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Conflicting info with Dr. Gabriel Cousens - went to a workshop of his yesterday

Hey fruity folk,

I'm feeling a bit conflicted with some information I learned recently.

Yesterday I went to a workshop titled "Secrets to Thriving On A Raw & Plant-Based Diet" in Chicago led by Dr. Gabriel Cousens. There is a lot of information he shared that conflicts with much of the 80/10/10, HCLF vegan lifestyle. He's NOT an advocate for eating large quantities of fruit and reccomends sticking to cherries, berries, green apples since they are lower GI. 

Let me share what he had on his slides concerning carbohydrates, sugar, and fructose:

- "Consuming fructose is associated with impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood fats, and hypertension. 'Even though fructose has no immediate effect on blood sugar and insulin, over time... It is likely a cause of insulin resistance and thus the increased storage of calories as fat.'"


  • In a 2012 UCLA study published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers found that a diet high in fructose over time can damage your memory and learning ability.
  • Fructose is directly associated with causing diabetes, especially high fructose corn syrup.
  • Because fructose is primarily metabolized in the liver, it has been associated with a high level of non-alcoholic fatty degenerative liver (NAFLD) "


  • People with chronically high fasting blood sugar (or high blood sugar in general) have an increased  incidence of cancer of the: breast, prostate, ovaries, endometrium, intestines, stomach, colorectal area, rectum, and pancreas.
  • Cancer cells love glucose 10 to 50 times more than normal cells do
  • Cancer cells love fructose at least 10 times more than glucose
  • According to a study in the Oncologist, which included almost half of Type-2 diabetics in Sweden, it was concluded that the risk of cancer escalated in direct correlation with blood sugar levels, even among people without diabetes.
  • Cited in the Oncologist was a particualr increase in the endometrial, pancreatic, colon, and colorectal tumors.
  • In a study of 752 women with endometrial cancer an association was confirmed between NIDDM [noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus] and an increased risk of endometrial cancer.
  • Amonst 22 endometrial cancer patients in one study, those with high hyperinsulinemia (insulin resistance) had significantly more steroid hormone receptors in the tumor area, compared with patients with low insulin.
  • In 102 cases of colorectal cancer, researchers have found that those with the highest levels of fasting glucose had almost twice the increased risk of colon cancer
  • American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - people who consume a large amount of processed sugar each day are at much higher risk of pancreatic cancer, which kills about 30,000 Americans each year."


  • We are not designed to handle 3-5 times greater fructose THAN THE 15-25 gms which si found to be safe."


  • CDDs, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, & diabetes.
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Gout
  • Kidney stones
  • Depression
  • Brain inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Accelerated aging
  • AGE's"

- "The cornerstone of all degenerative conditions, including brain disorders, is inflammation. 'Gluten and a high carbohydrate diet stimulate inflammatory pathways that reach the brain.' -David Pearlmutter, MD, Grain Brain"

- "Australian National University in Canberra published in the Journal Neurology: People whose blood sugar is on the high end of the 'normal range' have a much greater risk for brain shrinkage. This ties directly into the story of type 3 diabetes."

-"In Fall 20212 the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published research from the Mayo Clinic:

People 70 years and older eating a high-carbohydrate diet have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) - a precursor to Alzheimer's."

-"When blood sugar goes up, neurotransmitters go down...

When blood sugar increases, there is an immediate depletion of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and dopamine."

- "FAT -not carbohydrate- is the preferred fuel of human metabolism and has been for all of human evolution"


25-45% fat

10-20% protien

25-45% carbohydrate"


I'll stop there. As you can see, much of this information completely conflicts with the HCLF raw vegan lifestyle, except for the part that advocates eating raw and vegan.

Someone asked him if the sugar in fruit versus the sugar in high fructose corn syrup was metabolized differently in the body, and he said it was not. Fruit has added nutrients, but your body recognizes sugars all the same.

Also, during Q & A time a young woman asked him what he thought about 80/10/10 for weight loss, since she has seen a lot of youtube videos and content on the web advocating it, and he responded by telling her that carbs make you fat and raw, plant-based fats do NOT make you fat.

He also stated that we are genetically unique human beings with different histories, so different live foods diets will be optimal for different people. I wanted to know how one would find out which diet would be best for oneself, other than through trial and error, and when I asked he told me that there was a questionnaire in his book "Conscious Eating," where I could find that out. I have a copy my friend let me borrow and I'm going to look through it later today.

I'm all for doing what is the best for myself and will adapt to a different lifestyle if it is optimal for my health. I have been following Freelee & Durianrider's version of 80/10/10 for 9 months with little results ( I gained 18 lbs and have lost 2 about 2 months ago, so a net of +16 lbs). I also had bloodwork done about 6 months into the HCLF (1-3 days fully raw, most days raw till 4), and I found everything within normal ranges, but my triglyceride levels were too high. A part of me really wants to keep on following the HCLF lifestyle, but another part of me wants to try Dr. Cousen's suggestions to see if I get better results that way.

I'm feeling confused and conflicted. I'd really appreciate any input. Scientifically backed information from credible sources is appreciated too!!

Thanks in advance.

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I watched some of his videos a long time ago...I was a high fat vegan for years, it was one of the worst periods of my life...low energy, sick all the time, weak...etc etc etc. I tried it a 2nd time making sure I got enough calories and all my nutrients...still felt horrible. On a low fat diet I feel great. As far as responding to his ideas point by point, a lot of this stuff is "bro science", if he is advocating a raw vegan diet (doesn't he suggest animal products like yoghurt????) I don't have a problem with him, but for me that sort of diet was a disaster, maybe for others it work ok.

Thanks for the reply and for sharing your experience! I went fully raw for about 3 months with higher amounts of fat about 2 years ago and felt great at first, but was definitely eating WAY too many nuts and had super oily skin. My fat intake had to be at least 50% of my overall macronutrient ratio. No bueno. I didn't gain more than 5 lbs that I lost pretty easily by upping my physical activity when I was going through this 2 years ago. I feel pretty good most of the time following a HCLF vegan lifestyle, but there are times I would really like to lose the excess weight, since my back is suffering the consequences and impacting my quality of life.

one important aspect: high blood sugar is not related to carb-consumption but fat consumption...

for many of the studies, you should also consider, that not whole foods were used, but  processed extracts.

reading 80/10/10 and some of the other books e.g. durianrider usually recommends (neal barnard, china study, esselstyn, ...) might give you some more knowledge to back the HCV lifestyle :)

but yes, self-experiments are a great way to see how the theory works for you. you could try 30 days fully raw 80/10/10, and then 30 days according to Cousen...

what were your non-raw food choices?

Thanks so much for sharing some things to consider! Dr. Cousens actually did a comparison between the diet he reccomends, Dr. Esselstyn, & Dr. Ornish. I've attached a chart he included in his presentation. He said that Dr. Esselstyn prescribed statin medications, which are great for blood pressure, but terrible for diabetes. I'm starting to better educate myself on plant-based nutrition and really appreciate your book recommendations. When I eat non-raw, it's usually rice or potatoes and steamed veggies, sometimes a little bit of quinoa and legumes. I don't use oil or salt. I do use lime/lemon and fresh/dried herbs. I average about 2,500 - 3,000 calories a day, depending on my hunger and activity level. I think I'm going to try 30 days according to Cousen's guidelines after I get through my bananas, rice, and potatoes. I have a stash that will last me another week or so.


This is all part of the reason I took up endurance sports. A lot of what he is saying is wrong and doesn't make sense. However, there are lots of unprovable scientific theories floating around out there, and trying to take them head on can be frustrating. I focus on training, measurable goals, and seeing where my body is at. I have tried training using every kind of fuel imaginable and only with fruit am I feeling lighter, stronger, faster, less recovery time, more focused, beating more talented and highly skilled athletes, etc.

One thing I have been doing lately, (but you have to be careful not to calorie restrict!!!!), is "Watery Fruit Till 4". I drink 3-4L of water on an average day. But instead of having a big banana smoothie in the morning 1 hour after my water, I eat an entire watermelon, cantaloupe, or papaya. Then my heavy meals of bananas come in the afternoon or early evening. For late dinners I like huge organic lettuce salads (squeeze lemon on top, chop cucumbers, sometimes add the sliced organic or grapeseed tomatos organic but I'm on the fence about tomatoes).

Also, train....with specific goals. and measure your training. If you don't have a workout regimen with performance goals (as opposed to just working out to try and look skinny) your fitness won't get there IMO.

All this worked for me...I'm super lean...but most people aren't open to train as hard as I do, or put as much time and effort into constantly trying to improve their diet, as me. Its not that I'm special, quite the opposite, I just had a lot of tough circumstances that gave me a push into this lifestyle so after years I've finally stopped messing around.

sound's awesome! I like the idea of watery fruits during the day and heavier one's in the evening. The past weeks I also focused on watery fruits and I feel like I have more energy with them and they digest better :)

I'm also interested in your training... how much, how intense... are you on strava? since it's off topic, maybe we continue via pm...

I'm interested in his training too! I'm on Strava as Erica Bee Vegan... add me :)

Thank you so much guys. I have a reason to use Strava now. I'll find you both on there....

I'm always a bit skeptical until I have more proof and results. That's great that you've been able to find what works for you! I may just need a bit more patience. I've been undoing damage from a decade of dealing with an eating disorder starting 9 months ago. I haven't had any relapses since then thanks to the HCLF lifestyle and expanding my awareness.

Your dedication to your health is inspiring... thanks for sharing your tips. I was doing something similar... I'd have half of a watermelon in the morning and have my banana smoothie for lunch time. Dinnertime would usually be a green salad with potatoes, rice, or steamed veggies.

He's confused with all the money in his eyes...

LOL! Thanks so much for this!! This is exactly what I needed to see/hear.

Please read rebeccaj's post here, she worked for him:

I worked for him.

The WHOLE premise behind his eating program is to keep the glycemic index levels of the food very, very very very low. He has 3 dietary plans: Phase 1, Phase 1.5, and Phase 2. In Phase 1, you are allowed ZERO fruit or sweeteners, bar a few berries. Phase 1.5 you can start to add in some apples if you're very careful, and Phase 2 is the most lenient, and you can have apples, oranges, berries and some other "low glycemic" fruit. Ironically, Phase 2 also includes the usage of dried fruit, soaked, as sweetener, but not the fresh version of the same food. in other words, we used raisins and dried figs to make things sweeter, but we never, ever had grapes or fresh figs. The word "fat" never comes up in any discussions. It's all about making things very low-glycemic. We prepared foods with several kinds of fat in it at once - nuts and seeds and oil and avocados and olives all in one dish! - as well as plenty of salt and spices and yes, superfoods. Dessert was only served once a week, at Sunday brunch, and was usually a nut-based cookie with cacao or similar. Every meal also included a huge salad bar with lots of fresh veg and garden greens, and he has a strong emphasis on green juice fasting - obviously, the green juices were made without any sweet fruit, but you could put lemon juice, stevia or turmeric in your juice to make it taste better. No garlic or onions, as they are considered Rajasic and would interfere with meditation, so we used a lot of asoefetida or hing spice to replace that flavor. We did a lot of dehydrating - crackers and nut burgers and nut and seed breads, etc - and fermenting of cabbage with seaweed.

His point in order to do this is to keep the blood clear of yeasts and "protits" - deranged blood cells and damaged blood parts. It is his assertion that it is the sugar that is doing this, and so therefore it is the sugar which should be eliminated.

Like many of the other raw food "gurus" out there, he has switched his emphasis away from the diet and over to the spiritual, which is why you can watch him for half an hour and he'll never talk about food. He also believes in calorie restriction and eats very little himself.

He also has a strong, strong, and I do mean STRONG focus on determining dosha and metabolic type - are you a Vata who is a high-oxidizer who needs to be eating Phase 1? In order to determine these questions accurately, there are quizzes in his books, but you also need to go to his clinic and have a consult with him to have muscle testing done to determine which particular foods you should steer clear of, and which supplements you need to take. I never met anybody at his clinic who wasn't prescribed a list as long as my arm, plus a very restrictive diet. The supplement routines were exhausting - taking handfuls of pills some every hour on the hour, others once a day, another was a certain kind of mineral that you held in place at the crown of your head for 20 minutes, some you soaked your feet in, etc.

Most of the people I know who received their supplements were able to take them faithfully for about 6 weeks or so, rather than the minimum 3 month course. I never met anybody who got appreciably better.

When I read 80-10-10, I could see right between the lines to find exactly where Dr. Graham was talking about Dr. Cousens. The 2 plans could not be more diametrically opposed. Cousens' plan is very scientifically laid out, along with a lot of spiritual language. I know that now he's advocating an 80% raw, 20% cooked diet, along with supplements and superfoods - I read that in one of Paul Nison's blogs, which was adamantly and rather beligerently opposed to 80-10-10. They believe that sugar is harmful because the world we live in is so polluted, the only way to be a healthy fruit eater is to live on a mountain top with Joshua Rainbow and never enter into a city again. They believe you need the fats for grounding and to absorb toxins from the environment.

Obviously, I don't agree with him anymore! In fact, on RawFu, there's a discussion of his phase 1 program going on, and someone chimed in about "you need fruit!" and they were so rudely smashed down that I went over to our little 80-10-10 group and wrote a rant about it. I think his heart is in the right place, but he's an allopathic doctor, just using herbs and supplements and superfoods instead of pharmaceuticals. and obviously the diet he prescribes is one that will guarantee that people will need to continue to visit him, that is, if they don't get completely frustrated like I did and keep falling off and climbing on the wagon, and then finally switching over to 811, getting awesome results, and now on a lifelong campaign to spread the love!

One more bit and then I'll move on - while I was there in the heat of a southern Arizona summer, and he was gone, we all went fruit-crazy. The BEST watermelon I have ever had in my life was shared by about 10 of us naughty imps when we should have been working - to have a watermelon in the desert when you haven't had any real fruit for 2 months? heaven. I went to Tucson for a day and gorged on dates. and I was a naughty chef - i would always sneak into the cooler and eat handfuls of cherries and berries.

so that's what I know about Gabriel Cousens diet!




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