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Count Calories to Power Through Each Day

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When I gave a talk at the June 2012 Arnold’s Way potluck on the day I launched and my raw food transition book, Alive!, one key subject I covered is the importance of counting calories. All too often, I hear from folks who desire to make changes in diet and begin drinking green smoothies. Some feel little change, though. Some of these folks might’ve been eating an apple and a couple of bananas a day along with a small salad with lunch or dinner, but now they’ve merely filled their blender with the apple, bananas and a few large leaves of lettuce and drink a green smoothie for breakfast. This smoothie might be just 300 calories—definitely not a full breakfast.

Other times, I see folks “making good” on their goal to eat healthfully by having salads with lots of greens and chunks of cucumber and tomato but also see chicken, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, cheese or a fatty dressing slathered over the salad. In a case such as this, most calories come from fat and protein, far more than the maximum 10 percent of each Dr. Doug Graham recommends in The 80/10/10 Diet. Thus, a salad of, say, 700 calories contains only 100 calories from lettuce and chunks of cucumber and tomato. These 100 calories of raw greens and nonsweet fruits represent just a small fraction of folks’ total daily calories.

Food diary entry on is a wonderful resource and tool for counting calories and analyzing nutritional intake.

In yet another example, some transitioning raw fooders might start off their mornings with a semi-substantial green smoothie but have just a large salad for lunch. I was this person, confused about what to eat for each of my meals. It took hearing Harley “Durianrider” Johnstone pound in my brain via a video the importance of counting calories for me to break out of an undercarbed daze and start logging my calories on! The only way to succeed leading a low-fat raw food diet is by enjoying fruits for all your meals, including dinner, and to be sure you consume enough greens. Green smoothies and a large salad after a fruit dinner help make this easy to do!

Some might balk at the thought of counting calories, but I challenge anyone transitioning to a low-fat raw vegan diet to unequivocally state they know they’re consuming the amount of greens Graham recommends in The 80/10/10 Diet: 2 to 6 percent of total calories. Additionally, all of us have instinctively counted calories our entire lives, from knowing how many slices of pizza it took to fill up to how many cups of bean chili would satiate us. To this point, with a lifestyle built on fruits and greens, the calorie count for foods is much lesser compared with cooked foods despite much greater volumes.

A smoothie of bananas is being blended
Power up with enough calories from fruit to keep you going all day long! Check out recipes for fruit smoothies and green smoothies!

These days, I still make it a point to count my calories using Cronometer. I need no longer weigh most fruits and vegetables but find it helpful to continue weighing greens while punching in estimates for the rest of my foods. I want to be sure I hit my target mark of having 4 percent of my total calories come from greens most days. I count calories because I’m counting on fruit calories to power me through each day! I consume about 4,000 calories a day, and it’d be easy to overlook a few hundred on any given day. The way I look at it, why settle for possibly being undercarbed one afternoon or evening—making my day less than it could be—when I can simply be accountable and plug in my food intake by spending just two minutes a day?

My best advice: Count your calories until, at least, you know you’re in a groove. If you’re transitioning to a low-fat raw vegan lifestyle, you likely will discover your caloric requirements will increase as you progress. If you’re regularly undercarbed, you’re less likely to think this lifestyle works. You can’t drive from Philadelphia to San Francisco if you don’t have enough fuel in your tank, after all. Know how much fruits and greens are in your tank!

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