Low carb, high fat; low carb healthy fat; lchf diet – There are a few names for it and some variations on those names. Today, I want to explain what a low carb, high fat lifestyle looks like, the benefits and challenges, what food you can eat and what to avoid.
Then, I’ll be bringing you some delicious high fat low carb meals that are gluten-free and refined sugar free (and mostly totally sugar free).
Did you know that the average Australian consumes more than 40 teaspoons a day of sugar – and that’s without consuming any soft drink, confectionery or junk food!
It’s found in things like low-fat yogurt, fruit juice, cereals and muesli bars. These hidden sugars are creating havoc with our physical health, our digestive health and our waistlines.
What Is LCHF?
LCHF stands for low carb, high fat.
The LCHF eating plan emphasises whole, unprocessed foods, low-carb vegetables and nuts and discourages highly processed, packaged items. It also includes consuming protein and healthy fat at every meal.
There is a lot of research that shows LCHF helps reduce health issues such as heart disease, Alzheimers and Type 2 diabetes. As well as improving focus, clarity and concentration. Following a high fat low carb diet plan also reduces the need for snacking and creates digestive ease due to the increased hours between meals. It’s a a way of eating to train your body to use fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
In my case, my main reason for moving to a low carb, high fat or LCHF lifestyle is to improve my performance during training and racing. The increased focus, decreased snacking and reduction of the possibility of Alzheimers are all bonuses.
The Benefits of LCHF
- A more efficient metabolism
- Not requiring to eat regularly
- Your goal weight becomes easy to maintain
- Enhanced immunity – by removing refined sugar, junk food, dairy and gluten you’re creating a much healthier gut biome which enhances your immunity
If you’re an athlete, then these other benefits might also interest you:
- Your body can store more fat than carbohydrates so when training and racing, your body is using fat for fuel so you won’t need to consume as many carbohydrates
- Not having to carry as much fuel when training or racing
- This in turn helps avoid ‘hitting the wall’ or ‘bonking’ and gut issues.
- Improved performance and recovery
What are the Challenges?
- It is more difficult to get good quality sources of fat on a vegan diet. Good sources include avocado, nuts and oils
- Changing the way you eat – getting out of old habits, getting use to new habits – and finding new go-to meals
- Reducing the amount of carbohydrates without impacting your nutrition. It’s not simply about removing carbohydrates
- The metabolic grey zone – as you transition between meals high in carbohydrates to meals low in carbohydrates and high in fat – your body will take some time to adjust
It’s important to point out that this lifestyle doesn’t mean NO carbohydrates. Vegetables have carbohydrates and your body needs carbohydrates, this way of eating basically tips the food pyramid on its head.
The Australian Food Pyramid recommends consuming 6 serves of grains per day. Grains spike our blood glucose levels and consuming refined carbohydrates creates a roller coaster effect, requiring us to continually snack to regulate our levels.
What Can I Eat On A Low Carb High Fat Diet Plan?
What are some LCHF foods that I can consume?
- Cooked or raw vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum, carrots, asparagus, leeks, onions, brussel sprouts, alfalfa, zucchini, celery, bok choy, mushrooms, cucumber, cabbage, tomatoes and pumpkin, but no potatoes or corn (corn is actually a grain). This is not an exhaustive list – pretty much every vegetable is good to eat, except the really starchy ones like white potatoes
- Coconut cream
- Coconut yogurt
- Berries – most fruits are ok in moderation but berries are best
- Oils including olive oil, avocado oil, hazelnut oil, walnut oil, coconut oil and MCT oil
- Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamias etc), seeds, and their nut butters – almond butter, macadamia butter, sunflower seed butter etc
What Should I Avoid On A High Fat Low Carb Diet Plan?
- Refined sugar
- Poor quality fats – canola oil, ‘vegetable’ oils
- Refined carbohydrates – bread, pasta, crackers
How Do I Create Meals?
Building Your Plate – This excellent guide is from Steph at The Natural Nutritionist and freely available on her website.
Build Your Plate – Females 2/1/1 or 2/1/2 – Males 2/1/2
- Consume two (2) cups of predominately non-starchy vegetables at every meal
- Consume one (1) serve of protein at every meal
- Consume one (1) to two (2) serve of good fats at every meal
Other Things To Consider
Your gut biome – easy ways to enhance your gut biome is by including onions, leeks and asparagus to provide prebiotics and probiotics such as sauerkraut, and Kultured Wellness yoghurt and kefir.
Hydration and electrolytes – you should be drinking 2 to 3 litres of water per day. Start the day with a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt, bonus points if it’s seaweed salt, as you’ll also be getting your iodine.
I signed up for The Natural Nutritionist’s 2 week reset (which is actually a 6 week program, but you start with resetting your meals for 2 weeks). Find out more here.
Next week, I’ll be posting a detailed summary of what I did each day in terms of food and training, how I felt, my meals and times, sleep diary and lots of notes about the changes I noticed in the first two weeks.
I’ll also be bringing your some LCHF recipes to help you navigate this space.
I am not a nutritionist. I have written this from the point of view of someone who is interested in nutrition and fuelling their body for optimum performance.
Most of the information has come from The Natural Nutritionist online as well as her books
- Low Carb Healthy Fat Nutrition Check the price on Booktopia. Check the price on Amazon
- The Real Food Athlete.