My family and I have been doing the LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) eating style since March (and I'm loving it!) when I talk with patients and others a few common questions come up. This post is to answer some of those questions.
FAQ 1: But as humans, we've ALWAYS eaten grains, so why cut them back so much!
A: If by ALWAYS you mean for the last 10,000 years then yes. But if you look at the 2.5 million years of the development of mankind, then 10,000 years is the equivelant of a 2 month period of time in a 40 year old's life. Not that long. And with how slow adaptations to our gut enzymes and biology happen it is asking a lot. Add to this the actual SUGAR consumption rate of increase (from an average of 4# per year in 1700 to 130-150#/year in 2010) now the body is being challenged to adapt in HUGE ways in a matter of a historical moment... Makes sense we aren't doing so well. Cancer rates have tripled in the last 100 years (when sugar consumption took it's biggest leap and physical exercise went down) and adjusted for now preventable issues (like maternal and infant death and illnesses like polio) our actual life expectancy rates have gone DOWN. Add to this, our quality of life as we age has deteriorated greatly... more dementia, more broken bones, less autonomy, less enjoyable life. Boo!
FAQ 2: Is this the same as the Paleo Diet?
A: While there are some similarities and the Paleo diet has some good things going for it, this diet involves eating less fruit and honey (still too much sugar for our already damaged by sugar bodies so the LCHF diet treats them like a dessert) and even more full fat (butter, bacon greese). Things that are in common between Paleo and LCHF are: Eating lots more veggies, unlimited meats & seafood (wild), eggs, and certain fats (tallow, lard, coconut oil, olive oil -only low temperature or uncooked - nuts, seeds, some wine (red or dry white) and tea.
FAQ 3: If I eat LCHF does that mean I can't ever have... bread, pasta, rice... (fill in your favorite carb here) or fruit?
A: No, eating LCHF does not mean you can never have these foods, rather it means you need to be aware of how often and how much you eat of them. If your goal is to do the 60-80g of counted carbs (as I recommend to my patients), then you can have ANYTHING for those 60-80g, but you need to be aware of portion size and if they are really worth eating them. If an apple is 30g of carbs and you love apples, by all means, have an apple a day... for dessert with a meal and really enjoy it like a mindful eating exercise! Have pasta some nights, but really limit to one serving and then add veggies, meat and a creamy fatty sauce or a butter sauce to it instead of a sugary tomato sauce and a side of garlic bread. If you have burgers, decide if eating it without bread is okay for you or if you want it open faced and using some of your carbs is worth it... you get the idea.
FAQ 4: Isn't eating like this dangerous? I've heard the body starts eating itself and there are terrible things that can happen.
A: A group of dieticians in Sweden thought the same thing when they heard a MD was recommending this to her patients for weight loss. Eventually, the Swedish Counsel on Health Technology Assessment ultimately appointed a 14 member panel to analyze the data and after two years of research and data analysis they published this report which stated not only was this way of eating not dangerous, it was superior for weight loss than any other common dietary advice. Since then about a quarter of Swedes have adopted this way of eating and the rates of diabetes, obesity and other related health concerns are decreasing there.
FAQ 4: Then what do you eat?!
A: I LOVE what I eat (in fact, for me, this is my idea of heaven!). The trickiest part is not automatically going to the carbs and getting through the first week of awful sugar and carb cravings (which to me are evidence of the problem). Once you get your insulin levels to settle down and your body to get used to not constantly anticipating carbs all day long (3-10 days) you feel so much more satiated and cravings go away, so if you try it, just stick with it!
So for me, here are some examples of what I eat in a day:
a soft boiled egg
or an omlet with leftover veggies, whatever cheese I've got handy and some bacon or ham cooked using bacon grease (I keep a jar in the fridge)
A 1/4-1/2 cup of full fat yogurt vanilla and plain mixed half and half with a big scoop of peanut butter plus 1-2 Tablespoons of frozen blueberries or raspberries
a cup of Dandy Blend (OMG! I LOVE this, if you like coffee check it out... no caffeine, non acidic, gluten free but tastes just like coffee) made with heavy cream, a couple drops of vanilla and a dash of stevia (tastes like a delicious vanilla latte)
Mid Morning Snack (pick one or two of these):
A chunk of cheese
or veggies with guac, PB, or dressing
or some nuts
or an avacado with S&P
or a scoop of peanut butter
or a slice or two of salami
I mostly make big salads with a bunch of dark leafy greens, cheese, nuts, veggies and whatever meat or eggs I have topped with full fat ranch dressing or olive oil, garlic and seasonings (for a specific example, greens, salami, pumpkin seeds, blue cheese, green pepper, red onion & carrots with Paul Newman ranch)
A glass of water or herbal tea
Mid Afternoon Snack:
One or two of the above snacks, another cup of tea or water
Some main form of meat (I like roasting chicken whole, a big batch of drumsticks - no fat free chicken breasts skin on, bone in chicken! - , steak, ham, pork chops, liver, sausage - so many awesome types of sausage!!! burgers, meatballs)
a side of some sort of cooked veggie with butter and seasoning as appropriate.
a big green salad with cheese, nuts, veggies and dressing (smaller version of lunch salad, but without meat).
water or whole milk
and a small glass of red wine or dry white wine
or another dandy blend
or popcorn (small dish)
once or twice a week I have a small scoop of full fat ice-cream or make a LCHF dessert
I really have liked some of the recipes on the blog: I Breathe I'm Hungry which in addition to being low carb, high fat is gluten free! The cauliflower mashed potatoes, roasted cajun seasoning, meatballs, breakfast lasagna...
An easy go to dinner I've been using at least once a week is some sort of cooked cruciferous veggie (usually either broccoli or brussels sprouts), plus chopped up either ham or sausage, plus some blue cheese melted in at the end. Put a big side salad with this plus a glass of wine... easy and YUM!
When I've made pasta I make the actual amount for the number of people I'm serving (which is way less than I used to make) and then I just bulk it up with more meat (shrimp, burger, etc.) a bunch of veggies (broccoli, etc.) and a fatty sauce like a butter and garlic sauce or Alfredo sauce with cheese grated on top.
When I make what I would have made as a stir fry I either add only a small amount of rice and stir it in at the end OR I completely leave out the rice and just bulk up the veggies and serve a salad on the side.
When I eat fruit I split a piece between my hubby or kids and I so I have a 1/2 apple, or whatever.
For my kiddos, I let them eat slightly more fruit than my husband and I (still very small servings), also I let them drink more whole milk and some small portions of carbs 1x/day that I don't eat... crackers with their cheese, or a 1/2 granola bar, or an extra serving of yogurt in the afternoon. If they go to a birthday party they get to have cake or whatever's on the menu and I don't sweat it).
Hope that helps! I'm going to put a couple actual dinners up in the coming days. For me, this really is like heaven. Cheese, sausage, lots of veggies with butter or full fat dressing... wine with dinner, holy wow! I lost weight I assumed I had because I'm in my late 30s and have had 2 babies and I'm not hungry all the time! Groceries are a bit more expensive, but if I make a list and menu plan it's not a ton more than my old style of eating and the overall benefits of avoiding obesity, insulin resistance, and all the other problems that go with them... well, it's worth every penny in my book!