I will endeavour in this post to give you enough information from my own experience on how to start following Low Carb High Fat(LCHF) way of eating. Some of the tips below are some of the mistakes I made by not reading labels and following correctly the foods allowed. This is not meant to replace medical advice and if you are uncertain about anything try find a Doctor who is a follower of LCHF. Or you can email me direct and I can point you in the right direction. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who follows Low Carb will know the key to success is reading labels, if it contains sugar, grains and vegetable oils and starches etc. then you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Also people get confused with the sugar issue and think honey, fructose and agave honey etc are healthier options. They are not, they are still sugar, if you can give up all of these it will be easier. The other day I went to a store to buy water, the cashier as usual tried to sell me stuff at the till, it was chocolate biscuits made of oats, I laughed at her and said no I only eat healthy. So her response made me laugh, and she was deadly serious, ‘well they contain oats and oats are healthy’. All grains are unhealthy, they don’t want us to eat them so they release toxins in our body. Read the book ‘Wheatbelly by Dr William Davis, his blog is here http://www.wheatbellyblog.com . Another of my bug bears is people saying brown rice is the best choice for a healthy diet. Well it is not a low carb food so not on the allowed list of food ad it is too carby. Here is a link that explains about brown rice. http://www.ancestral-nutrition.com/why-white-rice-is-healthier-than-brown-rice/
When I go shopping I make good choices and buy fresh food, one time I’d forgotten something and Chris, my husband, went to the store to buy it. He returned with bags full of convenience foods. Bless him he tries, he will even buy canned curry, for me!!! So I stand and read the ingredients out, I know I won’t be able to eat it even before I’ve read the ingredients. I have done this for years and he still forgets. My motto has been for years has been JERF(just eat real food), even Atkins bars and other convenience bars are not great. Oh and stay away from stuff marked Low Carb, there is no such thing as low carb bread unless you made it yourself, even then I would only advise once you are maintaining as you could still get a stall. They are okay for the odd treat occasionally. Now there are some people who can eat these and still lose weight, that’s great, it is an individual journey for you!
As you start out on your low carb journey, read up, there are lots of great books out there, some are very scientific and others are practical. It can be very daunting, if you are on Facebook join some groups. In groups there are often very strict people, but learn the basics and you do what you can, other groups may not follow correctly the allowed food lists and let other non low carb foods creep in. Use common sense and try stick as closely as possible to the allowed foods as possible. Search on the internet, there are some fantastic websites with great advice. Listen to podcasts.
Jimmy Moore has a great blog and podcasts here are the links
Some people get confused, but it all comes down to reading labels, if you see something that looks low carb it is acceptable to them say 0.5g carb per serving, but then you look at the ingredients and see sunflower oil, a transfat. What in my opinion is more important, is to look at the ingredients first, if it contains something that is not on your allowed list then you are best not eating it regardless of how low carb it is. Because I am so sensitive to foods I have to be super strict with myself. I look at the ingredients and if it contains sugar, grains of any kind, starches of any kind and any vegetable oils on the bad fats list then to me it is not low carb, even if it only contains 0.5g carb. It is more about how that food will react in your body, if you are experiencing a stall or spikes in you Blood Glucose then perhaps you need to pay more attention to those labels.
For when starting a fresh you are better if you plan a date to start. Use up all your food, or if you are brave toss it. I share a house with non low carbers so I have my areas where my food goes. But most of my food is fresh meat, fish, good fats and herbs and spices, so the family can share this. My kids are really good at always asking before eating anything, I brought them up to do this as a way of keeping tabs on what they eat. Even Ben at 22 still asks before helping himself.
When making your choices from the allowed list of foods, yes organic is best, yes grass fed is best, but please do not let this think you cannot do this way of eating if you can’t afford the best. In the UK we can’t always source good quality grass fed meat. Some meat will be labelled grass fed but actually over winter are brought out of the pasture and fed grain and soy to supposedly give them energy. In the UK where we do have a lot of arable farms the pastures are lovely and lush in the warmer months but where these lovely pastures are located, can be where the bleakest winters are with snow and wet soggy fields when the weather turns bad. So it is understandable that they want to bring to cows into a better environment over winter. Because I like to support the local farmers and try not to eat imported meats then we have to live with this. There are some companies who make up meat packages and mail them to you. I will be making a list of their websites in another blog post. Organic meat is better as the animals do not grow up being given antibiotics, growth hormones or fed animal byproducts. While yes organic is best start off with what you can afford if you are on a budget. Thankfully organic food in the UK is coming down in price and more affordable. Support your local farmers, go to farmers markets and local stores. If buying packaged meat or any food for that matter look at the ingredients, they often contain sugar, the food companies are well aware that sugar enhances the flavour of the food and that it makes you want to eat more, that’s why they add it. Why do we need sugar on meat? It tastes better without it.
Print out a list of allowed foods and put it on your fridge. Rather than having a list of foods that aren’t allowed just think, if it isn’t on the list do not eat it. This keeps it simple for you.
Caitlin Weeks does an excellent blog which is more Paleo. She explains really well which oils you should not cook with.
Go shopping with your allowed food list and fill your cupboards with safe foods and plan your meals so you have more chance of succeeding. I am not an advocate of taking painkillers, I would use them as a last resort if you feel you cannot continue. But in the first few days and even weeks you could have flu like symptoms and headaches, it is advisable to start this when you have a few days off work. Let the family know you want to do this and explain why it is important to you and you need there support. Warn them also you could get grouchy with them. If you feel rough, have a lay down in a dark room and drink lots of water, I like fizzy water and I put fresh lemons in it as I do no really like plain water. If there was anything that in those first few days that would make me want to quit it would have been the awful ‘carb flu’. I kept coffee in my diet to counteract this and it can help you get through the yucky headache stage. If you want to give up caffeine as well, you either go cold turkey with everything and get it out the way, or if your diet did have a lot of carbs in it wait a month to get these out of your system then remove the caffeine.
When I began my low carb journey, I was probably okay having more grams of carbs, a lot of people stall after a large weight loss so it is best to leave room for tweaking later. In my Facebook group, people often ask “can I eat this?” it might be fruit or almond flour or something else, I usually say if you are losing weight then it should be ok. If you hit a stall then adjust what you are eating, remove things like almond baked things and low carb cakes, then if you break your stall you know that while wanting to lose weight to not eat those foods and reintroduce them once you are maintaining. Obviously as an occasional treat, they are a better choice than regular food that may be on offer.
You need to be aiming to get your body into a state of Ketosis, now this may ring alarm bells with some of you but it is not to be confused with Ketoacidosis which is what happens to diabetic poeple.
Dietary Ketosis is a controlled and regulated process that releases ketones and fatty acids into the body which is a response from eating a Low Carb, High Fat Diet. This triggers the body into using its own fat stores for energy, this is a good state to be in especially when trying to lose weight.
Ketoacidosis is when there are abnormal quantities of ketones in the body, this usually happens in type i diabetes when they are unregulated and often before diagnosis. This usually happens when the body cannot produce insulin which will regulate the flow of fatty acids in the body and can be a dangerous state to be in.
If you are eating from the allowed list of foods you will not get into ketoacidosis.
One thing that is a common mistake with ‘diets’ is as soon as we lose weight and feel better we relax a bit and start slipping into old habits. I have realised that this isn’t a ‘diet’ it’s a lifestyle change and one that should be adopted long term. For me, I can never relax my food choices as I cannot afford the ill health I get from eating carbs. Some people are lucky and can tolerate most fruits and veggie and maintain quite healthily, I have found that even foods that low carbers can tolerate raise my blood glucose levels. It’s all about trial and error and finding out what works for you. It is how your body reacts when eating those foods and getting off carbs and upping your fat intake allows your body to function normally so anything you eat that is not right for you will cause a reaction that you will now be able to notice. Start a list of these foods that you have noticed you can’t eat any more. It isn’t that you have developed these sensitivities all of a sudden, but eating a high carb diet stops your body functioning normally that you don’t notice them. I get acid reflux from eating fresh garlic, someone said if you eat bread it will stop the reflux. Er… no why not just not eat the food that causes the reflux in the first place.
My youngest son, Luke, I spoke about him on a previous post. Well he started eating my foods and I just told him no bread and pasta, biscuits and crisps(chips). I have kept it simple for him because of his autism, but to his credit he has stuck with it. In the last month his waist has gone from 38 inches to 34!! Just by cutting out his junk food. Now we have had a couple of family get togethers and allowed him to relax a little, this is because I don’t want him to feel so restricted that he gives up. I would rather he followed the 80/20 rule. In his daily life he sticks to LCHF but when there is a party he can have some regular food. Even then he said he felt uncomfortable after eating so he now realises that it is not good for him. Eating LCHF has made him more focussed and less grouchy, So it is not just a physical benefit I believe it has helped his Autism improve.
Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich have got together and released a new cook book.
The Ketogenic Cookbook which is now available to buy or download on Kindle.
I can’t wait to try out their recipes and I am busy making lists. I will be reviewing this book in a future blog post.
Maria’s blog is also a great souce of information.
I run a facebook group which you can find here
My facebook page is here