Still think the key to losing weight is reducing the levels of fat in your diet?
That’s not the case anymore…
What is the Low Carb High Fat diet?
The Low Carb High Fat diet, commonly known as LCHF, is an eating plan which encourages followers to prioritise protein like meat, fish and eggs and natural fats like butter, and avoid sugar and starches. It’s a very straightforward diet, with no weighing and no calorie counting – just stick to the principles of LCHF, and you should lose weight.
This style of eating has been popular in countries like Sweden and Norway since the late noughties, but is slowly but surely making its way to UK shores.
The idea is that foods that contain more fat are more satisfying, meaning that you’ll naturally consume what you need and then stop when you’re full – all whilst breaking your dependence on sugar and carbohydrates, which can play havoc with your appetite and blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that the LCHF diet can help you lose weight without raising your cholesterol.
Eating more fat can also help your body to burn fat more efficiently. Some fat-burning hormones (adiponectin) are released specifically from your fat cells, and works to boost your metabolism and increase the speed at which fats are broken down. So it turns out that to burn fat, you need to be eating in the first place!
What can I eat on LCHF?
- Fish and seafood
- Nuts and seeds
- Tea and coffee
Meat is a staple of the LCHF. You can cook it in a fat such as butter, and season it however you wish, without worrying about trimming every inch of fat as you might with other weight loss plans.
Scrambled, poached, fried or in a frittata – eggs are a filling option, and packed with healthy protein.
No types of fish are off-limits, although followers often favour fatty, oily fish like salmon or mackerel.
However, not all veggies are created equal, and if you’re following LCHF, you should only consume vegetables that are grown above ground. This means you can enjoy cabbages, brocolli, asparagus, courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes, peppers and more, but are recommended to avoid root veg. Onions are generally allowed in moderation.
Excellent for grazing on, nuts and seeds make a brilliant high fat snack, although some restraint should still be exercised with these foods.
Rich and creamy sauces add flavour and the recommended fat to dishes – try bernaise, hollandaise, or cheese sauces on your lunch or evening meal.
Caffeine is still on the menu – just cut out your sugars, if you have them, and opt for full-fat milk or cream.
You may have to re-think your usual go-to pasta dish or roast dinner, but low carb meals can be filling and plentiful.
What does a typical day look like?
Breakfast: Coffee with cream, bacon and eggs cooked in butter or coconut oil
Lunch: Salad with cheese or lean protein like chicken
Dinner: Meat cooked in butter or coconut oil, served with creamy sauce and vegetables
Snacks: Nuts, yogurt, or a handful of berries, if you’re eating them
Low-sugar fruits like berries, alcohol, and small amounts of dark chocolate can also be consumed as part of the plan if you wish – it’s up to you how strict you wish to be.
What should I avoid on LCHF?
Bad news if you’ve got a sweet tooth – sugar is the biggest no-go for those following LCHF principles. This means cutting out baked goods, sweets, cereals, fizzy drinks and any other main offenders.
As you’ve probably guessed, starchy carbohydrates like rice, pasta, bread and potatoes are also off the menu. You may like to try substitutes like cauliflower rice or spiralized vegetable pasta whilst you get used to this way of eating.
Even though they’re natural, fruit is high in sugar. You can eat it once in a while, if you like, but think of it like having a chocolate bar or other occasional treat, rather than an everyday food.
Margarine is full of unhealthy chemicals and unnaturally high levels of fats – you’re far better off eating natural butter instead.
Alcohol can be drunk in moderation on LCHF plans, but yeasty, sugary beer isn’t on the approved list, as it’s very high in carbohydrates.
If in doubt, read the label: the carbohydrate component of the food should be 5% or less.
What are the pros?
So why low carb high fat? Studies have shown this type of diet tends to have a higher rate of success for weight loss compared with the traditional low fat approach. It’s also good for controlling blood sugar, and allows participants to eat unlimited quantities of certain foods rather than preaching restriction.
What are the cons?
Although it can help to promote healthy blood sugar levels, diabetics who take medication may find that the changes are so significant that the improvements interefere with their medication. Diabetics should consult their doctor before starting a low carb high fat eating plan.