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 27 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

Do you want updates with the latest news for your health and weight? Subscribe to the Diet Doctor newsletter likepeople:

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!


Diet Doctor on Facebook

Press “Like” below to get tips on popular new posts and some insider tips:

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. sharon
    What's the difference between this diet and a paleo or primal diet?
  2. Zepp
    We focus more on low carb and try to eat paleo othervise!

    They dont focus on carbs perticaly but they cut out the moste carbs anyhow by dont eating grains, flour, sugar!

    Primal/paleo is mostly about eating real food, such we did eat befor the agricultural age (neolitikum)!

    Both approches is about avoiding moste processed food.. i.e. one dont eat abot 90% of a normal stores foods!

    Another differens is that we eat diarys.. perticaly butter.. and even olive oil, both is agricultural and in some eys processed!

  3. Joe
    I need to lose about 10 kg to achieve my ideal weight. I started LCHF diet 2 weeks ago. I have already lost 2 kg and am feeling less hungry. Before LCHF I would binge on food and wine because I was constantly hungry. My problem is that I really miss pizza, pasta and red wine which are my favourite foods (Yes I am Italian).
    My question is: Can I have one free day each week to indulge in these foods? I have no problem with quitting sugar totally and other carbs and am really strict with the diet for 6 days per week. Will having one free day undo all the good and limit my weight loss?
    Reply: #3655
  4. Kathy
    I have been on an LchF diet for more than a year and a half and after the weight loss in the first few months,I now am gradually gaining weight..I have added a lot more(30gms)at each meal than I initially did but that is not really disappointed..i need to lose about 7kgs..whatever could be wrong ?
    Replies: #3665, #3666
  5. Zepp
    You must try this your self, many healty person do eat pizza and drink wine and can lose weigt anyhow!

    How about Meatzza?

    And try Shirataki noodles!

  6. Tracey
    Im with you Kathy. I am exactly the same. Am now gradually put weight back on and now it wont shift. I also have 7 kilos to lose. Please help
  7. Alicia
    Hi, i'm wondering if you could answer a question about ketosis? I've been doing a program for a little over a year now, and they say you have to be in ketosis, or, at least, that's what they encourage, until you hit your ideal weight. I'm wondering if that's healthy, first, to ALWAYS be in ketosis, and whether it's any more beneficial or can lose its effectiveness. Second, I have a question similar to one i saw above: is it "ok" to have a "cheat meal," say once every couple weeks or something? Of course, that throws you out of ketosis, then it's back to square one. ... As somone indicated above, i've been stuck in the same place for awhile and not progressing in wwight loss, even being in ketosis and always feeling like i'm trying to get back in ketosis. I'm wondering if it's necessary to be so stressed about the whole ketosis thing and whether i need to pull my hair out over looking at a cracker for too long.
    Reply: #3661
  8. mariselac
    Hola, bueno soy una joven de 26 años y tengo sobre peso durante mucho tiempo, esto me ha causado algunos problemas de salud, quiero perder peso para mejorar mi salud y sentirme mejor conmigo misma, quisiera empezar esta dieta, podría alguien darme un ejemplo de su comida de cada día llevando esta dieta???
    Reply: #3660
  9. Iknowalittlespanish
    Wow, I could read that. Could someone give this person an example of what to eat on a typical day?
  10. Zepp
  11. Zepp
    Noe its not ketosis that is the holy grail.. for some it is, often diabetics/those whit metabolic syndrome/hyperinsulinemia!

    Ketosis is more sign, that you dont eat to much carbs that ends up as blood sugar!

    Its one thing to be on a ketogenic diet and to be in ketosis the whole time, 24 hours a day seven days of the week!

    On a ketogenic diet one is in a state of ketosis mostly.. or at least verry often.. its still means that ones body cant be relyant of glucose for energy.. its needed to be available to use stored fat as it need for fuel.

    Cheating days is not a thing for planing.. it comes for almost any of us anyhow.. its rather if one need to plan cheeting there I would be vorried for eating disturbances.

    Its still not a religion.. neither another magic diet.. its about eating real whole food for nutrients and satiety, healt and satisfaction!

  12. mariselac
    thank you zepp
  13. mariselac
    holaa, ayer fue al super mercado y compre algunas cosas para iniciar la dieta lchf, me guie de la lista de principiante, pero tengo unas cuantas dudas, la crema de leche que compre en el super es de la marca NESTLE, en la informacion nutricional dice:(carobohidratos: 0,9 g/ 0,3%) (GRASAS TOTALES: 6,3 g/10%) (GRASAS SATURADAS: 4,14 g/ 21%) (GRASAS TRANS:0,23g)
    (GRASA TRANS: 0g) estaria bien esta crema agria?? y por ultimo, no pude conseguir el yogurt griego ni turco en la sccion de lacteos de la tienda que fui, este yogurt lo encuentro con ese mismo nombre o de que marca puede ser???
  14. mariselac
    Iknowalittlespanish help me please!!!
  15. Auntie bruce
    As I understand all of this, you might try cutting down on some protein and replace with fats..
    In other words, out of your total calorific daily intake (whatever it may be), increase the percentage of energy you get from fat, and reduce the amount you get from protein..
    Not a huge shift, perhaps 10-20% crossover.
    So if you are currently getting 60% of your energy from protein, perhaps try pushing that down to 50 or 40%, and making up for that reduction with increased fats..
    It has to do with keeping your metabolism within ketosis as long as possible.
    Protein is a source of energy, and as I understand it, too much can kick you out of ketosis.
    All of the above is my unqualified opinion, and is plagiarized from the literature of other learned folks, so please do whip my opinion into shape as required!
    Nom nom nom.
  16. Auntie bruce
    Further to my earlier comment - your protein intake should marry up to your body composition requirements..
    If you have a small frame (skeleton) and a naturally low amount of muscle and other lean tissue in your body, then you will not need as much protein as a bloke who is 6-foot-4 with a load of lean tissue mass..
    I don't have the formula to hand but there is an ideal ratio of protein consumption to lean body mass.
    Perhaps someone can paste in here. It'll be on one of the ketosis / LCHF sites..
    I think the trick is not too avoid excess protein which then has to be dealt with.
    As a fuel source fat trumps everything else in terms of consistency in how your body deals with fat storage and how hungry you feel..
    Perhaps counter-intuitively the higher percentage of fuel you get from fat, the less you should want to eat..
    Of course I have assumed you are keeping you carbs low! Ditto as per protein if you are not.
    mmm. now I got me thinking! Make sure your carb count is as low as it should be..
    Again, just my two cents worth.
    If you are doing it all spot on and your body is still being cheeky, then might be worth while heading to the doc and having your bloods checked..
  17. Auntie bruce
    One more thought to leave you with:

    The Glycemic index of fat is zero..

  18. Arthur Knight
    Dear Andreas, you probably haven't heard of Australian Rules Football - National game of Australia and most athletic form of football on the planet - but they have heard of LCHF. Check out the link to see that the Melbourne Demons have commenced an LCHF program as part of their pre-season training.
  19. Gard
    Article in norwegian newspaper. Not entirely low carb, but at least more focus on "eat more fat".

  20. Cindy Kendall
    My weight had plateaud now for 3 weeks.
    Very frustrating. Any suggestions ?
    Been on LCHF now 5 weeks. Lost 5 kilo
    in the 1st 2 weeks, now zilch . I'm sticking
    to program religiously.
    I can't eat any less. What can I do ?



Leave a Reply

Reply to comment #1612 by Helen

Pictures of participants through Gravatar