LCHF maintenance: Eleanorba 's post in the... - Weight Loss NHS

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LCHF maintenance


Eleanorba 's post in the daily diary reminded me of something I've been intending to write about. It's partly a few suggestions for those transitioning to "maintenance" after a period of LCHF weight loss, and partly just an observation.

The observation first. I am, obviously, in maintenance (I've been doing this for about 15 years). I eat pretty much whatever I like, but I have almost zero interest in carb-heavy meals. Every so often I'll indulge in a pizza, a curry, a dessert, or a burger, but these are very rare events. My daily routine is fairly settled right now: I have three eggs, scrambled, for breakfast, with one sausage or a couple of bacon rashers. Possibly some yoghurt. I eat two boiled eggs around 2pm. When I get home at 8pm, 'er indoors has usually made something nice, with meat and veg (almost never with rice, potatoes, etc). Whatever it is, I eat a lot.

Here's the conundrum. According to LCHF experts such as Dr Stephen Phinney, I should be eating most (80%) of my daily calories as fat. I have a very physical job right now (all-day manual labour) and according to the dieticians, that means I should be eating ~2800kCal/day, which (if Phinney is right) would imply 2200kCal from fat. That's 250g.

I'm not eating anything close to that. Although we do cook with butter and leave the fat on the meat, my meals look pretty much like anybody else's meals; even being generous with my estimates, I doubt I'm eating more than 100g of fat (900kCal). So where on earth is my energy coming from? I can only think of a few possibilities:

a) A fat-fuelled body is much more efficient than a carb-fuelled one. Dieticians insist that "forcing" your body to run on fat is a cruel thing to do, making it work extra hard to extract energy from a substrate which (according to them) is a second-rate fuel. This doesn't appear to be the case.

b) I'm burning protein. Well, I must be burning some because that's what happens to recycled amino acids, eventually. Again, though, my total dietary protein isn't a lot. Even allowing for a couple of coffees with milk, I'd estimate <100g (400kCal). So that's still 1500kCal unaccounted for.

c) I must be eating more carbs than I think. Certainly I'm eating a lot of vegetables, and although I'm avoiding starches, they still have a certain carb content. But 1500kCal? I don't think so. That'd be 6kg of cabbage, and nobody would want to stand downwind of anyone who's just eaten 6kg of cabbage.

d) The dieticians are just wrong about the calorie requirements for manual labour. Much as I'd like to believe this (dieticians, IMO, are usually wrong by default) a napkin calculation suggests that this is not the explanation. If I'm averaging 70W work output for 6 hours, with 20%-efficient muscles, my metabolic energy requirement (above baseline) is 7.5MJ, or 1780kCal. Add 1MET and you get roughly 3000kCal.

There is a point to all this rambling.

Firstly, when you've lost the weight you want to lose, you don't need to keep cramming down cheese. In fact you don't need to do this at all. During your keto phase, when you still have your training wheels on, you'll need to make a conscious effort to add fat, simply because you'll have been out of the habit. But a crucial aspect of LCHF is to hand back control to your appetite. If you want to eat cheese, eat cheese. If you can't stand the sight of the stuff anymore, then don't. Eat something else instead. Beetroot. Fried chicken. Greek Salad. It doesn't matter; if your body is lacking something, it'll ask for it.

Secondly, you will be surprised how few carbs you want once you've been eating low-carb for a few months. However, if you've stuck with it long enough to reach a healthy weight, your body will cope with a surprising amount of carbs, as long as you don't slip back into the habit of eating them at every meal. Eleanorba, I suspect, has gone into low-carb maintenance without even noticing ... and that's exactly the way it ought to be.

3 Replies

Good observations made.

I too am low carbs and maintaining nicely!


Really fascinating! Thanks AT. I think you might be dismayed at my carb levels though... I eat no meat or fish at home (so none at all in lockdown) so my maintenance is very pulse- and grain-based.

shawnner2020 June

Excellent post AT! I'm soon going to be transitioning as I'm a year in and close to goal weight. (263>189 pounds, goal 175 @ 6'2")

Personally, Ifeel a hard core keto diet is necessary to break the carb addiction and return metabolic balance. After that, I plan to return to a more normal diet.

Normal diet:. Low carbs, unlimited healthy fats, dairy to taste, moderate protein, unlimited low starch / low carb fruits & veggies, limited f&v that have carbs /starches.

Near Zero...sugar drinks, fast food, pasta, processed foods

I also planning a 4-5 day fast 3x year to create HGH, stem cells and cell refresh. Referred to as Autophagy.

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