If you follow me on social media, you probably noticed that I’m obsessed with carbohydrates. 😉 This is because I follow a high carb low fat (HCLF) vegan lifestyle, otherwise known as a whole foods plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle. I focus on whole foods like fruits, veggies, and grains. I eat oatmeal every day and my favourite staples are pasta, potatoes, and rice. Fruit is my favourite snack (or meal depending what season it is!). I eat until I’m satisfied and I never restrict my calories.
I love living this way! I have more energy, clearer skin, and digestion issues are a thing of the past. And best of all, I’ve lost weight while eating as much food as I care for. No more counting calories or restricting! This lifestyle is about abundance.
If you follow HCLF, you never have to go hungry! You can be healthy and fit effortlessly, eating as many carbs as you care for as long as you stay active. If you like running, run! If you don’t like running, try biking, walking, or swimming. You need to move your body every day.
The three main components to the HCLF lifestyle are eating carbs without restriction, minimising your fat intake, and staying active.
What does high carb mean?
High carb means I focus on eating as many carbohydrates as I care for (relative to my activity level) because carbs are our main source of energy. Carbs include fruits (with the exception of avocado and durian), veggies, potatoes, oats, rice, bread, pasta (gluten-free and wheat-based), and even foods like vegan pizza if prepared without vegan cheese or pesto. These foods should be eaten in abundance whenever you are hungry, and with little to no fat or oil.
You will never need to worry about eating too many calories. You just can’t overeat on fruits and veggies because they contain so much fibre. While fruits and veggies are nutritionally dense, they are lower in calories so you will need to eat more in one sitting or eat frequently throughout the day.
Will eating carbs make me fat?
People incorrectly assume carbs make us fat because of the foods typically served with carbs. Non-vegan pasta dishes are loaded with fatty cheese, meat, and oil. Eating a fatty pasta meal like this will no doubt make you gain weight. The culprit is not the pasta itself. The fatty cheese, meat, and oil are to blame.
Your staples should be clean carbs, primarily fruits and veggies but the addition of oats, rice, bread, potatoes, pasta, and the occasional pizza (all cooked without oil or fat). Fill up on these and eat until you are satisfied. Never ever attempt to follow a low carb diet because carbs are the main energy source for our bodies. We need carbs to function! If you are aiming to lose weight, minimize your fat intake but continue to eat clean carbs.
What does low fat mean?
Low fat means I keep my fat intake to a minimum. Usually, I eat around 5-10% of my calories from fat. I never add oil to my food at home. While you do need trace amounts of fat to be healthy, you will still consume plenty of fat in your diet even if you completely avoid overt fats like oil or nuts. Fruits and veggies naturally contain small amounts of fat, even essential omega fatty acids! All these small amounts add up at the end of the day. By all means, eat fat if you crave it, but reach for avocado or nuts instead of processed foods or oil.
How much fat should you eat?
That depends. There’s no need to avoid fat completely, and if you crave it, there’s nothing wrong with eating some avocado every now and again. However, if you are trying to lose weight, you should keep your fat intake to 10% of your daily calories or less. If you follow HCLF to the letter, you will lose weight guaranteed.
The main reason why people fail at losing weight while eating HCLF is that they grossly underestimate how much fat they consume daily. In reality, they end up eating a high carb HIGH FAT diet instead. A drizzle of tahini, a scoop of hummus, a spoonful of peanut butter, avocado on your toast, a handful of nuts, chia and flax seeds in your smoothie…ALL of these foods contain loads of fat. If you are trying to lose weight, eat these foods sparingly.
While these foods can be part of a HCLF diet if eaten in small amounts, they are incredibly easy to overeat because of their high-fat content. To ensure you aren’t overeating in fats (and sabotaging your weight loss efforts), I strongly recommend tracking your food intake in Cronometer. Measuring out your portions and tracking your calories in Cronometer will be tedious at first but this is the only way to be sure you aren’t overeating fats. (Check out my Cronometer how-to post if you’re a newbie!)
So what do I eat?
I’ve tried different sorts of HCLF diets, including raw fruitarianism, but now I’m all starchy! 😉 Oats, potatoes, pasta, and rice are the bulk of my diet. I eat whole fruits and veggies and never add fat, oil, or salt to my food.
I’m currently spending autumn in Zagreb, Croatia. My typical diet here consists of:
- frozen berries
- PB2 powdered peanut butter
- winter squash
- bell peppers
- whole wheat pasta
- tomato paste
- canned diced tomatoes
- canned peas, beans, and corn
- frozen veggies
- and various dried herbs and spices
I have oatmeal for breakfast every day. My lunch consists of pasta, rice or potatoes with veggies. For dinner, I’ll usually have fruit (like grapes) or more rice or potatoes. Follow me on Instagram to see what I eat every day. 🙂
I never cook with oil.
Oil is highly processed and devoid of nutrients. I never use it in my cooking. To me, it’s a waste of calories and should be avoided entirely if you are trying to lose weight. If you want to roast veggies, line your pans with parchment paper. This allows you to skip oil entirely because the veggies won’t stick to the pan. You can also sauté veggies without oil: heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add your veggies. Stir them often with a rubber spatula (if using a coated non-stick pan, otherwise wooden tools are fine). If they start to stick, add a splash of water (or veggie broth), cover the pan and turn down the heat a bit. The steam from the water will loosen them.
HCLF is best for long-term weight loss.
There is absolutely no point to restricting carbs or calories if you are trying to lose weight. If you restrict the amount of carbs you eat, you won’t have energy and you’ll feel terrible. You’ll have mad cravings, too! You’ll crave starchy foods like bread or pasta because your mind and body need carbs to function. Instead of being miserable every day while fighting the intense urge to tuck into some carb-laden foods, do yourself a favour and eat some carbs. Your body will thank you!
If you want to lose weight healthily and keep it off, change the foods you eat instead of cutting calories. Calorie restriction may cause you to lose weight in the short-term, but you will not be able to keep the weight off permanently. In order to do that, you would need to restrict your calorie intake for life. The second you return to eating normally, i.e. eating a suitable number of calories each day, the weight will pile on.
So here’s a better plan, cut out fats and eat carbs. The more carbs you eat, the more energy you have to walk, run, and exercise. Now I have so much energy to walk everywhere. There’s no way I can eat around 3000 calories a day from fruits and veggies and sit around!
Try eating HCLF if you’d rather eat as much as you want instead of counting calories. You’ll feel energised every single day while you fuel your body with the most nutritious foods. It really is that simple.
Why not give it a try?
You don’t need to count or restrict calories, you’re always satisfied and full of energy. Whole foods are cheap and starchy staples are abundant no matter where you are. Eating this way is healthy and sustainable in the long-term. Imagine eating pasta and potatoes as often as you like. It’s completely possible with high carb low fat veganism! 🙂
If you are serious about giving HCLF a try, I suggest researching this lifestyle properly. Check out this Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Plant-Based Lifestyle by Forks Over Knives. Read The Starch Solution by Dr. McDougall and/or The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Graham. The latter focuses on a raw HCLF vegan diet but is informative nonetheless. These books will answer all of your questions regarding the HCLF lifestyle. Dr. McDougall also offers a free program online with recipes, shopping lists, and more to get you started.
Check out some my former posts for more info:
- Low carb diets never work.
- Carbs vs. fat: it does matter!
- Low carb works, but low fat works better.
- HCLF diversity: the choice is yours.
- Is fruit too high in sugar? Nope! Eat as much fruit as you want.
- HCLF is best for weight loss.
- Killer cravings. What causes cravings and how to avoid them.
- Potato procrastination. An homage to one of my favourite health foods.
- My diet is simple. Why my diet fluctuated in the past few years and how I started cleaning it up.
- What I eat in a day. These posts include calorie and nutritional information for everything I eat in a day.
I hope you find this page useful! Please check back, as I’ll update it as needed.
Do you have any questions about the high carb low fat lifestyle?