Is Raw Till 4 a passing food fad or can it transform your eating habits? Morgan Cerrone finds out…
If you haven’t heard “Go fruit yourself!” recently, then maybe you’ve managed to avoid the vegan YouTube explosion of Freelee the Banana Girl and the Raw Till 4 diet. A few months ago I began watching more and more of Freelee’s videos, and the more I learned about Raw Till 4, the more I wanted to try it for myself.
Raw Till 4, in essence, is exactly that. Only raw food until 4pm – seems easy enough. However, there then follow certain principles; the key ones being drinking 3-4 litres of water a day, no caffeine, 1,000 calories of raw fruit or vegetables for both breakfast and lunch, no oil and daily exercise. Oh, and you can eat as much as you want. It comes from a weight loss guidance perspective, but Freelee talks a lot about health, fitness and lifestyle too.
Since moving to Germany, becoming completely reliant on public transport and working a full time job, I thought it would make for an interesting experiment. How easy is it for the average person to follow the Raw Till 4 lifestyle? And perhaps more importantly, would the results make it worthwhile? Would I even see any results at all?
I decided I would follow the Raw Till 4 principles for two weeks – although I probably wouldn’t see any drastic health or weight loss changes in that time, it would give me a good idea of the practicalities of Raw Till 4.
My days started with 1,000 calories of fruit, usually a banana smoothie, and another 1,000 calories of fruit again at lunchtime. The adjustment to mono-meals, (meals with only one ingredient), was difficult as well as time consuming – prepping 1,000 calories of pineapple to take to work for breakfast really cut into my time. After work I would do some kind of exercise, mixing it up between the gym, jogging and brisk walking so as to keep it interesting. I aimed to drink between 2-3 litres of water a day and aimed for 8 hours of sleep. Without a doubt public transport became my biggest hindrance – carrying 30 bananas and numerous pineapples back on the bus after work, so they could ripen in time, was just as awkward as it sounds. I also don’t have a huge choice of supermarkets or grocers. It meant that buying vast quantities of fresh items was very expensive, and I often had to shop around, as my local supermarket didn’t have enough of what I needed, or in some cases nothing at all.
I would definitely have to say that Raw Till 4 is a lifestyle – I found with all the commitments that I seldom had any free time. One big weekly shop just isn’t going to cut it, so regular food shops meant much of my evening was often spent buying food, preparing food or tidying up.
Another aspect was challenging people’s reactions to it, as it seemed the majority of people weren’t convinced. Living in a rural German village, veganism is not the most practised lifestyle. Sitting down at work with 1,000 calories of pineapple seemed a much better way of alienating people than it was of getting them to ask questions about my reasons for my vegan lifestyle. For example, “How much does all that fruit cost?!” was a question frequently asked. Whereas sitting down to a hot lunch of chickpea curry and rice seemed to get people engaging more positively – perhaps because this is something they could see themselves preparing and enjoying. In the middle of winter, ‘pounding that fruit down’ just isn’t very appealing.
So there were definitely challenges, but I have to say, it did introduce me to different strands of veganism that I will continue to incorporate into my diet. Eating fully raw one day per week – one of the principles of Raw Till 4 – introduced me to raw veganism. Although not something I would want to do all the time, I did find recipes that I will definitely go back to. I also saw an improvement in no longer cooking with oil. Moderation is something I strive for, and I’m not sure I could commit to a lifetime without some pasta with a little drizzling of olive oil, but I will definitely work to improve reducing how much oil I cook with. I noticed in just two weeks that my skin had started to clear and that I felt much less lethargic after eating meals that hadn’t been cooked in oil.
I would say that, despite having a nightmare first three days without my usual six cups of black coffee to get me through the day, I did feel much better for avoiding it. Again, I’m still not nearly as convinced as Freelee that caffeine is so bad, but reducing my intake definitely helped me sleep better and gave me more energy. I found swapping to caffeine-free fruit teas made the transition easier, and I also drank more water as a result of not constantly having coffee. As far as results go, I noticed quickly that my workouts improved. I felt I had more energy and Freelee’s channel has a lot of different videos for home workouts, vlogs from the gym and cycling tips that really helped keep me motivated.
Positives and negatives
Raw Till 4 definitely has its positives and negatives – many of which could be avoided depending on lifestyle. For example, if you own a car, you’re not going to need to wrestle your own bodyweight in fruit and vegetables on the bus home every night! It could be seen as an investment in health, however I honestly believe a varied vegan diet is more practical and cheaper – I certainly spent much more on my weekly shop than I had ever done before, although again, this could be minimised by buying from a local independent grocer. Ultimately Raw Till 4 is a great way to benefit your health, provided you have the time investment, and while not something I would continue to follow, I will certainly be incorporating aspects of it into my future diet.
About the author
Morgan Cerrone is a student studying German at Cardiff University. She’s currently doing a year in Germany, where she is discovering what it’s like to be vegan in a very different culture.