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Friday, 22 November 2013

The Low Carb, High Fat Diet

I started the LCHF diet. That's low carb, high fat. When I first heard of it I was really sceptical. You would be, too. All of our lives people have been saying how good carbohydrates are and to avoid fat as much as possible. Every doctor, every commercial, every magazine is telling us the wrong things. We were artificially programmed to think that carbs are good, they give us more energy, it lowers the chance of getting heart diseases and it will make us look better. Turns out it's all a big lie.

The Real Food Pyramid
If you really prefer to stay blind, don't read this article. I am not a dietitian, just a regular guy, who wants to eat healthy. Found this diet and I am feeling much better than ever before. But for that to happen it took some time, dedication and a lot of reading.

What is LCHF diet?

Basically the title says it all. You need to lower as much as possible your carbohydrates consumption and eat as much fat as possible. Why? What you know about food is that carbs are good, because they are giving you energy which is very important for your body. Yes, it gives you energy, but at what price? Did you know that your body transforms the carbs into fat? This has been scientifically proven two centuries ago.

This raises a few questions. If carbs are so important why are they transformed in to fat? Why does insulin try to remove carbohydrates from our body? And why our main power source is fat?

I'll explain this in a second.

For now - what you are required to do is eat more meat, fat, eggs, natural fats, some veggies. What you should avoid is sugar, starch (potatoes, bread, pasta, rice).

What you can eat.

This doesn't mean you are hugely restricted. You have plenty of delicious foods to choose from. How about some pork and beef? Your doctor told you to avoid the pork, but now you can eat it all-day-long! Salmon is a pretty tasty fish - do include it in your diet.

Not everyone is a fan of eggs, but they are really nutritious. And you have so many ways to consume them - raw (just break the shell and drink!), boiled, fried (only animal fats. Don't use vegetable oils!), omelettes.

What is natural fats? Butter and cream, coconut and olive oil. They are all healthy and make your food even tastier! Let's not forget the veggies. Your bestest friends are the one which grow above ground - cabbages, cucumber, avocado, peppers, tomatoes and much more.

Don't forget your dairy products! Don't drink too much milk, but you can eat a lot of cheese. Everything that's milk related and has a lot of fat in it is good.

What to Avoid

Starch - I know we all love to eat bread with our meals, it's tastier and it's easier for us to get full. But you'll have to get used to eating without it. No bread, no pasta, rice, potatoes (and anything made from potatoes).
No sugar! - forget about chocolate, candy, sweet and soft drinks, cakes, ice cream and cereals. Sweeteners are not sugar, but are bad, too. I know we love candy so much, but just try to avoid it. You can have some dark chocolate (70% pure or more), but a block per day.
Absolutely no Margarine! - thanks to this product we are slaves of carbohydrates. But more about that later. Use animal fat instead.
Fruits are something you should consume occasionally, but don't eat too much. There is a lot of fructose in it, which is basically sugar. It's not forbidden, just lower quantities.
No beer and no sweet liquors.

Why Choose this Diet?

First, I'll give you a few studies. I'll start with Vilhjalmur Stefansson - a Canadian (originally Icelandic) explorer and ethnologist. He spent 15 years studying the Eskimos in Canada. To do that, he lived exactly like they did - dressed like them, ate like them. A very curious thing for him was the food of the Eskimos. They ate only animals. There was a poor choice of fruits, too, but their main food source were animals. For a modern man this looks ridiculous. You can't think of living without eating veggies, bread, rice, burgers, sweets and all the fruits we have. If I ask you, you would say eating like the Eskimos is unhealthy. Stefansson was thinking the same way. But when he took a closer look, he realised something.

Picture of Vilhjalmur Stefansson in his younger years
Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Eskimos did't have any diseases typical for the civilised world. No high blood pressure, no heart attacks, cancer, strokes. Even though they ate animal fats, non of the Eskimos was overweight. The women didn't have any trouble while giving birth. He made a conclusion - Eskimos never had the illnesses of the civilised world, before they made the contact.

You can imagine many people didn't believe these results. Other scientists said a human can't live without eating vegetables and fruits on regular basis. That really annoyed Stefansson. So he and his expedition partner Rudolph M. Anderson decided to be part of an experiment. They went on a strict diet - only meat and nothing else. In 1928 they entered Bellevue Hospital in New York. The experiment lasted a few months. For that period non of them had any side effects, they did not get any illnesses. The only thing that happened was that they became fitter, in better shape.

After this experiment, both men continue eating like this. The studied was published in The Journal of The American Medical Association.

If it was proven, why nobody continued eating like this?

It's simple - with all the factories around, making huge amounts of sugary products, making white flour, margarine and all the unhealthy, but tasty things we consume every day, they needed to create a illusion. It is all advertising.

In the middle of the last centuries a lot of fake tests were made. The most famous ones are Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) and Lipid Research Council-Coronary Primary Prevention Trial (CPPT).

In the MRFIT (I just realize you can read it as Mr. Fit...) there are two groups of men - one experimental and one controlled group. The experimental group eats low fats and no cholesterol, they take drugs to lower their blood pressure and they stop smoking. They consume 42% less cholesterol, 28% less fat and 21% calories less than the other group. The conclusion? No difference in deaths, no nothing. Just a waste of money.

The CPPT was a little different. They used sick people with high levels of cholesterol. Doctors used cholestyramine. It makes the liver get rid of the cholesterol. So in the group taking cholestyramine there were 30 death cases. In the other group there were 38 deaths. The conclusion - when lowering cholesterol there is a 24% less chance of death. But those numbers are not real. There were 1906 men in the first group and 1900 in the second. If you do the maths, you'll understand the difference is 0.43% actually. Oh, and the people taking the pills have a higher risk of getting stomach cancer.

You just can't believe experiments like that. But the experiments kept going. And with time the numbers were manipulated and people started believing. If Americans eat only healthy food, low fats, veggies and everything that the adverts say, why are they so overweight?

Let's talk science

Why are carbs so unhealthy? Let's give an example with carbs and starch. When you eat carbohydrates they turn into sugar. And what does your body do when you have extra amounts of sugar in your body? It releases insulin. That's a hormone made from the pancreas and it's your body's natural way of dealing with blood sugar.
a picture of a pancreas

When you have a lot of insulin in the body it stops fat burning. And when you don't have fat, when you don't have enough nutrients (because the insulin just burnt all the food you just consumed) you feel hungry again. So you continue eating.

So the logical thing would be to stop eating carbs. And what then? You consume more fats. When there is no need for the pancreas to release insulin, your body can easily start using your fat reserves as an energy source. And with that you'll start burning your fat (no more big bellies), you won't have the need to eat 5 times a day, and you'll be more energetic.



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