Low-carb high-fat diet (LCHF) is getting more and more attention within the Diabetes community.
Still with some negative and controversial opinions, LCHF diet is gaining its space as a way-to-go for diabetes control and possibly also diabetes reversal.
As Dr. Trudi Deakin explained in our podcast, glucose is not an essential nutrient as the body produces it by itself. So there is no need to consume it.
Diabetes and carbohydrates are closely connected. When people eat a food containing carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks down the digestible ones into sugar, which enters the blood. Consequently, the blood glucose levels will raise and there is a demand of insulin production and release in the blood stream.
If this is the case, following a low-carb diet makes sense, as there are fewer spikes of blood glucose levels and less need of insulin release from the pancreas, allowing it to perform in a slower pace.
Despite being very convincing and supported by a strong rationale, there are still some major questions that are frequently asked.
Here are the 10 most asked questions about low-carb high-fat diet:
1. So if this diet is that great and bring good outcomes why don’t we all do it?
Straightforward question with a straightforward answer.
Think about 3 of your favourite foods. I would bet +50% contain carbohydrate, am I right?
The majority of people are dependent on carbohydrates. A big percentage of the food available has some sort of carbohydrates, contributing for population’s dependency on these types of foods.
From pasta to bread and deserts, you name it – carbohydrates are very tasty, fills the stomach and provide comfort, happiness and is part of everyone’s daily diet pattern.
Because changes are difficult, and especially detoxification of carbohydrates is a challenge, not all people decide to follow this diet.
2. What types of food should I eat?
Low-carb high-fat diet encourages the consumption of good fats along with other non-starchy foods.
Examples are: Fish, meat (all meats; regarding sausages read labels as it usually have added sugar), eggs, all vegetables (I would go 100% with starchy vegetables on a first stage) and full fat dairies.
Include in moderate amount: Beans, pulses and lentils, nuts, seeds and fruit (excluding dried fruit).
Oils and spreads: 100% olive oil, coconut oil, butter and avocado oil.
3. What types of food are not included in this diet?
Starchy foods, processed foods and trans-fats.
A low-carb high-fat diet encourages homemade cooking instead of ready-made meals. This is due to added sugars and high carbohydrate levels of processed and ready meals.
It’s possible to find some brands producing low carb content meals, but again it’s all about labels and understanding what they mean.
4. How low is a low carbohydrate amount?
This is a very personal question. It depends on your daily activities, your routine and goals. A good tip is to do a food diary for a few days and have a full understanding of your balance between food intake and daily activity.
To start on this diet, experts advise to reduce carbohydrate content by 20g every day for the duration that suits you.
5. What about fat intake and cholesterol levels?
This is a huge topic and a lot can be said due to the misconception about cholesterol, fat and heart disease.
This might not be new to you: studies, ideas and cultural chit-chat suggest that fat consumption does affect your cholesterol levels therefore leaving you with high risk of cardiovascular disease. One of those cases when we are told since very young age about and it goes through generation to generation.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Fat, specifically saturated fat, DOES NOT put you in high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Of course that cholesterol levels will rise when you adopt this diet but the truth is that cholesterol is not the measurement of cardiovascular risk levels.
Instead research is really looking into vessels and arteries inflammation levels to understand the development of cardiovascular disease. These levels increase with consumption of refined carbohydrates and trans-fats such as canola oil, corn oil and sunflower oil .
You will definitely see a cholesterol level increase on your blood tests after a while that you have started on LCHF diet. Do not panic. Pay more attention to your triglycerides levels
High triglycerides levels reveal that you’re still eating high quantities of carbohydrates and can also reveal some information about your insulin resistance levels.
Great video about cholesterol and LCHF diet: here
6. What are the cons of the low-carb high-fat diet?
There are no strong cons. Maybe this diet doesn’t fit everyone. But there are not excuses to decrease the carbohydrates consumption.
You can think that so much fat in the diet is very dangerous. I’ll ask you to go back to question #5.
Something to keep in mind: you cannot go on a low-carb low-fat diet as it won’t be suitable for you. You need the fat to fuel your body and for fullness. Get that fat in your diet and do not be afraid. Relying majority on high content protein won’t give you the fullness you need to go through the day so you will eat more.
7. Are there anything to keep in mind in a long-term with this diet?
If you follow this diet, at this point you are doing more home cooking and consuming less processed foods so you can possibly have a reduction of sodium levels due to the reduction of the sodium intake. Also, as mentioned already, cholesterol levels will increase.
8. Does this diet promote weight loss?
Carbohydrates and its over consumption is one of the main causes of weight gain. Carbohydrates make you fat.
With the reduction of carbohydrates consumption the body will use the storage fat and the fat consumed as its main source for energy production.
More weight can be lost if you keep active.
9. Will my blood glucose levels improve?
Your body is using the extra fat storage as source for energy production helping with weight loss and your body becomes less insulin resistant.
Insulin resistance, as you know, is cause of Diabetes Type II. When diminished, the pancreas will struggle less to produce insulin and works in a slower pace. The body tissues will be more sensitive to fewer insulin concentration and the blood glucose levels will decrease.
Potentially, you will need less medication, or some adjustments on your medication at least, and this needs to be looked after. If you need help for this journey, contact us on [email protected] or check our services page. Do not do this alone if you are on medication you must be advised on your changes.
Something to keep in mind is that sometimes blood glucose control, mainly in the morning, can increase – it’s called Dawn phenomenon. This is quite frequent with someone that adopt this diet but be mindful that you will find that during the day, blood glucose control will be in target range.
10. What’s an example of meal plan of a LCHF diet?
This is a very fun one. Here is a very simple example.
Breakfast: Bacon (0 carbs – read labels) + scrambled eggs cooked in butter and coffee (no added sugar)/tea (with full fat milk)
Lunch: Minced beef stew with broccoli mash cooked with butter
Dinner: Chicken & vegetables curry (cooked in coconut oil or olive oil) + cauliflower rice fried in coconut oil.