Lowcarbezine! 1 June 2000

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Hey, Gang --

ACK!!  The ezine ran away with me again!  Here I thought it might be
shortish this week because I had no chance to work on it over the
weekend, and now it's *HUGE*!

Furthermore, my favorite thing in this week's issue isn't even something
I wrote myself.  It's one woman's first-hand story of the *real* Chinese
diet, and its relationship to health.  Don't miss it!

Read on!!



All contents copyright 2000 by Hold the Toast Press.  All commercial
reproduction and/or use is expressly prohibited.  As always, feel free
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Lowcarbezine! welcomes reader input!  If you have a question, a recipe,
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mailto:dana@holdthetoast.com  However, please note -- although I really
do read all my email my very own self, I get a *lot* of mail --
generally over 200 posts a day (not all of them about Lowcarbezine!), so
I can't promise to answer every post personally.  Or I'll never get the
next book written!

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Thought for the Week

My dear friend Nicole was on my massage table recently -- one of those
massage-clients-turned-buddies, of whom I've had more than a few over
the years -- and was telling me about a friend who has been on a low
carbohydrate diet.  This friend, whose name is Sonja, has done well,
losing fifteen pounds in a couple of month's time.  Sonja, Nicole said,
was elated and excited about her weight loss, but was unhappy about the
diet itself.  In particular she missed fruit, Nicole told me.

I explained that Sonja could have fruit on her low carb diet; that
strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and modest
servings of melon all fit easily into a low carb diet, along with the
occasional half a grapefruit, handful of cherries,  peach, or plum.  I
explained that it is essential that people tinker with their program, to
find a version that they find livable for the long haul.  Then I asked
Nicole whether Sonja was planning to stay on her low carb diet long
term, or whether she was thinking she'd go off it when she had lost the
weight.  She said that she was pretty certain Sonja was only looking at
her low carbohydrate program as a temporary crash diet -- that this was
why she was eating almost nothing but meat and eggs -- and was planning
to go off it when she had lost the weight.

Yuh-oh.  You know what that means.  It means that Sonja is going to gain
the weight back, and pretty quickly, too.  I explained to Nicole that
whatever one does to lose weight is what one must continue to do to keep
the weight off.  Low carbohydrate dieting is not remarkable in this
respect; it's true of any successful weight loss program.  (I just love
it when people hurl the accusation, "You just gain all the weight back
when you go off your low carb diet!"  Not to put too fine a point on it,
but er-DUH!  If you lose weight through caloric restriction, and then go
back to eating your old number of calories, do you think you just
*might* gain the weight back, hmmmmm?)  If carbs are your problem, then
carbs are your problem, and that's not going to change.  You'll be able
to liberalize a *little* bit when you've lost the weight, but not much
if you want to maintain your loss.

Which is why it is *essential* that you not decide "If low carb is good,
no carb will be better!!  I'll eat nothing but meat and eggs, and I'll
lose the weight fast-fast-fast!"  Unless you are unusually fond of meat
and eggs, and don't care whether you get any sort of variety in your
diet, this approach is distinctly counterproductive.  I'm always
surprised, however, by how many people do take this approach.  I
actually got an email one day from a fellow who was in a panic because
he'd read the label on the bag of pre-made salad and discovered that it
had -- horrors! -- *3 grams of carb* per serving!

If you have discovered that you feel much better, are healthier, and are
losing weight on a low carb diet, it is also very important that you
learn as much as you can about the various forms of low carb and carb
restricted dieting.  Why?  Because there are meaningful differences
among the various approaches -- which is why I included several
different approaches in my book --  and what are the chances that you
picked the perfect low carb program for you right off the rack?  One
size fits all doesn't work very well with clothing, and it works even
more poorly with major lifestyle decisions.  The more you know about the
various programs, the more options you have.  The more options you have,
the more you can tailor your diet to your body, your heart, your mind,
your budget, your schedule, your cooking skills, your moral/religious
beliefs, your entertaining, etc, etc, etc.  The more you can do this,
the more likely it is that you will end up happy, happy, happy with
*your* version of a low carb diet.  And this, to borrow a phrase from
Martha Stewart, Is A Good Thing.

For instance, you may be the sort of person for whom convenience is all
-- before you went low carb, you were living on fast food carryout,
ramen noodles, and Lean Cuisine.  Your version of a low carb diet will
lean heavily to fast food salads, pre-made hamburger patties,
rotisseried chickens, pre-cooked, pre-shelled shrimp, and bagged salad
with bottled dressing.  And you know what?  That's just fine.  And
you'll be eating what essentially amounts to an Atkins/Protein Power
style Basic Low Carb Diet.

On the other hand, you may be the sort of person who simply *loves* to
cook, and who has always spent the weekends entertaining.  The low carb
convenience diet would make you utterly *miserable*.  Not only would you
have nothing fun to do in the kitchen, but how are you going to throw
those dinner parties while ignoring all that carb-y stuff you serve to
your guests?  If you try to do your low carb diet eating nothing but
burgers, chops, steaks, and salad, you may lose weight and feel better
-- physically -- but I predict that you'll find it unsatisfying enough
on an emotional level that you'll never stick with it.  For you, perhaps
a Basic Low Carb Diet during the week, with a focus on exploring the low
carb dishes of various cuisines, and a Mini-Binge Diet on the weekends,
so you can eat whatever you serve to your guests, no matter how sinful.
This approach is far more likely to make you *happy*, as well as healthy
-- and being happy with your life is part of being healthy, especially
when you look at the long term!

Maybe you're one of the very few people I've heard from who, on a Basic
Low Carb Diet, never made the leap from feeling tired to feeling
energized.  A few people simply don't -- they stay tired and
brain-fogged; a miserable way to live.  It's only a guess, but it seems
these people simply don't go into ketosis easily, and have trouble with
gluconeogenesis (making what little glucose the body actually *needs*
from proteins and, to a much lesser degree, from fats.)  Who's going to
live on a diet that makes them feel like that?  I don't care how much
weight you're losing; that's no way to live.  These people need to know
that there are other approaches to carb and insulin control -- they may
do much better on a diet that keeps some low impact carbs, , like my
Careful Carb Diet.  Or they may be the sort of people for whom a
Mini-Binge approach was invented -- that one meal a day where carbs are
allowed may be all they need to stay clear-headed and energetic, while
still losing weight and improving their health.

This need to play with your diet, to adjust it to your body and your
lifestyle, is also the reason why I do low carb product reviews.  Many
of the low carb products I review -- the sweets, in particular, and also
anything high in soy protein -- aren't anything that I would care to
consume on a daily basis.  But they offer a wondrous variety in our
diet!! The basis of my diet is, and ever shall be, meat, poultry, eggs,
fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.  These, I am convinced, are the
evolutionary foods of the human race.  But knowing that I can have a
chocolate covered almond from time to time is a joy!  Knowing that I can
make a quesadilla now and then without facing a five pound water weight
gain is an enduring pleasure.

So experiment, and keep on experimenting!  After almost five years, I am
experimenting yet again with my low carb program, eating a bit less
protein and a bit more fat, and restricting alcohol to one drink after
10 pm.  So far the results are pretty exciting!  (And I'll tell you more
in a future issue.)  If I can learn something new and useful about low
carb dieting after five years, can it possibly time for you to stop
tinkering with your diet yet?

Stop worrying about how fast you lose the weight.  I know, I know, it's
summer and you're facing shorts and bathing suits.  But there's next
summer to worry about, too, and the one after that, and the one after
*that*.  Don't set yourself up to be desperately trying to lose the
weight yet *again* every spring!  You know -- you really *do* know, in
your heart of hearts -- that a *permanent* change in your eating habits
-- coupled with a bit of exercise -- is the *only* way that you're going
to lick the problem for good-and-all, and it will bring you tremendous
health benefits, as well.

Take the time to read, to experiment, to learn the different approaches
to insulin control. Try new recipes, try new products.    Create your
*own* dietary path that satisfies you, body *and* soul.  I promise
you'll be happy you did!


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Frequently Asked Question

Won't a low carbohydrate diet hurt my athletic performance?

Depends.  (I just love those unequivocal answers, don't you?)

It depends on what sort of exercise you're doing, and it also depends on
how long you've been on your low carb diet.

Exercise, as you may already know, may be divided into two major types:
aerobic, or cardiovascular training, and anaerobic, or strength
training.  Actually, these terms are a bit blurrier than that, and for
our purposes, aerobic and anaerobic are more useful terms than
cardiovascular and strength.

Aerobic exercise does not refer solely to bouncing around to peppy music
while dressed in spandex.  The term covers all exercise that is done at
a rate such that your body can keep up with the increased demand for
oxygen -- "aerobic" means that your body is making energy using a
process which involves oxygen.  This can include walking, biking,
swimming, stair climbing, dancing, jumping rope, Tae-Bo, mowing the lawn
(with a push mower, not a ride-on!), cross-country skiing, or, indeed,
bouncing around to peppy music while dressed in spandex.  It can also
involve some forms of strength training, which is why I wanted to get
clear about terminology.  If you're lifting relatively light weights,
with a fairly high number of repetitions, chances are good that you're
still running on an oxygen based metabolism, and therefore for our
purposes are doing an aerobic exercise.  (This, by the way, is a
*terrific* form of exercise, burning fat and building muscle at the same
time.  The series of videotapes by a company called The Firm are tops in
aerobic weight training.

Anaerobic exercise is mostly limited to heavy-duty strength training --
high weight, low reps -- the kind of stuff body builders do; and to
runners who do sprints, rather than distance runs.  In exercise like
this, the exerciser almost always exceeds his or her body's oxygen
capacity, and switches over to creating energy without oxygen -- an
anaerobic metabolism.  (This, by the way, causes what is called an
"oxygen debt", which must be "paid off" before you do it again -- which
is part of why this sort of exercise leaves you sore.)

The distinction is important to us low carbers for a very simple
reason:  when you're running on an aerobic or oxygen based metabolism,
your muscles will happily burn fat for fuel.  But without oxygen, they
can't.  Period.  So during anaerobic exercise, your muscle simply *must*
burn glucose.

What this means is that a low carbohydrate diet isn't a problem during
aerobic exercise, except during the first week or two, when your body is
making the transition to using fat for fuel, instead of glucose.
During those first couple of weeks, you may have a drop in performance
-- less energy and endurance --  but soon you should actually have
*increased* stamina, since you've trained your body to run on the fuel
you carry around with you.

However, if you like to do heavy weight lifting, or if you're a runner
who does sprints, you may well find that your performance suffers on a
strict low carb diet.  There are a few possible solutions to this.  You
can choose one of the less restrictive diets, like a Mini-Binge program
or my Careful Carb diet, either of which should provide enough
carbohydrate to keep your glycogen stores full.  (Glycogen is glucose in
a form that is stored in the muscles and liver for emergency use.)  You
could try a cyclic ketogenic diet, where you eat a very low carb,
ketogenic diet during the week, and then "carb up" on the weekend, when
you have the most time to work out.  Or you could consume a modest dose
of *high* impact carbs -- soda pop, hard candy, heck, rice cakes, I
don't care -- right before a serious workout.  (And *ONLY* before a
serious workout, you hear?)

Now, most of you aren't doing heavy weight lifting, or running sprints.
You are, I hope, going for walks, or going dancing, or riding a bike, or
getting *some* form of exercise.  Chances are good that whatever you're
doing, most of you are doing it at a low enough intensity that you're
not surpassing your body's ability to consume oxygen.  Even if you're
lifting weights, many of you are probably lifting at a modest enough
level that you're not going out of your aerobic zone.  (I've done a fair
amount of lifting since going low carb, with no problem.)  Unless you're
doing some really heavy duty lifting or some major sprints, you should
have no trouble with endurance or energy on your low carb diet, once
you've given your body a couple-few weeks to adapt to it.  (Medical
studies have shown that one of the many changes that occur on a low carb
diet is an increase in an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme
which is involved in fat burning.  This allows endurance athletes who
have been on a low carb diet for a few weeks to burn fat for fuel
preferentially to glucose -- and fat you carry with you!)

However, I have no doubt that a few serious athletes read this ezine.
You know who you are, and you are, no doubt, clear on when you're doing
aerobic exercise, and when you're going into an anaerobic zone.  Consume
your carbs accordingly!

Another thing you can take away from this article is this:  fat only
burns in the presence of oxygen.  That's why many trainers push aerobic
exercise to burn fat.  Anaerobic weight lifting can build lots of
muscle, however, which will raise your metabolism and burn more fat in
the long run, so it's still a fine idea.  But remember, the more oxygen
you can consume while exercising, the better.  *Pay attention to your
breathing*, and breathe harder than you think you need to, concentrating
on *exhaling* completely, to make room for lots of fresh new air.
You'll stoke your metabolism and burn the maximum possible fat this way!


Ahoy Low Carb Cruisers!  Join me for a week of the Low Carb High Life --
A Cruise Adventure!

I know it's hard to believe right now, but before you know it, winter
winds will be blowing, and those New Years Resolutions you make will be
put to the test.  Come join me, Dana Carpender, for week of fun and
relaxation, and knock off the Holiday Five, while learning more about
how to eat well, stay healthy, and enjoy life!  You'll learn techniques
you can use every day in the real world to live the low carb life... and
love it!

We'll fly to Miami on January 6th and spend the night before boarding
Carnival Cruise Line's brand-new Carnival Victory -- a floating luxury
resort!  We'll spend seven fabulous days in the Western Caribbean, with
stops in Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica.  (The sand and salt you see
will  NOT require shoveling from your driveway!)

Stay tuned for details of scheduled shipboard events, such as seminars,
cocktail parties, low carb food tastings and trade shows and recipe
swaps, as well as one on one sessions with Dana who can help you tailor
a low carb diet to your personal needs!

We're holding a LIMITED number of cabins on this sailing, (with rooms
ranging from minimum accommodations to rooms with private balconies).
Prices and an Online Booking Form should be available by next week, so
get ready to make your deposit on a cruise vacation that could change
your dieting lifestyle forever!


Dieting News!

Hey, the feds finally noticed us!  The guys at the department of
Agriculture have finally copped to the fact that a whole bunch of us
just aren't buying the "Food Pyramid" thing anymore, and they are,
apparently, deeply concerned.  So they're planning a study of an
Atkins-style diet versus an Ornish-style (very low fat, virtually
vegetarian) diet.  Says Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman regarding low
carb diets, "Why these weight-loss diets remain so popular remains a
source of extreme curiosity."  (Hint, Mr. Secretary:  Does the phrase,
"It works" mean anything to you?)

So a panel of scientists will be convened later this year, to work out a
protocol for a head-to-head trial of the two styles of diet.  The study
will be directed by the USDA's nutrition research center at the
University of California at Davis.

Dr. Robert Atkins is quoted as saying, "If they do the diet correctly,
it will change the basic eating patterns of Americans.  It will be the
greatest step forward that has ever taken place."  I tend to agree, but
I have my reservations about the extremely political nature of the
USDA.  After all,  the reports are that they allowed some heavy-duty
input from the multi-national agricultural conglomerates to affect the
final form of their Food Pyramid.  What assurance do we have that this
study will not be similarly politicized?

Still, this appears to be a fine development.  The plans were announced
at a national summit of health and nutrition professionals, the first
such summit since 1969.  Since the 1969 summit, the number of overweight
Americans has doubled, according to Health and Human Services Secretary
Donna Shalala.  No one can say that research into the causes and best
treatments for obesity aren't needed, especially since the drop in
American fat consumption in the past couple of decades hasn't helped
matters a bit.

By the way, I found it interesting that Secretary Shalala has stated,
"When it comes to crash diets and fad diets, the guidelines are clear:
Stop doing them.  They won't last.  Instead, take the weight off slowly
and steadily through a powerful combination of sensible eating and
physical activity."  As an example, Ms. Shalala cites her own weight
loss of 15 pounds since 1996.

Hmmm.  Gotta agree with her about the crash diet thing; I've already
urged you in this issue not to think of low carb as a crash diet you do
as quickly as possible, and then abandon.  And I can't argue against
exercise, it's a fine idea.  But would someone please define "fad diet"
for me?  There's considerable evidence that the basics of my diet aren't
terribly different than those of a hunter/gatherer diet -- the diet
humankind evolved and thrived on for 2 million years before the
discovery of agriculture.  And my diet has not only lost me substantial
weight, but kept it off for far longer than average, and improved my
health and sense of well-being to boot.

Would I be "sensible" to do anything else?


Reader Review of _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_

I Lost Ten Pounds While Reading This Book!
I spent two weeks reading this book over and over while practicing some
of the principles and during that time I lost ten pounds! This book is
entertaining, non technical and includes easy to understand summaries of
all the popular low carb diets. I've read all the other books on this
subject but this one is easily my favorite. Buy this book if you want
the "skinny" on low carb diets!

 A reader from Southern California, USA

You can check out the first chapter of the book FREE at
http://www.holdthetoast.com .  And you can see this review and other
reader reviews at

If you've already read _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty
Pounds_, and enjoyed it, please go to Amazon.com and review it yourself!
Who knows, you might see your review right here!

And if you'd rather, and you're in the United States, you can order _How
I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds_ through your local
bookstore.  Hey, that way you don't even pay shipping and handling! (I'm
sorry to say we do not yet have an international wholesaler;
international sales will have to be via the internet, or a mailed check
or money order.)


One Totally Cool and Fascinating Piece of Mail I Got!!


I wanted to respond to some comments you have made in your newsletter
and your book (which is a fabulous reference guide and motivational
tool!).  I think there is a very big misconception that the Chinese diet
is a high-carb diet and here's why:

In 1995 I, a mid-western typical carb-addicted college student, traveled
to China to study and teach English for 6 months.  Being overweight, I
was very excited to travel to a country of thin people and eat what they
ate!  What I found shocked me - a very simple diet full of fatty meat
fried in oil, steamed veggies with oil added, and rice.  No sweet and
sour sauce, no thick starchy soups, and no deep fried breaded chicken
chunks - just plain fried pork, chicken, or beef with some spices.  In
the 6 months I lived there I rarely found a dairy product, never saw a
loaf of bread, never saw potato chips, and never saw a chocolate bar.
In fact, I offered a Chinese some chocolate my father sent to me and she
thought it was sickeningly sweet
because concentrated sweets are simply not consumed in the traditional
Chinese diet.

Wanting to lose weight and being concerned about all the fat in the meat
and oil, I would typically order a large bowl of rice to start out my
meal to fill me up.  This surprised my Chinese classmates who wondered
why on earth I would be filling up boring rice when I could be feasting
on meats as a "rich" American.  You see, although the Chinese serve rice
with each meal, they do not throw their good meal on top of it and
gobble it down.  They use rice as a side dish to eat after the meal, and
many times skip it altogether if they are full.  They let me know that
all that rice was making me fat, but I knew better than that!  I cut
that fattening meat out all together and ate mostly fried rice or fried
noodles.  Funny thing that I came home 10 lbs. heavier, even considering
I had more exercise in my life riding my bike and walking everywhere I
went.  And I missed out on some of the best cooking and most nutritious
food in the world.

This is why I believe when you speak of the high-carb Chinese diet, you
are actually referring to the American Chinese-food diet!  Funny how any
food that hits American soil loses its fat and picks up carbs!  It is we
who add the sweet, starchy sauces and I know that doesn't surprise you.
If we all ate as the mainland Chinese, we would all be living on a
low-carb diet and all be thin.

The biggest tragedy is that in China in areas with better economies and
more money, obesity-related health problems are on the rise.  I am
certain this is not due to the rich eating more fat since I was in one
of the poorest areas of China and meat and veggies were prevalent.  It
is due to the crazy idea that rich people eat fun foods like French
fries and donuts!  I hope the crazy American "fad diet" of low fat/high
carb will soon be exposed for what it really is, and thank you for
spreading the message.

- Kristina Deloughery
Rochester, MN

Kristina, this was a wonderful education!!  Thank you so much!  (And
since you're in Rochester, could you give the heads-up to the folks over
at Mayo? ;-) )


Product Review

Hey, I got some low carb tortillas!  They're made by La Tortilla
Factory, and the folks at Synergy Diet sent them to me to try.  So I
tried doing a couple of things with them yesterday, to see how they did
-- I made a quesadilla, and I made some Mu Shu Chicken, and substituted
the low carb tortilla for a Chinese pancake.  I also made a few baked
low carb tortilla chips.

How are they?  Pretty good.  I won't go so far as to say that they're
indistinguishable from your standard tortilla -- they have a somewhat
different texture from either a corn tortilla, or a flour tortilla.
(They more closely resemble a flour tortilla.)  They're a bit -- I guess
"doughy" would be the word.  But then, they have a whopping 9 grams of
fiber in a single tortilla (out of a total of 12 grams of carbohydrate
-- leaving, of course, 3 grams of usable carb.) -- I wouldn't expect
them to have the exact same texture as a standard tortilla.

What are they made of?  Whole wheat flour, oat fiber, and soy flour,
mostly. The soy flour means that these also have 5 grams of protein
apiece, which ain't bad for a bread-like food.  If you've been reading
this 'zine for a while, you know that I'm iffy about eating a lot of
soy, so I'll likely use these for an occasional treat, rather than a
staple of my diet.

If you've really been missing something bready in your low carb diet, I
can think of a lot of ways you could use these.  There's the obvious --
burritos or taco shells -- and the less obvious, like as a pizza crust,
or wrapped around your breakfast eggs.  Up to you!

(By the way, they made a creditable substitute for a Chinese pancake
with my mu shu.  I also used Jok'n Al brand Splenda sweetened plum sauce
on that, which was quite nice!  Good sweet/spicy/fruity flavor.)

The tortilla chips were -- well, they're okay.  Not as light and crispy
as regular tortilla chips.  Again, chewier than their high carb
counterparts.  I made them by brushing the tortillas with canola oil on
both sides, cutting in wedges, sprinkling with salt, and baking at 350
for about 10 minutes.  They're best if you let them get pretty brown;
otherwise they stay chewy rather than crunchy.  However, I have yet to
try making chips by frying these, which is how regular tortilla chips
are made.  I'll experiment, and get back to you.  In the meanwhile, I
think these oven-baked tortilla chips would be useful as a dipper for
guacamole (avocados are low carb, and *sooooo* good for you!) or nacho
cheese dip/salsa, but they're not something I'd be likely to munch on by
themselves.  Which is okay, really -- because if you ate them by
themselves, you'd be likely to eat too many of them, and get too many
carbs, whereas if you use them as a carrier for low carb/high fat dips,
you'll get filled up more quickly!

All told, these can be a useful addition to our low carb diets.

Several of the low carb suppliers carry low carb tortillas, but the
folks at Synergy Diet sent them to me, so they get the plug --
http://www.synergydiet.com .  By the way, I think the coupon code
"toast" is still working -- enter it in the coupon box on the Synergy
Diet order form for a $5 discount!


That's it for this week!  See you next week!

Dana W. Carpender

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