VALLEY METABOLIC HEALTH RESOURCE CENTRE:
Low Carbohydrate High Fat Diets
What are Low Carbohydrate High Fat Diets?
A LCHF pattern of eating is one form of therapeutic nutrition. One learns to eat a balance of whole, real, and satisfying foods that provide a low intake of carbohydrates (sugars and starches), moderate intake of protein, and a high intake of healthy dietary fat. You do not need to count calories and you do not need to fight hunger. In general, you will be guided in how to consume a nourishing, satisfying diet while keeping carbohydrate intake low. There is a range of LCHF diets from “liberal low carbohydrate diet” defined by less than 130 g / day to a very low carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet which is typically considered less than 20 to 50 g / day.
Why do we reduce carbohydrates to this level?
When you have type 2 diabetes you are not able to process carbohydrates (sugars and starches) because the body is not listening to the hormone insulin. This is called insulin resistance. By removing sugars and starches from the diet we decrease blood sugars after meals, insulin levels decrease, and a metabolic switch in the body occurs—we begin burning fat instead of sugar to fuel our bodily processes.
What are the benefits of a LCHF or ketogenic diet?
By reducing sugars and starches from the diet we typically see an improvement in blood sugar as well as a tightening in the range of sugars. Medications that you were taking to lower blood sugar may need to be reduced and sometimes eliminated. Blood pressure may improve. There is a lot of variability in how much weight is lost on a ketogenic diet but on average many lose 10% or so of their body weight in the first 3 to 6 months. Many patients also note improved energy, decreased pain, and increased concentration.
How does a LCHF or ketogenic diet work?
A ketogenic diet allows the body to access our own fat stores for energy. When our metabolism shifts to burning fat, the liver creates ketones (a healthy source of energy), and our body’s ability to listen to insulin improves.
Are low carbohydrate diets healthy for my heart?
Diabetes is one of the major causes of heart disease and LCHF diets have been shown on average to improve glucose, blood pressure, inflammation, and the type of lipoproteins (these carry cholesterol and fat in the blood stream) that cause heart disease. This evidence suggests that a LCHF diet should predictably lower risk of future heart attacks or strokes but the studies have not yet been done to show definitively that it lowers risk of these events. In some patients, the LDL-cholesterol (which correlates with risk of heart events) may increase which may lead to further discussion about either dietary modification or medication adjustment. Alternative dietary strategies for heart health have typically been very low fat diets and there are healthy vegetarian or vegan options available as an alternative strategy.
What are the risks of a LCHF or ketogenic diet?
The main risk is either low sugars or low blood pressure, both of which can be avoided with careful medical monitoring and adjustment of medications. At the beginning of the diet some experience a “keto flu” marked by fatigue, headache, irritability, decreased concentration, sugar craving, nausea and muscle cramps. We will teach you how to avoid many of these symptoms. Other symptoms include constipation, leg cramps, changes in breath, reduced tolerance to alcohol, temporary hair loss, gallstone symptoms, kidney stone symptoms, elevated cholesterol, a rash, and temporary increase risk of gout. You may also review this link which explores potential side effects of a ketogenic diet.
What does Diabetes Canada say about LCHF?
I am glad you asked! Diabetes Canada’s recent nutrition chapter, the authors of the guidelines affirm that patients should be supported in a pattern of eating that aligns with their wishes and preferences but did not include LCHF in their summary recommendations. Other diabetes guidelines from the U.K, Australia, Europe & the American Diabetes Association include LCHF as one recommended pattern of eating. LCHF is also one of several patterns of eating endorsed by the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Thankfully, Diabetes Canada released a position statement in support of LCHF that can be reviewed by clicking this module.
What supports or programs are currently available to help me begin my journey?
The Valley Metabolic Program was designed to support patients who wish to engage in low carbohydrate diets. See link below!
VALLEY METABOLIC PROGRAM
The Valley Metabolic Program was designed to assist patients living with weight, and type 2 diabetes in particular, to engage in a very low carbohydrate diet.
VALLEY METABOLIC HEALTH
SUITE 250, 21 Roy Avenue, New Minas, Nova Scotia B4N 3R7
OFFICE PHONE: (902) 915-4435
OFFICE FAX: 1(855) 962-2375