The Low Carb High Fat Diet
What diet is right for you? How do you eat to lose weight? What gets results without you wanting to pull your hair out from frustration? What gives you the willpower to say no to that cookie? The world of Weight Loss is a vast one and a low carb high fat diet or way of eating (WOE) is gaining traction as a viable option more and more every day.
Low-carb high-fat and keto diets (or LCHF for short) have been reported for over a century. Here’s a little history lesson about the origins of the modern low carb high fat diet. It all starts with two of the modern day pioneers of the LCHF diet: Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek. Stephen Phinney thought he was breaking new ground with this new way of eating and was really excited about it.
What he actually discovered were some old log notes from a European expedition which trekked across northern Canada to recover a lost ship. The journal remarked that the guides for the expedition, members of an Inuit tribe, survived on reindeer only. After a few weeks of weakness, the journal notes indicated that the European explorers became stronger very fast. It noted that they were experiencing more energy than ever before. Why? Because they had adopted a low carb high fat diet without even knowing it.
But this way of eating is not for everyone. How to eat for optimal health is NOT a one-size-fits-all solution. Over time and with better research, we are re-learning that eating plenty of healthy fats is crucial for having good energy. Healthy fats are also important for a sharp and focused mind, for sleeping well and maintaining a healthy weight. But is the LCHF way of eating right for you? Read on.
The benefits of a Low Carb High Fat Diet
There are many benefits of eating increased amounts of healthy fats such as organic butter, coconut oil, unheated olive oil, ghee, rendered animal fats and whole foods like eggs, avocados and nuts and seeds.
Healthy fats send satiety signals to the brain meaning you feel full faster and easily control portion sizes. Imagine eating a loaf of bread vs. trying to eat a stick of butter. Like me, I’m guessing you could get through a lot of bread but would have a bite or two of butter and that would be enough!
We need healthy fats to build our cell membranes. While that doesn’t sound exciting, the membranes are largely responsible for the health and signaling of the cell. If you have the wrong fats (like hydrogenated ones) in your diet, your cells are stiffer and unable to function optimally. This translates to brain fog, poor memory, low energy and a slow metabolism.
Fats tell your body that your environment is “safe” and signals weight loss if needed. Our bodies are wired as if it was 100,000 years ago (that’s not a typo!). So if we eat fewer calories and less nutrient-dense foods – like sugar, bread, grains and too much fruit – it signals our body that there is the potential for famine. Of course, your body will stall metabolism and favor fat storage to keep you alive.
Would a Low Carb High Fat diet suit me?
While most people can benefit from eating more healthy fats, who is best suited for a low carb high fat diet? Here are a few questions to guide you.
- Do you regularly experience being “hangry?” For example, if you’re late to eat or miss a meal you may feel irritated, fatigued and also lightheaded or “off.”
- Is it hard for you to go more than 2-3 hours without eating?
- Do you carry most of your weight around your stomach and thighs?
- Have you been/are you a yo-yo dieter or have you done low-calorie diets in the past?
- Do you experience an afternoon crash when all you’d like is to take a nap?
If you answered yes to some of the above then the chances are you could benefit from LCHF eating. If you answered yes to more than one, it’s definitely worth your time to explore the lifestyle. Here’s why you might be interested in exploring the low carb high fat diet a little more…
All the signs I mentioned above show blood sugar irregularities. Those irregularities are common in people who would do better with higher fats in their diet. Phinney and Volek argue that about 2/3 of the population can benefit from a low carb high fat diet. At the same time, they say that 1/3 will do better with higher carbohydrates.
How to proceed on a low carb high fat diet:
How many carbs you should eat each day is a different conversation that we will cover in a future article. BEFORE radically changing your diet or introducing massive amounts of fats into your way of eating… it is ALWAYS advisable to speak with your physician first.
For now, if you think that increasing the healthy fats that you eat on a daily basis is a good idea, then start slowly… especially if you’re used to avoiding fat. Your body needs time to adjust as with most changes.
Here’s the bottom line: we have been trained for YEARS to be afraid of all fats. Marketing companies made TONS of money off this idea in the 80’s and 90’s… and still are today. We shouldn’t be so afraid of fats. Cook with organic butter and coconut oil. Add a splash of olive oil to your veggies.
Whether or not the low carb high fat diet is right for you is determined by how it makes you feel. Your body will tell you what it wants, how it is reacting and whether or not this way of eating is what it is looking for or not. The hardest part is learning to listen to what our body is telling us. Let me know in the comments how your body reacts to the low carb high fat diet.
References: Jeff S. Volek & Stephen D. Phinney. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. 2011.