Low Carb FAQ

[UPDATE: I am busy with a number of things and thought I might leave this post in place for a while, updating occasionally with new questions. Let’s see how this goes]

A lot of people get to this site through search engines, and I can see what these folks entered into the search bar to find me. A lot of these form questions, and I thought I could save you the miserable experience of reading through my site and instead provide a short FAQ of my answers to popular questions.

Please note I said my answers – not the answer. I am no expert. Consider me just some schlub answering your question and not any authority on the subject. Do your own research: I might be a loony.

At present they are in no particular order – and will probably stay that way. I’ll put the most recent at the top so the readers who keep tabs on me don’t have to dig.

Continue reading “Low Carb FAQ”

The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7

THE LONESOME BREADROLLIt is usually the ‘kiss of death’ for my diet to mention these things, but the above picture is from my lunch at Legal Seafood, which is one hell of a seafood restaurant and should be visited if you ever get the chance – there’s not a lot of them around.

This was the roll for me. The three others were being consumed by my wife and kids while this one sat forlorn.

If I had any interest in appearing to have willpower and projecting upon myself some nobility of character I would tell a story of how my steely will and the dedication to my diet and my goal allowed me to refrain from this fresh roll hot out of the oven sitting in front of me.

That wasn’t the case, however. My character nor willpower played no part in it. There was no heroic struggle involved. It didn’t even appear on my radar. No neural circuits fired with conflicting eat/don’t eat messages.

As mentioned before, it is easy to miss non-events and I was completely oblivious to this thing until my younger daughter asked me to butter her roll for her. Only then did I dimly realize that: “Hey – why aren’t I drooling over this thing sitting in front of me?”

I think it was the ketones. Continue reading “The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7”

Scenes From a Low Carb Life: Counting Calories at the Chinese Buffet

A random Chinese buffet - they all look the same...
A random Chinese buffet – they all look the same…

Friday, February 01, 2013 – 199.8

On January 01 I was 209.4. In 1 month I lost 9+ pounds and just came in a hair’s breadth under 200. That’s the short story. All the in-between stuff reminds me of a Will Rogers quote: ‘People who like sausage or respect the law should not watch either being made.’ The month was not a steady progression downward as much as a roller-coaster.

Upon reflection, perhaps January is the worst possible month for doing anything except persevering through – at least for me. Snow holds no magic except that power to make my car slide uncontrollably into oncoming traffic or get stuck on the side of the road. Skiing – a sport that necessitates falling in the snow, I find as alluring as wrestling in a hog pen.

Perhaps I should avoid my inclination to overthink things, take my winnings for January, and be happy with what I got. Onto February – a month designed to be especially short because you’re just too fed up with winter to endure a long month.

I noticed myself in the mirror as I got ready for work and I just looked so fat. Compared to what? I asked myself. I am within 5 pounds of the lowest weight I’m been in 5 years and the reflection in the mirror seems distorted and bloated. Strange how this works: one day I might feel fine about my weight and the next day, the same weight, I feel like a sumo wrestler who’s let himself go.

Continue reading “Scenes From a Low Carb Life: Counting Calories at the Chinese Buffet”

Review: Trader Joe’s Hake En Papillote Frozen Entree

hake[As a reminder – I don’t do paid reviews for products. If I ever did, I’d let you know…]

Before we left on vacation, my wife stocked up on some frozen stuff from Trader Joe’s so that we wouldn’t come home on Christmas day to an empty fridge. On a whim, she bought this ‘Hake En Papillote’. I had no idea what the hell this was and had no plans to go near it – one of my rules of eating is: don’t eat it if a picture of the item with the words ‘serving suggestion’ appear on the box. To me, this is short-hand for ‘I contain crap’.

My wife had put in one box for me, however, and I was the guy who took them out of the oven. They were still in their boxes in the oven – which I didn’t get at first. Curious, I read the label:

“En Papillote” which translates as “in parchment,” is a microwave and oven friendly package for steaming foods but can sometimes be unwieldy to open once cooked. Trader Joe’s Hake en Papillote is presented in a slick little parchment origami box which steams the fish and vegetables and is easy to open: just remove the paper lid. Hake is a mild white fish with a solid texture which we’ve combined with grilled zucchini, cherry tomatoes and pesto sauce for a super easy and flavorful entrée.

Hmmm…interesting. Not your usual ‘nuke in plastic tray’ stuff here. I figured that they had to screw it up some other way so I checked the ingredients: Continue reading “Review: Trader Joe’s Hake En Papillote Frozen Entree”

Like Your Meat-Glued Steak Rare? Not So Fast…

(A quick update for anyone who follows my personal weight loss story – I’m maintaining my weight loss at about 220 from my high of 237 from the fall of last year. There. Now you know.)

You learn something new every day.

These days, however, it seems what you learn is a bummer.

Next up on the bummer hit parade for me is ‘Meat Glue’.

Meat glue?

Let’s say you decide to follow a paleo diet, or primal, or low carb with an emphasis on minimally processed food. You go to the grocery store and pick up a nice boneless steak – or go to a fancy restaurant and order one. You say to yourself: “I’ll order it rare – why ruin a nice piece of meat by burning it to a crisp?”

Here’s a reason for well-done.

This video shows the clever trick that meat producers – at least the sleazy ones – do to take cuts of meat too small to sell and turn them into steaks you pay a lot more for.

In short, they use an  enzyme called transglutaminase to take small cuts of beef, pork, chicken or fish and glue them together. Sprinkle some on, and those itty-bitty bits of meat, after setting in the fridge, become a handsome steak.

Hey – wait a second – better living through chemistry – right? What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that you don’t know this. And because you don’t know this, you aren’t aware that all these little cuts of meat once had a lot more surface area where bacteria could land. Now this bacteria gets glued together on the inside surfaces of your glued meat, unlike a real steak, where the bacteria would only be on the outside.

So now you get your, ahem, ‘steak’ rare – and get yourself a mighty fine case of food poisoning.


What can you do?

Not much, unless you buy your meat from a local farm, which isn’t an option for a lot of us. Even if you ask, can you be sure the people selling you the meat are telling the truth – or even know  the truth?

This leaves only one recourse for meat-loving low-carb, paleo, and primal folks.

Memorize these three words.

Repeat after me: “Well-done, please.”

What Weight Loss Looks Like

Please forgive a post perhaps more rambling than most – I just noticed I haven’t written in a while and thought it unseemly to make the site appear abandoned.

You might think that I was abducted – or gave up on low carb and went on Jenny Craig.

Or said ‘to hell with this’, bought the Ho-Hos, the Scooter Pies, and the Frozen White Castle hamburgers and was hard at work packing on the pounds.

None of the above.

I see a lot of good low carb blogs that have ‘gone dark’ – no more updates. I always wonder if it’s because they fell off the wagon and are ashamed to post this fact.

Shameless as I am, I’ve kept blogging as I gained maybe 40 lbs back out of my 80 lb. loss – and now I’m blogging as I work to make the weight creep down again.

Continue reading “What Weight Loss Looks Like”

Rerun: Addictive, Persuasive, and Seductive

(This one, from March 2008, is worth a read if you haven’t read it yet. – LCC)

I got this question from a reader and thought it so important that I’m posting the response here rather than bury it in an old post.

Your question:

what concerns me is so many people write in saying they’re doing induction again (and again and again) because even though they love low carb and lost weight, they went off the diet and gained all the weight back. i’m quite interested in low carb but if it works so well why does everyone go off it?

Is a damn good one – I wonder why it hasn’t been asked before.

My answer is that carbs are addictive, pervasive, and seductive. They mess with your blood sugar and can give you a high, they surround us in our homes, offices, and on every street corner, and they taste good.

You can live quite nicely on Atkins – you can eat a wide variety of foods and not be hungry – yet still lose weight. But it takes eternal vigilance to avoid an addictive substance that is in most processed foods, and is offered up by well-meaning friends a dozen times a day.

You end up having to commit to a lifestyle that makes you different than others. I’ve heard my office is having a beer and pizza day in the near future – I won’t be having either. Will this make me look like I’m not participating because of some issue that I have with the company? While it’s not the case, it might be the perception. Someone brings in donuts – can’t have them. A birthday party? You hear: “you’ve GOT to have a piece of cake.”

Do you want to lose weight on Atkins and keep it off? Then you have to be that person who asks if there’s any carbs in the salad dressing at a restaurant – see the server look confused and run back to the kitchen. Will they come back with the right answer? Who knows? Order diet soda. Do they fill the glass with diet or the real stuff? Can’t be sure, so I order seltzer or stick with water. Going to a dinner party? You might have to inquire to the host if there will be something to eat that’s low carb – if you don’t explain this you risk going hungry, offending the host because you don’t eat, or giving in, eating the carbs, and potentially backsliding into a high-carb lifestyle.

If you are the type that likes to ‘fit in’ – you won’t. It’s a great diet for iconoclasts and nonconformists who don’t care about this sort of thing or like to be different, but you’ll stand out in a crowd.

Like hardcore vegetarians, severe diabetics, and other people with very exacting dietary restrictions, you will be that ‘pain in the ass’ at the restaurant table.

The people here have decided that it’s worth the effort, even when they periodically backslide.

Eats, December 15

Woke at 4am and dragged my sorry ass to the dark and empty gym. Turned on the lights and did my 1 mile at 3 miles per hour.

Standard issue 16 oz coffee with cream started the day when I got back home.

The morning boiled egg eating ceremony was held at about 11.

My boss had a departmental lunch so we went to a high-brow burger joint where I had a ‘Willie burger’ – a burger with Canadian bacon and a fried egg on top. I turned down the fries and told the waitress ‘no bun’. She asked be if I wanted a salad instead. They had a balsamic vinaigrette that didn’t sound too full of sugar, so I ordered it and asked for the dressing on the side.

The meal came with the bun, and with the dressing on the salad. The bun was a gloriously fresh kaiser roll, toasted to perfection, with a thin veneer of crunchy goodness surrounding the soft and fluffy carb-laden heaven that lay within.

The salad dressing didn’t seem to have too much sweet to it, so I ate most of that – along with the burger, which was pretty good. I tossed the bun.

My co-workers remarked: “You’re doing that high-protein diet, right? What is it, Atkins?”

Throw another log on the fire of my eccentricity.

I had seltzer with lemon as my drink.

I have been feeling a bit run-down the past few days – induction can make you out of sorts for a bit until you acclimate. It can also be from stress – and it can be from some residual caffeine withdrawal as I have continued my cutback on coffee.

I did take the offer at desert for some java and had two cups with half and half, which made me feel somewhat much better. 

The afternoon continued and I began to get hungry late afternoon, but events of the day got in the way and I figured I’d eat when I get home.

A change of plans was thrown me – my wife asked me to pick up my daughter at her piano lesson – so I went there instead, read my book on ego defenses that I keep in the car for just this sort of event, and when my daughter’s lesson was done, we went home.

At home, I decided that I wanted more broiled burgers. So I did exactly what I did yesterday – 6 mini burgers (not that mini – 6 probably total 1.3 lbs.) wrapped in lettuce with onion and low carb ketchup.

I followed that with some sour cream and Splenda, and finished off the eats with 4 or 5 cherries and a single grape.

The scale reports 206.4 – down a lb. from yesterday.

Food Journal 11-21-08 – 11-22-08


The morning did not start with an Atkins bar – in fact, none were had this day. It was a crazy day of meetings and much mental work, which left me drained. In between meetings I ate my lunch – the chicken bacon with Brussels sprouts, and stayed an hour late to finish up some work.

Coming home, I had a generous share of the sausage and meatball dish with some wine. I also had a smallish cheese with lettuce and mayo sandwich. 

Forgot my vitamins and went to bed maybe 10pm – perhaps too tired to to be hungry (Is that possible?).

Weight: 203.6


Breakfast – at about 10am, was a large serving of the Italian stew. We needed to go to Ikea, the massive furniture store / Swedish cult / theme park/ restaurant / abattoir. If you look beyond their couches and cups, this is an operation obsessed with every last detail – and every detail is designed to make you see every last pie plate they make, in the best possible light, and to buy as much of their stuff as possible.

It’s like going to visit an interesting friend for a few minutes – and leaving 7 hours later. You don’t say: “I’m going to run in for a few things” at Ikea – it’s not a store as much as a presentation. 

If I had gone alone, I would have executed a quick commando attack on the needed items – a comforter and dresser – but the family came along and what could have been 1/2 hr. max shopping became 4+ hours. 

We had lunch there – and surprisingly, Swedish furniture store food ain’t half bad. The kids had Swedish meatballs and mac & cheese. The wife had smoked salmon. I had shrimp and egg with mayo on a slice of bread. I tossed the bread and ate the rest. It’s a good combo, egg and shrimp – I forgot. I’ll have to whip that one up myself some time.

I missed the exit coming home and we arrived back later than expected. We’re preparing for house guests, have a lot of work to prepare, and now wasted an entire day shopping, which kind of stressed me out.

I suppose if I was to deconstruct what happened next, due to my fighting a cold, being tired, getting lost, wasting a good part of the day shopping, and feeling the weight of all I have to do in the remaining bit of the weekend, I let my guard down and carbed out on some pasta, some leftover souffle, and some other small itsy-bitsys as I cruised the fridge. I also had an open-faced cheese and lettuce sandwich with lettuce.

To prove the notion that low carb is a ‘hack’ to your body – and to demonstrate how it allows a person to weigh far less than their body naturally wants to weight, this indiscretion made me gain close to 4 lbs. – I’m now 207.0.

It’ll peel off fast, if history is any indication – if I watch myself today. If the indiscretion continues, however, it might set me back more than a week.

A Birthday Miracle

Today’s eats were an Atkins bar around 10am – of course I had my coffee with cream at 5am, however – does that count as breakfast?

Lunch was the last of the frozen london broil with Brussels sprouts. It was just OK – maybe I’ve had enough of this for a while. Prefect timing – there was zero waste on this one. I’ll roll this recipe out again in another month or so.

There was a birthday in the family, so it was a night out to dinner. We went to a local steakhouse and started off the meal with my 2-year old spilling a Shirley Temple on my wife’s lap. Spilling stuff on Mom and Dad is my younger daughter’s specialty – and she got right down to business.

I had the prime rib and it was the best piece of meat I had in a long time. I also had a martini, which I enjoy on special occasions. I had a small salad that I picked the croutons out of, and switched to water after the martini was drained.

The prime rib came with mashed potatoes mixed with horseradish, which was very good – I had a few forkfulls – my daughter had a good portion of the rest. I also cheated on some bread and butter – the butters where flavored with herbs and very delish.

When we got home, we had the cake and sang ‘Happy Birthday’. I had more of the cake than I wanted to, but it was a Whole Foods cake, and they do a good job on this sort of thing – they had better at their prices.

I thought I’d pay for my transgressions, but the scale forgave me – I’m down to 204.4 – a pound less than yesterday and 4.4 pounds from my November goal.

This carbing out, then losing happens occasionally. But it’s like the lottery – you can’t depend on it. 

It was a birthday miracle, and there’s probably no more of these miracles in the near future, so back to the low carb grindstone for me.