August 29, 2007

Various Salad Dressings

I totally cannot stand bought Thousand Island Dressing. It's either got too much vinegar, is watered down, or the flavor is either chemical or just plain off. The same with Blue Cheese. So I learned to make my own salad dressings a loooooong, long time ago. The following are a few of the ones I make most often.

Thousand Island Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
1/4 cup Reduced-Sugar Ketchup (Heinz brand)
2 tbsp dill relish
2 tbsp minced onion
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp lemon juice

Just mix it all up, and chill until serving time. A tsp or two of dried bacon bits is also great in this.

Blue Cheese Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp minced onion
1 tsp garlic
4 oz package of crumbled blue cheese

Mix it up, and chill for a couple of days. It will get thicker, the longer it sits. After a couple of days, you can thin it with a bit of cream to desired consistency. If it thickens back up again before you've used it all, just thin it again.

Simple Italian Dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp salt
1 to 2 tbsp Italian Dressing Spice Mix
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp guar gum

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until thickened. The guar gum helps to keep the mixture suspended. You can leave it out if you wish. Just shake up the dressing before you use it each time. Instead of the spice mix you can use Italian Seasonings.

Italian Dressing Spice Mix
2 tbsp each: basil, marjoram, oregano, coriander, thyme, rosemary, savory
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Process this in a blender for about 30 seconds or so, till finely ground

Ranch-Style Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
1 cup buttermilk or heavy cream with 1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Italian Seasonings
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp Splenda
dash of dill weed

With a wire whisk, blend mayo and buttermilk. If using powdered buttermilk, whisk the powder into the mayo, then whisk in the water. Add spices and whisk again. Can also be made in the blender by processing until smooth. The mixture will be a little thin but will thicken in the refrigerator. Chill until serving time. If desired, you can also add a tbsp Parmesan Cheese and/or a tbsp of lemon juice.

August 28, 2007

Zucchini-Tomato Medley

Fried Zucchini with Tomatoes and Onions
What to Do with Your
Huge Zucchini Harvest!
I'm always trying to come up with new zucchini and summer squash recipes, since summer squashes are extremely easy to grow.

Although, we haven't had as much luck growing zucchini and other summer squashes here in Utah, if you have a lengthy growing season, you might get a bumper crop every single year.

Ordinarily, I just saute up a couple of squashes with a bit of chopped onion, and maybe some bacon and bell peppers if I have enough carbs left for the day. Or I'll throw it into a steamed veggie mix. Maybe batter it with a Carbquick batter and fry it.

But this time, I decided to try a new combination.

August 25, 2007

Breaking Free From Our Metabolic Trap

Once we've been heavy for some time, we find ourselves in a serious metabolic trap. Almost like a box that has been built around ourselves by Insulin. We literally find ourselves at Insulin's mercy. At our blood sugar's mercy. Controlled by our body's responses to them. Which is why typical low calorie, low fat diets are so difficult to follow. They leave us hungry and starving for more.

Thankfully for us, we know about Lipolysis. That it is the "key" to lifting up the lid of that metabolic box. Because it's insulin's job to convert EXCESS carbs into body fat stores. In a normal metabolism, fatty acids and ketones are converted into fuel for energy purposes. But if you're overweight, your body's metabolism isn't normal. It won't convert fatty acids and ketones into fuel because the high levels of insulin circulating in the blood prevent that from happening.

So gaining control over our weight, and setting our bodies into fat-burning mode is about more than just consuming enough essential fatty acids and saturated fats. Our bodies have to be able to USE that fat for fuel. And if our bloodstream never clears itself of insulin, if there is insulin "always" circulating in our bloodstreams, due to excessive protein, excessive carbs, stress, food sensitivities, medications, etc., you'll NEVER be able to use up your body fat stores.

During a "prolonged" fasting situation, our body burns protein for energy as well as fat, and it gets that protein from our lean body mass. But when we enter into the state of Ketosis, no lean body mass is lost because Dr. Atkins says our bodies are able to use our fat stores for energy. This is WHY Ketosis is safe to be in for 6 months or even more, if necessary. And why Lipolysis bypasses the agony of low calorie dieting. Because if you've been overweight for a long time, Lipolysis is NEEDED to burn body fat.

It is the processes of Lipolysis that break down body fat to fatty acids and glycerol, which then breaks down further into ketones. Making Ketosis a natural function of the body. So in essence, all diets work through lipolysis. Which means that ALL diets place us into starvation mode. That is WHY the body chooses to use it's stored body fat, because it believes we are going to starve to death if it does not.

So without lipolysis, there is no break down of body fat. The difference lies in HOW we achieve this state of being. As my dad used to say, you can choose to do things the hard way...or the easy way...so which way is it going to be?

For some of us though, the easy path isn't as easy as it is for others. Especially if you are seriously metabolic resistant to losing those body stores. And it seems that if you look around, just for a little bit, there is more and more of us than ever before. We are not as much in the minority as we used to be.

However, the greater majority of the low-carb community still looks on us as being practically non-existent. And therefore, not important enough to offer good, descent help.

I ran into this problem yesterday on one of the Low Carb Friends' threads in the Kimkins section regarding building upon the Kimkins diet to make it more healthy of a plan. The greater majority of folks there didn't want to HEAR Dr. Atkins' advice to those of us who are metabolically resistant -- which I've talked about before here. That of lowering calories and fat being his number 1, and first advice to us.

Because they looked upon that advice as only pertaining to a "very small and insignificant segment of low-carb society." Plus they couldn't wrap their minds around the idea that Dr. Atkins had actually counseled elsewhere in the book, outside of the chapter where this advise is actually found, to go to that Metabolic-Resistant chapter, and follow the principles found there of lowering calories and/or fat to break the stall.

So I firmly believe now that we need to stop contenting ourselves with sitting on the sidelines, and quietly, longsufferingly, losing a single pound or two a month. Because we KNOW that the key to this whole resistance problem is Insulin. Therefore, we need to let our voices be heard, not only so that others who are also in our situation won't feel so all alone out there, but so that people will stop shoving us aside as if our few numbers make us of no importance.

We are NOT just a measly 1% of the low-carb community. We are NOT just a measly 4% of the population at large. Even though that was the accusation thrown at me yesterday. We are a "very real group of individuals" with a VERY REAL PROBLEM that needs to be addressed seriously. Because telling us that low carbing is NOT just about weight loss, that it isn't even about "fast" weight loss, is a cop out. There needs to be real, serious, research. There needs to be real help for us, so that we too can overcome our overweight tendencies and achieve our goals like everyone else.

It was SOOOOO sad to see those who should have risen up to support and help the metabolically resistant among their numbers on that thread switch from the victim role of rescuer to come out in full attack mode against them. Just because they had made different choices in regards to diet for themselves, and were not willing to make the changes the rescuers wanted them to make. Thus causing those attacked to switch from their own victim role to persecutor on exactly the same dramatic triangle, and attack in like manner.

The most disturbing thing about this whole Kimkins controversy is that both sides are using victimization. Both sides are playing the game of The Dramatic Triangle. Which means that both sides are emotionally UN-healthy and need to get their acts together. They need to truly examine themselves, and do what is necessary to STOP PLAYING RESCUING GAMES!!! Get off the triangle!!! And provide the low-carb community, especially those who are metabolically resistant, some "real" help.

Because IM-pure motives really don't go very far to change the Real World.

What Exactly is "Moderate" Fat Intake???

That's a question that seems to be all over the low-carb boards these days. As well as the question of just how much protein do we really need to maintain our current level of muscle mass.

One of the questions put forth in Dr. Atkins' 2002 edition of his diet is this:
Can I manage my insulin and blood sugar without eating much fat?

Dr. Atkins' answer was NO. Which most low carbers are eager to grab ahold of and run with. But they leave out completely what Dr. Atkins says next: "NO, because when you cut out fat, what is left is protein and carb, both of which can produce a blood-sugar response. Fat is the only substance that won't have an impact on your blood sugar. It also provides essential fatty acids you can't get from protein or carbs." (pg. 55)

So he is talking about not trying to do a NON-fat diet. Not necessarily a low-er one.

There are a lot of differing opinions out there. And that's what most of them are--just opinions. They range from Kimkins being a glucose-burning diet, despite the severe reduction in carbs, to Atkins needing to CHANGE to an "adequate" protein, moderate-fat diet. And everything in-between. With Barry Groves supporters claiming Atkins and Eades were "always" adequate protein, moderate-fat diets.

However, when you sincerely examine the formulas these guys use to determine their adequate protein needs for the day, just what it takes to maintain our current level of lean body mass, you find the words like "adequate" and "moderate" don't really describe what they are demanding we now follow. Because the truth is, what they really want us to adopt is a LOW protein, HIGH fat diet.

I ran the formula on myself last night. Lean body mass of 83 pounds divided by 2.2 to convert that weight to metrics, then timed it by 1 for being extremely sedentary. Those who have a more normal lifestyle can times their metric weight by 1.5 or even more, if they are into heavy exercise. That came out for me to only 37 grams of protein per day.

The amount of protein found in LESS THAN ONE SINGLE CHICKEN BREAST!!!

Even if you add an extra 5 grams of protein to that for error's sake, you get 42 grams of protein (what the protein-requirement calculators on the web are also saying about me these days), which is about what you'll find in an average-sized chicken breast. ONE BREAST. FOR THE WHOLE DAY!!!

I was totally FLOORED by these findings. Because when you add in your 80 to 160 calories of carbs, (that's 20 to 40 full carbs for the day) and your 42 grams of protein, that leaves you with having to OVERLOAD your body up on fats. Especially if you believe you "need" to maintain a calorie level of 1200 or more. Because the amount of fat found within 42 grams of protein naturally isn't going to be very much.

Certainly all the web calculators at all the major nutrition sites aren't following Barry Groves and his low-carb recommendations, so what the heck is "really" going on here?

There's been a commercial that just recently began running on the morning news channels this past week, here in our area at least. And it gave me a down-right sickening, almost chilling feeling. Because the AD is an attempt to persuade parents to put their children on a vegetarian diet.

While vegetarianism "can" be healthy and adequate nutrition if carefully planned out to give one enough protein, if the protein levels deemed adequate by the majority of nutritionists these days are LOWERED from 70 to 90 grams per day (as recommended by Dr. Bernstein for best blood sugar control) to 40 to 60, as Barry Groves is now advocating, it looks like we might have just entered into a very slippery slope.

Are we of the low-carb community being carefully "led down to hell" by small steps advocating lower and then even lower protein intake?

GOSH...I SURE HOPE NOT!!!!

August 23, 2007

How Important is our Blood Sugar Response?

One of the criticisms regarding low-carb products these days is the claim manufacturer's make in regards to blood sugar response being of upper-most importance in regards to their products. And how they are using "effective" carb counts on the label, rather than "net" counts, as they used to do. Because these effective counts aren't always accurate for everyone.

Well...of course not. Because when it comes to blood sugar and insulin response, we enter a very personal and individualized world. What causes one person's blood sugar to raise excessively won't even budge another's. Which is why low carbing tends to be a matter of personal responsibility. But far too many folks have forgotten that, it seems, with all of the control issues and manipulations beginning to surface within the low-carb community.

Now most of us tend to eat when we're hungry, and stop when we're full. Which makes the accusation of overweight being caused from overeating sort of silly. I've seen that quite vividly in my in-laws. They overeat because they are HUNGRY, not because they are gluttons. They're doing what their bodies are telling them to do. And even when they are following Atkins to the best of their ability, they still have these kinds of problems. Some of it emotional, and some of it a need for instant gratification, sure. But the problems are there nevertheless.

For carb junkies, adjusting to a low-carb diet can be very, very hard. But WHY is that? Isn't a low-carb diet supposed to fix all of that? Isn't a low-carb diet supposed to take away our hunger and cravings for carbs? Isn't it supposed to help us get our "appetite" under control?

There is a direct relationship between the foods we choose to eat and the amount of insulin in our bloodstreams. Because foods rich in carbohydrates -- especially table sugar, honey, milk, and fruits which contain simple sugars, plus refined carbs such as flours, white rice, and potato starch -- are absorbed through our stomach walls, passing directly into our bloodstreams where they are quickly converted to glucose. So when these foods are eaten to EXCESS, they require a whole lot of insulin for transport. While foods made of fat and protein require none, or at least very little.

Now protein eaten in EXCESS does convert to glucose in the liver, and thereby requires "some" insulin to transport it to the cells. While fat requires essentially none.

Which is what the "heavy" discussions over at Low Carb Friends and Jimmy Moore's discussion board in regards to the Kimkins diet lately is centering around. The fact that a low-fat, low-calorie diet, albeit a low-carb one, can still raise blood sugar and keep insulin levels high, due to the protein content and lack of fat, and thereby keep our bodies hungry. Starving is the term the anti's like to use, since they are now disciples of Barry Groves and Mary Enig.

However, I can't seem to get my brain to wrap around that idea, since Kimkins recommends far "less" protein than Atkins does. Even though both plans call for a moderate intake.

What Dr. Atkins reveals in his writings is that as an overweight person becomes "heavier", insulin's effectiveness in dealing with blood sugar declines. Making Insulin Resistance much more prevalent among the obese, although there are some slim people (my dad for one) who suffer from this as well. When Insulin receptors become blocked, glucose is prevented from entering the cell for energy. Which is where a lot of the tiredness we experience comes from. Because if glucose can't enter the cells, the liver converts more and more of that glucose to fat.

Now insulin is directly involved in creating plaque, and correlates with high triglycerides and low HDL levels -- as well as diseases like breast cancer and Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. It increases salt and water retention. And turns us into fat producing and fat accumulating machines, rather than fat burning machines. So in my own mind, controlling blood sugar and thereby insulin responses "is" of upper most importance, just as manufacturers and Atkins Nutritionals claim.

Because the pancreas, when faced with our abuse of simple and refined carbs will become so efficient at secreting insulin, just a touch of blood sugar will begin to release a flood. Which means excessive carbs, not moderate levels of protein, is what results in an oversupply of glucose, and thus insulin. Because on moderate protein intake, the body uses all of that protein for repair and building materials.

However, dietary fats also play a role in all of this. Because you can't control your insulin and thereby blood sugar levels without "some" fats in the diet. Which is where the Kimkins guideline of using just enough fat in your diet to make it work comes into play. And why Dr. Atkins and Dr. Eades recommend our getting plenty of it.

Because if we were to cut out fat completely we would be left with only proteins and carbs, both of which "can" produce a blood sugar response. Fat is the only substance that doesn't have any impact on our blood sugars, so it's very useful in helping us control that. Because if we don't control our insulin and blood sugar levels, we will have trouble losing weight.

So yeah, our blood sugar responses to the foods we eat is rather important. Especially since burning fat is what entering into a low carb lifestyle is all about. But whether that means we can eat what manufacturer's and nutritionists are calling non-effective carbs or not is still an individual matter. Food and chemical sensitivities do exist, and they are not the same for everyone. Because each of us is different.

August 22, 2007

Jane Brody's Cholesterol Troubles

If you haven't read Dr. Mike Eades' blog today, you might want to check out this article in The New York Times that came out yesterday. Jane Brody is a name I well remember from my younger days. In fact, I read one of her nutrition-filled tips cookbooks, back when she and her husband were switching to more low-fat, higher-carb, lower-protein fare, but just couldn't wrap my brain around the extent to which she was willing to cut down on meat (1/2 pound to feed 4 persons) since I knew low carb was the "only" way to go.

In the article, she talks about a cholesterol test she had done last December which didn't turn out the way she expected it to. And like most folks who find themselves staring down at a paper that reads Total Cholesterol, 222, she went into panic mode.

Now the interesting thing about all of this is that the 200 total reading that so many believe to be gospel is essentially meaningless, since it was picked by the drug industry as a way to sell more of their statin drugs, not from any "meaningful" scientific study. And even though Ms. Brody claims in this piece that research has finally proven low-fat, high-carb diets to be of value, that isn't really true.

Did her doctor get upset about her results? NOPE!!! Because the only thing out of whack with her test results was a "slight" elevation of LDL. Even so, she sets out against her doctor's advise to fix things herself. And just makes matters worse. Her readings got higher and higher with each dietary and supplement change she made.

The amazing thing about all of this, is that it never dawns on her, throughout this whole stressful adventure, that if the changes she is making are causing her values to get worse, then why not just go back to the way she was eating before. And why not thoroughly study the changes being made to see WHY the values are getting worse, and not better.

Course, maybe her doctor finally placing the nail in her coffin prevented normal evaluation, because I don't exactly know what I would have done in that situation myself...if my doc had said to me: "Your body is spewing out cholesterol and nothing you do to your diet is likely to stop it." Because we've ALL bought into the big fat lie (at one time or another) that dietary fat, and especially saturated fat, causes cholesterol. And hence puts our life in danger.

I can remember when my own total cholesterol reading came back slightly elevated, 210, just after I came down with Meniere's, and how even though my liver enzyme levels were already elevated, I still ended up with a prescription for statins as I walked out the door. Or as my hubbie helped me walk out the door, I should say. Because this prescription came from a doctor who told me I wasn't disabled until a Specialist told him I was disabled, even though the diagnosis from the Neurologist, Meniere's Disease, was clearly written in the bottom right hand corner of her notes, and circled to call his attention to it.

While my own triglycerides were high, and my HDL was low, which "was" something to be concerned about, this was on a Sugarbusters type diet, around 60 to 80 grams of whole foods carbohydrate per day, which is the exact diet the doctor wanted me to take a class about, and go on. And the exact diet that so many diabetic and high-insulin level folks find themselves on, even though it doesn't correct the problem.

I remembering thinking...HUH???

It isn't about cutting out the cheese and beef, and it isn't about switching to whole grain breads and brown rice, it's about limiting the amount of glucose in your blood so that your body will switch over from using glucose for fuel, to burning up the triglycerides that are floating all over the place. Even I knew that. But for some reason, we tend to see physicians as some type of authority figures who "always" know better than we do.

So I took the danged statins. I used them for 6 weeks even. And when my feet swelled up so badly I couldn't walk, even with my husband's help, I threw them away!!!

That's what it took to make me see the light.

But for others, they aren't going to be so lucky. Especially with authority-type figures like Jane Brody going on statins for the rest of her life, while still preaching the principles of low-fat, low "saturated" fat, even though saturated fat has been shown to raise HDL cholesterol--which lessens the risk. And even though her warped nutritional advice didn't work for her. But then, that's because she considers herself an exception to those nutritional rules she has created for herself and others.

It's rather sad when you think about it, because the answer is so simple. The answer is right there in front of them, but they don't want to take off the blindfolds they have placed upon themselves. If you cut out cheese and beef, if you start taking plant sterols, if you go on an even stricter low-fat diet, as well as a higher carb one by sticking to low-fat ice cream, and your cholesterol numbers worsen, wouldn't common sense tell you that what you are doing is wrong?

But not to these folks. And not to most folks. They just keep on keeping on, justifying their "following" of the drug industry's recommendation of not more than 200 total cholesterol levels because the fear factor is sooooo strong, they just "have" to believe that eating that way, and living that way is going to help the statins work better. Because that's the only way they can keep their paradigm intact.

I am sooooo grateful for Dr. Atkins and Dr. Eaders and Dr. Bernstein and others who were, and still are willing to put forth the effort to get the truth to us. Provided we are willing to read their writings, read about their research, and just BELIEVE by putting their ideas, plans, and suggestions into practice.

Because low-carb really does work. And even if the whole rest of the world doesn't want to believe it, we do. And because of that, we are reaping it's benefits each and every day. Each and every day we are improving our lives. And we will go on improving our lives, because we are not afraid to see and embrace the truth. That low carbing is The Way to better health and fitness.

August 21, 2007

Dr. Atkins' View on Frankenfood

Frankenfood is a term I hear quite a bit on the various e-groups and low carb boards these days, generally speaking of low-carb processed foods which some feel carry very little nutritional value. In fact, many such folks go so far as to say that Dr. Atkins himself didn't believe in Frankenfood. That his diet was supposed to be a natural foods diet, since he first wrote it "before" all the low-carb products came out.

But is that really true?

The interesting thing about the controversy is that most of these folks fully support the 2002 edition of the diet which clearly defines Frankenfood as being something totally different. Dr. Atkins considered sugar, corn syrup, and the like to be metabolic poison. And ridicules low-fat products because, for the most part, when manufacturers took fat out of their foodstuffs, they replaced it with this metabolic poison.

"Diet foods aren't real food. They're invented, fake food. Filled with sugar, highly refined carbs, chemically altered trans fats, plus plenty of chemical additives. It's incredibly profitable."

And yet...he goes on to also FULLY SUPPORT the low-carb food industry, saying it is one of his "dreams" fulfilled. To have a wide variety of low-carb processed foods made available to us. And that as we move through the Atkins' phases, our consumption of these low-carb products will increase. Plus include larger portions at maintenance, depending upon our own critical carb level. The threshold for that depending upon our age, activity level, and other factors.

Many folks believe the doc sold out, due to his own nutritional company and financial benefit incurred from the sale of his own dieting products. But that isn't necessarily true. At least, that's not what I'm seeing. Because it wasn't processed foods that got us fat in the first place. Nor low-carb junk food even. It was sugar and sugar-like ingredients. It was white flour and white rice and all of those high-glycemic carbs we couldn't stop eating for whatever reason. Like homemade bread, high carb breakfast cereals, chocolate dipped ice cream bars, and high calorie deserts.

I think the thing we need to remember is that diet authors generally come to the table with their own emotional eating issues and weaknesses fully in view if you're willing to look at them, and so their diet plans, good or bad, need to be looked at and examined beneath that light. To Dr. Atkins, his main focus was on getting rid of hunger, getting rid of the need for self-discipline, and capitalizing on the benefits of pleasure eating. Luxurious foods. And tables spread with tempting sensational foods.

Which to him, meant a completely different way, than the way other diets (typical low calorie, low fat diets) tended to approach the problems of obesity. "When you do Atkins, you eliminate virtually all refined sugar and flour and processed foods. Instead, you're in an alliance with Mother Nature, who really did provide for us very well."

So on one hand, we have Dr. Atkins supporting the low-carb processed foods community, and on the other hand, we have him supporting a more natural form of diet. So which is it???

One of the most interesting things I've "seen" within Dr. Atkins' writings are these very contradictions. Because I believe what he was trying to do with them was to give each one of us, wherever we might be currently standing, the TOOLS we need to not only accomplish weight loss, but to also embrace it totally.

So while one person might "need" modern-day low carb diet products to reach that goal, another might not. Hence, the contradiction which really isn't a contradiction at all. Because both statements are true, depending upon the direction you, yourself, are coming from.

If you're emotionally addicted to food, the Atkins Plan doesn't take that addiction from you. It just teaches you how to keep it under control. How to gain a more moderate, normal way of eating. By incorporating as many processed foods as needed to stay on plan. While if you have overcome your emotional addiction to food, and don't need all those imitation products and recipe helps, the Atkins Plan has plenty to offer you too in the way of a more naturally meat and veggie diet.

Something for everyone,
seems to be the name of the game. Because after all, the GOAL is weight loss. And HOW we get there, isn't necessarily as important as getting there is. At least, not to the doc.

August 20, 2007

Chocolate Mayonnaise Pound Cake - Low Carb Recipe

Low-Carb Chocolate Pound Cake Made with Mayonnaise
Yes! You Can Eat Real
Chocolate Cake on Low Carb!

(This One Isn't Gluten Free
But Only 6-1/2 Net Carbs)
The first time I tried to make a chocolate cake low carb, I was terrified of messing up.

Low-carb baking ingredients are not cheap, and I had visions in my head of it coming out a doughy mess that tasted awful.

Didn't happen.

No one will know it's low carb if you don't tell them. Guaranteed!

I did have to let the low-carb cake, after frosting, sit overnight tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, to help the moisture in the cake redistribute itself, but I have to do that with gluten-free cakes, too. They just come out better that way.

This one is made with almond flour and vital wheat gluten, which is why I don't have a real picture and cannot ever get one for you. But this is an honest-to-goodness chocolate pound cake that I topped with a rich-and-thick cream cheese frosting.

You'll absolutely LOVE the carb count: It's only 6-1/2 net carbs per normal-sized serving.

Heroin Wings Recipe and Review

Dana Carpenter's Heroine Wing Recipes Plus My Spice Adaptions
These Heroin Wings can be
Adapted to Spices You Have
On Hand - Plus, More!
Have you tried Dana Carpenter's Heroin Wings yet?

These are amazing!

And properly named, I might add, because they are simply addictive. Once you try them, you'll want to put them on the menu again and again and again. They are just that good.

When a friend first gave me the recipe, I didn't rush to the kitchen right away. I kept putting it off. I couldn't see how dried Parmesan cheese could make anything even remotely like a fried chicken crust.

Plus, I wasn't eating chicken skin back then. I was doing a low-carb, low-fat diet.

Hubby doesn't like hot wings very much, so when I moved to a diet break, I finally took the risk, and boy oh boy was I ever shocked! Parmesan cheese bakes up nicely into a fried-like chicken crust. I still can't believe it's real.

August 19, 2007

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

Atkins and Protein Power are quite often referred to as Ketogenic Diets. Mostly because of their power to invoke the dietary path of Lipolysis/Ketosis. So I was more than a little bit intrigued when someone over at LCF posted a clip from the Diet and Body website about their use of a Fat Burning Index as a tool to help measure a food's influence on lipolysis. The "claim" is that the higher the ratio between fat and protein + carbohydrate, the more body fat can potentially be burnt.

So I took a trip over there this morning to check it out.

The site claims that to enable body fat loss, one needs to eat at a ratio of at least 1.5, with 4 to 1 being optimum. And that because 50 percent of the protein we eat is turned into glucose, we need to keep protein especially low. This translates into replacing the carbs and protein with fat. Because "only then" will the body recognize its own fat as fuel, and burn it.

Quite a bit of it sounded far-fetched to me. Especially the idea that our body can't recognize it's own method of fat storage, without a super high fat to protein/carb ratio, much the same as when low-carb folks talk about eating high-fat so as to TRICK our bodies into burning their own fat stores. Plus I didn't like the idea of trying to diet on a protein intake as low as 20 grams.

So I set out on a small web expedition to find out the truth of it all.

Yale University defines a Ketogenic Diet as being "very high in fat (about 90 percent of the calories come from fat). Protein is given in amounts that help promote growth. A very small amount of carbohydrate is included in the diet."

While Wikipedia defines it a bit differently: "The diet typically provides 3 to 4 grams of fat for every 1 gram of carbohydrate and protein combined. A likely ketogenic diet is comprised of about 88% fat, 10% protein, and 2% of carbohydrate energy."

After some further research, it appears that the 4 to 1 ratio is the John Hopkins protocol standard for treating epilepsy in children, but that there are many different types of Ketogenic Diets with not all of their ratios the same. The diets for weight loss and/or insulin-diabetes control vary from a 2 to 1 ratio to 4 to 1, depending upon the severity of the insulin resistance and/or blood sugar control needed. With a normal diet weighing in at around 1 to 3 or even 1 to 2.

Which means that a "true" Ketogenic Diet is not a fad diet as low-carb critics claim, by any stretch of the imagination, but a well known, well accepted medical intervention technique which because of all the side effects possible, due to the extremely low protein intake, should be carried out under medical supervision.

To better understand what the ratios mean, a 3 to 1 diet is around 75% fat, and a 4 to 1 ratio is around 80%. Now there are lots of Atkins folks who are upping their fat percentages to these higher levels, but keeping their protein way above typical Ketogenic levels of 20 to 40 grams of protein per day. So I don't know if you can call what they are doing Ketogenic or not.

The Diet and Body website also appealed to what Dr. Bernstein is doing as justification for their dieting ideas. Even though his diet is way more logical and safe than theirs is. I don't know what the ratio is for Dr. Bernstein's diet, as I didn't take the time to do that, but I did glance over his dieting suggestions. Since his perspective is coming from complete blood sugar control, rather than weight loss, he believes in keeping your carbs and protein grams constant from day to day.

While he advocates 30 grams of carb spread out over the day, (one suggestion being 6 for breakfast and 12 for both lunch and dinner), he didn't exactly specify a total protein amount like the Diet and Body website claimed he did, but allows the dieter to decide what the minimum amount of protein it will take to satisfy them is. The "example" in the book was 72, which is where the Diet and Body website made their mistake.

I couldn't find anything on the web that backs up the idea that 50% of the protein we eat is always turned into glucose, even though I've heard that repeated a lot lately, but I did find one Ketogenic source that claimed 10% is usually converted into sugar. Maybe it's an individual thing. I don't know. But when I get done readying the 2002 edition of Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, I think I'm going to read Dr. Bernstein's book again and see if I can pin down some of these things.

August 17, 2007

How Strict Do We "Really" Need To Be???

I've decided to take the rest of the weekend off.

Not off of low-carbing...
or off of blogging...
but off from both Fitday and keeping tract of my menus, other than counting my daily carbs. I've come to the end of my colon cleansing, and I really need to give my body time to re-cooperate from all of that. Plus I want to come up with a plan -- where I want to go from here.

The truth is -- "strictly Atkins" isn't any more healthy than "strictly Kimkins" is, as they are both the two extremes of the low carb world. So I need to take some time to find a happy medium. That common sense approach to the lifestyle change I am supposed to be making.

When I did Atkins 72 Induction the first week in June, my Fitday records show that my fat consumption ranged between 125 and 150 fat grams per day. That was with 1600 to 1800 calories. On the other side of the coin we have current-day Kimkins advocating that we keep our fat consumption below 30 grams per day. With an average calorie intake of 600 to 800.

These represent the two extremes.

But it's a bit more complicated than simply drawing a line down the middle, doing the math, and coming up with numbers that fit exactly between these two plans.

I spent a lot of time researching Kimkins before leaving Atkins behind. Although I couldn't "afford" to join the Kimkins site, I did do lots of reading over at Low Carb Friends, especially the "Ask Kimmer" and original K/E thread. I did lots of praying about what I should do, and lots of pondering and meditation.

If you put Kimmer on your left side and Dr. Atkins on your right side, the answer I got fell just to the "right" of Kimmer. Which to me means a diet that is higher in fat and calories than Kimmer recommends, but not the free-for-all that Atkins recommends either.

So the question I am currently struggling with, is just how strict do we really have to be? Is it imperative that we cut out cheese, pork rinds, and other high-calorie low-carb products and recipes in order to reach our goal quickly, or is that just a smoke screen that Kimmer threw up because she couldn't figure out how to make the diet work quickly "for her" any other way?

If the true goal is to enact a total lifestyle change that will bring about fast, but lasting, weight loss, then the fastness with which we choose to lose our weight also needs to be done with a little common sense. Weight loss of a pound a day certainly isn't necessary. But when you're as overweight as I have been, and still am, three to four pounds a week certainly is. Because I've been doing this dieting game for several months now, since the beginning of January, and I've noticed that lately I have been getting "very tired" of playing the game.

If you can't tell, I have a lot of mixed emotions about all of this.

Because I'm not so sure that teaching myself that I don't NEED emotionally satisfying and luxurious foods, wonderful great-tasting recipes, including deserts, and creative outlets for cooking, is really going to breed successful maintenance in the long term.

I know that not everyone agrees with this. I've been hearing questions lately concerning why some of us would even "want" to start eating the same types of foods that got us fat in the first place, even with the lower carbs. And I don't really have a good answer for them.

Except that when you feel like you're living outside of the box, which is how you feel when you are the ONLY one in your life doing low-carb, or at least the only one who is taking the matter seriously enough to stay on plan, you begin to understand that what got you fat in the first place wasn't technically the foods you were eating, but the lack of moderation. The lack of temperance in your life. And the misunderstanding and disinformation all of that brings with it.

I know that I have to come up with some type of structure that is simple enough to one day become automatic. But at the same time, common sense also says it can't be so regimented that I allow myself to become obsessed with staying between the lines. We have to be able to enjoy life. We have to be able to be a part of, and participate in, life. We have to be adaptable. Which is what I think Kimkins severely lacks. Adaptability to the moment.

Because life doesn't come in just black and white. Right and wrong. There's brown and yellow and pink and purple and all of the colors of the rainbow. And it's the rainbow that make the storms worth living through--

Real Strawberry Popsicles

How to Make Popsickles With Fresh Strawberries
Keep Cool with These
Low-Carb Popsickles with
Fresh Strawberries
I found this recipe on my favorite recipe site several years ago, Recipe Zaar. Unfortunately, the site no longer exists.

It caught my attention, not only because I wanted to try my hand at making homemade popsicles that summer, but these sweet treats would actually be a healthy, low-carb way to work some low-glycemic fruit into your diet.

I have lots of frozen strawberries in the freezer that we bought when they were a good price. Freezing would be a great way to have them available all year long.

Freezing berries is super easy. Just wash, remove the green portion on top, and toss them into a zip-lock bag whole. Whole frozen berries make a great strawberry pie. You can also slice some of them for shakes and homemade smoothies, and these yummy low-carb popsickles, of course.

August 16, 2007

Maple-Cinnamon Pork Kabobs

Skewered Meats and Vegetables Make Filling Low-Carb Dinner
Shish Kabob is Inexpensive
and Low Carb
With lots of pork still left over from our last Sam's Club trip, we've been eating quite a few pork chops lately.

The other night, I felt like doing something different.

I've been wanting to do kabobs again for awhile now, ever since they turned out so well when the in-laws were home, but I just hadn't gotten around to it.

Unti now.

Not until I had reached the point where I just couldn't look at another pork chop in the eye. I finally buckled down and tried them again. And I am so glad that I did.

Shish Kabobs are extremely inexpensive, and low in carbs, depending on the type of vegetables you decide to use. Simple to do, they are a one-dish wonder. Perfect for company and family alike.

Just thread a skewer with marinated meat and vegetables, grill, and eat. Nothing could be simpler. Or more tasty.

August 15, 2007

The Truth About Sugar Alcohols

I was reading in Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution this morning, the 2002 edition, about the differences between carbohydrates and how they are not all alike. That different types of carbs affect blood sugar levels to varying degrees. The most familar of these carbs is sugar/starches which send blood sugars soaring and insulin levels high enough to cause the body to go into fat-storing mode, rather than fat-burning mode. But there are other types of carbs that have lesser effects on the body.

Cellulose, for instance, is different from starch and glycogen because it can't be digested by the body. It simply passes through the digestive system without being absorbed. Which is where the concept for "net" carbs comes into play. When folks talk about available carbohydrate, they are generally referring to all carbs except fiber, since we can't digest it. The U.S. determines carbohydrates "by difference." They measure protein, fat, water, and ash in 100 grams of food, subtract that amount from 100, then assign the label of carbohydrate to everything else. Which can make it difficult to analyze just how much available carbohydrate any particular food and/or product really has.

Today, Atkins Nutritionals Inc., as well as low carb product manufacturing companies, insist that we count net "impact" carbs, rather than just net carbs. Which means that in addition to fiber content, they also want us to also subtract glycerin, sugar alcohols, and polydextrose. The claim is that these chemicals have a negligible effect on our blood sugar levels, therefore they don't belong in our carb calculations. But is that really true?

In 1999, the last time I was on Atkins, sugar alcohols of any type were not allowed. But with the 2002 new edition of the diet, things changed. The new recommendation was that all non-blood sugar impacting carbs didn't have to be counted when doing Atkins. Which today has been interpreted as meaning fiber, all sugar alcohols, glycerin and polydextrose. Yet if this was true, that sugar alcohols, glycerin and polydextrose are non-blood sugar impacting carbs, then their glycemic index value would be flat out zero.

Only TWO of the sugar alcohols have a glycemic index of zero. Several others have a very low GI, and two have GI values higher than 50 which essentially makes them very comparable to regular table sugar which has a value of 62.

GI Values of Sugar Alcohols
Maltitol Syrup = 48 to 53 with regular syrup = 52
Polyglycitol (hydrogenated starch hydrolysate) = 39
Maltitol Syrup (high polymer) = 36
Maltitol = 36
Xylitol = 13
Isomalt = 9
Sorbitol = 9
Lactitol = 6
Erythritol = 0
Mannitol = 0

So what about Glycerin? Glycerin is a liquid by-product from making soap. And yes, 75g has a neglible effect on blood sugar in "normal" individuals. But if you have type 2 diabetes with an overactive liver, it can most certainly give you problems.

What about the polydextrose used so much in low-carb cooking and products? A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December, 2000, confirms that it too has a negligible impact on blood sugars. And is essentially non-glycemic.

Maltitol crystals and/or syrup is one of the most commonly used sugar alcohols -- think Russel Stover chocolates. So they DO have a "significant" effect on blood sugars. Almost as much as regular table sugar. While erythritol and mannitol have NO EFFECT. And the others have "minimal" effect. So make sure you are checking the labels of the products that you buy and use, and especially steer clear of Maltitol, because not all sugar alcohols are the same.

August 14, 2007

Free Meals, Refeeds, and Cycling

I got a question the other day from a new reader who wanted to know about free meals and refeeds.

I first ran into the concept of cycling over at Low Carb Friends when a poster began talking about how she was cycling between Atkins and Kimkins -- because the Atkins Nutritional Approach had stopped working for her, and because the Kimkins approach would cause her to stall after about a week or so.

What she was doing was using Kimkins to lose as much weight as her body wanted to lose for that week, then she would move over to Atkins to maintain the loss. Then, when she was ready to do another round of Kimkins, she would do a week on Kimkins again, before moving back to Atkins Induction. She would even take the time to move up the carb ladder, as if she were in pre-maintenance. It worked very well for her, and many followed her lead, and have also been successful. I just read this past week, that she has now reached goal.

My next experience with cycling was when I became aware of a recipe blog written by a man who goes by the name of Big Daddy D. Every other weekend, he takes time off from his diet, and increases his carb count significantly. If you go to his blog here, Big Daddy D's Low Carb Life, and scroll down the right hand side, you'll find where he is willing to share with his readers exactly how he does this. It's working as well for him as sticking constantly to Atkins was.

Next amid all of the Kimkins controversy, came a new thread over at Low Carb Friends called "Doing Kimkins -- keeping it healthy and sane". With Jimmy dropping his support of Kimkins and returning to Atkins Maintenance, a lot of the Kimkins folks over there decided to try cycling in connection with Kimkins to make it a more healthy approach.

The two major cycling methods used at this time are Free Meals and/or Refeeds. A free meal is exactly that. A SINGLE meal that breaks your diet. It's purpose is mostly psychological, but it also is "supposed" to help raise hormone levels, such as Leptin, to help the diet work better. I say supposed, because it doesn't work for everyone.

Some people confine themselves to a single hour, like Carbohydrate Addicts suggests, or perhaps only a single food choice, while others just make a long, leisurely meal out of it. Including desert. The idea is to give yourself what those on the Atkins Approach call a "planned" cheat. For many, it helps to make it easier to stick to the plan afterwards. Provided you don't use your trigger foods during this time off. Initially you'll gain a pound or two depending upon what and how much you've eaten. This is the method that MOST are using.

Refeeds are a much LONGER break, and can last anywhere from a day to a weekend, to even several months. Depending upon your individual needs.

There is another thread at Low Carb Friends called "Refeeds and Free Meals" which explains all of this in much more depth if anyone is interested. Including excerpts and quotes from several books on the subject. I'm not really knowledgeable enough to do that here, since this diet ploy doesn't really work for me.

In the beginning of my weight loss efforts, I would do this free meal thing, generally on Sundays whenever we went to our friends' house for dinner. But eventually it got to the point where it was more important to me to lose the weight, than it was to have that little bit of pasta or a piece of garlic bread. So I stopped doing it, and my weight loss picked up speed. Dramatically.

I am NOT one who can utilize these types of tools consistently without paying a heavy price for them. My last free meal was when my husband and I were invited out to lunch last month by a friend who took us for Chinese food. I skipped the rice, ate just the orange-flavored chicken, some egg drop soup, and a fried chicken wing instead of an egg roll. Although I didn't "gain" any weight from that meal, it did throw me out of Ketosis a FEW DAYS LATER and kept me out of Ketosis for nearly two weeks!!

So for me, this type of thing has to be very, very occasional. Only as real life (such as the case with our friend) enters into the picture. For others, it only slows them down for a few days. They gain a few pounds, go back into ketosis almost right away, then begin losing again. So it's a very individual thing.

The thing to remember is that this isn't just as Kimkins thing, even though the Anti-Kimmer blogs out there are painting it as such -- taking some of the book excerpts posted in these threads out of context, and claiming Kimkinites are following exactly what these Refeed books are recommending. And calling it healthy. Which is not true. Atkinites were doing this cycling business FIRST. And have been doing this for quite some time now.

What I'm personally doing is basically sticking to Kimkins, but with a bit higher fat and calorie content than Kimmer would "currently" recommend, (similar to her ORIGINAL guidelines where you were instructed to eat as much fat as you needed to make your menu work), then adding in Atkins-type days as needed, or as life requires. Rather than cycling between Kimkins and Atkins in an organized manner, I am doing it a bit haphazardly. Which is working well for me. And keeping my body guessing--because your body can even adapt to Atkins or any other low-carb plan if you are consistently feeding it exactly the same number of carbs each and every day.

August 11, 2007

What's All the Ruckus About Low Fat?

I grew up during the Twiggy generation, when fat-phobia was chic, and low-calorie, low-fat diets were the norm. So when I bumped into Dr. Atkins in the 70s it was a whole new world for me. A whole new outlook. A whole new way of relating to food. And even though I had my closest allies working against me, I never forgot or defected from the lessons and principles I had learned during that time. After all, the diet worked just as the doc had promised. There was no denying that.

As the years went by, and the weight returned, however, I fell into that manipulative ditch that said I couldn't "afford" to lose what I had regained by returning to what worked. So I'd have to do it the old-fashioned way. The low-calorie, low-fat way. The Weight Watchers way. Did that work? Up to a point--the point where I now know Leptin joined the forces against me. Plus I kept getting attacked by boxes of Weight Watcher ice cream sandwiches. And hunger so strong I would have probably eaten my shoe if those sandwiches hadn't been around to solve the problem.

I'm not talking about working one of those sandwiches into my current Weight Watcher's day. I'm talking about hunger so strong I was driven to devour the entire box in a single sitting. For three days in a row. Each morning I would get up and make a vow to get back on track. And each day by noon I had totally blown it...yet again. Set points can be miserable creatures.

Now that I know better, that the low carb lifestyle doesn't cost any more than Weight Watcher's did, and now that I've gotten above my health issues that kept me from living the way I really wanted to live, I seem to be stronger in my convictions. Less tempted by the things that always proved my downfall before. But also saddened by the greater majority of those who are traveling the same path as I at this particular time.

I'm a big believer that nothing happens by accident. That everything is created, or at least allowed, by heavenly forces. So my traveling the diet path today, instead of in the early part of this century when I first began my second round of Atkins, is certainly by design. But it is also much harder. Because most folks today traveling within low-carb circles just aren't as accepting and loving towards each other as they were back then.

In 1999 when I first gained Internet access, Atkins was a much simpler route. There was no low-carb products to tempt us, no Kimmer to change the dieting rules, no talk about starvation mode, no demand that we consume an "x" amount of veggies, or that we eat 10 to 12 times our current body weight in calories. There was no obsession with how much fat we were or were not consuming, either. There was just carbs and ketostix and each other.

So what's all the ruckus about low-fat today?

The more I read Dr. Atkins, the more I am understanding that we, in general, tend to take and filter his words through our own current belief systems and understandings. We basically "see" and "cleave" unto that which we want to see and believe. Not what is really there. And most certainly, not even what is TRUE.

Because after reading the first two chapters of his 2002 version, it's very plain to me that Dr. Atkins went out of his way to make it clear to his readers that when he is dissing on low-fat diets, it is ALWAYS in connection with either eating higher carbs along with that lower fat, or eating all of the excess sugars that manufacturers put into their low-fat products in order to make them more palatable. It is sugar that he deemed to be metabolic poison, not lower fat; and yet his followers today are running around behaving and talking like a lower fat diet is the road to failure. And even death.

C'mon people.

When you analysis a typical, run-of-the-mill, low-fat, low-calorie diet, what do you find? A diet loaded with lots of veggies, or a diet loaded with starches and sugars? This certainly holds true for Weight Watchers back when I was a member there, with its 2-3 servings of bread/cereals/starches a day, 3 servings of fruit, 2 servings of milk, plus an additional 500 calories a week of free foods which could be spent on either more bread, fruit, and milk, or junk foods like cake, candy, cookies, and potato chips, if desired.

So isn't the point Dr. Atkins was trying to make, one of junk food cuisine continuing to be the staple of the American diet, even when that diet contained lower fat choices? Like those Weight Watchers used to provide? Wasn't his point that lower fat didn't necessary translate into a healthy diet (like Weight Watcher Points today being completely open to personal interpretation and desire) because of all of the added sugars and carbs?

Yes the low-fat, low-calorie diet in vogue is designed in such a way as to create a nation of fat, tired, unhealthy people. But that's ONLY because typical low-fat diets don't address the Insulin Resistance problem that sits at the very heart of obesity. Yes we need an adequate amount of essential fatty acids in our diet. But "who" is qualified to say just how much that is for any particular individual?

Whenever Dr. Atkins criticizes a low-fat diet in his books, it has always been in connection with those diets containing too many carbs, plus being presented as Gospel. Presented as the ONLY WAY to lose weight, when they are not. Especially since low-fat gurus tend to criticize controlled carb approaches, to the exclusion of their own misinformed, distorted dogma. He wasn't talking about using a controlled carb approach in connection with lower fat. But about diets that do nothing to heal our disturbed blood sugar metabolisms, our excessive insulin, and all the health issues and diseases that go along with metabolic syndrome.

So if we want to share what "we" believe in regards to diet, fat, calories, and such...fine. But let's stop taking things out of proper context, attributing to Dr. Atkins things he never said.

August 08, 2007

Doing It One Day At A Time

Looking at how far we still have to go can be very overwhelming. In my own case, that's a little less than 80 pounds. I'm not quite half-way there yet. So try not to dwell or focus there. Because when real life comes along, and you have to make choices that aren't exactly Atkins/Kimkins/Protein Power friendly, you need to be in a "lifetime-change" frame of mind. We have heard this so very, very often, but still it tends to escape us.

Life happens, and we don't always stay on plan. That is reality. But instead of worrying about it, wishing we'd made different choices, or agonizing over the consequences we must now pass through, we need to pick ourselves up, understand that we did the "best" we could do at the time, forgive ourselves, and go on. Because it's the 'going on' part that is going to cause us to be successful. Not giving up, even for the rest of the day. We can't undo the past, but we can make new and better commitments to the future--

So when life interferes and you have to make a choice that is less than optimal, give yourself permission to make that choice, but then get right back on plan with your very next bite. Don't wait until tomorrow. Don't wait until Monday. And most certainly, don't wait until next week. Because that type of procrastination is the type of behavior that will damage your maintenance efforts later on.

This very minute, this very moment, is the first minute/moment of the rest of your life. Sure that sounds clique. It is. But sometimes clique can be truer than life.

We are in a very real battle of wills. So stop lying to yourself. Weight loss isn't about will-power, or even the lack thereof. It is about enslavement and empowerment. A battle for control. If you say you're going to start over today, this minute, then DO IT. Don't give your subconscious mind the chance to distrust you. Be honest with yourself, and keep your word.

Because when we don't, we give food the power to rule over us.

We are the ones who are supposed to be in charge. We are the ones who make the choices. Good or bad. A lifetime change, means exactly that -- CHANGE. It doesn't mean that we sit around wallowing in self-pity because life didn't go our way. And it doesn't mean that we sit around feeling miserable and depressed because we put ourselves into a situation where there were "no" legal food choices available.

Change means we accept life as it comes. We accept it...and go on. We don't pretend falling off the wagon isn't happening, and we don't try to cover our sins with a multitude of excuses. Because if we return to how we ate before, (always putting right choices off until tomorrow), we will weigh what we did before. While, if we stand up and accept the stumbles as inevitable, determined to make the necessary changes "within" ourselves a permanent state of being, automatic, we will eventually reap success.

JUST FOR TODAY...I WILL STAY ON PLAN.

Orange-Ginger Pork Chops

These Orange-Ginger Pork Chops Make a Tasty Low-Carb Dinner
Marinades and Spices Will
Perk Up Your Low-Carb Meals
I am always looking for great marinades, and this one turned out to be a winner.

I'm sure I'll be experimenting with it on other things too, like perhaps crock pot chicken or ribs.

My husband absolutely loved it. He kept raving and raving all night about it. Probably, because I tend to just sprinkle the chops ahead of time with meat tenderizer, then broil them with garlic and onion powder, rather than doing anything fancy.

This marinade gave the pork a very nice flavor though. While the garlic and ginger are regular ingredients at our house, what really made these Orange-Ginger Pork Chops special was how I got that orange flavor.

August 07, 2007

Authentic Beef and Broccoli (Low Carb)

Low-Carb Beef and Broccoli Recipe that Tastes Like the Real Thing
Don't Miss the Authentic
Flavor of This Low-Carb
Beef and Broccoli Recipe
Before I started Atkins in January of 2007, my husband and I ate a lot of Chinese and Mexican Food.

After going low carb, I spent a long time working out how to de-carb our favorite dishes, so I could put them back into our diet. Although, hubby didn't need to go low carb, he ate whatever I cooked, so my recipes always serve 2 to 4.

We were given almost a whole deer that winter I decarbed this, so I had lots of meat to practice with.

The following recipe is the closest I've been able to come, so far, to an autentic beef and broccoli recipe, and still stay within a low-carb protocol. The recipe does take a few liberties, such as a bit of cornstarch, but these are liberties I took myself when I was doing the weight-loss phase of Atkins.

August 06, 2007

Are you Getting Enough Sleep--the Leptin Connection

Sleep deprivation, and the effects of such on weight loss, came up on my Atkins' Support list a couple of months ago. At the time, I thought it was an interesting subject, since I suffer from a lot of insomnia. No one knew the specifics, but the owner of that list had seen a special on TV about it. When the subject came up again on my Kimkins list, I thought it was about time I looked into the what and whys of such phenomena.

A lot of hormones are affected by the amount of sleep we get. For example, Growth Hormone, which is released during DEEP sleep and regulates the proportion of fat and muscle we have, as well as Cortisol, the hormone released when we are under stress, are both reduced when we don't get enough sleep. So is Leptin. That hormone everyone in the low carb world is talking about these days, in connection with free meals and refeeds.

When we don't get enough sleep, Leptin is reduced and Ghrelin is increased. These two hormones working together is what makes us feel hungry, or satisfied.

The greater majority of Leptin in made within our fat cells, so the more body fat we have, the higher the Leptin circulating in our blood. However, if we get less than 7 hours sleep minimum per night on a regular basis, the body's ability to use Leptin properly is greatly reduced. We become "resistant" to it in much the same way that we become resistant to Insulin. We also become resistant to Leptin if our triglycerides are too high. If we are in "any degree" overweight, we have plenty of Leptin being produced and running around, but for some reason, it isn't able to get past the brain blood barrier and into our brain cells where it needs to notify the brain that we have more than enough body fat.

It takes less than a week of inadequate sleep to lower Leptin by as much as 19-26%. Which "might" be WHY some folks who enter into Ketosis, still don't lose their appetite and/or cravings for carbs. Because when Leptin is low, Ghrelin is high, and while it is Leptin's job to notify our brain in regards to just how fat we are, it is Ghrelin that actually gives us the appetite for carbs and sugary junk. So when we don't get the recommended amount of sleep, it makes us more hungry than when we do. And not just hungry for "any" food, but high-calorie, high-carb foods in particular.

The metabolism itself is also affected by the amount of sleep we get. Particularly our carb metabolism. Because when Growth Hormone is low, it reduces our body's ability to lose fat and grow muscle. We also burn less calories when we don't get enough sleep. The body will conserve them, hence adapt to whatever our current intake of carbs, calories, and fat is. This is most likely caused because Leptin itself has a role in how fat is metabolized.

Recent studies are showing that the fat that is stored in the muscle, liver, and pancreatic beta cells, is responsible for Insulin Resistance. Not the fat that is trapped/stored within our fat cells. And it's Leptin that helps to reduce the lipids in our organs by causing the fat to be burned within the organ fat cell itself. Rather than metabolizing it in the same way the fat within our fat cells is metabolized.

Now, the majority of Leptin that is produced by our fat storage cells, doesn't interfere with our surplus body fat. But the Leptin that is produced by our liver does. So that's the type of Leptin that is extremely valuable for weight loss.

After 7 days of dieting, (ANY dieting, low-carb and/or low-calorie alike), Leptin reduces by as much as 50%, (because of that initial whoosh we get) then continues to reduce further from there as our fat storage reduces. Which is why, as our dieting continues, we don't "notice" the side effect of no-hunger Ketosis as much as we did initially. Because Leptin is lowering and appetite producing Ghrelin is increasing as body fat goes down.

So if you're struggling to keep your Leptin up at normal levels, and keep them at normal levels, if you're using "free meals" and/or "refeeds" to help rid your body of surplus inner organ fat, or if you're using Leptin to jump-start a stall, then also make it a point to get a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep each and every night. Because sleep can be just as detrimental to our Leptin levels as dieting can.

August 03, 2007

Following the Precepts of Low Carb

I finally got around to beginning the 2002 edition of The New Diet Revolution this morning. And in the Introduction, Dr. Atkins makes a very interesting statement: "Certainly of the millions of people who've read it ["it" being the original 1992 version of the book] a large percentage followed it precepts, lost weight, kept it off and decisively improved their health." The interesting word here, being precepts.

A precept is basically a "rule of conduct", a commandment of behavior. So a great majority of those who read and followed the 1992 edition of The New Diet Revolution written by Dr. Atkins were able to lose weight and keep it off by following the rules of the diet as set down in that book.

However, he goes on to say: "What you hold in your hands is a thoroughly rewritten version of that work. Having listened with care to the people who followed my weight control program, I've clarified and improved the "do-ability" of the practical chapters of this book."

A thoroughly re-written version of what had already helped millions lose weight and keep in off. WHY? Why the need to fix something that isn't broken? Why the need to change the rules?

I can understand a new book putting forth greater clarity because a writer can't always foresee the questions a reader is going to have about any given subject. I can also understand the need for a new book that shares what research has found since the last book was written. But why was there such a great need to make the already-working diet more "do-able," when it already had a trail of success millions long? What was so UN-do-able about his original plan?

I found the answer to that question in the Acknowledgments, and I wasn't very happy with the answer: "The revision of this book was a massive team effort. Michael Bernstein, senior vice president of Atkins Health and Medical Information Services at Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., led the team."

Dr. Atkins himself didn't "lead" the team???? Atkins' Nutritionals did????

"Olivia Bell Bushl, the company's information director, coordinated and edited the copy. Contributing writer Bill Fryer reworked much of the manuscript."

Interesting indeed. Because what this is saying to me, is that the latest Atkins' book wasn't re-written because following the "precepts" of the original book didn't work. It was re-written for another purpose entirely. And that the re-writing process itself wasn't led by Dr. Atkins, but by a TEAM of "information" folks over at Atkins' Nutritionals, with Dr. Atkins himself playing a "minor" role.

Hmmmm.

Looks like one of the posters on my Atkins' Support group who keeps saying not to take the 2002 edition of the diet as Gospel, because it was mostly written by Atkins' Nutritionals, might not be as crazy as he first appeared. He has constantly advised us on that list to READ the introduction. READ the acknowledgments, and see for ourselves. And what I am seeing here, is exactly what he has been proposing over the past year that I've been on that list. That every statement attributed to Dr. Atkins in that book needs to be taken as suspect.

But what does that actually mean?

I'll have a better grip on that question as the "changes" and "more do-ability" begin to unfold, as I continue reading the book more carefully than I have in the past, but for now, I'd just like to point out that while new information and research findings do cause us to re-think prior positions and re-evaluate what we currently believe and why, true principles don't change. True principles remain constant. True principles are eternal.

While our goals and focus may change, within the parameters of any individual diet, causing likewise changes in precepts, (a diets' "rules" or "commandments" for behavior), principles are a whole other matter. Principles cross over specific diet guidelines. They hold true for all low-carb plans. Because principles are the very foundation upon which low carbing works. Which means you can't change the foundation, without also changing the results received.

So while Dr. Atkins' might have changed his precepts in 2002, or "allowed" Atkins' Nutritionals to change them, he didn't change the foundation upon which low carbing works. He didn't change the PRINCIPLES. And in my own mind-set, following the principles is much more important than following any particular diet's precepts. Because precepts change. While Principles do not.

August 01, 2007

Salmon Burgers with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Bowl of Tartar Sauce
Homemade Tartar Sauce
for Fish
We tried the new salmon steaks we bought at Sam's Club last night. World Catch Wild Alaskan Salmon Burgers, they were called. 

They were wonderful.

I was a bit nervous when we bought them. Although, they were round like burgers, my eyesight wasn't really good enough to read the ingredients at the store.

I was more or less going by the amount of carbs they had in them as to just how bready they were going to be. I'm not real crazy about fish sticks. Some pressed fish products can be pretty awful, and light on meat, but the price was right, so we decided to give them a try.