Low Carb – High Fat (LCHF) Lifestyle and My Family

A typical breakfast for me

A typical breakfast for me

Disclaimer: Megan and I have chosen this lifestyle due to our inability to control the amount of food we eat especially concerning carbohydrate rich foods. Spoken more plainly, we’re addicted to carbs and are unable to exercise any necessary amount of will power to stay healthy. This lifestyle choice may not be for everyone and was not made without an acceptable amount of research and sacrifices. Of course, any substantial change in diet should always be talked about with your doctor.

Getting Started

Megan’s Mom (Linda) is really the one we thank for all of this. She’s the one that got preachy at Megan to change her eating habits. Linda originally heard about low-carb high fat diet eight years ago. She was extremely successful and lost 75 pounds in a year. But due to the lack of a support system and readily available knowledge (aka the Internet); once she reached a weight that she was happy with she introduced carbohydrates back into her diet. Within a year she put on all the weight she had lost.

Fast forward 5 years to late summer 2011 she was disappointed in herself for not being healthy and was asked by a friend if she wanted to do Atkins. After some self-reflection and research she started it again. 14 months later she’s back to a weight she hasn’t seen since 1974 (before her first pregnancy).

It’s no longer a diet for her. It’s a lifestyle.

Changing Our Minds

Megan and I had been half listening to Linda talk about low carb for the entire time she’s been on it and she’s talked about how good she feels while on it. But it wasn’t until we watched “Fat Head” that the idea of low carb started resonating.

Keep in mind, we’ve been gluten free since October (Megan since September) and we’d already dealt with the cravings for anything that has gluten in it (bread and pretty much anything in the middle aisles of the grocery store). Megan now had to deal with her sugar addiction head on… and I needed to stop eating rice.

Switches

The food in here will only last a week. This is the view the night of a grocery trip.

The food in here will only last a week. This is the view the night of a grocery trip.

Our grocery list has gone from a list of highly processed foods to pretty much 100% whole foods. A quick scan of our grocery list reveals that the only real processed foods that we buy is stevia (for fat bombs) and our salad dressing. Everything else has a single ingredient listed. Gone are the apples, carrots, and all the other root vegetables. Hello bacon, 75/25 ground beef, pork chops, whole chickens, cooking in bacon grease, fried eggs, sautéed everything, and anything else that you’re not supposed to eat a lot/any of on the standard low fat diets.

The net effect of it so far is 40 pounds lost since October 2012 for me (11% body weight) and 24 pounds lost since switching to low carb.

There are three major switches that have happened besides going low carb. The first switch was the amount of food I eat. I’m now happy with how much I eat and rarely snack between meals. Breakfasts has gone from a few butter-fried salted eggs with cheese, low-sodium V8, toast & butter, and a glass of milk to a few bacon-grease fried eggs with cheese with sautéed spinach & kale.

Previously if I ate breakfast at 7:30 I would be hungry by 10 and raid the candy drawer at work or eat whatever someone brought in (can you say bagels?). Now I sometimes coast through lunch not even realizing that noon has come and gone. If it wasn’t for eating at home everyday for lunch I’d probably skip it more often.

This is a very important point. I need to remind myself to eat lunch. I’ve never had that problem before and now it’s a completely new problem. If I skip lunch I’ll know it later because I’m ravenous due to the limited amount of calories that I’ve had during the day. The biggest difference between then and now for me is that my stomach doesn’t feel hungry like it used to. It’s a different kind of hunger; more like a gentle reminder that can’t be ignored instead of the “I’m going to die if I don’t get a whole pizza” type of hunger.

I can now taste the salt in my food. I wasn’t salting anything more than before, but now I noticed it and have since switched to not salting my food at all (since salt is found naturally in everything I’m eating).

The last switch was my craving for water. I don’t keep track of how much I drink, but I can pinpoint the days on my weight loss chart where I haven’t drank enough water the day before (hint: It’s that days that slightly uptick). As was evidenced by my recent uptick on the two days before Christmas. We had family events and I didn’t drink enough water. I didn’t eat more food on those days, I just didn’t have my normal level of water.

Behind The Scenes

The amount of research that Megan, Linda, and I have done around this is a bit hard to express. It’s become a hobby all on it’s own because the products, recipes, conversations, and research around this aren’t mainstream. If we were less interested in eating better quality foods we’d likely be checking product labels and counting carbs more than we do.

Needless to say that this way of eating is working for us from many perspectives including financial. Our grocery budget is now split down the middle between vegetables and meats/fats/cheeses with only a little bit used for heavy whipping cream, salad dressing, and some other small things. We don’t spend a lot on groceries ($45/week/person) so we aren’t breaking the bank with this. We also don’t really eat out anymore, but we never really did before either. We ordered in a lot, but now there’s no reason to.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that our meals are half-half vegetables/meat. Meat is more expensive. If I had to guess I’d say 3/4 of what we eat is vegetable and 1/4 is meat. The days of being able to take down a 12-16oz steak are gone. I started this diet measuring out 7 to 8 oz of protein per meal. I’m down to eating 4-5 oz of protein per meal now and I’m still rarely hungry between meals.

Science

I was a little disappointed at myself for not actually knowing how my body processes the foods that I give it. I didn’t know that the body uses carbs first and if you’re getting too much it’ll just store the rest as fat for “long-term storage”. That’s a really simplified version of what you can find on the American Diabetes Association site but it’s still valid.

The paradigm shift that my brain had to take to go from “too much fat will kill you” to “too many carbs are killing you” was difficult. I linked to the Diabetes Association website because I’m very sure that I was not too far away from being type II myself.

This is not a diet for us. It’s a lifestyle. And this lifestyle looks good:

Day 1 vs. 5 months with Emmett

Day 1 vs. 5 months with Emmett

Sources

DietDoctor.com has been a great resource for me so far because of the number of current and relevant links as well as knowledge base that he adds on a regular basis.

Low Carb Friends was the site that Linda used as her support group. I don’t go here as often as her, but it’s got a lot of good information from other people who are living low carb. It takes a bit to get past the horrid design of the site, but it’s usually worth it.

Living La Vida Low Carb: Jimmy is a great writer and lost 180 pounds eating this way. Lots of good information

American Diabetes Association: Research Research Research

Doctor Oz: While not a low-carb specific source, he’s got amazing information around healthy eating along with the science behind how the body uses and processes food. Also, he’s constantly asking questions of the status quo.

Wheat Belly Blog: This was the gluten free resource, and has a lot of helpful information for reading.

Atkins: While we don’t follow the Atkins diet, it’s a very usable resource for information on foods and what carbs they contain.

Fat Head Movie: His site is filled with great content

Google is another resource. There hasn’t been one major decision made doing this that hasn’t been read at multiple places. This is also the easiest way to find scientific studies that include LCHF diets.