Choosing foods and drinks that keep blood glucose and insulin low reduces weight by allowing the body to access and burn the fat already stored around our waist and hips.
The article ‘How to lose weight and keep it off‘ explains how to take advantage of your body’s natural capability to burn the fat you’ve got stored, providing you keep your blood glucose low.
Here are some general tips for getting started, and some suggestions for foods that will help you lose weight.
Real food at home
Buy real, whole food and enjoy it cooked at home as often as possible. It’s the only way to know exactly what you’re eating.
For suggestions for which foods to buy, have a look at the articles in the ‘Starting the LCHF lifestyle‘ category on the right of this page.
And when you are shopping, take the time to read the ingredients lists on packages, because the lovely photo on the front of the pack is often misleading, like this one in the frozen food section of our local supermarket.
I’m sure you’ll agree, although the fish in the photo looks as if it might be an acceptable quick meal, the ingredients panel on the back of the pack tells a different story and is nothing like ‘coconut curry fish fillets’ made at home:
Cook using any method you prefer, but avoid using flour coatings and bread crumbs, because the starch in them will be digested to glucose and throw you out of fat-burning mode and back into fat-storage mode.
For a crispy coating, grated coconut-and-egg mix, or just plain egg, is very tasty and won’t spike your blood glucose.
If you like frying food, a stable saturated fat like palm oil, coconut oil, or butter is best because free radical formation is kept to a minimum.
Keep an eye on your food and don’t let it burn. Protein foods can form carcinogenic substances if they’re heated for too long at high temperature in the frying pan, under the grill, or on the barbecue.
When to eat
We’re creatures of habit and have programmed ourselves to look for food at certain times.
For weight control, it’s best to ignore the clock.
If you’re feeling peckish at lunch-time, have a meal. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat just because it’s lunch-time and everyone else is eating. Wait until you’re hungry.
When you do eat, have enough to feel satiated, and don’t continue eating after you feel pleasantly full.
If you find you’re getting hungry between meals, put a little more healthy fat and protein on your plate at the next meal. Adjust the amounts until you find what works best for you.
If you finish your meal and still feel hungry, eat a little more protein and more leafy vegetables until you do feel satisfied before leaving the table.
Read labels. I can’t emphasise this enough. It really is a wonderful investment in your health to read before you buy.
Many factory-made foods and drinks contain all sorts of chemical compounds to enhance flavour, colour, texture, and shelf-life that are not found in real, whole foods. For example, the packet of coconut curry fish I showed you above.
From a weight-control aspect, added sugars are a big problem because they’ll sabotage your weight-loss efforts.
Sugar is often deliberately disguised by using words that don’t sound like sugar and I’ve listed some of them in the sugar section below.
Enjoy or avoid?
￼Let’s get the avoid section out of the way first, so the article can end on the high note of the enjoy section.
Avoid these foods…
Simple carbohydrates: they’re all digested to glucose, which will cause heaps of insulin (the fat-storing hormone) to be made, and they’ll be deposited on your waist and hips.
Sugars: there are about 56 names for sugar so you need to read labels carefully. For example:
sucrose, fructose, glucose, glucose syrup, dextrose, maltose, lactose, agave syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, brown-rice syrup, molasses, cane juice, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, corn sweetener, invert syrup, partially inverted sugar, glucose-fructose syrup, honey, maltodextrin, and so on.
Fruit sugar: whole fruit, fruit bars, snack packs, dried fruit (figs, apricots, dates, mango, raisins, sultanas), fruit juices, processed fruit, tinned fruit, fruit puree. A limited amount of berries are okay, though.￼￼
Bottled drinks: colas, sodas, sports drinks, vitamin waters, flavoured waters, cordials (all have lots of added sugar).
Powders for drinks: Milo, Ovaltine, 3-in-1 tea or coffee, and similar mixes because they all contain added fat-making sugar.
Milk, milkshakes: contain milk sugar (lactose) so limit milk if you can. Milkshakes contain a lot of added sugar, and often synthetic colourants and flavours, too.
Nut milk drinks: it’s not possible for nuts to produce milk, so things like almond milk or soy milk are factory-made ersatz food containing a lot of added sugar, and often other unwanted chemical enhancers.
Yogurts: fruit yogurt, yogurt drinks, and frozen yogurt contain added sugar, and often colourants, thickeners, flavours, and preservative.
Creamers: tea and coffee creamers often contain carbohydrate derivatives like maltodextrin.
Although complex carbohydrates are touted as foods that provide sustained energy, they’re all high in starch, which will be digested to glucose in your intestines and ruin your weight-loss efforts. For example, organic whole meal flour contains 71% carbohydrate.
Beans and legumes: peas, baked beans, black beans, pinto beans, Lima beans, lentils, chickpeas
Baked goods: bagels, biscuits, bread, bread rolls, bread sticks, buns, cakes, croissants, muffins, pies, pasties, pastries, sausage rolls, scones, tortillas, wraps
Breakfast cereals: muesli, rolled oats, cornflakes, frosties, cheerios, fruit loops, coco pops, and similar items
Snacks: cream crackers, cheeselets, salty sticks, Ritz crackers, Pringles, cracker-like Asian snacks, curry puffs, samosas, potato crisps
Fried: French fries, potato wedges
Flours: wheat, rye, corn, rice, tapioca, sago
Grains: wheat, barley, rye, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, millet, corn
Noodles: rice, wheat, band noodles, vermicelli, and other similar noodles
Pastas: spaghetti, macaroni, linguine, and all the other shapes
Rice: white, pudding, sticky, whole grain, red, black
Root vegetables: beetroot, carrots (orange or purple), parsnips, turnips, potatoes, because they are high in starch and sugars.
Vegetable oils and fats: sunflower, corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, margarine, vegetable spreads. These factory-made products have been shown to increase inflammation and are best avoided.
In a nutshell, avoid fattening nutrient-poor foods and drinks like these…
And now for the good news 🙂
Enjoy all these foods…
Protein – as much as you want.
Meat: beef, hamburger patty, steak, minced meat, lamb, veal, liver, and if no religious objections, pork and bacon.
Fried, roasted, grilled, or stewed. Fur off, but there’s no need to remove the fat.
Poultry: chicken, turkey, duck, or any other bird.
Fried, boiled, roasted, grilled. Feathers off, but no need to remove the skin.
Avoid using flour or bread coatings. Crispy grated coconut-and-egg mix, or egg-only coating tastes nice on fried poultry.
Fish: tuna, salmon, bass, trout, any frozen whitefish, catfish or any other fresh fish.
Fried, steamed, boiled, or grilled. Again, avoid using flour or bread coatings – they will push you out of fat-burning mode.
Canned fish is okay, but most tinned fish with sauces have added sugar, so you need to read the labels. Salmon, sardines, tuna in olive oil or water are good choices.
Shellfish: shrimps, prawns, scallops, crab, lobster, or any other shellfish you like. Avoid Japanese tempura and Chinese floury salty egg coatings, which are digested to glucose.
Eggs: chicken, duck, quail, other birds’ eggs (boiled, scrambled, fried, omelet).
Green leafy vegetables – eat at least 2 cups of mixed green leaves every day.
No need to actually measure them. A cup is roughly equivalent to the size of your clenched fist, so have two fists-worth of leafy vegetables…
Any Asian green leafy vegetables: bok choi, pak choi, kai lan, kang kung, and any other leaf.
Any non-Asian green leaves: beet greens, kale, parsley, spinach, watercress, chard, chives, spring onions, cabbage (red, green, white), all varieties of salads, and any other leaf.
Other vegetables: eat up to 2 cups (2 fist-size servings) of a mixture of these every day…
asparagus, aubergine, gourd (snake, angled, bitter), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, courgette, cucumber, edamame, snow peas, fennel, four-corner beans, French beans, long beans, runner beans, mushrooms, okra, peppers, pumpkin, small radish, sprouts (bean, alfalfa, broccoli, pea, etc), tomato
Limited amount: avocado (no more than 1 small or ½ large fruit a day)
Fats and oils
On food: enjoy butter, coconut oil, or olive oil on your food. It gives the food an added ‘oomph’, and helps you feel satiated for longer.
Frying: use butter, coconut oil, or palm oil. Heat alters even these oils so don’t store and re-use the same oil. And remember not to burn your food (see cooking methods paragraph, above).
Cheese: up to 4 ounces a day. Avoid processed cheeses, because they usually have carbohydrates added to them.
It’s worth checking the label for carbohydrate content of every cheese, which should be less than 1 gm per 100 gm.
Cream: up to 4 tablespoons a day (read the label for additives). Avoid condensed or evaporated milk – they’re high in sugar.
Yogurt: up to 4 tablespoons a day of real Greek yogurt. Important to check the labels as many yogurts have several additives and are more like desert puddings than real yogurt.
Berries: no more than 1 cup per day. Sprinkle some on your Greek yogurt for a tasty, non-fattening desert.
Other fruits: It’s best to avoid fruit until you’ve achieved your weight-loss goal, because they contain a lot of glucose and fructose. Fructose piles on the pounds even more than glucose does.
Salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil: as much as you want.
Sauces, ketchup, salad dressings, pickles: check the labels for sugar content, or preferably, make your own, without sugar or honey.
Nuts and seeds: any nuts or seeds without coatings on them.
Delicatessen: beef, turkey, chicken slices or sausages, and ham if no religious objection.
A finger of cheese can be rolled in a slice of deli meat for a quick, satisfying snack.
Eggs: hard-boiled eggs make a handy low carbohydrate snack. Keep some ready in the fridge.
I enjoy an egg cut into quarters, with a thin smear of butter or tahini on each quarter. Try it: it’s a quick, satisfying, tasty snack.
Filtered tap water: drink as much as you can.
Personally, I avoid water in glass or plastic bottles. Not only because the water may contain chemicals from the plastic, but because I have no idea how old the water is, or exactly where the water came from.
Tea: black tea, Japanese Sencha, Chinese green, or any similar real teas without sugar. A little milk is okay.
Coffee: (no sugar, but a little milk or cream is okay). Preferably freshly-made from ground coffee or beans.
In Malaysia, IKEA sells a very good coffee. It’s organic, tastes great, and is cheaper than the ordinary stuff in our local supermarket.
In a nutshell, enjoy nutrient-rich whole foods like these…
Here’s to a new, slimmer you. Bon appetit!
If you have any questions, or would like to share your weight-loss food choices for the benefit of others, please use the comment box, below. Thanks.
And at the contact page is my email address, if you prefer to get in touch by email.
Important medical note
If you are taking medicines from your doctor, please read the medical cautions page before you start a weight-loss programme.