The 80/10/10 Diet: Balancing Your Health, Your Weight, and Your Life, One Luscious Bite at a Time
by Douglas N. Graham
I’d heard about The 80/10/10 Diet for roughly a year before I finally decided to read it, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
I was lucky enough to be able to read Douglas Graham's raw-food classic while living on a southern Thailand island with easy access to some of the most delicious and affordable raw vegan food on earth.
The 80/10/10 Diet promotional video.
Doug Graham's website, FoodNSport.com, says The 80/10/10 diet can help you achieve:
- peak performance for any athlete
- perfect weight, no matter what your body type
- off-the-charts wellness
- success with a low-fat vegan diet
- simplicity in your lifestyle
- a healthy relationship with your food
- enviable vitality
It becomes obvious early on that 80/10/10 (pronounced "eighty ten ten") is not supposed to be a diet in the usual temporary, get-in-get-out sense of the word, but instead a long-term healthy lifestyle change. He makes it clear that he knows diets don't work in the long term and is not shy about letting the reader know either.
What actually is 80/10/10?
Quite simply, it refers to the recommended ratio of macronutrients by percentage of calories. Macronutrients being carbohydrates, fats, and protein. (Micronutrients being everything else.)
What he recommends here is to get at least 80% of your calories from carbohydrates, and a maximum of 10% of your calories from fat and the remaining maximum 10% from protein.
He advocates getting this primarily from whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic, seasonal, sweet fruits, plus a large raw green salad every night. This is to be supplemented with small amounts of raw nuts and seeds.
And I must say, he makes a very convincing case for eating this way.
The fact is, nature has seen fit to provide food for every creature on Earth, and all creatures of similar type eat similarly—those for which their biological systems were designed. Do not let anyone tell you that humans are the one exception to this rule in all of the animal kingdom, for there are no exceptions: Animals that are anatomically and physiologically similar thrive on similar foods.
- Douglas Graham in The 80/10/10 Diet
The main premise of this paradigm-shifting book - which Graham takes and then builds upon using a combination of referenced scientific evidence and results from his work advising world-class athletes - is encapsulated in the following paragraph (you can read more quotes like this below this review).
All of the creatures that are anatomically and physiologically like us (known as the anthropoid primates: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos) thrive on a low-fat diet that is predominated by fruits and vegetables. Their caloronutrient ratios closely approximate 80/10/10. With the exception of the gorilla, whose great weight makes it almost impossible to climb the skinny branches of trees to procure fruit, they get more than 80% of their calories from the carbohydrates in fruit. The combined caloronutrient average for chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans is about 88/7/5. Add in the gorilla’s numbers, which come closer to 70% carbohydrate, and the average decreases, making the ratio almost exactly 80/10/10 for all of our anthropoid relatives.
Doug Graham says that most other nutrition advice espoused by popular plant-based doctors are mostly in line with what he teaches, but because these doctors eat cooked food themselves, eating a completely raw diet is "outside of their reality", and so naturally, advocating for it is as well.
T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study and Whole: Rethinking The Science of Nutrition advocates eating the same macronutrient ratio's as Doug Graham recommends in 80/10/10.
Even though legitimately well-established scientists like T. Colin Campbell recommend eating 80/10/10 (video above), Campbell recommends a mixture of cooked and raw foods, most probably because that's what the science suggests is best, judging by, among other studies, the worlds longest living populations.
To be fair though, there are no large populations of humans that eat exclusively raw, so a direct comparison can not really be made. While this fact can be used as an argument both for and against going completely raw, what can't really be argued against is that to achieve the optimal health / minimal disease that everyone is looking for, people in general, including a lot of vegans, need to eat more whole fruits and vegetables. And a diet compromised of fresh fruits and vegetables, whether cooked or raw, almost effortlessly achieves the 80/10/10 macronutrient ratio.
As Dr Michael Greger points out, the soils where our store bought fruits grown these days are quite depleted compared to what they were tens of thousands of years ago, so in turn the nutrient composition of fruits these days are, to quote Greger himself, "pale comparisons to what our ape ancestors ate."
Greger does not provide any evidence as to why this means cooking other vegetables in place of them (which have a wildly different nutrient composition anyway) is a better alternative, though.
"No essential nutrient exists in meat, grains, legumes, or dairy that is not also available in fruits, vegetables, nuts and in a form that is easier to digest."
- Douglas Graham
Among other things, Graham warns against the pitfalls of fragmented nutrition thinking and advice. This is expounded quite clearly when, along with an eating plan, Graham includes a Fundamental Elements of Health bullet point list, asking the reader to honestly rate themselves, from zero to ten, in everything on the following exhaustive list.
Grahams says, "though there is no official order or ranking, I would venture to say that the first ten are actually indispensable - essential - for even a moderate level of true health."
- Clean, fresh air
- Pure water
- Foods for which we are biologically designed
- Sufficient sleep
- Rest and relaxation
- Vigorous activity
- Emotional poise and stability
- Sunshine and natural light
- Comfortable temperature
- Peace, harmony, serenity, and tranquility
- Human touch
- Thought, cogitation, and meditation
- Friendships and companionship
- Gregariousness (social relationships, community)
- Love and appreciation
- Play and recreation
- Pleasant environment
- Amusement and entertainment
- Sense of humour, mirth, and merriment
- Security of life and its means
- Inspiration, motivation, purpose, and commitment
- Creative, useful work (pursuit of interests)
- Self-control and self-mastery
- Individual sovereignty
- Expression of reproductive instincts
- Satisfaction of the aesthetic senses
- Positive self-image and sense of self-worth
- Internal and external cleanliness
- Music and all other arts
- Biophilia (love of nature)
Take a look at how good Doug Graham looks for someone going on 60 years old... This will be all the evidence some people need to adopt his way of eating.
Included after the main body of work is a meal plan, which is made up of a week's worth of recipes for each of the four yearly seasons, including breakfast, lunch and 3-course dinners. If you’ve never had your mouth water while reading raw food recipes before, I suggest you read these.
Being a single man in his twenties, my personal favourite thing about these recipes is how simple they all are to prepare. Which is not too surprising when you remember that one of the concepts Graham introduces in this book is “mono-meals” - eating only one food, say, bananas or mangos, per meal. Which might sound unfeasible… until you try it yourself and live the experience. Naturally, though, only the smallest fraction of the recipes are mono-meals.
Doug Graham says mono-meals, such as a calorically sufficient quantity of bananas or mangoes, is an easy way maximise nutrient absorption and ease of digestion.
There are lots of testimonials in the back of the book praising the low fat, high carb, 100% raw vegan diet Graham proposes here. I mean tons of these things. Page after page of heartfelt letters from people whose lives have been enriched by this diet either in terms of athletically performance or helping them recover from mental and physical diseases. The athletes abound in this section, which is not surprising because, as Graham says himself, "the 80/10/10 Diet is a high energy diet."
As reassuring as these testimonials clearly are, this doesn't help me to forget that the rest of the book is lacking in references to clinical studies, trials and other scientific experiments compared to all the other vegan nutrition books I've reviewed. And in my mind at least, this does The 80/10/10 Diet a disservice.
While I have been eating 80/10/10 for about a year now, reading this book (twice) hasn't made me go 100% raw for any meaningful period of time. It is very easy to eat in these ratio's while still cooking whole plant foods, and in my experience, semi-cooked 80/10/10 is a very effortlessly energetic, light, "clean" and delicious way to live, and not outside of what The 80/10/10 Diet is about, either. To quote from Graham himself in chapter 8, “If high-fat raw or low-fat cooked seem your only options, choose the low-fat option, every time.”
As fascinating as this book is, as concise and easy to digest as it's messages are, I think the reason I'm still eating some cooked food is that I'm always left wondering something... do the repeatedly scientifically proven health benefits of a cooked, whole foods 80/10/10 vegan diet out-weigh the mostly anecdotal claims of the raw vegan alternative presented here?
4 / 5 stars.
Would I recommend this book to someone interested in a raw vegan diet?
Without question. I can not imagine a more suitable text to kick-start anyone's raw vegan journey with confidence.
Would I recommend this book to someone interested in just a regular vegan diet?
Absolutely. Even if the high fruit, 100% raw vegan lifestyle advocated for here is not followed exactly, there are always noticeable benefits to be had just from intelligently increasing your intake of raw fruits and leafy green vegetables. And that is science that no one can argue with.
PS. If this review in any way made or reminded you to buy The 80/10/10 Diet we at Vomad would greatly appreciate it if you used one of the links on this page to get your copy; it won't cost you anything extra, but we'll get a small kickback for referring you, usually about 5%.
For non-US residents, I recommend getting your print copy from BookDepository.com, as they have the cheapest prices and fastest free worldwide shipping times from their UK warehouse. When I lived in Western Australia I would usually get my books within 5 business days. Click here to buy The 80/10/10 Diet at Book Depository now. However, if you want it in ebook format or you live in the US, I'd suggest clicking here to head over to Amazon.com and get it from there as it'll probably be quicker and cheaper.
About the Author
Dr. Douglas Graham, a lifetime athlete and twenty-seven year raw fooder, is an advisor to world-class athletes and trainers from around the globe. He has worked professionally with top performers from almost every sport and every field of entertainment, including such notables as tennis legend Martina Navratilova, NBA pro basketball player Ronnie Grandison, track Olympic sprinter Doug Dickinson, pro women's soccer player Callie Withers, championship bodybuilder Kenneth G. Williams, Chicken Soup for the Soul co-author Mark Victor Hansen, and actress Demi Moore. As owner of a fasting retreat in the Florida Keys for ten years, Dr. Graham personally supervised thousands of fasts. He was in private practice as a chiropractor for twenty years, before retiring to focus more fully on his writing and speaking. Dr. Graham is the author of many books on raw food and health including The High Energy Diet Recipe Guide, Nutrition and Athletic Performance, Grain Damage, Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries and The 80/10/10 Diet. He has shared his strategies for success with audiences at more than 4,000 presentations worldwide and is recognized as one of the fathers of the modern raw food movement.
My Favourite 80/10/10 Diet Quotes & Highlights
(page numbers taken from the kindle edition)
Friends, if you stop connecting with your loved ones over the food you eat, you have missed the point! Healthful living includes healthy relationships and compassion for your fellow humans. If you wish to contribute to your loved ones, accept them where they are, and then lead by example, with an open heart … you will have far greater success if you do. [page 15]
The Natural Hygiene approach to diet and nutrition is markedly different than the fragmented perspective that is common among health seekers and diet promoters. The fragmented view does not so much look at foods as it does their component parts. It also fails to distinguish true well-being from merely looking good, feeling good, or removing symptoms of dis-ease—a grave error, indeed. The fragmented approach extols the virtues of certain nutrients in a “pick-and-choose” fashion—the kind used in infomercial sales pitches. Excellently geared toward selling a specific product, this viewpoint never considers the full story, always omitting material that would give a more balanced view of the situation. Like a person who makes a decision after listening to only one side in a debate, the fragmented thinker relies on skewed information, and the resulting incomplete picture provides a misunderstanding of nutrition that can only spiral out of control. [page 26]
I have heard estimates that scientists today may have discovered only 10% of the nutrients in existence, particularly the so-called phytonutrients (plant nutrients). In light of this, we might stop for a moment to wonder: How can any of us claim to have zeroed in on some specific nutrient deficiency and take informed action toward correcting it? It cannot be done intelligently, in my opinion. [page 29]
[After talking of the possible dangers of vitamin/mineral supplements] People tell me that hearing this discussion confuses them, for they often experience welcome increases in energy and apparent reversal of health challenges through supplementation. I find that these results come, however, at great cost. If these individuals distance themselves from the supplement-vendor hype and slow their quest for quick relief, they usually notice that their life has become an endless shell game, in which they shift symptoms but never reach true health, homeostasis, and peace. [page 30]
When we use remedies and therapies to eliminate symptoms, we do nothing to address their original cause, hence nothing to create health. We must educate ourselves about the causes of health (not disease) and include these in our daily routine. [page 32]
The big-picture approach that I espouse is based on this simple concept: “It is always better to correct a problem—to remove its cause—than it is to supplement or suppress it.” Nutrition is a very complex field of endeavor, and it is easily misunderstood and misinterpreted, just as the forest can become invisible when looking at individual trees. [page 33]
People say, “Everything in moderation.” I suggest that foods that are good for us are good only in moderation, but that the foods that are harmful to us should be avoided, regardless of the dose. [page 35]
So, the answer is yes—humans are biologically equipped to supplement their diets with a wide variety of plant-based “vegetarian” substances. [page 45]
Do you know anybody whose candida was caused by eating fruit? Do you know anybody whose diabetes was caused by eating fruit? Do you know anybody whose cancer was caused by eating fruit? If eating fruit didn’t cause these maladies, why would you believe that avoiding fruit would correct them? [page 55]
When your diet is predominated by nut pâtés, seed cheeses, and flax crackers, it’s no wonder you’re told not to eat fruit. Whether or not we eat fruit in the presence of such tremendously high levels of fat, we set ourselves up for health problems and inability to remain raw. [page 63]
As a society, we have very much become adrenaline junkies. We are addicted to stimulation, and rely upon our next “fix” constantly. From the shock of the alarm clock and our morning coffee, to the newspaper headlines and the extreme behavior on daytime talk shows, to movies, spectator sports, and “reality” television shows designed to evoke intense emotions, to restaurant meals that are promoted more for their excitement value than for their nutrition, straight through the day till the eleven o’clock news that is filled with stories of death and destruction, we just keep calling for more adrenaline. Should there be a gap in the “action” we feel sleepy, a sure sign of exhaustion. We are literally living in a state of constant adrenal fatigue. This excessive adrenal demand, coupled with the high stress of our American lifestyle, result in such extreme overuse of the adrenals that they eventually begin to fail. [page 65]
When medical professionals have their blinders on, seeking only to eradicate disease with no mind toward creating overall health in their patients, they produce bizarre and deadly short-sighted solutions. [page 76]
The fact is, nature has seen fit to provide food for every creature on Earth, and all creatures of similar type eat similarly. For example, horses—and all creatures that look like horses (zebras, donkeys, mules)—eat from essentially the same category of foods—those for which their biological systems were designed. Do not let anyone tell you that humans are the one exception to this rule (called the Law of Similars) in all of the animal kingdom, for there are no exceptions: Animals that are anatomically and physiologically similar thrive on similar foods. Cows eat grass, leopards eat meat, and hummingbirds eat nectar. There is simply no need to complicate this simple program, presented in perfection by nature in thousands of examples. All of the creatures that are anatomically and physiologically like us (known as the anthropoid primates: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos) thrive on a low-fat diet that is predominated by fruits and vegetables. Their caloronutrient ratios closely approximate 80/10/10. With the exception of the gorilla, whose great weight makes it almost impossible to climb the skinny branches of trees to procure fruit, they get more than 80% of their calories from the carbohydrates in fruit. The combined caloronutrient average for chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans is about 88/7/5. Add in the gorilla’s numbers, which come closer to 70% carbohydrate, and the average decreases, making the ratio almost exactly 80/10/10 for all of our anthropoid relatives. [page 109]
Before our cells can utilize any food for fuel, whether it contains primarily carbohydrate, protein, or fat, it must first be converted into simple sugars. Carbohydrates are by far the easiest to convert to useful sugars. Glucose (a simple sugar) is the primary, preferred source of fuel for every tissue and cell of our bodies. In fact, some of our cells (the brain, red blood cells, and some nervous tissue, for example) depend almost exclusively on glucose as their fuel source. [page 120]
The balance of our daily calories, at least 80%, must come from some combination of carbohydrates and fat. Essentially, any decrease in carbohydrates must be accompanied by an increase in fat, assuming we continue to consume the same number of calories. [page 124]
So how do people lose weight on low-carbohydrate diets? In brief, research shows that these people invariably consume fewer total calories. Dr. Michael Greger’s superbly comprehensive and condemning eBook, Atkins Facts, sums it up well: In 2001, the medical journal Obesity Research published “Popular Diets: A Scientific Review.” Claiming to have reviewed every study ever done on low carb diets, they concluded, “In all cases, individuals on high-fat, low carbohydrate diets lose weight because they consume fewer calories.” (Obesity Research 9(2001):1S.) [page 124]
Although we were designed with survival/backup mechanisms that allow us to transform noncarbohydrate foods into sugar in case of starvation or other extreme conditions, this capability was intended to be invoked only on rare occasion. We pay a huge price in terms of health and optimum functioning whenever we force our bodies to resort to fat (or worse, to protein) to fuel our cells, as these conversions are chemically inefficient compared with using carbohydrate for fuel. The body can only do so by expending substantial amounts of vital energy and producing toxic waste products along the way. [page 126]
Proper body weight is an effortless, natural outcome of optimum health, but optimum health is unlikely to result from a diet designed solely for weight loss. The followers of low-carbohydrate diets may achieve their weight-loss goals, but they imperil their long-term health in doing so. [page 126]
Yet due to the nutrient losses incurred during the cooking process, no cooked food can be viewed as a true whole food. In fact, the cooking process itself actually removes the water from food (with the exception of certain dehydrated foods that are actually rehydrated as they are cooked in water). No food whose water has been removed can realistically be viewed as a whole food. [page 127]
And so, in spite of the fact that fruit is universally promoted as the ultimate health food, and in spite of their own conclusions that carbohydrates must predominate the diet in order for health to be possible, the majority of the world’s health professionals fail to see the obvious: A fruit-based diet is the finest possibility we have for developing optimum health. [page 128]
The meat and dairy industries like to point fingers at sugars, declaring them synonymous with empty calories. They have done such a good job of marketing that to this day most people do not understand the differences between refined simple sugars (empty-calorie junk foods) and the simple sugars in fruit (health food), thinking that “sugar is sugar.” [page 138]
Think about this: If you have a goldfish, cat, or dog, do you change the very nature of their diet every time you move? Do zoo animals get entirely different classes of food, depending on the latitude of the zoo that houses them? Viewed in this way, it becomes obvious that we must honor the unique dietary requirements of each species, based on its particular digestive physiology. [page 142]
Humans are anatomically and physiologically adapted to the food of the tropics, predominantly fruit, as are almost all of the tropical creatures. In Central America, for example, all mammals with the exception of the river otter and the jaguar are known to eat fruit, as are most of the birds, many of the amphibians, and quite a few of the reptiles. No logical or scientific reason exists to conclude that simply because we have moved away from the tropics, we should therefore change what has been our natural food for the great majority of our time on Earth. Regardless of where we go on this planet (or even whether we ever venture off of the planet to other worlds), tropical fruits remain our natural foods, the only cuisine for which we are perfectly designed.
People who live in temperate areas still require the foods for which they were designed, just as zoo animals that are geographically relocated still retain their physical requirements. [page 144]
In his book The China Study, renowned Cornell University professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry T. Colin Campbell states that we require only 5–6% of our total calories to come from protein in order to replace the protein we routinely lose, and that “About 9–10% protein has been recommended for the past fifty years to be assured that most people at least get their 5–6% ‘requirement.’” 
Excessive fat consumption may be commonplace, but it is nothing short of nutritional disaster. [page 178]
If high-fat raw or low-fat cooked seem your only options, choose the low-fat option, every time. [page 188]
While perfect health is our natural state, it occurs only when we take perfect care of ourselves. [page 202]
We should not fool ourselves into believing that anything resembling true health is possible without regular, vigorous exercise. [page 203]
Dehydration is considered a contributor to more diseases of lifestyle than any other single factor except fat. [page 207]
If we are to (correctly) assume that the necessary amount of water is in our fresh plant foods before we cook them, we can be certain that an insufficient quantity is left after we cook them. [page 209]
So cooking food results in a double whammy—not only does it remove water, but a great many toxins are created in the process, increasing our need for water. [page 209]
As our levels of physical activity or stress rise, so does the quantity of endogenous toxins we produce, as cellular output increases. This is one of the reasons that we are told to drink water before, during, and after exercise and other physical pursuits—to dilute the toxins we produce. [page 210]
Our perspective of “normal” volume has been skewed by the low-water, low-fiber, high-fat meals we have been eating all our lives. [page 215]
Supplement vendors publish convincing literature to convince you that their green powders or “whole-food-based” supplements supply concentrated nutrition in amounts you could not get from fresh fruits and vegetables. But taking them can serve only to imbalance you, as even in deficiency conditions, we do not need more of any nutrient than we can get in a variety of whole, fresh, ripe, raw plants eaten in sufficient quantity to maintain our body weight. [page 217]
Because hunger is the general desire for food, when one is truly hungry, any food will be acceptable. Appetite, on the other hand, is specific—we desire a specific food or foods. Appetite is also the socially acceptable word for craving, which in turn is the socially acceptable word for addiction. [page 219]
If this review in any way made or reminded you to buy The 80/10/10 Diet we would greatly appreciate it if you used on of the following links to get your copy; it won't cost you anything extra, but we'll get a small kickback for referring you, usually about 5%.
For non-US residents, I recommend getting your print copy from BookDepository.com, as they have the cheapest prices and fastest free worldwide shipping times from their UK warehouse. When I lived in Western Australia I would usually get my books within 5 business days. Click here to buy The 80/10/10 Diet at Book Depository now. However, if you want it in ebook format or you live in the US, I'd suggest clicking here to head over to Amazon.com and get it from there as it'll probably be quicker and cheaper. Thanks.