Monday, 2 January 2012

Why LCHF and why this blog?

Hi and welcome to "LCHF in Canada".
An LCHF meal.  Thanks to (link below) for this appetizing image!

What is LCHF? 

First and foremost - for any that don't know - LCHF stands for "Low-Carb / High-Fat" and is a lifestyle diet.  It is not a "fad" diet, it is something you can live with for the rest of your life, and do so healthily.

Basically with LCHF you are eating less carbohydrate and a higher proportion of fat.  

I know what many are thinking - this flies in the face of "conventional wisdom" and goes against everything we've been taught...  And you're right, it does... but it's a healthier way of eating than the traditional standard western diet.  I'll link to that research in another post, so stay tuned.

Carbohydrate: Why reduce it?

LCHF stresses the elimination of refined / processed carbohydrate and all refined sugars.  It is also recommended you eliminate or drastically reduce starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn and parsnips from the diet.

The starchy vegetables are both extremely calorie-dense and very high-glycemic.  Eating potatoes and corn may be inexpensive (especially in the U.S. where corn has massive subsidies) but it leads to huge spikes in insulin (to counter the glucose entering the bloodstream) which over time can cause insulin-resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.  This is why we need to reduce our starchy carbohydrate intake.

All major research has shown that refined/processed carbohydrates are contributing greatly to the obesity epedemic as well as increasing risk for cardiovascular disease.  When people eliminate refined/processed carbohydrate from their diets they almost universally; 
  • lose weight - primarily fat-loss while maintaining most of your lean muscle tissue; 
  • improve blood glucose control (improving both glucose levels and insulin-resistance); and, 
  • improve cholesterol levels and other markers of cardiovascular health
The bulk of your carbohydrate calories should come from non-starchy vegetables, preferably organic (where feasibility permits) and moderate amounts of fruit - berries are normally cited as your best fruit sources due to their low-glycemic and high-fiber qualities.

Grains are not currently recommended except certain whole grains in limited quantities.  And yes, I know this flies against all we've been taught - I'll also post on grains later explaining why - please read that post before making any assumptions.

FAT?  FAT??  But we're told to reduce our fat consumption!

I know it sounds crazy to many - but fat is not the enemy, and it's not the villain it's been portrayed to be over the last few decades.

Over the past 40 years we've been told to reduce our fat consumption and increase carbohydrate consumption.  Over the past 40 years our obesity rates and rates of cardiovascular disease have increased.

Many tell us (a quote often attributed to Einstein) "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results", yet our governments have been telling us for years to reduce fat and increase carbohydrate consumption even though it's not working!  (There's many theories for this - most involve the lobbying efforts of big-Agro companies, etc. and I won't address those here.  There's other forums for conspiracy theories, thanks.)

Here's the deal on FAT in a nutshell:  Natural fats are both healthy AND an important part of our dietary/nutritional needs.

Avoid unnatural fats at all cost.  Lets be honest, when you squeeze corn you don't get oil out...  (You don't get syrup either... but that's another post.)  Most vegetable oils are heavily-processed/refined and not healthy.  They are usually incredibly cheap though due to agriculture subsidies.

Fats to avoid:

Trans-fats:  These are designed to increase the shelf-life of products, but are dangerous.  All respected research ever done confirms this.  Trans-fats are any fat/oil that says "hydrogenated" or "partially-hydrogenated".

Vegetable Oils, especially any that are refined.  These include corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower and even canola (depending on just how refined it is).  The worst offenders, in my own opinion (based on scientific research studies), are corn and soybean oils.

Fats to include:

Butter (and cream, great for sauces), coconut oil, animal fats (preferably from hormone-free/organic and free-range/grass-fed animals) nut oils, olive oil, pressed (un-refined) canola oil.  Cheese is also great, and many people include full-fat (sugar-free) yogurts (such as Greek or Turkish yogurt) and full-fat milk products (in limited quantity, you want to watch sugar intake from milk) in their LCHF diets too.

Nuts can also be a good source of healthy fats - Such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc. but many are also fairly high in carbohydrate and they're very calorie-dense, so it's best to watch what you eat.

It's important to know that dietary fat does not make you fat.  This is a myth and I'll do an entire post dedicated to that subject later.

Protein?  What about protein?
Protein is essential for the human species, and LCHF-eaters primarily get their protein from eggs and meat products as well as some nuts.  Choose organic/hormone-free where possible, and do your best to avoid processed meats.

A quick note on bacon and ham...  Bacon and ham are tasty, yes ... but mass-produced bacon and ham are usually overly-processed and full of nitrates and other harmful chemicals.  If you love bacon and ham, and you just have to eat it - either eat it in moderation, or find a butcher shop that can sell you organically-raised pork that's nitrate-free and naturally smoked/cured.  It's in your best interest.

There is also protein in full-fat cheese and yogurt, though not in the quantities available in meat or eggs.

Why the blog?

The LCHF revolution started in the Scandinavian countries, and most of the information available on the internet is in languages other than English.  There's also very little information available in Canada, and as such I decided to start the blog.

The main reason I'm blogging though is to help educate people on how we've been misled for decades about what's really healthy.

Many doctors, nutritionists, dieticians governments and organizations continue to deliver the "low-fat/high-carb diets are best" mantra, even though all proper research and studies are confirming otherwise.

If the truth is really going to get out there, it's going to need to be a grass-roots movement that initiates it.  I'd like to be part of that, imparting my knowledge and experience to others.

I'd appreciate any comments and questions, and I invite any who want to participate in a respectful discussion.  Thanks for taking the time to be here!

Some links to other LCHF information sites: - Dr. Aandreas Eenfeldt, a Swedish MD now has an English page
Dr. Mary Vernon, MD about low-carb and obesity
Fat Head - a documentary by Tom Naughton
Science for Smart People - by Tom Naughton

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