Pros and Cons of the 80-10-10 Diet

Is the 80/10/10 diet a good way to lose weight or improve your health? Nutrition Diva takes a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this diet trend.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
August 26, 2014
Episode #298

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A new diet trend called the 80/10/10 diet is making the rounds, and several of you have asked me to weigh in. The goal is to get 80% of your calories from carbohydrates--primarily raw fruit--and 10% each from raw, plant-based protein and fat. Raw food and vegan diets are nothing new, of course. But the catchy new name has breathed new life into an old trend.

As with any diet fad, this one comes with big claims, such as weight loss, reversal of chronic disease and aging, and better energy, sleep, mood, and athletic performance. The 80/10/10 diet also boasts a best-selling book by a guru with questionable credentials, a bevy of true believers, and a crowd of equally passionate critics and detractors

I'm going to steer clear of the personalities and the politics, though, and try to focus on the nutritional aspects of the diet itself. Is the 80/10/10 diet a healthy way to eat? Is it necessary to go to these extremes in order to feel and function at our best? Is it safe? Here are what I see as the primary pros and cons of this approach:

Pros of the 80/10/10 Diet

1. You eat a lot of produce. The primary advantage of this approach is that you eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, foods that provide a lot of nutrients for relatively few calories. Compared to the typical American diet, where adults average just 2 servings of vegetables a day, this represents a big upgrade. But the amount of produce you eat on the 80/10/10 diet is probably overkill. While diets higher in fruits and vegetables are associated with longer, healthier lives,  recent analysis suggests that the benefits peak at around 5 or so servings a day. Eating 10 (or 50) servings a day doesn't seem to bring any additional dividends over the long haul.

2. You don't eat any processed foods. In my previous show on raw food diets, I concluded that a mix of raw and cooked foods is probably ideal. While some nutrients are lost when foods are heated, others are made more absorbable. In my view, the primary advantage of raw food diets is simply that they exclude most of the highly processed, nutrient-poor food that junks up so much of the American diet. Similarly, the 80/10/10 completely eliminates refined grains, added sugars, fried foods, and processed foods.


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