October 28, 2012

Can You Be In Ketosis and Not Lose Weight?

In 1972, Dr. Atkins introduced the world to the concept of carbohydrate sensitivity. 

He talked about the damage that excessive carbohydrates can do to your metabolism, suggested that overweight and obesity was caused from a metabolic defect, and played up the necessity of being in the state of ketosis to achieve effective weight loss.

Since then, many low-carb dieters have mistakenly thought that the number of ketones that have backed up in the bloodstream is what makes the diet work. It doesn't, and this strong misconception -- that ketones are vital to the fat loss process -- has caused a lot of confusion. 

While being in ketosis is essential to initially trigger the metabolic changes needed to switch from predominantly burning glucose to predominantly burning fats for fuel, you can certainly be in ketosis but not lose weight. 

Here's why:

October 25, 2012

Indoor Grilled Chicken, Low-Carb Style

Indoor Grilled Chicken
Makes Super Fast 
Low-Carb Diet Meal
What do you normally think of when you picture Italian food?

Probably not something that’s quick and easy to fix.

Am I right?

Most people think about homemade spaghetti and meatballs, Lasagna with spicy sausage chunks, or an extra-large slice of pizza with all of the trimmings and extra mozzarella cheese.

While you can certainly find alternative ways to replace most of those dishes, minus the carbs, with the holidays right around the corner, you’re going to need a few low-carb dinner ideas that are quick and simple.

Here’s one of my favorites.

October 21, 2012

Endocrine Disruptors – Should I Be Concerned?

Dishwashing Soap Can Be an Endocrine Disruptor
Should You Care About the
Endocrine Disruptors in Your Life?
As many of you know, my blood glucose levels tend to go wonky every now and then.

While I used to believe that phenomenon was connected to the amount of carbohydrates I was eating, so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.

Yes, the number of carbs I eat matters when the glucose level is not under control, but so far, carbohydrates have never turned out to be the cause. Instead, food sensitivities, such as gluten and GMO corn, have always sat at the heart of the problem.

Once I uncover the offending food and remove it from my life, the glucose levels have always returned to normal. When I started reacting to something again this past summer, however, I was at a loss as to what was causing it.

October 17, 2012

How to Survive Halloween on a Low-Carb Diet

Bowl of Halloween Candy
How to Survive Halloween on a Low-Carb Diet
(Photo by ylacarmoberg)

As Halloween approaches, a house loaded with Halloween candy for the neighborhood kiddies becomes a major problem for many low-carb dieters. My husband loves his mini candy bars and Tootsie Rolls, so I can certainly sympathize and relate. In fact, he started asking me on the very first day of October when I was going to buy the Halloween candy. Although he eats candy regularly – now that he’s given up smoking – he has a special fondness for Halloween. To him, it just isn’t Halloween without candy.

He tries to be sneaky about it. The candy is for all of those trick-or-treaters. We can’t disappoint the neighborhood kids, so maybe we should buy the candy early. That way we won’t have to settle for what’s leftover in the stores on the day before Halloween. I only played that game once. Once was more than enough to figure out I’d been duped. We live about half a dozen blocks from the local church, or less, so we don’t get many trick-or-treaters anymore. Most of the neighborhood kids now spend Halloween in the church parking lot playing Trunk-or-Treat.

What is Trunk-or-Treat?

Kids Playing Trunk or Treet
(Photo by Alfred Cunningham)
For Trunk-or-Treat, the kids dress up in their Halloween costumes, but instead of going door-to-door trick-or-treating, they simply go from car-to-car in the parking lot. Parents fill their trunks with bowls or sacks of candy and pass it out to the kids that show up. That’s nice and convenient for the parents and safer for the kids, but it cuts way down on the traffic to our front door. That means we actually don’t have to buy very much candy at all. Besides, it’s much cheaper to wait until the day after Halloween to buy my husband's candy because that’s when our local Walmart marks down whatever is left over to half-price.

Most Celebrations and Holidays Focus on Food

When you’re following a low-carb diet, the holidays can be especially difficult. Society seems to be extremely attached to food, especially sugary foods, so the holidays have always been loaded with goodies for as far back as I can remember. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day all have food at the center of attention, and this has been going on since way before obesity was tagged an epidemic. Holiday celebrations do not make you fat.

Halloween Party Food
Halloween Parties Focus on Food
(Photo by Collin Harvey)
When it comes to Halloween, there seems to be a certain degree of attraction and focus on spooky, unique, or comical costumes, haunted houses, and sometimes parties, but if you took the candy out of Halloween, it just wouldn’t feel the same anymore. It would be the same if you tried to take Christmas trees out of Christmas. Certain symbols, traditions, and foods play a major role in each holiday,  and having candy on Halloween is a holiday tradition that isn’t going to die easily. Let’s be honest…it’s not.

We can say that all we have to do is start adopting a few new traditions, and sometime down the road, they just might stick – but who would we be kidding? The fact that society moved from trick-or-treating to simply doing it collectively in a parking lot is a good sign that most people aren’t about to give up their sugary treats. Parties focus on food as much as trick-or-treating does. While that doesn’t have to be the case, currently, that’s the way it is. So rather than fighting against tradition, sometimes it’s best to look into what you can do to survive them.

Problems of Low-Carb Dieting During Halloween

Most food traditions are more noticeable when you begin a weight-loss diet, especially when you’ve chosen to restrict carbohydrates. Suddenly, the dietary habits of others become magnified. What you didn’t pay attention to before, now makes you feel deprived and left out. Your emotions go crazy, your mind tries to talk you into cheating, and you begin to wonder if it’s even realistic to turn this diet into a life-long project.

Adorable But Spooky Halloween Cupcakes
Spooky Halloween Cupcakes
(Photo by Cat)
When you’re counting carbohydrates rather than calories, you can no longer snatch a mini Hershey’s bar or individual package of M&Ms when you walk by the candy bowl. You can no longer save up a few extra calories to enjoy the spooky cupcakes or a glass of sparkling Halloween punch at the costume party. You might even find it difficult to figure out what to eat at your local restaurant after a trip through the Haunted House. For those that are new to a low-carb diet or those who have stalled in their weight-loss efforts, such times can be critical.

While it’s easy to say focus on everything but the food, when you can’t eat or drink anything that everyone around you is eating or drinking, that’s extremely difficult to do.

Eat Off Plan Strategically

Eating off plan isn’t necessarily bad. It’s certainly one way to survive Halloween. I did that myself almost every year when I was doing Atkins because the Carbalose, modified cornstarches, wheat starch, and Carbquick mixes low carbers were using to make Halloween treats never agreed with me. Today, I know it was because of the celiac disease, but back then, I didn’t know that. I just knew that the wheat proteins and low-carb products made me sick. Far sicker than cheating ever did because low-carb goodies are made with a high amount of gluten and GMO-corn in the form of sugar substitutes and other corn derivatives.

A Mini Candy Bar and Individual Bag of M&Ms
Eat Off Plan Strategically
(Photo by Chris RadCliff)
The key to eating off plan is to limit how much you eat. You don’t plop yourself down on the sofa in front of the television with the entire bowl of Halloween candy. You pick one or two servings of something you would like to have, and then call it good. You don’t wait until next week to go back onto your low-carb plan or even the next morning. You go right back to your healthy eating plan with the very next thing you put into your mouth. You don’t need to have carbs at dinner, carbs for dessert, carbs for snacks, and eat candy all on the same day just because it’s Halloween.

Pick the food tradition that matters most to you, relax, enjoy that particular food item, and then let it go. Now, that won’t work for everyone. If you have a food intolerance to something that’s in what you’re eating – milk or chocolate or wheat or high-fructose corn syrup, for example – it can send you into a binge, cause your blood glucose levels to soar into dangerous territory, make you feel bloated or downright awful. Not because of the carbohydrates, but because of the food ingredients you’re sensitive to.
Does that mean you can’t enjoy Halloween? Of course not. What it means is that you need to find a different way to make that day special for you.

Eat Something You Can’t Normally Afford

Now if you’re sensitive to wheat, dairy, or corn, have chosen to adopt a paleo-type lifestyle, or don’t believe in relaxing your diet even for a holiday or special occasion, you can always turn to a food that holds special meaning for you. Are there certain foods you can’t afford to eat on a regular basis? Are there recipes you love but can’t afford to make as often as you would like?

Host Serving Chicken Wings for Halloween Dinner Party
Eat Something You Can't Normally Afford
(Photo by Shawn Rossi)
In my area, chicken wings are extremely high-priced, but they are one of my favorite foods. Wild Salmon is also rather high here. Lamb is out of sight, but we love it. Surprisingly, boneless, fresh chicken breast is extremely low-priced, and we can buy bacon ends and real Amish butter for less than their conventional counterparts, but that isn’t true for everyone. You need to look at your own area and lifestyle and discover what would feel like a special treat for you.

It doesn’t have to be sugary, just because Halloween is associated with sugar and corn syrup, but it can be if that’s what’s important to you. Whip up a batch of sugar-free peppermint fudge, low-carb Halloween cut-out cookies, or a batch of cream-cheese frosted brownies. You can make a cheese ball rolled in chopped pecans and spread onto crackers made from almond meal. How about a nice sweet potato casserole topped with a streusel that’s loaded with dark-brown cane sugar, coconut, and pecans.

Since chicken wings are a luxury for me, I’m planning on having sesame chicken wings. The idea isn’t to fight feeling deprived. The idea is to recognize the holiday for what it is – AN EXCEPTION – and make it feel like a holiday celebration.

October 11, 2012

Impact of Corn Prices on a Low-Carb Diet

Rising Costs of GMO-Corn Feed Could Drive Up Beef Prices
High GMO-Feed Costs
Could Result in Beef Prices
Tripling for Low-Carb Diets 
As GMO corn-containing feed prices continue to rise, ranchers are turning to new and innovative ways to fatten up their cattle.

The mad search for alternatives isn’t all that surprising because the rumors surrounding the potential cost to raise beef these days could result in meat tripling or more in price.

This would be bad news for those of us who are on a low-carb diet. (And exactly what happened here in Utah.)