From low carb to moderate carb with “safe starches”

Tuna and potato salad

For a period of time I attempted to follow a low carb, high fat diet (aka LCHF) while exercising. LCHF is technically zero carbs (meaning non-starchy foods such as rice, pasta, bread etc) and lots of fat and proteins. Preferably, one should keep the carb count as low as one can go which could mean anything below 20-25g up to about 50-80g depending on your starting point. When you have reached your weight goal you can slowly introduce more starches to see where your set point is.

I’m aware that in the LCHF community starches are looked upon as the evil food that increases insulin and makes your blood sugar into a roller coaster ride. But I believe that there is a distinction between people’s needs and your starting point for a low carb diet. In my case I started at a lower body fat percentage (below 20%) and with very little weight to lose (max 5kg/10lbs) and I consider myself moderately active. I was already at a healthy level with my blood pressure etc under control; I simply wanted to see if LCHF could provide me with a more optimal diet for even better health and better/quicker results for fat loss.

My goal has always been to try to get as lean as possible while keeping muscle and strength. LCHF promise a simple yet effective way of ridding yourself of your excess fat while keeping lean muscle as well as giving optimal health benefits. I didn’t suffer too much from carb withdrawals in the beginning nor being too tired etc, also known as the carb flu. Occasionally, I felt dizzy and I was prepared for not having the greatest energy for workouts. I was probably more ecstatic to be able to eat bacon and chicken wings with blue-cheese dressing among other fatty goodies quite frequently than anything else.

The result of the whole thing was not what I was expecting. Actually, I didn’t see much of a result than some fluctuation in my weight. It wasn’t until I started introducing some fruits that small things started to happen and this sparked it all over to the new buzz word in the low carb world; “safe starches”.

Lately, there has been some “controversy” in the low carb society (particularly within the Paleo supporters) when Paul Jaminet rolled out a twist on the low carb diet allowing what he calls “safe starches”. When I heard about Paul Jaminet, Ph.D. and his Perfect Health Diet I was curious to see what he had to say about it and I was very convinced that his approach was a better one for me. Safe starches include potato, rice, taro, sago, plantain, sweet potato and tapioca. As you can see cereal grains are not on the list. There are several reasons for excluding grains that you can read about here. While dairy, nuts, chocolate berries/fruits and fructose-free sweeteners are considered pleasure foods and should be consumed occasionally and in smaller amounts.

From my personal experience over the last few weeks adding back more of the safe starches have given me better energy than just eating vegetables alone as the only carb intake in a day. I’m no longer suffering from tremendous DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and the recovery is quicker. I have lots of energy to do daily tasks and be quite active otherwise. And not to mention that I sleep so much better! Even more muscle definition is coming along in difficult areas such as thighs.

I do measure out my starches to have somewhat control of the situation and from my calculations I range from around 100g to 130g of carbs on a daily basis (veggies are considered “free” and therefore intake is unlimited). Majority of my starchy carbs are consumed after workout though which is when the body needs the fuel the most and acts like a sponge to absorb and utilize it all but I do have starches for breakfast and lunch as well.





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