Over the course of the budding health and nutritional renaissance we’ve been seeing across the United States and the world, several different diet archetypes have stood out and managed to gain traction, ranging from “paleo” style diets to raw vegan and everything in between.
Most of them require adherence to a relatively exclusive list of recommended foods and entice followers with claims of next-level results not seen on traditional diets.
One of the least well known among them, however, is the ’80/10/10 Diet,’ which blazes its own path and flips the script by recommending fruit as the ideal human food source.
Regardless of whether you eat a lot of fruit or not, the diet’s namesake book, by author, athlete and health researcher Dr. Douglas Graham, has plenty of wisdom to offer about the mostly understated and underappreciated health benefits of some of nature’s most appealing natural foods.
Here are five things that I learned from the book that stood out, along with some final thoughts on the diet itself:
1. The ’80/10/10′ Diet Blueprint is Not Kind to Fats- One of the most confusing things about trying to find the best diet for you in today’s landscape is the sheer number, and contradictory nature, of the myriad diets that so many different people from so many different walks of life swear by.
While new diet concepts like paleo and even the name brand coffee-and-butter focused ‘Bulletproof Diet’ are heavily invested in fats like coconut products and grass fed butter, the ’80/10/10 Diet’ takes a different approach, warning readers about the dangers of eating too much fat and even recommending a cautionary approach to eating modern health food stars like avocados and extra virgin coconut oil.
Instead, the diet recommends 80 percent of your calories come from carbohydrates in the form of fresh, preferably organic fruit, as well as some raw vegetables.
A total of just 10 percent of the diet’s calories are recommended to come from healthy fats, while the other 10 percent is recommended to come from plant-based protein sources (romaine lettuce is a textbook example in this case as it is an extremely clean food that also provides a highly useful form of protein when eaten in large amounts).
According to the book, natural sugars from fruits are the ideal food source and therefore should make up the basis of the diet, in stark contrast to many other modern specialty diets that recommend high amounts of fat.
2. The Mystery of the “Mono Meal” – According to Dr. Graham, one of the biggest reasons for addictive eating in today’s society may be the overabundance of choices and our constant craving for variety with each meal that we’ve been conditioned to desire.
Despite that, virtually every animal on the planet engages in the practice of eating “mono-meals,” whereby only one type of food is eaten in one sitting.
This allows the body to familiarize itself with and more easily digest and assimilate the type of nutrition offered by one specific food, and it’s just one of the reasons the ’80/10/10 Diet’ recommends mono meals ranging from 1.5 pounds of papaya (editor’s note: buy organic whenever possible because there are GMO papayas on the market if you do try this) to 2 pounds of bananas for lunch.
It’s an interesting concept worth trying in just about any diet to give your body’s digestive system a break and see how your system reacts; I have found it to useful in numerous cases as a change-of-pace to my regular diet.
3. A Surprising Fruit-Blood Sugar Connection- With millions of people suffering from diabetes, many people are wondering if it’s wise to even include fruit in their diets.
According to Dr. Graham, perhaps the biggest issue with fruit and blood sugar is caused by a high amount of fat in the Standard American Diet, which slows down the digestion process of fruit and keeps it in the bloodstream for far too long.
Dr. Graham notes in the book that the American Diabetes Association itself says that “there is no reason to recommend that people with diabetes avoid naturally occurring fructose in fruits, vegetables and other foods,” and also that fruit sugar generally doesn’t stay in your blood long when consumed on its own, apart from other slower-digesting foods.
Fruit when eaten in its whole food form, with fiber intact, or at the very least on its own apart from other foods that slow the digestive process like fats, should typically be just fine for diabetics (although it may be best to limit sweet fruits and work more fruit into your diet slowly; always consult a doctor before making nutritional changes like these).
4. We May Not Need as Much Protein As We Think We Do- As noted in the book, several major health bodies including the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Academies’ Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council recommend that a mere 10% of our calories should come from protein.
One of the biggest criticisms against any plant-based diet is the lack of protein involved, and the 80/10/10 Diet, with its high reliance on fruit, is no exception.
But if the above guidelines are any indication, a person should theoretically be just fine with less protein than what our modern society seems to think is necessary (currently the average is around 16% according to the book), including athletes as Dr. Graham explains on page 105 of the book.
Of course every body type is different, which is why it’s important to discuss this information with a doctor first and to experiment with what works best for you; however this information is still well worth considering.
5. Want to Do 80/10/10 Best? Move to a Tropical Country- While Dr. Graham believes that eating this style of diet will in fact work in a northern climate due to our ability to enjoy controlled temperatures in our home environments, he does recommend that anyone who wants to follow the diet as closely as possible for maximum impact should move to an area where tropical fruit is plentiful.
Fresh tropical fruit is what he describes as the ideal food for human beings because it is clean fuel that our bodies are designed to eat.
As someone who once stayed three months in Costa Rica and realized a huge difference between the type of fruit available down there and the kind we get shipped into Michigan grocery stores, I can understand where Dr. Graham is coming from. Fruits shipped across the country simply don’t have the same nutritional profile as those picked fresh in tropical areas and your body will be able to tell the difference.
If you’re serious about trying to 80/10/10 Diet or any fruit heavy diet it is important to get as much fresh locally grown fruit as possible, and to lean heavily on more nourishing tropical staples like bananas, mangoes and papayas.
Final Thoughts on ‘The 80/10/10 Diet’
This review is based on a copy of the book sent by Dr. Graham’s company FoodNSport Education; special thanks goes out to the company for sending it.
All things considered, ‘The 80/10/10 Diet’ is a unique and engaging read that will at the very least make you question and re-evaluate some of your most deeply held nutritional beliefs, and make you reach for that bowl of fruit far more often than you may have in the past.
In my own experience, attempting to follow any restrictive diet like this one (except for direct medical reasons under strict supervision) can generally lead to pitfalls, however, so be sure to do as much research as possible before trying ’80/10/10′ or any other similar diet and be sure to listen to your body (and your doctor while applicable) to decide how far you want to take it.
At the end of the day, whether or not fruit really is the ideal food for humans may depend on the individual and their current life circumstances. But one thing’s for sure — we don’t appreciate fruit nearly enough, and this book just may help you rediscover the missing link in your own diet some day.