What is LCHF?
Frequently people start with LCHF as a way of losing weight but very quick they learn that there is more to it and they decide to turn it into a healthy lifestyle.
LCHF stands for “low carb high/healthy fat”.
It started in Sweden some 15-20 years ago. More and more people understood that if they want to be healthy, they have to change the way they think about food and nutrition and start eating food that the body knows how to handle. Switching to LCHF has helped many people stabilize their blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormonal balance, get better sleep, oral health, and gut health, get rid of acid reflux and heart burn, get rid of joint pains, lose their sugar cravings, and much more, and, as a bonus, they stabilize their weight to its optimal level.
In 2008, LCHF was approved by the Swedish health authorities (Socialstyrelsen) as one of the treatments for diabetes and overweight.
In 2013, the Swedish governmental report (SBU) concluded, after researching 16,000 studies from all over the world, that: 1) low carbohydrate diets are best for weight loss and blood sugar stability, and 2) there is no evidence that saturated fat causes cardiovascular disease.
How does it work?
LCHF is based on the evolution of humankind and our bodies’ biochemistry – in short, what our bodies are designed to eat. LCHF has the same basics as the Paleo and Atkin’s diets but advocates a more holistic, and sometimes realistic, approach.
LCHF is also based on scientific research. Today we don’t have to guess what our ancestors ate – we can find that out through anthropological studies. But not only that – LCHF also has a wide base of modern clinical trials to back it up.
When you look at the type of nutrition the body needs for optimal health and to work properly, you see that most of the modern industrialized foods are not suitable at all. Instead the body thrives on natural basic “whole foods”, with a minimum of ingredients. The foods you can find at the butcher, the fishmonger, in the vegetable market etc.
And when you start to study the scientific data you quickly find that there is no harm in eating natural fats, including the saturated ones. On the contrary, eating a low-fat diet, or a diet full of polyunsaturated fats, probably has a huge part in inducing the modern illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, IBS, thyroid problems, celiac disease, and more.
Our body needs energy (“fuel”) to keep us going and stay warm as well as raw material (“building blocks”) to grow and repair, and to fight infections and harmful microbes.
Eating according to LCHF gives your body the food for which it was designed.
What do our bodies need?
Our bodies need energy (“fuel”) and nutrition (“building blocks”). Some foods are good for all purposes; others are good only for one or a few.
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the macronutrients. For fuel the body uses carbohydrates and fats. For building blocks it uses protein and fat.
We also need some vitamins and minerals (micronutrients).
Today we’re surrounded with plenty of foods that contain a lot of energy but not so much with nutrients, so it seems logical to try to eat as nutrient dense foods as possible to obtain as much “building blocks” as possible per “energy unit”.
And that is exactly what eating LCHF does.
What to eat and what not to eat?
There are different types of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and also different amounts in different types of foods.
It’s important to remember that even if we do not eat any carbohydrates at all, the body can produce the amount needed. However, there are some proteins and fats that the body cannot produce by itself and hence we have to provide them in our food.
There are some general rules that suit more or less everybody, and then each one has to do their own modifications according to their personal needs and lifestyle. (Feel free to contact me[link to contact form] for more customized options.)
- Choose foods with as few ingredients as possible
- Avoid anything that has “diet” or “light” printed on the package
- Don’t fear fat! (And cholesterol is really not a problem.) Choose the natural occurring ones such as butter, coconut oil, olive oil, tallow, and schmaltz.
- Always avoid sugar, wheat, margarine (a chemically processed non-food), and any foods that contain these ingredients! Other grains, plant oils that are hydrogenated, partly hardened etc., and artificial sweeteners should also be avoided as much as possible.
LCHF – More than a diet!
LCHF is not limited to what foods we should eat or avoid. It is a holistic approach that takes into account our health situation and activity levels, our daily life and stress, as well as our genes and what we can tolerate. What we eat affects our hormones and how we can handle the stress in our lives. And vice versa, the stress we encounter affects the biochemical processes in our bodies and in the long run what our bodies do with the food we eat.
From an ecological aspect it is better to chose locally-grown produce and from a health point of view grass-fed meat is to be preferred. But even if you can’t afford to buy only organic and ecological, choose appropriate foods according to the LCHF principles. Once you understand how modern food affects your body and health, the decision to choose better – foods your body understands – will become natural.
Embrace the LCHF lifestyle and you won’t regret it!