Superfood Siobhan

Healthy Plant Based recipes that make you look and feel great

My week HCLF (high carb, low fat)

By Friday, June 05, 2015

It seems pretty uncommon eating vegan and yet not eating HCLF. Everyone seems to rave about it and I didn't really know what it was like or what it was about. Pictures of banana icecream towering out of glasses, images of huge bowls of fruit for lunch, monomeals... What is it like?

So I set myself a challenge, eat high carb low fat for a week and experience what everyone else loves. Will I feel so much more energetic? Or will I be hungry all the time? Will I lose weight? Gain weight? Will my skin flare up like in the infamous detox period? A LOT of questions.

So what actually is HCLF?

Well, Mindfully Bliss calls it "a diet or as I like to call it, a lifestyle, where one consumes mostly carbs such as fruits and veggies, and low amounts of fats (sugars, salts, oils, etc)"

My Vegan Belly says a HCLF vegan is someone "that primarily eats carbs (from fruit!) The diet is made up of raw fruits, raw vegetables, cooked vegetables, cooked carbs (rice quinoa, potatoes, corn), and beans, with a few nuts and seeds. 80/10/10 means that 80% of the diet is made up of carbohydrates, 10% fat, and 10% protein."

So my challenge started, one week HCLF. 

What do you eat for breakfast? Well some people say oats are okay, some people say they are not as they are a lot higher in fat than fruit. So some days as much fruit as possible, others banana icecream, smoothies etc. I had mostly fruit based breakfasts, no nuts or seeds or nut butters which I found strange! I do really enjoy banana icecream though so it didn't feel like it was deprivation.

Lunch/dinner? Lots of carbs, of course! Some people go down the fruit monomeal route, I stuck with savoury food. I had lots of big salads, lots of rice, quinoa, potatoes, etc. Also, pasta! I tried making a low fat pasta sauce which was strange to me as I am used to cooking the onion and garlic in oil and sprinkling some nuts on top, etc but it was very tasty and I didn't feel I was missing out.

Snacks? Lots of fruit! Bananas, apples, oranges, dates, dried figs- you name it, I ate it! Certainly very healthy but I found that I craved something a bit some substantial sometimes and dried fruit without nut butter didn't seem right!

Overall thoughts

It definitely does help digestion, there is no denying that. You get bloated after a large fibre filled meal but it digests quickly and you do feel a lot lighter in your stomach. Also it means that food passes through quicker, which is good for those who suffer from constipation.

Energy wise? I'm ordinarily pretty energetic so it's hard to tell the difference in energy levels between a healthy vegan diet and a healthy high carb low fat vegan diet. Definitely not a negative impact anyway! I think you would notice a bigger difference going from a already quite unhealthy diet to hclf however.

Would I stick to it? Probably not. Why? Well as someone who ALSO can't eat gluten, life would start to get pretty difficult when I eat out. I think also not eating very much fat would make life very difficult for me as it would restrict my choices even further. Also, I do love nuts, avocado, etc and I couldn't see myself cutting them out to make sure it fitted into the 10% macro ratio.

So what have I learnt?

Banana icecream for breakfast more often because it keeps me full for ages and gives me lots of energy.

Less nuts and more fruit as snacks because the sugar hit helps keep you going

That it's not going to be that bad at all at uni when I'm going to be eating big portions of rice and pasta and nothing that fancy to liven it up, this week was cheap and tasty!

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  1. This is really interesting to me as I have been experimenting with HCLF these last couple of weeks (I am more typically a low carb vegan but had been having a few digestive issues and also got a bit too obsessed with nut butter, ha ha!)

    It's weird as I have found the exact opposite to what so many others (including yourself) seem to find... i'm crazy bloated a lot of the time and often struggle to eat the amount of food necessary to keep me energised. I love the concept of it, and like you I found cooking without fat much better than I thought it would be, but I have some serious tweaking to do to help this way of eating work for me. It's all a learning journey! :-)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I actually had the same experience as you. I'm a regular vegan and when I took just one HCLF meal, I immediately felt bloated and remained bloated the next day. I was quite scared to try a HCLF meal again but I think I'll just do it and see how it goes :) Maybe the body just needs time to adjust? Anyway, thanks again for sharing :))

    2. I feel excellent on it, but I'm also cognizant of the fact that you have to phase in certain foods like beans and others than leave more starches for later bacterial digestion. I've been great sticking with fruit during the morning and day, then a starch with a veggies as a side dish. The veggies include limited amounts of cruciferous veggies (can be gassy and bloating), leafy veggies, and carrots. I'll work up to those, and I don't do potatoes due to my sensitivity to nightshades.

  2. Personally, I choose not to follow a HCLF lifestyle because I would feel deprived of some of my favorite foods. I love my nut butters and eating cooked porridge in the morning. Though I don't follow HCLF, I do believe in having as little processed food in my life as possible. So instead of grabbing vegan ice-cream in the grocery store, I prefer to make my own with my ice-cream maker, or just make banana ice-cream ; ). Thanks for this post, it was nice to read someone's experience following this lifestyle.

  3. This has been so helpful! I've been following the HCLF lifestyle for about 2 weeks but I'm constantly hungry for more even though I've eaten so much! I'm not going to go crazy with fats but I miss nuts and have felt deprived. It's nice to know I'm not the only none HCLF vegan!

  4. Wow! Such a short yet informative post! I have just transitioned to veganism almost 2 months ago and find myself craving solid fatty food, nut butters being the most common "emulsifier" in my diet. It just doesn't feel right not to have this settled feeling in my stomach, although I do enjoy how fruit makes me feel too, so so energetic!

    After a month of being vegan I found that my average macros are (I tracked everything I eat on MFP, just to get a better understanding where I can improve) - 25% Fat, 65% Carbs, 10% Protein and I did notice some changes in my body, I think I got skinnier but I have less muscle definition for sure. I feel that increasing Carbs AND Protein and slightly decreasing Fats would be beneficial in my case, but I will not go lower than 15% for Fats, I need them to feel sustainably full and nourished. But everyone is different! I will give HCLF a try for a week too sometime in the Fall (will definitely document it on my blog!) but I truly believe in just overall benefits of whole foods plant-based diet regardless of macro ratios.

    Thanks for a great post again!

  5. I'm really interested in the high carb low fat diet. I'm vegan but I typically eat more than 10 percent healthy fats in a day... i'm a huge stickler for nut butter, really. I wanted to try this diet but I like cooking my veggies. Is it possible for this diet to be effective if it's not raw?

    Like if I ate the majority of my meals as fruits and veggies, and then a little bit of avocado/nut butter in there, would I still reap the rewards? I'm really curious.

    If anyone has any insight, please let me know!!

    1. You can most certainly eat tons of cooked vegs on HCLF, just as long you keep it low fat. Ive been HCLFing since may, 2 days ago i ate à lot of peanut butter, i feel drunk and terrible lol. By experience, I know I'll feel better tomorrow. Enjoy thé cooked vegs, I sure do!! (It also makes me feel optimal energy-wise.)

    2. Here's an exemple of what I eat in à day. (HCLF) (By thé way, i've cured my hypoglycémia with this lifestyle.)
      Blueberry Oatmeal (water) and chia seeds
      Basmati Rice with no oil chana dal (flavorful)
      Végétable fried rice with 3/4 tbsp oil, tamari soy sauce , sometimes with green peas on thé side

      It really seems as tho chia seeds dont bother me fat wise, does not mAKE me feel sluggish. Neither does 3/4 tbsp sésame oil. I MAKE exception foR sodium, and its been working wonders for me. I want to move, exercise constanly on this lifestyle.

      I also eat tons of lettuce, celery and/or vegs on the side with almost evrry meal.

    3. Oo I'm trying to cure my hypoglycemia with it at the moment! How long have you been living this way? X

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  8. Darn, I thought this would have archived your daily routine.
    Still informative though.

  9. Love this Article. I have been vegan for 9 months now. I used to be the type of vegan that would go to whole foods & find all these cool frozen vegan foods, & have little to no weight loss. I didn't understand the concept of High Carb Low Fat vegan lifestyle. I simply thought "carb up" meant any carb! But I have been HCLF now for about 2 months & I feel & see a difference. I eat until I am full. I have fruits, veggies, beans, rice, nuts, and oats. Occasionally I will have a processed treat, but I know exactly whats In them, they contain no hidden ingredients or things I can't pronounce. Ex; Cliff bars & Kind Bars. That is about the most processed it gets for me! Love being vegan & sharing love & food.

    Sarah :)

  10. Hey just wondering if you gained weight while doing this?:)