Atkins Isn’t For The Weak

The following is a quote from Joe Frank:

When you see the faces of true zealots – people with complete faith in their particular point of view, what you see is a glow of energy that comes not from spiritual development, but from the fact that they experience a sense of certainty, free of confusion. They are like a man in a forest. He has no idea where he is, but he sets up a campsite in a little clearing, builds a fire, draws a map of the immediate area and feels better because he’s created the illusion of order, even though he should know he is absolutely lost…If you look throughout history, you see the same questions asked over and over again…but the answers are forever changing. You can be certain that today’s answers will be replaced by tomorrow’s, and so on until eternity. The only thing that doesn’t change is the questions. The questions will always be there. They’re the only thing you can count on. Answers are for people who don’t have the courage to live with questions. – In the Dark Part 2

OK – you got this far, and maybe you are asking yourself: what’s this got to do with a blog about low carb dieting? A lot, I think. You see, many of you are True Believers of some sort – or you want someone or something to believe in. The fact that you are reading this means that low carb living has some relevance to you. You might believe in it, you might want to believe in it, or you might believe in something else that is the polar opposite of what’s here and you read to find those errors, logical fallacies, or just some utterly stupid comment that is bound to be found on a blog.

For the latter, I’ll save you the time of have to read through my drivel just to post your comments to expose how stupid I am – and how dangerous Atkins – and low carb in general, can be:

  • Here, a registered dietitan from The Diet Channel makes a reasoned case that Atkins increases your cancer risk, can cause kidney stones, gall bladder disease, electrolyte imbalances so bad that you can drop dead – and the diet doesn’t even work. Read it here.
  • AtkinsExposed.org – an entire site devoted to the notion that the diet will kill you states: There seem to be two Atkins Diets: one that he describes in his books (particularly in later editions), and the one the public thinks he describes in his books. How many Atkins Dieters, for example, only eat free-range organic bacon? Excellent point. It seems to me most successful Atkins dieters modify the diet and have many of the things – lunch meats with nitrates, pork rinds, etc – that Atkins avoided mentioning.

  • The PCRM released a statement about Atkins’ own coronary health which states the man had heart disease and coronary blockages. You can read it here. Now many of you might make the point that the PCRM is a group associated with PETA – the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – who are pro-veganism and against the use of any animal products. That said, it doesn’t mean that you can dismiss anything they say. Do I believe this is true? Maybe. Read about it on Snopes.com – whom I respect in their effort to find the truth.

I could go on and on, and just scare the people here just starting to learn about Atkins and low carb, infuriate the people who are low carb boosters, and confuse the hell out of the anti-low carb faction (‘why is a low carb site posting this stuff?!?’) but it’s not the point of this.

The point I am trying to make is that you, dear reader, are alone in this. There will be only one person in your deathbed – you. Experts of all stripes and devotees of this and that will tell you the Only Way – but ultimately you have to make the choice – and live with the consequences.

This is a very adult thing to understand – and there are many groups out there that will allow you to avoid this completely and treat you like a child, tell you what to do – what to believe – and many of you will be happy with this.

The philosopher/psychologist Erich Fromm wrote a book called ‘Escape from Freedom‘ which postulated that people enjoyed being told what to believe and told what to do – essentially because making up your own mind is so darn scary.

I’m not. I don’t buy in to anything. I thought Atkins was stupid, went on the diet essentially prove a friend wrong, and lost weight and felt better. I asked my doctor if I’m hurting myself and he really couldn’t answer.

I have concluded personally:

  • Low carb works for me, though I really don’t know why.
  • Low carb might kill me, but so will being obese – so I’m willing to take the risk of staying thin low carb because the low fat diets just didn’t work for me.

That is all I know – the rest is just a guess.

There’s an old joke that goes something like this:

Patient: Doctor – how do I live to be 100?
Doctor: Give up smoking, chasing women, drinking, and rich foods.
Patient: Will I live to be 100 if I do that?
Doctor: No, but it will feel like it.

Atkins lived to 72 and even if he did die of a massive heart attack, that was after living a full, active, and productive life – and playing tennis a few times a week – right up to the end – while eating steaks, butter and cream.

I’ll take it.

Writing this blog people have asked me questions, and I have attempted to answer them but the strange thing is: you don’t have a clue to who I am. You can only infer by things like I use the word ‘infer’ in a sentence – which only tells you that I’m perhaps semi-literate.

So – who are you going to believe in?

So to quote again from Joe Frank:

It’s one thing to be doubter and assume that someday down the road you are going to achieve enlightenment, but if you are really committed to doubt, then you live a life without foundation. You say: ‘I will never know the answers to any of these questions – this search is going to be fruitless’, while the person living in certainty is living in a much more comfortable, though perhaps delusional, world. Never mind the answers: learn to live with the questions.


Digg!

Recipe – Lamb Stew

Adapted from a recipe on Atkins.com – their recipe is great if you have the time. I don’t, so I came up with this quickie variation which I think is almost as good. My wife liked this one as well. She’s even asked me to make it.

  • 3/4 cup No-carb Bake Mix
  • teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • 3 pounds lamb stew meat
  • olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 packet sugar substitute
  • 3 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces

 

In large stew pot, coat with no-stick spray. Toss in lamb, drizzle olive oil on it and put the heat on high. Throw in salt and a lot of pepper and, while stirring, sift the bake mix onto the meat. Cook until the meat begins to get cooked on the outside. Next, toss in the tomatoes, oregano, vinegar, and sugar sub. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover and let cook for an hour.

 

When the hour is done, throw in the vegetables. Turn back to high, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

This can be eaten during induction.


Digg!

You’ve Got Cancer – Part 1

Inside you body at this moment could be the beginnings of cancer. In a few days – or a few weeks, it will be gone. This could have happened to you many times. Cancer is not an abnormal abnormality – it happens all the time. In my opinion (worthless as it is) everyone reading this has probably had cancer – and in 99% of these cases it disappears on it’s own accord.

This isn’t the way we think about cancer, but though it’s origins are different, it is not much different than a simple infection. While the vast majority – everyone, in fact – has had an infection at one time, only a much smaller subset of the population have been unfortunate enough to get an infection so severe it became life-threatening.

Comparing the two, maybe my comparison is not all that odd:

Infections contracted in hospitals are the fourth largest killer in America. Every year in this country, two million patients’ contract infections in hospitals, and an estimated 103,000 die as a result, as many deaths as from AIDS, breast cancer, and auto accidents combined. (http://www.hospitalinfection.org/essentialfacts.shtml)

And this doesn’t even include infections not contracted during a hospital stay.

We don’t even talk about eliminating infections, we just do our best to avoid situations where we might increase our risk, though a few of us – either immune-compromised or just germophobic, go to extremes to avoid any contact whatsoever. Our defense strategy is to take reasonable precautions and try to keep our immune system prepared for the infections that inevitably come.

We have a totally different mindset toward cancer. There is a thought that any potential contact with a cancer-causing substance should be eliminated, though this is a completely impossible task in a world with so many chemicals in the substances around us – and so many chemicals fed to rats in such large quantities that they cause cancers in these poor creatures

The connection to low carb in all this is that a low carb diet is thought to increase cancer risk. This is made through a series of assumptions. Populations that eat a lot of red meats tend to have higher cancer rates. Populations that eat a lot of fruits and grains tend to have a lower cancer rate.

Since low carb increases red meat intake and decreases fruits and grains, it’s easy to see how one can conclude that low carb increases your cancer risk.

It has also been said that a conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Let’s think about it a little more. One important point hasn’t been made. Populations living on ‘low carb’ as we now know it have not been studied – and both the studied groups have other factors that could impact their tendency to get cancer.

The average population eating red meat might also smoke, drink alcohol immoderately, and eat a lot of bad carbs and trans fats.

The lower cancer group might have an opposite spectrum of behaviors that lead to less cancer.

Low carb, when done right, borrows from both and the fact is: know one knows if low carb increases your risk of cancer. It just seems logical.

Maybe the same way it seems logical that eating lots of fat can’t possibly make you thin.

So going back to my original point that we all get cancer all the time, what can we do about it?

Well, I don’t think it’s’ possible to completely avoid cancer-causing agents – even organic peanut putter contains aflatoxins that are known to be cancer-causing.

I think instead of trying to reduce these situations to zero, since it is impossible, we need to do everything possible to strengthen our bodies so that it can fight off that cancers that come our way – and show them the door.

How do you do that? Damned if I know – but I’ll try to answer that in part 2.


Digg!

Recipe – 4-Alarm Chili

Adapted from a recipe on Atkins.com. Don’t concern yourself with a lot of tiresome steps – it can all cook at the same time! Funny thing about this particular recipe was there was on particular week where I would eat a rather large bowl of this each day at work at lunch while the ‘traditional dieters’ ate their tiny portions of flavorless fat-free food and watch me in amazement. That week I lost five lbs.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 finely chopped jalapeño chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

In a large pot, drizzle olive oil over the sides and bottom. Then thrown in everything in the following order: onions, meat, tomatoes, garlic, jalapeños, red pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Once boiling, turn to a simmer and let cook for an hour.

I’ve also done this in a crock pot – except that I set the crock pot to high and cook for 4 hours.

When serving, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top as desired – yum!

This recipe is fine for the induction phase of Atkins.


Digg!

Atkins Induction – Observations on Day 7

I’m at 185, which is about a 10 pound loss in a week. I am in my original target zone of 180-185 that I was shooting for in 2003 when I was 260. Until a few months ago I had been steady at this weight, but it started creeping back.

This time I want to go a bit further – 170. I’m almost 6 feet tall, so 170 is an ideal weight. I reached it once but didn’t maintain it. This time I’d like to.

It’s been interesting doing induction again – I hadn’t done it since maybe 2004. Some things I’ve noticed at this point:

  • My clothes are less snug. I was getting close to bursting. Now they fit.
  • There’s a strange feeling that I’ve always gotten after a large high-fat, low carb meal. A slight dizziness with a grumbling in my stomach that might remind one of that warning sign you get right before a bout of the ‘runs’ – but it isn’t – no ‘running’ is involved, the slight dizziness dissipates and life goes on.
  • I’ve totally given up bread, even the low carb type, and really don’t miss it. It’s not a permanent thing – I love bread and there are really good low carb breads available, but it does slow things down and I wanted to do induction ‘hard core’ this time.
  • The ketosis strips are turning quite purple. I found it easy to get into ketosis – fat burning – this time. In 2003 I probably had to eliminate a number of things I thought were OK, but were stalling me. for example I can’t use Nutrasweet, so I switched to 4C brand drink mixes that are locally available and made with Splenda. First-time around it probably took me a while to figure out some of these things.
  • On days I eat more, the next day I see greater weight loss. My theory is the body sees it doesn’t have to go into ‘starvation mode’ and be miserly with giving up the weight as it sees a lot of food coming in – but what do I know?

What have been eating? Off the top of my head I’ve had:

  • London Broil on the barbecue. Family loved it – it was gone the next day.
  • Salad with peppers, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes – drenched in Ken’s Steakhouse salad dressings. The Greek, Italian and Blue Cheese varieties are induction-friendly.
  • Atkins Shakes – one every morning.
  • Breakfast sausages, though I am trying to reduce this sort of thing and stick to fresh meat as much as possible
  • Mozzarella cheese. On salads or just plain.
  • Pork ribs on the grill with Lea & Perrins’s sauce
  • The sour cream spinach mentioned in the previous post
  • American cheese with tomato – I like the combination
  • American cheese with half-slice of pickle (don’t knock it til you try it)
  • Hardboiled eggs. I did them so they only boiled for 2-3 minutes and the centers were not completely cooked through – it gave them a totally different taste that I enjoyed.
  • Sardines. They are a taste I acquired on Atkins. Ate with mayonnaise and sweet pickle relish. I had tried this combo some time back and enjoy it.
  • Cream cheese mixed with Splenda as a sweet. Ate it with a spoon. Think cheesecake without the crust.

I didn’t have any meat with nitrates, nor did I have any of my Lindt chocolate. I had to throw the low carb bread away – it was too old.

I also didn’t exercise, except to mow the lawn today.

While somewhat restrictive compared to usual, I don’t consider the above food list to be indicative of deprivation. Didn’t measure anything – ate what I wanted. Didn’t keep a food diary, count a calorie, or even count a carb – I was just more or less aware of the carb load of what I was eating and tried not to overdo the cheese or Splenda.

That’s it. 10 lbs lighter.

Kitchen Experiment #4 – Sour Cream Spinach

THE EXPERIMENT: I stole a recipe off of The Low Carb Band-It’s blog on July 4th then I totally riffed it. I used:

  • 20 oz frozen spinach
  • 6 shallots
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • A cup of sour cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper

I nuked the spinach for about 8 minutes, stirring about half-way through, while I sauteed the shallots in butter. I then threw them all together, added the vinegar and sour cream and mixed. Didn’t drain it – too lazy.

A taste seemed a bit bland. Added some salt. Then added some more. Then some pepper. I thought I had a winner but it needed to pass the gauntlet of the Low Carb Confidential Taste Panel (my wife and my two daughters).

THE VERDICT: Wife took a taste and scrunched up her face – that good, huh? My 11-month-old had a bite. She seemed non-committal about it, so we offered her more. She liked it. There was speculation that she was just sucking up to me, but she’s not saying. My older daughter reluctantly tried and grimaced like I made her lick a garbage pail, then got a paper towel to scrub her tongue clean. My daughter gave no helpful insight except to say it ‘was bad.’ My wife thought it was the vinegar.

I’ll try it again, but maybe tone down the ‘tang’ for my family…

Interesting to note, but after a day in the fridge, the flavor seemed a lot better – perhaps the blending of flavor that occurs with a tuna salad was happening here. I had some topped with parm cheese and it was very good.

Further research needs to be done before this becomes a dish for the non-low carbers, though I will be making this for myself again.

I also ate this while in induction and it didn’t stop the ketosis.

Exercising Without Exercising – Calming Your Inner Gecko

I don’t like to exercise – think it’s unnatural. Now I’m sure that comment raises the cackles of many among you, but let me explain:

My theory is that exercise, as it is performed today, simply can’t be comprehended by the mind – hence the problem so many people have with it. It’s not willpower as much as we are fighting an innate, hardwired, genetic predisposition for expending our energy in a worthwhile manner.

Take running on a treadmill. Intellectually, we understand heart-rate calculations, calories expended, etc. But the part of our brain that is about as intelligent as a gecko says: “Why the hell am I walking but I’m not going anywhere?!?”

It’s the same thing with weight training. Lift a weight up. Put a weight down. Lift a weight up. Put a weight down. Your internal gecko is saying: “Why am I lifting this up over and over!?”

You can push through your internal gecko, ignore him or her, and actually get into exercise. I don’t have the time, nor can I handle the cognitive dissonance that occurs.

What I try to do is exercise without exercising. Exercise without exercising happens while you are doing something else. We live in a time where people hire someone to mow their lawn so they can go to the gym and run on a treadmill – when they could have gotten the exercise at home and saved the money.

Are we really that absurd a society? Yes. Now if you are into numbers – counting things – this will drive you wacky, but I think all that counting just stresses you out. It doesn’t matter if you walked 22 minutes one day and 44 minutes the next – what matters is: how do you feel? Losing weight? Are you happy?

If you can’t imagine exercising without the numbers, without milestones and markers, then this advise is not for you. But if you are one of those people like me that just can’t get into a traditional exercise routine, here’s some suggestions:

  • Sports of any kind. Jeez – even ping-pong is better than nothing. Playing along with ‘Wheel of Fortune’ on TV is not a sport.
  • Park in the furthest parking space from the store you are going to. An added benefit is no one will ever compete with you over your parking spot.
  • Stairs. I got kids, and the chaos that ensues from the forgotten this and that makes for extra trips up and down the stairs. Don’t let it irk you – think of it as exercise.
  • Take a walk. Take the kids for a walk. Take a walk with your wife or husband. Take the dog for a walk – the dog is getting fat too.
  • Never take an elevator unless you are in a 60-story high rise and climbing the stairs will make you sweaty and 45 minutes late for your appointment.
  • In an office, get up and walk over to a coworker to ask a question rather than sending an email. Every step counts.
  • Mow your own lawn. Obviously, if you have acres to mow, this might be impossible, but many of us with homes have a lawn that is perfectly mowable – and don’t cheat and buy one that has a power drive. You are pushing it yourself, pal. And ladies – mowing the lawn is not gender-specific – and just like a lot of women think there’s nothing sexier than a man doing the dishes, the same goes for a woman pushing a mower.
  • Ride a bike, but not a stationary one. Ride somewhere. Don’t look at the speedometer, odometer or heart-rate monitor. Just try to enjoy the scenery.
  • Have things to do around the house? Don’t hire someone if you can do it yourself without fear of flooding, electrocution, or your house being condemned. You’ll get a workout and save money to boot.
  • How about Tai Chi or Yoga? Put aside any supposed spiritual aspects if that bothers you. They are exercise routines somewhat similar to isometrics but the routines can be calming to the mind. Skeptical? Try them out. Nobody’s going to try to turn you into a Moonie.