LCHF stands for “Low Carbohydrate High Fat” diet, something that 25% of Swedes are into. There are at least four LCHF print magazines in Sweden (printed in Swedish, of course) and literally hundreds of websites and blogs in Swedish about this phenomenon. Here is one edition translated into English. These Swedish sites are a great resource for recipes if you are looking for a way to increase your fat and decrease your carbohydrates.
What makes the Swedish LCHF different from Paleo and Primal diets is that LCHF promotes even higher fat, and even lower carbohydrate – but includes full fat dairy. The Swedes love whole fat raw dairy and so do I. They have had a long time to evolve with it; you may or may not be as lucky as the Swedes.
What do I love about the Kingdom of Sweden? The Economist calls Sweden the best governed country in the world. Income equality is incredibly fair (though actual wealth distribution is much less fair – thanks Ikea!). Sweden has given us Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking author!), hotties Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman, the Nobel Prize and the superior Celcius temperature system, Acne clothing, ABBA, Ace of Base, Avicii and Stieg Larsson. I’m sure they’ve done some other things, but honestly, isn’t that enough?
Let’s just say these people are smart and tough, they endure some of the highest taxes in the world, they enjoy socialized health care and yet 1 in 4 citizens of the Kingdom of Sweden have still taken the responsibility of their own health into their own hands – by embracing LCHF.
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN EXACTLY?
- Eat the recommended amount of protein for your body size. See this post on protein ceilings for a reminder of how to calculate yours. I should be eating between 40-50g of protein a day.
- Limit your carbohydrates to 10g per 100g of food consumed. If it is too complicated to weigh out your food, try using a calorie counter app like MyNetDiary and keep your carbohydrates under 10% of calories. I try to eat less than 20g of carbohydrates every day. But I’m still not getting it. I usually end up at around 60g and scratch my head. (The culprit is usually dairy: yoghurt, kefir or milk in a latte. Or chocolate. Or wine. Or who’s kidding who, my dad left an open bag of chips on the counter and stuff happened).
- Eat some green vegetables, or vegetables that grow above the ground. You don’t need to eat your whole crisper drawer – better to eat a smaller amount of nutritionally dense foods than huge salads. When you can opt for “wild” type plants like fiddleheads, wild leeks, scallions, arugula – go for it. Small, bitter greens and herbs have more nutrition than modern vegetables, which have largely had the nutrition bred out of them in exchange for bigger size, cosmetics and durability. Always add butter or olive oil or some kind of fat to your greens to optimize your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients (avocado would also work).
- The rest of your calories or grams need to come from fat. We’re talking a lot of fat. It’s not LCMediumFat, it’s LCHighFat. Using that same calorie counter app, at least 50% of your calories should come from fat at first, and as soon as you can handle it, try for 70%. For me this looks like a TBS of butter and a TBS of coconut oil in my morning coffee. Then the same amount in a mid-morning Crazy Hot Chocolate Drink. Then if I have a salad at lunch, I include half an avocado and a lot of olive oil. I might also have an oily fish at lunch, like 4oz of wild salmon or some sardines. For dinner I might have a small portion of lamb chops and will eat all the fat off of them, and some asparagus with lots of butter melted on top.
A sample day like this gives me 50g of protein, over 100g of fat and about 25g of carbohydrates. And I haven’t even made room for a cup of kefir (13g carbs), a single Lindt chocolate ball (5g carbs), let alone a butter tart (45g carbs). So you can see how difficult this is. For me in this sample, I am already at my protein ceiling, so I can’t snack on protein. (Remember once you hit your protein ceiling, the excess protein will probably convert to glucose, which if unused will get converted to fat storage – so it’s the same as eating sugar). I am already beyond the classic LCHF 10% of calories from carbohydrates or 10g carbohydrates per 100g food. So if I’m still hungry…
THE ONLY THING LEFT TO SNACK ON IS FAT
Which is a problem because it’s not really a normal thing, and certainly not an acceptable thing, to just snack on straight fat.
The most basic option is to have a tablespoon of coconut oil, fresh from the jar. This honestly isn’t so bad. I mean, I sort of like it a lot. But everybody is not like me. This repulses both of my sisters and literally makes them gag.
Some people just eat butter straight. That’s not for me; not yet anyway. However one great option is to find hot drinks to emulsify fat into, like a hot chai tea (unsweetened, from a teabag) blended with grass-fed ghee, butter or coconut oil. I also enjoy melting some coconut cream into a matcha tea as if it’s a latté.
At the very least, you’ve got to tell me that you’re intrigued. I mean, the Swedes are jumping all over this!
What is even more interesting is that there is a small group of American fertility doctors who are counseling their patients to adopt a strict LCHF or even a NoCarbHighFat diet, and finding that while 50-60% of their patients used to need to go on to IVF and further procedures – now only 5% need that next step. The LCHF protocol is literally ramping up their fertility within a matter of months.
The craziest part of all is that this can have profound health benefits – on fertility, diabetes, Alzheimer’s (type 3 diabetes), dementia, Parkinson’s, cancer, metabolic syndromes etc. – and yet it doesn’t cost a thing in medicines or treatments, lasts a lifetime and has no negative side effects.
Just a warning – obviously you need to eat the “right” fats if you are going to do LCHF. Here is a list of great fats to choose from:
- virgin cold-pressed coconut oil
- grass-fed butter (raw and organic if possible)
- fats from pastured, grass-fed ruminants (including tallow)
- fats from wild, cold-water small fish like salmon and sardines
- egg yolks (but go ahead and eat the whole egg, one has less than 0.5g carbs)
- olive oil (only for cold applications)
- avocado (one whole has 15g carbohydrates)
- walnuts (1/2 cup has 8g carbohydrates)
- fats from organic, traditionally raised pigs and chickens in moderation (including lard)
- duck fat in moderation
- other nuts in moderation (always preferably soaked to remove anti-nutrients)
Go ahead and research how these appropriate fats are actually nourishing for the brain, the heart and all your organs and your system as a whole. The research is trickling in against the wave of opposite and conventional advice. In the meantime, you can enjoy insanely hydrated skin, stronger hair and nails, an increase in lean muscle mass and a decrease in stored fat (without exercise).
Your jaw is going to freaking drop when you see how easily this works.
Read my post on How to Eat More Butter
Learn how to make a Big Fat Coffee with butter and coconut oil, and why to drink it
Read about the implications of the LCHF diet on tumor regression