Eat Healthy, Lose Weight, Feel Awesome. Here’s how.
Chances are you have been taught to fear fat in your diet and to focus on carbohydrates as your main source of energy. Carbs aren’t necessarily the devil, they can be okay when eaten in moderation and importantly eating the ‘right’ kind of carbs. The Low Carb – Real Food diet (LCRF) is a healthy eating lifestyle which can help you lose weight, feel great and prevent serious diseases like obesity, type II diabetes and heart disease. These dietary changes can literally save your life but this is not based on personal experience alone but on scientific research.
What is LCRF?
This is a lifestyle that has a focus on simple foods which humans have evolved to metabolize. In essence, a low carbohydrate diet works to minimize the amount of sugar and starch we eat and replaces them with proteins and healthy fats. The ‘Real Food’ label refers to unprocessed, unpackaged foods free from chemicals and additives.
How does it work?
Humans have evolved as hunter-gatherers and our diets have undergone significant changes through the agricultural revolution, then the industrial revolution which has seen a surge in processing methods for food. Our modern supermarkets show a very different landscape of food from what our ancestors ate.
The LCRF lifestyle is about returning to basic, simple eating habits to promote health.
There are several populations around the world that continue to live as hunter-gatherers, eating natural ‘real’ foods. These people tend to be lean and in excellent health. This study concludes that the Masai tribe had low serum lepids despite a high fat diet. This was offset by their hunter-gatherer lifestyle of high out-put.
A palaeolithic diet is similar in many ways to the LCRF lifestyle sharing the philosophy of unprocessed foods with a focus on meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts/seeds.
The hormone insulin works by moving glucose from the blood and into cells for energy. A deficiency or resistance to insulin causes diabetes.
Insulin also encourages fat cells to begin storing fat and stop breaking down the fat stores for energy. During a high carb diet, insulin levels are always high which encourages fat to be locked away in storage
On a western, high-carb diet, insulin levels are high all the time, keeping the fat safely “locked” away in the fat cells. Low Carb diets lowers and balances blood sugars and therefore stabilizes insulin levels (source). Lower insulin allows the body to access the energy stored in your fat cells.
The main advantage of a low-carb diet is being able to eat until fullness and lose weight without counting calories because the types of food you are eating are naturally high in fiber, rich in nutrients and satiating.
There are some side effects which are usually mild. Your body has been using mostly carbs for energy your entire life and it takes time to adapt to using fat as the fuel source instead. Sometimes referred to as the ‘low carb flu’ you may feel tired, lethargic and ill for a couple of days.
Remember it becomes very important to eat enough fat on your new diets because it is the new source of fuel for your body.
Let’s start with what you should be eating
- Humans evolved eating meat as a rich source of proteins and minerals. Focus on unprocessed meat – so avoid canned, cured, smoked meats etc
- Fish:Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients, you should eat fish like salmon regularly
- Eggs: Are a fantastic source of high quality protein. The whites provide most of the protein and a great source of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.
- Nuts and Seeds: While they are high in calories, nuts and seeds are rich in nutrients. Should be eaten in moderation but make great snacks. Chia seeds are a great choice
- Fruit: Eat a rainbow of fruits to benefit from the array of minerals and vitamins.
- Vegetables: High in Fiber and nutrient dense. At least half of your plate should be vegetables at each meal. Root vegetables are high in carbohydrates so eat in moderation.
- Fats and oils: Quality olive oil and butter. Choose saturated fats for cooking in high-heats as they are more stable.
- High-Fat Dairy: Low fat versions often are high in added sugars. Instead eat the normal full fat versions to receive the highest health benefits.
Now what should you avoid?
- Sugar – Added sugar is absolutely unnecessary in our diets and is addictive. Sugar is the main cause of diseases like obesity, diabetes, candida overgrowth and cardiovascular disease. See these sources for more information (Source).
- Grains – Grains are processed into foods like bread and pasta. White wheat products as well as white rice are nutritionally empty. Swap these for brown rice or oats instead.
- Seed or Vegetable oils –Oils like soybean or corn oil and are highly processed fats with a high amount of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are harmful in excess. See here for more information. (source)
- Trans Fats – found in basically all processed foods, these are chemically modified fats and are extremely bad for you. (Source)
- “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Products – They tend to be highly processed and loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners. High fat is not the enemy if you are choosing non-processed real foods over highly processed ‘diet’ foods.
- Highly Processed Foods – Take a look at the food label and notice how these types of foods have excessively long ingredients list filled with chemicals, additives and preservatives. Some of these have unknown interaction in your body and unknown health effects.
- Artificial Sweeteners – Even though they are calorie free, observational studies show a correlation with artificial sweeteners and obesity and those related diseases (18,19, 20). The longer you follow a LCHF diet, the less you will crave sugar.