LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) diets are a dietary approach in which carbohydrates are restricted and calories from fat increased.
It is primarily a new way of eating based on habits that humans had thousands of years ago. Ancient feeding was based on foods that were naturally available and not containing starches such as whole grains and their derivatives.
Food sources of starch were still not available because agriculture had not developed yet.
All foods that are sources of refined carbohydrates (grains without hulls, flours, and sugars) - which are avoided in a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet - appeared as food choices only after the Industrial Revolution, no more than 200 years ago.
However, our gene pool has not yet adjusted to that amount of carbohydrate intake, so this is the main cause of many diseases of the XXI century like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more. All this occurs because refined carbohydrates are digested very rapidly, reaching the bloodstream and causing a peak in the concentration of glucose and insulin.
The chronically high insulin and blood glucose levels may cause vascular damage and prevent fats from being oxidized. This is because insulin is a predominantly anabolic hormone. In addition to these consequences, the high concentration of blood sugar leads to a rapid release of insulin, which then will generate hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), activating all hormonal and neurotransmitters circuits involved in triggering hunger and cravings.
The increased intake of carbohydrates not only stimulates the appetite and increases body fat, but also causes changes in the brain, as these processed foods are associated with pleasure, generating an increased secretion of dopamine and serotonin (both chemicals associated with the feeling of well-being and pleasure). That is why these foods can actually cause food addiction.
For many years it was thought that low-fat diets and frequent meals were the best options to lose weight and control the development of complications. However, today it is known that a low-carb, high-fat diet represents the best therapeutic approach to achieve the reduction of fatty deposits and stabilize metabolism.
The high-fat, low-carb diet reduces the amount of carbohydrates to a percentage of 5% to 10% of total caloric intake, reserving 60% for fats and 30% for proteins. It is not necessary to count calories. It is just needed to adhere to the indicated food and eat until be full. As simple as that. You can eat whenever you feel hungry. At first, it is normal to feel hungry and eat often, but with the passage of time, it will be possible to eat less because this type of feeding has a high capacity of satiety.
According to scientific studies, a high-fat, low-carb diet plan produces very healthy changes at the metabolic level, as it maintains low and stable concentrations of insulin and glucose in the blood. This leads to a reduction of fat deposits in the body, which begins to use fat as a primary fuel source instead of carbohydrates.
These metabolic changes bring many health benefits. First, there is a decreased fat storage, especially in the vital organs. Consequently, the risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced.
The increase in the capacity of oxidation of fats also leads to a greater increase in muscle mass. This means that the HFLC (high-fat, low-carb) diet promotes a healthy change in body composition.
The degree of tissue inflammation is reduced thanks to the increased use of anti-inflammatory fats like omega-3 and reduced pro-inflammatory foods such as refined grains and derivatives.
The higher fat intake and proteins lead to a higher degree of satiety, reducing intake.
Metabolic parameters are stabilized, achieving an improvement in the HDL / LDL index, decreased triglycerides levels and stabilization of glucose levels.
Finally, hunger attacks, irritability, mood swings and cravings are eliminated thanks to the change and stabilization of blood glucose, insulin, and neurotransmitters.
So, what is a low-carb, high-fat diet? This is a new concept of feeding according to our genetic pool easy to implement and rich in essential nutrients.
Low-carb, high-fat diets are always composed of real food. This means that all those “food” that come in packages are avoided. If we analyze the composition of high-fat, low-carb diets, we can see that they contradict the guidelines proposed by the vast majority of health and nutrition authorities.
This is because the old food pyramid based on consumption of complex carbohydrates (bread, pasta, grains, legumes) is no longer suitable as a therapeutic approach in many people who suffer from typical chronic diseases of the Western world like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
A low-carb, high-fat diet plan should only include foods high in fat, low in carbohydrates and exclude those that are processed, high in carbohydrates and sugars.
Among the foods to avoid include:
This is a list of foods that can be part of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet:
To make a correct food selection and meal planning, the low-carb, healthy fat diet should include vegetables and a source of protein at every meal.
It is important not to reduce the consumption of vegetables, but rather control the supply of fruits (no more than 2-3 servings per day) because they contain fructose (simple carbohydrate).
As drinks, you can include coffee, tea, water, and homemade drinks with water, teas and herbs.