Category Archives: Introduction

Low Carb, High Fat – What does it mean?

LOW CARB, HIGH FAT – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

96 YEAR OLD FITNESS EXPERT

Introduction

Before I tell you about Low Carb High Fat (LCHF), I’d like to stress the importance of recognising the fact that this way of eating is a lifestyle change. Most people will  experience some changes in their body, often quite dramatic ones, once they cut the carbs,  unless there are other factors involved:  such as lack of sleep or medications with steroids. However, if you lapse and go back to eating a high carb diet, your problems with weight gain and high blood glucose and so on will return.

Someone recently asked me why I would restrict myself so much when “you’re going to die anyway”. My answer is this:

I do not fancy dying of diabetes related illnesses including heart complications, limb amputation, renal failure and the list goes on. I have no desire whatsoever to suffer the consequences of long term elevated blood sugars and put myself, my family and friends through financial and emotional stress of that kind.   I could be involved in a car accident or some such disaster tomorrow. I have no control over those kind of situations but as far as this disease called diabetes is concerned – I now know that it is NOT A CHRONIC DISEASE. It can be reversed and I have control over that. I can do something about it and I choose toIt is about quality of life not quantity of life.

Type 2 Diabetics

As a diabetic, when you restrict your carbohydrate intake, your blood glucose will most likely reduce quite dramatically. It is therefore absolutely essential that you consult your doctor and have him/her monitor your progress while following this protocol. Your doctor will need to adjust your medications as your blood glucose levels normalise.

So, what is a low carb, high fat diet ?

A Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF) diet, otherwise known as a ketogenic diet, simply means that anyone following this diet must restrict their carbohydrate intake and increase the amount of healthy fats in their way of eating.  A number of recent scientific studies show that a ketogenic diet is the most effective tool to lose weight and control blood sugars.

How do you follow a low carb high fat (LCHF) diet?

If you asked me to summarise LCHF in 3 words, I’d say

EAT REAL FOOD

There are 3 macro-nutrients that we consume:

FAT

PROTEIN

CARBOHYDRATE

Both fat and protein are absolutely essential for survival, however, surprisingly carbohydrate is not a requisite component. It has absolutely no known function in your body, yet according to the food pyramid and the updated myplate diet guidelines published by the American and British Diabetes Associations, they form a large part of the diet, almost three quarters of the plate!!  How we got here is a story for another blog post.

It stands to reason therefore, that if you reduce one macro-nutrient, you have to increase one of the others and in our modern day western diet, the unjustified and scientifically unsupported fear of saturated fat has led us to reduce the fat intake and consequently increased the carbohydrate intake. Most processed foods and low fat foods (what I term as pseudo-foods – Pretend Food) have added sugar in them. If you take the fat out of a food – well – you have to add sugar to make it taste good otherwise it just tastes like cardboard! This is what the Food Industry has capitalised on and would have us believe that the foods they manufacture are actually good for us.

Ideally, in a well formulated ketogenic diet, the percentage of these should be consumed in the following proportions:

Carbohydrate – 5%

Protein – 15%

Fat – 80%

Martina Slajerova has an excellent tool on her website which will help you to calculate these macro-nutrients depending on your goal and current status. She also has an iPhone app called ketodietapp which allows you to track and monitor your progress and contains amazing recipes. The app for Android is basic and contains recipes and blog posts. However, she is in the process of developing the full app for Android and I will inform you once she does. She also runs a facebook page called Keto Diet Support Group, which is one of the most supportive Groups in regard to this way of eating that I have come across.

What to Eat 

  • Meat, Fish, Shell Fish &  Poultry – Feel free to eat the fatty cuts of meat and the skin on the chicken.
  • Vegetables – Choose vegetables and salads that grow above the ground.
  • Fats – Choose healthy natural saturated fats (ghee, butter, lard) and mono-unsaturated fats (coconut oil, olive oil)
  • Nuts – Stick to macadamia, almonds and walnuts although other nuts can be eaten in moderation
  • Dairy: Unless you are lactose intolerant, full fat dairy is delicious and filling
  • Fruit: Berries, avocados and olives:  If you are on a strict low carb diet , are diabetic or have metabolic syndrome, then limit berries to once a week or so. In Kenya, strawberries are more readily available than other berries but they are very expensive, so your choices are limited. The reason berries are included in the food list is that they have a higher fibre content than most other fruit. Fibre slows the absorption of carbohydrates in the body . Vinegar, turmeric and lemon seem to do the same thing, although the exact mechanism is not yet known.

What Not to Eat

  • Sugar – Eliminate sugar completely. This is  non-negotiable. This means cakes, cookies, pastries, sodas, fruit juices and so on
  • Sugar Substitutes – These are known to activate insulin production and therefore will not help if you are starting out on this way of eating. Once you reach your goal, you can add some healthy sweeteners like Stevia or Erythritol to your diet occassionally.
  • Vegetables that grow below ground especially potatoes. I use onions, ginger and garlic in small amounts in my cooking.
  • Low Fat Foods : These foods are processed and contain large amounts of sugar and therefore should not be consumed in any amounts
  • Pseudo Fats like margarine and refined seed and vegetable oils. These have been put through many industrial processes and pass through various chemical agents before it gets to your table. If you don’t believe me, watch this video on how canola oil is made. Margarine is one hydrogen molecule away from plastic and is classified as a trans-fatty acid, a partially hydrogenated oil. In fact, in November 2013, in the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that partially hydrogenated fats were no longer generally recognised as safe in human food. These fats contain a high percentage of Omega 6 oils which have been shown to cause inflammation in the body leading to cholesterol problems. While your body needs Omega 6 as well as Omega 3 oils, it is the proportion that we consume in the modern diet that causes problems. We consume too much of the Omega 6 oils.
  • Beer: This is a liquid carbohydrate and should be eliminated from your diet altogether
  • Grains and Beans: Most grains and legumes, even the ones that are purported to be whole grains have been subjected to some level of processing and hence should be avoided.
  • Fruit: Fruit contains sugars which is why they are so sweet. Modern agricultural and GMO methods have enabled us to produce even sweeter fruit. The fruit that was available, say 50 years ago is not the same fruit that is available today. Fruit in nature was seasonal and not available all the time, it was also not as sweet as it is today. It should be avoided or consumed in very small quantities occasionally. Consider fruit to be nature’s candy.

Beverages

Tea. Coffee, Water and Soda Water

When to Eat

Eat Only When you are hungry. 

This is infinitely important because in a fed state Insulin, the fat storing hormone is activated. This means that whatever excess glucose is in your body is converted into fat and stored by this hormone When you don’t eat for an extended period of time (Intermittent Fasting) then you allow these insulin levels to go down and this allows the fat stores to be used as energy. Essentially you go from glucose burning to fat burning (ketogenic state) in a matter of weeks.

If you eat only when you are hungry, then you do not need to count calories because your body will tell you when it needs to be fed. You will inadvertently be practising Intermittent Fasting.

Within the two weeks of starting this diet, I didn’t need to eat more that once a day simply because I was not hungry. I started with eliminating breakfast and had either tea or coffee with very little milk, about 2 tablespoons and then would have lunch and dinner, if I was hungry. I didn’t need to snack in between meals either as the healthy fats I was consuming would keep me full for long periods of time. Now, I eat once every two days or so and occasionally do longer fasts for 3-4 days.

Fasting activates hormones in your body which help with repairs and cell regeneration. When you fast, you allow your body to divert its energies towards healing.

Occasional Treats

Alcohol – Dry wines, whisky, brandy, vodka

Dark Chocolate – 70% and above cacao content.

Avoid these and low carb baked goods for the first 8-12 weeks of starting this diet as it might affect weight loss. Otherwise you decide when the time is right for you to enjoy these treats.

You can choose to do a strict, moderate or liberal low carb diet.

Strict LCHF – Less than 25 grams nett of carbs

Moderate LCHF – 25-50 grams nett of carbs

Liberal LCHF – 50-100 grams nett of carbs.

The reason I use “nett” grams is because as a general rule fibre is not digestible carbohydrate and therefore not absorbed by your body. Fibre is also important to include in your diet as it enhances the good gut bacteria in your body hence aiding digestion. Some people include the fibre in their calculation of carbohydrates. The choice is entirely yours.

My advise is to experiment with your body as everyone is different and your genetics will determine how sensitive or resistant your insulin is. If you find that on a higher intake of carbohydrate your weight loss is stalling or your blood sugars are increasing  then reduce the carbohydate intake.

Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt gives excellent advise on how to follow a low carb, high fat diet or as it better known, a ketogenic diet. I would encourage you to become a member of this site as there is a lot of information that will help you. It costs only US$ 9.00 per month which is less than KES 1,000/- per month. How much do you spend at Nakumatt every week buying processed food that harms your body? Divert some of these funds to gain reliable diet advise and to understand how your body works. You won’t regret it.

How I began the diet

Once I had gone through the available literature, I was determined to give this a go. After all, I seemed to have tried everything else under sun.

The first thing  I did was to get rid of all the stuff in my house that was not allowed in the diet. There could be no temptation otherwise I would crumble. I kept small amounts around for other members of the household.

After that, I went shopping and bought all kinds of yummy stuff that I earlier denied myself like cream and full fat cheese. Delicious!

I also planned our meals so that I knew exactly what we would be eating for each meal. This turned out to be quite important as I didn’t then have to think off the seat of my pants about what to cook and give in to temptation.

I cooked all of my food myself, that includes sauces and condiments. I make everything myself, including my own ketchup mustard and baking powder. This way I know exactly what I am putting in everything. I use real fresh food. I enjoy cooking so this is a joy for me. A lot of us do not enjoy cooking so much and to them my advise is to cook for 2 to 3 days in advance. To follow this way of life, cooking is an essential skill.

I found small differences of opinion on the finer points of this diet but all the experts agree that LCHF is the best way forward for reversal of diabetes and weight loss. I just experimented with different things along the way and did what worked best for me. I am still learning and will continue to do so to give myself the best chance of success.

And finally, I had a buddy, my husband. We are in this together and that support has been our saving grace. I would recommend that, if you can, you should find a partner to do this with. If you are unable to, join a support group on facebook. The Keto Diet Support Group is one of the best that I have found.

READ & RESEARCH as much as you can. The more information you have, the better equipped you will be to sustain this way of life. Use the links that I have provided in my posts. I have found this information to be invaluable. Do your own research as well.

In conclusion to this post, I’d like to leave you with this thought by Dr. Ron Rosedale MD :

“Your health and likely your lifespan will be determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar you burn over a lifetime and that will be determined by the communication of hormones, which will be determined by what you eat. You should eat today to control the hormones that will tell you what you will need to eat tomorrow”

 

 

My journey, Thus Far

MY JOURNEY, THUS FAR

Shimba Hills, Kenya
Shimba Hills, Kenya

This picture of the valley at Shimba Hills in Kenya reminds me of the the many paths that are available to us in reaching our destination – Some more apparent than others, some we stumble upon, some we are guided through and some take years to discover. In retrospect,  it would seem to me that the journey is more important than the destination. It is in the journey that we gain experience, gain new knowledge and use that knowledge to further our mortal experiences. In essence, we come into our own, making each one of us unique human beings (or humanoids as Star Trekkers would call us!).  As Michael Scott, author of the book series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, so eloquently said  We are nothing more than the sum total of our memories and experiences“.

With this in mind, allow me to narrate the sum total of my memories and experiences in the area that obsessively concerns us in the modern world: health and weight.

The latter half of 2015 was the year of much change in many Kenyan lives. The most significant event was the closure of Imperial Bank Ltd which devastated and changed the lives and livelihoods of many. The effects are still being felt today all because of greed – if ever there was one vice that will lead to the annihilation of mankind and humanity, it is this.

Greed, this is what the medical world will have you believe is the cause of the obesity pandemic that is sweeping the earth in the modern age. I agree with them. The debate lies in whose greed. It is not the greed of the individual who supposedly scoffs down tons of food so that one becomes obese, instead it is the Big Pharma , the medical community and  the Big Food companies who have hidden the truth from the public for close to four decades. This is my opinion.

For years, I have been struggling with health issues. In fact, it is a common joke in my family that I have been a guest at  every hospital in Kenya!! As a young woman, I constantly suffered from respiratory related infections and often had to be hospitalised. In 2003, I was eventually diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Disease (after consulting with a series of doctors who put me through agonising test after test)  – a disease which affects the ovaries and the production of the hormone oestrogen, effectively throwing your body completely out of whack. In that year alone, I put on close to 20 kg. Devastating!

Thereafter, over the following years I underwent multiple surgeries and tried hundreds of diets to reduce and control my weight but nothing worked. I was swimming 100 laps 3 times a week, doing yoga at home and trying to eat “healthy” as had been advised by the doctors.

In 2007/2008, my husband & I decided to undergo IVF as we were having trouble conceiving. The procedure was successful and I conceived twins. However, it was also at this time that I developed Gestational Diabetes Type 2. At this stage, the doctors put me on insulin, a drug known to increase weight gain. In fact the doctor warned me that I would put on more weight (like I really needed that !!).  Unfortunately, due to various complications caused by diabetes, I was unable to carry the pregnancy to term and I miscarried at 5 and 6 months respectively. It was a difficult time and I will always be grateful for family and friends who were there to support us during that time. Most of all though, I am sincerely grateful for my husband who has been my pillar of strength, always encouraging me and loving me unconditionally.

The diabetes remained after the pregnancy and thus began my long struggle to control the disease. As the years progressed, I was placed on increasing dosages of diabetes medication and on statins but the disease just got worse.

Then in June 2015 I decided to give diet another try, I went on a low fat diet and was exercising at least 2 hours a day, tracking everything that I ate and doing all the right things but the results were just not impressive. I lost about 5 kgs in 3 months and it was just so much agony.  At the start of June 2015, I was at my highest weight ever – 103kg. I was miserable, uncomfortable, moody, hungry and tired all the time and  just generally unhappy. I was fed-up.

I thought to myself ” There has to be a better way” so in August 2015, I began my search for answers. That’s when I came across Dr. Jason Fung’s videos and his blog. It took me a week or so to get through the blog and videos. It went against everything that I had been told in my health history but it was a REVELATION of the most profound kind. Finally my body and its problems began to make sense.  I could take control of my own health without relying on advise from doctors. I enlisted the co-operation of my physician and started my journey. I decided to conduct my n=1 experiment and try the advise that was on Dr. Fung’s blog.

My husband, although initially reluctant, decided to join me on this journey as he was also a diabetic and insulin dependant.

Dr. Fung recommends a protocol of low carbohydrates, particularly processed carbohydrates and Intermittent Fasting. He also explains, in simple, understandable terms, the science and mechanisms at work.

The results were astounding. In the first month alone, I lost 8 kg. As at the date of this blog post, I have lost 29 kg and still losing.

Besides the weight loss ( let’s face it – it is a huge motivator) my blood work results are the best they have ever been. I had started with an HB1 of 8.8 and 3 months later my HB1 was at 4.5! My husband had great results too. Within 2 months of starting a low carb, high fat diet (LCHF), he was completely off his insulin. His Hb1 dropped from 8.5 to 5.3 and in 3 months he lost 10 kgs. He was  not overweight to begin with.

Both of our medications have been reduced – a phenomenon unknown in the world of diabetic medicine. In the case of both my husband and I, we had managed to reverse our diabetes (A diagnosis of diabetes is characterised by an HB1 of 6.0 or higher). We also experience a great increase in energy levels, better sleeping patterns and sound sleep. We achieved this restoration of health, not through the advise of our doctors but through what we learnt from the internet. My point is that even though this strategy works, it is not conventional knowledge amongst doctors and it is not widely accepted, as yet.

Our doctor, while initially, cautiously optimistic was astounded. His exact words were “I don’t believe it”. He advised us to continue doing what we were doing.

We were lucky to find this particular physician who was willing to work with us. What, to me, is shocking is that other doctors we approached, simply refused to work with us despite knowing that the disease was getting worse. Surely, as a doctor, having taken the Hippocratic oath, you are obliged to act in the best interests of your patient with the ultimate objective of restoring health. Given my experience, I can no longer rely only on the medical community’s advise and in this respect, the internet is our saving grace. The information you need is all available free of charge. You just have to ensure that it is from a reliable source.

This is my journey, thus far. I do not know what the future holds and where it will take me in my quest to regain my health. For now, I am content that the strategies and interventions I am following are working and the quality of my life has greatly improved.

 

Hello, Health Seekers!

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Hello, Health Seekers!  Welcome to my Blog!

Hi! My name is Devialini and I live in Kenya. I qualified as a finance professional and hold a masters degree in Business Administration.

Being diabetic and obese, I have been trying to lose weight and keep the disease in control for years and failing miserably!  UNTIL NOW.

I am passionate about low-carb living and its health benefits as I have now experienced this for myself. I started eating Low Carb seven months ago and have not looked back since. It has been and still is a learning experience for me and my hope is that we can continue on this journey together so that we may learn together and help each other.

My mission is to share my own experiences, thoughts and the resources that I have come across in my research, in the hope that it will  help  you to achieve a healthy body and mind and become the best version of yourself.

By no means am I suggesting in any way that this is the only means to achieve that but this is what has worked for me and I feel obligated to share the information.

As with any lifestyle change, please consult your medical practitioner and seek professional help. This blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise, diagnosis or treatment.These are my personal experiences which I wish to share with you

I strongly believe that if you are healthy then nothing is impossible!