Raw food diet athletes – the legendary Dr. Douglas Graham


Raw food diet athletes exist and they will not go extinct. Although it seems counter-intuitive.

How can a hard-core weight lifter or even a marathon runner thrive eating only childish food such as bananas, the “monkey’s food”, or almost devoid of calories watermelon? According to live examples of these individuals, it is quite possible.

In this series, I will be telling about who are these people, how they adopted a raw vegan way of life and also, if available, I will include their recommendations, advices and interviews for those who wish to start a raw vegan diet but at the same time want to continue to be involved in their favorite sport or exercise regime.


Raw food diet athletes - the legendary Dr. Douglas Graham

Dr. Graham. Source: EliteManMagazine.com

First comes the legendary, at least in the raw food circles, Dr. Douglas Graham.

Dr. Graham’s life is no doubt filled with multitude of rare knowledge and experiences. He is a doctor (chiropractor), lifetime athlete, sports trainer, raw fooder, author, speaker, educator and advisor.

Back in 1978, when he was 25 years old,  he decided to step on the path of a raw vegan diet and since then wrote many health and raw food books, trained and advised Olympic and world-class athletes, gave billions of advices to health-minded people, passionately spoke at more than 4,000 health and raw food presentations worldwide, supervised thousands of fasts at his fasting retreat in Florida and I would bet tasted dozens of fruits and vegetables little known to me and you and Western society in general.

Today, Dr. Graham’s name is synonymous with the 80/10/10 diet which is both, a title of one of his books, and his recommended daily ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat one must follow on a raw vegan diet. There is no question, the doctor is really adamant about this ratio and insists that 80% of calories should come from carbohydrates and only 10% of calories from protein and other 10% from fat.

Dr. Graham is globally recognized health authority and is viewed as a father of modern raw vegan diet movement.


Some athletes Dr. Graham trained include:

  • Olympic sprinter Doug Dickinson
  • tennis player Martina Navratilova
  • basketball player Ronnie Grandison
  • soccer player Callie Withers
  • championship bodybuilder Kenneth G. Williams


Now, let’s look at some real-life advices you can use so that you are able to finally leave those animals alone (Guess what? Although they can’t speak, they still got eyes and heart, meaning they do feel abuse and pain, just like you, who also have eyes and heart and feel pain) and enjoy the colorful produce in its unaltered form.



Dr. Graham answers some FAQ regarding being an athlete on a vegan raw food diet


1. What do you think of raw protein powders?

Raw food diet athletes - the legendary Dr. Douglas Graham - 2

Dr. Graham’s athleticism in action. Source: FoodnSport.com

I recommend a diet comprised strictly and only of whole, fresh, ripe, raw, preferably organic, fruits and vegetables. Isolated protein, separated from its associated nutrients as would be found in a plant, qualifies by everyone’s definition as “empty calories.” We all know empty calories are the worst for our health.


2. How many calories do you feel a raw athlete should be consuming?

The calorie question depends greatly upon the athlete and the type of training. Some top male athletes can easily get by on 4 or 5K calories per day, others need 10K or more. Ladies traditionally consume about 50% fewer calories than men in order to maintain their weight.


3. What is an example of a pre/post workout meal?

I rarely eat before training, and never before cardio. There is simply no need, and in the case of cardio, eating would be counterproductive.

Post workout, the best is fruit, or fruit mixed with vegetables, as in a salad or soup. Training uses carbs, and the sooner those carbs are replaced, the better.


4. Do you think eating six small meals a day is important?

I eat twice daily, as a rule, but when training intensely will often go to three meals per day, especially if I am eating upwards of 4K calories per day.  Grazing, or eating many small meals, works against the athlete. For the body builders and such who recommend such eating, I’d say they are simply not eating enough carbs to meet their needs.


5. What differences do you see in a raw athlete vs. a non-raw athlete?

I note faster recovery, better endurance, fewer injuries, and better neurologic abilities in athletes following the 80/10/10 raw vegan diet than in any other dietary program, cooked or raw.


6. What criticism have you faced being a raw athlete?

I’ve been told my health won’t last. It has, as I haven’t been sick in almost 35 years.
I’ve been told my fitness will be a flash in the pan. I’m fitter now, at 61, than I believe I have ever been, overall.
I’ve been told nutritionally I will fall apart. Any thing but, I’d say.
I’ve been told, of course, that I should eat like them. I suggest that they try eating like me before they judge me.


7. What would you say is the perfect 80/10/10 meal?

80/10/10 is exceptionally flexible. We humans have well over 300 readily available different fruits from which we can choose, and most of those have hundreds if not thousands of varieties. Eat the fruit or vegetables that are most appealing to you.

A perfect meal is one where you can eat fruits, and if you wish, vegetables, until you are completely satisfied, and will remain satiated until the next meal time rolls around.


8. If you only eat two meals a day, what is a typical meal for you? How big is it?

I’m really fond of bananas, and whenever there is nothing else in season, 15-20 bananas are my lunch of choice. For dinner, I usually have as much oranges and mangoes blended as I care for, or fresh berries, or whatever fruit is in season, followed by as much salad as I care for. The lunch meal is the larger in terms of calories, but the dinner meal is the larger in terms of volume.

I enjoy preparing foods for my family, and coined the concept of 80/10/10 Simply Delicious Cuisine, the first raw cuisine specializing in low-fat vegan fare that anyone can make at home.



Dr. Graham’s recommended meal plan for your optimal performance and recovery


Breakfast: Start the day with as much water as you care for. After a morning workout, consume juicy fruit of choice until satiated. Citrus, melon, pineapple, papayas, mangos, peaches, pears, and other high-water fruits fit the bill.

Lunch: Lunch is usually consumed following another exercise period. Sweet fruits provide the most calories from carbohydrates, per bite. The unassuming yet ubiquitous banana does a great job meeting the athlete’s requirements in this regard, and should be the focus of most lunch meals. Sweet fruits (e.g., bananas, figs, dates, persimmons, mammea, canistel, sapote) combine well with subacid fruits (mangos, nectarines, pears, papayas, peaches, and the like). Lettuce and/or celery combine well with all fruit.

Raw food diet athletes - the legendary Dr. Douglas Graham - 3

Dr. Graham’s athleticism, once again, in action. Source: RawFoodSolution.com

Dinner: The truly active individual will want to begin the evening meal with acid or subacid fruit. If you wish to limit calorie consumption, you may choose to skip the evening fruit. A large salad of lettuce, tomato, celery, and (if desired) other vegetables comprises the main course. You can also prepare and present these ingredients as salsa, soup, slaw, or in any other manner and (optionally) dress them with avocado, nuts, or seeds. If you finish the meal and still find yourself searching for something sweet, you did not eat enough fruit at the start of the meal.

Note: Athletes consuming more than 3,000 calories per day may wish to eat an extra meal per 1,000 additional calories consumed. Bananas make a most effective and satiating extra meal.



Also, his ten general tips for a raw vegan athlete


1. Drink water, all you care for, before during and after engaging in strenuous activity.
2. Eat fruit upon completion of activity to bring blood sugar back to normal levels and provide sugar for conversion to muscle glycogen.
3. Consume celery and/or tomatoes to provide necessary sodium at least several times per week or as often as you participate in strenuous activity.
4. When possible, rest after meals to foster optimum digestion.
5. Remember, exercise does not provide energy, it requires energy. Sleep as much as you desire.
6. During long duration activities, drink sports drinks of fruit blended with water. This works very well. For “ultra” events, add celery to the mixture.
7. Monitor your water losses by using a scale to measure your weight before and after workouts.
8. Raw foods provide the maximum nutrients for the minimal calories, encouraging the most rapid recovery.
9. Gradually raise the raw percentage of your diet until you approach or reach 100%.
10. Develop the habit of going to bed earlier to obtain a good night’s sleep.
11. Keep meals simple for optimum digestion, and varied to insure optimum nutrition.


Achievements of Dr. Graham that didn’t fit above (because there are so many of them!)

  • serves on the board of advisors of Voice for a Viable Future, Living Light Films, Vegetarian Union of North America, andEarthSave International
  • serves as nutrition advisor for the magazine Exercise, For Men Only
  • author of articles in Get Fresh and Vibrance magazines
  • taught the Health Educator program at Hippocrates Institute in Florida
  • served on the the board of governors of the International Association of Professional Natural Hygienists
  • served on the board of directors of the American Natural Hygiene Society


Some books he wrote:



It is a lot of information to absorb, however it worth your time as the information is coming from an individual who has first-hand experience in being both, an athlete and a raw foodist. Please agree with me, what is a better and most sure way to learn than listening to those who are already successful at what you want to be successful? Starting today, be sure to put to practice at least one of Dr. Graham’s advices.


If what you just read gave you a kick and now some thoughts are running in your head, please share them.





Main references:



  1. Very good article here, I’m not an athlete any more. My days are long behind me with athletics. But I have buddies who still go at it and take all kinds of proteins and muscle building supplements. I never knew you could go on a raw diet and be an athletic though. This article has shed some light on me that is literally mind blowing at the moment. I’m going to recommend this website to my friends and see what they think about it.


    • Thank you for commenting. Your friends and you will benefit from increasing the amount of raw produce and it doesn’t matter whether you are active or not. But yes, unprocessed vegan food definitely improves athletic performance given that you follow some rules.

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