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When To Break The Rules On A Low-Carb Diet

Today’s post is in response to a reader question. To find out how to have your question answered in an upcoming post, see the end of this one!

Read time: 7-8 minutes

Hello Kat! I know you are probably super busy, but I have a question and I was hoping you could take the time to answer (following your blog all the way from the Netherlands by the way- it’s a great one).

I have recently lost 30 pounds and am now at 60 kg, with a BMI of 20.6; it feels great. I have followed a low-carb way of eating, and have included good fats from the beginning, although in moderation (no coconut oil, no butter). I work out intensively about 5 times per week, but would like to cut it to 4.  I have recently read more about introducing coconut oil, and have started doing so. I must admit though, I am still a little afraid of the fat! Would it be a good idea for me to take it, even while only trying to keep the weight off?

What if I cut down on exercise, should I also cut down on fat? I don’t mind keeping away from grains, potatoes and rice, but I would like to sometimes be able to have a piece of fruit or an ice cream on a summer day or eat sushi with my friends and not be too strict on myself. Would this be a bad combination with all the fat, and should I be more careful on days I know I will have fruit or other treats or eat a bit more carbs than usual? I know it’s a struggle to keep the weight off too, which is why I am looking for tips on how to maintain.

Best regards, Sophie

Hi Sophie. Firstly, congrats on your current clean and healthy approach to eating! It sounds like you’re doing a great job and maybe just need a little help fine-tuning.

The first thing I’d like to say is that I love that you asked if extra fat is too much in combination with extra sugar. As you know, I’m very pro-smart-fats, and to me that even includes some of the most typically offensive fats such as coconut oil or milk, and even saturated animal fat, so long as it’s from grass-fed organic stock. In fact, I’ve had a lot of success over the years teaching people to re-introduce these natural and healthy foods to their diet and noticing their energy skyrocket as their weight plummets. But occasionally I’ve had instances where a client doesn’t get the expected results. On re-examination, the culprit has almost always been sugar. For example, someone might choose a great breakfast such as eggs with organic beef sausages and a side of spinach, but then they add some toast. And perhaps a little sugar in their coffee. Which seems fairly insignificant at face value, but many health experts nowadays believe that it’s not fats which are ‘evil’ but rather excessive amounts of sugar, or the combination of saturated fat with sugar.

Eat Fat To Lose Fat? Yes, Unless You Do This …

Another trend I’ve noticed when people switch to whole foods and to low carb in particular is the sudden embracing of good fats. Whilst it’s normal to initially feel afraid of introducing more fat to your diet, it’s generally not long before I notice that people feel liberated – and SO excited to be ‘allowed’ to freely eat avocado, coconut oil or milk, oily fish, nuts and seeds, and even fattier cuts of meat if it’s organic and grass-fed. This is great, and I love people exploring the joys of real food, but (yeah, it sucks I know – I love real dairy and avocado!) there is such a thing as too much fat. Yes, even if it’s the good type. You know I’m not completely in the camp of ‘it’s all about calories in versus calories out’, but at the end of the day calories do have to be given some consideration, and too much food is just too much food.

Fat – How much is too much?

When eating a clean and paleo-based diet, adequate good fats are crucial for fat loss but also for ideal digestion, energy, and even sleep. I’ve mentioned previously a study that Jonny Bowden talks about in which a failure to eat adequate fat on a high-protein and low-carb diet leads to all manner of illness and poor health.The Dukan diet is a classic example of this.

It would be generalising for me to give you an exact amount of fat grams that you need per day, as  – to a certain degree – you should be able to listen in to what you feel your body needs and go from there. But when the message you’re hearing is ‘don’t stop eating that jar of nut butter until it’s all gone!’, then I guess we have to set some boundaries 🙂

I would suggest no more than 40 grams of fat per day for any adult, and up to 90-100 grams for a large and athletic male (for example). Personally I am 60kg, aim for 70 grams of dietary fat per day, and am extremely active. This does NOT include fat from supplements! For example, I take around 25 grams of quality fish oil each day.

According to Coach Nick Mitchell of London’s UP Fitness “Some people won’t get very lean unless they shoot for 20cals per kg of bodyweight regardless of macro breakdown, and within that they will need to carb cycle but that’s another story.”

Less exercise; less food?

Of course reduced exercise can often mean a reduced need for food, but you haven’t mentioned what sort of exercise you’re doing? If you’re doing 3-4 heavy lifting weight sessions (which would be great!), you’re caloric need is far higher than if you’re doing a greater number of lower intensity circuit or cardio-based sessions.

When to break the rules on a low carb diet

I’ll wrap things up by answering your other question, which was whether it’s okay for you to include foods such as fruit, ice-cream, or sushi from time to time. The short answer is YES, of course. I definitely do NOT advocate never eating any foods (hmmm, with the exception of soy and trans fats, which are not really food anyway), although I do notice that people have less desire for true ‘cheat’ foods the healthier they become.

Fruit is definitely fine in a low-cal or low-carb diet, so long as you’re not in the initial bootcamp phase of attacking insulin resistance, but there’s fruit and then there’s fruit. Berries are an excellent fruit when eating low-carb, and so are stone fruits. They’re high in fiber, super high in antioxidants, and taste great as a treat with some full-fat cream or nut butter. Apples and pears are ok as you’re getting leaner. Other fruits do not really belong on a low-carb diet but can be used effectively as part of your cheat meal. As for ice-cream, well I think we both know that ice-cream is not a daily food, but as a treat/cheat meal – for sure 🙂 You gotta let your hair down from time to time! Likewise, sushi (the rice part) is not something I’d eat daily, but if you’re getting leaner it’s fine post-workout. Seaweed, by the way, is excellent for your thyroid gland and therefore your metabolism.

Sophie you’re most definitely on the right track, and it’s great that you’re thinking about these sort of small but important questions. The key is to eat really well day to day and then relax and enjoy whatever your heart desires when you have a well-deserved cheat meal. Enjoy!

To find out whether you need to go on an insulin-beating boot-camp, consider having a BioSIgnature assessment.

A Word About My Book “Secrets Of Weight Loss Revealed”

I’ve been fortunate enough to receive some wonderful testimonials from readers who have purchased my recent holistic weight loss book and started to apply some of the principles. Here’s what one reader had to say.

Kat Eden’s Secrets To Weight Loss Revealed is a remarkable book providing real guidance to weight loss and long-term health for every individual. In a world where there are so many ‘health secrets’, Kat Eden’s expertise and research cuts through to the core of the matter.

My initial reaction was that this book would test personal accountability and be hard to apply. And yes, it was a little confronting, but it also makes total sense and is an effective empowering tool that is easy to apply. Real health shouldn’t be complex and this book isn’t complex – it’s easy to understand and apply. It helped me to understand why I function the way I do and how I can genuinely improve my situation immediately.

I really liked how the questionnaire directed a re-ordering of the chapters appropriate to me as an individual. It turned the book from ‘just another weight loss book’ to a practical daily handbook.

 

I also enjoyed the book’s conversational readability and direct approach. The evident research, backing up the author’s stance, is quite an eye opener. It exposes the ‘good food bad food’ foundations that have misled us for so long and explains genuine solutions to the weight loss dilemma.

 

I thoroughly recommend Secrets To Weight Loss Revealed. It is a positive guide to individual good health that does away with all the myths and provides access to all the benefits and I think it should be compulsory reading for all health professionals, parents and individuals who want answers that work.

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Have your question answered on this blog

Do you have any questions for me that you’d be happy to have answered in the form of a blog post? Contact me here or reply in the comments below. I am happy to withhold your name if you prefer. Thank-you!

 

 

Don’t forget –

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Kat x

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8 Comments

  1. Channing Morales says:

    This post came at the PERFECT time!! I was feeling a little guilty about this week and although I had been going since Sunday with almost the perfect paleo/low-carb/sugar-grain free etc diet (i have fruit and quinoa from time to time) … after getting my BF taken yesterday (and being excited) I thought I’d treat myself to sushi! and then later that night because we can’t use our kitchen and it was raining cats and dogs… we ordered pizza. I of course paid for the pizza this morning… but man oh man it was the perfect cheat day…

    Thanks for clearing the air on “cheating”…. back to the grind and feeling good!

    1. Kat says:

      No problem; glad it came at a good time! Pizza … yum – but definitely all the more so when you’ve ‘earned’ it!

  2. Nora says:

    Hey Kat,

    I was wondering how you get enough calcium in your diet? Do you take calcium supplements? I read somewhere that an elixir (I guess tea) made from dried stinging nettle contains a lot of calcium. I also read that you can grind eggshells (from hard boiled, free range eggs) into a powder, that you can mix with lemon juice, that you can add to your diet, but that you have to take a magnesium citrate supplement at the same time. Currently I drink skim milk and eat fat free Fage yogurt (I know! I should buy full-fat dairy, but I buy these from Costco, and I can’t find full-fat Lactaid milk or full-fat Fage there!), but I was wondering how to increase (or maintain) calcium levels in the body without eating dairy. Or do you suggest still eating dairy, as long as it is full fat? I also read dairy wasn’t so good to eat though, and that milk is linked to acne. Sorry, I have been doing a lot of research lately, but I just get so confused from all the different studies out there! They are all so misleading, it is hard to tell which are correct and which are bogus.

    1. Kat says:

      Hi Nora. It can definitely be confusing, not just this but many topics to do with nutrition! Personally I do eat dairy so long as it is either raw or at least organic. Mostly raw though. I don’t believe that we can absorb calcium from processed dairy effectively anyway, and it’s true that processed dairy can cause other health complaints including acne.

      Green leafy veg are also a favourite of mine for calcium. I’m about to start using a great supplement called Bone Health, which you can read about here:

      http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/article.aspx?ID=303

      The other thing to remember is that calcium alone is not what makes healthy bones. Personally I supplement with a range of nutrients, a couple of which that are key include vitamin D and magnesium. I hope that helps!

  3. Kat says:

    A quick update! I just received this email from Sophie:

    Kat,

    Thank you so much for posting my question and taking the time to answer it so thoroughly. I am very grateful! So far I have managed to maintain my ideal weight and have succeeded in continuing my good food habits (finally free from the grains. yippi!).

    I am sorry that this reply will be a short one, I am currently on a biking holiday in France and there’s not much time for computing.. 🙂 But, I sincerely hope you realize how much help you have been to me with your blog! Very inspirational (also the facebook page). I like your reflected and honest approach to nutrition and fitness.

    Thank you again and all the best,

    Sophie

  4. Carla says:

    Thank you for this post! I sometimes get lost as to how much, how little of XYZ to have in any given day. Since I do my workouts at night, my food intake is usually higher the next day and sometimes I feel lost (wonder if I’m eating too much though I’m not full).

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