Monday, August 27, 2007

Catching Up!

I've been completely swamped here and the time crunch has impacted my timeliness for posts here. After almost a week of preparing for our big summer party and pulling it off yesterday with more than 50 here, I have quite a bit of clean-up today to prepare for houseguests arriving tomorrow!

So, rather than leave things as they are here, and have nothing new...I'll post some places where others have written about studies or things I've had on my pile to get to, and then, hopefully will be back in full swing before the end of the week!

First up - Dr. Jay Wortman interviewed Gary Taubes about his upcoming book Good Calories Bad Calories, on CKNW. You can hear the broadcast when you register (free) and then head over to the "Audio Vault" August 4, 2007 broadcast at 10:00AM.

Jimmy Moore also recently interviewed Gary Taubes about his book, and that interview is here.

Next, Sandy Szwarc at Junkfood Science, wrote an article about Low-Fat is not for Kids; well worth stopping over there for her take on the issue of children and dietary fat.

Dr. Mike Eades wrote about Bantings Letter on Corpulence and then uploaded a free copy of the paper for anyone who wishes to read in its entirety.

Some bloggers are busy folks! Dr. Mary Vernon is one such blogger, and she posts when time allows. She just recently added her take on the New York Times article Looking Past Blood Sugar to Survive with Diabetes last week.

Carol Bardelli (Kudos for Low-Carb) has a great article called Metabolism 101 Part One - Starvation Diets Backfire. Lots of good information and links in that one!

Lastly, Dr. Richard Feinman, PhD from SUNY Downstate Medical Center wrote an article in Diabetes Health to point to the flaws in the article from Hope Warshaw back in May. I wrote about the article here; Dr. Feinman's article is here. The comments following his article are interesting to read too!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I've Been Tagged - Again!

Online Christian over at Low-Carb Lolygagging tagged me last week to post 8 random things about me. Once I've posted that, I'm supposed to tag eight more people to do the same. Here goes:

1. I love to cook, but hate cleaning up afterward....anyone who knows me, knows I can cook up a storm - but leave a kitchen disater in the wake - in preparing one meal, I can use every pot, pan, knife, bowl (you get the idea) available....and cleaning up will take longer than eating the meal did!

2. My newest nickname was born through my nephew; when he was learning to talk he'd babble at me "rah rah", almost six years later I'm "aunt rah-rah" to him and my neice, and "rah-rah" has pretty much stuck with my husband, sister, brother-inlaw, some friends...even my son sometimes calls me "mama rah-rah"

3. Since we moved (just over a year ago) I still haven't figured out what I'd like to do for color in our home - every wall remains platinum white and just begs for color....oh, I have ideas, I just can't seem to commit to any color yet!

4. Four years (plus some) after getting married, my passport remains in my maiden name - it's finally going to expire, so I'll need to renew and change my name on it reason for keeping my maiden name on it was nothing more than not wanting to have to pay to change my name.

5. I can't bring myself to eat scrambled eggs without ketchup; all because when I was a kid (ripe old age of four) I had a stomach bug and did the projectile vomit thing at breakfast one morning and in my kid-think-mind it was the eggs, not a stomach virus, that made me sick. To this day I cannot eat plain scrambled eggs without ketchup on them.

6. I can't sing (doesn't stop me, although now when my son says "mommy noooo" I will stop), can't dance, can't whistle or play an instrument.

7. I like to tinker with HTML and website design. My latest tinkering is with the website for my husband's practice at Mid-Missouri Reproductive Medicine & Surgery - it's not quite finished, but you can see it in the link.

8. I'm still amazed and surprised when I find I'm included in someone's blogroll or mentioned in an article that links back here - I started this blog as, well, a hobby...and am thrilled it's reached the level of readership it has; but the bigger surprise to me is that others link here! So, thanks!

And now I'm tagging:
Dr. Jonny Bowden
Fred Hahn
Cassandra Forsythe
PJ, the Divine Low-Carb
Jimmy Moore
Sweet Tart
Kevin Dill
Mark Sisson

Quick Clicks to Low-Carb Rules Articles

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rules to Maintain a Balance

Sometimes when we first start a low-carb diet, our bodies react in ways that might seem off, so the next rule addresses the "potty problems" that some find when they're starting on a new low-carb diet.

Rule 12:
  • If you are constipated, mix a tablespoon or more of psyllium husks in a cup or more of water and drink daily. Or mix ground flaxseed into a shake or sprinkle wheat bran on a salad or vegetables.

This rule compliments rule 11 - that is it helps with strategies to avoid and counteract constipation. Water and high-fiber supplements are recommended to help maintain regularity. With any changes to your daily diet your body may experience short-term bouts of constipation and the above rule helps get you through this. It also reinforces for the long-term what works for constipation naturally rather than chemically processed products or sugar-laden fiber mixes that are commercially available.

The secret of this rule is that it is providing you with natural ways to alleviate constipation, not only in beginning, but in the long-term as you look to maintain your goal weight if you still have occasional issues.Important in this rule is to understand what it is to be constipated.

Constipation is not just not having a bowel movement for a couple of days - it is having the urge to have a bowel movement and being unable to go to the bathroom! When you do finally go, the feces are dry and hard. While not going for a day or two may be alarming, if you are not uncomfortable, you are probably not constipated. When you are constipated it is important to be sure you are getting plenty of water and increasing your fiber so that you are able to go without straining. Drinking water as instructed in the previous rule along with this one give you the tools to regulate yourself naturally.

The last rule we'll look at speaks directly to the recommendation to take, at minimum a good multivitamin with minerals. It's pretty much a universal given no matter what type of diet you eat that you should include a vitamin each day, and the same is true for those starting a low-carb diet.

Rule 13:

  • At a minimum, take a good daily multivitamin with minerals, including potassium, magnesium and calcium, but without iron.

Many people starting out on a low-carb diet with both feet and take a large number of supplements.

In this rule, Dr. Atkins makes it clear that at minimum you need a good multivitamin each day. Also specifically mentioned are minerals, which are important to maintain electrolyte balance, especially when you're starting a low-carb diet and will experience a metabolic shift to burn fat primarily instead of glucose, which releases a lot of water from stored glycogen.

Much like the rule on water (fluid) intake is universally agreed as a "good rule", so too is this rule. While some people will benefit from additional supplements to their daily multi-vitamin, it is not necessary to start with more than a good multi-vitamin with minerals.

In the long-term, maintaining this habit of taking a good multivitamin is also a good idea no matter what diet you follow.

It is important to note with this rule that the multi-vitamin must have potassium, magnesium and calcium - these control and keep in balance your electrolytes (your body salts), so chooing one with a good balance and ratio of these minerals is important. Important too is to use a multi-vitamin not packed with iron (unless you have a medical reason to take additional iron) since your diet will now contain enough iron (if you follow it correctly) each day without additional supplementation of iron. Too much iron is as deterimental to your health as too little. Unless you have a reason to take more iron, find a good multi-vitamin without iron!

The secret within this rule is to learn to keep a balance - insure you're getting all the nutrients you can with real food and have a multivitamin each day to be sure if you missed somewhere along the way, you had it in your vitamin.

This rule and the one before it aren't about extremes - it is about balance.

By taking care of potential "potty problems" and including a good multivitamin each day, you're developing a habit that will enhance your ability to get all of your nutrients each day - even on those days you may not eat "well".

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Rules to Drink it Up!

Three rules specify the importance of adequate hydration and choosing beverages wisely.

Rule 9:
  • Avoid foods or drinks sweetened with aspartame. Instead, use sucralose or saccharin. Be sure to count each packet of any of these as 1 gram of carbs.

Rule 10:

  • Avoid coffee, tea and soft drinks that contain caffeine. Excessive caffeine has been shown to cause low blood sugar, which can make you crave sugar.

Rule 11:

  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day to hydrate your body, avoid constipation and flush out the by-products of burning fat.

Starting with the last one, drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water, provides direction to make sure we consume enough fluids each day.

It's universally accepted that water is important; with disagreement as to whether fluid intake must be water itself or any beverage that helps provide hydration. I tend toward the belief that all fluids count toward water intake - if someone wants to drink water, great!; if someone wants to consume iced tea with lemon or a diet beverage, great! It's all good as long as we also are mindful of the other rules which have important considerations when choosing what to drink.

Rule nine limits consumption of artificial sweeteners and specifically suggests that we avoid aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) because evidence suggests it stimulates insulin and may cause lowering of blood sugars. This in turn would trigger hunger and leave one open to eating more than desired. Else where in Atkins book he provides an allowance of three packets of articifical sweetener each day of the two he recommends. This limit isn't to say you can't have something sweet, but rather forces selection and limitation as you're starting a low-carb diet.

That one must count each packet of any artificial sweetener as 1g of carbs - this alone places a limit on how much you can have in a day, without stating it, if you're following rule three and getting the majority of your carbs from vegetables and salads. Long-term, into maintenance, this is an excellent rule - it limits your exposure to chemical sweeteners and lessens the chance you'll use them in excess if you continue to follow this rule for the rest of your life.

The potential of caffeine to affect insulin and blood sugars is also included in the rules. Each time you have caffeine, your body has an insulin response and the potential for cravings to be triggered. In addition to the potential for cravings being induced by caffeine, there is also the risk of feeling more hungry and eating more than you would had you not had the caffeine. While initially caffeine may supress the appetite, later after its effects are waning, you may actually feel more hungry than you would have had you not had the caffeine.

It is especially important in the first two weeks to do all you can to limit your cravings; as you can see from the above rules that are in place, many of them aid in limiting the cravings to keep you on track. It is also important to begin to fully understand "hunger" and how much sates your appetite rather than leaving you stuffed. By avoiding caffeine, limiting artificial sweeteners and keeping yourself hydrated you're accomplishing this goal.

Dehydration when following a low-carb diet, due to ketosis, is to be avoided. It will increase the concentration of ketones in your body and the result is less efficient buring of fat for energy. You'll also run a greater risk of getting constipated, as well as, a greater risk of painful headaches. Proper hydration while you're in ketosis will help to eliminate the ketones from your body in your sweat, urine and respiration - you need the water intake to accomplish this each day.

As an aside, I've found caffeine has little effect on me. Over the years I've noted that it's a "your mileage may vary" type thing and usually recommend an individual see how they feel with and without caffeine in their daily menu.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rule Eight: Keep it Real

A low-carb dietary approach is easy to maintain almost anywhere you can eat - at home, on the road or in a restaurant. The key is to carefully consider your options available and understand where carbs are most likely to be found in things "allowed" when they're prepared by others. When you're cooking at home, you know what ingredients you're using; on the road or in a restaurant, odds are high that the chef is using ingredients you won't be including in a controlled-carb diet.

Rule 8:
  • Eat out as often as you wish but be on guard for hidden carbs in gravies, sauces and dressings. Gravy is often made with flour or cornstarch, and sugar is sometimes an ingredient in salad dressing.

In an effort to keep it real, rule eight establishes that it's perfectly reasonable to eat out, with a caution to be aware of ingredients used in food preparation. As one more rule, it again repeats an underlying theme within all the rules - take responsibility for what you do eat.

Simply put, do not assume anything in a restaurant is acceptable unless you ask or ingredients are clearly stated on the menu! Where ingredients are not disclosed on a menu, learning how to ask and actually taking the time to ask about ingredients and food preparation is something you'll become accustomed to over time - and in the long-term will be an invaluable asset in your tool-box of strategies to insure you're eating controlled-carb for life!

When you eat out, in addition to the food you get, you're paying for a service - to have your food prepared - so be fully prepared to expect to be served acceptable food for your diet. Start by asking that things be prepared in a way that is acceptable for you or ask for guidance as to what else is acceptable if the chef cannot prepare something without particular ingredients. The basic ingredients, at minimum, you must insist are not included in your meal because of carbohydrate content are sugar, corn starch, arrowroot, potato starch and flour. The standard food ingredients to not be included are bread crumbs, breading, rice, pasta and potatoes, sugar based marinades, high carbohydrate salad dressings, etc.

In addition, you also want to be careful to avoid dishes prepared with shortening, margarine and other fats high in trans-fats. This isn't explicit to the rule above, but given our current knowledge, it's something to avoid when eating out.

If a restaurant is having a difficult time accomodating you, choose a simple salad wth oil and vinegar for your dressing, have a basic protein grilled (no marinade) baked or broiled, and some steamed vegetables.

In all the years I've restricted carbohydrate in my diet, I've never been unable to find something on a menu that's acceptable. Sometimes it means being a bit creative, but as long as a restaurant has basic foods, you can find something to eat as a meal while you're there.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Rule Seven: Use Your Smarts!

It's almost impossible to miss the recommendation to read labels on food packages these days. It's good advice no matter what dietary approach you decide to follow, and is front and center in the Rule of Induction (Atkins) too, found in rule number seven.

Rule 7:
  • Don't assume any food is low in carbohydrate - instead, read labels. Check the carb count (it's on every package) or use a carbohydrate gram counter.

This rule establishs a lifelong habit that, as you continue along with a controlled-carb diet, will be invaluable to you. You're expected to make it a habit to read labels and take responsibility for your food choices at the start of a low-carb diet and as you continue along and lose weight.

Once firmly rooted as a part of your food selection process, reading labels makes you a smart and savvy shopper - with an ability to quickly identify packaged foods that are not your best bets nutritionally.

While the first couple weeks has an underlying encouragement to limit foods to those which are fresh, it is possible to include a wide variety of prepared and/or packaged foods, thus the potential to derail success if you're not careful with your choices. So, in the first couple of weeks this rule is invaluable anytime you're including packaged processed foods in your menus.

The reality is that most people will include some packaged foods, whether salad dressings or prepared foods, from the start; so making it a habit to read labels reinforces the requirement that one take responsibility for what they eat.

Over time, reading labels helps to develop a keen eye while enabling one to make good choices among the packaged foods they include in their day-to-day menus. As more and more variety is added to a low-carb diet, it is critically important to be in the habit of reading nutrition labels - not only for carbohydrate content, but to understand ingredients used since differing brands of same-type items varying greatly not only in carbohydrate content, but ingredients used in the preparation of the packaged or prepared food.

When Looking Great isn't Good Enough

An interesting look at how what we see in magazines is manipulated into a warped reality is presented today at as the site looks at how Redbook recently took liberties in doctoring the cover photo of Faith Hill.

This is how the Redbook cover photo appears on magazine covers:

This is how the original photo of Faith Hill looked before it was touched up:

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rule Six: Empower Yourself

You may recall that in rule one of the Rules of Induction (Atkins), those starting the first phase of the diet are reminded to eat regularly and develop a pattern of eating each day that they're comfortable with, be it three meals a day or four or five. Also within that rule was the caution not to go more than six waking hours without eating something. I bring rule one up again today because it complements rule six, which says:

Rule 6:
  • Adjust the quantity you eat to suit your appetite, especially as it decreases. When you're hungry, eat the amount that makes you feel satisfied, but not stuffed. When you're not hungry, eat a small controlled carbohydrate snack to accompany your nutritional supplements.

Where rule one speaks to our need to establish good eating patterns to take with us as we lose weight and then maintain our weight, this rule helps us understand that over time, as our weight declines, our food intake will decline and we still need to be aware that even with a diminished appetite, it's important to nourish our bodies for good health.

So many diets play on our fears - and one of the biggest is our fear that we lack enough willpower to actually stick with a diet long enough to lose the weight; forget about keeping it off!

One of the draws of a low-carb diet is the natural appetite suppression that comes within a few days of carbohydrate restriction. A large number of studies have noted that even when allowed ad libitum access to any and all of the foods allowed on a low-carb diet, those who stick with the allowed foods experience a "spontaneous" reduction on caloric intake while consuming an adequate level of protein and dietary fats to sate appetite and lose weight.

Sometimes the appetite suppression is so good that it's easy to miss a meal or go without eating too long. This rule reminds us that adjusting our food intake as we lose weight is expected, but we do not need to limit our intake to a point where we're potentially doing more harm than good, nor to we have to rely solely on willpower to lose weight or live with hunger pangs as we lose - we need nutrients from food, we need energy from food (even while losing weight) and we need to establish good eating habits.

That means eating for both to nourish the body and to sate appetite; adjust how much you eat to satisfy your appetite, allow yourself - give yourself permission - to eat and feel satisfied. Satisfaction with your meals keeps you motivated as you lose weight.

This rule does have a caution and that is to be aware not to overeat and stuff yourself, not to gorge or binge. For some who are new to low-carb this may be something that could become problematic - eating too little and then binging - so the caution is there to listen to your body, pay attention to your appetite and learn when you're hungry and when you're satisfied. Over time, if you're paying attention to this you'll find your body really does trigger hunger when you're hungry and if you're eating well, establishing an eating pattern happens!

The last part, to include a small carbohydrate controlled snack with your supplements, reminds us that including nutritional supplements is considered a benefit on the diet and eating something small with them can help you with rule one to establish good eating habits!

Over time as you lose weight, your appetite is going to naturally diminish and your energy requirements will adjust too. This is something to be aware of for the long-term - what you eat when you start - whether it's 3000-calories or 2000-calories - is going to slowly decline in time as your body weight is reduced. Someone who weighs 300-pounds needs more calories each day to maintain their weight than someone who weighs 150-pounds. So, in the long term, this rule is establishing this in your mind to remember later, as you reach a lower weight - you won't eat the same as you do at the start of the diet!

Overall this rule fosters a sense of empowerment - the understanding that you can, perhaps for the first time in your life, listen to your body and learn how to eat well over the period of losing weight and then as you maintain your weight!