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Getting Started

 
LCHF stands for Low Carb High Fat, which is part of a group of low carbohydrate lifestyles including Primal, Atkins, Paleo, Ketogenic etc, that promote eating low carbohydrates, high fat, and moderate protein. There are slight differences in the plans (such as no dairy in Paleo, no potatoes in LCHF, etc), but in general they focus on real food that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Brief History
 
In the 1950-1960s the idea that fat  (especially saturated fat) was dangerous to health and the cause of heart disease was proposed and then further developed, and after some persuasion was fully embraced by the government and leading cardiac and health institutes (see The Big Fat Surprise byNina Teicholz).  This resulted in dietary recommendations that called for low fat eating. There are only 3 macronutrients in our diet: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, so decreasing one (fat) resulted in increasing another (carbohydrates) by the majority of the American population. 
 
Food changed dramatically in the 1970-1980. Reduced fat became the mantra; but when fat is removed from food the taste changes (not in a good way), and so to improve the flavor of these foods  more sugar and carbohydrates were added. The results have been devastating – significantly more insulin resistance, more obesity, more diabetes, more dementia and no significant decrease in cardiovascular deaths.

 

Today, the standard American diet is extremely high in food-like substances (highly processed foods high in carbohydrates, sugar, and chemicals) and low in real food. It is very hard for a lot of people to imagine life without these highly processed "foods". Sugar and carbohydrates are quite addictive; in fact the food industry counts on it because if we are addicted to the sugar in their products, so too are we addicted to their products.  We have also been taught for the past 40 years that fat is bad, so this change can be quite difficult for many to adjust to.

 

There are many studies that show that saturated fats are not linked to heart disease, and in fact not one single study shows saturated fats or cholesterol as the cause of heart disease.

 

There are also several other studies showing that eating carbs/sugar increases risk of Alzheimer's disease significantly, and that eating fat decreases this risk. Adding high fat foods and aerobic exercise can significantly decrease the risk of dementia (See Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD)

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Making the Change
 

So you have decided that it is time for a change.   Whether this change is to control or decrease risk of diabetes, for your overall health, or for weight control; you need to embrace the idea that this is a lifestyle change, not a diet, and you should change for life. 

 

You will enjoy increased health, decrease your overall insulin level and decrease your insulin resistance (a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and even dementia that affects as many as 70% of Americans).  You should lose weight, will avoid diabetes, and reduce your risk of heart disease by increasing your HDLs and decreasing your triglycerides, as well as lower your overall inflammatory profile (less sugar, less insulin and fewer omega-6 and polyunsaturated fatty acids = less inflammation).

 

What Is Right For You?
 

The overall goal is to decrease carbs and sugar and not worry about fat.  This can be harder than it sounds.  Here are a couple of different approaches:

  1. Gradually decreasing carbs starting with sugars and sweeteners (not including Stevia, erythritol, xylitol), pasta and rice, then slowly removing breads and other snacks

  2. Give up all carbs and sugars all together "cold turkey"

  3. Free day - Give up all carbs and sugars all together but every week enjoy a meal without guilt

  4. Try a plan:  there are several Low Carb plans available:  Atkins, Paleo, LCHF (low carb, high fat), ketogenesis, first stages of South Beach, or Primal.

The key is to find something that is doable for you.

 

The Fat of the Matter

 

Focus on real food, and avoid food-like substances (highly-processed food): full fat real food. If you want dairy eat real cheese, drink heavy cream in your coffee, eat real butter, use olive oil, coconut oil and nuts, and don’t worry about completely removing fat or skin on meats and poultry. Make sure to get some sort of fat with every meal through meats, avocados, nuts and olives.  Fat is what helps us us stay full and not binge, and we burn it for fuel really well (after an adaptation period). It also keeps our blood sugars more stable and balanced.

 

General Rules To Follow:
 
  1. If it says “light”, “low-fat”, or “fat-free” it must stay in the grocery store

  2. EAT FOOD (no food-like substances)

  3. Don’t eat anything you don’t like

  4. Eat when you are hungry. Don’t eat when you are not.

  5. No GPS - no grains, potatoes, or sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LCHF for Beginners (taken from dietdoctor.com)

 

Do you want to eat real food (as much as you like) and improve your health and weight? It may sound too good to be true, but LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) is a method that has been used for 150 years. Now, modern science backs it up with proof that it works.

There is no weighing your food, no counting, no bizarre “meal replacements,” no pills. There is just real food and common sense. And all the advice here is 100 percent free.

 

A LCHF diet means you eat less carbohydrates and a higher proportion of fat. Most importantly you minimize your intake of sugar and starches. You can eat other delicious foods until you are satisfied – and still lose weight.

A number of recent high-quality scientific studies shows that LCHF makes it easier both to lose weight and to control your blood sugar. And that’s just the beginning.

The basics

  • Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables growing above ground (corn is NOT a vegetable) and natural fats (like butter, olive oil, coconut oil).

  • Avoid: Sugar, highly processed foods and starchy foods (like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes).

Eat when you’re hungry until you are satisfied. It’s that simple. You do not need to count calories or weigh your food. And just forget about industrially produced low fat products.

There are solid scientific reasons why LCHF works. When you avoid sugar and starches your blood sugar stabilizes and the levels of insulin, the fat storing hormone, drops. This increases your fat burning and makes you feel more satiated.

 

Note for diabetics

  • Avoiding the carbohydrates that raise your blood sugar decreases your need for medication to lower it. Taking the same pre-low-carb diet dose of insulin might result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). You need to test your blood sugar frequently when starting this diet and adapt (lower) your medication. This should ideally be done with the assistance of a knowledgeable physician. If you’re healthy or a diabetic treated either by diet alone or just with Metformin there is no risk of hypoglycemia.

 

Dietary Advice

Eat all you like

  • Meat: Any type, including beef, pork, game meat, chicken, etc. Feel free to eat the fat on the meat as well as the skin on the chicken. If possible try to choose organic or grass fed meat.

  • Fish and Shellfish: All kinds: Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or herring are great. Avoid breading.

  • Eggs: All kinds: Boiled, fried, omelettes, etc. Preferably choose organic eggs.

  • Natural Fat, High-Fat Sauces: Using butter and cream when you cook can make your food taste better and make you feel more satiated. Try a Béarnaise or Hollandaise sauce, check the ingredients or make it yourself. Coconut oil and olive oil are also good options.

  • Vegetables that Grow Above Ground: All kinds of cabbage, such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, olives, spinach, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce, avocado, onions, peppers, tomatoes etc.

  • Dairy products: Always select full-fat options like real butter, cream (40% fat), sour cream, Greek/Turkish yogurt and high-fat cheeses. Be careful with regular milk and skim milk as they contain a lot of milk sugar. Avoid flavored, sugary and low-fat products.

  • Nuts: Good to eat instead of candy in front of the television (preferably in moderation).

  • Berries: Okay in moderation, if you are not a super strict or sensitive. Good with whipped cream (real whipped cream, not Cool Whip)

 

Avoid if you can

  • Sugar: The worst. Soft drinks, candy, juice, sports drinks, chocolate (ok to indulge in occasional dark chocolate >72% cacao), cakes, buns, pastries, ice cream, breakfast cereals. Preferably avoid sweeteners as well (using some Stevia, Erythritol or Splenda at times is ok, see below.

  • Starch: Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, French fries, potato chips, porridge, muesli and so on. “Wholegrain products” are just less bad. Moderate amounts of root vegetables may be OK (unless you’re eating extremely low carb).

  • Margarine: Industrially imitated butter with unnaturally high content of omega-6 fat. Has no health benefits, tastes bad. Statistically linked to asthma, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.

  • Beer: Liquid bread. Full of rapidly absorbed carbs, unfortunately.

  • Fruit: Very sweet, lots of sugar. Eat once in a while when actively trying to lose weight or control blood sugars -treat fruit as a natural form of candy. When in weight maintenance phase, ok to eat some fruit with a fat to balance blood sugars.

 

Once in a while

You decide when the time is right. Your weight loss may slow down a bit.

  • Alcohol: Dry wine (regular red or dry white wine), whisky, brandy, vodka and cocktails without sugar.

  • Dark chocolate: Above 70 % cocoa, preferably just a bit.

Drink most days

  • Water

  • Coffee: Try it with full-fat cream

  • Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Theory Behind LCHF

What are you designed to eat?

 

Humans evolved over millions of years as hunter-gatherers, without eating large amounts of carbohydrates. We ate the food available to us in nature by hunting, fishing and gathering all the edible foods we could find. These foods did not include pure starch in the form of bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. We have only eaten these starchy foods for 5 – 10 000 years, since the development of agriculture. Just a limited adaptation of our genes takes place in such a relatively short time.

 

With the Industrial Revolution, 100 – 200 years ago, we got factories that could manufacture large amounts of pure sugar and white flour. Rapidly digested pure carbohydrates. We’ve hardly had time to genetically adapt to these processed foods.

 

In the 80s, the fear of fat gripped the western world. Low-fat products popped up everywhere. But if you eat less fat you need to eat more carbohydrates to feel satiated. And it’s at this time in history that our disastrous epidemics of obesity and diabetes started. The most fat-phobic country in the world, the USA, was hit the hardest and is now the world’s most obese country.

Today, it’s clear that the fear of real food with natural fat contents has been a big mistake.

 

 

The problem with sugar and starch

 

All digestible carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars in the intestines. The sugar is then absorbed into the blood, raising the blood glucose levels. This increases the production of the hormone insulin, our fat storing hormone.

 

Insulin is produced in the pancreas. In large amounts insulin prevents fat burning and stores surplus nutrients in the fat cells. After some time (a few hours or less) this may result in a shortage of nutrients in the blood, creating feelings of hunger and cravings for something sweet. Usually at that point people eat again. This starts the process again: A vicious cycle leading to weight gain.

 

On the other hand, a low intake of carbs gives you a lower, more stable blood glucose, and lower amounts of insulin. This increases the release of fat from your fat stores and increases the fat burning. This usually leads to fat loss, especially around the belly in abdominally obese individuals.

 

 

Weight loss without hunger

 

A LCHF diet makes it easier for the body to use its fat reserves, as their release is no longer blocked by high insulin levels. This may be one reason why eating fat gives a longer feeling of satiety than carbohydrates. It’s been shown in a number of studies: When people eat all they want on a low carb diet, caloric intake typically drops

So, no counting or food weighing is necessary. You can forget about the calories and trust your feelings of hunger and satiety. Most people don’t need to count or weigh their food any more than they need to count their breathing. If you don´t believe it, just try for a couple of weeks and see for yourself.

 

 

Health as a bonus

 

No animals in nature need the assistance of nutritional expertise or calorie charts to eat. And still, as long as they eat the food they are designed to eat they stay at a normal weight and they avoid caries, diabetes and heart disease. Why would humans be an exception? Why would you be an exception?

 

In scientific studies not only is the weight improved on a low carb diet – the blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol profile (HDL, triglycerides) are also improved. A calm stomach and less cravings for sweet food are also common experiences.

 

 

Initial side effects

 

If you stop eating sugar and starch cold turkey (recommended) you may experience some side effects as your body adjusts. For most people these side effects tend to be mild and last a just few days. There are also ways to minimize them.

Common during the first week (known to some as low carb flu):

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Heart palpitations

  • Irritability

The side effects rapidly subside as your body adapts and your fat burning increases. They can be minimized by drinking some extra fluids and by temporarily increasing your salt intake a bit. A good option is to drink some broth every few hours. Alternatively, drink a few extra glasses of water and put extra salt on your food.

 

The reason for this is that carbohydrate-rich foods may increase the water retention in your body. When you stop eating high-carb foods you’ll lose excess water through your kidneys. This can result in dehydration and lack of salt during the first week, before the body has adapted.

 

Some people prefer to decrease their intake of carbohydrates slowly, over a few weeks, to minimize the side effects. But the “Nike way” (Just Do It) is probably the best choice for most people. Removing most sugar and starch often results in several pounds lost on the scale within a few days. It may be mostly fluids but it’s great for the motivation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How low to go?

 

The less carbohydrate you eat, the more pronounced the effect on your weight and blood sugar will be. I recommend following the dietary advice as strict as you can. When you’re happy with your weight and health you may gradually try eating more liberally (if you want to).

 

Breakfast suggestions

  • Eggs and bacon

  • Omelet

  • Leftovers from last night’s dinner

  • Coffee with cream

  • A can of mackerel and boiled eggs

  • Boiled egg with mayonnaise or butter

  • Avocado, salmon and crème fraiche

  • Sandwich on Oopsie-bread

  • A piece of very thin hard bread with lots of butter, cheese, ham, etc.

  • Cheese with butter on it

  • Boiled eggs mashed with butter, chopped chives, salt and pepper

  • A piece of brie cheese and some ham or salami

  • High-fat yoghurt with nuts and seeds (and maybe berries)

 

Lunch and dinner

  • Meat, fish or chicken dishes with vegetables and a rich full-fat sauce. There are many alternatives to potatoes, such as mashed cauliflower.

  • Stews, soups or casseroles with low-carb ingredients.

  • You can use most recipes in cookbooks if you avoid the carbohydrate-rich ingredients. It’s often a good idea to add fat (e.g. butter, cream) to the recipe.

  • Drink water with your meal or (occasionally) a glass of wine.

 

Snacks

When you eat a low-carbohydrate diet with more fat and a bit more protein you will probably not need to eat as often. Don’t be surprised if you no longer need to snack. Many people do well on two or three meals per day. If you need a snack:

  • Rolled-up cheese or ham with a vegetable (some people even spread butter on cheese)

  • Olives

  • Nuts

  • A piece of cheese

  • A boiled egg from the refrigerator

  • Canned mackerel in tomato sauce

Olives and nuts can replace potato chips in front of the TV. If you always get hungry between meals you’re probably not eating enough fat. Don’t fear fat. Eat more fat until you feel satisfied.

 

Dining out or meals with friends

  • Restaurants: Usually not a big problem. You can ask to have potatoes/fries switched for a salad. With meat dishes, ask for extra butter.

  • Fast food: Kebab can be a decent option (preferably avoid the bread). In hamburger chains the hamburgers are usually the least bad option. Avoid soft drinks and fries, obviously. Drink water. Pizza toppings are usually OK, and the stricter you are the less of the pizza crust you will eat.

  • If you eat strictly everyday it’s less of a problem to make a few exceptions when you are invited out. If you’re not sure what will be served you can eat something at home before you leave.

  • Nuts or cheese is good “emergency food” when there are no other adequate options to be found.

 

Shopping list for beginners

Print this list and bring it to the store:

  • Butter

  • Heavy cream (40% fat)

  • Sour cream (34% fat)

  • Eggs

  • Bacon

  • Meat (minced, steaks, stew pieces, fillets, etc.)

  • Fish (preferably fatty fish like salmon or mackerel)

  • Cheese (preferably high-fat)

  • Turkish or Greek yogurt (10% fat)

  • Cabbage (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc.)

  • Other vegetables that grow above ground

  • Frozen vegetables (broccoli, wok vegetables, etc.)

  • Avocados

  • Olives

  • Olive oil

  • Nuts

 

Clean out your pantry

Want to maximize your chances of success? Especially if you have difficulty with cravings / sugar addiction, it is smart to throw out (or give away) sugary and starchy foods, “light” products, etc. These include:

  • Candy

  • Potato chips

  • Soft drinks and juices

  • Margarine

  • Sugar in all forms

  • Bread

  • Pasta

  • Rice

  • Potatoes

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Everything that says “low fat” or “no fat”

  • Ice cream

  • Cookies

Why not do it now?

 

 

The Serpent in Paradise

Be very skeptical of special “low-carb” products such as pasta or chocolate. Unfortunately these products usually stink. They have prevented the weight loss for loads of people. They’re usually full of carbs once you see through their creative marketing.

 

For example, Dreamfields’ “low carb pasta” is almost pure starch that’s absorbed more or less like any pasta.

How about low carb bread? Be careful: if it’s baked with grains it’s certainly not low carb. But some companies still try to sell it to you as a low-carb option.

Low-carb chocolate is usually full of sugar alcohols, which the manufacturer does not count as carbs. But roughly half of these carbs may be absorbed, raising the blood sugar and insulin. The rest of the carbs ends up in the large intestine, potentially causing gas and diarrhea. Furthermore any sweeteners can maintain sugar cravings.

 

If you want to be healthy and slim, eat real food instead.