What Does “Low-Carb, Real-Food” Mean?
Let me start by explaining a bit of terminology.
- A low-carbohydrate diet minimizes sugars and starches, replacing them with foods rich in protein and healthy fats.
- “Real food” means choosing foods that humans had access to throughout evolution. Processed, unnatural foods with artificial chemicals are avoided.
What Not to Eat
You should limit the following foods.
- Sugar: Added sugar is addictive, fattening and a leading cause of diseases like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- Grains: Avoid grains if you need to lose weight, including bread and pasta. Gluten grains are the worst . Healthier grains like rice and oats are fine if you don’t need to lose weight.
- Seed and vegetable oils: Soybean oil, corn oil and some others. These are processed fats with a high amount of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are harmful in excess .
- Trans fats: Chemically modified fats that are extremely bad for health. Found in some processed foods.
- Artificial sweeteners: Despite being calorie free, observational studies show a correlation with obesity and related diseases . If you must use sweeteners, choose Stevia.
- “Diet” and “low-fat” products: Most of these “health foods” aren’t healthy at all. They tend to highly processed and loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Agave syrup is just as bad as sugar.
- Highly processed foods: Foods that are highly processed are usually low in nutrients and high in unhealthy and unnatural chemicals.
You must read ingredient lists. You’ll be surprised at the amount of “health foods” that can contain sugar, wheat and other harmful ingredients.
Healthy Foods to Eat
You should eat natural, unprocessed foods that humans are genetically adapted to eating. Research shows such foods are great for health. For healthy people exercise and don’t need to lose weight, there absolutely no proven reason to avoid tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, healthier non-gluten grains like oats and rice. If you are overweight or have metabolic issues (low HDL, high LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.) you should restrict all high-carb foods.
- Meat: Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, etc. Humans have eaten meat for hundreds of thousands of years. Unprocessed meat is good for you, especially if the animals ate natural foods (like beef from grass-fed cows).
- Fish: Fish is great. healthy, fulfilling and rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. You should eat fish (preferably fatty fish like salmon) every week.
- Eggs: Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. The yolk is the most nutritious and healthiest part. Omega-3 eggs are best.
- Vegetables: Contain fiber and many nutrients that are essential for the human body. Eat vegetables every day.
- Fruit: Increase variety, taste good, are easy to prepare and rich in fiber and vitamin C. They’re still pretty high in sugar, so eat in moderation if you need to lose weight.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc. Rich in various nutrients, but very high in calories. Eat in moderation if you need to lose weight.
- Potatoes: Root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are healthy, but they’re still high in carbs. Eat in moderation if you need to lose weight.
- High-fat dairy: Cheese, cream, butter, full-fat yogurt, etc. Rich in healthy fats and calcium. Dairy from grass-fed cows will be rich in vitamin K2, which is very important for health.
- Fats and oils: Olive oil, butter, lard, etc. Choose saturated fats for high-heat cooking like pan frying, they are more stable in the heat.
What to Drink?
- Coffee: Coffee is healthy and very rich antioxidants, but people who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid it. Avoid coffee late in the day because it can ruin your sleep.
- Tea: Tea is healthy, rich in antioxidants and has a lot less caffeine than coffee.
- Water: You should drink water throughout the day and especially around workouts. No reason to drink a whole ton though, thirst is a pretty reliable indicator of your need.
- Carbonated soda without artificial sweeteners is fine.
How Many Carbs Per Day?
This varies between individuals.
Many people feel best eating very little carbs (under 50 grams) while others eat as much as 150 grams, which is still low-carb.
You can use these numbers as a guideline:
- 10-20 grams per day: Very low, can’t eat any carbs except low-carb vegetables. Appropriate if you have a lot of weight to lose or if you have diabetes and/or the metabolic syndrome.
- 20-50 grams per day: If you need to lose weight fast. You can eat quite a bit of vegetables and one piece of fruit per day.
- 50-150 grams per day: If you want to achieve optimal health and lower your risk of lifestyle-related disease. There is room for several fruit per day and even a little bit of healthy starches like potatoes and rice.
why Does It Work?
Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years.
Our diet changed drastically in the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago.
However, this change is small compared to the massive transformation we’ve seen in the last few decades with modern food processing.
It is quite clear that humans today are eating a diet that is very different from the diet our ancestors thrived on throughout evolution.
There are several “primitive” populations around the world that still live as hunter-gatherers, eating natural foods. These people are lean, in excellent health and most of the diseases that are killing western populations by the millions are rare or nonexistent
Studies show that when people eat natural foods that were available to our hunter-gatherer ancestors (also known as the paleolithic diet), they lose weight and see massive improvements in health.
Health Benefits of a Low Carb Diet
It is a common misunderstanding, even among health professionals, that low-carb diets are somehow bad for health. People who make such claims obviously haven’t bothered to check out the research.Their main argument is that low-carb diets are bad because they’re high in saturated fat, which raises cholesterol and causes heart disease.But recent research suggests that there is nothing to worry about. Saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the “bad” cholesterol from small, dense LDL (very bad) to large LDL which is benign.
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