The Great Debate: Will Raw Food Kill Your Muscle Gains?

There's a new movement in the fitness community - especially in those who tout the belief that fitness is mostly based on nutrition, not exercise - to eat a larger amount of raw foods. Some on the extreme side of the debate claim that raw foods are the only way to get the best possible nutrition, and that cooked foods (especially animal products) should be reduced or eliminated from the diet completely.

So, are the members of the raw food movement just a bunch of crazy vegans using pseudo-science and conjecture to push their agenda? Or is there a valid scientific point to what they're saying?

Raw vs. Cooked: "Pick a Side! We're at War!"

So what are the finer points of the debate, besides vegans wanting to reduce the consumption of animal products and other bodybuilders wanting to maintain the status quo? Well, main argument on the pro-raw side is that whole foods consumed in their "original natural form" contain more nutrients. They claim this provides a whole host of benefits from reduced injury and recovery time to reductions in heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. But there isn't much proof on the "how/why" side of their argument; just a strong assertion that "our way is better because we say so, that's why".

Many on the pro-cooking side of the argument assert that any increase in consumption of whole foods is better for you, regardless of temperature. And they aren't wrong; there's plenty of scientific evidence to back them up. Additionally, cooking food removes natural allergens and reduces the likelihood of contracting bacterial or parasitic infections which are common among raw foods.

Meeting in the Middle: The Argument for Balance

In reality, both sides have valid points. So let's pause a moment to consider one important fact: humans evolved into the creatures we are today because, once upon a time, we discovered that cooking our food both increased nutrient density, and reduced the amount of time and effort it takes to consume food. This freed mankind up to pursue other tasks like building shelter, creating sophisticated tools, constructing cities, and more.

Next, let's consider the dangers of over-simplifying the argument by asserting that the answer to this question is a rigid, "either/or" scenario. The truth is that certain foods provide different benefits when eaten both cooked and raw. Take kale, for example: eating kale raw increases your intake of isothiocyanates, which are powerful phytochemicals associated with a drastic reduction in cancer rates. Conversely, however, cooking your kale increases its ability to bind to bile acids in the stomach, reducing overall cholesterol levels in the blood.

At the end of the day, however, whole food nutrition will only get you so far. To bust through your plateaus and make the really serious gains you want, you're going have to supplement. And supplements like Growth Factor, with their ample supply of BCAAs and their natural ability to increase Nitric Oxide in the blood, are perfect for feeding your muscles everything they need to work hard, recover more quickly post-workout, and grow bigger. So enjoy some Growth Factor with your whole foods, whether raw or cooked (or both) for optimal muscle growth!