How Do I Gain Weight on the Raw Food or Vegan Diet – The Renegade Health Show #43

Thursday May 1 | BY |
| Comments (30)

I get this question more than you would think…

Sometimes in comes in this form: “How do I gain weight on the raw food diet?”

Other times it’s: “Help, I’m losing weight too fast and I need help!”

Not that bad of an issue to have, but for some this means loosing muscle mass as well (I know, it happened to me).

Here’s my answer…

Your question of the day: What questions do you have about raw food, natural health, the vegan diet or how I think the Steelers did in the draft?

Click here, scroll down to the bottom of the page and add your question!

BTW: You can find out about Ruth’s Hemp Foods here…

Live Awesome!

PS. If you need a little motivation with your weight loss, I think our book might be a great fit for you. Check it out here:

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Bernadette says:

    Hi Kevin,

    We tried your burritos tonight and they were great. Thank you and Annmarie for the demonstration and the great recipe.

    Hempseeds are one of my favorite foods as well. They are very versatile and I like the fact that they are a complete source of protein, as well as a complete source of essential fatty acids, in all the right ratios.

    If anyone is looking for ideas on how they can incorporate hempseeds into their diet, here are a few ways it can be done.

    The first is to make hemp milk. You can store your seeds in the fridge or freezer and whenever you want to make milk, you can simply add a couple of tablespoons to the blender with water and make milk for cereal or just to drink by the glass. You can dress up the milk with a banana, walnuts, strawberries, vanilla, raw chocolate or whatever flavour you would like. Once the hemp milk is made, you can flavour it like you would almond milk. There is no need to soak hempseeds, unlike when you are making nut milk.

    Another way to incorporate hempseeds into your diet, is to add a few tablespoons on top of your cereal in the morning, just like you would add flaxseeds. It is also a good source of omega-3’s so hempseeds can be substituted for flaxseeds in this way and also in other recipes. I actually substituted it into the burrito recipe tonight instead of using ground flaxseed and it turned out really good.

    Another thing you can do, is eat hempseeds right off the spoon because they taste so good. They are also great for rolling date cookies in to make them look like tim bits and they really add to the flavour as well.

  2. Wendi Dee says:


    Have you experienced, or read anything about, the fruitarian diet? I’m curious because according to many fruitarians you won’t experience the jitters/sugar spikes if you are consuming a low fat diet. If there is fat in your bloodstream from a previous meal (even from the day before) it supposedly traps the sugar and keeps it in the blood longer than is ideal for your body (causing the jitters).

    I ate a lot of sweet fruits when I did a nine-day mono meal diet (with no added fats) not long ago. I didn’t experience the problems with the sugar, so there may be some truth in it.

    If it’s true, then maybe sweet fruits would be an ideal way to gain weight, as long as an individual is limiting fat intake to about 10% of his/her calories?

    I’m certainly no fruitarian expert, and haven’t lived a fruitarian lifestyle for an extended period of time to truly have any opinion one way or another about it. That’s why I asked if you have any knowledge about it. 😉

    Lots of love to you,


  3. Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

    I haven’t lived a fruitarian lifestyle either, so I can’t give direct knowledge of that specifically. It’s definitely extreme!

    I understand the blood sugar/fat argument in terms of hormones and insulin. If there’s too much fat in the diet, that will hinder blood sugar absorption…

    I’ve heard the sugar/fat jitters thing before, but I’m not buying it full on, ’cause I haven’t seen anything to back it up. 🙂

    Plus, just like anything else… if you eat a lot of sugar you don’t feel the high any more. (BTW: I’m not against sugar by any means!) You just need to test with yourself.

    One of the reasons I refuse to classify myself with my diet is because I like to test. I like to change it up and see what happens. Eat no sugar for 20 days and then eat something super sugary… or not eat meat for sometimes years and then try something and see how my body reacts. It’s a learning process and I always come out with new information. This knowledge, I then can take to you guys classified under my experience and encourage you to do your own experimentation. 🙂

    I’m hypersensitive to sugars no matter what type of diet I’m eating. (Unless it’s all sugar and then I feel like garbage all the time… which hasn’t been for years!)

    My most recent diet has been mainly sprouted and soaked grains (come cooked as well), green juice 36-48oz a day, salads and minimal fat (little olive oil… very few nuts and seeds), no fruit or agave sugar. Fruit sugars and even agave get me all fired up. My body seems to work AMAZING on that diet… at least for right now. 😉 I’m up early and energized all day long… no dizziness from low blood sugar or anything else like that… plus energy to run.

    So it’s an individual, body-sensing type process.

    Experiment and you’ll find out some awesome stuff!


  4. Trisha says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I’m a fitness competitor who lost too much muscle on a strictly raw diet which included lots of hemp, so I monkeyed around with things until I got it right (for me that is…:)) adding some regular vegan foods and some timing. I noticed people are talking about what to eat, but nobody is mentioning the timing and frequency of meals. That is really important as well and something you should maybe address when talking about gaining and losing weight and muscle, especially. What do you think?

  5. Denise says:

    Hi Kevin, I had already started to purchase hemp products after a previous show. I am testing all kind of new things as far as eating. I am learning a lot in the last year.
    I would like to ask Bernadette for her recipee for date cookies!! I just picked up some organic dates and was thinking about what I can do with them! Thanks!

  6. Lisa says:

    I love your show and I am recommending it to all my friends.You mentioned that you eat greens and grains. What kind of grains do you eat? What kind of grains do you sprout and how do you sprout them? How long do they last and how do you store them? When do you eat your grains and do you combine them with anything? Can you suggest some raw grain/sprouted grain recipes?
    Thank you

  7. Alicia says:


    Do you believe the muscle loss you experienced, and you’ve seen others experience, on raw foods was due to insufficient protein or calories? Or both?

    What’s your opinion of food combining and body type testing? And do you mind sharing why you personally have chosen to eliminate animal protein from your diet?

    I would love to see more recipes using Hemp seeds. I’m having a bit of a time getting my tastebuds to adjust to them. I’ve tried them in smoothies and they make my smoothie become this big brown, jello pudding like glob that is not appealing at all.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Love your show!

    I eat a dairy free and mostly vegetarian diet. I want to incorporate more raw foods into my diet but this is all very new to me. What are some of the basics that I should be aware of? For example, do I really need to wash the nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc.) that I buy? If so, how should I wash them? And is there a case when I should not wash them such as canned nuts?

    Also, what are your tools of the trade? I saw the vitamix, are there any other kitchen tools/appliances that you have found very useful? Is there anything you would recommend avoiding?



  9. Bernadette says:

    Hi Denise,

    This is the recipe for date cookies I learned at a raw food class, but I’ve changed it in many ways each time I’ve made them and they turn out just fine. It is a recipe where you can use whatever nuts, seeds and dried fruits you have in the house. What holds them together is the dates, but because I find dates so sweet, I have changed it to a combination of dates, agave and coconut oil. You will know if you have added enough by how well the cookies stay together. Keep in mind if you are using coconut oil, they will stay together even better once the coconut oil solidifies in the refrigerator. I will give you the original recipe and then some variations.

    Date Cookies
    yields about 2 dozen, 12 cookies)

    2 cups of almonds, soaked 8-12 hours
    1 cup of walnuts, soaked 4-6 hours
    3 cups of pitted dates, packed
    1 tsp almond extract or 2 tsp orange zest

    1. Grind the almonds and walnuts in a food processor fitted with an ‘s’ blade until coarsely chopped. Loosely separate dates and add along with almond extract. Process until mixed well.
    2. Using a tablespoon to measure, form small balls about 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
    3. Roll in whatever you would like, including hempseeds, dried coconut, chopped nuts etc.
    4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

    Variations can include raw chocolate powder, raisins, dried coconut, any dried fruit, any kind of nuts or seeds (include hempseeds).

    There is a great chart for soaking nuts in Jennifer Cornbleet’s book, “Raw Food Made Easy..for 1 or 2 People”. Here it is…

    Almonds 8-12 hours
    Walnuts 4-6 hours
    Pecans 4-6 hours
    Sunflower Seeds 6-8 hours
    Sesame Seeds 4-6 hours
    Cashews 2 hours

    Hope you enjoy the recipe.

  10. Bernadette says:

    Hi again Denise,

    If you do substitute coconut oil and agave for some of the dates in the date cookie recipe, use 1 – 1 1/2 cups of dates with no more than 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and up to 1/4 cup of agave.


  11. Alicia says:


    I would love to talk to you about being a vegan, fitness competitor.

    I don’t see that you’ve included a webpage here, can you please get in touch with me by using the “contact me” page on my website?

    Greatly appreciate it!


  12. Sonia says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I am trying to eat more raw, but the problem is, I don’t know what to eat! It would be great if you would give us a sample week’s menu of what you’d recommend for beginners. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and snacks.

    Do you still need to use the hemp protein supplement on a daily basis to keep your weight up?

    And, don’t we need the fiber from fruit to balance out the fiber from grains? Soluble and Insoluble?

    Thanks for sharing all this information with everyone. I look forward to your emails everyday. Keep up the good work!

  13. Hi Kevin,

    Great you address this topic. If people are new to raw food, they usually think there is hardly anything you can eat on a raw food diet, except for lettuce, tomatoes and apples.

    I think variety is very important, if you want to gain or keep weight.
    Don’t eat the same things all the time, but change often.

    Here are some more foods, that help to gain weight:
    Raw chocolate
    Goji berries
    Mesquite powder
    Sprouted grains, seeds and beans
    Soaked nuts and nut pâté’s
    Dehydrated crackers and cookies

    Before you know, you need to lose weight again … 😉
    A raw food diet can be as rich as a cooked diet, if you know what to do.

    For more information and free raw food recipes, take a look at:

    Have a wonderful day,

  14. Anita says:

    A topic to speak on is juice feasting.

  15. Dusty says:

    When I first went to a raw food lifestyle (about 90% or so) last year I lost tons of weight and didn’t even really notice till my family told me. If you want to gain weight you have to work out and use visualization techniques (meditations etc.) in addition to nutrition. I’ve found that eating primarily shakes (smoothies) and green smoothies with all the fiber and stuff still in it has helped me regain some mass on my body.

    I tried to eat lots of nuts and seeds like other vegan athletes have but I never really felt that great. Now I eat less than 10% fat daily (1-2 avocados, handful of nuts or so, maybe some olive oil a little when munching on greens if I already ate my avocado for the day) and that’s about it. I eat a bunch of different sprouts and a big bowel of sprouted quinoa everyday. Plus 1-2 green smoothies (a blender full) and all the fruit I want (but stay away from the really high sugar fruits like bananas).

    I lift weights and it seems to be working for me right now to gain some muscle mass back.

  16. Jeanne says:

    Hey Kev,
    I’m sure you didn’t really mean, ask questions on any subject, but you did say it so…
    (Inquiring minds want to know, hee hee.)
    I live in the Northern Hemisphere where the water should swirl in the clockwise direction when going down the drain. So, why does mine go down in a counter clockwise direction?
    Whadda’ ya’ think?
    Jeanne SDR

    Oh, I do have other questions, believe me. :0)

  17. Ron says:

    A bit off topic but I just have to ask…

    I noticed a picture on your desk of Annemarie and a hippie is the hippie you??? I use the term hippie in the most endearing scense not derogatory…

    I’m in the process of growing my back out for the first time in 23 years with my bald head I’ll look a bit like Ben Franklin, lol!

    Peace, Ron

  18. Bernadette says:

    Dear Annet,

    Thank you for the website info. I had fun watching Rhio make raw yogurt this afternoon.


  19. marlene says:

    I have been experimenting with raw food for the past two months and the one question that keeps coming up is How many vitamins, supplements do I need? Can there be such a thing as too many? I want to stay as healthy as I can, but it gets expensive with everything that is out there! How do I determine if I’m getting too little protein, too much and what vitamins/food am i lacking?

  20. Bernadette says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Thank you for mentioning me on your show. I really enjoy your videos and the blogs and have a shortcut to your website on my desktop. That way I can check in quickly to see what people are writing, because I do really enjoy it and find it very informative.

    Not sure if you will mind, but I’d like to answer Marlene’s question, above, because I was having the same problem for a long time.

    Hi Marlene,

    There is a website on the internet, where you can create a free account to help you analyze your diet. If you type in the foods you are eating everyday for a week, you will get a good idea of how much protein you are eating, as well as fats, carbs, fiber, etc…and whether you are short in any specific nutrients. After 2 years of using the free version, I bought the downloadable version, and I love it. It has helped me balance my diet tremendously.

    Also consider having a biomeridian test. You can find a health care practitioner who does this test by asking at a health food store. It is an amazing test that will measure your vitamin/mineral status and indicate what your food allergies are as well. It’s worth the money. You should also be able to find out what vitamin/mineral supplements are going to work specifically for you. These are 2 great places to start.


  21. Alicia says:


    I have an email going out to you but I wanted to post again here. After thinking on it some, I want to ask my previous questions in another way. I do want my questions above answered as well but this has been on my mind since you posted this video…

    I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised, since the nutrition map is not complete but in making the transition to raw/vegan, I really didn’t imagine that in the raw food world there would be almost as many contradictions and controversies over nutrition as there are in the “cooked” food world.

    Before transitioning to vegan/raw, I ate predominately veggies and animal protein. I ate sugars including fruits, grains and fats in small quantities. When I did eat fruit, I would eat it with a few nuts to offset the glycemic load. Although most fruits have a pretty low glycemic load anyway and the fiber makes them low on the insulin index as well, but just for an added measure, I ate them with nuts.

    I understand the science behind insulin and blood glucose. I’m assuming this is why in your video you caution about the sugar in bananas. Is that correct?

    So then you have raw foodists such as Frederic Patanaude, who’s philosophy is that you don’t have to worry about eating fruit at all and that instead its the over consumption of fat that leads to insulin resistance. Obviously we don’t want to over consume fat in the form of nuts or otherwise but I haven’t seen any scientific data that shows a direct link in nutritional fat to insulin resistance. In my years of research, did I miss the boat?

    I do agree, from my own research that grains are very difficult to digest but I wouldn’t agree you should avoid them all together, as he recommends.

    That said, I’m mostly following his raw food protocol because 1) I like fruit more than I like veggies and 2) he’s right about the calorie aspect. Since I’m eating very small amounts of nuts, seeds and grains, then I need the fruit in order to have enough calories in my day. I will be monitoring my blood glucose levels closely. Since diabetes runs in my family, I cannot afford to get this wrong. The whole reason for eating “healthy” is to avoid the genetic disposition to diabetes.

    So I guess my question to you is… Are you saying that what works best for you, personally, is eating mostly veggies, hemp and grains with a few nuts and seeds and hardly any fruit at all? Which is basically what I was doing when I wasn’t vegan, minus the animal protein, of course.

    I thought that going vegan would make things much simpler but I’m now wondering if, because of my specific concerns, it maybe a bit more tricky?

    I would greatly appreciate any advice, books or resources you can provide!

    Thank you!

  22. Alicia says:

    Ok so in going through my reference manuals, I found one reference. Lichtenstein, A.H. and Schwab, U.S. Relationship of dietary fat to glucose metabolism. Atherosclerosis 150(3): pp 227-243 June 2000

    This seems to indicate that saturated fat in the long term causes diabetes but its not conclusive.

    If there is a more current reference that you know of, please let me know.

    Thank you again!

  23. Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:


    Thanks for your research… here are a few more…

    From 2000:

    “Increased plasma free fatty acid concentrations are typically associated with many insulin-resistant states, including obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (24–27). In a cross-sectional study of young, normal-weight offspring of type 2 diabetic patients, we found an inverse relationship between fasting plasma fatty acid concentrations and insulin sensitivity, consistent with the hypothesis that altered fatty acid metabolism contributes to insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes (28). Furthermore, recent studies measuring intramuscular triglyceride content by muscle biopsy (29) or intramyocellular triglyceride content by 1H NMR (30–32) have shown an even stronger relationship between accumulation of intramyocellular triglyceride and insulin resistance. In a classic series of studies, Randle et al. demonstrated that fatty acids compete with glucose for substrate oxidation in isolated rat heart muscle and rat diaphragm muscle. They speculated that increased fat oxidation causes the insulin resistance associated with obesity (33–35). The mechanism they proposed to explain the insulin resistance was that an increase in fatty acids caused an increase in the intramitochondrial acetyl CoA/CoA and NADH/NAD+ ratios, with subsequent inactivation of pyruvate dehydrogenase (Figure 2, top). This in turn would cause intracellular citrate concentrations to increase, leading to inhibition of phosphofructokinase, a key rate-controlling enzyme in glycolysis. Subsequent accumulation of glucose-6-phosphate would inhibit hexokinase II activity, resulting in an increase in intracellular glucose concentrations and decreased glucose uptake.”

    From 2007:

    And this is similar to the one referenced above:

    This one above focuses on breaking down the fat by uncoupling proteins to increase metabolism and improve insulin resistance.

    So high fat = insulin resistane = impaired glucose metabolism… BUT…

    I’ve heard MANY people say that the “fat wraps itself around the cell” which I think is erroneous.

    From what I’ve read and from some of these studies above, it seems to be an issue of system overload of the liver and other processes that cause the insulin resistance, not a physical wrapping of the cell or anything anecdotal like that.

    Hope this helps!

  24. Alicia says:

    Thanks Kevin! I’ll look through it.

  25. Sara says:

    Hi Kevin,

    So I am one of a few raw foodists that have tried and tried to put on weight while eating raw and I have yet to gain a pound. Interesting your observation about the many that eat a primarily green smoothie/juice diet on the raw have a harder time gaining weight and that fruit seemed to be the way to go. Up until recently I had been avoiding most fruit because of my battle with candida and faulty digestion- not to mention the fact that much of the fruit is far to hybridized that is available here in nyc. I know quite a few people in the raw community- that advocate the 80/10/10 and/or fruitarian diet. I personally think everything in balance (greens, fruits, and fats rather than overdosing on any one). But regardless, I have yet to find eating more fruit or a mix of raw to put on weight. Also, I like the idea of the smoothie suggestion- but proper food combining would not allow for a banana to mix with the hemp seed- what is a better alternative as additionally I avoid the hybrodized fruits (ie bananas, dates, seedless fruits, etc). ?

  26. Scott says:

    Hi Sara:

    I opt for Plantains over bananas as the former is not hybridized (they have seeds!). If you live in NYC, Exotic Superfoods in Queens often carries organic Plantains for sale. For the record, I have no affiliation with Exotic Superfoods other than being a happy customer 🙂

    I too stuggle to keep weight on. I am now 145 lbs and 6 feet tall. I eat avocados pretty much daily, and consume hemp in many forms (seeds, protein powder, and oil). I do exercise, and run about 3 miles every other day so I am burning calories which needs to be replaced. I can only eat so many nuts and seeds as they are difficult to digest.


  27. Sara says:

    Hi Scott:

    Funny you mention Exotic Superfoods- as I was just there this past weekend for the durian party. I am glad you brought to my attention that Plantains are non-hybridized- I didnt know that was the case when I saw them there. I did purchase the baby bananas that Exotic sells and they are delicious!

    Thanks for the suggestions!


  28. qwan says:

    Good tips on putting on weight.
    But when you talked about the question, I was wondering, why would someone want to put on weight?
    Because for me losing weight is losing the extra fat on my body.
    Then when I saw your advice it is pretty obvious that with the hemp shakes people would put on muscle rather than fat as hemp is protein.
    But I still feel that on a vegan diet it is very difficult to put on fat.
    I was skimming the comments and I saw a discussion on fat. So I hope people don’t want to put on extra fat.
    I fee that exercise with a high protein diet should make any vegan put on weight easily

    I feel that if only diet is not recommended in losing weight then it should not be recommended in gaining weight too.

    I am very sure that a non-vegan or non-vegetarian diet without excercise will make the person only fatter which is not healthy.
    i feel in weight gaining any “gain” in weight should be muscle and maybe an increase in Bone density.

    Since you asked for other things that we have seen work.
    A friend of mine was too underweight to join the army and he was a vegan(religious belief). I do not know where he got the idea but he started eating 4 meals a day and an early morning snack.
    The morning snack was raw Bengal Gram which was soaked overnight(soaked since evening and then water changed again before going to sleep)
    The other 4 meals included assorted vegetables like carrot, beetroot, cabbage, radish, spinach, and many others which he would soak in hot water for 20 minutes or till the water cooled down. And then he would consume it raw.
    And then he did calisthenics only. That is around 100 pushups(in sets) pull ups, situps and crunch ups. Just basic excercise. No warmups and no cardio.
    He gained weight in 6 months. I cannot give you statistics but he really beefed up and you could make out the difference. I was a kid a then this was around 18year ago.
    He was quite famous for putting on weight on a raw diet(technically not raw as he soaked the veggies in hot water).
    During those day there was no raw food movement like today. And none of us knew about the benefits of raw food. I don’t know from where he got this advice too.
    But he put on real good weight.
    I still remember he would get his vegetables out in his yard and eat and it was a huge amount. it took him around an hour to eat it all.
    Another way people put on weight is by soaking bengalgram in water and eating raw on an empty stomach.
    Lot of wrestlers and bodybuilders in India do this to put on weight with some excellent results.
    Ofcourse they consume a lot of dairy products but they are vegetarians.
    But most of the time fast results are achieved with raw bengal gram, but all the advice and results are purely anecdotal.
    But I feel if you really want to do research or a study then Raw bengal gram soaked overnight is a good thing to start on.

  29. jason says:

    Check this raw food body builder
    natureboy (youtube
    wade mcnutt

  30. Rochelle Ellis says:

    Hi Kevin, and all viewers! (NEED HELP)
    just discovered your site by browsing ‘raw food’after reading the first two chapters of Leslie Kenton’s Powerhouse Diet. I have been working in health/wellbeing/counselling in UK for several years now after making huge changes to my lifestyle and losing around 90 pounds at a slimming club. I struggled to maintain this weight loss and have regained around 30 pounds over the last 2 years. I feel my body has reached a stalemate and I need a new approach, even with regular workouts, the plan no longer seems to yeild results and minor health problems still persist. The raw food movement is a new discovery for me and I am massively enthusiastic, particularly as it is backed up with such sound scientific research and findings. My problem so far though (got to it eventually!) is that I’m good from breakfast time to later in the afternoon when I feel an overwhelming urge for cooked foods and so called ‘normal foods’, carbs, protien, anything really!! My usual diet has no meat, no eggs, a little fish and I recently reintroduced a little organic dairy produce, I’m also a bit (ok a lot) of a chocoholic in the evening. As I am just starting out I aim for 50/50 raw/cooked. I start the day with all good intentions and behaviour – raw fruit smoothie with a sprinkling of dried sprouts powder (this always contains either banana or avocado, I love the creaminess), I follow with small bowl of organic wholegrain cereal or oatmeal made with no sugar soy milk. I have a mid morn snack of another piece of fruit with herbal tea, then for lunch I may have sprouted grain salad with tofu chunks, olives and a dressing made using a little organic, cold pressed omega oil blend. After this I begin to struggle but I wish I knew why. I start to feel like cookies and chocolate, even bread and butter! I’ve tried having a glass of Spirulina (algae) powder mixed with water between meals but to no avail. What can I do? Where am I going wrong? Can anyone offer any suggestions?

    loving the site,

    thanks guys,

    Rochelle 🙂

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