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The Lipedema Diet: All You Need to Know

Lipedema is a common health condition in women, where an unusual amount of fat accumulates in the lower body, especially in the legs. This problem can have many side effects like weight gain and bad leg shape. Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for this problem, but it can be prevented and controlled by the Lipedema Diet.

The Lipedema Diet: All You Need to Know
Highlights
  • Lipedema happens when excess amounts of fat build up in the lower body mainly because of an unhealthy lifestyle and diet.
  • The Lipedema Diet is an effective way to control the lipedema condition, but it’s not a treatment.
  • In the Lipedema Diet, the focus is on the consumption of healthy fats and fresh foods that help the body burn fats for energy.
  • There is a more strict version of the Lipedema Diet, called the RAD (Rare Adipose Disorders) diet with more focus on managing blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

What Is Lipedema?

Lipedema is a condition where there's an unusual buildup of fat, mainly in the lower part of the body, particularly the legs. It's more common in women and can cause both physical and emotional challenges due to the disproportionate fat accumulation [1].

Although it was identified in 1940, there is still no definitive cure for it [2]. However, it can be managed by following specific diets that focus on reducing inflammation and maintaining a healthy weight.

What Is The Lipedema Diet?

The Lipedema Diet helps manage the symptoms of lipedema disease. It focuses on pushing the body to use proteins and extra fats for energy to prevent lipedema's inflammation and excessive accumulation of fats [3].

  • To follow this diet, you should limit the daily carbohydrate intake to less than 25 grams (It can vary based on health conditions and lipedema level),
  • Adjust the balance of proteins and fats, and
  • Minimize sugar consumption.

Here are the rules and goals of his diet.

Rules

  • Use anti-inflammatory foods: Prioritize foods with anti-inflammatory properties like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), flaxseeds, chia seeds, berries, and leafy greens. Anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation related to lipedema by easing symptoms [4].
  • The fewer carbohydrates the better: Limit the intake of high-carbohydrate foods like processed foods because high-carb foods can cause weight gain and fat accumulation [5].
  • Stay hydrated: Hydration supports the lymphatic system to help reduce fluid retention and promote overall health [6].
  • Use foods rich in vitamin C: Consume foods that help alleviate specific symptoms related to lipedema like ginger, turmeric, and berries, and foods rich in vitamin C like citrus fruits [7].
  • Use less salt: Reducing salt helps manage water retention, which is important for individuals with lipedema who may experience swelling [8].

Goals

  • Inflammation Reduction
  • Weight Management
  • Lymphatic System Support
  • Nutrient Provision
  • Reducing the Development of Lipedema

Starting the Lipedema Diet can positively impact many aspects of your health.

Learn More: The Carnivore Diet and Gout: The Best and Worst Meats to Eat

Lipedema Diet Benefits

The Lipedema Diet can help people with lipedema by providing benefits, including:

  • Reduced Swelling
  • Decreased or Eased Pain
  • Weight Loss
  • Increased Mental Clarity

Reduced Swelling

The Lipedema Diet focuses on unprocessed foods and limits processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars. These changes can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is a major contributor to swelling in lipedema [9]. Additionally, staying hydrated helps flush out toxins and reduce swelling.

Decreased or Eased Pain

Inflammation from lipedema can pressure nerves and cause pain. Reducing inflammation through diet makes it possible to decrease or even eliminate pain for some individuals [10].

Weight Loss

Weight loss is not the primary goal of the Lipedema Diet, but it can lead to weight loss for some people, especially those who are overweight due to high levels of fat. It can have a positive impact on lipedema symptoms by reducing the overall burden on the lymphatic system [11].

Increased Mental Clarity

Sticking to a healthy diet that provides essential nutrients for your body can improve cognitive function and focus. Additionally, reduced pain and improved sleep (which are often achieved through better dietary choices) can cause mental clarity [12].

Along with these benefits, the Lipedema Diet can have some temporary side effects in some individuals, especially at the beginning.

Downsides of The Lipedema Diet

Some people may experience the following side effects:

  • Constipation
  • Bad Breath
  • Headache
  • Muscle Cramps and Weakness

Constipation

Many believe that the Lipedema Diet emphasizes foods with low fiber and it can lead to constipation. But by making the right dietary choices, like eating fruits and veggies after consulting a professional, you will get the needed nutrients you need [13]. Also, staying hydrated will help reduce the probability of constipation.

Bad Breath

Shifting dietary patterns can change the gut microbiome, which is the community of microorganisms in your intestines. Some of these changes might lead to the overgrowth of bacteria that produce unpleasant-smelling gases, causing bad breath.

Certain fruits and vegetables like apples, celery, and carrots, have natural breath-freshening properties and can be used to prevent this side effect [14].

Headache

Some people reported that they experienced headaches when started the Lipedema Diet. Staying hydrated can control this side effect [15].

Muscle Cramps and Weakness

Following the Lipedema Diet can cause electrolyte imbalances in certain individuals, especially those who have had a different lifestyle for many years. These imbalances can lead to muscle cramps and weakness. To prevent this side effect, you can start the diet under proper guidance from health professionals [16].

Learn More: The Homeostasis Diet: Everything You Must Know

Although the Lipedema Diet can help manage lipedema disease, it’s not considered a definite treatment but a supplementary approach.

'Meat saved our lives': These people lost 200 lbs and healed 5 common chronic diseases with Carnivore.

Is The Lipedema Diet Good For Treating Lipedema?

The effectiveness of the Lipedema Diet for treating lipedema is still under discussion in the medical community. While it's suggested as a way to manage symptoms and slow down progression, it's not considered a cure [17].

There is currently no certain cure for lipedema. However, following a healthy diet and lifestyle can help prevent or manage lipedema.

You need to do regular check-ups and be supervised by a healthcare professional to get a personalized plan that aligns with your needs. This plan can include advice on food, exercise, and sometimes surgery for severe cases [18].

So you can easily manage lipedema if you know what should you eat on this diet.

Foods to Eat on The Lipedema Diet

  • Foods with High Healthy Fats: Foods with saturated and monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, lard, and butter) and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats from marine sources like salmon can provide the energy you need on this diet [19]
  • Foods with High Protein: Foods like eggs and lean cuts of meat like chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef or pork, tofu, and tempeh are important for muscle health and can be part of a balanced diet [20].
  • Foods High in Potassium: Potassium can help counterbalance the effects of sodium and promote healthy fluid balance in the body. Foods like bananas, avocados, spinach, and sweet potatoes are excellent sources of potassium [21].
  • Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are packed with antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation [22].
  • Dairy (In Moderation): Full-fat yogurt and cheese can provide healthy fats and essential nutrients like protein [23].
  • Herbs and Spices: Cilantro, basil, rosemary, and thyme can enhance the flavor of foods without adding excess calories or sodium [24].
  • Turmeric and Ginger: Both have anti-inflammatory properties [25].
  • Hydrating Foods: Watermelon, cucumber, and celery can help hydration and support the lymphatic system.

To achieve the goals of a Lipedema Diet and improve your health, you need to avoid foods with artificial additives like sweets with lots of unnatural sugars or processed foods full of unhealthy fats.

Foods to Avoid on The Lipedema Diet

  • Sugary Foods: Avoid sugary foods like candies, sodas, and desserts with added sugars. Excess sugar can cause weight gain and spikes in blood sugar levels, which can be problematic for people with lipedema. Instead, choose natural sweeteners like honey or fresh fruits [26].
  • Processed Foods: Chips, cookies, and fast food usually contain unhealthy trans fats and saturated fats and can cause inflammation and weight gain. Instead, try foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains [27].
  • Foods High in Sodium: Sodium can cause water retention and bloating, which can worsen the symptoms of lipedema, such as swelling. Some common sources of high-sodium foods are processed meats, canned soups, and fast food. These foods are often loaded with sodium to enhance flavor and preserve shelf life [28].
  • Inflammatory Foods: Processed sugars, refined grains, and unhealthy fats can cause chronic inflammation and worsen lipedema symptoms like pain and swelling. Instead, include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet, such as fatty fish, leafy greens, and berries [29].

If you’re having a lipedema problem, you can start with this sample 7-day meal plan for the Lipedema Diet.

Lipedema Diet 7-Day Meal Plan

Here is a sample 7-day meal plan to start the Lipedema Diet. You can always modify this plan according to your body's needs and diet goals, but remember that you can only include the foods allowed in this diet.

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries and a sprinkle of chia seeds
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and olive oil dressing
  • Dinner: Baked salmon with roasted vegetables (broccoli, bell peppers, and carrots)

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with sliced bananas and a handful of almonds
  • Lunch: Turkey and avocado wrap with whole-grain tortilla and a side of raw veggies
  • Dinner: Stir-fried tofu with brown rice and a variety of colorful vegetables

Day 3

Day 4

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach
  • Lunch: Lentil soup with a side of mixed greens
  • Dinner: Baked chicken breast with quinoa

Day 5

  • Breakfast: Cottage cheese with sliced peaches and a drizzle of honey
  • Lunch: Avocado and chickpea salad with cherry tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette
  • Dinner: Turkey meatballs with zucchini noodles and marinara sauce

Day 6

  • Breakfast: Whole-grain toast with smashed avocado and poached eggs
  • Lunch: Spinach and feta-stuffed chicken breast with a side of roasted sweet potatoes
  • Dinner: Grilled fish tacos with cabbage slaw and a squeeze of lime

Day 7

  • Breakfast: Berry and kale smoothie with a scoop of Greek yogurt
  • Lunch: Quinoa bowl with black beans, corn, avocado, and salsa
  • Dinner: Baked cod with lemon and herbs, served with quinoa and steamed asparagus

You can see the average nutritional values for the above meal plan in the following table:

DayProtein (g)Fat (g)Calories (kcal)Fiber (g)Carbohydrates (g)Sugar (g)
1 65 30 670 17 38 15
2 67 34 693 12 35 16
3 72 35 700 14 34 14
4 69 32 684 15 36 17
5 75 36 695 11 33 19
6 71 38 712 16 37 14
7 68 35 703 15 39 15

The Lipedema Diet is not the only diet to treat or alleviate the symptoms of lipedema. You can also follow the RAD diet, which is a more strict approach with some differences.

The Lipedema Diet vs. The Rad Diet

RAD (Rare Adipose Disorders) diet is a more strict version of the Lipedema Diet with more focus on managing blood sugar and blood pressure levels [30]. To choose the right approach, you should consult a healthcare professional, especially an expert in lipedema. Also, consider your personal preferences and lifestyle.

Both the Lipedema Diet and the RAD Diet aim to manage lipedema through dietary changes, but they have some key differences in their

  • Structure
  • Nutritional Focus, and
  • Protein and Fat Consumption.

The following table summarizes the differences between the Lipedema Diet and the RAD Diet:

DifferencesLipedema DietRAD Diet
Structure More flexible with promoting whole and healthy foods More strict and targets inflammation by cutting out specific foods like red meat
Nutritional Focus Focuses on general healthy eating principles Focuses only on anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and low glycemic index foods
Protein and Fat Consumption Supports animal protein and fats Limits animal protein and fats, especially red meat

Structure

The Lipedema Diet is more flexible and open to individual needs and preferences, with general principles for healthy eating, but the RAD Diet is more strict with specific guidelines, and meal plans.

For example, the RAD diet eliminates red meat and processed meats in the initial phase and only allows lean white meat (chicken, turkey) and fish (salmon, tuna) in moderation. It also focuses on organic vegetables, fruits, and whole grains [31][32].

Nutritional Focus

The Lipedema Diet focuses on whole foods, limited processed foods, and healthy fats. However, the RAD Diet emphasizes only anti-inflammatory foods, antioxidant-rich options, and low glycemic index foods [33][34].

Protein and Fat Consumption

The RAD Diet limits animal protein and fats more than the Lipedema Diet. In the RAD diet, the main idea is to eat less animal protein and fats, especially fatty red meat, in the beginning, to avoid gaining body fat [35].

The reason is the fat is absorbed directly into the lymphatics. This diet does not apply to all those who experience lipedema, but it can be suitable for those who have very high fat.

Summary

Managing lipedema can be challenging, but it can be controlled effectively with a simple approach, the Lipedema Diet, which focuses on healthy fats and anti-inflammatory foods.

By consuming these foods, your body is pushed to burn fats for energy which provides a potential way to control and prevent lipedema.

If you've had lipedema for a while, keep in mind that starting this diet might not be enough because it's not a cure. You need to consult a healthcare professional first and receive the necessary medications.

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