Eating a diet of mostly raw plant-based food may be the Holy Grail of weight loss. At least that’s according to the Rev. George Malkmus and his wife, Rhonda, who developed the biblically inspired Hallelujah Diet.
Malkmus claims his change to a diet of raw fruits, vegetables, and carrot juice saved his life after a cancer diagnosis more than 35 years ago.
The Hallelujah Diet consists of 85% raw and unprocessed plant-based food and 15% cooked plant-based food.
Why? The authors claim that meat can “get trapped” in our system, delay elimination, and cause toxicity and illness. The cornerstone of the program is the belief that eating raw foods is the best way to get the nutrients you need, restore damaged cells, and have long-lasting health.
How you eat is as important as what you eat on this vegan diet. The Hallelujah Diet recommends juicing fresh vegetables (especially greens) and fruits. Supplements, available from parent company Hallelujah Acres, are also recommended to help meet your nutritional needs.
What You Can and Can’t Eat
The raw portion of the diet includes fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, oils, fats, seasonings, and dairy alternatives.
Drinks include freshly extracted vegetable juices and re-mineralized distilled water.
Steamed vegetables, baked sweet potatoes, whole grains, whole-grain pasta, squash (baked or steamed), and beans are among the cooked foods allowed.
As with any vegan diet, no meat, dairy, or eggs are allowed. If you’re accustomed to a nightly glass of wine, you’ll have to find a new way to unwind. Alcohol is not permitted on the plan. Neither are most soy products, processed fruits and veggies, refined grains, and certain nuts, seeds, oils, seasonings, soups, and sweets.
Level of Effort: High
This diet will probably be a radical change in how you eat. You start the diet by choosing one of three “entry paths” you want to take: Boost Your Health, Live Healthy, Restore Your Health. These choices guide your diet.
Limitations: It can be hard to transition to a diet of mostly raw foods. The diet requires a lot of planning and preparation. Supplements are also encouraged to be taken at specific times throughout the day.
Cooking and shopping: Expect to spend a lot of time at the grocery store loading up on fresh fruits and veggies. You may have to seek out a specialty store if your local grocer doesn’t carry many dairy alternatives. A lot of prep work is involved for juicing, but there’s minimal cooking on this primarily raw plan.
Packaged foods or meals: Not required. But the Hallelujah Acres Marketplace sells vitamins, supplements, snack bars, and more online.
In-person meetings: None required, although dieters can attend healthy living workshops and seminars.
Exercise: Expect to exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.
Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?
Since the diet is primarily plant-based and vegan, it is appropriate for vegetarians, vegans, and those following low-fat, low-salt, or gluten-free diets.
What Else You Should Know
Cost: Fresh fruits, vegetables, and juices can be costly, but Malkmus says it's possible to follow the diet on a limited budget. Cutting out meat, dairy, white flour, sugar, salt, and junk food can save money, he says. If you take the recommended supplements, they could cost you more than $2,000 a year.
Support: None, but you can find more information about the Hallelujah Diet and lifestyle on the Hallelujah Acres website.
What Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD Says:
Does It Work?
Eating more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and beans -- and cutting out animal and processed foods -- can improve your health and weight. But there is no evidence that this type of diet can cure cancer.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?
Health experts recommend eating more plant-based foods to prevent and treat various health conditions. This mostly raw, vegan diet is low in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium. It can be good for people with hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
But because this plan is vastly different from how most people eat, recommending mostly raw, plant-based foods with no animal products, it's a good idea to check with your doctor first.
The Final Word
The pros? This plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans that can help improve your health and weight. The cons are that raw food diets can lead to low levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium. You may need to take supplements or eat fortified foods to make up for the missing nutrients.
This plan also may be a challenge to stick to because there’s not much wiggle room for eating sweets or drinking alcohol.
Check your weight regularly to make sure it doesn't drop to an unhealthy low. This plan may not be good for people over age 65 or who are already at a low weight.
This diet is good for you if you want to take your mostly vegetarian diet to the next level. It may also work for you if you have family history of high cholesterol, as vegan diets are known to lower heart disease risk.
But if you enjoy animal products and fitting in moderate amounts of low-nutrient foods and alcohol, this diet may be too challenging for you.