LCHF 101

Any approach to a well-formulated low-carb diet will overlap significantly. Especially since being healthy is about eating real food. Even if you cannot get grass fed or organic meat and veggies because a home cooked meal will leave you more satiated, satisfied and energized than fast food ever would.

Another thing to keep in mind about LCHF is that I am giving general principles. No diet can be a one-size-fits-thing. Take these principles and fit them to you and your lifestyle. The only bad diet is that one that does not work for you. Finding the food that works for you may take some tweaking, but ideally, with the tools I give you, you can customize this lifestyle so you can look, feel and perform like a rockstar!

On the healthy lifestyle part of the site, I will be outlining a few well known eating styles. These eating styles are almost identical, the differences come from where you put your focus. LCHF changes the main focus of your diet to healthy fats instead of carbohydrates. NSNG® eliminates all sugars and grains from your diet. Atkins starts you off on a ketogenic diet, which is very low carb, as time goes by you can start adding back in carbs until you start seeing unfavorable changes. Paleo has the largest allowance for carbs since not all paleo diets are strictly low-carb. Keto has the lowest wiggle room for carbs when you keep your carbs low for an extended length of time your body makes and burns ketones from your endogenous (internal) and exogenous (external/consumed) sources of fat (more about Keto here).

A quick note on Carbohydrate Tolerance: no two people will have the same carbohydrate tolerance. I may do fine eating a serving of sweet potatoes, but rice might cause me to gain weight and feel bloated, meanwhile, my wife may go through the inverse. This is why I will say over and over, there is no one size fits all diet, just guidelines that keep you inline, so-to-speak. This why I like the Atkins approach, you start off very low-carb and as you get to your ideal body weight you can start bringing your carbs up.

Now that we have a general idea where we are going with these posts, let’s get started with the lifestyle that has the largest reach: Low Carb. I am saying low carb, instead of low-carb, high-fat, because a well-formulated low-carb diet is by default a low-carb, high-fat diet. Since it seems like there is a limit as to how much protein you can take in at any given time. This limit is different for everyone and will change depending on your current goals[1,2].

When you eat more protein than your body needs, the amino acids in the protein will be turned into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis[3] which literally means “creating/making new sugar.” If gone unchecked, this can be a stressor on your body. The key takeaway is to eat protein in moderation, especially if your goal is to become fat/keto fueled, excess protein may prevent you from being keto/fat fueled.

Think I’m crazy, let’s take it from the horse’s mouth: Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney often emphasize that a well-formulated low-carb diet restricts carbohydrate, is moderate (not high) in protein and is high in fat[4]. What the holy heck does that mean?!? Basically, keep the carbs at or under your tolerance and a good rule of thumb is under 50 grams (under 20 grams if ketogenic/insulin resistant), protein requirements are based upon on a few factors like height, gender, and/or weight (A good range to aim for is 1.5 – 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight, or 0.7 – 0.9 grams per pound), and the rest of your diet is full of good fats until you feel satiated. Here is a good online calculator to help guide you into figuring out the ideal protein for you: Doc Muscles – Ideal Protein Calculation. Keep in mind these are a starting point if this amount of protein does not work for you go up or down accordingly to find what works for you.

Now that we have a general idea of how we construct a well-formed LCHF lifestyle, let’s dive into two popular ones: Atkins and NSNG®. NSNG® is the low-carb lifestyle that Vinnie Tortorich advocates, and it stands for No Sugars, No Grains. Atkins is probably the most well known low-carb lifestyle out there. These approaches may seem quite different since one is more structured with different phases depending on how long you have been doing it and the other is more about kicking the sugar and grains. However, when you zoom out they promote a very similar message: kick the excess carbs (that come in the form of sugars and grains. Let’s take NSNG® first.

NSNG®

NSNG® has the easiest guidelines: No sugars, no grains. Alright, we know what to stay away from, the rest is smooth sailing, right? I wish!

The difficulty comes from knowing that names for sugar and the types of grains there are. For example, there are over close to 100 different names for sugar that range from the obvious, cane sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup to the less known fructooligosaccharides, and malted barley. This is why Vinnie advocates eating whole food so you don’t need to keep an app open on your phone browser cross-referencing ingredients on a food label.

Grains are not any easier, especially since we are constantly being told some grains are not grains. For example quinoa, it is a grain, even though it has been marketed as a healthy gluten-free option. My favorite thing about this specific grain is that Vinnie has a famous saying, and I quote”F#&k quinoa[5].” which basically boils down to, don’t try and justify eating a grain by calling it a seed.

After you cut out all of the sugars and grains… what do I eat, easy! Get your carbs from whole food sources, like veggies and some fruits. Protein is not a free for all, and Vinnie suggests that you should start at your ideal body weight times .6 gram, so for me, it would be 130*0.6=78 grams of protein a day. The rest of the food comes from quality sources of fat, you should stay far away from trans-fats. A few examples of good fats are olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and fatty meats. The same things we have been talking about.

If you sign-up for my mailing list on February 1st, I will be sending out 2 free PDFs the first will drill into the foods you can eat to help you on your healthy journey, the 100’s of names there are for sugar, and the gains that should be avoided, and the second will be a 7 day start-up guide to help you kick-start your healthy lifestyle as well as a few other free goodies. Nothing like a shameless plug.

If you want some reading material on NSNG® Vinnie has a book Fitness Confidential and a free PDF (that can be found here: https://vinnietortorich.com/intro-to-nsng/) that you can get from his website (https://vinnietortorich.com). If you are looking for a great cookbook to help with cooking his co-host Anna Vocino wrote and a cookbook that has some amazing recipes in it. I have read them both and I use the cookbook often. The links are below:

Get “Fitness Confidential” Here

Get” Eat Happy” Here (by his Co-host Anna Vocino)

Atkins

Alright, we have an idea of what NSNG® is and how we can do it, so now let’s talk about the second low carb lifestyle I wanted to talk about — Atkins.

First off, this is not the Atkins that you or I grew up on, nor is it the Atkins bars and bottled drinks you see at your local supermarket. That stuff is full of carbs and lacks any good fats. I am talking about the new Atkins book, The New Atkins For A New You.

This book is authored by the low-carb/ketosis trifecta: Dr. Eric Westman, Dr. Stephen Phinney, and Ph.D. Jeff Volek. It goes through four phases of the diet so you can keep this up as your dietary lifestyle no matter where you are on your journey.

Phase 1: Induction, is for intents and purposes a ketogenic diet, which gives you 20 net carbs a day and 15 of them should be from green non-starchy veggies. This phase can last as few as 2 weeks, or it can last until you are at your last 30-40 pound before you get to your goal weight. While staying away from sugar, fruit juices, flours and grains (are you getting NSNG® de Ja Vue? Maybe it’s me… it’s probably just me…)

Phase 2: Ongoing Weight Loss, now you can start to add in berries, nuts, seeds and if you tolerate them legumes. You can also increase your daily carb intake by 5 grams a week until you find your personal tolerance. If you start to plateau or gain weight back you need to dial back your carbs. They suggest that you stay in this phase until you are about 10 away from your goal weight.

Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance, at this phase you can add in whole-food carbs in the form of fruits, veggies, and even grains (if you able to tolerate them). If you have not already found your carb tolerance you can continue to increase your carbs (like in phase 2). When you reach your goal weight you can test out the level of carbs you can intake without gaining any weight back or reverse any metabolic changes you fixed (IE insulin resistance). After figuring out your carb tolerance, maintaining your weight for a month and if your food cravings are under control you can move on to the next and last phase of Atkins.

Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance, this final phase is about making this way of eating a lifestyle. You continue consuming the types of food that got you to this point while adhering to your carb tolerance, occasionally checking your weight and measurements. As we age, our dietary needs will change and you may have to revisit the first 3 phases to get things back on track, so-to-speak.

For a more in-depth conversation on a diet and a few references look at check out:

Get “The New Atkins For A New You” Here

Get “The Art & Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” Here

In summation, there are a plethora of low carb options to choose from. I have only outlined two of them, these approaches range from simple the NSNG® (No Sugars, No Grains) intuitive eating approach, to a more methodical Atkins phase approach, and everything in between. No matter what approach you choose, above all else, you need to make sure you customize the eating to fit your needs and goals. If you take my eating plan and affix to you, you may not see the same results. Especially since I am a 5’5” female that wants to gain a fair bit of lean muscle while training for a hike down the grand canyon. I also have ADHD and a gluten and mild dairy intolerance.

This is why customization is key, but the customizations depend upon your goals and intolerances. The best diet for you is one that is customized to fit you, you should start to look, feel, and perform better than before.

As a disclaimer, if you couldn’t already tell, I am a major advocate for a lower carb way of eating. I know that this approach may not work for everyone, but it seems like a modified LCHF approach will work for most anyone. For anyone that does not thrive on a lower carb eating approach, we just need to tweak the diet until you do see the type of results that you want.

Resources:

[1] Calculating Protein Needs for Your Ideal Body Weight
https://www.docmuscles.com/calculating-protein-needs-for-your-ideal-body-weight/

[2] The New Atkins For A New You
By Dr. Eric C. Westman, Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, Dr. Jeff S. Volek

[3] Gluconeogenesis
http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/gluconeogenesis

[4] Low Carbohydrate Diets for Athletes
https://www.nsca.com/uploadedFiles/NSCA/Content_Categories/Events/Conferences/National_2013(1)/Friday%2010%20Jeff%20Volek%20and%20Alan%20Aragon.pdf

[5] Fuck Quinoa Urban Dictionary
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fuck%20quinoa