Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The 7 Day Fruitarian Challenge

If you're wondering where the entree is, you may need to work on your diet

One of the many interesting parts of volunteering at the Javelina Jundred last month was seeing Michael Arnstein come across the finish line in 14:38, almost an hour ahead of course record-holder Hal Koerner (who had won the Hardrock 100 four months earlier), and then finding out that Arnstein runs 200+ miles per week on a strict fruitarian diet. I'd heard of fruitarianism before but had always assumed most of the adherents were hippies who considered cannabis a form of fruit and didn't get a lot of exercise. It never occurred to me that you could do serious training on just fruit, but then I went to Arstein's website and started reading about how he saw a marked improvement in his running performance, along with a wide variety of health benefits (short version: it makes the human body way less disgusting).

The more I thought about it, the more I was intrigued. The diet actually makes sense from a couple of different perspectives. Large primates, the animals with the most gastrointestinal similarities to humans, eat mostly fruit.

According to the book of Genesis, fruit was the original human diet before things took a turn south (I like to think of fruitarianism as the "Garden of Eden Diet"). It's even strictly speaking a form of the paleo diet--if paleo is the hunter-gatherer diet, then fruitarianism is just the gatherer diet (and most real life hunter-gatherer tribes eat as much fruit as they can get their hands on). Plus, any diet that measures serving sizes in pounds has my attention.

So, Emily and have decided to try a fruitarian diet for a week and see what happens.

It's important to have a buddy to keep you from falling in

Confusingly, there are a number of different definitions of fruitarianism, many of which include small amounts of nuts, seeds, and vegetables (just as there are definitions of vegetarianism and veganism that include fish, eggs, dairy, or honey). There is the scientific definition (only food which is classified by biologists as fruit), the ethical definition (only foods that can be gathered without killing the plant), the paleo definition (foods that can be gathered without sophisticated tools or techniques), and so on. Since Arnstein was the one who got us thinking about this in the first place, we decided to eat like him for a week. That means getting 90 percent of our calories from fresh raw fruit (mostly apples and oranges since melon isn't in season) supplementing that with some raw, high water content vegetables (such as lettuce, tomatoes (really a fruit, I know), bell peppers and celery), and staying away from fat- and calorie-dense foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados.

I know, I was bummed too

So far we're about five hours in, and I can only describe the experience as "fruity". Will Emily and I survive? Will we emerge from the week with superhuman strength and stamina? Can you stand the suspense?

Apparently, yes


Order my children's book about barefoot running: What Should I Put on My Feet to Go Run?


  1. You might try picking up Tony Wright's book "Left in the Dark."

  2. I agree, I visited his site last week and read all about him. Inspiring stuff.