I’ve been doing LCHF (keto) for the past 7 years. Now I don’t even remember why and how I started — I remember things weren’t working for me (diet, health, energy levels), and I was ready for another experiment.
I eliminated grains, beans, starches almost entirely long time ago dealing with my auto-immune issues and Vitiligo. I was still high carb, raw vegan, with lots of fruit, living in Thailand back then, running marathons. 100% raw vegan. Except for consistent binges and cravings, it was working fine, I was running high on fruit, sometimes eating tons of nuts (Even though I wasn’t supposed to on this HCLF diet), and sometimes tons of junk food, just because my body was obviously hungry for the nutrients, that I was missing — that hunger translated into unstoppable cravings for everything but fruit.
Somewhere there it became obvious to me, that it’s not working anymore and I was kind of lost about what to eat, since I couldn’t get back to grains and starches, and I couldn’t imagine myself going all meat and fish after being vegan for so long, so I naturally started fasting a lot, eating coconuts (now living in Latin America), drinking coffee with coconut oil (Don’t even ask me, where I got that idea! I didn’t know bulletproof brand existed back then). I guess I just needed something to have in my coffee, and dairy was not an option for my gut.
Long story short, I ended up in US, stumbled upon Bulletproof coffee, Yemeni Mesa and Know Foods, Ryan Lowery and Ketogenic Bible, and it all grew in quality exponentially from there. When I tried to “break” keto (Not by design, but because I love to experiment, and something was a bit off till I put all the pieces in place) in all possible ways: I snacked on fat bombs and other fatty foods all the time, I consumed low quality animal foods, I lacked variety, I didn’t care about nutrients only about fats and carbs, at some point ending up living almost entirely on bulletproof coffees, grass fed butter and fat bombs with some avocados and nuts here and there, supplementing with bone broth protein shakes, getting into muscle building phase and eating tons of protein, thinking that vegetables are a waste of chewing time.
I’ve one all of that.
Learning, adjusting, documenting my personal journey, my clients’ experiences, upgrading and updating my professional nutrition education.
Now. 7 years later.
For the first time in my life I feel like, as long as I’m consistent with all I’ve learned and been practicing, as long as I practice consistency, my diet works, and I’m not searching for anything to be fixed. Except, for it to get better, as we discover new ways to upgrade ourselves. Now, I pretty much can spot after our first conversation, what’s not working in your LCHF diet (and lifestyle), and where you need to do more work. So, here is my cheat sheet for you to master LCHF without spending years figuring it all out, reading tons of books, most of which don’t show you the whole picture anyway.
You need to take care of 5 elements. You need to feel you got it all under your belt before looking into fine-tuning nutrition aspects. Lifestyle got to come first. Otherwise NO diet will work for you.
What you put into a sleep-deprived, stressed, dehydrated, sedentary body, also deprived of sunshine — what you put in that body will not work. Period.
Sleep. You need to take care of your sleep — duration, consistency of schedule, quality, uninterruptedness. Keep in mind, that just because you are hyped on adrenaline or lacking essential minerals and can’t fall asleep, or can’t sleep for 7–8 hour straight with no interruptions — that doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need more sleep. There is such a thing as biochemistry of sleep, and if yours is broken — you won’t sleep properly no matter how sleep deprived your body and brain truly are. Some people die of problems caused by chronic sleep deprivation.
Stress. It’s not about what you have going on in your life, it’s about how you manage it. And if you feel overwhelmed and stressed or anxious all the time — you are not managing your life, yourself and your stress well. It got to change. You got to change. Stress is still a number one killer. Truly happy people rarely die of diseases of lifestyle. Joy and peace of mind are anti-inflammatory.
Sun and Light. Sun exposure and vitamin D3. Exposure to full spectrum natural light (not just for vitamin D) in the morning and as often as possible, getting enough vitamin D (that you can supplement with) — disregard that, and your energy will always be off, you’ll be depressed, inflamed, probably over-weight and under-slept with problems with your endocrine system — to name a few possible health problems. All the mechanisms, how it works, are not understood fully, but you can’t skip it. Whether you believe it or not. And you probably know it already.
Hydration, movement and exercise. Do we really need to talk more about that? You are at least 60% water, and the less you move the less health you have.
Are you taking care of everything? Sleep, stress, Sun, water and movement?
If you are someone interested in getting the most out of your diet — 14-hour daily fasts are non-negotiable. 12-hour is for beginners, who are stuck in snack-or-die-of-hunger paradigm.
You can call it intermittent fasting or recovery practice for your digestive system. Just like your muscles, your digestive organs need recovery time, or they’ll break much faster.
Fasting does not include fatty coffees, fat bombs or Starbuck drinks, or fresh juices.
Water. Unsweetened tea and coffee are ok (There is a debate about coffee too).
That one is pretty simple actually. Variety of non-starchy vegetables and greens. Some berries are fine in moderation. Some nuts and seeds — not all will do. Variety of fatty animal foods: fattier cuts of meat, organ meats, seafood, eggs, poultry, insects. Added fats (that shouldn’t be a main source of your calories): animal fats from healthy animals, coconut, avocado and olive oils. Whole olives, avocados, coconuts are even better.
Go for variety in food groups. Rotate foods. Stick to mentioned above food groups and foods that make you feel good: digestion, energy, great sleep.
Starch and sugar obviously. But you already know that. Too many carbs: it’s usually an issue, only when you eat foods outside of the list above and fancy “keto” snacks with net carbs and non-whole-food ingredients. Or berries. It’s really hard to overeat non-starchy vegetables — the only carb source, if you do it right.
Avoid relying on processed foods like cured meats too much, or any packaged foods with man-made ingredients. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods, like dairy, nightshades, certain nuts and seeds, like peanuts and cashews, nuts roasted in vegetable oils nuts, vegetable oils of all kinds of course. Your personalized pro-inflammatory foods list might be different, depending on your digestive system. Elimination diet as a tool is very useful to identify foods, that cause problems for you, usually manifesting themselves as increased inflammation, problems with your gut, allergies, auto-immune issues, blood sugar problems, low energy, problems with sleep.
On LCHF supplements usually are needed, when you are transitioning to this lifestyle. The more health and weight issues you have, the more supplements you’ll need. I supplemented with all of them at some point. Now it’s just multivitamins and minerals cyclically.
a) Health and Energy Levels
Obviously, you might need more, if your health requires it. But most people will need to supplement with these.
Multivitamin, naturally sourced, Minerals: Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, Iodine. Vitamin D3 and K2. Omega-3 fatty acids, 2–3 g of DHA and EPA combined.
To make sure you digest your food properly and actually get the energy and nutrients you need from your foods.
Foods: garlic, onions, ginger with meals to help bile formation and digestion of fats.
- Betaine HCL to strengthen stomach acid.
- Digestive enzymes to help your pancreas.
- Probiotics and probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut.
Your digestion is where magic happens. No matter how good your diet is, you won’t get the benefits of it, unless your digestive system is in tip-top condition.
When it comes to physiology of cravings, you crave a lot of things, especially carbohydrate-rich foods, because your body doesn’t know how to function and fuel itself with fats and make enough glucose for your brain (that needs at least 3rd of its energy in glucose). You need to help your body. I made a detailed video on the supplements for cravings, how much and what, when.
You need to increase your fat oxidation: with coconut oil (or MCT) and L-carnitine (an amino acid that is needed to make fuel from fat). And you need to improve your glucose metabolism, mostly for your brain needs and to be able to burn fats effectively: L-glutamine and Gymnema Sylvestre will help with that.
Now quickly, let’s talk about some mistakes, that you might make.
a) Eating too much too often
Fasting and having meals without snacking will take care of this. Also don’t stuff yourself. Eat slowly. Stop when you are no longer hungry. Not when you are stuffed.
b) Poor quality of food, processed foods
Non-organic plant foods, foods from conventionally raised animals, processed foods and snacks like cured meats and all sorts of keto bars and cookies with industrial (non-food) ingredients.
c) Focusing on fats and forgetting about nutrition
Eating all the fat and not eating enough nutritionally-rich foods. Fat is great, but when it comes to nutrition, it has very little to contribute: vitamins and minerals your body needs.
d) Dairy, nightshades and other pro-inflammatory foods
Just because you lowered carbs, it doesn’t mean, that all low carb foods will work for you. Dairy products, egg whites, nightshades, some nuts and seeds, some ingredients in whole foods — you might find, now that your diet is “cleaner”, and it’s easier to notice, you might find that some foods just don’t work for you no matter how “clean” they are. Like peanuts, cashews or dairy for me.
e) Not enough variety
With variety of foods comes variety of nutrients. Sticking to the same foods might be great to form habits, but it’s not that great to get maximum nutrients. Stick to food groups, bring in variety through variety of individual foods in a group.
f) Skipping vegetables
Carnivore diet might be a thing right now, but fiber-less diet seems to backfire for most people, when it comes to digestive and metabolic health. But also, vegetables are super rich in nutrients! And all sorts of anti-oxidants, and polyphenols, and compounds that we are yet to discover! I highly recommend to learn how to enjoy your vegetables! My trick is to buy variety of herbs and spices and with that I can eat a bucket of Brussels sprouts like it’s chocolate!
g) Too much protein and too much food
When you consume too much protein you usually compromise your own ability to create fuel from fats (elevating your blood sugar), you usually decrease autophagy, you usually get less nutrients per calorie and make your digestive system work double shifts (protein takes the most digestive power to absorb and eliminate). Plus, it seems to age us faster, making autophagy (cellular repair) less effective.
· Weight loss
After you take care of all of the above aspects, there are only very few issues, that can prevent you from reaching your ideal body composition.
a) Eating too often
For optimal fat loss and to accelerate your weight loss — constrict your eating window to 6 hours or less.
b) Eating before bed
3–4 hours before bed is the ideal time to stop eating, when you want to lose weight.
c) Too much protein or/and too much food
Eating too much is not a good weight loss strategy, no matter how many or little carbs you eat. Food is energy, and weight loss still depends on the amount of energy you consume as one of the factors. Fat has 9 calories per gram, more than twice the amount in proteins and carbs, requiring the least energy to convert it into usable fuel. Fats from whole foods require more energy to digest. Some fats are more usable for energy than others. But at the end of the day, eating too much is still eating too much, and that can definitely affect the rate of your weight loss.
As you can see, thinking that LCHF or keto is just about carbs or fats, it’s a “bit” oversimplified.
I didn’t try to give you all the fine details here, because that will require me to write a whole book. But there is more than enough information on each aspect of LCHF nutrition and lifestyle out there for you to look up, now that you know what to look for.
My goal for now is to create as much practical and useful content to help your journey as possible. So stay tuned for that on my Instagram and Podcast. Reach out with specific questions and keep learning and improving!
I’ve created Healthy Eating 101 course and opened online FOOD SCHOOL, where you’ll be learning all the aspects of healthy eating you need to know — learning from me, from other experts, sharing your journey, experience and knowledge with other learners around the world.
Check it out, sign up and start learning! Classes begin tomorrow!
It’ll be the biggest resource for healthy eating online the world has seen so far!
To be your best — feed your best!
Thank you for reading! :)
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