What I like and dislike about the LCHF diet and my example of a 5-day low carb menu.
My name is Olena. I am 39, I am a journalist, the founder of Rebels Diet, and a low-carber. I don’t eat smoothie bowls and wholegrain toasts. I don’t keep any rice or pasta at home. Sometimes I eat berries and, occasionally, I can eat some fruit. What’s left on my low-carb menu and on my low-carb shopping list?
Fat. A lot of fat. The lifestyle that I follow is known as LCHF – low carb, high fat. Sometimes I follow a more strict version of LCHF – a keto diet (up to 20 g of carbs a day) or even a carnivore diet (0 carbs, no veggies or leafy greens whatsoever); other times I follow a moderate LCHF diet that allows having up to 50 g of carbs a day. Here is the story about how my new eating habits came to be.
What I like about the LCHF lifestyle
Thanks to this diet, I easily lost my excess weight and was able to love the reflection in the mirror. I lost about 8 kg – I don’t know exactly because I don’t have scales at home.
I have a lot more energy than I used to have. I can think faster and my memory works way better. I can walk for hours, and I got rid of the feeling when I started to “black out” in the middle of the day.
I don’t get sick as often, and I got rid of my allergy. Some time ago, I could last 3 minutes near a cat before I started to itch, and today I have a cat named Alyosha.
Oh, and those painful hunger attacks! My chest was seething and I felt like tearing the heart out of the person I was talking to. I tear it out just to consume it.
Today, I can easily survive 7 to 9 hours without food and practice intermittent fasting – 8/16 or 5/2. Not a single heart has been torn out in the meantime.
What I dislike about the LCHF lifestyle
I enjoy eating. I get upset when my meal is nutritious but tasteless. I love to cook.
But now I’m unable to eat much. One of the most important principles of the LCHF diet is to eat when you are feeling hungry and until you get full. This helps you quit snacking (it becomes unnecessary) gradually and switch to consuming 1 or 2 or, at most, 3 but definitely not 5-6 meals a day (normally I eat 2 times a day).
Fat gives you the feeling of perfect satiation. That’s why sometimes I still FEEL like I want to eat more, but my stomach gives me the feeling that I’m full and I don’t need any more food.
“Eat when you are hungry and until you get full” also means that I don’t eat according to the schedule and, sometimes, I sit with an empty plate when I am visiting my friends or eating out with them. My tablemates get worried sometimes, especially the older generation. Vegans would understand me.
My eating schedule
The importance of breakfast is a myth, just like the stories about the hazards of fat, the theory of calorific value, and the advantages of split meals.
Saying no to breakfast is a simple way to increase the “fasting window” and burn excess fat. But I usually have breakfast at 9 or 10 a.m. I work from home, and this is how I start my day.
My second meal is at 7-8 p.m. Some days I choose to have a little snack around 2 p.m., some days I don’t. It mostly depends on my daily activity, day of the cycle, or even the quality of my last night’s sleep.
What does my home low-carb menu consist of?
Usually, I have eggs for breakfast. There are many ways to cook eggs, so I don’t get tired of them. I like bacon, and I usually use its melted fat for frying scrambled eggs and omelettes. The second best are cheese pancakes with some liver pâté.
My dinner consists of protein (salmon, chicken, beef, or pork) and vegetables. I use animal fat for cooking – duck or pork. Sometimes I buy it, but more often I collect the melted fat while cooking.
I often use fermented veggies as a garnish for meat – sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles. Little tip: try pairing sauerkraut with olive oil and/or avocado. I use butter for desserts and sauces.
I like Ukrainian lard. I don’t see anything wrong with sausage if it has a lot of fat and contains no sugar, starch, dextrose, maltodextrin, soya, or other additives. My principle is that you can eat any food that contains no ingredients that you must search for on Google.
I don’t use vegetable oils (such as sunflower, corn (maize), soya, grape seed oil, etc.) in my diet.
I mostly quit eating fruit, but I’m keeping a healthy approach to everything. I can eat a handful of fruit if I find myself under an apricot tree, although I only buy berries.
If I have guests, I cook desserts, many of which are posted on my website, and on normal days I prefer to leave some space for some high-fat goat or sheep cheese in the evening.
This has nothing to do with my willpower – when you are following the LCHF diet you’ll lose your sweet cravings automatically, if you consume enough healthy fats and don’t forget to give your microbiota enough delicious nutrition.
My basic low carb shopping list (for a family of 3 for 2-3 weeks) includes:
- 6.5 kg of pork
- 12 burger patties
- 6 packs of chicken legs
- 3 packs of shrimp
- 7 avocados
- 3×4 packs of bacon
- 4 packs of jamon
- Nuts mix
- 2 packs of pistachios
- 18×2 packs eggs
- 4 packs of butter
- 2 tubs of keto ice cream
What can you add to a weekly low-carb shopping list?
- Eggs. A lot of eggs
Only the ones you like and the ones that grow above the ground. Greens (аrugula, spinach, swiss chard, kale, etc.), peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, artichokes, brussels sprouts, eggplant, and mushrooms.
The best fruit on keto is avocado! And berries: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Lemons and limes too.
- Meat, fish, and seafood
Beef, veal, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, pork, and bacon. Fatty fish, salmon, tuna, mackerel. Shrimps, mussels, squid.
Offal is incredibly nutritious and loaded with minerals and vitamins that are vital to our health. Its nutritional value surpasses that of meat. Brains, kidneys, liver, heart, tongue, stomach, and more.
- Full-fat dairy
Butter, ghee. Heavy cream. Full-fat cheeses, cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, ricotta, and farmer cheese.
- Other natural fats
Olive oil and coconut oil. Lard, tallow, and duck fat.
- Low-carb snacks
Macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, and pecans. Olives. Dark chocolate (choose organic brands with at least 80% cocoa).
- Flour alternatives
Coconut flour, almond flour.
Water, coffee, tea, bone broth. Dry wine – but if you need to lose weight, be careful with it.
My low-carb menu
I don’t keep a nutrition diary and I keep no records of my macronutrient ratio or calorie intake. I usually rely on my general state and a feeling of hunger, but I decided to calculate the data just for the sake of this post. I’ve spent loads of time and gave up on the 5th day. How can people live while keeping track of the calorific value of what they eat?
I decided not to specify the total calorific value of the diet at all, since such information would be more confusing than useful.
You can use my menu and food amounts just as a guide, but I advise you not to copy them: instead, eat when you’re feeling hungry and until you feel full (but not bloated). Everyone has a different metabolism, carb receptivity, and activity level.
My stats are: 49 kg, 160 cm tall, I attend fitness classes 2-3 times a week and take a lot of walks.
Lunch at a restaurant
- 2 portions of butter.
- (Extra) large green salad with prawns, eggs, and mayonnaise dressing.
- A glass of rosé.
- Aubergine dip and salami.
Total: 31 g of carbs + 11 g of fiber, macronutrients ratio in %: 19/71/10
Brunch at a cafe
- A large bowl of green salad with lamb and goat cheese.
- Latte with cream.
- Salmon with cherry tomatoes and cream sauce.
- A piece of Brie cheese.
Total: 19 g of carbs + 4 g of fiber, macronutrients ratio in %: 23/72/5
- Latte with cream. I cooked some yogurt with olive oil and salt. Then I took pictures of it and ate it. For the most part, I got rid of food props after taking pictures.
Dinner at my friend’s place
- Trout (baked in coconut oil), baked vegetables (asparagus and zucchini), raw tomatoes, and cheese.
Total: 30 g of carbs + 4 g of fiber, macronutrients ratio in %: 18/74/8
- 2.5 scrambled eggs with tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and cheese. Some bacon.
- Latte with cream.
- Almond butter.
- A burger with homemade mayonnaise, mushrooms (baked in pork fat) instead of a bun, and lettuce.
Total: 29 g of carbs + 3 g of fiber, macronutrients ratio in %: 15/76/9
- Omelette with two eggs, cream, avocado, and cheese. I used ghee as a cooking oil.
- One tablespoon of almond butter.
- A huge bowl of kale and avocado salad with avocado oil.
- Cheese and sunflower seeds.
Total: 37 g of carbs + 23 g of fiber, macronutrients ratio in %: 12/70/17