Here is the gist of a question I was asked recently:
One of the big questions I’ve had in transitioning to raw is whether I’d be able to work out as strenuously as I had before and whether my results would be slower, faster, etc, etc. What has your experience been? What is your experience/opinion on muscle growth on a raw food diet?
Basically, here is my take:
For those of you who don’t know, I used to be a competitive bodybuilder in my early twenties. I repeat, I was a bodybuilder (not a fitness gal, rather a hardcore, natural bodybuilder). This was PRE-Vegan, PRE-Raw.
It’s very hard to make a true comparison for my ability to gain muscle because I’m simply not comparing apples to apples. More than just my diet has changed over the past 10-years, which could contribute to different levels of muscle growth.
Age: Does This Make A Difference?
I was younger back then, and some say it’s easier to grow muscle as you age into your 30s, while others claim it’s easier the younger you are. Either way, it’s a contributing factor that doesn’t relate to diet.
Experience & Technique:
I’m more experienced in the gym now so my form and technique are better. This could enhance muscle growth and isn’t related to the food I consume.
Sleep: Big Difference And It’s Important!
Sleep (quality and quantity) is crucial for anyone in training. When you stress your body in trying to grow muscle, it’s critical to get extra rest and quality sleep. Muscle growth demands a lot from our bodies, and the major repairs from a heavy workout are typically taken care of while we sleep. This is something I didn’t do well in my bodybuilding days. Between going to college full-time and competing with a hectic schedule, I was short on sleep and rarely let my body rest. That’s different for me now. My lifestyle today (healthy diet, lighter daily schedule, etc) allows me to get plenty of sleep and rest. Furthermore, the quality of my sleep is so much better as a result of my diet. I used to toss and turn all night, because my body was busy trying to detox all the crap I was ingesting. Today, I sleep like a baby. Because of this, I feel my time in the gym is rewarded with better progress than it was ten years ago.
Nutrients vs Stimulants
This goes hand-in-hand a little with the topic of sleep. When I was bodybuilding, I consumed massive amounts of coffee and other stimulating, over-the-counter pills for energy, diuretics, and even some laxatives (to move all the protein I was eating through me). Because of this, the quality of my sleep was extremely poor.
Recovery: Faster and Better
Again, this relates to sleep and rest. One of the major improvements I’ve noticed since eating an High-Raw, All-Vegan diet is my recovery is faster. Therefore, the frequency and quality of my training increases and this supports muscle growth.
Attitude: Super-Powers Anyone?
When I eat as healthy as I do, I can’t help but feel like a super-hero. My mental outlook and attitude are those of feeling Strong, Empowered, Bad-Ass, and Unstoppable. This is important when I’m in the gym because it helps me get in that additional rep, and gives me that extra oompf to lift heavier.
Although it’s hard to get an accurate take as to whether my muscle growth is better today because of my diet, I’d like to think it is. I can’t say for sure because there are many things that have changed in my life which could impact my ability to grow muscle. However, I feel so much healthier, look healthier, sleep better, recover faster, etc. So, all in all, I’d say there is probably improvement. That being said, I don’t find myself in the same camp as some people who claim they’re gaining more muscle, at an accelerated rate, with a Raw diet. But, as I always say, everyone is different so it’s hard to compare yourself to others.