The HCLF diet has reached extreme popularity, and it is especially popular in the raw vegan community. However, a very low fat diet is not for everyone. You may be thinking – but, but it works for so-and-so and this book says it is great – but remember that every single human body is different. If you are limiting your fat intake to 5 or 10 percent of your daily caloric intake and you notice these very low fat or HCLF diet side effects, it is important to increase your daily fat intake.
1. Your Depression is Returning or You Are Having New Bouts of Depression
If you have depression or had it in the past (especially if you currently manage it with SSRIs or natural mood-boosting techniques), then it is very important to pay attention to how you feel on a very low fat diet. If you feel your depression returning or are feeling depressed for the first time ever, then you need to increase your fat intake for the sake of your mental health.
Why? Fatty acids play a huge role in brain health and help your body create those important “feel good” chemicals. When your diet is too low in these fatty acids, it can get in the way of your brain’s ability to create natural mood-boosting chemicals, especially serotonin. If you are on an SSRI, then realize that this the very brain chemical your medication is trying to make more active in your brain to keep you feeling well, and your diet may be counteracting the benefits it once gave you.
2. You Have Body Aches and Flu-like Symptoms on a HCLF Diet
It is very common to get body aches and feel like you have the flu after you get through the first few days on a very low fat diet. This usually doesn’t happen immediately, but over the course of a few days of very limited fat intake. Don’t ignore it and think it will pass. Widespread body pain will likely only get worse until you increase your fat intake.
Why? A large part of your nerves are covered in a lining called a myelin sheath. These linings are mainly made of fat, and without enough fat in your diet, they can slowly deteriorate, causing your nerves to act erratically. Nerves are involved in many important body functions, but a very important job is sensing and transmitting pain signals. Put in more simple terms, when this very important part of your nervous system is starved of the very fat they are made of, your nerves start acting crazy and causing you to feel pain for no reason!
Also, just how serotonin plays a role in your mood, it many other roles in your body, including pain. Many people who suffer from widespread pain from fibromyalgia experience relief from medications that boost body serotonin levels. As mentioned above, your body’s serotonin levels drop when you are not eating enough fat, and this can be another cause of body pain.
What You Can Do to Relieve Your Symptoms
If you are experiencing one or both of the above HCLF diet side effects, then it is a good idea to increase your fat intake to about 30 percent of your daily diet for just a couple of days. This will help your body rebuild those nerve linings and begin generating enough serotonin and other important “feel good” chemicals again.
Once you are feeling better, re-plan your diet and increase your fat intake to about 15 percent. Not feeling great? Increase it to 20 or 25 percent, and so on. You, of course, shouldn’t begin eating a high-fat diet, but you need to find your fat “sweet spot” where you feel good physically and mentally.