The message of RRARF is simple: "Eat the food!" But this often inspires questions like, "What food? How much food? When do I eat it?" As human beings, we like to make simple things complicated. That's just our nature. But RRARF really is simple, once you get to know the guidelines.
First and foremost, you have to eat. Not till you're 80% full. Not on a small square blue plate. Just eat. This isn't permission to binge on ice cream and pizza. But it is permission to eat as much whole food as you can possibly enjoy, without counting calories, carbs, fat grams or any other arbitrary measurement.
What to Eat
The basic formula for RRARF meals would be: a generous portion of unrefined starch, an ample serving of protein, plenty of veggies, and enough quality fat to make it all tasty.
Here's an example of what I had for breakfast this morning:
2 cups hashbrown potatoes fried in coconut oil
3 slices of bacon
(I'm still having a hard time adding veggies at breakfast. Sometimes I throw a bunch of fresh salsa on everything to add to the veggie content.)
And the other day, this is what I had for dinner:
2 cups quinoa with plenty of butter
4 ounces roast chicken
1 cup of onions and carrots, sauteed in butter
The kind of whole, real food we've talked about here at The Nourished Life since the beginning is highly recommended while on RRARF. But there are some important keys for making RRARF work for you as far as food choices go:
1) Fat should be mostly saturated, with a view toward limiting polyunsaturated fat as much as possible. That means no peanut butter binges. And veggie oils are definitely out. Stick with good old-fashioned dairy fats and tropical fats. Beef fat is also pretty good.
2) Carbs should be unrefined: yams, potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, whole corn grits, popcorn, etc. If you tolerate gluten then whole-grains like wheat, barely and oats are acceptable, as are beans and legumes if your digestion is good.
3) Fructose is out. (Read about fructose dangers here.) So are basically sweeteners of any kind, including non-caloric sweeteners like stevia. Why? Because sweetness itself impacts metabolic health, whether actual sugar or calories are involved or not. And while I'm not into bashing fruit, during RRARF it should be limited.
4) Keep it real. Processed food has no place on RRARF (or anywhere else, for that matter). Keep all refined foods to a minimum as much as possible. Of course, we live in a world where it's close to impossible to completely avoid processing or refinement of some kind, but just do your best.
How Much to Eat
I've sworn off calorie counting for RRARF (and hopefully forever), but for those of you who are curious, I believe my meals average somewhere between 800-1,000 calories each. I eat 3-4 times per day, depending on how large my meals are (more food per meal generally means less meals for me).
RRARF is a refeeding strategy meant to stimulate metabolic functions by providing the body with tons of energy via real food and rest. So we are not--I repeat not--limiting food intake. As Matt says on page 41 of the RRARF e-book:
"You don’t have to feed yourself to the point of being uncomfortable and gagging, but the calorie, assuming it is accompanied by a great deal of nutrients, is a powerful weapon in the battle to increase metabolic activity."
When to Eat
And as for when to eat? That's the simplest of them all: eat when you're hungry. Not every three hours, not every six hours, not at a predetermined lunchtime... every time you're hungry, eat until you're no longer interested in eating another bite. That's it!
More About RRARF Foods
I really can't compete with Matt's excellent food list and definition of the appropriate RRARF diet that he lays out in his book. I highly recommend you download the complete RRARF e-book for free and check out his recommendations yourself.
And if you think I'm nuts for eating a high calorie diet, then you might want to see what Matt has to say concerning the truth about low-calorie diets in this video presentation.
Other RRARF Posts:
Day 1 on RRARF: What is RRARF?
Day 2 on RRARF: Why I'm Doing It
Day 3 on RRARF: Rest and Relaxation
Day 7 on RRARF: Benefits Already!
Day 8 on RRARF: Eat the Food!
Day 9 on RRARF: Adieu, Le Sucre!
Day 21 on RRARF: Deprivation is Dieting
Day 23 on RRARF: Life Without the Scale
RRARF vs. The Milk Diet