Shopping for the LCHF lifestyle

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The foods you bring home for your LCHF lifestyle are real, whole foods that don’t spike your glucose and insulin levels. In a nutshell, this is the LCHF way to shop:

  • Leafy vegetables and salads instead of starchy carbs.
  • Fats to replace the energy from the starchy carbs you’re no longer eating.
  • A variety of protein foods.

Keep it simple

Creating new meals is fun, but it’s time-consuming dreaming up new recipes, and not really necessary, especially at first.

You’ll find it much easier to create simple meals, like chicken and salad, fish and vegetables, steak and vegetables, or beef stew, and so on.


If you’re the sort of person who needs to follow a recipe, then have a look at the Charlie Foundation website.

The meals are designed to be very low carbohydrate in order to provide the maximum LCHF benefits for people with specific health issues.

Low carbohydrate intake is also very effective for losing weight, especially from the abdominal area, as well as for controlling diabetes, and other diseases associated with metabolic syndrome.

Even if you don’t have a particular health issue, you can happily use the delicious recipes as a starting point, and adjust the amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat to suit your personal goals.

As you’ll see, there’s an amazing variety of food recipes in the categories listed in the left margin of their homepage.

Now you have lots of ideas for meals and their ingredients, what’s next?

Clear your cupboards

This is going to be quite painful and take a lot of commitment!

As you know, food that turns into glucose in your intestines, and foods and drinks containing added sugar, will sabotage your LCHF goals. You need to be ruthless and determined to remove them from your life.

Read the labels on the food in your cupboards and fridge. If you’re the only one in your family changing to LCHf, perhaps you can find a separate space in the kitchen cupboards and fridge for your LCHF stuff. If everyone’s on board, then get some boxes and pack the following items into them:

  • Foods with added sugar, modified starch, corn syrup, maltodextrin, glucose, dextrose, maltose, maltodextrose, or anything else ending in -ose (-ose means sugar).
  • Refined carbohydrate baked goods, like biscuits, cookies, bread, cakes.
  • Tinned and bottled food with sugar in them, like baked beans, sauces, and dressings.
  • Crisps and other processed snacks.
  • Sugary jams and spreads.
  • Sugar-laden factory-made drinks like cordials, fizz in cans or bottles, sports drinks, sugary chocolate powders for children’s drinks.
  • Fruit and fruit juices.
  • Oats, muesli, grain flours.
  • Rice, instant noodles, pasta.
  • Sweetened yogurt.
  • Refined vegetable oils and margarine.

Because the LCHF motto is eat real food, also put into the box anything containing:

  • colourants
  • flavours
  • flavour enhancer
  • emulsifier
  • thickener
  • improvers
  • anti-caking agent
  • E-numbers
  • preservatives
  • conditioners
  • anything else sounding like it belongs in a chemistry laboratory.

After this stressful clear-out, you’ll be left with some real food. Now you’re ready to go shopping for more real, wholesome, health-giving goodies 🙂

At the supermarket

This is the fun part, but plan to shop on a day you have plenty of time. The first few trips will take you much longer because you need to read the labels to make sure you only put real food in your trolley, like the tin of sardines I searched for recently:

Ayam brand tinned sardines label on

1. Leaves, sprouts, mushrooms

When eating LCHF, your carbohydrates come from fibrous vegetables and salads instead of processed starches and sugars.

Start in the outside aisles of your supermarket, and load up with an assortment of leafy vegetables and salads.

Sprouts like alfalfa and broccoli are also good.

And so are mushrooms. This 200 gm pack of organic grey oyster mushrooms at our local supermarket is only RM3.29 – cheaper than ordinary ones.

organic oyster mushrooms on

Root vegetables are quite high in sugar, especially when cooked, so best to avoid any vegetable that grows in the ground, like carrots, and beetroot.

Needless to say, organic leaves will probably contain a few more nutrients than ordinary ones. Surprisingly, often they’re not much extra cost if you take the time to hunt around. If you can afford to go for organic, fine. If not, don’t worry about it: buy plenty of the normal ones.

2. Frozen section

Frozen veggies like peas, corn, and carrots have too much sugar for LCHF, so you’ll need to give them a miss.

Of course, sugar-laden ice cream and deserts are out of bounds, too.

Frozen berries could be useful, if they haven’t been treated with preservative and sugar before being frozen. They’re usually quite expensive though, and I must confess, I find they’ve lost a lot of their original flavour.

3. Fruit

At the start you’ll need to stay away from fruit. I know we’ve been trained to believe fruit is good for us, but there’s nothing in fruit we can’t get from vegetables.

Fruit has a high glucose and fructose content, especially the tropical fruits here in Malaysia, and they’ll sabotage your LCHF efforts very fast.

A few fresh berries are okay though.

4. Dairy

In the dairy section it’s very important to read the labels. As you’ll see, many of the products have added sugar, as well as flavours, colours, and carbohydrate thickeners – especially the ones marketed for children.

Milk naturally contains lactose, which is a sugar (ends in -ose), so you’ll need to control how much milk you drink. Go for the full fat variety because low fat ones have had their fat replaced by sugar, which you can confirm if you read the nutrition panel on the labels.

Also, here in Malaysia, many of the ‘milks’ are made in a factory from milk powder, milk solids, thickener, and conditioner. Nothing like real milk. Worth checking yours has ‘100% fresh cows milk’ on the ingredients label.

Cream supplies plenty of healthy fat you can enjoy on LCHF, even though there’s lactose in it. Again, compare the sales blurb on the front with the labels on the back – there are far more adulterated creams on the shelves than real ones, as I recently found out:

Australian cream contents list on🙁              Irish real cream on 🙂

Yogurt naturally contains lactose, and often has added sugar, too. Look for a plain one, and at home serve it in a small bowl with a few slices of berries and a big spoonful of cream, as an occasional treat.

Cheese is packed with protein, good fat, and hardly any carbohydrate, so enjoy the real stuff. Avoid the processed varieties, which are usually squeezed into shapes or flattened into individual slices and contain all sorts of additives.

5. Meat, poultry fish, seafood, eggs.

Eat as much as you want of these foods, including nutritious eggs.

Although protein will increase your insulin level to some extent (though much less than carbohydrate does), it’s a filling food, so you probably won’t be able to eat meat in excess.

Because I like numbers I use the online tracker to make sure I keep protein within my LCHF range, but if you don’t want to be bothered weighing it, a good rule-of-thumb is to put on your plate at each meal a piece of protein the size and thickness of the palm of your hand.

There’s no need to choose the expensive trimmed cuts of meat – you need the fat for fuel – so select the ones with fat on them: they’re cheaper and they’ll taste better, too. Bones are good also, because you can make a really nourishing broth with them.

If you can afford it, get organic meat and eggs. Don’t worry if you can’t. Our local supermarket has an antibiotic-free section for chicken and growth-hormone-free meat. Although they’re not organic, they’re very good choices.

These eggs are the ones we buy from our local supermarket. They’ve got nice hard shells, golden yolks, and extra nutritional contents because the hens are fed with the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute’s organic chicken feed. Good price too, at just RM5.30 for 10 medium-sized eggs:

organic chicken eggs on

6. Oils, fats, and spreads

As you’ve discovered, on the LCHF lifestyle you’ll need to eat much more fat than you have been used to eating. Don’t worry! Your body will run very well burning fat for energy instead of glucose. And if your goal is to lose weight, the best fat you can burn is your own fat from your waist and hips.

I’ve explained how fat burning works in the posts within the fats category, and the carbohydrates category, on the right of this page.

Avoid man-made, high-omega-6 vegetable oils like canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and spreads like margarine: they contribute to inflammation. Instead, get natural vegetable fats from nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and coconut.

If you like fried food, tallow, coconut oil, or butter are best to use because they’re much more stable than olive oil when heated.

Here in Malaysia there’s plenty of palm oil, but I can’t find any real, unprocessed oil, only the refined versions. One I thought was carotenoid-rich red palm oil from its appearance, stated on the label it’s canola oil with a bit of red palm in it.

The three fats we enjoy every day are organic coconut oil from Sri Lanka, virgin olive oil from Australia, and butter from Belgium.

healthy fats and oils on

You’ll need to read the labels on the packs of butter, too. Surprisingly, some of them have water added, and even a starter culture.

Our Emborg butter says ‘made from delicious European churned cream’. That’s real butter like great-grandma used to make, and they’re right: it is delicious.

emborg churned cream butter on

7. Snacks

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and macadamia make good snacks, but avoid ones with coatings on them, or that have been messed around with in some other way.

The ingredients of this small bag of almonds and cashew nuts is a fine example of good food ruined by additives and factory processing:

processed nut snack on

Also, it’s easy to eat too many nuts. Personally, I find them trigger foods, which means they trigger my desire to eat more, even though I’m not hungry. I give myself a limited number on a small dish, and it’s very difficult to resist going back for a refill.

Nuts are little calorie bombs, and although you’re not counting calories as such on LCHF, it is necessary to keep within a daily maximum calorie intake – unless you want to put on weight.

8. Spices, sauces, dressings, mayonnaise

Spices are not only great for adding flavour to meals, they’re a wonderful source of antioxidants.

You’ll need to read the labels to check what else is in the pack, though. I was surprised to see the powder we were using for fish curry had 40% lentil flour in it. That’s a lot of carbohydrate.

Now we get this one from Health Paradise instead. It’s more expensive to start with, but the flavour is so much more intense we use less of it each time – and it only contains spices; no fillers:

health paradise organic curry powder on

Most of the sauces you’ll find in a supermarket have sugar in some form added to them, so take care to read the ingredients labels. Same goes for salad dressings and mayonnaise. Actually, it’s quite easy to make your own at home, then you know exactly what’s in them.


Butter Bob (who lost 145 pounds eating LCHF) made a good video while shopping at his local supermarket. He has a very sincere way of presenting, so well worth watching to see what he put in his trolley.


Your shopping trolley will be looking good by now – loaded with real, wholesome food. Enjoy it and thrive!

In the post ‘How to start eating the LCHF way‘ I’ve explained how much of the real food to prepare at each meal, in order to achieve the LCHF goals you’ve set yourself.


Got any questions before starting your LCHF way of life? Please jot them in the comment box below and I’ll get back to you asap.



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  1. Pingback: How to start eating the LCHF way | Thrive Low Carb

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