A question for anyone following a LCHF life... - Healthy Eating

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A question for anyone following a LCHF lifestyle

andyswarbs profile image
40 Replies

As anyone following my posts will see, I advocate a HCLF lifestyle which is in some ways the opposite of a LCHF where L=Low, C=Carb, H=High, F=Fat.

One thing that is agreed from people following either lifestyle is to reduce processed foods. Many people find significant benefits to their health just from this change.

My question is, "how many people who have moved to a LCHF previously were on a HCLF lifestyle?" The reason I ask is many people will find trouble and blame the carbs, but how many of those people ever ate potatoes without cheese or butter. So how do they know it is the carbs that were causing their health problems.

And that's the nub of my question. How do you actually know it is carbs that are causing a problem? Perhaps rather it is mixing poor carbs with poor fats that has caused health issues. Perhaps it is the removal of processed foods that has been your saviour.

You see I can understand that if you remove carbs that the problems seemingly go away. But I don't see that it follows that that necessarily means that it was the carbs that caused the problem.

I mean, essentially I am a human being like you. And yet I devour a huge amount of carbs daily. Like many of you successfully following a LCHF lifestyle I feel incredibly healthy. So why is my body different to yours?

Any insights appreciated.

40 Replies
Kitten-whiskers profile image

This is a very interesting post, and that is the point everyone is differen't and I feel that we all have to look at our diets individually as well. One size doesn't not fit all for anything.

I did do a lot of research when my health was really bad, and what diets were "ideal" for my conditions, really were not right for me.

I now do not aim at a particular diet, but listen to my body, as it soon complains if something is wrong and thankfully i have made massive improvements because of this.

I think we can over complicate food/diets and if we take a step back to see, it all comes clearer 🙂

sunny369 profile image

I have been vegetarian most of my adult life. However, big however!! I was at various points a very unhealthy vegetarian eating too much processed, convenience and junk food. I have a very sweet tooth that sometimes runs riot and let's face it a vegetarian can eat junk as quickly as the next person if they are not mindful or disciplined or inclined to cook.

Nowadays, I find myself attracted to the LCHF diet and I have in recent times been eating more fat. My diet nowadays tends toward moderate carbs from oats, vegetables, fruit, pulses, quinoa and similar. My goal has been to greatly reduce / give up highly processed carbs. I have to face it, if I want to be healthy (and weigh less) I must not succumb to the temptation to eat a whole packet of highly processed, sweet, fatty biscuits, whether they are vegetarian or not. Clearly, even if they are vegetarian they would be very, very high in carbs. I suspect that is the key factor, a healthy plant based diet, or a healthy version of the LCHF diet are both based on real foods, made from scratch, from unprocessed ingredients, mindfully consumed.

JAS9 profile image
JAS9 in reply to sunny369

WFPB - whole foods are non-processed, meaning no processed sugar or oil. If you have trouble staying away from junk, I encourage you to look into a book "The Pleasure Trap". You can find the authors' videos on youtube. They're vegans but you don't have to become one to benefit from their insights.

sunny369 profile image
sunny369 in reply to JAS9

quite so. I will have a look at them, thanks, but in my experience it is simple enough - eating processed carbs makes one crave processed carbs, cut them out and you soon feel much better.

JerMan22 profile image
JerMan22 in reply to sunny369

Yes, exactly. Like any other addiction, you can't recover until you cut them out completely. After a few weeks, your taste preferences change and it becomes easier to say 'no'. Sweets are way too sweet, oils are too greasy and gross.

JAS9 profile image

It's not our "bodies" that are different, it's our gut biomes. Those who have damaged their gut bacteria can't handle oxalates (for example). The gut bacteria can be damaged (more like put out of balance) in several ways: antibiotics, poor diet, etc. The "western" or "developed" countries are all terribly fiber deficient and that's causing gut damage and a lot of problems for people who suddenly become veg'n and are expecting their guts to process oxalates and other fiber components. This can cause everything from mild distress to feeling as though you've eaten shards of glass. Instead of recognizing the problem and getting help to fix it, many retreat back to meat and highly processed foods that have no fiber. But we need fiber for many things, and ignoring the problem can lead to autoimmune diseases, so this is not a very good long-term solution.

There are ways to heal your gut, and more and more are doing it. For more info, you can search for gojiman on youtube.

JerMan22 profile image
JerMan22 in reply to JAS9

That makes a LOT of sense. Thank you thank you thank you! Since becoming vegan 9 months ago, I've been feeling off whenever I ate green leafy veggies like kale, and eating some fruit might've given me pains in my gut now that I think about it. I'd been eating SAD (Standard American DIet) for years, so I just thought it would take time to adjust. This gives me a place to start looking! Thanks again. How do you find out this information in the first place?

Penel profile image
Penel in reply to JerMan22

This is a fairly comprehensive article on the subject.


JerMan22 profile image
JerMan22 in reply to Penel

Thanks! It looks like a great resource. I'll read more of it soon.

Kaz747 profile image

I like to think of LCHF as low carb healthy fats 🙃

TheAwfulToad profile image

Interesting question.

Before I switched to LCHF, I was eating a "healthy" high-carb, highish-protein, very-low-fat diet. Pasta, chicken breasts, and boiled veg. I was a gym rat in my 20s and that was the standing advice. In my teens I was very lean and muscular, but without changing my diet or workout routine I found it harder and harder to maintain muscle mass and gained a lot of fat during my 20s. By 35 I was pretty badly out-of-shape. I couldn't understand what was happening. Carbs are good for you and fat makes you fat, right? Right? The doctors know what they're talking about, surely?

I lost several kilos of flab within three months of starting LCHF. After 12 months I had clearly-defined abs (sadly not so defined anymore, but then again I'm nearly 50). Clearly, the doctors were wrong, and I was so angered by this that I've spent many years reading up on human physiology to find out why they're wrong.

Having understood the biochemistry as well as I can, I've come to the conclusion - which I've not seen elucidated elsewhere - that it's not about carbs as such. It's about power balance: power-in vs. power-out. It is emphatically not about energy balance. Mainstream nutritionists imagine that your body has a bottomless pit into which dietary energy can be dumped, but this isn't true. Your body has some specific hard constraints that cannot be violated (principally, blood sugar regulation) and a hard limit on the rate at which it can dispose of dietary energy (=metabolic power). Starch-energy, especially from processed foods, comes in very fast: it's like drinking from a fire hose. There are only four possible destinations for it: RBCs, fat, glycogen, and immediate use; each of those has a (variable) power limit. If the blood sugar constraint is regularly violated because your body cannot move glucose out of the bloodstream as fast as it's coming in, then your body has only two choices: it can die, or it can attempt to accommodate the incoming peak power flow with last-ditch measures. For example it can maintain more bodyfat (either subcutaneous fat or visceral fat) to increase its power-handling capacity. Or it can relax the constraint on blood sugar: at the extreme, this is diabetes, and it'll cause you grave harm, but it won't kill you immediately, so it's an optimal adaptation. When the adaptation pressure is removed, diabetes rapidly abates, as you would expect.

All closed-loop control systems break in a brittle fashion: if you observe their internals, you will see larger and larger excursions of the control signals and the actuators as input excursions become more extreme, but externally all will be well (or at least will appear to be). If either the control-signal computation fails, or the actuator hits its limits, the whole thing just falls off a cliff. The human body avoids this scenario by wrapping a second (adaptation) control loop around the first, with a longer time constant, but this only works up to a point; it softens the failure, but like Mr Scott on Star Trek, it canna change the laws of physics.

So to answer you question ("and yet I devour a huge amount of carbs daily"), you are probably eating them in a form that matches your body's ability to deal with them. For example, I doubt that you eat half a kilo of rice or pasta at a time with little else besides: I'm guessing you eat a wide variety of veg alongside your starchy carbs. Also, some individuals are able to handle a much higher peak metabolic power (=starchy carbs) than others, and you're clearly somewhere off towards the lucky end of the bell curve.

Most kids and teenagers can cope with lots of carbs, presumably because their bodies channel that energy into rapid growth, but most adults (90%+) cannot cope with a diet based mostly or entirely on carbs. Yes, we're all human, but we all have slightly different operating parameters.

Fatbuddy profile image
FatbuddyHigh Risk

Never seen any one recommend HIGH fat diet - unless you are a gymnastic --or body builder. In long run --it will damage your heart.

LCHF is mostly recommended for people who wants to loose weight or who have Diabetes.

Praveen55 profile image
Praveen55Star in reply to Fatbuddy

Do you indirectly imply that overweight people and diabetics who are on LCHF diet are going to damage their heart? Nothing can be further from truth! The truth is - lipid profile and BP improve on LCHF diet no matter whether one is diabetic/non-diabetic/overweight/normal weight. If at all, there is improvement in heart health.

May be your reasoning is based on commonly held belief that YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. However, LCHF lifestyle has demonstrated that YOU ARE WHAT YOU SAVE which means you do not save fat following LCHF because you are constantly using it as a fuel.

Fatbuddy profile image
FatbuddyHigh Risk in reply to Praveen55

NO -- HCHF diet damages heart

andyswarbs profile image
andyswarbs in reply to Fatbuddy

I think you are right that high carb WITH high fat is a bad solution. Mostly this is a route to becoming overweight and downhill health thereafter. I guess for many people this could otherwise be known as the SAD diet for many people.

Cooper27 profile image

My personal thoughts on it, are that when regular people say "low carb", they mean it as a way to limit pasta, chips, bread and sugar. They don't actually mean they will stop eating carrot sticks, steamed potatoes, sweet potatoes or brown rice. We do need to recognise that a lot of the junk food out there is carb heavy though...

andyswarbs profile image
andyswarbs in reply to Cooper27

and a lot of the junk food is fat heavy though...

Take for example a jacket potato when it is saturated with margarine, butter, cheese, bacon, tuna, and whatever other fats people find irresistible.

In my opinion a good baked potato on without the fats can be consumed without any risk of additional weight gain, day in day out. Serve it with heaps of fat and people blame just the potato every time as is if it is the only actor in the play.

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to andyswarbs

Yes, a lot of junk food is fat heavy too, but the fat often accompanies carbs. The issue is, we can easily lead a junk food heavy, fat free existence - you can easily go out and buy a fat free yoghurt - and people have done this for a long time, but not lost weight. By avoiding carbs, we automatically cut out the bad fats that usually accompany them in junk food. In fact, the fat free yoghurt probably becomes inedible too, because it has too much added sugar.

At the same time, it makes us find alternatives to calorie dense foods like bread and pasta.

DRS54 profile image

Well, how about reversing the question and asking you how do you know that the fat is causing trouble? Maybe if you ate mainly good fats, you'd stop being hungry before you eat too much? BTW, I am just trying to eat sensibly though in the past have had success with the GI diet. (Glycaemic Index). Like my carbs too much to go LC.

andyswarbs profile image
andyswarbs in reply to DRS54

Good point DRS54,

My own personal evidence started with my arthritis recovery. If you look at my story or reversing my arthritis, back in late Summer 2016 my recovery from arthritis stalled. Only when I stopped consuming fats/oils did my recovery begin again. youtube.com/watch?v=TxGWZ6h...

JerMan22 profile image
JerMan22 in reply to andyswarbs

Very inspiring!

suramo profile image
suramoStar in reply to andyswarbs

Spontaneous remissions and exacerbations are known in ra.

andyswarbs profile image
andyswarbs in reply to suramo

There was nothing, absolutely nothing spontaneous about my change of health. It was hard graft all the way. Learning about what foods caused inflammation in my body was something I consider the biggest challenges of my life. WFPB gave direction, but that on its own would not have achieved results.

When I started reintroducing foods every food stuff seemed to cause a reaction. To work through that and decide in my own mind what foods caused more and what foods caused less reaction I managed with a very detailed spreadsheet.

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to DRS54

As I understand it, fat is actually something our bodies need, and if we were to completely remove all fat from our diet, we'd ultimately die from lack of it. Carbohydrates on the other hand are something we can cut out.

benwl profile image
benwl in reply to Cooper27

You are technically correct.

But no one is actually suggesting we cut out fats completely. Most advocates of a vegan low fat diet suggest a target of 10% calories from fat.

Unfortunately a lot of incorrect thinking around nutrition comes from people thinking that because a little of something is beneficial, more of it must be better. Even water, which is absolutely essential becomes harmful in large quantities.

Similarly, the fact that we can get all of calories from fats and protein doesn't mean that we should do this or that it is healthy to do so.

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to benwl

But for me it's the issues that conventional advice seems to give the impression that all fat is bad for us, in any quantity.

I guess the thing is finding the right tipping point - if I use your analogy, we know we should drink c. 2L of water a day, so is 10% fat equivalent to only drinking 1L of water per day, or is it equivalent to drinking 2, and the rest of us are drinking 6L? I'm not asking for an answer, it's just questions like this that bug me.

JerMan22 profile image
JerMan22 in reply to Cooper27

I look at it as added refined oil or sugar are both bad. Eat the oils and sugars that are naturally bound up with fiber and you should be fine!

benwl profile image
benwl in reply to Cooper27

The current NHS advice does talk about the importance of having some fats, but I can see how this nuance can get lost.

Broadly there are two things our bodies can use fats for - a source of energy and for other bodily processes. The later is essential, the former optional, so if one is using carbohydrates as the preferred energy source there is no reason to take any more fat than is necessary for the non energy functions. On the other hand, someone following a keto diet is in the opposite position. They need to have high fat consumption for energy and keep carbs low so as to maintain ketosis.

Although I follow the low fat approach myself I'm open to the possibility that both of them may be healthy, and indeed that there may be multiple healthy diets rather than a single best one.

Where problems really do seem to arise is combinations of fats and carbs (we could call it high fat high carb) that is the default in many developed countries. Here the total calories are higher than needed and the insulin spike from the carbs causes the fat to be stored.

andyswarbs profile image
andyswarbs in reply to Cooper27

Hi Cooper27 , all plants contain oils. Just try bending an old carrot! So a plant based diet has plenty of natural oils in it.

DRS54 profile image

Interesting, thanks!

JerMan22 profile image

After reading through all of the responses so far, I'm leaning towards the idea that those who prefer high fat are having trouble digesting some carbs and have to find calories somewhere, so they turn to oily food and processed carbs that have less fiber. I think that's my problem. Jas9's post about the gut bacteria makes sense and I'm going to look into what I can do to improve mine.

One thing I'm pretty sure of is that I need the fiber I'm getting now from the less-processed carbs that I'm eating. I have PD and constipation was a big problem until I started eating vegan. I'm not really "low fat", because I eat fresh nuts, seeds, and avocados but I'm definitely high carb. I'm 61 and I eat and enjoy loads of carbs. I just need to fine-tune my gut bacteria so I can enjoy more variety.

To those who are LCHF I'd like to ask where do you get your fiber? Low-calorie veggies?

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to JerMan22

Do you have Netflix at all? I watched a really good thing on the benefits of resistant starch for our guts - it's "Ask the Doctor" episode 9.

JerMan22 profile image
JerMan22 in reply to Cooper27

I do have Netflix, and I'll watch it. Thanks!

Praveen55 profile image
Praveen55Star in reply to JerMan22


Your assumptions that LCHF diet encourages consuming low fibre and processed food are 100 % wrong . On the other hand, it is all about eating natural food. I am on LCHF diet and I consume very little processed food ( may be once in a while e.g. bacon and sausages) and my fibre intake is on the average 40 gm/day or more. My daily fibre requirement is more than minimum recommended.

Sources of fibre:

1. Non-starchy vegetables: Average intake is 600 gm /day

2. Nuts: Almond, Walnuts.

3. Seeds: Chia seeds, flax seeds, Fenugreek seeds and pumpkin seeds.

There are many other sources of fibre which are healthy and compatible with LCHF lifestyle.

Did you know LCHF diet can be vegetarian, vegan or non-vegetarian? Lot of people erroneously assume LCHF is all about eating meat and fat.

JerMan22 profile image
JerMan22 in reply to Praveen55

I didn't intend to disparage LCHF. Go back and re-read, please. I said that those veg'ns (me included) who have a difficult time digesting some whole foods with fiber give up (not me) and go back to eating meat and/or more processed carbs in order to get enough calories. That does not describe LCHF folk who avoid processed carbs.

I did ask where LCHF folk get their fiber, and I guessed it was from low-calorie ("non-starchy") veggies. Thanks for verifying that and pointing out that nuts and seeds also have both quite a bit of oil and some fiber.

Having said all of that, though, I'm guessing that a LCHF diet would be difficult for me since I'm vegan (no dairy, eggs, meat, fish, or animal products) and whole-foods (no processed oils). I'd have to eat a lot of seeds, nuts, and avocados! I do eat some, and almost all whole foods have some oil. I do eat ground flax seeds for omega3 as well as an omega3 supplement, so Im probably more medium-fat than low-fat.

Praveen55 profile image
Praveen55Star in reply to JerMan22

LCHF diet may not be suitable for all. One has to assess its suitability based on one's conditions and the facts about the diet. I agree with you that following LCHF diet may be little difficult for Vegans but not impossible. I am a non-vegetarian which means I can eat anything vegetarian and vegan included. In fact, I eat meat based diet three days in a week. Rest of the days I eat vegetarian and vegan

(excluding the tea and coffee added with milk cream). Many people add coconut milk/cream in their coffee which is vegan.

spzgirl51 profile image

Hello andyswarbs ,

you post is very interesting. I believe there is a problem with how people interpret what is meant by the LOW CARB , HIGH FAT DIET. I understand it to mean that those following this diet should not aim to have large quantities of high fat food, like the Atkins diet encouraged people to. Instead , I think it encourages people to eat sensible amounts of normal food. Some of this food will be a natural source of fat. The aim being to pick the "normal" full fat option, much like the French do, rather than worrying and endlessly trying to avoid all fat and pick the LOW fat option

. In other words, it's about giving yourself permission to stop eating the artificial low fat option. It is not about being ok to eat massive quantities of fatty foods above other choices. How low in carbs you go will depend on your starting weight and whether you have health problems like diabetes and insulin resistance. If so , then the more restrictive with carbs you have to be?

This is my own personal interpretation of the LCHF diet. Others may view it differently. To me it means being moderate and eating real , mostly unprocessed food without being too heavy on the heavy starchy food.

Others may may take a more methodological, scientific approach to the LCHF diet. Each to their own.

To me this eating plan resembles the normal eating of our grand parents. A time when food was not highly processed and was not available in huge quantities 24 hours a day.. Eating culture was not the 24 takeaway availability of so many places today.

Fran182716 profile image

I still need to lose weight but that aside - in the nineties/ noughties I followed the standard advice to eat low fat high carb meals which left me feeling uncomfortably stuffed but hungry again soon after.

A couple of years ago I tried LCHF, this was much better for satiety and digestive comfort but caused headaches in the evening.

So what works for me is small portions of decent quality carbs - those that provide nutrients and fibre, with moderate fat (avoiding processed low fat items) protein hasn't changed.

Whichever way you lean, or if you're in the middle like me, it's good we all agree minimal processing is best, foods nearest to their natural state are likely to retain the most nutrients.

sleeksheep profile image

I follow a low carb diet but with some differences

I have Barley Porridge everyday and have for a decade ( BarleyMax )


If I dont eat two slices of multi grain toast before bed I will put on weight.

Need carbs. to keep the metabolism working.

That aside my metabolism is very high and always has been ( except for some blood pressure drugs which interfered ) can loose 1kg overnight .

It becomes a balancing act between whats good for weight control and whats good for diabetic balance.

Some of these things are just hereditary , I have always had a fatty liver but my BMI is 23

suramo profile image

It can be scientifically explained that high carbs food / diet are not good..High carbs cause central fat deposition which is harmful.

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