Is a high fat/low carb lifestyle right for you? Find out why I’ve made the switch and how you can too!
If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you have probably noticed the drastic switch I’ve made in my eating over the past few weeks.
It all started when I was listening to The Model Health Show and they were talking about how the body converts carbs, whether it’s simple carbs (i.e. candy) or complex carbs (i.e. fruit, oats) into glucose. Glucose in our body triggers a release of insulin, which turns the glucose into energy, but when you have too much insulin released into your system, it leads to an increased fat accumulation.
Taking this even further, in another podcast episode, they were talking about cancer and how cancer cells love sugar, and thrive on sugar, even sugar from complex carbs like fruit and whole grains! WOW, this was mind blowing to me, I had no idea the effect of sugar on the body. (Please note, I’m not saying that sugar causes cancer, but there is a connection between eating less sugar and reducing your risk of cancer…and many other diseases.)
Then, I was listening to this The Chalene Show podcast and I was fascinated with learning about fat and the body.
For so long, I’ve been afraid of eating fat. Since I can remember, we’ve been told to eat “low-fat!” You can find low-fat everything in the stores today – cheese, milk, cookies, granola bars, peanut butter, and the list goes on and on. We’ve been told fat will cause heart disease and heart attacks. Basically, we’ve been scared to eat fat.
Since I started my weight loss journey 8 years ago, I’ve been afraid of fat. It’s not that I didn’t know healthy fats were good for us (think avocados, eggs, nuts, seeds) but I was told that I should be eating more whole grains, more complex carbohydrates and LESS fat. For the past few years, I’ve been eating a high carb, low fat diet (around 50% carbs, 20% fat, and 30% protein.)
For me personally, I have been doing Intermittent Fasting for a year and half. That means I don’t start eating until noon each day and I stop eating at 8 pm each night. In that time, I used have 5 meals: 1 meal at noon, 1 meal at 2:30, 1 meal at 4:30, 1 meal at 6:30 and 1 meal at 8:00. My husband would always say how he couldn’t believe I could eat so often..and so much! But to tell you the truth, I was starving every 2 – 3 hours. It’s like I ate and not long afterwards, I was hungry again.
But I thought this was just the way it should be. We’ve been told to eat every 2 – 3 hours. We’ve been told to eat a lot of complex carbs. We’ve been told to reduce our fat intake.
So why are we being told to eat more carbs, less fat…yet our society is more overweight than it ever has been? Something’s not right!
What have I learned over the past few weeks? FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT OR SICK!!!
Need a good book to read more about a high fat diet? Eat Fat, Get Thin is a great place to start.
This stuff was seriously mind blowing to me. For example, I can eat bacon? I can eat heavy cream? I can eat a whole avocado? I can eat grass-fed beef? All of the things I’ve been avoiding for years because I thought it was “bad” for me.
I’ve learned that glucose isn’t the only thing our bodies can use for fuel. Actually, the best form of energy that our body can use comes from fat!! When we eat fat, we use a similar hormone, called ketones, that turn fat into energy.
The best part about using fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates is that the fat takes longer to process, and the energy it produces lasts longer in our system, giving us more energy and allowing us to feel more satiated for much longer!
HOW HAS MY EATING SCHEDULE CHANGED?
When I first switched to a high fat, low carb way of eating, I thought I would still need to be eating every 2 – 3 hours. Oh my gosh, was I wrong!! After eating my first high fat meal at noon, I was full until 4! I couldn’t believe how long I could go between meals.
You’ll notice in the picture below that I’ve added 5 meals, however, I have found within the last week that I can no longer eat those 5 meals!! My body has adapted to burning fat as fuel rather than glucose, which means I stay full for a lot longer! Now, instead of eating those 5 meals, I’ll eat once at noon, have a small snack at 4 (if I’m hungry,) then dinner around 6:30 and maybe a small snack at 8. Oftentimes though, I’ll skip the snack at 4 and just eat dinner at 6. I find I can go 4 – 5 hours in between meals!
HOW HAS MY EXERCISE CHANGED?
I still exercise first thing in the morning, usually around 5:45 am. But what I’ve noticed is that I don’t need to exercise as long as I used to.
Before, when I was eating high carb, low fat, I found as I got older I had to exercise more and more to maintain my weight. I was exercising at least an hour each day, combining strength and cardio on the same day.
Now, since switching to a high fat, low carb way of eating, I find that I don’t have to exercise as much! For me, 45 minutes is just enough. I alternate my workouts between interval-style or HIIT cardio and strength training (I’m no longer doing both on the same day.)
HOW HAS MY FOOD CHANGED?
When I was eating high carb, low fat, I had a lot of grains in the house: oats, popcorn, etc. I also had a lot of fruits and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Now, I’m not saying that fruit and sweet potatoes are bad for you, I still eat them, but only on occasion.
Now, my fridge and pantry is stocked with tons of green veggies, full fat dairy, full fat meats, eggs, avocados, nuts.
I’m not sure if you remember, but I had mentioned that I had a dairy and egg sensitivity. Well, since going high fat, low carb, I have not noticed any sensitivity. However, I’m not eating a ton of dairy and a ton of eggs each day. I’ll have eggs once a week and a little bit of dairy at a time. I have personally found that eating full fat dairy, like heavy cream, seems to be okay for me (it was the low fat dairy that caused a problem.)
If you would like to know what a typical day of eating is like for me with this high fat, low carb lifestyle, here is it (I’ve also included it in My Typical Day of Eating email.)
My goal is to get as many vegetables and healthy fats as I can in a day! My carbs come from a fruit in the evening or maybe 1/2 a sweet potato with dinner, and that’s it.
What I practice now is eating when I’m hungry and not eating when I’m not hungry. I used to eat every 2 – 3 hour before, no matter what, because if I didn’t, I could feel my blood sugar drop and I got hangry! But now, I can go longer periods without food because my body is relying on fat for energy rather than glucose.
I’ve even changed our menus for our family dinners! Instead of having a starchy carb with each dinner, we’ll often have a double serving of veggies. There are so many ways to do this without getting that look of disgust from your family!! For example, my husband hates cauliflower, so I’ve never been able to have it with our dinners. I decided to make “loaded cauliflower” for dinner one night. I also decided not to tell the family what it was made from. The verdict? They LOVED it!! They thought it was mashed potatoes.
Another example, my kids hate spinach! Every time I cook with it, they say, “I hate this green stuff!” One evening I made “creamed spinach!” They looked at it and didn’t want to eat it. But my hubby dug in and told the kids that it’s so good. So, they reluctantly put some on their fork, ate it and loved it!
WHAT OTHER POSITIVES HAVE I NOTICED?
The first thing I noticed was no more bloating!! In the evening, oftentimes I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. I’ve had 3 people ask me recently if I was expecting?! Do you know how embarrassing that is?! Even my kids would ask me why my belly was sticking out so much.
Since getting rid of any processed carbohydrates and upping my healthy fats, I no longer have bloating! I can walk around with a flat tummy all day, even at night after I’ve eaten 2000 calories throughout my day!
I even lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks! Which is mostly from my bloated belly going down.
Another benefit is that I don’t crave sugar! When I was eating a high carb, low fat diet, I would have popcorn, Panda licorice, and protein bars all the time. While these were relatively “healthier” products, they caused me to crave them. The more I ate them, the more I craved them. It was like my body was always searching for food, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
But now, I feel so satiated after I eat that I don’t even think about food, nor does my body crave the sweet stuff. It’s been really weird actually, and hard to wrap my brain around. For the first week, I was planning my meals and snacks, making sure that I would be home to eat. But what I found is that I didn’t have to do that anymore. I didn’t have to rely on eating throughout the day.
Take yesterday for example, I ate a salad at 2:30 in the afternoon which consisted of 2 cups mixed greens, an avocado, 3 oz of chicken, and 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. My boys had an appointment at the eye doctor at 4:00, so I thought I would bring a handful of nuts in my purse just in case I got hungry. We didn’t get out of the optometrist’s office until 5:15, and I wasn’t even hungry! I then came home, made dinner, and we ate at 6:30! If I had done this prior to eating this way, I would have been starving, probably light headed, shaky, and very HANGRY!! But this doesn’t seem to happen to me anymore.
Now I’m eating whole foods, nothing processed, and absolutely loving what I’m eating! I NEVER though eating healthy could feel this good, could be so freeing! I can eat the things I thought were “bad!” Hello bacon 😉
HOW DO YOU GET STARTED EATING HIGH FAT, LOW CARB?
Does this sound like something you would like to try? Are you tired of feeling bloated, fighting sugar cravings, hitting plateaus in your weight loss? Are you trying to balance your hormones? Do you want to enjoy eating again and not have to worry about calories and eating all day long?
Then maybe this is for YOU too!
How did I get started?
FIRST, I figured out the nutrients my body needs (carbs, proteins, and fats.) How do you do that?
- Determine the total # of calories you need to eat each day. You can do this by multiplying your current weight x 15 (if you are active) or by 12 (if you are inactive.) I’ll use myself as an example: 135 x 15 = 2025
- Figure out your protein intake: your total # of calories x 25% = calories of protein needed. For example, 2025 x .25 = 506 calories or 126.5 grams of protein per day (because protein has 4 calories per gram.)
- Figure out your carbohydrate intake: your total # of calories x 25% = calories of carbohydrates needed. For example, 2025 x .25 = 506 calories or 126.5 grams of carbohydrates per day (because carbs have 4 calories per gram.)
- Figure out your fat intake: All remaining calories go to fat! From my example 2025 – 506 – 506 = 1013 calories from fat, or 1013/9 = 112.5 g (because fats have 9 calories per gram.)
The example I provided above has a ratio of 50% healthy fat, 25% carbohydrates, and 25% protein. But I actually eat closer to 55% fat, 20% carbs, 25% protein. Some days it may be more fat, less protein and carbs..it just depends on my day. But I never go below 50% fat and I keep my carbs at 25% or less.
I like to use an app like LoseIt or MyFitnessPal to keep track of my macros initially, just so I know I’m getting enough fat in my day! You want to make sure you are not eating lots of fat and lots of carbs! You HAVE TO LOWER YOUR CARBS when you eat this way, otherwise you are just eating the standard American diet of high carbs, high fat which leads to weight gain and disease!
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE RESOURCES:
Luckily in today’s world, it’s so easy to find information! But here are some of my favourite resources so far:
- Pinterest (just search high fat low carb and you’ll find TONS of recipes)
- Healthful Pursuit (her ebook Fat Fueled is amazing!)
- Ditch The Carbs (lots of helpful tips for families)
- The Made Diet (Melissa is a fellow Beachbody coach and gives a simple breakdown of how to adopt this lifestyle in her ebook)
- Eat Fat, Get Thin (a great book if you want to know more about the science of why eating healthy fat is good for you.)
- Smart Fat (another great book with lots of information about fat and the body.)
So there you have it – the reasons why I’ve switched to this lifestyle!
Notice I said “lifestyle.” I don’t see this as a “diet” or a specific eating plan. I see this as a lifestyle that I can live with…forever! It’s one where I enjoy food again, I enjoy eating healthy again. I have more energy and my body just feels good. I’m even thinking of making this part of my Drop a Dress Size meal plans, that’s how much it’s helped me.
If you’re looking for meal ideas and tips, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook or Instagram.
I would love to know, are you interested in eating this way? Are you going to give it a try? Are you already eating this way and love it? Leave a comment and let me know!