LCHF for Beginners

Do you want to eat real food (as much as you like) and improve your health and weight? It may sound too good to be true, but LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) is a method that has been used for 150 years. Now, modern science backs it up with proof that it works.

There is no weighing your food, no counting, no bizarre “meal replacements,” no pills. There is just real food and common sense. And all the advice here is 100 percent free.


  1. Introduction
  2. Dietary advice  (in 26 languages)
  3. Theory
  4. Tips and recipes
  5. Cookbooks and more
  6. Frequently asked questions


A LCHF diet means you eat less carbohydrates and a higher proportion of fat. Most importantly you minimize your intake of sugar and starches. You can eat other delicious foods until you are satisfied – and still lose weight.

A number of recent high-quality scientific studies shows that LCHF makes it easier both to lose weight and to control your blood sugar. And that’s just the beginning.

The basics

  • Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables growing above ground and natural fats (like butter).
  • Avoid: Sugar and starchy foods (like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes).

Eat when you’re hungry until you are satisfied. It’s that simple. You do not need to count calories or weigh your food. And just forget about industrially produced low fat products.

Real food. Add some good fat (like butter).

There are solid scientific reasons why LCHF works. When you avoid sugar and starches your blood sugar stabilizes and the levels of insulin, the fat storing hormone, drops. This increases your fat burning and makes you feel more satiated.

Note for diabetics

  • Avoiding the carbohydrates that raise your blood sugar decreases your need for medication to lower it. Taking the same pre-low-carb diet dose of insulin might result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). You need to test your blood sugar frequently when starting this diet and adapt (lower) your medication. This should ideally be done with the assistance of a knowledgeable physician. If you’re healthy or a diabetic treated either by diet alone or just with Metformin there is no risk of hypoglycemia.

Dietary Advice

Eat all you like

  • Meat: Any type, including beef, pork, game meat, chicken, etc. Feel free to eat the fat on the meat as well as the skin on the chicken. If possible try to choose organic or grass fed meat.
  • Fish and Shellfish: All kinds: Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or herring are great. Avoid breading.
  • Eggs: All kinds: Boiled, fried, omelettes, etc. Preferably choose organic eggs.
  • Natural Fat, High-Fat Sauces: Using butter and cream when you cook can make your food taste better and make you feel more satiated. Try a Béarnaise or Hollandaise sauce, check the ingredients or make it yourself. Coconut oil and olive oil are also good options.
  • Vegetables that Grow Above Ground: All kinds of cabbage, such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, olives, spinach, mushrooms, cucumber, lettuce, avocado, onions, peppers, tomatoes etc.
  • Dairy products: Always select full-fat options like real butter, cream (40% fat), sour cream, Greek/Turkish yogurt and high-fat cheeses. Be careful with regular milk and skim milk as they contain a lot of milk sugar. Avoid flavored, sugary and low-fat products.
  • Nuts: Good to eat instead of candy in front of the television (preferably in moderation).
  • Berries: Okay in moderation, if you are not a super strict or sensitive. Good with whipped cream.

Basic tip for beginners: Maximum 5 grams of carbohydrate (excluding fiber) per 100 grams of food

Avoid if you can

  • Sugar: The worst. Soft drinks, candy, juice, sports drinks, chocolate, cakes, buns, pastries, ice cream, breakfast cereals. Preferably avoid sweeteners as well.
  • Starch: Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, French fries, potato chips, porridge, muesli and so on. “Wholegrain products” are just less bad. Moderate amounts of root vegetables may be OK (unless you’re eating extremely low carb).
  • Margarine: Industrially imitated butter with unnaturally high content of omega-6 fat. Has no health benefits, tastes bad. Statistically linked to asthma, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.
  • Beer: Liquid bread. Full of rapidly absorbed carbs, unfortunately.
  • Fruit: Very sweet, lots of sugar. Eat once in a while. Treat fruit as a natural form of candy.

Once in a while

You decide when the time is right. Your weight loss may slow down a bit.

  • Alcohol: Dry wine (regular red or dry white wine), whisky, brandy, vodka and cocktails without sugar.
  • Dark chocolate: Above 70 % cocoa, preferably just a bit.

Drink most days

  • Water
  • Coffee: Try it with full-fat cream
  • Tea

More healthy tips

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Advice on LCHF in other languages

Do you have another translation or a significant improvement of one of the earlier ones? E-mail me (more info).

The Theory Behind LCHF

What are you designed to eat?

Humans evolved over millions of years as hunter-gatherers, without eating large amounts of carbohydrates. We ate the food available to us in nature by hunting, fishing and gathering all the edible foods we could find. These foods did not include pure starch in the form of bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. We have only eaten these starchy foods for 5 – 10 000 years, since the development of agriculture. Just a limited adaptation of our genes takes place in such a relatively short time.

With the Industrial Revolution, 100 – 200 years ago, we got factories that could manufacture large amounts of pure sugar and white flour. Rapidly digested pure carbohydrates. We’ve hardly had time to genetically adapt to these processed foods.

In the 80s, the fear of fat gripped the western world. Low-fat products popped up everywhere. But if you eat less fat you need to eat more carbohydrates to feel satiated. And it’s at this time in history that our disastrous epidemics of obesity and diabetes started. The most fat-phobic country in the world, the USA, was hit the hardest and is now the world’s most obese country.

Today, it’s clear that the fear of real food with natural fat contents has been a big mistake.

The problem with sugar and starch

All digestible carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars in the intestines. The sugar is then absorbed into the blood, raising the blood glucose levels. This increases the production of the hormone insulin, our fat storing hormone.

Insulin is produced in the pancreas (pictured to the right). In large amounts insulin prevents fat burning and stores surplus nutrients in the fat cells. After some time (a few hours or less) this may result in a shortage of nutrients in the blood, creating feelings of hunger and cravings for something sweet. Usually at that point people eat again. This starts the process again: A vicious cycle leading to weight gain.

On the other hand, a low intake of carbs gives you a lower, more stable blood glucose, and lower amounts of insulin. This increases the release of fat from your fat stores and increases the fat burning. This usually leads to fat loss, especially around the belly in abdominally obese individuals.

Weight loss without hunger

A LCHF diet makes it easier for the body to use its fat reserves, as their release is no longer blocked by high insulin levels. This may be one reason why eating fat gives a longer feeling of satiety than carbohydrates. It’s been shown in a number of studies: When people eat all they want on a low carb diet caloric intake typically drops

So, no counting or food weighing is necessary. You can forget about the calories and trust your feelings of hunger and satiety. Most people don’t need to count or weigh their food any more than they need to count their breathing. If you don´t believe it, just try for a couple of weeks and see for yourself.

Health as a bonus

No animals in nature need the assistance of nutritional expertise or calorie charts to eat. And still, as long as they eat the food they are designed to eat they stay at a normal weight and they avoid caries, diabetes and heart disease. Why would humans be an exception? Why would you be an exception?

In scientific studies not only is the weight improved on a low carb diet – the blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol profile (HDL, triglycerides) are also improved. A calm stomach and less cravings for sweet food are also common experiences.

Initial side effects

If you stop eating sugar and starch cold turkey (recommended) you may experience some side effects as your body adjusts. For most people these side effects tend to be mild and last a just few days. There are also ways to minimize them.

Common during the first week:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irritability

The side effects rapidly subside as your body adapts and your fat burning increases. They can be minimized by drinking some extra fluids and by temporarily increasing your salt intake a bit. A good option is to drink some broth every few hours. Alternatively, drink a few extra glasses of water and put extra salt on your food.

The reason for this is that carbohydrate-rich foods may increase the water retention in your body. When you stop eating high-carb foods you’ll lose excess water through your kidneys. This can result in dehydration and lack of salt during the first week, before the body has adapted.

Some people prefer to decrease their intake of carbohydrates slowly, over a few weeks, to minimize the side effects. But the “Nike way” (Just Do It) is probably the best choice for most people. Removing most sugar and starch often results in several pounds lost on the scale within a few days. It may be mostly fluids but it’s great for the motivation.

How low to go?

The less carbohydrate you eat the more pronounced the effect on your weight and blood sugar will be. I recommend following the dietary advice as strict as you can. When you’re happy with your weight and health you may gradually try eating more liberally (if you want to).

The Food Revolution

This presentation I gave at the Ancestral Health Symposium 2011 summarizes the history and science behind the ongoing LCHF revolution.

More theory and practice

Here four of the world’s biggest experts on the subject explain the theory and practice of carb restriction:


Tips and recipes

Breakfast suggestions

  • Eggs and bacon
  • Omelet
  • Leftovers from last night’s dinner
  • Coffee with cream
  • A can of mackerel and boiled eggs
  • Boiled egg with mayonnaise or butter
  • Avocado, salmon and crème fraiche
  • Sandwich on Oopsie-bread
  • A piece of very thin hard bread with lots of butter, cheese, ham, etc.
  • Cheese with butter on it
  • Boiled eggs mashed with butter, chopped chives, salt and pepper
  • A piece of brie cheese and some ham or salami
  • High-fat yoghurt with nuts and seeds (and maybe berries)

Lunch and dinner

  • Meat, fish or chicken dishes with vegetables and a rich full-fat sauce. There are many alternatives to potatoes, such as mashed cauliflower.
  • Stews, soups or casseroles with low-carb ingredients.
  • You can  use most recipes in cookbooks if you avoid the carbohydrate-rich ingredients. It’s often a good idea to add fat (e.g. butter, cream) to the recipe.
  • Drink water with your meal or (occasionally) a glass of wine.


When you eat a low-carbohydrate diet with more fat and a bit more protein you will probably not need to eat as often. Don’t be surprised if you no longer need to snack. Many people do well on two or three meals per day. If you need a snack:

  • Rolled-up cheese or ham with a vegetable (some people even spread butter on cheese)
  • Olives
  • Nuts
  • A piece of cheese
  • A boiled egg from the refrigerator
  • Canned mackerel in tomato sauce

Olives and nuts can replace potato chips in front of the TV. If you always get hungry between meals you’re probably not eating enough fat. Don’t fear fat. Eat more fat until you feel satisfied.

Dining out or meals with friends

  • Restaurants: Usually not a big problem. You can ask to have potatoes/fries switched for a salad. With meat dishes, ask for extra butter.
  • Fast food: Kebab can be a decent option (preferably avoid the bread). In hamburger chains the hamburgers are usually the least bad option. Avoid soft drinks and fries, obviously. Drink water. Pizza toppings are usually OK, and the stricter you are the less of the pizza crust you will eat.
  • If you eat strictly everyday it’s less of a problem to make a few exceptions when you are invited out. If you’re not sure what will be served you can eat something at home before you leave.
  • Nuts or cheese is good “emergency food” when there are no other adequate options to be found.

Shopping list for beginners

Print this list and bring it to the store:

  • Butter
  • Heavy cream (40% fat)
  • Sour cream (34% fat)
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Meat (minced, steaks, stew pieces, fillets, etc.)
  • Fish (preferably fatty fish like salmon or mackerel)
  • Cheese (preferably high-fat)
  • Turkish yoghurt (10% fat)
  • Cabbage (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc.)
  • Other vegetables that grow above ground
  • Frozen vegetables (broccoli, wok vegetables, etc.)
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts

Clean out your pantry

Want to maximize your chances of success? Especially if you have difficulty with cravings / sugar addiction, it is smart to throw out (or give away) sugary and starchy foods, “light” products, etc. These include:

  • Candy
  • Potato chips
  • Soft drinks and juices
  • Margarine
  • Sugar in all forms
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Everything that says “low fat” or “no fat”
  • Ice cream
  • Cookies

Why not do it now?

The Serpent in Paradise

Be very skeptical of special “low-carb” products such as pasta or chocolate. Unfortunately these products usually stink. They have prevented the weight loss for loads of people. They’re usually full of carbs once you see through their creative marketing.

For example, Dreamfields’ “low carb pasta” is almost pure starch that’s absorbed more or less like any pasta:

How about low carb bread? Be careful: if it’s baked with grains it’s certainly not low carb. But some companies still try to sell it to you as a low-carb option. Here’s an example:

Low-carb chocolate is usually full of sugar alcohols, which the manufacturer does not count as carbs. But roughly half of these carbs may be absorbed, raising the blood sugar and insulin. The rest of the carbs ends up in the large intestine, potentially causing gas and diarrhea. Furthermore any sweeteners can maintain sugar cravings.

If you want to be healthy and slim, eat real food instead.


Easy ways to cook eggs

  1. Place the eggs in cold water and boil 4 minutes for soft-boiled or 8 minutes for hard-boiled. Eat them with mayo if you like.
  2. Fry eggs in butter on one or both sides. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Melt some butter in the frying pan and add 2 eggs and 2-3 tablespoons of cream per serving. Add salt and pepper. Stir until done. Add some chives and grated cheese on top. Serve with fried bacon.
  4. Make an omelet batter with 3 eggs and 3 tablespoons of cream. Add salt and spices. Melt butter in the frying pan and pour in the batter. When the omelet solidifies on top you can fill it with something tasty. For example one or several kinds of cheese, fried bacon, fried mushrooms, good sausage (read the ingredients) or left-overs from last night’s dinner. Fold the omelet in half and serve with a crispy salad.

Instead of bread

Will you have a hard time living without bread? Ooopsies are a good option. It’s a “bread” without carbs and can be eaten in a variety of ways.

6–8 depending on size.

3 eggs
100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cream cheese
a pinch of salt
½ tablespoon fiberhusk / psyllium seed husks (can be excluded)
½ teaspoon baking powder (can be excluded)

  • Separate the eggs, with the egg whites in one bowl and the egg yolks in another.
  • Whip the egg whites together with the salt until very stiff. You should be able to turn the bowl over without the egg whites moving.
  • Mix the egg yolks and the cream cheese well. If you choose, add the psyllium seed husk and baking powder (this makes the Oopsie more bread-like).
  • Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mix – try to keep the air in the egg whites.
  • Put 6 large or 8 smaller oopsies on a baking tray.
  • Bake in the middle of the oven at 150° C (300° F) for about 25 minutes – until they turn golden.
  • You can eat Oopsies as bread or use them as a bun for a hotdog or hamburger. You can also put different kinds of seeds on them before baking them, for instance poppy, sesame or sunflower seeds. One big Oopsie can be used for a swiss roll: Add a generous layer of whipped cream and some berries. Enjoy.

Less strict: some bread
Can’t live without real bread? Then have a thin piece of bread and add lots of butter and toppings. The more butter and toppings the less bread you need to feel satisfied.

Instead of potatoes, rice, pasta

  • Mashed cauliflower: Divide the cauliflower into smaller pieces and boil them with a pinch of salt until soft. Remove the water. Add cream and butter and mash.
  • Salads made from above-ground vegetables, perhaps with some kind of cheese. Try out different kinds.
  • Boiled broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.
  • Vegetables au gratin: Fry squash, aubergine and fennel (or other vegetables you like) in butter. Add salt and pepper. Put in baking dish and add grated cheese. Heat at 225° C (450° F) until the cheese melts and turns golden.
  • Vegetables stewed in cream, e.g. cabbage or spinach.
  • Cauliflower rice: Grate cauliflower, boil for a minute or two. Great substitute for rice.
  • Avocado

Snacks and dessert

  • Mixed nuts
  • Sausage: Cut it in pieces, add a piece of cheese and stick a toothpick through them.
  • Vegetables with dip, Try cucumber sticks, red, yellow or green peppers, cauliflower, etc.
  • Cream cheese rolls: Roll some cream cheese in a piece of salami, air-dried ham or a long slice of cucumber.
  • Olives
  • LCHF chips: On a baking tray, form small piles of grated Parmesan cheese. Heat in oven at 225° C (450° F). Let them melt and get a nice color (be careful – they burn easily). Serve as chips, perhaps with some dip.


There are a million cookbooks with low-carb recipes. Just avoid books that are unnecessarily scared of fat. Remember: If you avoid carbs you have to eat more fat or you’ll be hungry. Don’t fear fat. Fat is your friend. Add fat until you feel satisfied.

Here is a good example:

Good luck with your new LCHF life!


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Further reading

Do you have more questions about LCHF? See my page with common questions and answers.

Do you want to lose weight as effectively as possible? See How to Lose Weight.

Improve this page

Do you have suggestions to improve this page? Have you spotted any mistakes in my grammar or spelling? Please let me know in the comments below!


  1. erdoke
    It goes without saying that diabetics should opt for even lower GI/GL varieties and be more careful with serving sizes. When I take 2 cups of watermelon, it might be only one for a diabetic. It all depends on your condition and goals.
  2. Lt Col George.V.I. (Retd)
    First time on LCHF. Sounds great.No problems on heart.?,
    Replies: #3303, #3304
  3. erdoke
    LCHF usually improves heart health by a good margin. Depending on how low carb intake you end up with, maybe thyroid function needs a check every 6 months or so.
  4. Zepp
    All you want to know about fat and blood lipids!

  5. Vishva Mitter Bammi
    I am on LCHF since 2012. My blood sugar, LDL,HDL and BP have improved considerably. LCHF advises grass fed butter of cow. In Punjab nether grass fed nor cow's butter is available. The buffalo butter is also doing well, if not the best ,at least it is better than other alternatives.
    Reply: #3307
  6. Vishva Mitter Bammi
    In Punjab neither cow,s nor grass fed butter is available.
    Buffalo,s butter also serves the purpose though not the best but better than other alternatives. My BP, HDL,LDL and blood sugar are within control thanks to LCHF.
  7. Zepp
    Its more about if its grass feed!

    And moste cows and buffels eats some sort of grass.

    Its this that fresh grass is best, moste nutrients.. and we eat the diarys.. then its more nutrients.. like K2!

    Dont you have Ghee in Punjab?

    Im glad its spread to Punjab.. is there anyone that can do a conversion of the advices to local langues?

  8. Christine
    I really want to re-start this program but I don't understand how to combat unnecessary "hot flashes" throughout the day and evening. Another issue I had and could really use some advice is how to loose weight eating this way; tried it for 6 days and gained weight. I keep reading and re-reading the information on this web page that states there is no calorie counting so how can I avoid gaining weight? please advise...(I know about the low carbs)
    Reply: #3309
  9. Zepp
    Becuse you got a buildt in calorie counter.. its cald your appetite!

    Its only demand is that you eat food how it is evolved with.. ie, eat only real whole food.. perticaly in transitation!

    Its very dificult to eat to much fat if one cut out moste carbs.

    And then you have a transitation period to be a fat burner.. often cald to be in ketosis!

    And here its about ketosis.. and transitation!

    "Keto-adaptation: what it is and how to adjust"

    The hot flashes is probably transitation problems.. and there are some cures for those to.. like drinking broth!

    Best and easyest description in plain english is this I think!

    Make special attention on the "on demand feeding"!

    All this is food choises and transitation to be a fat burner.. but the biggest problem is the mindshift.. it took me three months!

    Soo.. to help you with that.. heres a meal plan and some menues for you to try.

  10. Tracey
    Do you remember when we all set high carb low fat and we were advised to eat every 3 hours or so? Is there any truth in the story that if we don't eat enough our bodies will store the good that we do eat and we will get fat?

    Reason for my question ... I forgot to eat today and did not plan very well. So, when I got home I literally stuffed my face with food (good healthy food). I am very full now. But, what is the effect of getting into a very hungry state like that and then eating a lot?

    This would almost be the same effect is intermittent fasting?

    Reply: #3311
  11. Zepp
    Noe.. its bogus.. and habits!

    I think we are programed to eat once a day, the rest is habits.

    But I like to eat twice a day.. its my habit.

    I belive that you got out of your schema and then get hungry, peckish and got cravings.. for anything!

    Its much about classical conditioning.. one get hungry the same time one is used to eat!

    IE.. its much in ones mind!

  12. Paul Gillespie
    Hi everyone,

    Just wanted to share my experience so far with LCHF...

    So I met with a friend a few weeks ago to have a catch up over coffee. Not too long into our conversation he started telling me about LCHF and how it has changed his life. To say something has changed your life is a pretty big statement, so I listened carefully to what he told me. After about an hour of talking, I was sold. I thought "yes, I am going to try this".

    I wouldn't say I am terribly overweight, but over the last couple of years I had increased in weight and generally felt unfit, tired, not right. I went cold turkey, which for me was quite hard to start with as I love bread. I started the next day with bacon, eggs and sausage all cooked in high fat butter. It was very tasty and I couldn't help but think "Is this good for me?". I cut out all carbs and ate everything cooked in butter, using full fat cream in my coffee too. Over the next few days I started feeling a bit dizzy and my heart felt like it was beating irregular. After looking on this website, I saw that this is normal to start with so continued. The inital symptoms wore off after a few days.

    This was only 2 weeks ago. Already I have noticed the difference and so have my family. I have lost about 6 pounds in 2 weeks, which is crazy! My skin feels smoother, I feel more alert and energetic. I never used to be a morning person and by the time I had finished work and got home, I used to just feel tired. Not anymore! I wake up feeling refreshed and by the time I get home I still have the same energy I had at midday.

    After reading more about this, I don't actually see this as a diet anymore. I see this as normal, common sense. I see this as me coming off a bad diet that I have been on all my life.

    I now have to agree with my friend (even after 2 weeks) that this is going to change my life.


    Reply: #3313
  13. Zepp
    Thank you for telling your story!

    You and me.. and probably many others suffer frome metabolic syndrome and living modern lifes.. eating modern food!

    One problem with this new diet/lifestyle is that its problem finding real good food.. but I have learned to cherrypicking in different stores.

  14. Sonnett ZA
    I need advice please. I need an idea of what I can do to not loose any more weight on this lifestyle. I have lost unecessary extra weight, but love the lifestyle, but need to know how I can continue on this lifestyle, but regain approx 5kg and stabilise from there. What should I increase? I do eat dairies of all kinds daily already. Should I increase more root veg now?
    Reply: #3315
  15. erdoke
    It seems that your body has different perception about ideal weight. :)
    The big question here is if you lost any muscle mass or there is some fat you miss from certain places?
  16. Sonnett ZA
    I have lost a bit of both. I have been told by family that the weightloss is a little too much. I feel concerned now and don't want to lose more now. What would the ideal way forward be and the best additions I can introduce/increase?
    Reply: #3318
  17. erdoke
    Family is always concerned, especially if they haven't fully accepted the diet yet... Maybe you should not listen too carefully. :)
    To build more muscle you need to increase protein intake and exercise. Weight lifting is better for this purpose than stupid cardio. In a gym specific muscle groups can be targeted such as the gluteus (butt).
    To regain some fat I'm afraid the addition of more carbs is needed. I suggest that you start with brown rice and (half) baked potatoes, small portions once per day. Jerusalem artichoke is an excellent source of inulin, a prebiotic that helps maintain a better gut health. No need to change anything else, i.e. it will increase your caloric intake, but will cause only moderate insulin spikes. Medium GI fruits are also an option, preferably 1-2 hours before and several hours after meals. It's watermelon season here, but probably not down there.
    Keep staying away from grains and control sugar to avoid any addiction coming back...
  18. Tracey
    I agree with Erdoke. If you are eating well and you have still lost wait and there is no underlying illness, then your body isnt ready to stop losing weight. Everyone has a different perception of what they view is healthy - your family may not be used to seeing you this skinny.

    I would say, the most important person to consider here is you - what are YOUR expectations/goals? if you are fullfilling these - then great. If not, ONLY THEN do you need to re-assess.

  19. peter
    hi there, i've tried the LCHF diet for awhile (not necessary high fat some time), and have been keeping the calorie really low, approximately 900 per day. I waited 192 lbs about a month ago and now I'm down to 185lbs. my keto level is high; however, I seem to stuck at 185lbs... I also do some light weight lifting or playing badminton. Is there anything I should do to start losing again?
  20. Steve
    Does LCHF require ketosis to be effective?

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