Monday, February 20, 2012
Today's blog is not about facts but about how the experience of eating very low-carb (50-60 grams of carbs/day) has changed the way I feel and think about my food.
Because I'm trying to observe my own emotional response this blog may not make much sense to others and there will definitely not be any logical order. I'll have to see where it's going.
I've noticed that it helps me overall to feel better if I focus on the tremendous number and types of foods that are good for me to eat. I could come up with over 50 different vegetables in all colors, at least 20 different fruits, at least 20 different seeds and nuts and the oils and butters of these. I can also enjoy eggs, all kinds of dairy products including milk, heavy cream, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, soft cheeses like feta, quark, hard cheeses like cheddar, gouda, cheeses with healthy molds like blue cheese, brie and camembert.
And then there are meats. I have limited myself to grass-fed beef, buffalo, chicken and lamb mostly because of availability.
There are also an endless number of tasty herbs and spices. Some of my favorites are rosemary, turmeric, mint, curry, turmeric, garlic, parsley, basil, chili pepper, sesame seed oil, cinnamon, sage, lemon grass, thyme, dill and chives. And then there are mushrooms, a whole food group to explore by itself.
For sweeteners I use Xylitol or coconut sugar (both sparingly) since both are fairly low-glycemic. When I want to have something bread or cake-like (not felt the need yet), I know I can use almond flour or another nut flour and/or flaxseed meal and use raw vegan recipes that mix the ingredients and use a food dehyrator instead of an oven to keep from destroying too many nutrients.
Occasionally I think about the fact that staying low-carb would mean to never have a regular pizza again or a nice crusty bread as a base for butter and cheese. These things still hold some attraction for me, but not so much that I can't resist them fairly easily. Just thinking about where my insulin levels go after eating them and how these insulin levels will help shuttle a lot more of the calories I eat to my fat cells helps me to pass up the bread. I may try to make a pizza-type crust soon with nut flour and top it with all the same yummy toppings I love including spinach, onions, lots of tomatoes, cheese, maybe some ground beef. Having to make it all from scratch will take some time and will make it a very special treat. It will taste different than pizza made from wheat dough but it may be much better.
I did find over the last few days that it's hard for me to limit the amount of fruit I eat. To keep my carbs down to 50 I can't have more than one serving of fruit (1 apple or some blueberries) and sweeter fruit is out. This morning I really wanted a banana with my cranberries and yoghurt so I found the smallest one I could and made sure I had lots of nuts and yogurt with it.
I have noticed that when I get hungry with this way of eating it feels very different. Without my blood sugar crashing, the need to eat is there but it's not as urgent. I can and often have to continue working for a while, if for no other reason than the fact that I actually need to take the time to prepare a meal before I can eat. Sometimes I will just have a few nuts in between. Some of this is caused by lack of planning. I mostly have been eating just 3 meals a day but the last 2 days I needed a snack when I ate less at a meal than my body needed because I had too little time for my meals.
I am missing having Chili a little and think that I may make some Chili with veggies and meat but without the beans very soon.
In winter hot soups are much more appealing to me than raw veggie salads which is what I usually had for lunch this week. I've always added dairy and/or meat and nuts to the salads but still would have preferred something warm. I suspect that my blood pressure may have been a little lower than usual on 2 days. It's usually on the low side anyhow so increasing my salt-intake a little should solve this problem.
I don't think I ever want to give up desserts completely and don't find this necessary. Two days ago I made some low-sugar banana nut ice cream with just heavy cream, banana and walnuts. It was mildly sweet and the whole family enjoyed it. We topped with chocolate sauce made with 85% cocoa chocolate and a small amount of coconut sugar. Next time I want to have dessert I'll try to make chocolate mousse with similar ingredients.
At the moment I'm leaning towards staying at my current carb level (50-70 grams/day) until my belly fat is gone or for at least 4 more weeks but I will reevaluate depending on how I feel and what my energy level is.
After that I will slowly increase my carbs a little every week to see how much I can increase carbs without gaining any fat/weight back. It might be nice to occasionally have some tropical fruit and maybe even a skin-on potato. I can even see that I would have small, occasional amounts of gluten-free grain or of sugary treats at social functions without worrying about it.
I will definitely never eat wheat of any kind again, not any more than I would smoke cigarettes, and I know I won't miss it at all.
One thing that I want to explore some more is how the nutrient profile of sprouted seeds, grains and beans changes and for how long these have to be sprouted to reduce carb content the most. Right now I have some teff seeds sitting in a jar sprouted that look like a miniature green lawn of the very short type you see on golf courses. Maybe my ducks would like this over a simple bluegrass and ryegrass lawn, LOL, and it should look very pretty.
This whole low-carb thing is really a lot of fun as long as I focus on what all I can do instead of focusing too much on the few things I'm giving up.
I see how it would be totally possible to eat very low-carb without animal products or with mostly animal products depending on personal choice and the availability a food where you live.
Monday, February 20, 2012
I had hoped to write some more about my thoughts concerning "Why we get fat" by Gary Taubes but did not have the time. Instead I want to give the link for this interview in 2 parts:
part 1 www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMUGUZ3EEEo&
part 2 www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbw_8vRvbg0&
The surprising thing to me is that Dr. Oz seems to have gone in a different direction by now, teaming up with Weight Watchers.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
I decided to front-load these links for now rather than reviewing the book:
Here is another link to another talk:
I hope this will give access to some of the critical information for people who can't read the book right away.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
I was wondering if my energy would be lower than normal. But it does not look like it.
I decided to take it easy and ran for only 45 minutes. I covered almost 3.6 miles, average pulse was 135, average speed was 4.7 mph.
Eating has been more frequent today with three meals and two snacks. I think my carbs were around 60-70 grams today.
I have not had any significant side effects from eating low-carb yet, except maybe I was a little tired the last two days in the afternoons.
There are still some questions about "Why we get fat" so I'm hoping to go through the book again this weekend and write down some questions.
I hope to do one more long run sometime in the next 3-4 days before I start tapering. Tomorrow we may get some snow so maybe I'll finally have a chance to try my snowshoes.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I am almost done reading the book by Gary Taubes "Why we get fat and what to do about it" which is a simplified version of his much more comprehensive book "Good Calories, Bad Calories". Gary Taubes talks about the connection between overeating and weight gain in a different way than what most of us are used to hearing: Prompted by hormones, primarily insulin, our body will store calories we eat, regardless of whether they are carbs or fat, in the fat cells in our body. Insulin can cause this to happen regardless of whether we need these calories for energy at the moment or not. According to Taubes this means that if our insulin levels are high enough and our body needs to use energy we will get hungry because all the available calories are put away in the fat cells where they are unavailable for use. Therefore obesity is the cause of overeating, not overeating the cause of obesity.
Taubes makes the comparison of a young person growing. To say that a child is growing because they are overeating is obviously ridiculous. We assume that growth and physical changes during adolescence are the result of hormonal changes and that teenagers eat a lot BECAUSE they are growing.
Increasing insulin levels are caused by consuming carbohydrates and those carbs with the highest glycemic index are considered the worst. There are other reasons given for why some people seem to store a lot of calories they eat in fat tissue while other people seem to deposit them in muscle tissue where they are used for energy. Genetics play a role here.
When I look at my dogs I know that this is true. My whippets were bred for racing and they have probably no more than 3 percent body fat. People who don't know and understand the breed will occasionally ask questions about how often and how much I feed them and are suprised to hear that these dogs eat huge amounts and get one of the most expensive dog foods on the market.
My Beagle Honey is on the other end of the spectrum. When she came to us she weighed 47 lbs. at 2 years of age. I know that she was part of a research colony for a nutritional study but I don't know what her diet consisted of before we got her. I put her on a low-fat, high-fiber diet and fed her small portions, 1/4 cup of food twice a day. This was 8 years ago and I had never questioned the wisdom of cutting fat and calories and increasing fiber and activity for weight loss. In this case my approach worked. Honey lost 20 lbs. in 3 months, rivaling "Biggest Loser" results. She is now on 1 cup of high-quality food a day, about 30% carbs, 40%fat and 30%protein. Not ideal for a dog but she maintains her weight with the help of portion-control and regular exercise. Beagles commonly have hypothyroidism but this one does not, she's just a glutton who would eat 40 lbs. of food a day if I let her and regain all the weight she lost very quickly. Unlike the whippets she is not very fast (well, still faster than I am) but she can go all day for 20 miles or more easily, an incredible endurance athlete. Most of my other dogs are also more built for endurance and have a fairly slow metabolism which allows them to maintain weight on most foods. Dogs, more than many other species have been bred for extremes in looks and in function and are a good example to see how diverse their needs are in the area of nutrition. There is no reason to assume that there aren't major differences in the ways people's metabolism functions. I know some people who will not put on weight regardless of what they eat. Of course this does not mean that they are healthy regardless of what they eat, but calories in-calories out is not the same for everyone. Most people with thyroid issues struggle far more to lose weight and keep it off. There are dozens of hormones in our bodies that may play a role in what our bodies do with food. Jillian Michael's book "Master your metabolism" is a good introduction to endocrinology for people who are not in the medical profession and explains how more than 10 different hormones affect our weight.
I'm not sure where exactly I'm going with all of this, I want to do more research. But I think I have enough evidence to give a low-carb diet a try over the next few weeks. I'll make it even a little lower-carb than originally planned, shooting for under 50 grams of carbs. What percentage of my fat and protein intake will be animal (dairy, meat) and what percentage will be plant-based (nuts, coconut, olive oil, avocado) I don't know yet. But I will cut out all grain and beans and some fruit for a few weeks and see what happens. I will also continue to eat large amounts and a wide variety of raw vegetables and will eat mostly organic food, animal-protein from pasture-fed animals.
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