When it comes to fat loss the most important thing you need to do is to reduce your carbohydrate intake. Yes, you probably need to reduce your overall energy intake and do a bit of exercise too, but if too many calories in your diet are coming from carbs, then you most likely won’t achieve the result you want, as easily as you want.
Reducing carbs and increasing fat also helps kill hunger. Sound good?
I’ve always pretty much come from a moderate carbohydrate, moderate protein, moderate (good) fat stance, but over the past month or so I’ve become more interested in exploring the low carb, high fat lifestyle (LCHF).
It works great for fat loss, lowering blood sugar (and thus insulin) levels, stabilising energy levels, reducing hunger and if you follow the LCHF guidelines then you remove processed foods from your diet too, leading to eating healthy, whole foods. Food as nature provided it. But let me repeat – eating more fat in your diet kills hunger and that makes it an easier lifestyle to adhere to.
The goal is to reduce your carbohydrates, with most of them now coming from above the ground vegetables, and at the same time you increase your fat intake. Natural fat that is, not fat coming from processed foods like potato chips and donuts! Yes, you can have cream and butter and skin off the chicken, but it isn’t a free for all to eat as much fat as possible!
A very important thing to consider before embarking on the LCHF lifestyle is that you can't have it both ways. If you go high fat, then you need to go low carb. So if you decide to have a high fat breakfast, followed by a bread roll or sushi for lunch, for instance, that will not work. High carb+ high fat = fat gain.
Carbohydrate Basics 101
- All carbohydrates break down to sugar, whether it be a piece of spinach or a piece of cake.
- Most foods contain carbohydrates.
- All fruit, all vegetables, all dairy products, as well as the obvious suspects like cereal, bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes, sweets, fruit juices, most sauces, etc contain carbs.
When we eat carbohydrates, depending on the type (and how sweet it is and how quickly it is broken down for fuel), our body responds by releasing the hormone insulin. Insulin is our fat storage hormone. When insulin levels are elevated we store fat in our fat cells. When we are storing fat, we can’t release fat to use as fuel. Elevated insulin levels also make us hungry. Eating lots of the wrong type of carbohydrate leads to hunger, which leads to eating more carbohydrates. If you are very active like a builder or an athlete then your body will use a lot of those carbs for fuel, but the fact is that most of us are more likely to be sitting on our behinds than running marathons or climbing ladders all day.
When we are hungry, we reach for more food. What do we normally reach for first? Right, more carbs! We then release yet more insulin and store more fat and feel hungry again not too much later. A vicious circle which keeps us fat.
Insulin Basics 101
- Insulin is the body’s defence mechanism against rising blood sugar. Without it (as in Type 1 diabetes) we would die.
- Insulin also influences the storage and use of fat and protein. It is a very important hormone which helps us store fuel for later use.
A big problem these days is that more and more people are becoming insulin resistant. What that means is that, usually through poor lifestyle habits and carrying excessive fat in the abdominal area, your body no longer allows insulin to do its job of removing glucose from the bloodstream and consequently your blood sugar levels rise.
Elevated blood sugar is extremely detrimental. It is like rusting from the inside out. That sticky, sugary blood touches every cell in your body, damaging them. Your risk of heart disease and stroke shoot up, it wrecks the small arteries in your eyes and kidneys and over time your health deteriorates and your lifespan shortens.
Do not ignore it when your doctor tells you that your blood sugar is elevated and you are pre-diabetic. That is your chance to do something about it and adopting a healthier, active lifestyle, reducing weight and eating correctly may prevent you from ending up a Type 2 diabetic with a shortened lifespan.
How can living the Low Carb High Fat Lifestyle help?
By reducing your carbs, you reduce your insulin output.
What can you eat? Lots of yummy food! Fruit is very limited as fruit is generally quite high in simple sugar, but instead you can add things like avocado, nuts, seeds, oil, cheese (all types!) to your meal to increase the fat intake. The goal is to reduce the carbs and increase the fats so that your body uses fat for fuel and has less access to sugar (carbs).
There is way too much to write about here but if you are curious, then I would highly recommend that you get yourself a copy of an excellent NZ book 'What The Fat' by Professor Grant Scofield and dietician Caryn Zinn PHD.
There are also some great recipes in the book by Chef Craig Rodger.
You can buy it from Whitcoulls or direct from their website . The book explains why fat is not bad. Yes, I know. We were all told decades ago that fat was bad and carbs were good, but for fat loss and good health, I don’t believe that theory is now correct.
Another website you might like to look at to get an idea of the LCHF lifestyle and ideas for recipes is www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb
I’ve been living the LCHF lifestyle for three weeks now and have a few clients following it too. If you are interested and would like me to work out a plan with you, please get in touch.