High Fat for Low Fat: Part 1
FAT. Asides from the contemporary witch-hunt on carbs, no other food group is quite as discriminated and feared as fats. Walk around a supermarket, and I guarantee most things originally high in fat will come with a “low-fat” option. In fact, I was even looking for crème fraiche earlier and couldn’t find a version that wasn’t low-fat.
You see, fat has it pretty unlucky. Sharing a name with an adjective deemed negative by the media and by a large majority of the world, people make the assumption that if you eat fat, you become fat. Thus, low-fat has ruled the world and the health conscious are careful to keep their fat intake low. Of the macronutrients, which are the food groups we need in large amounts to function optimally, fat contains 9 calories per gram, as opposed to carbohydrates and protein, which both contain 4 to a gram.
There are the fat defenders. I’m not talking about the deep fried lovers and pizza connoisseurs, but the health addicts who are all about HEALTHY fats. Yes, it has emerged lately that monounsaturated fats such as avocados and peanut butter are actually good for you. (Studies show that mono fats reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as containing vitamin E, which is awesome.)  There’s also polyunsaturated fats , which are nuts and seeds (and the health conscious always praise them,) and oils.
The approved fats
But still, it has generally been agreed that these are good, but in moderation. We go for the low-fat cheese, trim the fat off our meat and try not to use too much oil when cooking.
So why am I on a high fat diet?
Let me first continue to give you a bit more information. Whilst I am following The High Fat Diet by Zana Morris and Helen Fosters, high fat, low carb (HFLC or LCHF) diets have actually been around for a while. Some of you may have heard of them as Keto or Ketogenic. Very simplified, Keto essentially consists of denying your body the carbs and sugar it usually uses for energy, forcing it to enter ketosis, which allows it to start using fat for fuel, taking from your fat stores. In short, keto suggests that eating fat will make you burn fat.
My bible for the next week and a half.
Scientifically, it’s pretty sound. It’s not recommended as a long term diet – The High Fat Diet is planned around two weeks, with four of the days being a pretox to ease your body into the higher fats. The book provides meal plans with two options, and is strict about you not cheating (as of course , the minute you let your insulin levels spike as a result of carbs and sugars, your body will use those for energy and store all the fat you’ve been eating.)
I actually decided to start as my co-worker had stumbled upon it, and decided to try it herself. Despite it being branded a ‘diet’, I was finding myself incredibly jealous of her delicious looking and indulgent meals. How long had it been since I had allowed myself bacon? Full fat cream cheese? More than 1 tbsp of oil? (Okay, not too long for any of those.) After finding out she’d lost 3% BODY FAT (not weight, as weight can be an inaccurate measurement) in the first week, I decided to give it a go myself.
So, let’s get to my rundown on the first three days so far:
Firstly, and most importantly, the FOOD. The food has been absolutely delicious! It’s kept me satisfied and full despite the small meals (they are plenty high in calories, and I’m still hitting my calorie goals daily). It feels awfully indulgent to be eating quite so much avocado and cheese.
I’m still getting small urges to snack, but they’re extremely minor. I assure you, the meals are plenty filling and the book even suggests some people only end up having two a day as they are so full up from the highly satisfying, fatty meals. My snacking definitely comes out of habit, as I am the worst of the worst in serial snacking. I’ve picked a few extra bits of cheese and walnuts when I wasn’t meant to, but as I’m keeping up my normal exercise habits (instead of only doing the 12 minute HIIT workout the book recommends and provides), I feel like this is slightly justified!
None of the food FEELS like diet food. Also, surprisingly filling.
The food is essentially: plenty of fat, particularly fatty proteins. Cheese and nuts make up a large amount of the extra fat, and all your carbs (MyFitnessPal calculates I’m having about 5% carbs a day!) come from veggies. Which is good, because I could NOT do entirely without veggies. Breakfast is usually smoked salmon or egg-based, but the recipes offer enough interesting alternatives and choices that I haven’t been bored, and am genuinely so excited for all my meals in the next few days! In fact, I’ve discovered some amazing new foods – such as coconut yogurt CO-YO – and I’m sure I’ll find plenty more to be obsessed with in the coming days.
Just a note of warning here for the nauseas minded: high fat CAN be quite intense. I’m usually such a glutton that I’m not having a problem with the large quantities of oily food, but I would advise to definitely ease into it and eat slowly!
This was the bit I was concerned about most. As an active person who likes to spend a good 2 hours in the gym for each session, I was concerned about how this diet would impact my training. The book recommends you only do the 12 minute HIIT workout it provides, but whilst you all know I love my HIIT, the thought of such a small workout seemed preposterous – particularly to someone with a decent fitness level.
So far, I’ve swapped my 10km runs for a low intensity steady state workout instead – a walk (which actually burns more fat that running too). I’ve kept up the weight training but less high intensity circuits and more straight training, as it’s easy to preserve some energy. I’ve been able to attack my barre classes with my usual exhausted ferocity, so no change there.
I’m finding energy dips in the afternoon, but that is the natural human energy slump time. Day 3 was particularly difficult – I found it tiring going up the stairs, but that may have been because I was carrying my laptop around. As I’m only in my third day, I’m going to assume that my body has just used up all its carbs and is trying to figure out what source of energy it can use for fuel now (pssst, a hint: go for the fat!!). I’m expecting this will pass, but I do also feel quite chilled out – must be the lack of sugar. My energy has picked up since this afternoon so I’m still going to hit my arms workout as planned. Funnily enough, exercise is really combating the energy slumps.
But what about the important bit? The weight loss?
It seems ironic that for someone who’s following a book sub-titled How to lose 10lb in 14 days I’m not weighing myself. This is a personal decision that I always maintain (as scales simply aren’t a great measurement of progress anyway), however, I am still tracking my progress in different ways – through measurements. I’ve taken them at the start and will be taking them again halfway through and at the end. Given that my co-worker has lost one inch from all over – that’s a dress size – in a week, I’ve got my fingers crossed!
As I’m only on the pretox, I’m feeling like taking any measurements or rummaging through my wardrobe to try on my ‘skinny clothes’ at this point would be a little hopeful. I am feeling a flatter stomach everyday when I wake up – might just be the fact that I’m physically consuming less food, but I’m going to take the optimistic road here!
Stay tuned for my next update, which shall come on day 7 – halfway through and with me on the real diet.
What are your thoughts? Would you be able to go high fat?
 “The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between” Harvard Health Publications.