BANISH THE BAKES
LCHF treats should be that – something rare for a special occasion. Unfortunately some people are using them as a substitute for real food – and it’s damaging their health in the process.
Too many treats will set you up for failure
Isn’t the low-carb, healthy fat lifestyle amazing? You can eat fat, down coffee with cream, eat steak and ribs, as well as bacon, nuts, butter, animal fats, dark chocolate, muffins, wine, LCHF bread and literally have your cake and eat it! There’s no other weight loss programme like it. We’re never hungry, we eat all the delicious things we love – and still get healthy and lose weight!
Could there be a caveat in all this however? I think so.
When the ‘movement’ first began in this country it was pretty focused, concentrating on real food, made in the kitchen from scratch by you (not bought), and it was all about meat, vegetables, healthy fats and good, honest food. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before people began to look for ways to morph it into something that still included treats and baked goods so that they wouldn’t feel deprived of the goodies they had in their pre-LCHF days. A little of anything now and then is fine but now we’re seeing people living on daily treats and bakes. Because they are technically LCHF, they feel this is okay. It’s not. Weight loss stalls, inflammatory markers go up, and our nutritional status goes down.
Every time we put something into our mouths it’s going to work for us or against us. If you live an almost ‘perfect’ life when it comes to what you eat then having the odd piece of LCHF cake or slice of LCHF bread really won’t have much effect either way and is a rather nice little treat. That’s what it should be – a very occasional treat. Daily treating is not LCHF and baked goods will take the place of healthy meat and vegetables that nourish us. From a nutritional standpoint, as much as possible of what you eat needs to be bursting with nutrients from vegetables, healthy fats and pasture-reared animal protein. If you are following this lifestyle properly this will fill you up and you won’t even desire treats.
Ideally the treat mentality should be broken pretty soon after going onto an LCHF programme anyway. Forget the puddings, the biscuits, cakes, breads, cereal substitutes, and pancakes. Mug cakes and cereal-type replacement breakfasts (even if they are technically low carb, which they usually aren’t) take us away from the real food core of this lifestyle. This type of smash-and-grab food should be reserved for once-in-awhile emergencies, when there’s
just no time for that egg-andbacon breakfast you had planned or there’s a crisis and you have to eat something before dashing out.
Nut and seed f lours
My gripe is with the excessive use of alternative flours we use – though it is true that any flour is better than wheat flour. Nut and seed flours on a daily basis, or too many nuts and seeds, create an omega-6 to omega-3 imbalance that, in turn, causes the body to become inflamed and often causes weight gain into the bargain. While omega-6 fatty acids, like omega-3 fatty acids, are essential fatty acids, we are tempted to have far too many sources of omega-6 fatty acids in our diet – most of which come from nuts and seeds and, if you know no better, seed oils. The body needs a delicate balance of a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 but the ratio for most people is somewhere from 20:1 right up to 50:1. This creates a very inflamed body and dysregulates everything from lipid profiles to immunity.
Added to this is the problem that ready-ground nut and seed flours (especially seed flours) oxidise within a few minutes of grinding, which makes them even more inflammatory. We see people making seed and nut versions of breakfast cereal as it’s difficult to break the ‘cereal mentality’ but you need healthy animal protein and fat with vegetables – not just nuts and seeds ground up with a blob of yoghurt. I can’t stress enough the importance of eating a proper meal. Substituting one form of cereal for another, although ‘healthier’ in the sense that there are no added sugars, won’t nourish the body, and too many seeds and nuts could lead to nutrient depletion.
Fibre is absolutely essential in fairly large amounts but too much from seed flours not only upsets the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and inflames the body, it also binds an awful lot of your nutrients too! If the nuts and seeds are not activated, they contain large amounts of antinutrients that ‘steal’ our own nutrients.
UNDERSTAND THE PITFALLS:
1 A cup of almond flour is made from a lot of almonds. Have you ever counted them before putting them into a coffee grinder? You could end up eating a cupcake with many more than you would usually eat in a sitting.
2 Almond flour, especially, is very high in inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) – around 20% in fact – which:
• slow down your metabolism
• impair the action of certain digestive enzymes
• slow thyroid function
• inhibit detoxification enzymes
• deplete antioxidants in the body
• inhibit production of progesterone and androgens while activating production of oestrogen, causing weight gain, PMS, hormonal acne and general mayhem.
While PUFAs aren’t ‘evil’ in tiny amounts, when eaten on a regular basis they are. This applies to all seed and nut flours, though less so to macadamia flour. PUFAs are also not very heat stable and they oxidise (think ‘rust’) quickly. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy fresh nuts and seeds and grind them yourself.
Nuts and seeds are high in enzyme inhibitors. They create digestive problems because they prevent our enzymes from fulfilling their purpose. The healthiest way to eat nuts or seeds is to soak them first, then dehydrate them to destroy most of the enzyme inhibitors. This process is called activation. Phytic acid is one such antinutrient, which is found in varying amounts in all nuts and seeds, and almonds have relatively high levels if they are not activated.
Therefore limit your intake of any kind of nut or seed.
What about coconut f lour?
This is a much healthier form of nut flour. The fat present is saturated, not PUFA, which is a huge difference as this is stable fat that’s safe to heat and nontoxic to the body. You should not overdo coconut flour either as even this is not a staple food, it’s just a substitute flour for baking and cooking.
I am horrified at what passes as ‘Banting friendly’ and other low-carb associated fare; 98% of it is not low carb at all, and contains seed oils, chemicals, several types of sugar, and everything from glutinous grains right up to wheat. Don’t be misled: learn to read labels and, better still, make your own food from scratch, from whole, real ingredients. Save treats for really special occasions – and once a week is not a special occasion! On the other hand, ‘treating’ yourself to really fresh salads, vegetables, grass-fed meat and health fats is allowed at every single meal!