Can Athletes Improve Their Performance With A Raw Diet?

Everyone has heard on more than one occasion about the benefits of eating raw foods and why they should not be missing from our diet. But can a raw food diet really improve our athletic performance?

Chef Matthew Kenney swears it’s possible. The quarterback of the Patriots Tom Brady obviously thinks the same and the first baseman for the New York Yankees, Mark Teixeira and star of women’s tennis circuit Venus Williams. These elite athletes have always incorporated raw foods into their diet, but for many it is becoming a conscious choice, even a strategy.

Know everything about the diet with raw foods and its benefits for your athletic performance.

What is a raw food diet?

The raw food diet consists of eating foods of vegetable origin in its purest form, which is the one that contains all the enzymes, nutrients and minerals. These foods are mainly made up of fruits, vegetables, nuts and cheeses that are not heated above 45º.

Like many practical advocates of raw foods, Kenney urges a diet that combines raw and non-raw foods. Some athletes eat raw foods 100% of the time, but most athletes add raw foods while eliminating some cooked, daily products and processed foods.

What are the benefits of raw food?

The raw foods are ideal for the athlete because they retain all their antioxidants intact. This will help to counteract the oxidative stress that occurs in our body when we perform intense physical exercise.

“Many athletes have all kinds of inflammations in their muscles during oxidation,” says Shanahan. “This inflammation has the ability to do some damage if it gets out of control. One of the mediators of the damage is free radicals. The job of antioxidants is to capture those loose free radicals that are bouncing around our tissue and damaging us. “

Shanahan works with strength and conditioning Coach Tim DiFrancesco and teams up with Chef Sandra Padilla to make sure the Lakers have a healthy diet while at home and in the field. They all make sure that the team is not eating the wrong foods.

The diet of Lakers team members is allowed if loaded with raw foods such as grazing animals, fermented and sprouted foods, nitrate-free products and fats from grazing animals such as butter, cream, and cheeses, including cheese cottage

The bone and skinless meats are out of this type of diet, while the meat with bone, the natural fats of their ribs and the stewed meats are inside. The Shanahan regime is similar in many ways to the Paleo diet, only that it pays more attention to certain details such as cooking oils.

What are the disadvantages of eating raw food?

There are lots of risks associated with raw foods, some obvious and some not so much.

The danger of pathogenic infections, particularly E. coli, increases with raw meat and daily consumption of raw foods. Therefore, if you are doing a totally raw diet and you want to include meats and dairy, do your research on the management and safe preparation of food.

It is widely known that completely raw fruits and vegetables have higher vitamin and mineral content, but Colorado State University professor Loren Cordain (founder of the Paleo diet) mentions that the difference between cooked and uncooked foods does not It is always drastic, and sometimes there is no difference at all.

In fact, cooking increases the nutritional value of some foods. For example, heating tomatoes decreases their vitamin C content, but it also makes lycopene (an anticancer compound found in tomatoes) to become more absorbable.

Cordain notes that uncooked foods can limit diet, like many grains, legumes, beans and tubers that are inedible in their raw state.

What raw foods can I include in my diet?

Do you want to add more raw foods to your athletic diet? These are the 16 raw foods that experts recommend if you are a beginner in this type of diet.

  • Raw cheese
  • Gherkins (pickles).
  • Avocado
  • Kale
  • Maca
  • Cocoa
  • Chia seeds.
  • Hemp protein.
  • Vegetable seeds
  • Goji berries.
  • Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Fresh vegetables.

Guide to follow a raw diet

How to introduce raw foods in my diet?

If you are interested in increasing the amount of raw foods in your diet, start slowly.

We are talking about changing habits. The best time to introduce new foods is when you are hungry. Choose a salad, partly sprouted or raw nuts, raw cheeses or pickles. Enter only a little of these raw foods, because after all your digestive system works at small steps.

How to obtain the necessary nutrients from raw foods?


Eat healthy fats such as avocados, cheeses, nuts, coconut and large fruits. Instead of eating 450 g of meat or a pasta dish, you can get the calories of whole meals such as a coconut milk shake with maca.


Eat sprouted grains. Quinoa is a good source, as are vegetables, nuts and seeds.


Eat fruits, vegetables and superfoods like raw cocoa, powdered maca and goji berries. You can also add hemp, cocoa or maca to the smoothies too.

How to start with a raw food diet?

Make it simple. Many of the new raw food consumers try to prepare gourmet meals, which can take a lot of work. Instead, start by adding a liquid component to your diet. Make green juices  or fruit smoothies .

You can get 60 to 1,000 calories in a blender full of smoothie with some super foods and healthy fats like coconut. These shakes are rich in nutrients, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare them.

Finally avoid this error: when it comes to a diet of raw foods, people often do not appreciate the balance. They can eat a large container of raw carrots at dinner, losing essential fats, or lose proteins from dried seeds and nuts, or omit all the minerals and iron they can get from vegetables and seeds.

Eating raw foods successfully means understanding where you get the energy your body needs.


A raw food diet is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, since raw foods preserve these components intact; however, if it is not a diet that has been planned perfectly, it can lead us to suffer several nutritional deficits.

On the other hand, raw foods for a healthy diet are completely necessary and especially interesting for the athlete; therefore, do not hesitate to progressively increase the presence of these foods in your diet.

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