Since this post is so popular, I’ve created a page with the same name: High Carb Low Fat Basics. I’ll no longer update this post, so please check out the new page as it has the most current information regarding my eating habits. Thanks!
Today I had the pleasure of answering a few questions about the high carb low fat lifestyle on Facebook. This tends to happen often and I’m more than happy to help. I’ve written about this lifestyle on my blog several times, so I figured I’d create a round-up post including all important pieces of information related to HCLF.
If you are looking for quick and easy HCLF recipes, check out my e-book—Eat like me: high carb low fat for beginners.
If you follow me on social media, you probably noticed that I’m obsessed with fruit. Fruit is my primary food source because I’m a high carb low fat (HCLF) vegan.
I love living this way! These are some of the benefits I’ve experienced:
To me, the best benefit is effortless weight management while eating as much food as I care for. No more counting calories or restricting! This lifestyle is about abundance.
If you follow HCLF, you never have to go hungry! You can be healthy and fit effortlessly, eating as many carbs as you care for as long as you stay active. If you like running, run! If you don’t like running, try biking, walking, or swimming. You need to move your body every day.
The three main components to the HCLF lifestyle are eating carbs without restriction, minimising your fat intake, and staying active.
What does high carb mean?
High carb means I focus on eating as many carbohydrates as I care for (relative to my activity level) because carbs are our main source of energy. Carbs include fruits (with the exception of avocado and durian), veggies, potatoes, oats, rice, bread, pasta (gluten-free and wheat-based), and even foods like vegan pizza if prepared without vegan cheese or pesto. These foods should be eaten in abundance whenever you are hungry, and with little to no fat or oil.
You will never need to worry about eating too many calories. You just can’t overeat on fruits and veggies because they contain so much fibre. In fact, you will probably be so full of fibre that you stop eating before you’ve consumed sufficient calories. While fruits and veggies are nutritionally dense, they are lower in calories so you will need to eat more in one sitting or eat frequently throughout the day.
What does low fat mean?
Low fat means I keep my fat intake to a minimum. Usually, I eat around 5-10% of my calories from fat. I never add oil to my food at home. While you do need trace amounts of fat to be healthy, you will still consume plenty of fat in your diet even if you completely avoid overt fats like oil or nuts. Fruits and veggies naturally contain small amounts of fat, even essential omega fatty acids! All these small amounts add up at the end of the day.
Ditch the oil.
Cooking with oil is unnecessary and a waste of calories. If you want to roast veggies, line your pans with parchment paper. This allows you to skip oil entirely because the veggies won’t stick to the pan. You can also sauté veggies without oil: heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add your veggies. Stir them often with a rubber spatula (if using a coated non-stick pan, otherwise wooden tools are fine). If they start to stick, add a splash of water (or veggie broth), cover the pan and turn down the heat a bit. The steam from the water will loosen them.
Cut out the salt.
You never need to add extra salt to your food because veggies naturally contain trace amounts of salt. Our palates are so messed up from eating overly salted processed food and meals from restaurants. It will take time for your palate to readjust to salt-free cooking, but once you go salt-free at home, you won’t even miss it. Try to keep your salt intake to a minimum but don’t obsess over it. Choose low or no-sodium options for tomato sauces, tortillas, or packaged snacks when cooking at home.
No suffering involved.
At first glance, it might seem like I’m restricting myself from eating vegan comfort foods like mac and cheese, pizza, and donuts, but honestly, it isn’t a struggle at all. I don’t even want to eat these foods. I just don’t crave them anymore. Either I don’t like following rules or I just have no willpower, because if I tell myself I can’t eat something, that’s the first thing on my mind. I wouldn’t be able to survive eating this way long-term if I restricted myself.
Instead, I allow myself to eat any foods I want. If I do want to eat vegan mac and cheese for dinner someday, I would eat it without an ounce of guilt. Even with this freedom, I still choose to eat fruit all day long followed by a giant plate full of steamed veggies and potatoes for dinner.
To me, nothing tastes as good as grapes or blueberries, steamed sweet potatoes or broccoli. I’d eat these over a vegan pizza any day!
Calorie restriction never works.
There is absolutely no point in restricting carbs or calories if you are trying to lose weight. If you restrict the number of carbs you eat, you won’t have energy and you’ll feel terrible. You’ll have mad cravings, too! You crave starchy foods like bread or pasta because your mind and body need carbs to function. Instead of being miserable every day while fighting the intense urge to tuck into some carb-laden foods, do yourself a favour and eat some carbs. Your body will thank you!
If you want to lose weight healthily and keep it off, change the foods you eat instead of cutting calories. Calorie restriction may cause you to lose weight in the short-term, but you will not be able to keep the weight off permanently. In order to do that, you would need to restrict your calorie intake for life. The second you return to eating normally, i.e. eating a suitable number of calories each day, the weight will pile on.
So here’s a better plan, cut out fats and eat carbs. The more carbs you eat, the more energy you have to walk, run, and exercise. Now I have so much energy to walk everywhere. There’s no way I can eat around 3000 calories a day from fruits and veggies and sit around!
Try eating HCLF if you’d rather eat as much as you want instead of counting calories. You’ll feel energised every single day while you fuel your body with the most nutritious foods. It really is that simple.
What do I eat?
Fruit and whole-grain starches are the bulk of my diet. I eat whole fruits and veggies and never add fat, oil, or salt to my food.
I’m currently spending autumn in Zagreb, Croatia. My typical diet here consists of:
- frozen berries
- PB2 powdered peanut butter
- sweet potatoes
- winter squash
- bell peppers
- whole wheat pasta
- tomato paste
- canned diced tomatoes
- canned peas, beans, and corn
- frozen veggies
- and various dried herbs and spices
When I say diet, I don’t mean that I’m eating a certain number of calories intending to lose weight. I eat as much food as I care for. I will eat until I’m absolutely stuffed, wait a few hours and eat again.
I have oatmeal for breakfast every day. My lunch consists of pasta, rice or potatoes with veggies. For dinner, I’ll usually have fruit (like grapes) or more rice or potatoes.
Will eating carbs make me fat?
People incorrectly assume carbs make us fat because of the foods typically served with carbs. Non-vegan pasta dishes are loaded with fatty cheese, meat, and oil. Eating a fatty pasta meal like this will no doubt make you gain weight. The culprit is not the pasta itself. The fatty cheese, meat, and oil are to blame.
Your staples should be clean carbs, primarily fruits and veggies but the addition of oats, rice, bread, potatoes, pasta, and the occasional pizza (all cooked without oil or fat). Fill up on these and eat until you are satisfied. Never ever attempt to follow a low carb diet because carbs are the main energy source for our bodies. We need carbs to function! If you are aiming to lose weight, minimize your fat intake but continue to eat clean carbs.
For more information:
- Low carb diets never work.
- Carbs vs. fat: it does matter!
- Low carb works, but low fat works better.
- HCLF diversity: the choice is yours.
- Is fruit too high in sugar?
- HCLF is best for weight loss.
- Killer cravings. What causes cravings and how to avoid them.
- Potatoes are healthier than you think.
- My diet is simple. Why my diet fluctuated in the past few years and how I started cleaning it up.
- What I eat in a day. These posts include calorie and nutritional information for everything I eat in a day.