How to Lose Weight with LCHF

What can I eat?

smoked-salmon-pinwheels-lchf

On the primal LCHF weight loss diet, and in the maintenance stage beyond, your food choices will be based on proteins such as meat, chicken, duck, fish, shellfish, eggs, some cheeses (preferably pastured/ grass-fed sourced) and fats such as coconut milk, grass-fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, raw nuts aswell as plenty of fresh green low-carb vegetables and saladSee our low carb food list here for the best LCHF primal foods to purchase before beginning the Lean Into Midlife plan.

Beyond staying with in a calorie range, you won’t have to strictly count calories, or overly restrict portions as long as you are eating from a food list of healthy, non-processed, fat burning foods and eating according to your hunger cues. To work out approximately how many calories you should be eating use this calculator. While eating LCHF will allow you more leeway than eating a typical low calorie low fat diet , obviously the laws of physics do apply and if you over-eat you will gain weight. If you determine that you should be eating around 1900 calories per day to maintain your weight and you eat around 2600, you will gain weight.

We’ve summarized some of my best weight loss tips below. Our free 8 day LCHF email weight loss course will provide you with a shopping list, easy meal tips and guidance for your first week on the plan. Click here to sign up and each day, for 8 days, you will automatically receive an email packed with easy to follow tips to kick start your weight loss. Just follow the tips each day and you’ll be on your way to fast and easy weight loss.

Let’s get started!

TIP 1: Kitchen pantry purge and restock

pantry

  • On day 1, go through your fridge and cupboards and throw away, or donate to a food kitchen, all the SAD (Standard American Diet or, for my Australian readers, Standard Australian Diet) foods which are listed here.
  • Next, you’ll need to go shopping and lay down some supplies of low carb foods for the week ahead so you don’t starve. Print out my list here. Make this fun and spoil yourself with some tasty treats – smoked salmon and cream cheese anyone? Check out some of my recipes here and choose a couple to try this first week.
  • If you are the type who likes to eat most of their meals out, choose simple grilled or roasted protein foods like chicken breast or beef that has not been coated with bread crumbs or batter, and instead of bread or pasta have your protein selection with green vegetables or salad and ask for simple olive oil and vinegar dressings. In restaurants, be sure to ask your waiter if the meal contains starches, sweeteners and grains. If the meal comes with rice, pasta or fries, ask for salad or veges instead. For more dining out tips, sign up for our 8 day LCHF email weight loss course.
  • We recommend keeping it very simple for the first week until you get into the habit of eating this way. Your  mantra should be: meat, fish, chicken, eggs, cheese, nuts, lots of green vegetables, and lots of olive oil, coconut oil and butter. For easy breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas sign up here for our free 8 day Quick Start Guide.

 TIP 2: Eat plenty of fat, a moderate amount of protein and a small amount of carbs

sausage-mushrooms-and-eggs-lchf

  • To begin, don’t restrict your calories by too much. Just focus on eliminating carbs from your diet. Aim to get most of your calories from fat (about 60-80%), about 20% from protein and the remaining 5-10% from carbs. These percentages are your macro nutrient ratios.
  • To figure out approximately how many calories  you should be eating to maintain or lose weight, use this calculator here. Calories don’t  matter as much on a LCHF diet however there is a general range you should stay within. Experiment and see for yourself.
  • Aim to reduce your carbs to within 20-80g per day. Most people eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) are eating well over 150g of carbs per day. Your main source of carbs on the LCHF Nation plan will be plenty of fresh green vegetables and some fruits.
  • People vary in their sensitivity to carbs. If you’re someone who puts on weight easily, you will need to eat fewer carbs to lose weight than someone who does not gain weight so easily. As a small, light to moderately active woman, to lose weight Elena needed to keep her carbs at less than 30g net carbs per day. If you’re taller, more active and less insulin resistant, you may be able to eat 50g or 75g of carbs (or if you’re male and very active maybe even a 100g per day). Experiment and see. Generally though, the more carbs you eat the less likely you will experience the decreased hunger and blood sugar stabilization and loss of cravings benefits that are possible on a low carb high fat diet.
  • We strongly recommend you eliminate wheat and grains as they are highly addictive and high glycemic foods that trigger insulin surges and, in many people, result in bodily inflammation and difficulty losing weight. Many people are allergic or senstitive to wheat products and do not realize it, until they eliminate them from their diet. Most people will lose up to 5 lbs in one week from eliminating wheat alone.
  • Count net carbs only. If a product states that it has fiber in it you can subtract the fiber carbs from the total carbs as they are not digested. If a product that states it has has 5 g carbs per serve with 2 of them being fiber will only contain 3 net carbs per serve.
  • Tracking your food on FitDay will make counting carb grams and sticking to the recommended macro-nutrient ratios easy.
  • Experiencing a headache, feeling irritable and tired are normal symptoms you may encounter in the first few days of eating LCHF as your body switches from burning sugar to burning fat.
  • To make life easier for you we have also calculated the number of calories, and the amounts of carbs, fiber, fat and protein in every recipe we have shared on LCHF nation.

Eat plenty of healthy fats

  • We cannot emphasize enough that while lowering your carbs is fundamental on this diet, eating plenty of healthy fats is also very important. You will slow your weight loss down and experience hunger if you do not consume enough fat.  People are often confused when they read about high protein diets and think that protein is all they should be eating. In reality, a high protein diet is usually a moderate protein diet that is high in fat.
  • Repeat after us “Fat is good for me”, “Eating fat does not raise blood pressure or cholesterol levels or triglycerides”. It is refined carbs that raise cholesterol and triglycerides – not fats.
  • Its very easier than you think to get plenty of fat as fat in your diet as fat is so calorically dense.  A diet comprised of 60-70% fat is easy to achieve. A large salad like my salad recipe here is a good example of a meal that is comprised of over 75% fat although you’d never know it from looking at all those greens.
  • Avoid all trans fats and high omega 6 vegetable oils which are pro-inflammatory such as soybean oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil and grapeseed oil.  Read food product labels carefully to see what kind of oils they contain. See our best low carb foods resource list for the healthiest oils and fats.

Eat an adequate, moderate amount of protein

When it comes to protein aim to consume around 50-100g /day. Your needs will vary according to your gender,  height, and activity level. Here are the current US guidelines for daily protein:

  • Babies need about 10 grams a day.
  • School-age kids need 19-34 grams a day.
  • Teenage boys need up to 52 grams a day.
  • Teenage girls need 46 grams a day.
  • Adult men need about 56 grams a day.
  • Adult women need about 46 grams a day (71 grams, if pregnant or breastfeeding).
  • Remember that the above values are the minimum amounts. Your needs may differ.
  • When eating LCHF you should always keep in mind that protein eaten to excess, just like carbs, will be converted to fat via gluconeogenesis. As a guideline, protein should comprise no higher than 30% of your total calorie intake.

TIP 3: Keep an eye on but don’t count calories

counting calories

  • Use ketone test strips, available from your local pharmacy, to see if you are burning fat.
  • The ‘just lower your carbs’ approach works great for the majority of people, especially those who have a lot of weight to lose. However, some people still do have to watch their calories, but usually nowhere near the extent that you have to when eating a low calorie, low fat, high carb diet. You can eat more calories on a LCHF diet than on a low calorie, low fat diet.
  • Eliminating refined carbs from your diet will markedly decrease your appetite and hunger so that means that you’ll inadvertently end up eating far fewer calories too.
  • Initial weight losses on a LCHF diet can be large. Depending on your starting weight and how much weight you have to lose, expect to lose anywhere between 2 and 7 lbs during your first week and between 1-3 lbs each week thereafter. Some of your weight loss in the first 2 weeks will be due to water being expelled as your glycogen supplies shrink and you begin to burn body fat.
  • Stick to your LCHF weight loss plan for a week and if you find that you’re not losing weight, or your weight loss has suddenly stopped email us and we will help you identify what you can change in your diet to make sure you begin losing weight again. We have never met a weight loss stall we couldn’t shift. There is always a reason why you’re not losing weight.

 TIP 4: Keep carbs low and avoid ALL fructose, even from natural fruits.

avoid fructose

 

  • This is the one thing you will need to be very strict about. Keep your net carbs low. Perhaps as low as 20-30 net carbs per day. You’ll be eating plenty of fat and burning your own body fat so you’ll no longer be dependent on glucose for fuel.
  • If you find that eating more carbs stalls your weight loss, decrease them by 5-10g/day and see what happens over the next few days.
  • Remember to keep your food sources as natural as possible. Commercial salad dressings and packaged foods often contain hidden sugars (disguised as different names like ‘maltodextrin”,  “sorghum syrup” and “high fructose corn syrup”) and other ingredients that may stall your weight loss.
  • If you are not losing weight and are consuming fruit, then drop the fruit for a few days and see what happens. Fructose, the key sugar found in fruit, is converted very easily by the body into fat. Food manufacturers often include high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) (a hyped up form of fructose) in food to increase its sweetness and make you eat more.
  • Stick to food that is unprocessed as much as possible to avoid hidden carbs and ‘carb creep’.
  • Challenge your self to cook a meal totally from natural, wild, organic, pastured non-processed/non-additive containing foods. See our Recipes and sign up for our free Quick Start Guide for meal inspiration.
  • Having trouble working out an eating plan that works for you and that you can successfully stick to? Contact us for help at info@LCHFNation.com.

TIP 5: Exercise counts…

exercise

  • … but not as much as you think it does. We would say that at least 80% of your body composition is determined by how you eat, not by how much you exercise
  • The key benefits of exercise are improved insulin resistance and maintenance of lean muscle and strength. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and helps move blood sugar into the muscles where it can burned as fuel, instead of stored as fat.
  • There is no need for excessive cardio and hours of exercise. Just move more, walk more, and ideally, once or twice each week, perform a simple 10 minute weight training routine with some dumb bells and add in some basic core exercises like abdominal exercises with an exercise ball, some lunges and some push-ups (half push-ups if needed).
  • If you are a seasoned exerciser, have a favorite sport that you play a couple of times a week, or have been exercising up until now, continue to do so.  Just add some slow-average paced walking, or maybe hiking or cycling and 1 or 2 short weekly weight training/exercise sessions to that established routine.
  • For those couch potatoes who have not been active until now, I recommend you begin by building at least 30 minutes of walking into your day. This can be achieved in 2 x 15 minute walks if you prefer.
  • Perform weight training for 10 minutes once or twice a week. Weight training doesn’t have to be time consuming. Try for 10-15 minutes once or twice a week.
  • Performing exercises like these is also extremely beneficial for strengthening your back, which many of my clients find is a weak point for them in midlife.
  • It’s essential to learn proper form when working with weights. Go to a gym and have a couple of sessions with a personal trainer. Or purchase some weight training videos online. I’ve always liked “The Firm” as it demonstrates proper form.
  • For more exercise tips sign up for our free LCHF email course.

TIP 6: Take your vitamins and get enough sleep!

sleeping

These are two things that you can do that will speed along your weight loss.

  • Your body needs a certain amount of essential vitamins and minerals to function properly and this is especially important when you’re cutting back on food, and losing weight. In addition to taking a high quality multi-vitamin, we also recommend vitamin D3, potassium and magnesium citrate. There is evidence to show that taking in adequate levels of vitamins and minerals could decrease food cravings, thereby promoting weight loss.
  • Get enough sound sleep. It’s well known that chronic stress and sleep deprivation may increase your levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This rise in cortisol can cause increased insulin levels, fluid retention, and sugar cravings and result in weight gain.
  • To ensure an optimal night’s sleep, make sure that your bedroom has blinds that totally block out the light, and keep your bedroom to a temperature conducive to a comfortable night’s sleep.
  • Numerous studies suggest that blue light emitted by computer and television screens in the evening suppresses melatonin and disrupts the brain’s natural sleep-wake cycles. Studies have linked melatonin suppression in the evening to various health problems, including metabolic syndrome, obesity and cancer.
  • Have a small before bed snack if you need to. A feeling of hunger is not conducive to getting to sleep.
  • Hot flashes and night sweats and other hormonal disruptions can make getting quality sleep very difficult for most women in midlife. If you are a woman, see your gynecologist to balance your hormones if hot flashes and night sweats prevent you from sleeping.

TIP 7: Balance Your Hormones!

balance

  • If you’re following our tips and after a couple of weeks are still not losing weight, then its time to see your doctor or gynecologist to have your hormones checked. For optimal weight loss both your thyroid hormones and reproductive hormones need to be in balance.
  • Thyroid hormone deficiency, known as hypothyroidism, results in decreased metabolism and weight gain/difficulty losing weight. Other common symptoms can include fatigue, cold intolerance, dry skin and constipation.
  • Seek out a practitioner who specializes in bio-identical hormone therapy as they often have better knowledge of what constitutes abnormal thyroid hormone levels and can prescribe the necessary hormones for you.
  • During and after menopause, women’s estrogen hormone levels drop. This decrease in estrogen often causes weight gain, especially around the abdomen, the so-called “meno-pot”. Fat cells are able to produce this missing estrogen which is why, at midlife our bodies store more fat as a way of repleneshing estrogen.
  • Similarly, at peri-menopause (the years leading up to menopause) diminishing progesterone levels can also cause weight gain for women.  Until recently (and unfortunately still to this day,) doctors continue to prescribe estrogen alone without progesterone. More and more we are realizing that progesterone needs to be prescribed in combination with estrogen to maintain an optimal hormonal body environment that’s critical for weight loss.
  • IMPORTANT: Before going on any hormone regimen you should ask your doctor to perform a genetic test to see if you are sensitive to estrogens. Although not common, for some women (both young and old) who are genetically susceptible,  taking hormonal estrogen can lead to the development of blood clots. These clots can cause a stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolus, any of which may be fatal.