What I`ve learned from a Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) , Banting, Paleo and Slow Carb Diet
What do Atkins, Banting, Paleo, Slow carb have in common, that's right, the same scientific base of Low Carb, High Fat. I know it goes against everything you have been told, but have you ever wondered why the last forty years have seen the biggest spike in obesity, diabetes and lifestyle related sickness in recorded history.
Could it be related to what we are eating?
To start with, here is a great video that simply explains the concept.
What`s real food?
Of the nutrients; protein, carbohydrate, and fat, the one that is unnecessary for human existence is carbohydrate; there is no known carbohydrate deficiency disease in humans.
In 1977, an error was made; we took food we don’t need and made it a basis for every meal. On present guidelines, we’re taught to make starchy food the basis for every meal and to cut out the fat.
Our body can get energy from sugar or fat. When presented with both options our body goes for the easier sugar option.
Carbohydrates turn into sugar (glucose); fats typically break down into triglycerides (more on this when we discuss cholesterol). Our body gets accustomed to the source it is given but will revert to sugar instead of fat much quicker than the other way around.
This is partially due to the way we evolved as humans. Our primal ancestors (Plains Indians, Aboriginal and Inuit peoples for example) hunted and ate everything from the animal including the fatty bits. They would forage for roots and berries (low glycaemic).
On rare occasions they would stumble on something sweet and then they would stuff themselves since they knew they weren’t going to come across something sweet again for a long time. Stuffing ourselves when we come across something sweet is still deeply engrained in our brains since we haven’t actually changed that much.
Top cause of obesity - insulin
The problem with sugar as energy is that if given too much it induces an insulin spike. This wreaks havoc in many ways.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.
Insulin resistance (IR) is a condition where the cells become resistant to insulin and are unable to use it as effectively, leading to hyperglycaemia.
When we eat carbohydrates, we either burn it as fuel or store it as fat. But, the more insulin resistant you are, the more fat you store.
Many and continued insulin spikes over time lead to insulin resistance, you see where this is going right. If you don’t eat more you feel tired because your brain slows down the rest of your body’s systems so that it can direct energy to feed your fat cells.
On the flip side, if you are fat adapted your body gets a steady trickle of energy from your fat reserves; you have an endless supply of energy.
So, the key is not to induce insulin spikes.
The video below explains it all in really clear laymans terms.
The skinny on obesity
We Are All Different!!!
This really affects people who are carbohydrate resistant. For these people their bodies just don’t process carbs well, especially refined carbs.
Some people believe as much as 40% of the population is carb resistant. We all need to find our own balance.
An easy way to asses if low carb is helping other conditions in your life not just your waistline is to try cutting out all carbs for two weeks and the to re-evaluate your list of complaints.
- What symptoms are better?
- What symptoms are gone?
- How is your energy level?
- Are you sleeping better?
- How are you feeling emotionaly?
If you felt better, start adding small amounts of carbs back into your diet.
Start slowly, such as a piece of fruit with breakfast, some yogurt, or some sushi and rice with dinner – not all 3 on one day. Add a bit more each day, but continue to stay away from all refined sugars and white flours!
Usually within a few hours after eating the carbohydrate some of your symptoms will return. For me it is bloating and headaches, but a a depressed mood or energy level, craving for more carbohydrates, or any other symptom that improved during the weeks off carbs will pop up once more.
This is your tolerance level and you will want to back off your carbohydrate intake slightly and maintain, but not exceed, this new level of intake. Remember it's low carb not no carb!
Tim Noakes lets his academic buddies in on the info
What I eat and what I don`t
I don’t eat anything with sugar or sweeteners. I have also dropped all bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. No refined carbs (cake, biscuits, chips, etc.)
It’s not a no carb diet, it’s a low carb diet. I get my carb from yogurt, milk, green veggies and a bit of low glycaemic fruit
I do cheat. Potato chips are my weakness. I steal a few of my kids’ chips on Friday take out evenings, and I have been seen lurking around sushi trains.
When I started out I ate beans and had a cheat day once a week, but over time the need for these has dropped off and I have found that I have less cravings.
Every day is an opportunity to start again, so if today has not been your best low carb day, don't freak out, make a plan to improve for tomorrow and go for it, over time a habit will develop.
Not a diet
Eating this way is not a ‘diet’ it’s a lifestyle – one that promotes well-being, leaves us deeply nourished and content, feeds the local economy, and supports the health of our planet.
Getting the whole family onboard can prove to be a bit of a challenge, I recommend the book below, Low Carb Living for Families, to get you started with ideas for the kids ( and low carb chocolate cake for the big kids like me!)
i am not a doctor and by no means wish to give any kind of medical advice, just my own insights, so please do your homework and make your own decisions before beginning a LCHF lifestyle.