Over the months that I’ve been eating a low-carb diet, my views on what that diet is have evolved considerably.
First, at the start, I thought my goal was simply to lose weight, and that any improvements in my health would be the result of eliminating the beach ball of blubber that was my middle. Second, I thought that eating a low-carbohydrate diet meant eating lots of meat relative to other kinds of foods.
In other words, being more carnivore than omnivore.
Now I see better health as my ultimate goal, and weight-loss (especially the loss of stubborn belly-fat) as one means to that end, and I am finding that, as I wrote in a comment on another blog yesterday, my low-carb diet is “a long way from a red meat orgy.”
I was commenting on a post entitled Low carb winning because of the meat lobby? on the Diet Doctor blog by Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, an MD in Sweden where the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) movement has a huge following. Eenfeldt was responding to the claims of two journalists that the studies showing superior weight-loss and control of risk factors for the LCHF diet were sponsored by the meat industry. In fact, there are plenty of independent studies that show the same results, and Eenfeldt lists them.
He also notes that ”LCHF does not necessarily mean more meat. LCHF means eating less sugar and starch, replacing the calories with more fat (e.g. butter or olive oil).”
It was this last point that provoked my comment. I’ve continued to think about it today.
A typical low-carb diet puts meat in the “eat all you want” category, along with poultry, fish and eggs. “Go ahead,” we are told, ”have bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning.”
Indeed, in his own excellent one-page introduction to low-carb, high-fat eating, Dr. Eenfeldt lists meat first under the heading “Eat all you like.” He adds an important caveat that new low-carbers may be prone to over-look: “Try to choose organic or grass fed meat if you can.”
Eating lots of meat is an attractive idea for many of us, and a great counter-balance to the giving up of bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. The first week I ate low-carb, I bought myself bacon, lamb chops, pickled bologna and a couple beef steaks. That was just for me for breakfast, lunch or snacks.
Then I began reading more, and blogging, and caveats like Dr. Eenfeldt’s became more apparent to me. I have pretty much cut processed meats out of my diet now, with the exception of those that are lightly processed and nitrite-free. (They cost more than the common commercial versions, though, so aren’t a daily staple for me.)
I still eat beef, but not every day. Overall, my meat-consumption is no greater now than it was in my pre-low carb days. It may even be less because in the old days, I often ate lunch meats in sandwiches. Without bread in my diet, there is no reason to buy meats that have been shaped to fit between slices of the grainy stuff. So I don’t.
The foods that I eat a lot more of now are eggs, fish, nuts, berries and non-starchy vegetables. The foods that I eat a lot less of are grains, starchy vegetables (i.e., potatoes), and sugar.
I have reduced my dairy consumption somewhat, too. I used to drink a big glass or two of skim milk every day, along with eating some cheese and (less frequently) ice cream. Today, I use cream in my coffee and eat an ounce or two of cheese.
As I wrote in my comment on Dr. Eenfeldt’s blog, I am not a vegan. However, I am also not a carnivore.
My life is far from being one long bacon fest, nor do I live on bean sprouts and tofu. I’m an omnivore, plain and simple, and I believe it is the rational thing to be. I partake of those foods I believe to be healthy and enjoyable, whether plant or animal-based.
A great many of Dr. Eenfeldt’s fellow citizens agree with the approach. We low-carb omnivores are well on our way to winning the Battle of Sweden.
Total world domination should be close behind.
At least, for the world’s sake, let us hope so.