Low Carb Dining At The Cheesecake Factory

If there was ever a place that was more of an anathema to a low carb diet, the very definition of a low carb den of inequity  – it’s The Cheesecake Factory. There are plenty of restaurants that are tough to navigate, certainly, noodle houses and pasta places are a rough spot to be caught in when out with friends and trying to maintain your low carb mojo, but The Cheesecake Factory somehow shines through these pikers in high carb dining because of their ability to hide carbs in nearly everything.

The worst part is the low carb cheesecake. Yes, it’s low carb – but it is a trap to lure low carbers in the door – then whack them upside the head with bread at the table, yummy appetizers, and carb-laden entrees. By the time you get to the low carb cheesecake, it’s too late – you might as well buy the high carb version because you’ve probably trashed your diet for a few days and will need a few days of low carb rehab to recover.

Continue reading “Low Carb Dining At The Cheesecake Factory”

My Wife’s Theory on Why Low Carb Works for Me

The past few days I have not been particularly vigilant in my record-keeping – I just haven’t felt like it, so I can’t provide even rough numbers on calorie counts or proportions of fat, protein, and carbs.

I can say I have been following my diet: mostly fat, some protein, and little in the way of carbs. I have also eaten what feels to be a lot: I walk away from the table more than full thinking I ate too much – but the scale still trends downward – at the moment I am 204.

My older daughter has come to enjoy my olive oil mayonnaise: “Daddy, that mayonnaise you make is really good.” She – like my wife – are not ones to throw complements haphazardly. Usually, she would say nothing, or perhaps utter a Spock-like: “Ummm.”

I have avoided the pizza and the donuts. The ice cream and the blueberry cornbread. I did have the cream spooned off the top of the unhomognized milk we’ve gotten as of late and had at least a half-dozen tablespoons of the stuff with some blueberries – what a flavorful dish.

Continue reading “My Wife’s Theory on Why Low Carb Works for Me”

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”

Atkins Induction Day 5 – This Ain’t It

I have had a tough week – but a good one as well. I’ve been busy as all get-out, and pushing a lot of work through me. I haven’t smoked since I stopped, thanks to the nicotine lozenges – a problem in themselves I need to deal with but at a later date, and I’ve avoided alcohol. I have also been on what I characterize as a ‘news diet’ where I avoid the daily Wagnerian drama of the news. I am completely uninformed – but I am also less distracted. My mind is clear, and Things Are Getting Done – and that’s a nice feeling.

The  *ahem* ‘Low Carb Diet’ has not been successful at all, however. I got the mornings and the afternoons down pat: low carb all the way: a full fat Greek yogurt, heavy cream, tuna and mayo, chicken thighs with sour cream, roast beef and butter – all good stuff – with the exception of the mayo – too much seed oil in my way of thinking.

Evenings are the problem. They start good, descend to ‘OK’, then plunge into ‘what the fuck?’ territory. This first night, sitting with my wife in the kitchen while she ate after coming home late, a clear plastic container of bite-sized lemon cupcakes with white cream and a dollop of pure lemon-sugar goo, looking like the yolk of a tiny egg, sat on top in the middle. If they weren’t in front of me. If they weren’t in a clear plastic clamshell box. If they weren’t *lemon* I might not have crumbled.

They were good, mind you – these were above-par as 2-bite cupcakes go. The sugar blast didn’t obscure the lemon flavor – they were in a good balance to one another, and the cream was real – light and also properly sweetened so as not to overpower the flavor note of the cream itself but rather enhance it.

My only qualm with the product was this ‘2-bite’ labeling. They were single bite. I know: I had 4 and each one only took a bite. I’ll have to write a letter to the manufacturer about this mislabeling.

It’s been like that for the past 2 days, with other temptations and similar patterns, and history shows that evenings on a weekend are particularly rough. The only saving grace is that my ‘busyness’ will extend into the weekend and I won’t have too many opportunities to graze – though my rushing hither and thon *might* cause the consumption of crap on the run.

My tracking has also been haphazard  and I need to focus on improving that. I find it helps – even in the casual way I do it without worrying over every single calorie. It makes it much simpler, but I haven’t even done that to the level I want to be at for the past few days.

It’s why I call dieting a practice – and sometimes a ‘practice’ goes lousy for a while. It’s not a reason to give up the practice, or get upset – you just keep practicing until you get over whatever hump you need to clear – that’s all.

I did cook some BBQ last night so I have some low carb food prepped in the fridge. I do have a chance I catching a tailwind. We’ll see

.I’m 3.6 pounds down from my high of 213.6 on Monday, so it hasn’t been an entire failure.

Success in anything is a combination of smarts, hard work, and good luck. You can work on the first two, and it – sometimes – leads to increasing the chances of the third. I’ll keep practicing – ‘starting low carb induction every day’ – until it clicks.

It’s just the way I am.

Starting Again – Again

If there is one thing I would like to banish from the diet community mindset it’s that you can’t ever, ever eat the way you used to and not gain all your weight back. As I’ve surely said before, much of nutrition science isn’t ‘science’ like physics is ‘science’ – it’s folklore.

Perhaps not exactly folklore. Yes – plenty of researchers have run many test on many rats, mice, rabbits and people and discovered interesting things about nutrition along the way. Even assuming that all of it is true, things start to get very fuzzy very quick when at the end the researchers draw their conclusions. Conclusions very frequently find very subtle tendencies that come off as much more definitive in the conclusions drawn. Sometimes the conclusions don’t match the data collected at all. Then herds of people who collect particular types of conclusions to validate their preconceived notions find the studies that best validate their points of view and collect them like trading cards, inflating the points that support their view, and poo-pooing the ones that don’t.

I have been spending a lot of time lately reading books on the history of food, diet, nutrition and digestion, and let me tell you: while the researchers might have more modern lab equipment and no long wear frock coats to work, much of what eventually comes out of all the measuring and probing looks no different from what was concluded 100 or even 200 years ago.

Atkins himself only popularized a diet that had already existed in a number of forms for years. He learned about low carb reading research by another doctor, and that doctor was, no doubt, inspired by a chain of others going back to the 1800s when a fat undertaker lost a lot of weight on a low carb diet and wrote his ‘Letter on Corpulance’.

This has all left me rather suspect of ‘nutrition science’ in general and ‘weight loss science’ in particular.

I think I have arrived at the point where each of us must not seek the perfect weight loss guru, but rather find that guru in ourselves.

The next question that surely arises is: how do I find this guru then? You find it through experimentation and patience, trying this and that until you find what works for you. Edison was said to have tried 10,000 different materials as the filament in his light bulb before finding the one that actually worked – at least for a few hours.

I am sorry to say, that you, my dear dieting friend, probably need that same sort of tenacity and ability to fail over and over without discouragement in order to attain your goal.

The good news is that this does not mean a grim life of deprivation unless you choose to hitch your wagon to those sort of gurus that propose a grim life of deprivation. Life might be a puzzle to most of us, but one thing is clear: we were meant to enjoy food. And there are ways that we can eat and be satisfied and even lose weight, but as of yet there is no single royal road to this goal.

We are biologically different enough in the ways we have adapted to eat, and contain very different chemical oceans inside of us. Low carb has been very good to me and my health so far. I am certain that my way of living might have proven fatal to others.

It’s with these thoughts that I begin yet again to rein myself in so that I can pull off some weight. At 213.6 I am at my highest. I got here because I chose to – not so much as a bizarre proof of my dieting prowess but simply because I wanted to eat pizza with the works, ice cream bars and a juicy steak and wasabi mashed potatoes at the Mother’s Day dinner yesterday. I ate without guilt, and to the point of bursting. It was fun. I love food, and the inch-thick steak went well with the dipping sauce and the potatoes. The two baskets of bread before the dinner did not stop me from polishing off my plate, though toward the end I must admit that, like a marathoner, I wondered if I was going to be able to reach the finish line.

It was close – but I did it.

To further set the stage, this year has been a doozy in terms of stress – and I am a stress eater. The stress got so bad that I even started smoking again for 3 weeks, and was quite heavily drinking Trader Joe’s cheap red wine on an almost daily basis. These got old pretty quick, however, and I stopped both – I made myself sick of both, and am now only sucking on nicotine lozenges – better than cigarettes, certainly, but another annoying habit I will have to kick in the near future. I don’t see it as something bad, however – it’s just ‘something to deal with’.

Diet, nutrition, health, longevity and exercise have all gotten too wrapped up in morality. Both Hitler and Gandhi were vegetarians – I think that makes the point sufficiently.

And what about ‘health’? Should we reach the end of our lives ‘preserved’ or ‘spent’? And does what we eat really matter too much in all of this? Genetics play a big role in this. Years of ‘good eating’ might still land you in an early grave, and it is well-known that many centenarians have been found to have a fondness for cigars, booze and rich foods.

Your name is in that book and there’s a date next to it. You might be able to move it around a bit, but I don’t think that you can move it much. And even if you could – is a long grim life of deprivation worth the trade-off?

As Mae West said: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

One thing I am pretty sure of is that eating ‘virtuous foods’ – ones that proclaim their healthiness on their boxes or packages – is about the surest way to RUIN your health.

So today, with no guilt and no regret, I will again begin my diet. I’m going to start with an old favorite: roast beef and butter. Mostly fat and a little protein. I’ll also bring yogurt to work.

If I know me, I’ll probably fail – but then I’ll begin again. And again, if need be. It’s not the diet that works, it’s the constancy of diet. That ability to begin over and over and not let failures discourage you that seem to lie at the core of whatever success I have had. First and foremost, it’s about learning to lose weight without making yourself miserable.

So I start again. Let’s see what happens.

Research from 1934 Shows a Diet that Induces Ketosis Kills Harmful Bacteria

popscijun1934cover

In doing research for my book, I came across this article from the June, 1934 issue of Popular Science:

If you eat a diet consisting of 140 grams of fat, twenty-five of protein and fifteen of carbohydrate, you can increase the germ-killing ability of your body, researchers at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., have just discovered. Dr. A. E. Osterberg, of the clinic, reported at a meeting of the American Chemical Society that such a diet has been found to increase the production of ketones, or bacteria-destroying acids which are normally manufactured from the fat of the body in the process of digestion.

popsciketonearticleInteresting that the article calls such a diet ‘balanced’ – perhaps science was smarter then about nutrition than we are now? This is a ketogenic low carb diet the researcher was discussing.

It is also interesting that I have never heard the notion that ketones might act as an internal natural bacterial-fighting mechanism. If that is indeed true, it is another benefit of a low carb diet I was unaware of.

You can check out the article yourself at this link:

Jillian Michaels Would Never Do a Low Carb Diet on ‘The Biggest Loser’

I have been doing a ketogenic Atkins-style low carb diet since September 10, and have been in induction for about 25 days straight.

How boring.

Jillian Michaels would ‘never’ get a gig doing a TV show about my diet: I don’t look uncomfortable,  I am not dying of hunger, I’m not exercising, I eat til I’m full. There’s no emotion, no drama to it – no one needs to scream into my face: “This is for your own good!”

It’s about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Despite the lack of excitement, of hunger, of straining, of drama, I have lost about 10 pounds – I am currently 193.6. The week before I had started this I was 207 and had gone down to 203, so I think it is safe to assume I lost all my water weight prior to my experiment and the 10 pounds I’ve lost since then are mostly fat.

That’s about 2-3/4 pounds per week – a little too much weight loss, really. You should only lose about 2 pounds per week. Perhaps I should eat more. Or maybe I’m getting too much exercise – I did mow the lawn today…

At this point, all of the goodies in the house that surround me hold little interest – I don’t even notice them anymore. There’s no struggle, no willpower required.

With all the extra time I have not exercising and not struggling, I like to lie in bed and read a book.

How boring.

If you are looking for an exciting diet, one where you will struggle and strain, heroically resist near constant hunger and temptation, exercise until exhausted,  challenge yourself physically and emotionally, and perhaps question whether your life is even worth living,  I recommend a low-calorie diet with plenty of exercise.

It might also prove entertaining for TV watchers and provide a steady income for Jillian Michaels – ‘America’s Toughest Trainer’.

You can check out her awesome site – and her $4.99 per month ‘no gimmick’ diet plan of ‘self, science, and sweat’ here.

Me? I think I’ll pass. I like my diets boring.

Can a Low Carb Diet Sabotage Long-Term Weight Control Through Appetite Supression?

For most people, a low carb diet is not their first diet. We come to low carb after failure with isocaloric diets, where we starved while eating tiny portions that were supposedly ideal for our bodies, but not for our appetite. In between meals we watched the clock, counting the hours, minutes, and seconds until the next unfulfilling meal awaited. In between we sipped (or gulped) water, maybe ate carrot sticks or celery, and looked forward with a combination off desire and dread of the next low-calorie meal, hoping this one would fill us up, and usually disappointed that it didn’t.

We got used to hunger if we kept with it long enough. Hunger was just a part of dieting that couldn’t be avoided.

Then someone came along and told us about low carb – and the promise that you can lose weight and not be hungry. Hard to believe, but for many of us, that’s exactly what happened. Low carb diets – especially ketogenic ones, can kill an appetite dead.

It’s a dieter’s Shangra-La. Eat til full and lose weight. Months pass, and we change in two ways. First, the appetite suppression lessens simply because we begin to build a tolerance to it. I believe the power of Ketosis has the most impact on someone who has been high carb all their lives, but that appetite suppressant naturally lessens with time on the diet and the gradual reintroduction of carbs that is usually the natural progression of these diets.

The second change is we grow less tolerant of hunger. We’re less used to it, and as the ketogenic aspects of the diet lessen, through acclimation or through the gradual introduction of carbs, our lessened tolerance of hunger gets us in trouble as we eat greater quantities of low carb food, and the weight loss stops.

I’m wondering if building a ‘hunger practice’ into a low carb diet from the outset – periods where we practice being hungry for short periods of time – might prove beneficial as we progress to long-term weight loss and maintenance.

Just my own theory – does this resonate with any of you?

 

 

Kitchen Experiment: Making My Own Sauerkraut (With Step-by-Step Pictures!)

I have been enjoying real, fermented sauerkraut this past week. There are apparently a number of reasons why eating real fermented vegetables might be real good for you – probiotics, bio-availability of nutrients, yada, yada, yada. Check out this link from Mark’s Daily Apple if you want a good overview of the health benefits. I was just looking for new additions to my low carb diet that could become staples. The problems to this are:

  • A relatively small jar of Bubbies sauerkraut is $4.99. That’s a lot for about 25 cents worth of cabbage. It just bothers me
  • A much larger and cheaper jar of Claussen sauerkraut contains additives ‘to preserve flavor’. I’d rather not do the preservatives – and it’s still way expensive for what is probably 50 cents worth of cabbage.
  • I’d also like to be able to have my sauerkraut made from organic cabbage and avoid pesticide residues and GMOs – but that’s just me.

So I began to research making your own sauerkraut. It seemed kinda easy, only requiring cabbage, a little technique, and a little patience. I found a recipe on About.com and on Mark’s Daily Apple. I also found a link and a video for ThePerfectPickler.com which offers a nifty-looking kit that I might buy sometime in the future – but I wanted to experiment first. Continue reading “Kitchen Experiment: Making My Own Sauerkraut (With Step-by-Step Pictures!)”

Do Low Carb Diets Fail Partly Because of Social Pressure?

The other day, before the start of yet another meeting at work, someone brought up Dr. Oz. One person said: “I always used to think that drinking skim milk was good for you, but Dr. Oz said you should drink 2%.” It was said as a revelation, a shock.

I couldn’t help myself: “You know, fat isn’t necessarily bad for you. In fact, fat can actually help you lose weight.”

I got either nervous giggles or blank stares. I fell for it again. I shouldn’t have bothered and just kept my mouth shut. I learned long ago that while my coworkers seem to like me, those that know something about my predilection toward low carb tend to think I’m something of a loony. Continue reading “Do Low Carb Diets Fail Partly Because of Social Pressure?”