Over the last 6 to 12 months I've noticed an emergence of low carb/high fat followers and have read a lot of success stories from those that have lost weight to eliminating type 2 diabetes.
Essentially this protocol aims to use fats as your body's main source of energy rather than carbohydrates. But to do that you need to limit your carbohydrates to about 50 grams a day (this may vary between individuals). When you avoid sugar and starches your blood sugar stabilises and the levels of insulin, the fat-storing hormone, plummet. This increases fat burning and makes you feel more satisfied and ultimately eat less.
I thought I'd find out for myself what it's like to follow the LCHF protocol and share with you my experience. My aim is not to loose weight but test whether this diet is sustainable and what physical and mental effects it had for me.
So today I embarked on a 21-day LCHF diet and restricted my carbs to about 50 grams!
Hmmmm so what can I eat and what do I have to avoid ..
IN & OUT FOOD SUMMARY LIST
EAT: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables above the ground and natural fats like butter
AVOID: sugar and starchy foods (bread, pasta, rice, beans and potatoes) and low fat products.
LCHF emphasizes that you eat when hungry and until you are satisfied. Counting calories is out .. PHEW! The great thing about LCHF is that REAL foods are promoted - so think live foods that have been bathed in sunlight: including veggies grown above ground, but limiting those grown underground such as taubers (sweet potatoes, beets, turnips etc, proteins) good sources of fat such as olive oil, coconut oil, organic butter, full fat dairy such as cream, yoghurt and natural cheeses, avocado, nuts, seeds, free range/organic eggs, meats (organic and grass fed, fat on), sausages are allowed providing they're a quality product with a high meat content and minimal additives, wild caught fish (minus the batter!) and low-fat products are definitely out.
The reason for eliminating fruit is that it despite being natural they are high in sugar. You can have a piece occasionally and berries are recommended being lower in sugar and to team it with full-fat cream.
Can you drink alcohol beverages I hear you scream, yes but opt for red wine and keep it to a minimum. Beer and sugary mixed drinks are out of bounds. Obvisouly water is the preferred drink and you can flavour this with lemon or lime and maybe the odd slice of strawberry. Coffee and tea are allowed but with full-fat milk or go the bullet proof coffee with a table spoon each of butter and coconut oil.
It all sounds good in principle with the elimination of sugary processed foods but can I survive on next to no carbohydrates? I also wonder about what it will do to my brain function, energy levels and will I get enough fibre, essential vitamins and minerals?
Day 1 - Food intake
- Breakfast: two poached eggs, with mushrooms cooked in butter, on rocket
- Snack: one carrot with natural peanut butter
- Lunch: pan-fried kale and green beans in coconut oil, 100g mackrel and half an avocado
- Dinner: chicken curry with homemade Tikka Marsala sauce, in coconut cream, no rice!
- Snack: 2 tbs full-fat yoghurt, 1 tbs each of sesame seeds, pepita, coconut flakes and ground flaxseeds
- Liquids: green tea x2, dandelion tea x2, water x1 litre, rooibos tea x1
THOUGHTS & effects
I really missed my cooked oats for breakfast and brown rice with my curry but overall I didn't find it too hard. I didn't experience any adverse effects such as headaches or dips in energy YAY. Thinking it's going require a little creativity for me to sustain this diet over the next 20 days but I'm committed to seeing it through.