily fruit, vegetables and leafy greens, your diet is automatically close to the ideal of 80/10/10. However, you may want to use a calculator to determine whether you are getting enough calories for the day to meet your basic metabolic and exercise needs. I recommend that you input your food intake in Nutridiary or Fitday for at least a week to make sure you have the relevant information about your calories and caloronutrient ratio.
Technically, on the 80/10/10 diet you can eat overtly fatty foods every day, if you decide to do so. The amount, however, will be very minute. Personally, I don’t quite enjoy eating this way. So, what I do, I go a whole week eating just fruits, vegetables and greens, and no overt fats at all. By doing so I “save” my fat calories for one day of the week (usually Sunday) when I can have a whole avocado or few tablespoons of raw tahini in my salad.
Side Note: I have to admit that I’m pretty sensitive to fatty foods, and my body cannot handle large amounts of fat very well. However, I didn’t notice any negative reactions when I have one avocado or 2 oz of tahini at one meal once a week. My body seems to be able to handle it pretty well, and I enjoy my overtly fatty foods more if I eat them this way. You can test drive my approach or you can split your overt fats between two meals a week, and find out what works better for you.
3. Eat only one type of overtly fatty food per meal/day.
This is an important rule to follow if you don’t want to compromise your digestion and overwork your digestive system. It is an easy concept to grasp: If you decide to have an avocado in your salad today, then just stick with avocado, greens, tomatoes, cucumbers or some other vegetables you like to use in your salads. No oils, nuts, seeds, or olives should go into this same salad with avocado. If you blend some Brazil nuts into your homemade salad dressing few days later, save that avocado for the next time, and so on. One of the reasons I don’t experience any problems eating higher amounts of fat at one meal, is because I keep things simple and don’t mix different types of fatty foods together. It will be good for you to keep things simple too so you won’t feel lethargic, sluggish or bloated after your fatty meal.
4. Make the meal that contains overtly fatty foods your last meal of the day.
Eat your overts once a day if you have to, but make that meal your last meal, after you finished eating all your sweet fruit for the day. Once again, by doing so you’ll eliminate digestive issues because fat doesn’t combine well with simple sugars found in sweet fruit. This brings us to the next rule.
5. Never mix overtly fatty foods with sweet fruit.
This is a big one. A lot of folks eating mainstream raw food diet literally live on these ubiquitous sugar & fat combinations. You can find them in pretty much every dish from smoothies to raw pies. However, this is not what the 80/10/10 diet teaches us to do. If you want to eliminate such health problems as elevated blood sugar level or compromised digestion, stay away from smoothies made with avocado or raw pies with dates and nuts. Fat doesn’t combine well with sweet fruit, but makes a good companion to your veggies and greens. On the side note, it’s good to remember that sugar & fat combo is extremely addictive and can give you unwanted cravings. Stay away from it, and you’d be glad you did.
Before I conclude this article I would like to mention one more thing.
A while ago I’ve noticed that nuts and seeds almost had lost their appeal to me, and I don’t enjoy them as much as I used to when I was eating a high-fat vegan diet. Back then I would eat nuts pretty much every day, and could go through a bag of Tamari Almonds in one sitting. Of course, those nuts were roasted and salted, they tasted great and were quite addictive. Taste-wise, truly raw nuts that have not been roasted or salted are different. They don’t have much flavor to them, especially compared to sweet, juicy fruit. So, I personally don’t enjoy eating nuts straight out of the bag anymore — I prefer to blend them into my salad dressing or tomato sauce for raw zucchini ‘pasta’.
I guess, this somewhat explains why quite a few low-fat raw vegans out there totally ban nuts and seeds from their diets and focus on sweet fruits. My assumption is that nuts are not desirable foods to them anymore for a few reasons: They are not juicy, they are not sweet, and they don’t give you the same satiating sensation that sweet fruit does.
However, with all that said, if you still enjoy your nuts, please do so without any guilt! I personally gave myself permission to enjoy and savor my favorite overtly fatty foods despite all the current trends in the low-fat raw vegan movement. And I feel good about it, because it seems like the right thing to do to my body. At least for now.
Here’s To You, Loving Your Diet,