In the age of industrialized foods and widespread diseases caused by poor nutrition, paying attention to your fat intake is of great importance; LIFE SAVING in many cases, I’d say.
A common trap for people eating a raw food diet is in not understanding the quantities of fruits and vegetables one needs to consume in order to thrive; and the proper amounts of concentrated fatty foods, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.
However, these fatty foods should only be consumed in small quantities and not at every meal.
Most raw-foodists don’t realize that since vegetables contain fewer calories, and fruit must be consumed in large amounts to provide significant energy, that most of their calories actually come from fat.
It’s not rare to find many raw-foodists, vegans, and vegetarians eating a diet containing 60% or more of fat by total calories, which is at least twice the upper limit of even relatively conservative, official nutritional recommendations.
To put this in perspective, the Standard American Diet (often called “SAD” for a good reason!) is around 35-40% fat.
Tracking your fat intake
Tracking fat consumption accurately is difficult for most people; you can spend all day entering numbers into a nutrition database and still not have a clear picture by the end of it.
There is an easier and simple method to track how much fat you should eat.
This system can apply to either raw or cooked vegan diets, as long as you eat whole foods!
This system will not work if you consume any of the following foods:
• Restaurant foods or takeaways, where oil was used.
• Processed foods containing oil or added fats
• Animal foods
What is a low fat diet?
You often hear on the media that low-fat diets consist in eating around 25 to 30% fat (as percentage of calories) when in reality, this is not low fat at all.
A true low-fat diet is where 10 to 15% of your daily calories come from fat. Some people keep their fat intake even below 10%.
By eating various whole raw foods, such as bananas, pears, tomatoes and lettuce; you are already getting 4 to 7% of your calories from fat. That’s without adding nuts, seeds, avocados, or other exceptionally fatty foods such as coconut meat or durians.
The Easy Fat Tracking System
I first learnt about this system through an article published on the Frederic Patenuade website, which I’ve decided to expand on.
Most people tend to need around 2000-2200 calories a day while more active people will need closer to 3000 calories, if not more.
By just looking at the numbers below, you’ll see how much fat you can eat to stay in the target range.
2000-2200 calories diet
5-7% fat: no overt fats
10% fat: 1/2 avocado OR 1 ounce (28g) nuts.*
15% fat: 1/2 avocado + 1 ounce nuts. *
*Note: One ounce of nuts equals to: 24 almonds, 18 medium cashews, 12 hazelnuts or filberts, 8 medium Brazil nuts, 12 macadamia nuts, 15 pecan halves or 14 English walnut halves.
3000 calories diet
5-7% fat: no overt fat
10% fat: 1 avocado OR 2 ounces (56g) nuts
15% fat: 1/2 avocado + 2 ounces nuts
If you consume no added fats (such as avocado, nuts, seeds, etc.), you are already getting 5 to 7% fats from wholefoods such as most raw fruit and vegetables.
To stay around 10% fat, you should eat no more than half an avocado (medium size, max) a day OR one serving of nuts (one ounce).
If you eat both the avocado and the nuts, you’re at around 15% fat. On a higher calorie diet, the maximums are a bit higher.
To put things in perspective, one tablespoon of olive oil contains 14g of fat, which equals approximately 6 walnuts (in a shell); while a single large olive contains 0.5 g of fat (approximately 1/5 of a walnut).
My personal experience
Since I eat mainly fruit during the day, I limit my added fats to evenings only, where it can be included as part of my dinner recipe, salad dressing, or both.
Sometimes, I might go for an entire week without eating nuts, seeds, or avocados. I may eat a raw burger on the occasional Saturday night that contains 1/2 cup of nuts and some avocado; which is OK too, since my overall fat consumption remains low.
Some weeks, for instance, I may go entire days eating only fruit and nothing else (not even greens); while there are other times where I’d fast for 2 or 3 days straight drinking only water, which feels AMAZING too!
There are many factors that decide our behaviour with food. Nothing is exactly the same for everyone.
I’d put my overall fat consumption at around 12% (as percentage of calories).
If you choose to eat mostly raw, you can still keep your fat intake low by eating steamed vegetables and other low fat, oil-free, plant based meals for dinner; and eating mainly fruit during the day. My mother employs this method quite successfully.
If you need help implementing a low fat, oil-free, plant based diet; our “Raw Vitality Starter Kit“ can help.
This program features complete menu planners for each day of the week, of not only raw foods, but also low-fat cooked foods, to make the transition to a raw diet easier and more successful.
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Another great article, Ariel. Can you please explain more about coconuts – the percentage / difference in fat content between old and young coconut flesh, as well as fresh coconut milk and young coconut water.
Thanks Jacqui, I replied to your email! Best wishes! Ariel