My Two-Week Raw Vegan Bodybuilding Experiment

My Two-Week Raw Vegan Bodybuilding Experiment

Before I begin my in-depth “vegan meat head” analysis of the raw vegan diet, I’d first like to mention that I can’t believe how many peeps have expressed their interest in hearing my thoughts and feelings on this particular diet experiment.

And well, truth is, I’ve kind of delayed writing this post because I didn’t want to offend the raw foodies! But at the end of the day, I want to make it clear that ANY vegan diet is A-okay with me and like many things in life, it’s all about different strokes for different folks.

It’s funny how non-vegans think the standard “vegan diet” is sooooooo limited and difficult to stick with. And yet, they don’t even realize just how many variations of a vegan diet actually exist!

“80/10/10,” Raw until 4pm,” fruitarian,” “high carb/low fat…” Yes, these are just a few of the plant-based “diets” which my vegan brethren and I choose to follow. And at the end of the day, as long as nobody’s being killed, harmed or eaten and we’re still able to live a healthy, fruitful (no pun intended) life, then I say all the power to ’em!

may the fruits be with you

So what type of “raw vegan” diet did I choose to follow for my little experiment?

It was basically called the “I’m going to eat whatever the hell I want for two weeks so long as it’s a whole, unprocessed, unrefined plant food” diet. For those who don’t know what the textbook definition for “raw vegan” is, it basically entails that we do not eat anything cooked above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (or 46 degrees Celsius for us Canadians.) Raw vegans eat this way because they believe that any food cooked above this temperature has lost its enzymes and nutrients. And many raw foodies often report health benefits such as weight loss, more energy, clearer skin, improved digestion and improved overall health.

My reasoning for going raw was simple. I wanted to give my body a break from eating the same vegan “bodybuilding” type foods every day. And I wanted to cleanse my body of all the vitamins and supplements I take, the soy, coffee, protein powder and essentially perform an “internal cleansing” if you will. And more than anything, I was curious to see what kind of positive and/or negative effects I would experience as a vegan bodybuilder consuming nothing but earth-grown, whole foods.

sam shorkey raw vegan bodybuilding diet experiment

I had it all mapped out. I journaled my daily findings. I determined how many calories I would consume, where I was going to get my protein from, what my six daily meals would be. I even bought a dehydrator, thus taking my raw veganism to SUPER HARDCORE status!

And how did it go? Here is my “Two Sentence Summary” for each of the 14 days.

DAY 1 – I’m so excited to be eating this much fruit!! I probably shouldn’t be throwing back this many dates though… And yet, I can’t stop…”

sam shorkey fruit all day raw vegan problems

DAY 2 – Wow, cleaning this juicer is a HUGE pain-in-the-ass… But I’m loving how I FEEL drinking all this green juice! Coffee withdrawal headaches are, however, STRONG today.

DAY 3 – I do seem to look leaner today. Could this be due to how many times I’m crapping? Seriously, I thought I went a lot as a “regular” vegan (no pun intended.) But this shit is CRAZY!!! (Pun INTENDED!)

DAY 4 – I’m kinda diggin’ this whole raw thang. I never have cravings. And I’m not feeling deprived or even missing cooked foods or coffee! I actually kinda dig starting my day with green juice.

drinking green juice all day everyday

DAY 5 – Okay I’m really starting to hate this effing juicer clean-up. And for real, the constant shitting is getting outta control!!!!!!!!!

DAY 6 – Today was “Leg Day” at the gym. Otherwise known as “I Just Devoured an Entire Package of Medjool Dates Day.”

DAY 7 – Went for a morning run and noticed how much lighter I feel. Could also be due to my early morning run TO THE BATHROOM (thanks to yesterday’s 2 lb. box of dates hog fest!) I feel lighter but I look so much softer.

DAY 8 – Today I used my new dehydrator and made “raw crackers” with all my leftover juicer pulp. That’s right. I’m hardcore raw vegan now.”

DAY 9 – Today was rough. My digestion was not good at all and I’m feeling pretty over it whilst I eat this bowl of cold, sprouted quinoa. I miss tempeh.”

DAY 10 – I tried to get creative with my cooking and made a raw zucchini lasagna and super tasty, fat-laden mint chocolate bars. So many nuts and dates but damn, they were good.

mint chocolate raw bars

DAY 11 – EFF THIS SHIT. I’m so over sprouting! And beans! AND cleaning this stupid, piece of s&*! juicer. Give me that bag of dates and jar of raw almond butter and leave us alone!

DAY 12 – Okay Shorkey, you gotta finish this raw diet strong. Nothing but juice and salad for these last two days. You can do this. Dates and nuts, you have FAILED ME! I still love you though.

DAY 13 – So…. close….to… being…. DONE…. Man, my workouts have sucked this week. Though interestingly enough, I’m convinced that raw vegan farts are completely odorless.

DAY 14 – Well, my skin sure looks clear & vibrant! And who knew that “juicer pulp raw crackers” would become my new fave snack?! But seriously, I am beyond stoked to cook up some veggie soy-sages and kale tomorrow.

leftover juicer pulp raw crackers - sam shorkey raw vegan experiment

In conclusion, what did I learn? What did I take away from this experiment? And would I recommend a raw diet to other vegans and vegan bodybuilders?

Well, I certainly don’t regret this two week experiment. And you know what the biggest benefit I discovered was? Going raw completely reset my metabolism and literally made ALL sugar cravings go away completely.

I’m proud to say that I’ve been back on my high-protein, low-carb “vegan meat head” diet for almost three weeks now and in this time, I have not eaten one bite of dessert or sweet treat other than fruit. I just haven’t even cared for it. I’ve also lessened my coffee consumption by half which is HUGE for the former 3 – 4 cups a day I was having prior to going raw.

And I’m obsessed with dehydrating…. tofu. I know, I know. It has nothing to do with being “raw” and I can just imagine the raw foodies rolling their eyes right now. But what can I say? You can take the soy out of my diet for two weeks. But you can’t take the meat head out of me. 😉

spicy tofu jerky

All in all, I’m really glad I gave this a go and stuck it out. And I sincerely do encourage others to give it a try. I would like to follow a similar diet every few months but maybe just for one week instead. Two weeks did seem quite long for me but MAD RESPECT to the raw foodists who follow this time-consuming lifestyle year-round. Seriously, I thought MY bodybuilder meal prep was a big enough pain-in-the-ass…

Anyway, I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying that a raw diet just wasn’t ideal for my particular goals and lifestyle. I love my protein and personally, I just feel best when it makes up the majority of my daily calories. Nevertheless, I’ll take a 2 lb. box of Medjool dates over a brick of tofu ANY DAY!

Though my protein powder-covered tofu jerky wasn’t half-bad either 😉

protein powder covered tofu jerky

-Samantha Shorkey, Jacked on the Beanstalk


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20 comments

  • Annie: December 22, 2015

    What tells you that you reset your metabolism? And now that you’re back to normal eating, does that mean you don’t crave dates? You said your sugar cravings are gone. I’m just wondering what I might expect. I’m glad to hear you didn’t have to cut back on workouts. That’d be a deal-breaker, man.

  • Sam: December 17, 2015

    That’s a damn good point, Marion. I could totally write it off. My website is part of my business right? And I’d be recipe posting with that bad boy ALL THE TIME! Good call! 2016 WILL be the year of my Vitamix purchase :)

  • Marion Poliquin: December 16, 2015

    I doubt the final result is the same, but it does get nice and chewy, even a bit crispy, when you microwave it a few minutes. I was going to make a joke about how high-end blenders ought to be a deductible expense, but then I thought that you being a fitness pro you might as well look into it. Stranger things have happened!

  • Sam: December 15, 2015

    Hi Beth! I’d say that it was more beneficial for my insides than the outside. I don’t think I lost muscle because I was still hitting the gym and only followed the diet for two weeks. But it definitely didn’t make me look harder or leaner. BUT I was also eating wayyyy more sugar, carbs and fats than my body is used to so naturally, I got soft-looking. But like I said in the post, it totally reset my digestion and I think it was the perfect way to start the current photoshoot prep I’m on. So I would totally recommend that anyone do a week of raw (and stick to juice and salads as much as possible) before starting a competition/photoshoot/vacation “get lean and hard” prep :) Energy levels varied. Sometimes I lifted like a beast (thanks to the dates!) and other times, I was much weaker than usual. Hope this helps! Let me know if you try it for yourself and what you experience!

  • Beth: December 15, 2015

    Hey Sam! I’d like to know what effect, if any, it had on your body? You only mentioned that once, in saying that you looked softer. Did you have more or less energy getting thru your workouts, and did you get soft/bloaty/lose muscle tone? Thanks!!

  • Sam: December 15, 2015

    Awww glad it went so well for you! 21 days sounds like torture haha but I will agree on the sleep and skin! I did feel like I had great energy for the most part but some workouts were tough. And sadly I couldn’t bring my juicer to the gym with me ;)

  • Sam: December 15, 2015

    Yeah for sure you should do the raw diet for a week! And honestly, the protein powder “sweet” jerky was nothing to write home about. It’s at least not worth a blog post recipe haha.

  • Sam: December 15, 2015

    Haha oh how you remind me of me :) Honestly, I keep wondering if I’m only using the dehydrator to this day in order to justify its purchase. I did not know you could make tofu jerky in the microwave. I have to believe it tastes better in the dehydrator. But yeah, if you don’t have much time or patience for cooking and random appliances, I vote don’t bother. PS – I’m jealous you have a Vitamix!!!!!

  • Vicki Strickland: December 14, 2015

    I did a 21-day raw vegan reset last summer. It was tough, but man, did I ever feel amazing. I had been on some medication temporarily and felt the need to flush it out of my system. The biggest things I noticed were clearer skin, shinier hair, incredible, sustained energy and I slept amazing! This was before I started lifted and training, however. Good for you!

  • Marion Poliquin: December 14, 2015

    My honeymoon with the juicer was also very short. Long live the Vitamix! Question about the dehydrated tofu: is it really worth it over just throwing it in the microwave for a few minutes to turn it into jerky? I’ve been curious about dehydrators, but I’ve really been burned by the juicer and I’m pretty sure it’s just too much bother for me.

  • Becky: December 14, 2015

    great article! I’ve flitted with doing some more raw stuff, particularly when you’re feeling a bit bloated or generally bleugh so I might try a wee experiment too. Thanks! P.S. protein powder tofu jerky…? what!!! I need that!

  • Sam: December 22, 2015

    Hi Annie!! What I mean is that sugar is a highly addictive substance. And when you’re constantly feeding your addiction with something processed and sugary everyday, your body will continue to crave it which in turn makes you give into temptations THAT much more easily and/or more frequently. But when I did the raw experiment, I was using natural sugars as my main energy source. And when the experiment was over and I went back to my high protein, low carb diet, I suddenly didn’t feel the need to consume ANY kind of sugar. And here I am, one month since the experiment, three days before CHRISTMAS, surrounded by treats galore and I’ve STILL not eaten one piece of sugar OTHER than fruit. So I do believe that the experiment cleansed my body of all processed foods and made me not crave those things anymore. And yeah, I was still hitting the gym as OFTEN as I normally would but some days, I just didn’t have the same energy and strength as I would normally have. But other days, I was lifting as heavy as I normally would. I think the key was loading up on fats and high sugar stuff like dates or a banana PRE-workout. Hope this helps. Try it out and let me know how it goes for you!

  • Sam: June 02, 2016

    Damn you’re good! Thanks for the insight, Alyssa!! I’m definitely more into smoothies rather than juices now. And I’m still keeping the sugars pretty low but that’s what works for me when I’m getting lean. But yeah, I definitely eat some starchy complex carbs when sugar cravings run high and that always helps. Appreciate your tips and all the best!!

  • Alyssa monroe: May 31, 2016

    The reason you were feeling weaker sometimes was probably due to the large consumption of juice. This is also why you went to the bathroom so much (and just detoxing in general does that). When you juice you get rid of all of the fiber, which our bodies need. Juice is great, but it should be consumed in moderation and as a snack. Especially green juice. It generally isn’t very calorie dense which can lead to under eating and feeling week. Sugar cravings for fruit just means your body needs carbs. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body and the brain so never fear fructose (plant sugar).

  • Cherrie: September 05, 2016

    Hey. Loved your article. Is there anywhere I can see what you actually ate and recipes?

  • Sam: November 20, 2016

    Hi Cherrie! So sorry for the delayed response but I knew I had written down all kinds of notes about the food plan I was following and couldn’t find it until today! So here goes! Basically I was trying to consume about 2,000 calories daily and getting most of my protein from green peas, pumpkin seeds and sprouted beans and lentils. My pre and post carbs were mostly sprouted buckwheat and rolled oats and fats came from almonds, avocado and coconut butter. Then I ate a TON of leafy greens and parsley for nutrients and dates and bananas to keep me from passing out :) Hope this helps!

  • Sam: March 28, 2017

    Awww thank you, Barbara. Glad you liked it! I actually like to go raw every summer for a couple weeks myself. I plan to do it again this summer so I’ll try to post all about it and hopefully give you some more insight :)

  • Barbara: March 28, 2017

    That was hysterical! I’m considering going vegan raw for the summer. I really enjoyed your article.

  • Sam: June 25, 2017

    Hi Kevin! Aww thanks so much for the kind words and sharing your own experience. K so first off, I have a suggestion for you to include more greens. I saw one of Bite Sized Vegan’s videos once where she said she wraps a Medjool date inside a lettuce leaf. So whenever I go on my little raw spurts, I try to practice restraint on my date binges and I find this is a good way to do so. I usually wrap my dates inside a piece of organic romaine or leaf lettuce. But yeah, you definitely need to get more greens into you! Have you tried my morning matcha green smoothie recipe? You could try subbing your same repetitive meal for one smoothie everyday and toss some frozen spinach, a baby cucumber, some fresh mint leaves, fresh ginger and turmeric (great anti-inflammatories for you as an active vegan.) And ups your greens intake. I’ll have to try your fave meal either way. Although the thought of avocado in a granola-type bowl sounds rather putrid, I did just tell you to eat a date inside a hunk of raw lettuce. :) Either way, glad you enjoyed my post and I sincerely appreciate you sharing your own fave recipes. I plan to go raw for most of the summer again this year so I’ll no doubt be posting more weird but surprisingly tasty recipes soon :)

  • Kevin: June 24, 2017

    Your writing amuses me as I hardly chuckle or “LOL” at an article I’m reading but you really seem to capture some good (tofu?) nuggets here! You have better puns _ I’ve been raw for about 6-9 months now (4 years total vegan) but of course I still eat cooked food each week as a treat. Here’s what I’ve noticed: Yes — clearer skin, my skin is better than most girls I meet _ (I’m a guy, so I didn’t even know this was a benefit!) I’m much much less hungry than I used to be. In fact, with my raw foods, I’m way more full and satiated than when I was eating like rice/sweet potatoes, cooked beans, tofu etc My workouts, especially sprinting goes amazingly when I stick with it. Weight lifting is strong when I stick with it, I do an HIT circuit, with push/pull/legs days. It works amazing (look up Drew Baye or Dr Doug McGruff, body by science) Energy levels are pretty amazing, there are some days I have to “come down” from being so high, and it can take me a few minutes in the evening to settle for bed.. But sleep is amazing! I think its two fold that my digestion is much better and the raw foods allow me to sleep well as my tummy is satisfied and calm. Here is my diet in a nutshell (another pun? you’ve got me started :P): Breakfast — I make my bomb ass bowl of cereal, which I take with me on the go, its sooo good I do not mind eating it everyday! 1 cup sprouted buckwheat (just started dehydrating it so I’ll have a ton ready to go!) 5 tbsp hemp seeds 1 avocado 5 bananas (500 grams) 1 cup Almond milk 1 scoop raw garden of life meal replacement Lunch — You’re gonna hate me, I eat the same thing for lunch!! “ditto on breakfast” :P Dinner — Sometimes same thing haha, But now that I have the dehydrator I plan to make better stuff (whatever that is!) Overall its 3k calories, with all my micronutrients hit, and I’ll add good salt to keep sodium up. And it has about 140-160 grams of protein. I was originally aiming to hit my macros, I wanted a 60/20/20 carb protein fat mix (sometimes higher on the fat). And get a hell of a lot of omega-3s in because the conversion from plant matter is pretty low from ALA to DHA/EPA (like potentially 1%) I’ll also throw in some coconut I that I make into coconut butter with my juicer, and dates that I turn into date paste and use in the cereal. You’ll notice that I don’t eat a lot of greens, and I really ‘should’ I just generally don’t like greens that much! What I can say is that I find this way much easier and way less time consuming. When I started eating this way it was because I was working so much and literally had no time to cook in the mornings or evenings, so I had to figure out a ‘get up and go’ plan. I also juiced for a while, but as you said it can be very time consuming. Okay I just wanted to throw my $.02 in there. Hope everything is going well for you! Fun to read this post, I’ll prob dig through and read more! Yours warmly, Kevin

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