food

Freelee the Banana Girl has released a new cleanse - and experts aren't recommending it.

Image: Instagram (@freeleethebananagirl).

YouTube and social media ‘star’ Leanne Ratcliffe AKA Freelee the Banana Girl is no stranger to controversy. As a passionate vegan activist, her videos regularly stimulate heated debate and she also made headlines last year over her rather bizarre legal dispute with fellow fitness blogger Kayla Itsines.

Now the Adelaide-based Ratcliffe has released a vegan 30 day cleanse called “Raw til 4” to her almost half a million subscribers, which involves eating raw fruits and greens until 4pm every day then a high carb cooked dinner of plant foods such as organic potatoes or gluten free pasta and salads.

Participants are encouraged to eat at least five bananas for breakfast in a smoothie (Ratcliffe herself claims to sometimes eat up to 50 a day) and a “mono” plate of fruit for lunch, with one suggestion being six mangoes. Avocados, nuts and tofu labelled “fatty vegan foods” and limited to just twice a week maximum. Chocolate? Ha ha, good one. (Watch: Ratcliffe explains her Raw til 4 cleanse. Post continues after video.)

Raw til 4 is not her first diet e-book either, Radcliffe released Go Fruit Yourself, an account of her raw, vegan lifestyle in 2011.

Radcliffe’s new ebook reportedly sold over 3,000 copies in the first 24 hours – but experts aren’t convinced.

“I think it’s really dangerous as participants are missing out on key nutrients,” says Melanie McGrice, a Melbourne-based dietitian.

“I’m happy to encourage a vegan diet, but you still need to get all the nutrition and just fruit doesn’t give you that. Fruit is really low in protein, calcium, zinc and iron. People aren’t just going to be losing body fat, they’re also going to be losing muscle mass which will slow down their metabolism.”

And in the absence of vital nutrients, you may experience some nasty side effects.

“After a while this can cause hair to fall out, brittle skin and nails and just have people not feeling themselves. An iron deficiency which is a concern for women in particular can cause fatigue,” says dietitian at Changing Shape, Gabrielle Maston. (Post continues after gallery.)

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One major concern with the cleanse is the lack of protein.

“If you’re eating vegan, complementary protein is really important. Our body relies on getting essential amino acids  from animal foods, so with plants foods you need to eat a combination of proteins such as legumes and rice at the same time to get them. Nuts are a large source of these so it’s concerning that these are limited to once or twice a week,” says McGrice.

While the cleanse may encourage the consumption of more calories than most weight loss programs, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee satisfaction.

Image: Instagram (freeleethebananagirl)

"The recommended calorie intake is also quite high for a weight loss diet, and even then is not giving you all the nutrients you need. I think you'd also find a lot of people would be unable to eat 2,500 calories of fruit and would naturally self-correct," says McGrice.

In the age of quitting sugar, the cleanse goes the opposite way.

"It's high in carbs and natural sugar from the fruits, which is healthy but not in such large quanitites. People who are suffer from or are at risk of diabetes should certainly stay away," advises Maston.

While health inspiration can certainly be found on social media, both dietitians advise seeking advice from qualified experts before embarking on a drastic diet change.

Have you tried the Raw til 4 cleanse?

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