Can I eat as much as I want on LCHF?
Can I eat as much as I want on LCHF? My short answer to this question is, “No, you can’t”. BUT, you can eat as much as you NEED to feel satisfied. This is a very important distinction, and can make all the difference. Once you start really listening to your body, you will completely change your eating habits, and will lose weight and keep it off. The rules are simple.
- Eat only when you are hungry, and not because it is a scheduled meal time.
- STOP eating when you are comfortably satisfied, and not when you need to undo the top button of your jeans.
These rules might seem simple, but they can be very difficult to follow in certain situations.
Most other diet plans use a low-fat, low-calorie approach. Yes, these diet plans can help you lose weight in the short-term (any form of calorie restriction will), but they fail dismally in the long-term. Why? Your body has very powerful survival mechanisms that fight against this approach. Your body cannot be tricked. It needs calories, and it needs fats. As a result, your metabolism slows down, you feel tired, and your hunger increases. Most people don’t have the willpower to resist constant hunger, and that is why they eventually go off the eating plan, and gain the weight back.
The large majority of people who are overweight, ended up that way because they ate too much, i.e. ate more than their bodies NEEDED. Yes, calories absolutely matter and if you eat more than you need, you will put on weight. However, I think the more important question to ask is WHY? Why were they eating too much? Was it pathetic willpower? Gluttony? A self-destructive personality? No, they were more than likely overindulging because the carbs, sugar and processed food they were eating messed with their hormones. These foods drive hunger, make you eat more, and your whacked out hormones tell your body to store fat. So even though calories do matter, it is also where the calories are coming from that matters even more. Therefore, eating the wrong type of foods (even “healthy” whole grains,) will also make the above 2 rules impossible to follow, and weight loss extremely difficult.
The truth is, rules 1 and 2 are there as tools to help you eat less. This is the real key to weight loss. You probably weren’t expecting that were you? Especially after just telling you that calorie restriction doesn’t work in the long-term. This article does have a logical and happy ending though, so please keep reading.
The good news
When one adopts an LCHF way of eating, and you teach your body to effectively burn fat for energy instead of glucose from carbs, your appetite is naturally (and effortlessly) reduced. Your body doesn’t freak out when dietary calories are reduced, because it is able to very effectively feed off your fat stores for energy. Your metabolism doesn’t slow down at all. When you don’t feel as hungry, you eat less. When you eat less, you lose weight. The food one eats on a low carb, high fat diet regulates your hormones and satiety signalling mechanisms. In essence, LCHF fixes your appestat, which is the centre in your brain that controls your appetite for food. You can eat to feel satisfied, and still lose weight. No more constant hunger. Oh, and of course you will have loads of energy.
When people don’t lose weight on LCHF it is often due to the fact that they are still not listening to their bodies. They are not following the 2 rules , despite the fact that LCHF should make it effortless. Rules are easy to ignore when the food is delicious, or you are in the habit of finishing your plate, or having seconds, or there is a batch of fat bombs in the fridge. Emotional eaters really struggle with this too. They eat because they are happy, sad, bored, anxious, stressed, etc. Until people sort out their emotional relationship with food, and get in tune with what their body is saying to them, weight loss will elude them. I don’t believe in counting calories, but one does need to get a grip on reality, and develop an awareness of how much is going into one’s mouth every day. Please don’t forget, high fat foods are very calorie dense. A bullet-coffee too many, and you won’t lose weight.
In summary, to effectively lose weight one needs to eat less calories than your body needs. The easiest and most sustainable way to do this is by following a low-carb, high-fat diet and by following the 2 rules below.
- eat only when you are actually hungry, and
- stop eating when you have had enough.
I am sure this post is an over-simplification of a very complex issue. I am sharing from my own personal experience, and from what I have read. I am hoping that these guidelines might just enable you to make the shift that is needed for success. If you are still a skeptic, and have been beaten down by many failed attempts to lose weight using other methods, please give LCHF a try.
When you do, just remember to honour your body. Listen to what it is saying. When you get this right, and eat only as much as you NEED, and not as much as you WANT, you will shed those unwanted kilos.
Eating just 10% more calories than we need on a daily basis would lead to significant weight gain over time. To lose body fat, we need to be in a “calorie deficit” for an extended period of time. This means that the number of calories entering our body (i.e. what we eat and drink) have to be lower than the calories being used by our body.
– Chris Kresser (Globally recognised leader in ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine)
Posted on August 7, 2015, in Primal 101 and tagged Banting, calorie deficit, counting calories, do calories matter?, effective weight loss plan, LCHF, sustainable diet. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
Hi Nikki, another great post! I get this question all the time and you did a wonderful job explaining LCHF. Thanks, Hilda
How many calories are recommended? I have been on this lifestyle since March and hasn’t lost. In fact I gained eating from green list with the occasional Banting bread. Only eat twice a day. Starts with BPC and by ten eats 2 eggs and a bit of bacon. After 2 I eat a chicken thigh, salad and some approved veggies. Evenings only another BPC.
Hi Riana, BPC should essentially be viewed as a quick and easy meal replacement (perfect for the morning when you are rushing off to work). The calorie count of a BPC (depending on how much butter and coconut oil you add) can often equate to the same number of calories in a proper meal. 2 tbls of butter and 2 tbls of coconut oil is around 500 calories. Your other meals seem absolutely fine in terms of carbs and protein portions, but perhaps try and cut out the BPC in the evening. Try and have your late lunch as an early supper so that you can then go straight through till the morning without eating. The intermittent fast achieved with this strategy can also facilitate weight loss.