Low Carb High Fat Diets

About 2 months ago I stumbled onto the Reddit group /r/keto. After reading story after story like this one, from people who lost a huge amount of weight in a fairly short time (6 – 12 months) following the keto diet, I did some research of my own and decided to give it a go.

What is the keto diet? Read this.

Now, I’m not a massive guy, but I’m still about 20 – 30 kgs heavier than I should be. I’m 186cms and was about 106kgs (233lbs).

In the first 30 days, I lost 10kg and 10 cms off my waist. That’s 10% of my body weight for those of you not great at maths.

In the second month, I’ve stabilised, which I’m not complaining about, but I still want to lose more, so I’ve been learning more about the diet.

Last night I finished reading a book called “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes, a respected science journalist. Taubes believes that our whole approach to weight control since the 1960s has been fundamentally flawed. The food pyramid is broken.

Essentially, Taubes argues that the science demonstrates overwhelmingly that what makes us fat is eating sugar and carbohydrates (rice, pasta, bread, flour, etc). The cure? Stop eating sugars and carbs. Get most of your calories from fat and protein.

Sounds crazy, I know. But that’s how I lost 10kgs in 30 days. It’s how many people on /r/keto have lost 30 – 50kgs in a year. It’s similar to the Atkins and Paleo diets (which I knew nothing about before I started this).

Taubes’ book explains the science and history of obesity in great detail and it’s pretty compelling. I won’t go into it here in any depth, but basically it breaks down like this:

1. When we eat carbs and sugar, our bodies produce insulin.

2. Insulin tells your cells to store most of the calories that you’ve just eaten for later as fat and to burn what’s left to provide the body with energy.

3. Unfortunately, because most of the calories we’ve just eaten get stored as fat, we get hungry again quickly – and we eat more carbs. The cycle continues. More fat gets stored, we get hungry, rinse and repeat.

4. Exercise is good for you – but has little to do with losing weight. It’s mostly about hormones and carbs.

The solution, according to Taubes and /r/keto, is to eat a low-carb, high fat diet. Basically cut your carbs and sugars back to 20 – 50 grams a day from all sources – which equates to making carbs responsible for about 5% of your calories. The rest of your diet should be fat, protein and leafy greens. Think: eggs, bacon, steak, cheese, cream (instead of milk) and green veggies (lettuce, cabbage, celery, broccoli, etc).

This kind of diet will no doubt be old news to many of you but, for me, it’s already made a huge difference. I’m 10% lighter, have more energy to burn, fitting into old clothes, etc. If you’re the kind of person who struggles to lose weight, I suggest you look into it.

Everyone will have questions about nutrition and health, but Taubes deals with them all in the book. If you’re at all interested, either buy his book, spend ten minutes reading through /r/keto, or watch the first ten minutes of this video interview with Taubes.

5 thoughts on “Low Carb High Fat Diets

  1. I’ve been trialling this diet for a while and reading about it too. There is some sceptisism online about why this diet works and in particular Taube’s theory regarding insulin. My personal belief is that it does work but only because LCHF ultimately becomes a calorie deficit diet. When you are chowing down on bacon and eggs, and cream etc you don’t get the hunger pangs and cravings you would having had Rice Bubbles or fluffy white bread sandwiches. Health wise, I can’t think of anything better than getting rid of sugar and refined carbs.

    1. Funny – inadvertent calorie restriction + low carb is why Taubes says most low-fat / hard exercise diets work as well (when they *do* work). Taubes’ position seems to be that when your body moves from high carb intake / insulin excretion mode to low carb / ketosis, they body will a) get out of the default mode of storing calories as long term fat and b) recognize that it needs to burn long term fat stores for energy. Calorie restriction helps, but the key is making sure that the calories you *do* eat, are burned immediately and not stored as fat. When you’re in high carb intake / insulin excretion mode, the body is storing a high percentage of what you eat as fat, and using what’s left for the body’s energy needs, not the other way around, as most nutritionists claim.

  2. Taube’s theory of Insulin? As Taubes says, we’ve been brainwwashed by “conventional” wisdom as to how our bodies work. How insulin works is not a theory but is well established science. Look at Eating academy.com is you are after the hard science on keto diets

  3. There is also reddit.com/r/zerocarb, which I am moderator. There is not much community discussion there, but I think I’ve posted a lot of good links.
    I had ice cream last night and I’m psyching myself into getting off sugar starting Sunday. I’ve been addicted to every substance known to man, this one is the last and the hardest of all.

    1. Thanks for the link to your /r/, David. I hadn’t heard of ZC before. Fascinating! So you how do you eat ice cream if you are ZC?

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