Sunday, July 16, 2017

Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF) Diet

So, I've decided to try another fad diet (starting August 1) in the hopes of losing weight. It's pretty simple - it's like a harsher version of the induction phase for Atkins.

It is an LCHF (low carb high fat) diet. The goal is to trick the body into burning fat for fuel instead of carbs; this will help you burn your stored fat quicker. Your body, in a state of ketosis, is looking for fat to burn, so cheating can sabotage your diet by giving you too many carbs, knocking you out of ketosis. The harshest version of the diet, which I am going to attempt, is to stay under 20 grams of carbs a day. By denying your body sugar and starches, you keep your blood sugar low, which keeps your need for insulin low; this helps combat hunger as well and many low carb/high fat dieters also practice fasting, which is something that I've been wanting to do for religious reasons for quite a while now. While I've always believed that breakfast is an important meal, the guy at work skips breakfast, which allows him to fast from after dinner until lunch the next day. Incidentally, a strict interpretation of the Rule of Benedict follows this kind of harsh fasting: during the year, Lent, and Advent the monks will have one meal a day and during Eastertide they will have two.

Yes, low carb/high fat screams in the face of what we've been told about dieting over the past 50 years; the perception is that eating a high fat diet will kill us (although the low fat/high car promoted for 50 years has left us more unhealthy than ever). Rest assured, I will continue my tri-monthly blood tests with the doctor to keep an eye on things. If stuff goes wrong, I'll back away from this and stop what I'm doing.

What's convinced me to try this diet is the guy at work who has lost 150 pounds and has kept it off for four years; his medical records show that all his levels are good and that he's in the best health he's ever been. Another guy at work has done a moderate version of this diet and has lost (and kept off) about 40 or 50 pounds. So it works - I don't know how long-term it will be for me, but at any rate, I know it works. I still have a hard time seeing things made by God - like fruit, wheat, etc. - being "bad". However, I will be doing this in tandem with Overeater's Anonymous, so you never know - those things I'm cutting out might be my triggers and I might have to abandon them anyway to avoid compulsive overeating in the future. I'll take it one day at a time...

I'm writing this blog post as a quick beginner's guide for myself.

The most basic view of the LCHF diet is this:
Eat: Meat, game, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables that grow above ground, and natural fats (like butter).
Avoid: Sugar and starchy foods (like bread, pasta, rice, beans, and potatoes).

My first concern prior to starting was the diabetes - what do I have to do with the medication I'm taking? Although this one website cannot compete with a real doctor's advice (even though the author claims to be a doctor), they did mention a few things for Type 2 diabetics:

If you have diabetes and you’re treated either by diet alone or just with Metformin there is no risk of low blood sugar on low carb. You can get started right away.

Of course, I take more than that, and so they caution:

SGLT2 inhibitors (e.g. Farxiga, Jardiance, Invokana): These drugs are a good way to treat type 2 diabetes, but as a known side effect they increase the risk of a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis. It’s likely that this side effect could become more common on a strict low-carb diet. Proceed with caution and discuss it with your doctor. If you get symptoms of ketoacidosis: extreme thirst, nausea, vomiting, confusion etc. you should stop the medication, eat carbs and contact a doctor immediately.

So, of course, this affects me. I'd like to just take matters into my own hands and see what kind of weight loss I have prior to my next blood test and then talk to my doctor about things then, with the weight loss and hopefully good blood test results as "proof" that this works; I've gone to her long enough to know that she would pass out if she learned I was on an LCHF diet, so it's pointless to discuss it with her beforehand. The website does suggest closely monitoring blood sugar this way:

To see how your diet is impacting your blood sugars, we recommend checking them strategically around your meals.
1) Check your blood sugar. You need to know where you are starting. Write it down.
2) Eat a food. Write down what you ate and how many carbohydrates it contains.
3) Check your blood sugar after one hour. This shows how high your blood sugars will peak after eating the food. Be aware that if you eat a large meal or one very high in fat, it may take more than an hour for your blood sugars to peak. Fat slows down digestion.
4) Check your blood sugar after two hours. If your body can process the amount of carbohydrates you ate, you should be back to where you started or little bit higher.

So, I would try to do this while not taking my medication, so as to see how high (or low) my BS is after I eat LCHF (I would have the medicine with me in case of emergency).

Now, the guy at work - the one who lost 150 pounds - spent all his free time over the last four years researching the medical evidence released about this kind of diet and he insists that ketoacidosis is a danger if I have Type 1 diabetes that I let get out of control; now, he's not a doctor, but I'm keeping that in mind instead of getting all paranoid. The website I'm currently browsing, written by a doctor, tells how Swedish doctors are treating type 2 diabetics by giving them LCHF diets, so it's probably the best thing I can do to get my blood sugar naturally low.

Foods to eat

Meat: Any type: Beef, pork, lamb, game, poultry, etc. Feel free to eat the fat on the meat as well as the skin on the chicken.
Fish and seafood: All kinds: Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring are great. Avoid breading.
Eggs: All kinds: Boiled, fried, scrambled, omelets, etc. Preferably organic eggs. Recipes
Natural fat, high-fat sauces: Using butter and cream for cooking can make your food taste better and make you feel more satisfied. Try a BĂ©arnaise or Hollandaise sauce, check the ingredients or make it yourself. Coconut fat or olive oil are also good options.
Vegetables that grow above ground: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, 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, reduced fat and skim milk as they contain a lot of milk sugar. Avoid flavored, sugary and low-fat products.
Nuts: Great for a treat (in moderation) instead of popcorn, candy or chips.
Berries: Okay in moderation, if you are not super strict or sensitive.

Read the nutrition label in the grocery store. No more than 5% of carbohydrates in any food item is a good rule of thumb...Fiber is not counted, you can eat all the fiber you want.


Black or with small amounts of milk or cream is ideal for weight loss, especially if you drink coffee regularly throughout the day, even when you’re not hungry. But if you are hungry feel free to use full-fat cream. Or try it with coconut oil and butter – “Bulletproof coffee“.


Alcohol is not a weight-loss aid. The more alcohol you drink, the more weight loss may slow down, as the body burns the alcohol before anything else.

With that said, there is a huge difference between different kinds of drinks – some are pretty ok, some are disasters.

The short version: wine is much lower in carbs than beer, so most low carbers choose wine. Pure spirits like whiskey and vodka contain zero carbs, but watch out for sweet drinks – they may contain massive amounts of sugar.

Even on a strict low-carb diet (below 20 grams per day) you can probably have a glass of wine fairly regularly. And on a moderate low-carb diet, wine is not a problem...Sweet dessert wines, however, contain a lot more sugar.

Beer is a problem on low carb. There’s a reason people talk about “beer bellies”. There are tons of rapidly digestible carbs in beer – it’s been called liquid bread. For that reason, unfortunately, most beers are a disaster for weight control and should be avoided on low carb.

When it comes to drinks it’s pretty straightforward. Pure spirits like whiskey, brandy, cognac, vodka, tequila, etc. contain zero carbs and they are all fine on low carb.

However, avoid sugar-sweetened drinks...The worst option of all is to mix alcohol with soda or juice, this will be a sugar bomb.

Avoid these high-carb foods

Sugar: The worst. Soft drinks, candy, juice, sports drinks, chocolate, cakes, buns, pastries, ice cream, breakfast cereals. Preferably avoid sweeteners as well.
Starch: Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, French fries, potato chips, porridge, muesli and so on. Wholegrain products are just less bad. Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are high in carbs. 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. But there are a few lower-carb beers [blech]
Fruit: Very sweet, lots of sugar. Eat once in a while. Treat fruit as a natural form of candy.

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

Focus on eating good quality, minimally processed real food. Ideally the food you buy shouldn’t even have a list of ingredients (or it should be very short).

It’s called Low Carb, not No Carb. So how much carbs can you eat in a day? The answer is that it depends. But as a rough guide stay under 20 grams per day for maximum effect, and everyone who wants some benefits of low-carb eating (like effortless weight loss) should probably aim for at least staying under 100 grams of carbs per day.

Here’s the way we define different levels of low carb at Diet Doctor:

Ketogenic low carb: less than 20 gram carbs per day. This is a ketogenic diet (if protein intake is moderate). Previously we often called this “strict low carb”, but as the word “keto” or “ketogenic” became commonly used we switched to only use this term, for simplicity.
Moderate low carb: 20-50 grams per day.
Liberal low carb: 50-100 grams per day.

For comparison, a regular Western diet can easily contain 250 grams of carbs or more in a day, most of them bad refined carbs, including sugar.

The above numbers refer to digestible carbs, and discount the fibre. You can deduct them from your carb counts, i.e. eat all the natural fibre you want from vegetables, for example.

Another word for digestible carbs, with the fiber deducted, is “net carbs”.

However, don’t be fooled by the label “net carbs” on processed products, like chocolate bars. That’s usually just a way to trick you, and these products are often full of sugar alcohols with negative effects on your weight and blood sugar. I suggest not eating anything with the words “net carbs” printed on it.

And there's a low-carb recipe archive that seems promising.

The guys at work tell me that I don't even have to stress over recipes, as long as I don't get bored too quickly. They eat things like a cheesebuger without a bun, along with a side salad with a dressing (mainly olive oil). One guy said I could cook some chop meat, throw it in a big bowl of Romaine lettuce, and top it with some sour cream and shredded cheddar and I have a giant taco without the shell. One of the guys will bring in a different fatty meat each day, like a couple of large brats or something, to have along with his salad, although he does admit that he has trouble keeping a large amount of fat in his diet (while the one who lost 150 pounds has no trouble). I could easily eat a couple brats or kielbasa for a meal.

Another meal example is from what I was doing last year (without realizing it) - I was buying a nice, large fillet of fresh salmon and frying it in butter (lightly seasoned with salt and pepper), served with a large side of asparagus (also fried in butter and lightly seasoned). That's another LCHF meal, and one perfect for meatless Fridays, too!

The internet seems like it has a lot of "Keto diet" recipes, so when I feel like variety, I'll hunt some recipes down on the internet. Truth be told, it will SUCK to give up beer for a year or two (or forever, depending on how I feel after this). But if my blood levels stay ok and my kidneys are fine and the diabetes and heartburn go away so I don't need medication anymore, it's a small price to pay. I remember back to Atkins and South Beach and remember how motivating it felt to not have to eat all the time, to stop being preoccupied with food. And when the weight comes off and I'm wearing smaller clothes? It's all the motivation a person needs...