Raw Food Diet And Breastfeeding While Underweight?

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Raw Food Diet And Breastfeeding While Underweight?

by Linda Parker

Linda's Question:

Hi Andrew

Thank you so much for your informative site and for the chance for me to ask you a question.

This is my second go at changing to a raw food diet (I became incredibly bored with salads as I had yet to find your site the first time around).

I have never been overweight and want to live on a raw food diet purely for nutrition and future health reasons.

My issue right now is that I am underweight due to breastfeeding my baby now for 6 months. I am approx 5'2" and currently weigh approx 103 pounds - my 'normal' weight is usually 112 pounds.


Do you know of any foods that I can eat on the raw diet that will help me put on some weight?

I don't have a huge appetite and usually only eat small amounts at mealtimes.

I really don't want to have to eat pasta etc, as recommended by mainstream health sites, but I also don't want to stop breastfeeding my baby, or lose anymore weight - at the moment I am buying clothes to fit 12 year old girls and I am 35!!

Or, do you know if I can put weight on through toning/building muscle? (I have lost quite a bit of muscle tone also).

Which is the healthiest way to proceed - fat or muscle?

Thanking you in anticipation

Many Regards

Linda Parker (Australia)

Andrew's Answer:

Hi Linda.

This is a very serious issue because not only is your own health on the line, but that of your child, which is relying on your food intake to supply your milk with the energy and nutrients it needs to grow and thrive.

It's great that you're committed to breastfeeding because breastfed babies have a significantly better track record of mental and physical health through their lives when compared to those who are not breastfed.

But what you're telling me is that you're failing to take in enough calories to cover your own needs in addition to the requirements of milk production.

Your body is breaking down your fat reserves to create milk, but how long can this go on?

In the long run, this status quo will put your health and that of your child at risk.

You don't tell me what your body fat percentage is at this point, but generally women require a minimum of 8 to 12% body fat to maintain health and reproductive function.

If you're below this level, you may want to regain fat, which is a matter of eating more calories than you're burning off.

If not, then you're fine where you are and you don't need to gain fat unless you're not satisfied with your physical appearance.

So where do you go from here?

Step One: Stop The Weight Loss

It sounds like your experience with raw diets is with eating one dominated by vegetables.

You should read more about the roles fruits and vegetables play in a healthly low fat raw diet, but the take home message is that you will fail to eat enough calories if you're trying to rely on greens without sufficient fruits to provide calories. This will lead to weight loss.

You need to start eating a lot more fruit to maintain your current weight, or possibly regain, if that is your goal.

All fruit options are good, but the more juicy fruits like watermelon have fewer calories per gram than those that are dryer, like bananas and dates. This means that you can eat less of them and get more calories.

Here is a list of some of the most high-calorie fruit per 100 grams.

Fruit Calories Per 100 Grams

Medjool Dates 277
Sapote (Mamey Sapote) 134
American Persimmons 127
Plantains 122
Sugar Apples (Sweetsop) 94
Jackfruit 94
Bananas 89
Sapodilla 83
Jujude 79
Cherimoya 74
Figs 74
Kumquats 71
Japanese Persimmons 70

Meeting Your Calorie Requirements:


According to a generic calorie estimator, a women of your height who is breastfeeding needs to take in 2057 calories a day (before any additional exercise) to maintain a weight of 110 pounds. You're under 110 pounds, so if you hit this amount daily you'll likely slowly increase your body fat levels.

I highly suggest you track your food intake for a few days at cronometer.com to make sure you're taking in enough calories.

Building Muscle:

Building muscle on a healthy raw food diet is very possible, as my own experiments have lately demonstrated.

You do this through dedicated strength training. It's simply a matter of putting in the work.

Generally, if you're not below healthy essential fat levels (8 to 12% for women), then it's healthier to gain muscle than fat.

Getting Your Head Around A Healthy Raw Diet

Trying to figure out exactly what to eat and how much can be tricky, even though a raw diet is incredibly simple.

If you're looking for sample menus, recipes, faqs, and the why and how behind raw diets, check out my book, Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality.

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