Low Carb Down Under has compiled these useful FAQ's to help give you a better understanding of Low Carb, High Fat.

Low Carb High Fat Diet explained

A Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) Diet restricts the amount of carbohydrates eaten, to optimise health and nutrition.  LCHF diets usually also increase the amount of healthy fats eaten.

Low Carb High Fat is defined as taking in less than 30% of your daily calories from carbohydrates.  Whereas the average Australian is about 50% of calories from carbs.  Those looking to lose weight or improve health concerns may restrict to further.

In practice a Low Carb High Fat means removing sugar, bread, pasta, rice, sauces, takeaways and highly processed foods from your diet.  Eating real whole foods – the type of foods our bodies were designed to eat is how we achieve this.

We share the latest science and the practicalities of Low Carb High Fat diets at the Low Carb Down Under conferences

LCHF concept. Notepad with text and dietary food on light table.

This typically means eating plenty of natural foods such as salads, non-starchy vegetables, meat, eggs, healthy fats, seeds and nuts.

The Low Carb high Fat approach to nutrition allows you to eat a delicious and varied diet that leaves you feeling satisfied.  It allows you to eat when you are hungry and still lose weight while improving your health and controlling your blood sugar.

How do carbohydrates impact your health?  Richard J Wood delivers a lesson on the how our foods impact our health. Too many carbohydrates too often for instance can lead to insulin resistance.  Insulin Resistance is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes.  This lesson explains what carbs are and what do they do to our bodies.

Low Carb Food List

Following a Low-Carb, High-Fat (LCHF) or Ketogenic diet involves restricting carbohydrates eaten while increasing proportion of fat, and adequate protein.  Getting to know the foods to avoid and those on your low carb food list are really important when getting started.

Low-carb diets typically avoid sugar, starches and highly refined foods, as these foods and drinks have the ability to rapidly raise blood glucose levels.  However, low carb diets do not mean going without, there are plenty of lovely nutrient dense real foods to enjoy.  In fact many of us ‘low-carbers’ much prefer our new way of eating, which is why we refer to low-carb as a lifestyle, not a diet.

Here are the categories of foods often found in a low-carb diet:

  • Eat: Meats, fish, eggs, vegetables growing above ground, seeds, nuts and natural fats.
  • Eat: When hungry and don’t eat when full.  We simply don’t need three meals a day and snacks throughout.
  • Avoid: Sugar and starchy foods, such as bread, pasta, rice, beans and potatoes.
  • Avoid: Highly refined foods, such as cereals, rice cakes, chips (crisps), snack bars.

 

Low Carb Food List

Below is our quick list of Low Carb Foods and do check out our lovely everyday low carb recipes here.

Vegetables

  • Preferably organic
  • Grown above ground (less starch)
  • Green and leafy
  • Fermented

Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage and Brussel Sprouts, Asparagus, Zucchini, Eggplant, Olives, Spinach, Mushrooms, Cucumber, Lettuce, Avocado, Onions, Capsicum, Tomatoes etc.

Meats

  • Preferably Organic or Grass Fed
  • Fatty Cuts
  • Offal
  • Broths, Lamb, Beef, Pork, Wild Game, Duck, Chicken, Salami, Chorizo, etc.

Fish and Seafood

  • Sustainably harvested
  • Fatty fish (Omega 3)
  • Smaller Fish
  • Salmon, Mackerel, Herring, Anchovies, Sardines, etc.

Eggs

  • Preferably Organic and Free Range

Fats and Oils

  • Non-vegetable oils
  • Coconut oil, Olive Oil, Butter, Lard, Avocado Oil, Macadamia Oil, Ghee, etc.

Dairy

  • Full-Fat options
  • Cream, Sour Cream, Greek Yogurt, Cheese, etc.

Nuts

  • Macadamia, Almond, Pecan, Walnut, etc.

Fruit

  • Seasonal
  • Strawberry, Blueberries
  • Unsweet apples and pears
  • Avoid tropical fruits as higher in fructose

Low Carb Diets

Specialist Sports and Exercise Physician Dr Peter Brukner shares his expertise on ‘Why Low Carb?’.

LCHF diet foods to avoid

A LCHF diet restricts intake of foods and drinks high in carbohydrates.

Moderate LCHF diets will allow more freedom with carbohydrate choices.  Importantly Ketogenic diets usually require strict carbohydrate restriction, to reach and maintain ketosis.  Dr Paul Mason explains the difference between low carb and keto diets in his LCDU presentation.

The number of carbs consumed per day and the foods that are restricted vary, tailored to the individual.

Our list of food and drinks to consider eliminating or reducing on a LCHF diet:

  • Grains and starches: Breads, baked goods, rice, pasta, cereals, noodles, biscuits, etc.
  • Sugary drinks: Cordials, soda, fizzy drinks, juice, sweet tea, milkshakes, smoothies, sports drinks.
  • Sweeteners: Sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, malt, fructose corn syrup, dextrose etc.
  • Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, parsnip, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, lentils, legumes.
  • Alcoholic beverages: Beer, cider, cocktails, mixers and wines are often high in carbohydrates.
  • Low-fat and diet items: Items labeled “diet,” “low-fat” or “light” are often high in sugar.
  • Highly processed foods: fast food, chips, sauces,
  • Fruits: Tropical fruits contain high levels of fructose: Mango, Bananas, Apples, Oranges, etc.
  • Sugary foods: Cakes, confectionary, buns, biscuits, cereals, ice creams, desserts.

See our resources on restricting carbohydrates to lose and maintain weight loss.

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Why should I eat more protein and fat?

We certainly advocate eating much more of the healthy fats from animals (meat, dairy and eggs) as well as nuts, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil. This is a much higher percentage of calories from fat than dietary authorities have been advocating for the past forty years since the basis for dietary advice was changed to low-fat.

We advocate a moderate protein diet, around 15 to 20% of total calories. This level of protein intake is essential for health. Higher levels of protein are problematic as we cannot store them and much of the excess is converted back into glucose which blocks the burning of fat stores and stops us moving towards a healthier weight.

For more information on Low Carb, High Fat and protein please see our video below featuring Dr. Stephen Phinney.

Are there any health risks in eating LCHF?

Prior to changing diet it is important to consider if there are any health risks in eating LCHF.  

Discuss dietary changes and potential health risks with your healthcare professionals in advance, particularly if taking medications, pregnant or breastfeeding.  A Low Carb, High Fat diet may also not be suitable for you if you are particularly lean, undertake regular high intensity exercise and have no weight issues.

It is important to note that LCHF diets are not in line with current the Australian Dietary Guidelines.  The dietary guidelines should support individuals to best maintain and improve health.  A change in dietary guidelines should reflects emerging evidence, the obesogenic food environment and rates of chronic disease.  

Stop sign in perspective view with a text CARBS against blue sky to lose weight and live more healthy life and ketogenic diet

Mitigating Health Risks

The LCHF approach to nutrition allows you to eat a delicious and varied diet that will leave you feeling satisfied.  Opting for nutritions whole foods, rather than switching to highly processed low carb food products, achieves this end.

LCHF eating encourages you to eat when hungry, rather than than at prescribed meal and snack times.  The focus is on eating healthy whole foods that satiate while improving blood sugar, weight and health.

Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF) diets restricts carbohydrate foods, encouraging a higher intake of of fat and adequate protein.  LCHF diets typically restrict carbs to under 130g net carbs per day, or less than 50g of net carbs per day for individuals with specific health goals.

 

LCHF Healthcare Professional Support

Here is our current list of Healthcare Professionals experienced in LCHF nutrition.

For more information on introducing a Low Carb Diet safely see Jessica Turton, Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD), talk on ‘Evidence-based Practice: Low-Carbohydrate Diets’.  The role of diet in a wide range of health conditions and symptoms, including obesity, insulin resistance syndrome, hypertension, PCOS, dyslipidaemia, gastrointestinal issues and more.

What are the side effects to going LCHF?

Some people experience various temporary side effects when converting to a Low Carb, High Fat diet. This is a result of your body switching from using carbohydrates as its primary fuel source to using fat as a fuel. For most of these people the side effects tend to be mild and do not last longer than a week.

Foods that are high in carbohydrates increase water retention in your body. When you stop eating these foods the excess water is excreted through the kidneys and the body can become mildly dehydrated and deficient in salts. The physical effects of this in the short term may include headaches, dizziness, shivers, sweats, cramping, irritability, heart palpitations, muscle pain and fatigue. These complaints can be minimised by increasing your intake of fluids and your salt intake. Drinking more water, adding salt to your food and drinking bone broth will aid in the transition period.

Will LCHF raise my cholesterol?

Most people are familiar with Total, HDL and LDL cholesterol as well as the concept of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol. It is generally accepted that high HDL levels (good cholesterol) indicate a low risk of heart disease and high LDL levels (bad cholesterol) indicate an increased risk.

These concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad are too simplistic however, as LDL cholesterol has numerous subtypes, primarily based on the size of the particles. This means that high levels of small and dense LDL particles indicate a high risk of heart disease while high levels of large and fluffy LDL particles indicate a low risk.When considering how a Low Carb, High Fat diet will affect your cholesterol levels it is important to remember that this resource should be not be considered medical advice. You should discuss any dietary changes with a medical professional and get your blood screened before commencing an LCHF diet. In addition to regular blood testing, have your doctor measure your LDL-p or ApoB – these are two ways of measuring your LDL particle number.

In the majority of people eat a Low Carb, High Fat diet, HDL levels tend to go up. Triglyceride levels will tend to go down and Total and LDL cholesterol tend to remain the same. LDL particle size tends to increase and LDL particle numbers tend to decrease. A small subset of people who eat Low Carb, High Fat experience increased cholesterol levels, including increases in Total and LDL cholesterol as well as increases LDL particle number.

For more information on cholesterol, Low Carb, High Fat and understanding blood test results please see our videos below featuring A/Prof. Ken Sikaris.

How much protein should I eat?


How much protein to eat on a LCHF diet is highly individual, based on a number of factors.

Protein plays has an important roles in the body.  Along with carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of the three macronutrients, often called ‘macros’, in food.

Here we introduce the essentials about determining protein intake on your low-carb or keto lifestyle.

How much protein should I eat?

How to determine how much protein to eat

Determine individual protein intake by multiplying lean body mass by a factor determined by your activity level, according to Dr Jeff Volek and Dr. Stephen Phinney.  The multiplying factor is between 1.3 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of lean body mass.

These daily totals, with the total grams consumed divided by the daily meals.  A daily protein requirement of 90g divided by 3 daily meals equals 30 grams of protein at each meal.

Dr Stephen Phinney’s talk on ‘Troubleshooting the Ketogenic Diet for Optimal Weight and Health’.

See our resources section for books that explain in much more detail the importance of setting your individual protein allowance.  Also, see our delicious Low Carb Recipes for ideas.


Note:

A 100gm steak is not 100g of protein.
Steak: 30g protein and 7g is fat (mainly saturated and mono-unsaturated fat).
50 to 75% of meat is water!

 

 

What is nutritional ketosis?

Glucose burning

Glucose, from carbohydrates, are the primary fuel for the body’s cells and organs when eating a standard western diet.

Cells obtain energy by taking up glucose from the blood, where a metabolic reaction takes place to release energy.  Our bodies store excess glucose in the form of glycogen, so that we have energy for later use.

Glycogen (made up of long chains of glucose molecules) is mainly found in the liver and skeletal muscle.  Liver glycogen stores  maintain normal levels of glucose in the blood.  Whereas stored muscle glycogen mainly fuel muscle activity.

Nutritional Ketosis using a Low Carb, High Fat Diet

nutritional ketosis

When eating a LCHF diet fats and proteins can provide most of your body’s energy requirements.  Most body cells are able to use fatty acids for energy.  Brain cells and developing red blood cells are the exception, as they depend on glucose.  A supply of glucose in the blood is therefore essential, however brain cells can adapt to use ketones from fat breakdown for energy.

When restricting carbohydrate intake the liver does not break down fat completely.  Instead, the liver makes ketone bodies that can be used by most cells for energy.

Nutritional ketosis occurs on a LCHF diet when ketones are produced more quickly than the body needs and their levels increase in the blood.  As glycogen stores deplete the body switches to burn body fat, increasing fatty acids availability as a fuel source.  Many of these fatty acids cannot pass the blood brain barrier, so the brain switches to using ketone bodies, produced by the liver, as fuel.

This is the nutritional ketosis process, the normal and extremely efficient physiological response to carbohydrate restriction.

Dr. Benjamin Bikman, Ph.D. in Bioenergetics and Professor of pathophysiology and a Biomedical Scientist at Brigham Young University in Utah.

Dr. Bikman’s special professional interest in obesity and diabetes and the pathogenicity of insulin and insulin resistance.

He has long been an advocate of the ketogenic diet approach for reversing insulin resistance and on exploring the intimate associations between the metabolic and immune systems.

What is gluconeogenesis?
Gluconeogenesis

 

Gluconeogenesis translates as ‘the production of new glucose‘.  It is the metabolic process of generating glucose from non- carbohydrate food sources.  This process mainly takes place in the liver, but also in the kidneys.

Glucose is made from amino acids (protein), glycerol (found in triglycerides, the primary fat storage molecule) and glucose metabolism intermediaries like lactate and pyruvate.

The process is present in plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms.

 

Chris Webster on Gluconeogenesis and Interpretation of Nutrition Research

Chris has a research background in the clinical use of exercise prescription.  He is a registered bio-kineticist, interning at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.

He researched endogenous glucose production in LCHF athletes for his master’s degree in Exercise Science, at the University of Cape Town.

For his PhD Chris researched the ‘Impact of low-carbohydrate high-fat diets on endogenous glucose production and gluconeogenesis in type 2 diabetics’.

Presenting at Denver, USA, Christ discusses The Role of Judgement in the Interpretation of Nutrition Research.

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