How To Gain Muscles And Stop Weight Loss On A Raw Vegan Diet

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How To Gain Muscles And Stop Weight Loss On A Raw Vegan Diet

by Nelson Williams, Jr.
(Carson, CA, USA)

Nelson's Question:

My name is Nelson Williams, and I am transitioning to a raw food diet and I find my weight dropping, (15lbs. in 3 weeks).

How do I maintain my ideal weight of 190lbs, while continuing my 5X5, 3 day a week workout of Squats, Bench Press, Military Press, Dead-Lifts and Barbbell Rows?

What types of raw diet can I use to maintain my weight while building real muscle?

Andrew's Answer:

Hi Nelson.

Due to lack of information, my answer to your excellent question is going to have to be in generalities.

I don't know much about what you're eating, what your body composition is, how much of a calorie deficit you're running, or much else, for that matter.

So let's take it point by point.

Water Weight Loss:

Most people lose some water weight when they first start a healthy raw food diet. When they stop including salt and other foods that cause water retention, it's fairly usual for an adult male to expel at least 5 pounds of water over the course of the first month. In the case of obese people, I've seen this amount be as high as 30 pounds.

This is a one-time effect (as long as you stay away from the unhealthy foods you gave up), and you won't keep losing water forever.

Fat Loss:

Once your excess water weight has been excreted, weight loss is primarily tied to fat loss.

To burn body fat you'll need to eat a calorie deficit.

There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. If you ate a 500 calorie deficit each day, you'd lose in the ballpark of a pound of fat each week (in reality, it's not quite so cut-and-dry, but that's how it generally works).

If you're currently running a calorie deficit and don't want to lose more body fat, you need to consume more calories.

I suggest you do this with increased fruit consumption, rather than increased fat consumption.

The Fiction of Muscle Loss

If you're running a calorie deficit, your body's muscle glycogen stores will not be topped up. The bigger the deficit, the less glycogen you have on hand.

When your glycogen stores are running low, the water used in the body's attempt to access this glycogen is released. This makes it seem like your muscles are shrinking - They are likely not.

As soon as you top your glycogen stores up again through caloric sufficiency, your muscles should return to normal size.

Real muscle loss is generally a very slow process, and if you're doing strength training, muscle loss -even when you're running a calorie deficit - should be extremely minimal.

Getting Back To 190 Pounds

Personally, I don't think you should obsess about a particular number on a scale.

Do you have too much or too little body fat? Do you want to be more muscular? These are the important questions, and ones you can address by eating healthfully and making the right training choices.

But if you want to get back to 190, you've got three main choices.

1) The Water Weight Route: First, you can start eating unhealthy food like salt and other processed foods. You water weight stores will explode, and you'll get close to your original weight quickly.

Obviously, this is not the best route for someone looking for health.

2) Add Body Fat: Adding body fat has obvious downsides, of course, but it may be a good choice if you have very low body fat levels.

Basically, just start stuffing yourself with fruit, particularly high-calorie ones like bananas, dates, mamey sapote, egg fruit, etc, and you'll slowly put on body fat.

Although different people have different metabolic rates and genetic predispositions for weight gain, you'll want to eat at least 500 calories in excess of your needs. If you can push it farther, feel free.

3) Gain Muscle:

The best route, but the slowest, is muscle gain.

When I first started strength training on a raw food diet, I put on about 15 pounds of muscle in two years, but this included 9 months of not training at all.

Since then I've averaged an increase of a pound a month when I'm training heavily.

Professional body builders consider themselves lucky to add two pounds of muscle a month, but their efforts go far and above what most people are willing to do in the gym.

My Advice:

I suggest you stop fixating on the scale and instead pursue the body you want to see in the mirror.

If you can't stop your fat loss or are having trouble gaining muscle, there's probably a flaw in your diet. I offer one-on-one coaching to help with this sort of thing, but you might not need it.

The information, sample menus, advice, recipes, and science in Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality will put you on a track to the body you want to have.

Follow the plan, and unwanted fat loss or lack of muscle gain won't be a problem.

Hope that helps

- Andrew

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