Lowcarbezine! 1 June 2002

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Hey, Gang -

Sorry this issue is so terribly late - I was busy with general maintenance stuff, like getting central air installed in the house, and getting the car to the shop. When I finally got to the 'zine, though, it really came together, and there's some great new info in here. Plus I already have the outlines for at least half of the next issue! So the next one shouldn't be late - or at least, one lives in hope. ;-D

Hope all my American readers had a ton of fun over Memorial Day Weekend! Let's have a great summer! (And all you nice folks in Oz and En Zed and Brazil, you have a nice winter, hear?)

Read on!


All contents copyright 2002 Hold the Toast Press. All commercial reproduction is expressly prohibited. If you think your friends will enjoy Lowcarbezine!, please forward them the WHOLE ISSUE. Please, do not post articles or recipes elsewhere on the internet without permission. My attorney tells me that I'll have to come scold you and tell you to cut it out if you do.

A lot of people have inquired about advertising; we actually are going to launch new ad rates and a sign up page as soon as the webmaster is through with grad school for the semester. Watch this space!

Low Carb For the Slim?

I got a query recently, asking if it was okay to eat a low carb diet if you weren't overweight. I've also been asked whether or not my husband - who has always been slim and had a light appetite - eats low carb, too. So I thought it was time to tackle the question of low carb diets for the slim.

I know of no reason why a person who is not overweight shouldn't eat a low or lower carb diet, and I know of several reasons why it may be a very good idea.

First of all, refined, high-impact carbohydrates - sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white bread, white rice, white flour pasta, cold cereal, etc, etc, etc - aren't good for anyone. They're largely void of nutritional value, and what nutrients they do have have been sprayed on or otherwise added at the factory. Even then, they are rarely added in amounts that equal what's been removed in the refining process. It's best to not even think of this sort of rubbish as food - personally, I think of it as anti-food, stuff that displaces real food from your diet, and can actually strip vitamins and minerals out of your body.

That leaves, of course, a wide range of less refined and less tampered with carbohydrates - whole grain breads, crackers, and other baked goods, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, high sugar fruits, legumes, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain barley, and their ilk. There's little question that these foods are far less damaging than the more popular (and much more highly advertised!) processed carbohydrate foods. However, take it from a girl who got up to 190 pounds at 5 foot 2 by eating plenty of whole grains and beans, even these more nutritious, less messed-with carb foods aren't great for all of us.

Which leads to my husband, commonly referred to as Good Old What's His Face, or That Nice Boy I Married - and around here, of course, as The Webmaster. When I first dropped the carbs from my diet nearly 7 years ago (Nearly 7 years ago! And I'm not dead yet! HAH!), I would offer to cook him a potato or some pasta or whatever to go with our meat-and-veg dinner. He accepted the offer only a couple of times, then rapidly took to saying, "Ah, darling, don't bother."

The result? He felt better. Quite a lot better, really. He discovered that his energy and moods were far more stable without a lot of carbs in his diet, and he also discovered that a lot of the carbohydrate foods he used to like just didn't appeal to him anymore. In particular, he's developed a real horror of sugar - this, in a man who was a real candy junkie in his young adult years. He does eat more carbohydrate than I - if his lodge brothers order a pizza he'll have a slice or two, and if he's hungry on the road he's not above a McDonald's burger, complete with bun, or a Taco Bell burrito. But on a day to day basis his carbohydrate intake is quite low, and I swear he'd be happy surviving on nothing but hard boiled eggs, natural peanut butter (eaten with a spoon right out of the container), cheese, steak, and coffee with plenty of heavy cream.

How's his health? Well, right at this moment he's got a mild cold, thank you, but overall, his health is excellent. He had a checkup, including bloodwork, done last fall, and his cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, kidney, and liver function all came up golden - and since he's 37, with a mother who has heart disease and a dad who's diabetic, that was hardly a foregone conclusion.

See that last sentence? That's where we get to the real answer to whether slim people can benefit from a low carb diet. It has long been assumed that heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer and other female cancers, occurred in tandem with obesity because obesity was somehow causing these problems. But in the light of low carb diet theory, it's looking more likely that these diseases, including obesity, occur together because of the same underlying carbohydrate intolerance/hyperinsulinemia. And it's also pretty clear that carbohydrate intolerance is at least partly genetic.

This goes a long way to explaining why some slim people do get heart disease and diabetes and all the rest - these folks are carbohydrate intolerant, they just don't get the particular symptom of carbohydrate intolerance that we call obesity. Michael and Mary Dan Eades mentioned this in Protein Power, and said that these slim-but-carbohydrate-intolerant folks are some of the hardest to work with, because they've reached adulthood thinking of themselves as "the sort of people who can eat anything" because they don't get fat. Yet if you've got high triglycerides, or high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes, it's time to look at your carbohydrate intake even if you're a size 2.

It's also a good idea if you have nasty mood and energy swings; the blood sugar roller coaster can be very, very hard on your mental and emotional state. Indeed, my introduction to nutrition, way back in 1978, came in the book Psychodietetics, by Cheraskin and Ringsdorf (still in print, and still worth reading). I had been in some form of psychotherapy for 6 or 7 years at that point - imagine my surprise when I found a list of 40-odd "emotional" symptoms of diet-caused low blood sugar, and realized I had 40 of them! It was astonishing how my "emotional problems" cleared up when I stopped eating sugar and white flour.

So here's the bottom line - if you're slim, you still need to pay attention to your health, and your risk factors. Here's a list of indicators that you're carbohydrate intolerant other than being overweight:

* Hungry, tired and/or cranky within 90 minutes of eating a concentrated carbohydrate food

* Bad energy slumps, especially in the late afternoon to early evening

* High cholesterol

* High triglycerides

* High blood pressure

* Diabetes

* Female cancers - breast, cervical, ovarian

* Missing and/or irregular menstrual periods

* Alcoholism

* A family history of any or all of the health problems above

The more indicators you have, the more likely it is that you're carbohydrate intolerant, and the better an idea it is that you at least cut back on carbohydrates, and watch the quality of the carbohydrate foods you do eat. You may well be able to eat more carbs than your carb intolerant compatriots who are overweight - you may do well on the Careful Carb Diet, outlined in my book, for instance - but you'll still need to be careful.

One other thought - if you're wondering if a person who is not overweight can go on a low carb diet to become even skinnier - achieve the fashionably anorexic look - the answer is no, not so far as I can tell. It is my observation that low carb and carb controlled diets are great for achieving health, including a healthy normal weight, and just about useless for becoming unhealthily thin, and a good thing, too. However, if you are hell-bent on becoming a Twig Girl, and nothing I can say will dissuade you, I will say that eating your few calories every day from lean meat, poultry and fish, and vegetables will serve your body far, far better than eating a few rice cakes or fat free cookies.

But better you should reread the entertainment column notices about Callista Flockheart passing out on the set of Ally McBeal, and get some counseling.

About the Cookbook

I've gotten a ton of inquiries about my cookbook, 500 Low Carb Recipes, and very gratifying it is, too! Here's all the info I have so far:

* 500 Low Carb Recipes is due in the bookstores in October. I've seen the cover art - very nice! - and my listing in the publishers catalogue of New Books for Fall, which is very exciting. I don't know exactly what date in October the book will be out - I suspect the publisher doesn't know exactly this far out, either.

* I will be doing a three-city book tour, but I haven't been told which three cities yet! I will, of course, let you know where I'm going and when as soon as I know. I do know that it's unlikely to be New York, Chicago, and LA, since apparently "second tier" cities are better for cookbook sales.

* I won't be distributing the book myself, since I'm not self-publishing this one - so I don't have any control over prices or distribution. I've had suggestions that I take advance orders from Lowcarbezine! readers, but since I'm not the one who will be actually handling sales, I have no control over this. I also will not have the power to grant discounts to my readers, I'm afraid.

Now, maybe you all could help me with something: I'm already thinking about what to publish next. Would you like to see:

500 More Low Carb Recipes

Low Carb, Low Calorie

Low Carb USA (Regional US cuisine de-carbed)

Low Carb Around the World (Various cuisines - Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Middle Eastern, African, etc, de-carbed?)

A revised, expanded edition of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds

Mailto:feedback@holdthetoast.com and let me know which of these possibilities appeals to you most - or if there's an idea I missed that you'd like to see me work on!

To order How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds! visit http://www.holdthetoast.com/order.html

My Bad

Last issue, I told you about Carbolite sweetener, made with sucralose, like Splenda, but with fiber instead of malto-dextrin as the bulking agent.

I screwed up. Because I had only just found this product at Sahara Mart, my best local source for low carb specialty stuff, I assumed it was new. Turns out that not only isn't Carbolite sweetener new, it's been discontinued, a very sad state of affairs, since it was far lower in usable carbohydrate than Splenda. It also makes a darned good batch of sugar free margarita mix, and cuts a good 30-odd grams of carbohydrate off the total for the recipe.

All told, I think it's a darned shame that this product never achieved good enough sales to succeed, and I can't help but thinking it's just because more of us didn't know about it. So I called the manufacturer, Morico, and asked if there was any chance at all that the product could make a comeback. Their response was that there was a slim chance, if there were a big enough outcry from consumers wanting the product.

I'm taking them at their word. If you'd like to see Carbolite Sweetener make a comeback, and are quite certain that you would, indeed, buy and use the product, you should email the company and say so. mailto:morico@carbolitefoods.com , and it couldn't hurt to tell them that you saw the product in Lowcarbezine! If enough of us want the product, maybe they'll start producing it again.

In the meanwhile, it's time to annoy the people at MacNeil again, and tell them that we still want carb-free liquid Splenda. Call them at:

In the US: 1-800-777-5363

In Canada: 1-800-561-0070

Be as friendly and upbeat and enthusiastic as you possibly can. Tell them you simply love Splenda (assuming you do), but that the 24 grams of carbohydrate per cup does limit how much you can use. Tell them that you'd just love to have liquid, carb-free Splenda to use in any recipe where it might work, and you'd surely use more Splenda as a result. You might also emphasize that for a very large group of us, the question isn't just avoiding sugar, it's restricting all carbohydrate calories, including those from the malto-dextrin used as a filler.

Between Carbolite and MacNeil, surely we can get some sort of carbohydrate-free version of sucralose some day!

You and I May Be Feeling Broke, But The World Is Full of the Genuinely Poor And they don't just have a tight food budget - they're starving. You can help, every day, and it will cost you nothing but a moment of your time. Just go to: http://www.thehungersite.com and click on the button, and The Hunger Site's sponsors will donate food to the hungry worldwide. Then go to http://www.stopthehunger.com and click on the button, and Stop the Hunger's sponsors will donate food to hungry folks in the USA. I know of no easier way to do a little charity. So bookmark the sites, and click every day!

More Variations on the Low Carb Theme

Those of you who have read my book know that I feel that there are many effective ways of restricting carbohydrate intake, and that different approaches are appropriate for different people - heck, that's a big part of the reason I wrote the book in the first place, to speak out against the "my version of low carb is good, all the other versions are bad" mentality I'd seen in so many diet books, and tell what I knew to be the truth - that each version was good for different people, and that what was right for me wasn't necessarily right for the entire run of human kind; to explain the variations, and help you choose which Way of Eating was right for your body and your life..

This is why I keep my eyes open for variants of the low carb or carb restricted diet that I haven't run across before - I find that all of them have useful ideas and suggestions, and all of them seem to be good for somebody. The more possibilities open to us, the better, right?

Accordingly, here's the lowdown on two variants of low carbing that I've run across fairly recently:

The Steak Lover's Diet - This book, by Dr. Melvin Anchell, came out in 1996, just as low carb was starting to gain a little momentum, but it never got the attention that Protein Power, Dr. Atkin's New Diet Revolution, or The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet did. It's an interesting take on the low carb diet; the strictest I've seen, yet it allows some things that are not allowed on most other low carb diets.

The basic weight loss phase is extremely simple. For each meal you eat as much meat, poultry, or fish as you like. Cured meats like sausage, ham or bacon that contain even the tiniest amount of sugar are not allowed. Neither are eggs or cheese, during the weight loss phase, although you may have them once you have reached your desired weight. Along with the meat, poultry, or fish, you may have an "ordinary sized portion" of one of the following foods: potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, grapefruit, pear, banana, watermelon, blueberries, raspberries,

grapes. If you wish to eat between meals you may, but only meat, poultry, or fish. Coffee and tea are allowed, but black only, no cream, milk, or sweetener of any kind. If you don't like tea or coffee, you may have water with a slice of lemon, but no diet soda, no Crystal Light or the like. Only distilled liquor is allowed, no wine or beer. Spices and seasonings are allowed, but only if they are sugar-free - no Worcestershire sauce or any other sugar-containing seasonings, no matter how few carbs they contain. Oil and butter are allowed, but no margarine. No other foods are allowed, and Dr. Anchell states that even the slightest substitution - cantaloupe instead of watermelon, or strawberries instead of raspberries - will cause the diet to fail. However, he also says that in 40-plus years of medical practice, he has never seen this diet fail so long as it is followed to the letter.

Anchell bases his diet on the earlier work of a Dr. A. W. Pennington. The theory is that people who fatten easily have trouble processing a chemical called pyruvate, and that rising pyruvate levels interfere with fat burning. The diet is designed to drastically reduce pyruvate levels; in theory, this is why the particular foods on the short list are allowed, and no others - to keep pyruvate levels down. Dr. Anchell does have the good grace to admit he doesn't understand why, exactly, even modest substitution will cause his diet to fail, but says that it is his observation that it is so. He also says that he has also seen many intractable medical problems clear up on this diet; of course, we know that many people's health improves dramatically with carbohydrate restriction.

This is, as you can see, a very narrow diet. Yet, like virtually all low carb diets, you need never be hungry here, since you may eat all you like, so long as you eat meat, poultry or fish. Still, with even low carb treats completely absent, there's little incentive here to overeat even a tiny bit; I have a feeling that that is at least part of the secret.

The inclusion of some fairly high carb foods is the big surprise, of course - you could, in theory, have a steak and a baked potato for every meal, and for some people, this might well be their idea of heaven. This is clearly not an ultra-low-carb diet, since you might well have one of the higher carb choices - the rice, the potato, the banana, the sweet potato - at each meal. You would still, however, be eating a far lower carb diet than the general population, unless you decided to stretch that "ordinary portion" thing - no doubt you could screw yourself up if you chose one of those huge, mutant baking potatoes you find at restaurants, or decided that 1 cups of rice was an "ordinary portion.". What the magic is of these particular foods I don't know any better than Dr. Anchell, but if you choose to do this diet, I'd take him at his word, and not mess with his list.

I tried this approach for a week right after turning in my cookbook manuscript, and I was a few pounds thinner at the end of the week, which was very nice. It was refreshing, but not overwhelmingly wonderful, to have a potato and a bit of rice; it's not like I spend my time yearning after these foods, but I enjoyed them. I did miss eggs at breakfast - unlike some of you who write in saying, "I'm sooo bored of eggs, what else can I have for breakfast?" I'm happy having eggs every day, and sometimes eat them for lunch, too.

This diet does grow monotonous. My one concern about this diet is the lack of nutritional variety; if you try it and it works well for you, I'd recommend that you vary your choices of meat, poultry, and fish as much as you can - not just the usual beef, pork, chicken, turkey, sole and flounder, shrimp and crab, but lamb, duck, quail and other game birds if you can get them, rabbit, venison if available, and the whole vast variety of fish and shellfish. I'd also include organ meats if you can possibly choke them down. All of this should go a long way toward improving the nutritional profile of the diet.

I have one anecdotal report of a person who's done The Steak Lover's Diet. He tried it because he'd plateaued on Neanderthin - a paleo-style diet - and couldn't seem to lose any more weight. He says he lost "an absurd" 12 pounds the first week, lucky him! I think The Steak Lover's Diet might be an interesting path to stroll for those of you who are plateaued or otherwise having a hard time losing, and it's certainly a possible answer for the carbohydrate intolerant soul who just can't live without potatoes! You have all the rules above; it's just that simple, and once you've finished your weight loss and added eggs and cheese back to your diet, that's all you're to eat, pretty much forever. Don't know if I could live with that, but then, I've lost weight and achieved glowing good health with a less restrictive diet. As always, the decision is up to you.

The other approach to a carb restricted diet I've seen recently came to me in a cookbook I bought used, The Carbo-Calorie Diet Cookbook, by Donald S. Mart. Apparently The Carbo-Calorie Diet came out in 1973, back when Atkins was cracking the public consciousness for the first time, and the Stillman Diet was popular; the cookbook was written a few years later. The point, as the title suggests, is to achieve a balance between carbohydrate restriction and caloric restriction.

This strikes me as a good idea. I've written in the past that contrary to popular low carb diet myth, not everybody can eat unlimited calories on a low carb diet and still lose weight - a low carb diet does seem to increase the number of calories you can eat while losing weight, but still, there is a difference between the 1860 calories a day - a generous allotment - that the low carb kids ate in the Schneider's Children's Hospital study, and the 5000 calories a day it's pretty easy to rack up if you pour down the cream and heap on the mayo.

The Carbo-Calorie Diet Cookbook gives the basic "game rules" of the Carbo-Calorie Diet in the introduction. The author has come up with a fictional entity, the carbo-calorie, of which you're supposed to eat only 100 per day. What the heck is a carbo-calorie? Well, it's not, as you might assume, the number of calories you get from carbohydrates. It is, instead, the result of this rather complicated equation:

(20 x carbohydrate grams per day or per meal) + calories per day or per meal)


So, how'd you do at high school math? (I very nearly flunked it. However, I then went back to school at age 30, and aced basic algebra; I just got over my math phobia, is all.) Let's look at an actual example, shall we? Say I have an omelet for breakfast, with 2 eggs, jalapeno cheese, and a little salsa. The omelet has 2.5 grams of carbohydrate, and 275 calories. First we multiply 20 times the 2.5 grams of carbohydrate, which gives us 50. We add that to the 275 calories, and get 325. We then divide that by 24 (me, I'm using a calculator...) and get 13.5 "carbo-calories". That leaves me another 86.5 "carbo-calories" for the rest of the day.

On the other hand, if I'd had, oh, a half-cup of my reduced-carb, high protein granola, I'd have consumed 306 calories - not too far off from the omelet - but I'd also have eaten 17 grams of usable carb. (I'm doing my calculations with usable carbs, here, although the carbo-calorie book doesn't call for that...) Multiply 17 times 20 and we get 340. We add that 340 to the 306 calories, and get 646. We then divide that by 24 and get 27. (Well, 26.9, but who's counting?) That means that the granola has a bit more than twice as many carbo-calories as the omelet. It's still a viable breakfast, you understand, but you'd have less leeway during the rest of the day.

Let's do one more: Say I had an 8 ounce sirloin steak for dinner, along with 10 asparagus spears and a tablespoon of butter. I'd get 36 calories and about 2 grams of carb from the asparagus, 100 calories and no carbs from the butter, and 610 calories and 0 carbs from the steak, for a total of 746 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrate. Multiply the 2 grams of carbohydrate times 20, and we get? (Oh, let's not always see the same hands...) 40, that's right. Add that 40 to the 746 calories, and we get 786. Divide that by 24 and you get 32.75, or about a third of your daily allotment of carbo-calories, or a pretty good meal. However, I could get the same carbs, but far fewer calories if I had, say, 8 ounces of broiled cod instead - which would have only 240 calories. In that case, the calorie count for the meal would drop to 376, and the carbo-calorie count would drop to just 17.3. In this case, you might well be able to afford a glass of dry wine, at 3 grams of carbohydrate and 100 calories, or an extra 6.6 carbo-calories.

As you can see, the big reason why this carbo-calorie approach never caught on is that it's cumbersome beyond belief, and requires endless calculations. Most people don't want to spend their day doing math just to be fed. However, I think the approach is a pretty sound one, achieving a true balance between calorie restriction and carbohydrate restriction, and if you'd like to try it - keep your calculator and your food count book at hand! - I'd love to hear how you do.

If you decide to try the carbo-calorie approach, I'd suggest that you make a list of your most frequently eaten foods, look up the carbs and the calories, and run the calculations. Then post a list of the carbo-calorie values of your favorite foods or favorite meals on the front of the refrigerator, or carry it in your purse, or whatever. This should save you a lot of time and trouble.

Personally, I think it's easier just to choose a daily carbohydrate count - 20 grams, or 30 grams, or whatever you feel your body will bear - and a daily calorie count, keeping in mind that severe caloric restriction - under, say, 1200 calories a day for a woman and 1800 for a man - is apt to backfire by slowing metabolism, and that most people can, indeed, consume more calories on a low carb diet than on a low fat/high carb diet and still lose weight. Then stick to that carb count and that calorie count for the day. This approach still requires you to look up the calorie and carbohydrate counts of everything you eat, and to measure portions, but it does avoid all that calculating, and achieves about the same result. (Here's a link to a neat little script that will determine how many calories you need per day to maintain your weight - suggesting 500 calories a day under that to lose: http://www.dallasdietitian.com/calcalc.htm )

I've done some experimenting with this approach, and find that for me, staying below 50 grams of carbohydrate and 1800 calories per day yields good results, while letting me feel satisfied. I'll do more of this, and report on the results in a future issue.

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Product Review

It's summer! It's summer! (Well, here in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway...) And we all know that few things taste better in the summer than ice cream. But can we eat ice cream without making it ourselves?

Now we can! The ice cream company that calls itself Edy's hereabouts, and Dreyer's out west, now makes sugar free ice cream. I've tried two flavors, and I'm here to tell you that they're both spectacular. Since Edy's low fat ice cream was a favorite when I was eating low fat, I'm not a bit surprised; these folks know how to make ice cream!

The flavors I've tried are Triple Chocolate and Mint Chocolate Chip. (Gee, think I like chocolate?) I assume you're already clear on the Mint Chocolate Chip concept; Triple Chocolate is chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and a chocolate fudge swirl. I'd be hard pressed to tell you which I like better; they're both wonderful. Full, rich flavors, plenty of chips, true ice-creamy texture. Yum.

The Edy's/Dreyer's sugar free ice creams are sweetened with the polyols, so the same cautions apply as apply to all polyol containing products: watch how much you eat, because they can give you intestinal gas, or even diarrhea if you seriously overindulge. However, as is the case with the polyol sweetened candies, the use of polyols has allowed these ice creams to have a taste and texture that is indistinguishable from standard sugar sweetened ice cream.

There is another caution, though - these ice creams are so good that you will, indeed, be tempted to overindulge, and while they are sugar free, they are not carb free - subtracting out the polyols they still have about 10 grams per serving, and a serving, I will have you know, is a half a cup, or about one standard ice cream parlor scoopful. If you, like me, always felt that a "serving" of ice cream meant, "as much as I can get away with eating straight out of the carton", you will still be in danger of getting too many carbs. Do yourself a favor, and measure out a portion, put it in a dish, and put the carton back in the freezer!

The Edy's/Dreyer's sugar free ice creams are high enough in carbs that I can't really recommend them as a daily thing. But they're a sensational once-in-a-while treat that won't kill your diet, and a glorious addition to our low carb arsenal! Look for them in a freezer case near you.

One note: Some of the Edy's/Dreyer's sugar free ice creams are also fat reduced. I haven't tried these. I'm guessing they're not as good, but I have no hard evidence to back that up.

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


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To request a full-text version of this newsletter by e-mail, just send a message to htt020601@holdthetoast.com (Message and subject can be blank.)