Low Carb, Low Sugar,
High Fat, High Protein
Ok my lovely followers, don’t panic, I’m not going to suddenly start posting videos of me lifting weights or sharing recipes for kale juice smoothies (though if that’s your thing, you go for it!)
If you follow my blog, you’ll know I’m not into ‘diet food’ or ‘fad diets’, but I do believe we can be cleverer with what foods we are eating, and that a greater understanding of what’s in our food can help us live healthier and happier lifestyles. (I learned this the hard way a few years ago when I made myself Anaemic through a poor diet I actually thought was pretty healthy at the time. I wrote about it in my post How To Be A Healthy Pesky/Veggie/Vegan. A must read if you’re thinking about cutting meat or animal products from your diet this year!)
During the multitude of lockdowns we’ve experienced lately, I’ve noticed people have fallen into two categories with regards to diet and exercise:
- Those who have taken up a new exercise regime and are fitter and healthier than ever – they’re running regularly, doing yoga in their livingrooms, and have turned a spare room into a weightlifting den.
- Those (like me) who have taken up binge-eating and day-drinking and have watched more films and box-sets this year than ever before.
Like a holiday romance, this lockdown lifestyle of mine was fun, new and exciting at first, but now it’s run it’s course, it’s starting to really bug me, and it needs to end. It’s time for me to get fitter, healthier, and hopefully fit back into my favourite summer clothes in time for holidays to begin again. So I’m adopting a low-carb, low-sugar, high-fat, high-protein, diet plan. (When I say diet, I don’t mean a fad diet THEY DO NOT WORK. I literally mean my diet – the food I eat on a daily basis) I’ve taken inspiration from the Keto diets that are doing the rounds at the moment, and everything I learned from my research into Iron-rich Veggie foods, and I’ve come up with my own plan.
I will not be cutting any food groups out completely, I will be lowering my intake of carbohydrates and Sugars (food groups that are converted into fat straight away), and increasing my intake of proteins and fats, which provide you with energy and iron without the Carb-comas and sugar dips. I’ll also be ensuring I’m still getting at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day which will provide me with the vitamins and minerals I need for my body to function healthily, and still have a few treats on a regular basis, because life is for living! Sound good? Read on.
This isn’t a super-restrictive plan that’s going to leave you hungry and craving food, nor is it going to make you look like a bikini model within a few days. It’s a change in lifestyle, a change in how you view food, and the value you give to the different food groups. I tried it last year, (before the world as we knew it ended and I started eating everything in my cupboards) and honestly, I felt great. I felt healthier, I had more energy without crashes, and I wasn’t hungry as often and so had time to consider my meals rather than just grabbing the quickest, easiest thing to eat. After a while, I didn’t even think about it, my choices happened naturally. So I want to do it again, but of course, it’s going to take some time to get used to this complete shift in diet and lifestyle at first, and the experts say if you tell someone, you’re more likely to stick to it. So I thought I’d share it with you all, my lovely followers, and we could maybe do it together, and keep each other on track.
My Way Of Thinking:
Before we continue, I must say, I am NOT an expert. I am not a dietitian, a lifestyle coach or a Doctor. This is my own plan, that I have created through research, experience, watching documentaries such as The Magic Pill on Netflix, talking to friends and family members who have been to dietitians, talking to my own Doctor about my own diet, and looking into the fad diets that have been doing the rounds over the years. This way of eating works for me, but it may not work for you. If in doubt, always seek the advice of a professional.
These are a few things that have blown my mind over the years, that has led me to my way of thinking and this healthy eating plan I have come up with:
Carbs aren’t evil, we just eat far too many of them!
Our bodies are way behind our brains and lifestyles when it comes to evolution. We still have an appendix for goodness sakes! What was that even for? If only we could ‘Marie Kondo’ it – if definitely doesn’t bring us joy! So anything processed (man made) it doesn’t know how to deal with it.
We tend to think of carbohydrates as being white bread, pasta and potatoes, but you actually find carbohydrates in lots of different foods. According to Google, there are 14g of carbohydrates in a raw apple, so you can easily get your full daily allowance of carbs without eating processed white carbs at all. Carbohydrates are converted into energy by our bodies, but if we overload our bodies with carbs, it stores it as fat cells to deal with later.
There’s a difference between fats in food, and the fat you want to get rid of on your body.
OK, I know they have the same name, and for decades we have been told that fat, in general, is bad. But if we go back to how outdated out bodily functions are, we are actually really good at processing natural fats – milk, olive oil, animal fats – we’ve been doing it for centuries, they’re even pretty good for us. It’s the processed fats we struggle with – sugar, processed meats, vegetable oils. And if our bodies can’t process it straight away, it stores them, as fat cells in your body.
But don’t think that you can just not eat, and use up your fat cells. Our bodies are amazing at looking after us, and if it thinks we’re going through a period of famine, when we do eat, it will just process what it needs, and stores the rest, as fat cells, to use up during the next famine. So you actually need to eat regularly, and eat enough food to sustain you (around 2000 for women and 2500 for men, a day, depending on how active your lifestyle is. You can find out more about this on the NHS website, link here) but it needs to be the right types of food.
Our bodies can’t function without protein.
If you are a vegetarian, pescatarian or vegan, please read my post How To Be A Healthy Pesky/Veggie/Vegan. Protein is vital to our health and how our bodies function, but it doesn’t mean you have to start eating meat or animal products. You can definitely live a healthy, iron-rich life as a pesky, veggie or vegan, but we do have to put a little more thought into our food than carnivores do. Iron-rich foods include pulses (beans, peas, lentils) and dark green leafy veg such as kale, cabbage, spinach and watercress. And there are simple everyday things that can increase or decrease the amount of Iron our bodies are able to extract from our foods. Something as simple as the timing of that first cup of coffee in the morning can have an impact on your iron-count that day. Find all these tips and explanations on the above post.
- Eat 3 meals a day. Try not to snack in between, but if you’re hungry, eat! Do not starve yourself!
- Cut down on on the amount of processed foods you eat – opt for natural, wholegrain, fresh, full fat, sugar free products. But be wary of artificial sweeteners and colours. If the ingredients list looks like a Science Lab’s shopping list, it probably isn’t natural.
- Cut down on the carbs. You really don’t need that much! Cut out white carbs completely (apart from your ‘Red Day’), and limit your brown carbs.
- Have at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Potato is not a veg, by the way, contrary to what my husband says, it’s a carbohydrate.
- Make sure you have plenty of iron-rich foods every day – Meat, fish and eggs if you eat them, leafy green veg, pulses, beans and peas.
- Increase the amount of natural fats you eat, decrease your sugar intake – have the creamy sauce, the proper butter, the 70% dark chocolate – they’re natural. Avoid the sugary sweets and the white cane sugar, they’re processed.
- Don’t deny yourself anything, just limit how much you have of it. Do you always want what you can’t have? Me too! As soon as I tell myself I’m not allowed something, the rebel in me goes wild, and it’s all I can think of. So give yourself a ‘Red Day’, a ‘Naughty Day’, a ‘Fat Day’, whatever you want to call it, once a week. Then, when your inner child is throwing a tantrum because it REALLY wants a chocolate chip cookie, instead of just saying no, and dealing with the screams and tears, say not now, but if you wait until your ‘Red Day’ you can have a whole packet if you want. I find this satisfies my inner voice, and what actually happens, is I get to my ‘Red Day’ and I don’t eat the entire packet of cookies I wanted on Monday, the cake I wanted on Tuesday, the extra large fish and chips I wanted on Wednesday etc etc, I actually end up, just having a couple of those things, feeling satisfied that I’ve been allowed to be ‘naughty’.
- Following on from point 6, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you give in and end up eating the cookie, just have one less Amber snack the next day. If your friends are all going out for pizza and cocktails, go, have a good night, but use that as your ‘Red Day’.
Remember – low carb, low sugar, high fat, high protein.
To make it easier, I’ve categorised every single one of my recipes as Red, Amber or Green, as well as listing other popular products people eat on a regular basis below, to make it easier for you to plan your meals.
Try to stick to 1 amber meal and 2 amber snacks, maximum, a day, as well as plenty of green meals and snacks. – Do not starve yourself!
Have one Red Day a week – Try to stick to 2 red meals, and 2 red snacks on this day, top it up with green meals and snacks.
An Example Weekly Plan:
Breakfast = Baked beans on wholemeal toast, glass of fruit juice
Midday Meal = Spiced Chickpeas and salad, Sugar free yoghurt
Evening Meal = Cauliflower Cheese, salmon and veg, 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream
Breakfast = Homemade smoothie
Midday Meal = Crustless quiche and salad, Sugar free yoghurt
Evening Meal = Veggie Lasagne, wholemeal Garlic Bread, small glass of wine
Breakfast = Sugar free porridge with honey
Midday Meal = wholemeal Tortilla Dippers, Humous and carrot sticks, glass of fruit juice
Evening Meal = Quorn roast, veg and gravy
Breakfast = Sugar free yoghurt, Fresh fruit, Mixed nuts and seeds
Midday Meal = Eggs In Hell with spinach and wholemeal bread
Evening Meal = Sweet Chilli Salmon and wholegrain Noodles, scoop of vanilla ice cream
Breakfast = Super Tasty Mushroom Omelette, glass of fruit juice
Midday Meal = The Ultimate Spicy Bean, Vegan Toasty on wholemeal bread, an apple, Sugar free yoghurt
Evening Meal = Aubergine (Egg Plant) And Courgette Bake, salad, small glass of wine
Breakfast = Mushroom Scrambled Eggs – no toast, glass of fruit juice
Midday Meal = Creamy Salmon and Broccoli Spaghetti, small glass of wine
Evening Meal = Teriyaki Salmon Skewers, salad, fresh watermelon
Breakfast = Pancakes
Midday Meal = Chocolate Orange Fudge Cake, fresh fruit
Evening Meal = Homemade Fully Loaded Veggie Pizza, Long Island Iced Cherry Tea
All My Red, Amber and Green Recipes:
Fruit, veg, dairy (milk, cream, cheese) protein (Quorn, eggs, fish, meat) and pulses (Lentils, beans, peas)
- Mushroom Scrambled Eggs – no toast
- Super Tasty Mushroom Omelette
- Baked beans (Make sure they’re one of you five a day)
- Veggie sausages – fried in olive oil, roasted or grilled
- Eggs – fried in olive oil, poached, boiled or scrambled
- Mushrooms – raw or fried in olive oil
- Tomatoes – raw, fried in olive oil or tinned as long as the tin says they’re one of your five a day
- Breakfast Kale
- Homemade fruit smoothie
- Eggs In Hell with spinach, no bread
Midday and Evening Meals:
- Caprese Salad – use my recipe for Caprese Bruschetta but have extra salad instead of bread
- Veggie Sausage Casserole
- Veggie Mince without Tatties
- Serve with side salad or veg roasted or griddled in olive oil:
- Fish or meat served with veg (no potato) and gravy or a homemade sauce:
- Humous with carrot, pepper and cucumber sticks
- Briam with salad – no bread
Drinks and Snacks:
- Herbal tea
- Tea or coffee with no sugar
- Fruit – fresh or dried
- Plain nuts
- Sugar free yoghurt
- Kale And Broccoli Coleslaw
- The Best Garlic Mayo Dip
One meal and two snacks a day
- Any green foods made using or served with brown carbs (brown rice, brown bread, wholegrain pasta, sweet potato) or grains (couscous, quinoa, bulgur wheat)
- Sugar free muesli or porridge (try honey instead of sugar)
- Sausage And Bean Breakfast Wrap – on a wholegrain wrap
- Pan Fried Tomatoes With Mushrooms – on wholegrain toast
- Very Welsh Rarebit – on wholegrain toast
- Veggie McMuffins – on a wholegrain muffin
- Wholegrain toast
Midday and Evening Meals:
- Pasta dishes made using wholegrain pasta:
- Caprese Bruschetta – on wholegrain bread
- Sandwiches using wholegrain bread, wraps or pitta:
- Tortilla Dippers – using wholegrain wraps
- Stuffed Peppers
- Moroccan Style Cod
- Salmon, Orange and Grains
- Chinese Tofu With Fried Rice – using brown rice
- Sweet Chilli Salmon and Noodles – served with wholegrain noodles
- Patatas Bravas made with sweet potato
- Vegetable Pasanda – served with brown rice
- Meat Free Chilli Con Carne – served with brown rice or wholegrain wraps
- Homemade soup:
- Pumpkin and Red Pepper Soup – make with sweet potato instead of white potato
- Sour Cream and Chive Sweet Potato Skins
- Cheese and wholegrain crackers
Drinks and Snacks:
- 1 glass of sugar free fizzy drink
- 1 glass of fruit juice
- Flavoured water or cordial
- Tea or coffee with sugar
- 1 small glass of wine
- Half a pint of beer
- 1 shot of gin/vodka/tequila etc in a sugar free fizzy drink or fruit juice
- A handful of chocolate covered, yoghurt covered, caramelised or salted fruit or nuts
- 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream
- Garlic bread, including No Butter Garlic Bread – using wholegrain bread
- 1 Honey Nut Flapjack
- 2 or 3 squares of 70% or higher dark chocolate
- 2 or 3 No Cream Chocolate Truffles – made with dark chocolate
- Spiced Wedges using sweet potatoes
- 2 slices of wholegrain bread or toast
- Sweet potato chips, wedges or mash
Two meals and two snacks a week.
Pastry, any of the green or amber recipes made using, or served with, breadcrumbs, batter or white carbs (white rice, white bread, white pasta, white potato) and anything sugary.
- Flavoured porridge
- Boxed cereals (Coco Pops, Sugar Puffs, Weetabix etc)
- Jam, chocolate and other sweet spreads:
Midday and Evening Meals:
- Any takeaway or fast food
- Tinned Soup
- Homemade soup made with white potato
- Stuffed Dough Balls
- Pizza, including my Homemade Fully Loaded Veggie Pizza
- Cheese and Poppy Seed Twists
- Spinach And Ricotta Pancakes
- Stews made with white potato including my Blind Scouse
Snacks and Drinks:
- Full sugar fizzy drinks
- Beer Battered Onion Rings
- Caramelised Courgettes/Zucchini
- Easy Garlic and Herb Roast Potatoes
- White bread or toast