The LCHF Basics

There is a lot of talk about LCHF, what it is and what it isn’t, and I always chuckle to myself a little when I hear people say it’s not good for you. It makes me think that they don’t understand what LCHF is all about.

So today I want to talk some LCHF basics, I’ll try to keep it short and sweet (without the added sugar that is).

  1. LCHF is about eating whole, unprocessed foods, foods that don’t come in packages; foods that have the lowest human interference in their making (low HI factor). Yes, some of these foods will be packaged, but as long as the ingredient list is not as long as your arm and you can actually understand every single ingredient on the list, then that means it’s probably ok. It means these foods: Fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, lamb, liver (yes liver!), eggs, full fat milk, full fat unsweetened yoghurt, full fat cheese, nuts, seeds, healthy oils (eg. olive, coconut, avocado…), butter.
  2. LCHF is not a “regimen” that excludes any one food for ever more. Eat dairy products and legumes if you can tolerate them, if not then don’t. Reduce grains as they come with a heavy carb load and are heavily processed, but hey, if you want to have a pizza once in a blue moon and you can tolerate it, go for it. No, your body has no need for sugar, but if you want a chocolate bar or an ice-cream every now and again, then fine. The devil is in the detail as to how much and how often, everyone has their own threshold and goal.
  3. Eat when you’re hungry. Skipping a meal here and there is ok if you’re not hungry. In general, avoid snacks, you don’t need them if you’re eating properly and especially if you’re trying to lose weight. But if your energy needs are high, then you might. Again, it’s individual.
  4. Eat mindfully. Don’t eat out of boredom or just because the food is there! These are just extra calories. Ask yourself: Is this hunger or habit? If it’s habit, then it’s a good one to break.
  5. Eating LCHF doesn’t have to cost a lot. Eating unhealthily is cheap, I agree, but eating healthily doesn’t have to be expensive. Use cheaper cuts of meat, don’t buy tons of nuts, and use nutrient-dense protein foods like sardines and liver and eggs regularly. People say that eating LCHF is expensive. Funny how people don’t blink when they spend their money on takeaway coffee, alcohol, and technology like mobile phones. Now that’s expensive!
  6. LCHF is totally sustainable. Making it a lifestyle and not a “diet” that you’re “going on”, means you’re more likely to succeed. This might mean getting your support systems in place, your family, your friends, and particularly your workmates. In fact, take it upon yourself to change the work food environment, the morning tea spread of muffins, biscuits and juice does nobody any good.
  7. Alcohol is full of calories – end! There’s not much more to be said about this, other than you can do without it for more than half the week, at least.
  8. And finally, one size does NOT fit all! If you’ve read What The Fat? and you’re not getting the goals you want, then it is likely you need some personalised help for fine-tuning. It might be that you’re eating too much protein, too much fat, too many calories in general (yes, calories do count!) or it might be a whole host of other factors that exist in YOUR life that affect your ability to lose weight –that other stuff like stress and sleep, and exercise. The devil is in the detail. While you might be hoping that our book is the answer to everything, this is virtually impossible as it is not a diet plan, it is a lifestyle that we describe. If you need a fine-tune, our health professionals list on our website will help you to find someone that you wish to work with to help fine-tune.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Avatar Deb says:

    Hi guys, I have been following LCHF for a while, or should I say my family has been. Well Christmas comes up and we talk about the meat we would like. We had ham last year, much to my dislike. So ham comes up again this year, but I decide to look up more about this and I know it is processed. I also read about meat as maybe a carcinogenic for bowel cancer, from the cancer society. Processed food like ham and bacon as a carcinogenic. I feel a little sick. We cut down red meat to once or twice a week, but I feel bad when you dish up food for your family, that may not be good and it is so easy to get mixed up on the research that comes at us from the media and latest announcements. What is your opinion on the red meat issue relating to bowel cancer and what do you guys have for Christmas?
    Wishing you all Merry Christmas and a Safe and Happy New Year!

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Deb, the evidence linking meat to bowel cancer isn’t very strong, and is inconsistent. In particular, there’s no experiment in animals where feeding meat has caused cancer and 2 in which feeding bacon has reduced cancer proliferation. Other factors are more convincingly causal, for example selenium deficiency (commonest in the South Island of NZ where bowel cancer rates are highest) and excess insulin levels.
      The meat-causes-cancer idea was already firmly entrenched in vegetarian beliefs in the 19th century, attempts to test it came much later and have not amounted to much.
      Here’s a blog we wrote about a “meat and cancer” association in the EPIC data
      Here’s a discussion of selenium deficiency as a factor explaining other inconsistent results in EPIC
      And here’s a discussion of insulin resistance as a risk factor

      Thus, getting an adequate intake of nutrients helps to prevent cancer, keeping insulin low by keeping refined carbs low and total energy adequate but not excessive helps prevent cancer. Processed meat may be relatively low in micronutrients, while meat especially processed meat is often eaten – with refined carbohydrates – by people in labouring jobs who are exposed to workplace carcinogens or the effects of shift work; this carcinogen and shift work exposure is not measured in diet epidemiology, so we do not know how far it can explain the small associations sometimes seen in epidemiological studies. I’ll be eating roast lamb on Xmas day, but keeping desserts to a minimum.
      Ham isn’t my first choice, for reasons of animal welfare as well as the complications of processing, but it is just one meal out of the year, and it’s important to enjoy it with one’s loved ones if at all possible!

  • Avatar Mary McDonald says:

    This is a great refresher. Have just got in from lunch at Chelsea Sugar today and had a delicious lunch of two poached eggs, mushrooms, no toast. All delicious and satisfying.

  • Avatar Sandy Duncan says:

    Wonderful article, the best I have read. A very clear and balanced view. Thoughtful eating I would call it. I lost two stone a few years ago by replacing carbs with proteins. Have just started again but this time with fat rather than protein focus. Also reducing to one big and one small meal a day. Thanks for your perspective on the subject.

  • Avatar Trudy says:

    I think #6 is one of the most important ideas about LCHF to remember. When I talk to people about our way of eating I tell them that what works for me may not work for them, but the basics are the same for all of us. Thank you for reminding us of the basic tenants of LCHF.

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