My approach to LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) is probably a bit more pragmatic than you’ll meet elsewhere. I believe that LCHF has something to offer for most people and since we all have different body types, health issues, goals and reasons for choosing LCHF, I like to look at it from a broader perspective.
Today, I’ll take you through some of the frequently asked questions I often get from readers who want to try LCHF and I’ll answer them based on my own experiences.
HOW MANY CARBS CAN I EAT?
LCHF doesn’t necessarily tell you how many carbs to eat. Some will tell you that the true LCHF is 20 g per day (ketogenic diet) while others will allow up to 50 or even 100g per day. Depending on who you ask. I would actually like to see the focus switching from counting carbs to focusing more on eating real foods. By real food I mean vegetables, meats, healthy fats and full fat dairy products. Add a little bit of nuts, berries and maybe even some fruit and you’ve made it far already. This approach will automatically lower your carb intake – also without you counting them.
For me, LCHF has been about getting to know my own body and its reactions to different foods. I was never overweight and could allow for more carbs compared to someone who suffered from insulin resistance. We each need to find our own carb tolerance. Someone who is metabolically ill and inactive won’t be able to eat the same amount of carbs as someone healthy, lean and active.
I don’t count my carbs. I don’t count calories or anything else. If I were to count, I would probably find I eat somewhere between 20-100 g of carbs per day. The great span is because my days are all different. If I begin to crave sugar, it’s often a good sign that I need to lower my carb intake for a while. Just until I feel stable again.
My own diet consists of plenty of vegetables, good quality meats and healthy fats. I eat full fat dairy products and nuts too but not in large quantities (both give me stomach pains). I also allow for some root vegetables and I’ll even eat the occasional sweet potato just because they are delicious. I don’t eat any refined sugar at all (read my reasons for that HERE).
In the low carb community, I often see that people go crazy if someone eats a carrot because it’s a root vegetable while dark chocolate completely goes under the radar and is accepted as okay. I find that to be a screwed perspective.
HOW DO I LEARN TO EAT MORE FAT?
Limiting or reducing carbs is fairly easy. The real challenge is adding back the fat. I’ve been a fat phobic for most of my adult life so I needed to relearn everything I believed in and the way I shopped and cooked when I switched to a LCHF diet 5-6 years ago. This is how I did it:
I started by taking fish oil in the morning. I took as much as 1 tablespoon every morning in a little glass with a bit of juice. I immediately felt how it calmed my body. Then I started choosing fattier cuts of meat. No more lean chicken breast for me. Instead, I’d pick chicken with the skin on. I also started actually eating the skin or the rim of fat on my steak. Maybe not all of it to begin with but I started eating some of it. Boy, did it taste good! Then I started adding some extra coconut oil to the skillet when I cooked my eggs in the morning. I made salad dressings and pestos on good cold pressed oils and added them to my food. I also made different dipping sauces from real mayonnaise. If I got hungry in between meals, I’d eat a thick slice of cheese. All these things together made me eat more fat without I felt like I was eating a high fat diet.
SO HOW ABOUT FRUIT AND ROOT VEGETABLES
That’s a question I often get. Are they in or are they out? Well, that depends. I live in the cold north and I find getting through a long cold winter without the warming root vegetables to be very difficult. So I eat some almost every day. Fruit however, I limit in the winter. I’m a very seasonal eater. In the summer, I begin to crave the fresh green salads so I eat more of those. I use fruit for dessert (served with whipped cream) or I use small quantities to add flavor or sweetness to salads or the like. But I don’t gorge on apples all day long.
But technically, fruit and root vegetables are in the grey area on LCHF and you need to decide for yourself if they have a place in your diet. If you’re going for a very strict ketogenic diet, you’ll have to leave them out. At least to begin with.
HOW ABOUT EXERCISING?
Is it even possible to combine exercising with low carbing? For sure, it is! Though probably not in the beginning while your body adjusts to using fat as fuel. When I first started my LCHF-adventure, I was a keen runner. But for several weeks I could not run. I just couldn’t. My legs felt like they were filled up with concrete! But after a while (maybe 8-10 weeks), I starting feeling improvements. I loved running long distances at a relatively slow pace and that works just fine with low carbing. If you are to compete on the 100m, you might want to add some rocket fuel (carbs) before your run.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF A LOW CARB HIGH FAT DIET?
I find there are so many advantages I don’t know how to start! My favorite parts are these: Food tastes SO much better, I feel full and satisfied after a meal, it eliminates my sugar cravings, it makes weightloss/keeping a healthy weight easy, I sleep like a baby, my skin gets soft without the use of bodylotion – just to mention a few. Your skin is actually a good indication of whether you’re taking in enough fat. Is your skin dry and ichy, try adding more fat to your diet.
So my recommendation for anybody is this: Give it a try! Try LCHF for 3-4 weeks and see how it goes. Maybe you’ll experience improvements beyond what I’ve mentioned here, or maybe you’ll find out that you hate it. LCHF is not for everybody. But if you suffer from inexplicable stomach issues, fatigue, sugar cravings, low energy, weight problems, mood swings or sleep problems, I think you might find something you can use in this dietary approach.
For more details, also read: