I’ve decided to write this article for my clients, LCHF online co-warriors and anyone who has decided to embark on the low carb high fat or LCHF diet but have been encountering criticisms from well-meaning close friends, family members and even netizens who are totally ignorant about the health benefits that the LCHF diet brings to the individual.
I’ve had my fair share of criticisms mostly from friends and health forum members who actually warned me that adopting such an unorthodox diet, helping and coaching others on it may actually be harmful to both myself and my clients in the long run.
The Low Carb Diet is a Fad Diet
LCHF is Not a Fad Diet
This criticism is just about the most common one I encounter both online and offline in real life. My counter is very simple. I only ask,
“Now if someone who has had Type 2 diabetes for a decade, has listened to his doctor’s advice and is still having trouble controlling his blood sugar, comes to me for advice, I give him a personalized LCHF diet plan and for the first time in 10 years, his blood sugar drops 5 mmol/l within 4 weeks, how is this harmful?”
This usually does the trick.
Now if you have type 2 diabetes and is giving the LCHF diet a shot, you may encounter this criticism, maybe not from your spouse but probably from your siblings, close friends or even your parents.
You can’t blame them – the mainstream media, governmental health authorities and the medical community in most countries are STILL advocating a low fat, high carb “healthy” diet and this brainwashing, has instilled this deeply ingrained fear that any fat is unhealthy.
What you can do is just present the facts of YOUR personal experience that the diet is working because your blood sugar readings are gradually going down. There’s nothing stronger than your personal testimony!
If you’ve also started a detailed food journal like what I advised in my earlier article on How To Start a Low Carb Diet Correctly, jot down your blood sugar readings as well – then show them your food journal with the declining blood sugar readings.
Now, if you’ve embarked on the LCHF diet because you have weight to lose, then don’t say anything yet! Just smile and walk off. 3 to 6 months or even a year down the road, when you’ve lost all the fat – and they see you trim and healthy, THEN you can tell them, “See, I told you this diet would work!”
All that being said, you may STILL get some criticisms: this high-fat diet will give you heart disease, which brings me to the next criticism.
The Low Carb Diet is Not Healthy in the Long Term
You Get Heart Disease from Sugars, Processed Foods & Refined Carbs, not LCHF
Some folks will not believe you even if you tell them the personal health benefits that you’ve experienced from LCHF. That’s perfectly okay.
They need to be convinced themselves so just show them this video by Dr. Mark Hyman, who is a family physician, a ten-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of natural medicine. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.
If they are open to discussion, let them know that low carb diets are perfectly safe and healthy, even in the long term. Show them this 2-year study that confirms this fact.
I personally found that the more I read up and researched on LCHF, the more convinced I was that I’m doing the right thing for my health and those of the folks I coach. So if you’re a newcomer in LCHF, read as much as you can so that you’ll have all the knowledge in the world to counter criticisms you encounter.
What I’ve also found out that worked for me is that when I listen to my detractors and their criticisms before I counter them, my critics are usually more open and receptive to what I have to say.
This gives me a great opportunity to get them on my side slowly, not so much to win an argument but for them to be enlightened about LCHF and what it can do to improve their health. This is much easier to do when talking in person.
Online criticisms are a different ball game altogether, especially when you’re in health forums and their nicknames know everyone. What I do online is this – say my piece, then back it up with evidence such as these studies:
- Low carb diets improve cardiovascular risk factors.
- Eggs do not increase cardiovascular risk factors.
- Eating other cholesterol laden foods do not increase cardiovascular risk either.
- Eating saturated fats also does not increase cardiovascular risk factors.
- Triglycerides, an important marker in coronary heart disease prediction go way down in low carb diets.
- HDL, the good cholesterol goes way up in low carb diets.
- Low carb diets lower blood glucose and improves insulin resistance.
If an opportunity arises, I will post my personal experiences: how I benefitted from going LCHF, the inches I lost from my waist and my health markers.
LCHF is an Extreme Diet: Eating Everything in Moderation is Healthier!
Everything in Moderation Diet Advice is Nonsense
A friend of mine that I was coaching on LCHF has Type 2 diabetes, and he told me his doctor gave him exactly this piece of advice: just cut down on sugar and eat everything in moderation!
No wonder his diabetes wasn’t getting better; in fact, it got progressively worse despite all the diabetic medications that he was on because he was taking his doctor’s advice on “eating moderately” literally.
This criticism very often is disguised as well-meaning advice by friends, relatives, family members and even physicians and dieticians who are totally clueless about the benefits of nutritional ketosis and natural fats.
It’s just pure garbage! Taken literally it can mean eating that tiny piece of Oreo cheesecake is okay even if you’ve got Type 2 diabetes with blood sugar level of 10 mmol/l because you’re eating in moderation!
He was extremely skeptical when I told him that this was the worst diet advice anyone can give and the only way for him to control his diabetes was to eliminate all grains, roots, sugars, fruits and processed foods, in other words, go on LCHF.
I told him if his blood sugar didn’t show any reduction within 4 weeks, he could ignore my advice. Within 3 weeks his blood sugar dropped 7 mmol/l, and he continued with LCHF.
The point I’m making is that if you don’t get specific what or how much exactly moderation is folks will have their definitions and interpretations of what it is and eat as they deem fit.
Decades back, when I was still in the corporate world, I trained front line staff on customer service skills. One cardinal rule that I gave my trainees back then was: never give “as soon as possible” as a timeframe because everyone’s interpretation of it is different. It may be within the same day for some, while for others it may mean within the next 3 hours!
Same with moderation in eating – people have taken this ambiguous advice literally and because of this chronic disease rates have skyrocketed because folks believed that eating everything moderately was healthy, whatever that meant!
In fact, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University did a study on the Everything in Moderation diet advice. Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston concluded that the study showed,
“Americans with the healthiest diets actually eat a relatively small range of healthy foods,” “These results suggest that in modern diets, eating ‘everything in moderation’ is actually worse than eating a smaller number of healthy foods.”
My advice is: disregard this eat everything in moderation garbage! Eat as much natural whole, unprocessed foods as you possibly can for your meals. Avoid all sugars, refined carbs, and processed foods at all costs.
Get your carbs down to between 20 grams and 50 grams a day if you’re prediabetic, a Type 2 diabetic and/or have weight to lose. If you’re healthy and don’t have any chronic conditions, you can slightly increase the number of carbs by eating more natural and nutrient dense whole foods like roots, tubers, lentils, and fruits.
The Low Fat High Carb Diet is Much Healthier than the Low Carb High Fat Diet
A Low Fat Diet can Harm Your Health
This criticism and misdirected advice is again usually by well-meaning but clueless friends, close relatives and family members who know nothing about the studies that have long proven that it’s the reverse.
In many quarters this is also the usual advice given by health authorities, doctors and dietitians who are not up to date with their knowledge on the rigorous research done on low carb diets that have proven this advice and criticism to be entirely untrue.
On the other hand, there are now studies that actually prove that the much lauded low-fat diets did nothing to curb obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates and heart disease risk factors. In fact, these studies show that low-fat, high carb diets increase the risk of chronic illness like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
Despite low-fat diets being promoted by health authorities worldwide as healthy diets, they increase the risk of heart disease rather than the other way around.
I’m sure you’ve heard that the bad cholesterol or LDL is the one that increases cardiovascular disease risk. Well, that’s only half the story because of the size of the LDL particle matters. The small dense particle LDL are the malignant ones that increase atherosclerosis i.e. the build-up of plaque in the arteries which causes heart disease. The more of this small particle LDL you have, the greater your risk of heart disease.
In addition to all these negative effects of the low-fat, high-carb diet, it actually makes you hungry all the time.
What’s more, the low-fat diet discourages the consumption of healthy whole foods like eggs, animal fats, coconuts, red meat and full-fat dairy. Let’s see these myths being debunked one by one.
- Eggs are probably one of the healthiest foods on earth. When eggs are eaten, they raise the HDL, the good cholesterol, lowers triglycerides and increase blood concentrations of carotenoid antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Animal fats are saturated fats, and they do not cause heart disease, strokes, and Type 2 diabetes.
- Coconut products like coconut oil and coconut milk/cream contain healthy fats known as medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which improve lipid profiles and brain function.
- There’s the notion that red meat causes cancer. In all the studies, the link with cancer is associated with meat that was cooked at high temperatures resulting in the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and mutagenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs), rather than red meat per se.
- Full-fat dairy products are good sources of Vitamin K, calcium and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Vegetarian or Vegan Diets are Much Healthier!
An LCHF Vegan Diet is Entirely Possible
Most vegetarians and vegans are on this diet because of 2 main reasons:
- Religious – Many Buddhists and Hindus are vegetarians and vegans because their religious philosophies forbid the consumption of meat.
- Personal – An increasing number of folks become vegetarians and vegans because they see the atrocities committed against animals in the meat, dairy and poultry industries and are convinced that all animal life should be respected.
Now it might seem that with traditional LCHF/keto being high in animal products and vegetarianism and veganism abstaining from such products, these 2 diets would be at the opposite ends of the pole for each other. Initially, that was what I thought too as well.
But when I explored further I discovered that it is possible to marry the 2 in more ways than one – folks on traditional LCHF/keto could adopt some vegan ideas and vegans could eat a plant-based LCHF/keto diet.
So how do you counter this criticism? You don’t – you can introduce vegan LCHF/keto to the other parties, and everybody wins!
Is Vegan LCHF/Keto Actually Possible?
Sure, why not? Let’s take fats and oils, for example, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and macadamia oil – these are all natural plant-based oils that vegans can use as much as they need or want.
Coconuts, Avocados, and Olives
These are fruits with high-fat contents.
Nuts and Seeds
These are naturally high in fat and protein: macadamias, pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds are great examples. Chia and flax seeds are great sources of fiber and chilled coconut milk/cream with chia seeds make an excellent LCHF desert.
Low Carb Vegetables
These include cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, bak choy, eggplant, capsicum or bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, collard greens, tomatoes, and onions.
Low Carb Fruits
These include blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Depending on your daily carb count, you can include other low carb/sugar fruits as well.
These include some chickpeas, green beans, and others depending on daily carb count.
Soy contains both protein and fat and is low in carbs. If you decide to take soy, be sure to get non-GMO unprocessed soy for your tofu, soy milk, and tempeh. But is soy as harmful it’s made out to be by most natural healing experts?
Read Dr. Mark Hyman’s post on soy and decide for yourself:
“As some of you may be aware, I often recommend soy as part of a whole foods diet. Many people question why I include these foods in light of such startling media coverage on the dangers of soy. The reason is relatively simple.”
“I have reviewed reams of research and many claims for and against soy foods. From the studies available, I can tell you that soy is neither as good as the proponents say, nor as evil as the critics claim. I wish we had more convincing science to report, but we don’t. The key is to take all the available evidence together and see what shakes out.”
There you have it, 4 common criticisms against the low carb diet that I’ve personally come across and how to handle them. If you’re an LCHF newbie and need some hand-holding, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is shared with permission from our friends at Fit and Healthy Beyond 50.
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