Lowcarbezine! 19 April 2001

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Hey, Gang!

Here it is, better late than never!  Thanks to all of you who expressed
concern and/or solidarity with my "weird day"!  Of course, sometimes I
think it could be said that I'm having a weird life... ;-D

Read on!



All contents copyright 2001 by Hold the Toast Press.  All commercial
reproduction and/or use is expressly prohibited.  As always, feel free
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The Great Breathing Exercise Face Off!

I've written several times in the past about breathing exercises, and
how valuable I think they are.  I have tried three different systems,
two which use a very similar "basic breath" -- Body Flex and Life Lift
-- and a third, Oxycise!, which has an entirely different sort of basic
breath.  I felt that they were all good, but wanted to know if there
were any real difference in their effects on metabolism.  So here's what
I did:

For a few weeks now, I've done either the Body Flex/Life Lift style
breathing exercise or the Oxycise! breathing exercise, in rough
alternation.  Before I did the exercises, I would take my temperature. 
I would time the exercises so that I did just fifteen minutes of
breathing (after all, if I did more or less of one or the other, it
wouldn't be a fair comparison), then took my temperature again.  I did
this because body temperature is a down-and-dirty way of gauging

What was the result?  No clear winner.  Indeed, something very
interesting happened -- no matter which form of breathing I did, my
temperature rose more or less, *depending on where it was before I
began.*  When my starting temperature was low, maybe 96.6,  my
temperature fifteen minutes later might be as much as two degrees
higher, or 98.6 (normal); quite a jump.  On the other hand, if my
temperature was, say, 98.2 when I started, it would still be just 98.6
fifteen minutes later, a much smaller jump, again regardless of which
system I was using.

I draw a couple of things from this.  First, that both types of
breathing are equally effective, and which to use is entirely a matter
of which you enjoy more.  Second, that breathing exercises are useful
for getting your metabolism up to a "more normal" level, but pretty
ineffective for accelerating metabolism above that normal level.

This second point would explain why doing breathing exercises first
thing in the day seems to be most effective.  For most people,
metabolism is at its lowest when they first wake up; jump-starting your
metabolism will get it perking along at a higher level faster than just
waiting for it to rise by itself as you go about your day.  More time at
a higher metabolism means more time burning more fat.

Of course, all of this is only vaguely scientific; any real scientist
would collapse in laughter at a study done with only one subject, and
with a home fever thermometer.  But you uses what you gots, and one
subject and a fever thermometer is what we here at Hold the Toast
Laboratories could afford.  I hope to repeat the experiment with a
larger group in the future.  In the meanwhile, however, I feel fairly
safe in telling you that you should pursue whichever form of breathing
exercise you like, and that you'll make more difference by the timing of
your breathing exercises than by which system you use.  

(It should be noted, however, that Oxycise! is more suitable for
pregnant women, those with seriously high blood pressure, and those with

You can get Oxycise!, many levels of it, at Amazon; here's a link to
level One:

Here's a link to the Body Flex book, Be a Loser:

The videos are available from: http://www.thebodyflex.com

Life Lift is available at: http://www.aerobicbreathing.com -- think of
Life Lift as sort of a touchy-feely sweetness and light version of
BodyFlex, or conversely, think of Body Flex as the no-nonsense version
of Life Lift.

All of these tapes may well be available used.  Check ebay, or your
local Play It Again Sports -- I got my BodyFlex tapes for $8 at Play It
Again Sports.  Used exercise stuff is easy to find, and much, much
cheaper than new.

One more interesting piece of information came out of this experiment --
I discovered that my body temperature was consistently running a degree
or two low.  I added this knowledge to my almost too-low blood pressure
and my slow pulse, plus hair that's become much drier in the past 18
months or so, and went to see my doc for a thyroid test.  Sure enough,
my T4 was low.  I'm now on a low dose of thyroid.  Paying attention to
your body has its benefits!


Low Carb Spotlight Food-of-the-Week!

What is low carb, widely available all year round, always cheap, loaded
with vitamins, very versatile, and (at least to my mind, or tongue)
tastes good?  Cabbage.  

Cabbage is one of the very oldest of the cultivated vegetables, and has
sustained populations throughout the world for *centuries*.  Here's the
nutritional breakdown:

* A half a cup of shredded cabbage has in the neighborhood of just 1
gram of usable carb; a hair more or less depending on whether you've got
green cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, napa cabbage, or one of the
other many varieties.  Anyway you look at it, cabbage is a very low carb

* That same half cup has about 15-20 mg. of vitamin C (except for savoy
cabbage, which has only 11 mg) -- cabbage has been the big preventer of
scurvy for many, many people in many, many lands, for many, many years.

* Again, depending on what variety, you'll get about 70-80 mgs of

* Curiously, green cabbage is a better source of vitamin A than red
cabbage.  I would have thought that the red color meant lots of beta
carotene, but green cabbage has 44 IUs, while red has only 14.  

* You'll get a few mgs. of calcium, too -- between 12 and 18, and 37 for
bok choy, the Chinese cabbage!

* Also minor amounts of magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and some traces
of B vitamins.

* Remember, too, that cabbage belongs to the same family as broccoli,
cauliflower, and brussels sprouts -- and the whole family is suspected
to have anti-cancer properties!

So how are you going to eat that cabbage?  

Personally, I *adore* cole slaw.  I shred up cabbage -- often I do a
whole head at a time, since cole slaw keeps well in the refrigerator --
and I always add a small amount of finely minced onion, red onion if I
have it.  If I'm making coleslaw for company, and want it to look
particularly nice, I use part or all red cabbage.  If you prefer, you
can use the pre-shredded cabbage sold in bags at the grocery store.

However, *all* bottled cole slaw dressings are *loaded* with sugar. 
Steer clear.  Here's my favorite recipe for cole slaw dressing -- it
never fails to draw raves at parties and potlucks, and my sister and my
mom have adopted it as their own!

Cole Slaw Dressing

1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons  prepared mustard
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt or Vege-Sal
1/2 to 1 packet artificial sweetener, or a teaspoon of Splenda

You may, of course, vary these proportions to taste.  I use this much
for a whole head of cabbage.  If you're used to commercial coleslaw,
which tends to be simply *swimming* in dressing, you may want to double
this, or use this recipe for half a head.

This dressing will also work with either yogurt or cultured buttermilk
in place of the sour cream.  It will have a few more grams of carb --
just a couple -- but considerably fewer calories.

I like coleslaw as a side with virtually any plain meat -- a piece of
chicken, a pork chop, a steak, what have you.  It's also good with
chunks of cold ham in it, as a main dish salad.

By the way, my sister makes what you might call "Coleslaw Italiano" --
she tosses shredded cabbage with bottled Italian-style vinaigrette
dressing.  I think she uses Paul Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar
dressing.  Good

I also like cooked cabbage.  Most commonly, I cook it this way:

Start a couple-three of strips of bacon frying in a large, heavy
skillet.  While that's cooking, shred a half a head of cabbage (two of
us eat this much, but we *really* like cabbage!)  When the bacon is
crisp, take it out and drain it on paper towels or brown paper.  Sauté
the cabbage in the bacon fat, stirring fairly frequently.  When it's
tender crisp, stir in a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar and a
couple of teaspoons of Splenda.  Crumble in the bacon, stir it well, and

On cold winter days, I like New England Boiled Dinner.  I cook a corned
beef in my slow cooker along with some chunks of onion and turnip.  A
half an hour before dinner, I fish out the meat, turn the slow cooker to
high, and put in wedges of green cabbage to cook.  Serve with hot
mustard, horseradish, or both.

How about 

Creamed Cabbage

Cook 2 quarts of shredded green cabbage in  1/2 inch of boiling water,
in a tightly covered pot, for about 5 minutes, or until tender-crisp. 
Drain, and stir in 1/2 cup cream or half-and-half, a couple of
tablespoons of butter, and a little nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Shredded cabbage, either bok choy or regular old green cabbage, makes a
fine addition to stir fries.

Here's an exotic twist on cabbage -- this is interesting, but it's not
hot or particularly strong:

Indian Cabbage

4 cups shredded cabbage
oil or butter
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1 teaspoon salt or Vege-Sal
1 teaspoon turmeric
a little water 

Put a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil or butter (I like to
use coconut oil) -- a few tablespoons worth, and then the mustard seed
and the turmeric.  Sauté together for just a minute.  Stir in the
cabbage, add the salt or Vege-Sal, and stir-fry for a few minutes,
combining the cabbage well with the spices.  Add a couple of tablespoons
of water, cover, and let it steam for just a couple more minutes, just
until the cabbage is tender-crisp.

There should be fewer than 10 grams of usable carb in this whole recipe,
and it makes enough for the family.  

A couple of tablespoons of diced onion can be nice in this, but it will
add some carbs.  This is also a nice way to cook green beans, and works
very well with frozen, cross-cut beans (thawed) as well as with fresh
beans cut in short pieces.

And if you have a nostalgic yearning for the food of the 1960s, you
could always stir finely shredded cabbage into sugar-free orange
gelatin, and mold it in muffin tins.  I wouldn't like it, you
understand, but it would be low carb, and *somebody* must like these


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Revisited

A couple of months back, I wrote about Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome
(PCOS), a hormonal disorder characterized by ovarian cysts, irregular
menses, infertility, obesity, acne, facial hair growth, male pattern
baldness (in women!), and a great deal of other nastiness.  I wrote the
article based on what information I could find, knowing that it was a
poorly understood problem, and that what I had was most likely
incomplete -- I simply felt that it was vital for women who were
carbohydrate intolerant to understand that -- if they had these other
symptoms -- there might be a greater health issue at hand.  

I got this very detailed and informative letter from a reader, and I've
been planning to share it for a while now --

Hello, Dana!

My name is Julia, and I am one of your loyal readers. This particular
topic is all too near and dear to my heart, as it appears to be to yours
so I decided to write to you about this. 

I am a 26 year old female, and I was diagnosed with PCOS in December of
'99. The problem is, I have had it probably since puberty. It is very
disconcerting to grow up unable to lose weight, unable to get rid of
your acne, finding hair in places normal women don't. Add to that the
shock of moving to a new country and
entering a rather unkind environment-- American High School, and you get
a reasonable picture of my formative years. 

Thankfully, my parents have done a very good job teaching me to measure
myself (and others!) by abilities, not
outward appearances. But I can not say that I am altogether secure and
confident. I am not. This is all by way of introduction, and to explain
why being diagnosed with PCOS was maybe the defining moment of my life.
I was finally told what was wrong with me. The overwhelming emotion that
elicited, however, was anger. 

Well, anger appeared as I went home and researched what exactly it was
that I had. I was very angry at all the doctors who failed to diagnose
me for years and years before then. They shuffled me through, telling me
birth control pills would take care of my irregular periods, and making
no connection between that and all the secondary symptoms I so obviously
presented. When I was finally diagnosed, it was by a Nurse Practitioner,
and it was without ordering a single test-- just from the info in my
file and one look at my face. 

After I was diagnosed, I did the 5-hr Glucose Tolerance Test (which
showed insulin
resistance, as expected) and went on the Atkins diet the very next day.
That was January 5th, 2000, and I have never looked back. As a side
I think staying true to this Way of Eating may be easier for me than
many people who go on just to lose weight-- it just isn't worth it to me
to jeopardize my health for any carby goody out there.

The main reason for my anger was that I felt like all these doctors
stole years of my life. Years when I wasn't planning on getting
pregnant, but could have spent making sure that I could. As things
stood, I was not anywhere near the possibility of getting pregnant, and
my biological clock was not ticking, it was
pounding in my head. The thing of it is, we were ready. We wanted to
have a baby, and we were really ready. 

No one should ever feel what I felt only 2 months after being diagnosed.
Our dear friends told us they were pregnant, and instead of joy, I felt
like crying. Add to it that they then proceeded to say "And we didn't
even get to try", and I was ready to smack them. This is not the way
anyone should feel. But this is a very common reaction among women with
PCOS. Worse yet, it robs you even of your association with your gender.
Heck, if you can't even ovulate, what kind of a woman are you?

Do you know what the standard fertility treatments for women with PCOS
are? In the best case, they give you Metformin, a diabetes drug, and
that may work for some. But not all. And you have to stop taking it when
you get pregnant, so the baby then lives in the messed up hormonal
background you had to begin with. And some doctors don't even know of
Metformin. The most common treatment is still Chlomid. I know too much
biology to think that is even remotely good for the baby.

So I opted for natural treatments. I have been on low carb diet for over
a year, and I have tried a number of other things to go with it. My
current doctor is also a naturopath and he recommended I restrict my
diet further by applying the principles from the "Eat right for your
type" book and he is also treating me with some homeopathic medicines. I
have eliminated from my diet the
foods that are not recommended for type O, and interestingly enough,
most of them had a thyroid-lowering effect. I have had a low thyroid for
years, and had a bout of thyroditis in '99. This change in diet might
have been what did it, but in December of 2000, almost a year to the day
of being diagnosed, I ovulated for the very first time, as far as I

 My war is not yet won-- I am not yet pregnant. But now I believe that I
can be, and naturally. Interestingly enough, my hormones are behaving a
lot better. My testosterone, which was 80 in October of 99, is now 40
(normal range is 10-70). My estrogen also appears to have gone down
Forgive me for the novel above. I hope it was not too boring. I was just
trying to explain where I was coming from. Now that you understand my
story,  perhaps  you will look kindly upon me offering some corrections
for your article on PCOS. Please do not misunderstand me, I am very
grateful to you for writing it. Too
few people, especially women know about it. Too few get the treatment
they need. Estimates for PCOS run between 5 and 10% for American women,
and I dare guess a lot higher in your audience, since being overweight
is one of they symptoms. But this is also why I offer these
corrections-- yours is a voice of authority and many women will listen.
It is very important that they get correct information. So here goes:

1). Insulin resistance is not a *part* of PCOS. I believe the American
Society of Endocrinologists has now declared that it is the *underlying
cause*. Their publication from '99 advanced that as a theory, but one
that many endocrinologists subscribed to, and I believe that in 2000
they subscribed to it officially. I don't have the source on that, only
the '99 publication, though. Very impressive anyway, don't you think? 

2). This is the most important part, as far as I am concerned. If you
are a woman who is a least bit interested in getting pregnant in the
future, you should NOT go on the birth control pill. The pill only masks
the symptoms of PCOS, and does absolutely NOTHING to help the disease.
In fact, it makes things worse, since it lulls you into false sense of
security. If the symptoms don't progress, you can't see the damage that
is continually being done to your hormonal system. Makes sense?

3). I have always thought, just as your article implies, that
testosterone is the only sex hormone that is higher in PCOS. That is, I
always knew that the balance between testosterone and estrogen is
shifted to testosterone. Turns out, that is not the complete story.
Estrogen and estrodial are also higher, making
testosterone astronomically high. This explains all of the secondary
symptoms of PCOS, since estrogen is the fat-storing hormone. It also
explains why PCOS women have so much trouble losing weight, even on
low-carb diets. 

I hope I did not bore you or offend you. I want to thank you again for
writing about the subject. If there is any more information I can give
you, I will be only too glad :). 

Dana's Note:  Bore me?  Offend me?  Absolutely not.  I'm certainly aware
that I am *not* the last word on anything, and certainly not about a
syndrome like PCOS, which is just now starting to be understood.  I
greatly appreciate the voice of experience, and thank you very, very
much for sharing your knowledge with me, and more importantly, with your
fellow readers.  I will gladly publish any new information or insights
you care to share!


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

(I got this post at Christmas time; just getting around to publishing it

Dana, I've been lax this season about sending holiday greetings to the
people I care about, and wanted to make up for it.  I know we've never
met, but I feel I know you well because of your book and your
e-newsletter, and as a result, I have come to care for you - because you
helped me change my life!

I've never been obese, but I've been on a permanent weight loss/gain
yo-yo for years.  Up 30, down 30, etc.  On top of the frustrations that
accompany being heavy, or avoiding the foods I love and starving myself
to be thinner, I had a permanent sense of hunger and fatigue.  I swear,
I could eat 24 hours a day in my former way of life.  And after each
meal, naptime!

Until I read (and read and read) your book, I didn't understand what the
foods I was eating were *really* doing to my body, beyond adding inches
and pounds. Now that I've given up my low fat diet, I am also 40 pounds
thinner (from Feb 2000  to August 2000).  But I don't have a scale to
gauge how much better my life is now that I'm never hungry and never
tired.  I can barely put into words how it feels to go on a business
trip and LOSE 2 pounds after eating everything I want.  Or how it feels
to look at a pie and think, blech, that looks disgusting!

I have learned from your book more about how my body reacts to foods,
and  feel more in control over myself, than I ever did using low-fat
approaches  to eating. I can safely say that even if the weight had not
come off (and  stayed off) with this way of eating, I would be thankful
for your book  because of the radical  improvement in how I FEEL about
eating and how my body feels after I eat.

So, happy holidays, and thanks for helping me change my life.  I
strongly recommend your book to anyone who wants to understand how foods
impact their bodies and minds, and who wants to feel confident and in
control over their eating, and in turn, over their bodies!

Kara in Chicago

Thanks, Kara!

If you'd like to read more reader reviews of _How I Gave Up My Low Fat
Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_, you'll find twenty five of them at:

If you'd like to read the first chapter of the book for FREE, plus find
a bunch of other useful low carb info, visit:
http://www.holdthetoast.com .  You can also see my smiling face and my

Or, for that matter, you can visit
http://www.webbalah.net/carbsmart.html , and order
_How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds_ from Carb Smart,
where it's at a discount.  Low Carb Grocery has it at a discount, too --
http://www.lowcarbgrocery.com .  So does Just Say No To Carbs, at
http://www.justsaynotocarbs.com .

If you'd like to buy the book from a bookstore, you'll probably have to
special order it.  If you're in the USA, this shouldn't be a problem --
just tell them that you want to order _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and
Lost Forty Pounds!_ by Dana Carpender, and that the ISBN is
0-9668831-0-1.  You could also tell them that they can order it through
Baker and Taylor; one of the country's biggest book wholesalers.  We do
ship to Canadian bookstores.

If you're outside of the US, your best bet is to order from Amazon.com.
We can ship internationally from here at Hold the Toast, too, but we're
not set up for it big-time like Amazon is.  If you're a book wholesaler
outside the US and interested in carrying _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet
and Lost Forty Pounds!_, we'd love to hear from you!


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Let Me Clear Something Up...

I wrote an article last week about low carb specialty foods, and how I
feel that they should not be the main constituent of a low carb diet,
for a number of reasons.  One of those reasons is that low carb
specialty foods are expensive, and that I've known too many folks who
have been tempted to drop their low carb diet because they felt they
could not afford it.

Unfortunately, a few readers drew from this article the impression that
I felt that low carb specialty foods are a rip off, and that the folks
who sell them are gouging.  Let me state here, quite clearly, that this
is categorically untrue.  I do not feel that *any* of the low carb
etailers with whom I have dealt are anything but honest, hard-working
and sincere, and the high price of low carb specialty foods has
*nothing* to do with *any* dishonesty or profiteering on their part.

Low carb specialty foods are expensive for many reasons.  First, they
are made of more expensive ingredients; as I stated last week, protein
and healthy fats are more expensive than sugar, white flour, and other
refined carbohydrates.  Sucralose (Splenda) and polyols are more
expensive than sugar.  Perhaps the *primary* reason that low carb
specialty foods are more expensive than your standard processed foods is
that they are higher in nutritional quality.

Another reason they are more expensive is that they are made in smaller
batches, by smaller companies.  A company like Jok'n' Al or Aunt Pearl's
simply does not enjoy the economies of scale that a giant like Kraft or
IC Industries does.  Therefore everything they do is more expensive for
them, and hence, for the consumer.  These are just what I called them,
*specialty* foods.  You want special, you pay for it.  Further, most of
the low carb etailers are small outfits, run by entrepreneurs who are
doing this because they, themselves, are low carbers, and are following
their passion, just as I am.  Their profit margins are slim, and their
overhead is high.  I think that they do a remarkable job.

A third reason is that many of these foods are more expensive to ship
and to store, because they are more perishable.  One of the biggest
reasons for the development of nutritionally devoid foodstuffs like
white flour, sugar-laden preserves, and refined hydrogenated shortening
is that they keep nearly forever, even without refrigeration.  Of
course, they keep nearly forever because they won't even support life on
a microbial level; think of how much less they'll do for a complex,
multi-cellular organism like you.  Real food has a fairly short shelf
life, and often has to be stored or shipped in a cooled environment. 
That runs up the price.  

Finally, many of these foods are imported, often from as far away as
Australia and New Zealand.  We all know what that does to price.

I stand by my assertion that the majority of your diet should be made up
of fresh, whole foods -- meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds,
vegetables, and low sugar fruits, and that low carb specialty products
should be used to fight cravings, deal with holidays and special
occasions, and give a little variety to your diet, rather than as your
staples.  But I could not leave anyone thinking that they were being
ripped off by people I know, like, and trust.


How about WAFFLES?  PANCAKES?  BISCUITS AND GRAVY?  Even make pot pies
with a biscuit crust!  All LOW CARB!  And all far, far cheaper than
buying Atkins Bake Mix!  And now you have a choice -- regular or NEW
soy-free! Aunt Pearl's and Rose's low carb bake mixes!!  Why Pay More? NOW ON
SALE!! http://www.lowcarbgrocery.com 

We now have _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_ at a
discount!  Just $9.95


Good News For Low Carbers in the UK!!

Back in March I wrote that I receive much email from low carbers in
other countries, wondering where they can get some of the low carb
products we can get here in the US.  Sadly, I had to tell them I hadn't
a clue.  However, I received this email:

Hi Dana...

I LOVE your newsletter, and have your book, which is superb.

As to Entrepreneurial spirit, I am in the UK, and have set up for us UK

and owner of the low-carb-in-the-uk@yahoogroups.com mailing list...
which is kicking. Please come join us for a little while... we have
Barry Groves
(Author of "Eat Fat, Get Thin") on there, so another "official"
low-carber is always a good thing! lol!

Hope this finds you hale and hearty!

Kind Regards
Nikola Howard

So there you go!


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

Dana W. Carpender

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