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 Skinny on Fats – Without the Gobbledegook

[First, a quick disclaimer: while there’s a chance that I might end up in bankruptcy court because of my habit of obsessively buying books on health, food, and nutrition, reading a lot does not mean I truly understand what I am reading. It was once said that the inherent danger in books is it can create the appearance of knowledge in some – and people not versed in the area might not be able to tell the difference.

Because of this I want you to promise that you will keep this in mind while reading what follows. It’s not meant to be advice for anyone else but myself.

Actually, it’s a gamble. I’ve chosen to take an unorthodox approach to eating based upon what I’ve learned, but this is a personal decision – not an expert opinion.]

The problem with ‘fat’ is it is a gross simplification – and a dangerous one. It’s sort of like thinking every species of fish is the same and handling an interaction with a goldfish the same way you would with a great white shark.

One you might eat on a dare (in college and involving alcohol in the 1920s perhaps) and one might eat you – it’s a very different interaction. Continue reading “The Skinny on Fats – Without the Gobbledegook”

Atkins Induction – Notes on Day 1

I am thinking that if this amuses me, I might try to do a quick daily  – or maybe sorta daily – chronicle of starting my low carb diet up again. We’ll see how this goes. When I begin a low carb diet I take a very personal and somewhat strange approach – but I’m almost too close to it to notice. I’m going to try to tease these tidbits out, though I give you no assurances that what I do is safe – or sane. It’s not advice – just reporting. Make of it what you will – I don’t mind.

If I do this, I will have to hit the ‘publish’ button without too much rereading, so if these appear rambling or redundant it might be because they are stream-of-consciousness. My apologies beforehand – there are many things I don’t publish because I over think them.

So anyway…

In work I stuck to roast beef and butter, then a plain greek yogurt. Dinner was 2 pork burgers (ground pork cooked like hamburger), 1 hamburger wrapped with swiss cheese, some low carb ketchup, and a slice of low carb bread, toasted, with olive oil, oregano, and salt.

You’ll notice that except for a slice of low carb bread and the ketchup, which made up maybe 5% of my total calories, all of my foods are pretty perishable. I think eating food that rots easily is an important part of eating healthy.

You’ll also notice there’s not a lot of ingredients. The total number of ingredients in my entire day’s food would be less than on a typical microwave dinner. There’s also cultured foods – both the cheese and yogurt are cultured – or given the change to be eaten by microorganisms before I eat it. Very little of my total ingredients were put into chemical drums and shipped from a chemical factory. The bread and ketchup certainly contain these items, but again, they were only 5% of my calories.

There was also nary a vegetable in sight. I like vegetables – some of my best friends are vegetables – but I personally don’t feel the need to have them every day, all the time.

I also had 2 teaspoons of Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil. This is an experiment on my part. I bought it on a whim and it is too soon to not if I think this stuff is good or if it isn’t, but I will tell you – a little research shows this stuff is, like most things in nutrition, somewhat controversial – but that’s for another post.

I (somehow) maneuvered myself around the paella, the rice, the Chex Mix (‘Mmmmmm – Chex Mix’ Says my inner Homer Simpson.’) The temptations were there, but I managed to avoid them.

As to how I felt, my energy flagged toward the end of the day. Understandable as I worked from 8am to 6pm straight – mostly complicated brainwork. While I had coffee in the AM, I am drinking much less than I used to. I once could go through 3 pots a day – now I am down to perhaps half that. Still a lot – but not for me until recently.

Before bed I took a metformin and an adult multivitamin. I do not have diabetes but I have a strong tendency in my family for it and would like to forestall its onset as long as possible. The ADA (American Diabetes Association) says it’s OK to give ‘pre-diabetics’ metformin for this purpose, and I got my doc to agree.

The adult multivitamin I take because it doesn’t have iron in it. With the meat I eat, I don’t need more iron. I am suspect of ALL supplements – for a number of reasons – and even take this one wondering if it helps or harms. I take it because I most certainly am not a slave to the notion of a ‘balanced’ diet and think that there are probable some micronutrients that I am deficient in – it might help.

I am also sucking on nicotine lozenges. Having used them to quit my brief and intense relationship with cigarettes a few weeks ago, I am now addicted to them. They do not help with weight loss – I have proven that to myself. Apparently many people do believe this as I get many hits to my failed experiments on this. I read on some weightlifter blog that I was ‘clueless and doing it wrong.’

Sounds like me.

My daily totals for Monday were as follows:

Calories: 2,602 – a little high, but I’m OK with it
Fat: 201g (71%) – about the range I shoot for
Net Carbs: 17g  – fine with it
Protein: 169g – a little high

Not a bad first day, and while I don’t obsess about the number on the scale, getting all bent out of shape when it doesn’t go in the direction I like, it did go down to 210.6, which is a 3 pound loss. I’ll take it.

Want to Stop Eating Food? Here’s Someone Working on That

soylent

I was very interested to read about Soylent – an experiment by an individual in replacing eating with a simple drink consisting of all the necessary macronutrients and micronutrients sourced as individual chemicals.

This is all the fellow lived on for a month and he’s taking this ‘on the road’ so to speak as he is offering this concoction with other people to learn more about it through other people’s experience with it.

I applaud his N=1 research in this, as he is trying to solve what is to him, dual issues: optimal feeding as well as getting back all that time and money spent prepping food. He takes the approach that eating is somewhat outdated and might be done only for ‘sport’ in that it remains an option for social events rather than something he must do every day – sort of like people use to hunt and fish to sustain themselves but now mostly do it for the pleasure of the act itself. Continue reading “Want to Stop Eating Food? Here’s Someone Working on That”

New Years Resolution to Lose Weight in 2013? Your LowCarbConfidential.com Quick Start Guide

new-year-300x209

This is the time of the year where the traffic to my site skyrockets as folks decide that they want to make a change for the better in the new year and have decided to try a low carb diet to lose some weight.

Unfortunately, I have over 500 posts here, and it’s a bit harrowing to try to navigate all this – even for me. Really – at 500+ posts, I might want to begin to pare down some of the less useful posts (ie: crap) so that people don’t get lost in all this.

Before I do that, however, I thought I could provide a guide to some of my more popular posts – as well as some of my own favorites that I think would be most helpful in hitting the ground running on a low carb diet. Continue reading “New Years Resolution to Lose Weight in 2013? Your LowCarbConfidential.com Quick Start Guide”

Can The Soap You Use Make You Fat AND Cause a Heart Attack?

Maybe – if it’s antibacterial soap.

First, let me point out that ‘antibacterial’ soap is completely unnecessary. The FDA says so:

the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.

It’s a marketing ploy – a magic word on a label that is supposed to make you feel one particular soap is better than another. We’re scared of germs, and some sharp tack came up with ‘antibacterial’ soap to play to this fear.

And we fell for it.

Now it’s an antibacterial arms race of sorts. The chemical that gives soap – and a lot of other products – an antibacterial action is triclosan, which is a pesticide approved by the FDA in 1969 – betcha you won’t find that fact on the soap label.

There’s also the potential that the stuff can disrupt our endocrine systems – the system that regulates our hormones and can make us fat:

‘In animals studies triclosan lowers thyroid hormone levels

As well as a concern in the medical community that all this ‘antibacterial’ this and that is sort of a Crossfit workout for germs, making them stronger and more resistant as they evolve to resist these chemicals – causing more antibiotic-resistant germs to exist – which means that when you *do* actually get a bacterial infection that is life-threatening, it is becoming more likely that docs will have a hard time finding an antibiotic that can effectively treat it.

But let’s not quibble over these minor issues, right? We’re going for bigger fish here – new research that shows that triclosan actually weakens your muscles. If you’re not a jock and think this doesn’t concern you, remember: your heart is a muscle. While the entire article is worth a careful read, let me cherry-pick a single quote from a probably disreputable source – Smithsonian Magazine:

”The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic,” said co-author Nipavan Chiamvimonvat. “Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models.” He speculates that in some cases, triclosan may be responsible for exacerbating heart problems in patients with an underlying condition.

Oopsies.

The good news is the FDA is ‘looking into the matter’ at present and might or might not do something about this ingredient appearing in adhesives, fabrics, vinyl, plastics (toys, toothbrushes), polyethylene, polyurethane, polypropylene, floor wax emulsions, textiles (footwear, clothing), caulking compounds, sealants, rubber, carpeting, and a wide variety of other products. They are going to ‘begin the process of reviewing in 2013‘.

Don’t you feel better?

Finishing up my little rant here, the Smithsonian piece ends with a quote from one of the researchers. It’s a classic of scientific understatement:

”Triclosan can be useful in some instances, however it has become a ubiquitous ‘value added’ marketing factor that actually could be more harmful than helpful,” said study co-author Bruce Hammock.

Ya think?!?

 

The Evil Plot to Persuade You that Calories Are All That Matter

If you are reading this, you’re not normal.

The fact that you would be interested in reading a post like this places you squarely out of that part of the bell curve where most people reside. To them, the title of this post might resonate as paranoid or foolish – or not resonate at all. ‘Somebody has way too much time on their hands’ they might say to themselves, as if I was questioning the length of an inch.

While I think someday I could write a book about calories – particularly ‘food calories’ as invented by Wilbur Olin Atwater – right now I wanted to put forth a relatively simple proposition: while there is much debate about whether calories matter, in the larger picture this debate is meaningless.

While people interested in nutrition debate if and how calories count, regular, ordinary people who do not spend their time on such things and decide to try to lose some weight count calories.

And regardless of the outcome of this debate, one aspect of calorie counting would probably not be denied by any side in the discussion: counting calories allows food manufacturers to sell food with no nutritive value.

In marketing, the art directors decide the size of the biggest fonts. The lawyers and regulators determine the size of the smallest font.

In the image above, look at the size of the ‘100 cal’ on the box. To take up that much real estate is a clear indication that the cookies in the box are not trying to make the sale because they are tasty, because the manufacturer is known for quality, and certainly not because the cookies are nutritious.

What moves these empty calories off the shelf is the boast of only 100 calories. Yes – there’s a nutrition label – on the side – and an ingredient label – both in the smallest type allowable by law. But if you’re over 40, better have your glasses with you – especially for that ingredient label.

Now – why, exactly, am I getting my shorts in a twist here about 100 measly calories? What’s the big deal?

Exactly.

This is exactly why food manufacturers love calories – they completely divorce what is actually in the food you put into your body from a measurement that a lot of people use – for better or worse – as a benchmark for what they should put into their body.

Yeah – they give you the complete nutrition info and ingredients – but only 60 percent of people actually read the nutrition labels and fewer understand them.

Even fewer must read the ingredients.

And if you buy into the notion of using calories to watch your food intake, about the worst thing you can do to yourself (unless you’re a numbers freak and love to calculate stuff) is to cook your own food from scratch.

Let’s say you want to deep fry your own chips, for example. You buy high temperature oil and pour it into the deep fryer. Slice the potatoes, and fry them up, lay them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil, then eat a dozen. How many calories was that?

Well, you can find out that a medium potato is about 160 calories, and a teaspoon of canola oil is about 120 calories. But you deep-fried them in an entire bottle – how many tablespoons are in the chips?

I suppose if you’d like to find that out you can pour the remaining oil into a measuring cup, and if you knew how much you started with, you can subtract that number of ounces from what left and find out you used 4 fluid ounces.

But then how much got soaked into the paper towel? It’s not a trivial calculation as oil is very calorically dense and even a small amount is a lot of calories. Well, you can weigh the potato beforehand, then afterward, calculate the difference in weight, then calculate the weight of the oil by converting the fluid ounces – a volumetric measurement – into weight, then determining the total…

Or just say ‘screw it – let’s just buy some chips in a 100-calorie snack bag.’

So you see, marketing designed to encourage counting calories is carefully designed to drive you toward processed food. If you eat unprocessed food, you’re more likely to eat way better in terms of quality and without a load of preservatives and pesticides – but you won’t be able to count calories all that well.

So maybe no matter who wins the debate on whether calories count is missing the point entirely? Maybe we should stop counting calories because it leads to poor food choices?

Kitchen Experiment: Low Carb Coconunt Pumpkin Muffins with Stevia

This is one of my go-to recipes since conjuring it up in October, 2011. I’ve made it no less than a half-dozen times.

Now, however, I have made a resolution for the year to ditch artificial sweeteners, and have done well – but this recipe, I think, does need some sweet.

A reader recommended stevia, which I had heard of, but had heard some worrisome studies had come out about possible health effects. ‘Natural’ does not always mean safe, after all. I did a bit of research, however, and found this was based on some early, flawed studies – and I wasn’t going to be using a LOT of the stuff – the only thing I can think of at present I’d use it in is the pumpkin muffins.

Continue reading “Kitchen Experiment: Low Carb Coconunt Pumpkin Muffins with Stevia”

Thank You, Anthony Bourdain: It’s About the Food

I am an idiot. I only have a slight edge over some other idiots in that I am open to discovering that I am an idiot, so that I might actually learn something new, or discover, sometimes to my horror, how something I thought I knew was so blindingly wrong.

For the past month, I have been in an immersive course of Anthony Bourdain and his writing, as well as had the experience of cuisine of another country while on vacation. Not just as a tourist eating at the hotel restaurants, but more like a food anthropologist, spending a good portion of our time in the Caribbean in grocery stores, looking at what the locals eat, inspecting each aisle of the store, fumbling with packages in French, and trying to figure out what the hell was in them due to my not knowing the language.

And never, to my recollection, eating at a ‘touristy’ restaurant. It was either casual French-inspired dining, or simple local fare.

It has been illuminating, to say the least. Continue reading “Thank You, Anthony Bourdain: It’s About the Food”