Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gary Taubes Strikes Again

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories has made quite a splash in the dietary world since unleashing his research volume on diet and exercise. He vindicates Dr. Atkins by showing the science behind low carbohydrate diets and even points out that exercise doesn't make you skinny - just makes you hungry. His latest article appearing in Mother Earth News reiterates some of the dietary wisdom from his book. It turns out this is information our grandmothers knew all along...

"If you’ve been trying and failing time and time again to lose weight by dutifully eating less and exercising more, perhaps its time to try your grandmother’s diet instead. Stay away from the fattening carbohydrates, stop worrying about how much fat you eat and see what happens. Let your weight and your waist circumference tell you whether the diet you’re now eating is a healthy one."
Full Article

This is a great article and those who don't have the time to dive in to Good Calories Bad Calories might want to check it out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wifezilla becomes a columnist!

I am proud to announce that I will be joining fellow blogger, forum junkie and low carb writer Cleochatra as a columnist for the Examiner!

My first article is already up thanks to Cleo's patience. (link below)

As always, I look forward to your feedback.


Denver Low-Carb Examiner

First Column: Fair food is often foul.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Notable Quotable

As I struggle to figure out why so many medical professionals spout off dietary advice (eat less fat, cut calories, eat more soy, eat less meat) that does not help their patients, and in fact causes them further harm, it looks like novelists Leo Tolstoy understood all along...

”I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Crazy Exercise Update

I blogged earlier about my history with exercise and how I went 2 years working out 1 hour a day, six days a weeks and never lost a single ounce. Then I quit working out (but kept my 1 hour a week dance class) started low carbing and dropped 40 lbs. When I tell people this story, they often treat me like I am insane. "It's impossible!" they say, or "maybe you needed to cut back your calories" or " I bet your fat level was still too high". They can't understand how someone can work out, always feel hungry, cut their fat levels way down, cut calories, and not lose weight while feeling miserable the entire time. In their minds, maybe I was stupid, couldn't count, or outright lied about my works outs and food intake.

If that really were the case, then how would they explain the past two months? I started picking up the amount of work outs I do, gone back to walking once or twice a week, and added back in one of my water aerobics classes while still continuing my weekly dance class. The amount of weight lost in 60 days? Zero.

I track my food intake on and it varies from 1700-2000 per day. There was no increase in overall calories, and no change in the macronutrient composition, just adding several extra hours a month of working out. The result was no change in my weight at all. Now, obviously I see reasons to exercise or I wouldn't waste my time with it. I do it for the socialization, for the increased flexibility, not to mention that release of nice brain chemicals you get from a good work out, but I certainly don't do it for the weight loss.

Good thing people like Barry Groves and Gary Taubes exist or my friends would have had me hauled off to the loony bin for insisting that exercise doesn't mean weight loss. I have sent several dozen people links to Gary's Scientist and the Stair Master article, though I doubt many read it. They just can't wrap their heads around the fact that exercise makes you hungry instead of skinny, or that you would have to climb 20 flights of stairs to burn off the calories in a single slice of bread. The few that have read it don't think I am crazy (or a liar) anymore. They just think I am some kind of genetic freak. Brain washing by the fitness industry is very effective apparently.

I guess I shouldn't mention to them how I jump started my weight loss again the other day. I accomplished it by doing something so far removed from what they believe causes weight loss that bringing it up may inspire my craftier friends to sew me my own designer straight jacket. I started drinking a low carb beer at night. Oh, and also eating lots of cream cheese. So a full 8oz of cream cheese with coconut cream, cocoa powder and some liquid splenda whipped with a hand mixer in the morning, some kind of meat and salad at lunch, maybe some coffee with coconut cream in the afternooon, a little grazing at dinner, and then just one low carb, icy-cold Michelob Ultra about 7pm. Three days later, I break a 5 month long weight loss stall* by dropping a full pound. No sweating or grunting required.

Ssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Don't tell anyone. Especially my friends. On second thought, a designer straight jacket might be a good idea. My husband can use from now until November to keep me from bashing the tv in with a baseball bat just so I don't have to listen to another political speech. Just tell them remember to allow some extra room for my wide shoulders and to stick to cool brings out the green in my eyes.

*Even though I haven't lost weight since Spring, I was still losing inches, so technically it wasn't a stall

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Killer Carbs: Scientist Finds Key To Overeating As We Age

An interesting article from Science News gives clues as to why some people develop appetite problems...

"A Monash University scientist has discovered key appetite control cells in the human brain degenerate over time, causing increased hunger and potentially weight-gain as we grow older. The research by Dr Zane Andrews, a neuroendocrinologist with Monash University's Department of Physiology, has been published in Nature.

Dr Andrews found that appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals after eating and said the degeneration is more significant following meals rich in carbohydrates and sugars."
Full Article

Friday, August 22, 2008

Spaghetti Squash and Low Carb Lasagna

As much as I hate to admit, Fall is on the way. While Fall does mean colder temperatures, it also means an inexpensive abundance of squash at farmer's markets and in the grocery stores. Fortunately, squash can be great nutritional bargain. With a low cost, high vitamin content and low carb count, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and other varieties are frequently on my menu.

One of my favorite varieties is Spaghetti Squash. It gets its name from the tendency of the flesh to come apart in noodle-ish strings when cooked. It does make a pretty good spaghetti replacement and I use it for just that purpose. After you cut it in half and seed it, the squash can be baked, boiled or (if your microwave is big enough) steamed. Once the squash is cooked, you just take a fork and drag it across the flesh (long ways) and fluff it to get your "spaghetti" strands. (Instructions for preparing here)

At that point you can just use your spaghetti like you would for any regular spaghetti recipe. Top with pesto, a marinara sauce with meat balls, or even a tasty chicken alfredo. Another option is to use your spaghetti as a replacement for lasagne noodles. There is no law that says you HAVE to use a flat pressed noodle to make your lasagne, and I have (in my high-carb days) used spagetti noodles instead of lasagne noodles before. Making a switch to spaghetti squash works just fine.

To make your own Spaghetti Squash lasagna, you can use any favorite lasagna recipe and just swap the spaghetti squash for the noodles. Easy! The recipe below is based on the one mom used and it was always a family favorite.

Wifezilla's Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

1 1/2 lbs. Italian Style Turkey Sausage (or ground beef, or ground turkey or any combination of the three)
1 (26 oz.) Hunt's No Sugar Added Spaghetti Sauce (or other low carb sauce...meat flavored is often your best bet.)
4 cups Mozzarella cheese
1 (8 oz.) container of Ricotta (or cottage cheese - drained)
1 large spaghetti squash
1 cup chopped red onions
2 tsp dried basil (or 4 tsp fresh minced)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano (or 2 tbsp minced fresh)
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups fresh grated Parmesan cheese (ok...use dry if you must!)
Olive Oil to grease pan
Optional: 2 cups sliced mushrooms

• Prepare spaghetti squash and flake in to "noodles". (Instructions here)

• While the squash is cooking brown the ground beef. Add the onions and garlic and cook until onions are clear. (You can also add the mushrooms at this point.) Pour off any excess fat.

• Add your spaghetti sauce and spices to the ground beef. Simmer for 15 minutes.

• Preheat oven 350 degrees.

• Spread a generous layer of olive oil on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.

• Add a layer of spaghetti squash noodles.

• Next, cover with a layer of meat sauce.

• Add a layer of ricotta cheese

• Then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

• Repeat layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella. You should end up with 3 layers.

• Sprinkle the top layer with Parmesan cheese.

• Bake in oven 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

TIME SAVER: Mom was smart...since making lasagna can take a bit, she would make several pans of lasagne at one time. Once they were assembled, she would par-cook 3 or 4 of them and then throw them in the freezer after wrapping them in tinfoil. For just a little extra work and about the same amount of mess, she several dinners done in one shot. So, don't be afraid to triple or quadruple this recipe.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One More Reason To Avoid Fruit Juice

Since becoming a low carb practitioner, I have avoided fruit juice. Sure it tastes good, and yeah, there are some vitamins in it, but let's be serious. It's basically just sugar water. A single cup of apple juice has 29 carbohydrates...over half of the total carbs I eat in a typical day. Once you remove the juice from the fruit, you turn it in to a blood glucose raising, rapidly digested liquid that heads straight for the liver where it is easily converted to body fat. As for the vitamins, if heat was used in processing the juice, most of those vitamins are destroyed anyway. It really gets me that parents give this stuff to kids because it is "healthier" than soda. I know my parents thought that. My mouth full of fillings hint at how "healthy" all that juice can be.

If you're a grown adult, and if you want to drink sugar water, go right ahead. Just don't give it to your children on a daily basis and don't kid yourself that juice is healthy. Besides, now we learn that juice isn't just a potential source of cavities and a contributor to obesity, it can seriously screw up your medications. The general population seems to understand that grapefruit juice can be a problem when taking blood pressure pills, but grapefruit juice isn't the only problem....

"...grapefruit, orange, and apple juices decrease the absorption of several important medications:

The allergy drug Allegra, available generically as fexofenadine
The antibiotics ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Proquin), levofloxacin (Levaquin), and itraconazole (Sporanox)
The beta-blocker blood pressure drugs atenolol (Tenormin), celiprolol, and talinolol
The transplant-rejection drug cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral)
The cancer chemotherapy etoposide (Toposar, Vepesid)"

Full Story

David G. Bailey, PhD, one of the people who originally discovered the connection between medication problems and grapefruit juice in the 90's goes on to say, "This is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure we'll find more and more drugs that are affected this way".

While the substance in grapefruit and orange juice that interferes with medications has been identified, it still isn't known exactly what in apple juice is causing all the problems. Since apple juice is often used as a mixer for other fancier juice blends and cocktails, if you are a juice drinker, it can be pretty hard to avoid.

If you are taking medication, just skip the juice. All that sugar isn't good for you even if you aren't sick. Drink water and eat your fruit whole and fresh in limited quantities. Who knows, by doing just that you might not need the medication in the first place.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Quick Breakfast

Breakfast can be a bit of a pain. First of all, you are TIRED in the mornings, you would rather be asleep anyway, and standard morning fare can get a bit boring. Seriously, how many ways can you cook eggs before you decide you need a change? My latest quickie breakfast is easy to whip up and it tastes more like a dessert than a breakfast, but with a low carb count, a good fat and protein ratios, and a nice shot of calcium, who can resist?

Almond Butter & Chocolate Yogurt

1 cup full fat Greek style or plain yogurt
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp natural, unsweetened almond butter or peanut butter
Da Vinci Simple Syrup to taste (or other sweetener of choice)

Stir everything together and enjoy! If you have time, throw the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes to make it even thicker. Yum!

Nutrition Breakdown

Made with Almond Butter and Greek Yogurt
Calories: 425
Fat: 33.9
Carbs: 19.7
Protein: 19.4

With Greek yogurt
Calories: 534
Fat: 40.4
Carbs: 18.9
Protein: 17.0

With plain whole milk yogurt
Calories: 384
Fat: 25.4
Carbs: 23.3
Protein: 10.5

If you use sweetener packets, you will need to add a few more carbs to the total. Whether or not this is a good option for you will depend on your particular low carb plan.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Carbs Clog Your Brain

Sure, my title is a little sensational, but according to Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, eating foods that spike your insulin levels can encourage the development of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is associated with the build up of toxic beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. If your brain is full of insulin from bread, rice, potatoes, sugar or other carby foods, the enzymes responsible for getting rid of those toxic proteins can't because they are too busy trying to get rid of the excess insulin. So, in a sense, your brain gets clogged.

Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, who lost his own father to Alzheimer's, believes that carbohydrates are about as healthy as cigarettes. "Binging on carbs is like smoking cigarettes each time we do it; it leaves a residual “amyloid” deposit on the brain like a cigarette leaves tar on the lungs."

Considering all the carbs I ate up until one year ago, the brain cells I killed during my misspent youth, and a family history of Alzheimer's, ingesting carbohydrates isn't something I can afford to do.

Dr. Fortanasce recommends a diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugars, but still advocates whole grains. Taking the doctor's analogy a bit further, refined carbs can be considered an unfiltered Camel cigarette and whole grains would be a filtered Virginia Slim. No thanks! At least he recommends lots of anti-inflammitory fish, nuts, berries and vegetables and states that you should eat proteins and fats first. His recommended anti-Alzheimer's diet might not have a low enough carb level for me, but you have to admit it is far superior to the standard American diet.

So next time you consider scarfing those cupcakes, drinking that sweet tea, or even eating whole wheat pasta with a side of multi-grain garlic bread, think about what it will do to your brain. Can you really afford the cost later in life? I already lose my purse and keys on a regular basis, forget birthdays or meetings, and leave my cell phone in the refrigerator (still not sure how I ended up doing that, but yeah, I really did do that). It may already be too late for me, but for goodness yourself!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wifezilla vs. Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld

Doctor Isadore Rosenfeld is a frequent guest on Fox New Sunday. According to his Fox News bio, "With nine best-selling books to his credit (as well as a textbook for doctors), Dr. Rosenfeld is one of the leading and most effective proponents of the medical enlightenment of the American public. He is a contributing editor of Parade Magazine, with 82 million readers.",2933,34772,00.html

I find him to be very likable, and I enjoy his news segments. Fortunately I have learned to take his recommendations with a grain of salt. Sunday morning, for example, he had an interesting segment on eggs. Once believe to be a contributor to heart disease, Dr. Rosenfeld pointed out a study that showed eating eggs did not raise cholesterol and can actually contribute to weight loss. No big surprise to us low carb fans, but it was sure nice to hear that reported in the main stream. However, a few seconds later he uttered this little sentence..."Saturated fat raises cholesterol levels."

This is a widely held belief, and it is something that is a cherished view of vegetarian activists.

"Saturated fat raises the level of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is present in animal foods but not plant foods. It is essential for metabolism but is not needed in the diet as our bodies can produce all that is needed. Raised blood cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease."

"Well-planned vegetarian diets provide us with all the nutrients that we need, minus all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants found in animal flesh, eggs, and dairy products."

The whole animal fats bad/plant oils good idea ignores the reality that not only are animal fats NOT bad for you, not all animal fats are even saturated. "The reality is that both animal and vegetable fats and oils are composed of many different kinds of fats, each with it's own chain length and degree of saturation, and each with a different effect on cholesterol. Half the fat in beef, for instance, is unsaturated, and most of that fat in the same monounsaturated fat as in olive oil. Lard is 60% unsaturated; most of the fat in chicken is unsaturated as well." - Gary Taubes, "Good Calories, Bad Calories"

But before you drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what percentage of each animal product is unsaturated, you should realize, that despite spending millions trying to prove that animal fats, saturated or otherwise, as well as plant based saturated fats like coconut and palm oils are bad for you, the evidence just doesn't pan out.

"The longest, most prestigious and widely quoted long-term study on CHD (coronary heart disease), the Framingham study, clearly shows that those who eat the most saturated fat have the lowest cholesterol levels."

"Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization." - Gary Taubes, "Good Calories, Bad Calories"

So, despite popular wisdom and the words of kindly but misguided Dr. Rosenfeld, saturated fats, though they may or may not raise cholesterol, aren't even bad for you. At worst, they are neutral. At best, they may even be protective.

"We have all been brainwashed into believing that eating foods with any type of fat is a heart attack on a plate, despite the fact that saturated and mono-unsaturated fats have never been shown to cause heart disease, but have been shown to protect against this and many other serious diseases...

Before the twentieth century, most of the fatty acids in the diet were either saturated or monounsaturated, primarily from animal fats such as butter, lard and beef and mutton dripping. In those days, fewer than one in twenty-seven people got cancer and heart disease was so rare that very few doctors had even heard of it, let alone seen a case. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, most of the fats in the diet are polyunsaturated from vegetable oils, and cancer now affects one person in two and heart disease is a major killer." - Barry Groves, "Eat Fat Get Thin"

Dr. Rosenfeld is a great example of why people need to do their own research. Despite what we are often told in the media, the evidence is out there that saturated fats aren't bad for us, cholesterol isn't the cause of heart disease, and people who do intentionally lower their cholesterol don't necessarily live longer. The culprit in the whole heart disease issue is, instead of saturated fat, carbohydrates. I will leave it up to you to dig up the carbohydrate information on your own. Getting a copy of "Good Calories, Bad Calories" will give you a good start.

The funniest thing about the Doctor Rosenfeld segment wasn't his obviously wrong interpretation of what constitutes a bad fat, but what happened later in the segment. Someone had written in about cocoa butter and wondered if she should stop eating it for health reasons. Doctor Rosenfeld said there was no reason to stop since cocoa butter was really good for you and he spent quite a bit of time singing its praises. While I agree that cocoa butter is good for you, obviously Doctor R. didn't realize that cocoa butter is comprised primarily guessed it...saturated fat. Yet, saturated fat is the very thing he warned against just minutes earlier.

This story is a good illustration of why your shouldn't let a kindly face and an authoritative voice on TV, or even a blogger like myself, sway you too much when it comes to something as important as your health. Take everything you hear or see with a large grain of salt and do your own investigation.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A picture is worth 1000 words...

It is all fine and good to talk about low carb, but I realized I hadn't posted pictures to SHOW what low carb has done for me. While I still have a ways to go, I think the progress is pretty visible. Hopefully you will find this inspirational.

44lb Cat Goes Low Carb

When a 44lb cat ended up in a Camden, NJ shelter two weeks ago, he made headlines because of his enormous size. Nicknamed "Prince Chunk", he is making news again after getting a new home and clean bill of health. Other than his obesity, he is a perfectly healthy cat. According to news reports, he is now being placed on a high protein/low carb diet to get off those excess pounds.

"Chunk has been put on a weight loss and exercise program by his vet. The animal doctor also prescribed a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet."
Full Story

Knowing how well low carb has worked for me as well as my cats, I am betting Prince Chunk will have to get himself a new name in no time flat.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Diet Fail

The general public really doesn't seem to get the destruction that refined carbs and sugars can do to people, particularly to people with diabetes. Restaurants don't either. Of course, that doesn't stop them from trying marketing to this segment of the population....sometimes with hilarious results. Take this sign appearing in a recent post for example...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Soon everyone will be fat

A government-funded study is reporting that in 40 years all U.S. adults could be overweight. It's not that hard to believe either considering 2/3rds of the population is already considered obese.

From Reuter's... "some groups of U.S. adults have extremely high rates of overweight and obesity; among African- American women, for instance, 78 percent are currently overweight or obese.

The new projections, published in the journal Obesity, are based on government survey data collected between the 1970s and 2004.

If the trends of those years continue, the researchers estimate that 86 percent of American adults will be overweight by 2030, with an obesity rate of 51 percent. By 2048, all U.S. adults could be at least mildly overweight."
Full Story

While the story does admit that this prediction is based on the big assumption that the trend will continue, as long as health officials recommend eating plenty of carbohydrates and reducing saturated fat intake, I see no reason to believe it wont.

The only thing that will reverse American fattening is an admission that the official diet advice handed out over the last 30 years has been complete crap. Since those giving advice have multi-million dollar revenue streams dependent on people eating lots of carbs and contracting long-term health issues requiring loads of prescription medicines, I wont be holding my breath waiting for the retraction.