I don’t like to put a label on my dietary advice. It is based on scientific research, not ethics, religion or a preconceived notion of what a healthy diet should be like.
But if you want to label it, call it a “Low-Carb, Real-Food” based diet (LCRF).
A Little Girl Eating Meat
What Does “Low-Carb, Real-Food” Mean?
Let me start by explaining a bit of terminology.
A low-carbohydrate diet minimizes sugars and starches, replacing them with foods rich in protein and healthy fats.
“Real food” means choosing foods that humans had access to throughout evolution. Processed, unnatural foods with artificial chemicals are avoided.
LCRF is not a “diet.” It is a way of eating, a lifestyle change based on bulletproof scientific evidence.
It is a way of eating that emphasizes the foods humans have evolved to eat for hundreds of thousands of years, before the agricultural and industrial revolutions.
This type of diet is proven to work better than the low-fat diet still recommended all around the world.
What Not to Eat
You should limit the following foods.
Sugar: Added sugar is addictive, fattening and a leading cause of diseases like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
Grains: Avoid grains if you need to lose weight, including bread and pasta. Gluten grains (wheat, spelt, barley and rye) are the worst (7, 8, 9, 10, 11). Healthier grains like rice and oats are fine if you don’t need to lose weight.
Seed- And Vegetable Oils: Soybean oil, corn oil and some others. These are processed fats with a high amount of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are harmful in excess (12, 13, 14).
Trans Fats: Chemically modified fats that are extremely bad for health. Found in some processed foods (15, 16, 17).
Artificial Sweeteners: Despite being calorie free, observational studies show a correlation with obesity and related diseases (18, 19, 20). If you must use sweeteners, choose Stevia.
“Diet” and “Low-Fat” Products: Most of these “health foods” aren’t healthy at all. They tend to be highly processed and loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Agave syrup is just as bad as sugar.
Highly Processed Foods: Foods that are highly processed are usually low in nutrients and high in unhealthy and unnatural chemicals.
You must read ingredient lists. You’ll be surprised at the amount of “health foods” that can contain sugar, wheat and other harmful ingredients.
Healthy Foods to Eat
You should eat natural, unprocessed foods that humans are genetically adapted to eating. Research shows that such foods are great for health (21, 22, 23, 24).
For healthy people who exercise and don’t need to lose weight, there is absolutely no proven reason to avoid tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, or healthier non-gluten grains like oats and rice.
If you are overweight or have metabolic issues (low HDL, high LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, belly fat, etc.) you should restrict all high-carb foods (25, 26).
Meat: Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, etc. Humans have eaten meat for hundreds of thousands of years. Unprocessed meat is good for you, especially if the animals ate natural foods (like beef from grass-fed cows).
Fish: Fish is great. Very healthy, fulfilling and rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. You should eat fish (preferably fatty fish like salmon) every week.
Eggs: Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. The yolk is the most nutritious and healthiest part. Omega-3 eggs are best.
Vegetables: Contain fiber and many nutrients that are essential for the human body. Eat vegetables every day.
Fruit: Increase variety, taste good, are easy to prepare and rich in fiber and vitamin C. They’re still pretty high in sugar, so eat in moderation if you need to lose weight.
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc. Rich in various nutrients, but very high in calories. Eat in moderation if you need to lose weight.
Potatoes: Root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are healthy, but they’re still high in carbs. Eat in moderation if you need to lose weight.
High-Fat Dairy: Cheese, cream, butter, full-fat yogurt, etc. Rich in healthy fats and calcium. Dairy from grass-fed cows will be rich in vitamin K2, which is very important for health (27, 28, 29).
Fats and Oils: Olive oil, butter, lard, etc. Choose saturated fats for high-heat cooking like pan frying, they are more stable in the heat.
What to Drink?
Cup of Coffee
Coffee: Coffee is healthy and very rich in antioxidants, but people who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid it. Avoid coffee late in the day because it can ruin your sleep.
Tea: Tea is healthy, rich in antioxidants and has a lot less caffeine than coffee.
Water: You should drink water throughout the day and especially around workouts. No reason to drink a whole ton though, thirst is a pretty reliable indicator of your need.
Carbonated soda without artificial sweeteners is fine.
Avoid sodas with sugar and artificial sweeteners, fruit juice, milk and beer.
Simple rule: Don’t drink calories.
Consume in Moderation
These indulgences can be enjoyed from time to time.
Dark Chocolate: Choose organic chocolate with 70% cocoa or more. Dark chocolate is rich in healthy fats and antioxidants.
Alcohol: Choose dry wines and drinks that don’t contain added sugar or carbs: vodka, whiskey, etc.