How much food should I eat ?

We have learnt that saturated fat ( in reasonable amounts) is good for our health but apart from that it helps to keep us feeling full, thereby reducing our total food intake – well that’s the theory anyway.

ate-too-muchAccording to the good Prof Noakes , we have an internal gauge, the appestat , which determines hunger. When we eat the correct food the appestat efficiently regulates how much we need to eat. So although we are eating energy dense food ( fat is loaded with energy) the appestat will tell us when to stop filling our pie holes. Others will tell you that it’s unlikely you will over eat because fat is ” self limiting” and most will feel sick from eating it before they overdo the intake.

Some time ago I read what I thought was a rather amusing blog in which the author describes her attempt at Banting.The funniest comment she made is very relevant to many new ( and some old ) banters.

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“Prof. Tim Noakes has clearly never heard of an equally powerful gauge called the ‘sad, sad, piggy, piggy fatsostat’ which makes people like me eat their weight in chocolate-dipped feelings even when they’re not hungry.”

Funny in a way but a sad reality for many of us. After years of eating badly and constantly we simply no longer know how much is enough.

So how do we know how much is too much or too little?

Following a low carb lifestyle is supposed to be a long term sustainable way of eating. If we are weighing and measuring food we are back on the same old tired diet track that we have been on for years and lets face it , measuring and weighing food really takes the pleasure out of preparing and eating it. ( There is a ” but ” here but I will get to that shortly)

Let common sense prevail. If you take in more food than your body requires you will not lose weight. Worse still , you may even pick up. It is important to understand that by including fat in the diet, you are adding a good amount of energy onto your plate. Read about the misconceptions of adding fat to your food HERE

The first rule is to EAT ONLY WHEN HUNGRY but NOT more than 3 times a day. There is NO rule about which meals you have to eat. No one meal is any more important than another. Meals are just meals – find what works for you. Some people skip breakfast and others like to eat breakfast. Some folks skip lunch and some eat 3 meals a day.

If you have eaten a good meal but feel hungry before the next one have a glass of water and think about whether you are really hungry. Go for a walk , find something to do. Often people confuse hunger with boredom. A little hunger is not something to be afraid of. It’s not life threatening and it’s not going to do you any harm to feel a bit hungry in the first couple of days while you are getting used to your new way of eating. We do not commonly see complaints of hunger from banters who are eating correctly.

CHOSE A VARIETY OF NUTRIENT DENSE FOODS. This should go without saying. If you chose a variety of  food including protein, plenty of green list vegetable and make sure your food consists of healthy fats, you are more likely to get the balance right and less likely to be hungry. This applies to all meals.

breakfast
healthy breakfast example

 

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Christine Cronau shares some great pics of lchf meals on her page

How much of what you eat depends on many factors including your size, age, activity level and how much body fat you have to lose. Everybody is metabolically individual and there can  be no one size rule. So please do be aware that what works for your bff may not work for you. It is pointless asking people to share their meal plans or divulge exactly what they eat because your energy and nutrient requirements may differ.

 

Be sure to eat enough food when you do eat to leave you feeling satiated – that means satisfied, not stuffed to bursting. Eat slowly and mindfully and try to be aware of when you have had enough.

palm-of-meatThere is a general rule of thumb that your protein size ( meat/fish/chicken) should measure approximately the size of the palm of your hand. The fat in your meal should be predominantly IN the food. This means that you will be choosing fattier cuts of meat , eg lamb chops with the fatty bit left on or fattier mutton pieces for stews and curries. Foods like liver and tripe have good fats in them and of course leave the skin on your chicken. Salmon and sardines are good fatty fish choices.

Vegetables should make up the bulk of your plate. Vegetables are full of nutrients and the
fibre is good for a healthy gut flora. You can read more about why veggies are important HERE. By choosing vegetables off the green list you do not have to fear exceeding the recommended carb allowance of 25g-50g per day.

If you are cooking your food in a little fat ( coconut oil , olive oil , ghee ) and already have fat included in your protein portion, there should be no need to add copious amounts of fat to your food. A little butter on veg perhaps or use the pan juices from frying those delicious lamb chops.Remember that if you are adding avo, olives, feta cheese to your salads that counts towards fat intake and of course don’t forget that eggs have a good amount of fat in them too so a 2 or 3 egg omelette with chopped veg fried in a tbs of butter is a high fat meal !

Plate-size-4Another consideration is plate size. Over the years plate sizes have gradually increased and as this has happened we have become accustomed to eating far bigger portions of food. When eating off a huge plate , it is tempting to dish a huge portion of food, so do take this into account.

platesizes
We don’t count calories but you can see how food intake increases with bigger plate sizes.

 

What if you really cannot get it right ? ( and here is the “but”)

We do see many people who feel intimidated by this new way of eating and terrified of getting it wrong and picking up more weight. We also see those who have given it a bash but the scale is just not budging . There are also some people who have metabolic issues and require individual attention and guidance and for these people tracking their intake (beyond just carb counting)

Many people use apps that they can download on their phones to work out what their daily macro nutrient requirements should be and track their intake by logging the food they eat into the apps. The problem here is that these figures have been based on calorie calculations.Calorie requirements are a total thumb suck and not accurate. For years advocates of calorie counting diets have offered calculations based on age, height, weight and activity but people are metabolically individual and we cannot apply an across the board rule. 

For those who would like one on one coaching see my link HERE for more details . 

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6 thoughts on “How much food should I eat ?

  1. […] Of course just because calorie counting is not an accurate way to determine how much food we need and we do not encourage it, does not mean that we now have an open invitation to eat through the fridge contents every day. We need to use a bit of common sense. For some guidance on how to eat correctly on a low carb diet read this How much food should I eat ? . […]

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