The LCHF Diet – LCHF meaning Low-Carbohydrate & High-Fat – has been getting quite a bit of buzz lately, but that doesn’t mean it’s just another fad diet or a newer version of the Atkin’s diet (in practice, it’s significantly different).
Truth is, I was impressed enough while researching the medical literature behind this diet to do a write-up for you guys. But, impressive as it can be, LCHF is simply not for everyone. So, let’s take a look at what it is, what it can do for you, if it’s right for you, and how to get started should you choose to do so.
Disclaimer: It’s always a good idea to discuss any planned dietary changes with your doctor before getting started, but this diet is especially important to discuss with your physician should you have diabetes or any other disorder. LCHF can actually be helpful for diabetic symptoms, but it does run the risk of being too effective, causing regular diabetic medication to plummet glucose levels too low.
People who hate dieting in the sense of calorie counting, intake restriction, and not eating “real” food will likely fall in love with LCHF. It allows you to eat delicious, fatty, stomach-filling food in practically unlimited quantities, enjoy usually restricted items like butter and heavy cream, eat lots of red meat, and still enjoy health benefits. This probably isn’t a great diet for vegetarians (but I suppose anything can be modified with enough work).
Simply put, you avoid sugar and starches. Bread, potatoes, pasta, soda, etc. are all out the window. You replace those carbohydrates with higher-than-normal portions of fat, and protein intake generally remains the same (although you’ll increase protein consumption if you aren’t getting enough to begin with).
The diet plan? Eat when you’re hungry, eat until you’re full. Stick to the approved foods, and that’s it. There’s no starving yourself, and no going long periods of time without eating. Restaurant food is easy to order, and it’s not difficult to find compatible meals at most places (with a slight order modification here and there). This makes LCHF ideal for people who don’t traditionally do well at sticking to diets, or who feel famished on them.
Benefits & Weight Loss
LCHF has a pretty interesting ability to leave you feeling quite satisfied throughout the day. Your primary caloric intake consists of protein and fat, which both take a long time to digest. This, combined with cutting out carbs (which are processed very fast in comparison), creates very stable blood sugar levels and does a great job of making you simply not want to eat as much.
That’s part of the reason you don’t have to consciously monitor your food intake on this diet. As your body adjusts, it will naturally take care of that problem for you.
The benefits? Your cravings for carbs will gradually reduce until they are practically eliminated. You’ll naturally feel less hungry and the desire to eat will creep up on you less often. Your energy levels become more stable throughout the day. And – oh yeah – you start losing fat like a madman!
Isn’t Fat Bad?
Perhaps one of the most damaging nutritional myths still floating around is the concept that fat is somehow a bad thing that should be avoided. Let’s clear it up once and for all: Fat doesn’t make you fat.
Advertising low fat products may still work to sell food products, but rest assured, it’s all marketing. In fact, the trend towards low fat diets can actually be harmful for the human body. Our brains contain large amounts of fat, specific fats are necessary to maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels, and high fat diets aren’t necessarily indicative of higher blood fat.
All food consumed is metabolized for energy, and the unused caloric content is stored as fat. This happens with carbs, proteins, and fats equally. Dietary fat is not somehow more likely to be stored as body fat.
But I’ll Miss Carbs
It’s true that you’ll have to avoid high-carb snacks and indulgences on a daily basis, but a once weekly cheat day is something I always recommend with any diet. Pick a day of the week to enjoy your favorite carb-rich treats, and the other six days of the week will be a breeze considering you can eat all of the LCHF foods you want.
This really is one of the easiest diets out there, and the benefits far make up for having to leave the bun off that bacon cheeseburger (Hey, you still get the bacon, burger & cheese – that’s all that matters, right?).
What to eat: Any meat. Red meat is great, as is chicken (even the skin). Don’t pick the fat off your meat – have as much as you want. Full fat dairy (cream, butter, sour cream, whole milk). Whole eggs (don’t remove the yolk). Veggies, except for below-ground vegetables like potatoes (cook them in butter, if you wish). Nuts & seeds (in moderation). All natural fats are great – enjoy plenty of olive and coconut oil.
What to avoid: Cereals, rice, potatoes, pastas, bread, anything with added sugars. Avoid processed foods and anything with sugar added. Cakes, desserts, pastries. Sugary fruit like bananas. Anything labeled “low fat”.
Drinks: Water, unsweet tea, and coffee (no sugar – feel free to use cream and artificial sweetener) are all great. Avoid juice and sodas. If you drink, avoid beer and consider wine or liquors instead.
That’s about all there is to it. Eat as much as you want, as often as you want, and save the avoid-list foods for your weekly cheat day (Saturdays or Sundays are a favorite for most people).
Beyond that, the most important thing is to just stick with it. With time, you should begin to see results!
Questions, comments, or a LCHF success story? Let me know about it in the comments below!