managing an LCHF lifestyle in Israel
“Is Paleo low-carb?”
Are some of the questions I frequently receive.
On some LCHF forums they discuss if a certain food is or isn’t LCHF because it contains ‘X grams’ carbs.
How do you know how much you eat? How do you know how much, or little, you should eat?
And I answer, as always, it depends!
People frequently want rules and limits, some kind of framework. It’s understandable because that’s how the human brain works; looking for patterns and logic that will make it easier to understand and remember.
That’s why I think it’s very important to understand the reasoning behind LCHF. To understand how the body works, and how our food affects it.
When I studied we learnt an approximate definition limit for carbohydrates per day: a ‘normal’ intake is 20-50 grams, under 20 is ‘strict’, and above 50 (up to 100) is ‘liberal’.
That means that almost anyone who skips the ‘junk’, the sodas, and the processed foods can already be eating ‘liberal LCHF’. (Eating junk, drinking sodas etc can easily get your total carbs above 300 g/day.) And if you’re healthy and active, this approach might very well be enough. ‘Liberal’ allows for some starches and some fruit. Most people wouldn’t even notice that they are eating ‘low carb’. (Then of course, they are those who claim ‘liberal’ isn’t low carb…)
If you however have diabetes or try to lose 30 kg, then ‘liberal’ isn’t low enough. A diabetic should probably try to keep a ‘strict’ diet to enable going low on medications. Usually the stricter the lesser need for them.
What about someone who ‘only’ wants to lose weight? Well, again it depends. The stricter one is the quicker one loses weight, but not necessarily. There are other influences on our weight than what we eat and they also have a say in the shrinking-fat-storage-process.
Another important point to remember is that one meal, or even one day, doesn’t affect your overall picture. It’s the weekly and monthly average that counts. So even if you one day eat 30 g carbs, when you try to do ‘strict’, it will even out because you might eat a little less the next day.
But remember! All these ranges are approximate. We don’t count! Not calories and not carbs. It is much more efficient to understand what’s in the food and how it will affect you. And then compose meals accordingly.
* Another way of defining is according to E%, i.e. how much of total energy intake. Thus, athletes who eat well over 100 g carbs/day can still be ‘low-carb’ compared with how much protein and fat they eat.