In the 1920s and 1930s Berrnarr Macfadden was a health guru, selling millions of books on fitness training and diet. Mark Adams, of the Daily Beast, tried Macfadden’s raw and whole foods diet and reports on the experience:
I purchased so much fruit each day that my produce man must have thought I was canning preserves. By Day 5, though, the tremendous surge in my fiber intake was wreaking havoc on my insides. Things were shifting. I kept having visions of icebergs cracking and falling into the sea. Eventually, the discomfort subsided, but meals had become chores. My sprouted legumes tasted like grass. You know how small children chew with their mouths open, as if their jaws were hinged, when forced to eat something they don’t want? I found myself doing that a lot.
And yet . . . I couldn’t deny that my body was kind of loving Macfadden’s natural diet. Morning runs felt smooth and easy, and I had no difficulty pushing on for an extra mile or three. After a week, a fruity smell like green apples seemed to be following me everywhere. The odor, as it turned out, was my perspiration. (Slightly freaked out, I emailed an eminent diet doctor to ask what was going on. Her response: “You are what you eat, Mark.”) My skin morphed, too, clearing up and taking on a youthful softness and glow. I wasn’t sleeping any more than I had previously, but I seemed to be sleeping more deeply. I woke up every day at 5 a.m., ready to go, and was able to write without the aid of coffee for the first time since high school.
Losing weight on a raw diet is easy, not least because given the choice between my hundredth handful of organic raisins or just skipping a meal, I often picked the latter. Macfadden was right: Divorced from spices and familiar flavors, you do lose your cravings surprisingly quickly. After 14 days, I’d dropped eight pounds.