Lowcarbezine! 26 June 2002

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Hey, Gang -

Here's your Lowcarbezine! You'll notice it's a day late, but that I didn't send you a Special Notice. That's because a couple of folks emailed me and said, "Enough with the apologies, already! It's free, it's good, and if you get it out a day late, that's okay." So I decided not to annoy you all with an extra post in your inbox.

Anyway, there's a bunch o' stuff in here, including the results of my tests of low carb protein bars. Hope you enjoy it.

Read on!

Dana


Am I Fit Yet?

I'm Heavyhanding seriously now, even in the summer weather. When I'm out there pounding along, dripping sweat and breathing heavily, sooner or later I'll look my husband walking beside me (without weights, the slacker!), and ask, "Am I fit yet?!"

Don't we all do this? Get impatient about getting in shape, or losing weight? We change our way of eating, and a week or two later we want to know, "Aren't I skinny yet?!" We start an exercise program, and want instant results.

It doesn't work that way, of course. Changing your body, whether through dietary change or regular exercise, takes time. When I first went low carb seven years ago, it took me a good 8 - 10 months to drop 40 pounds, and there was a good 3 - 4 month plateau in there! I've been Heavyhanding since late March, and while I'm in far better condition than when I started, I don't expect to be in really killer shape for the better part of a year.

Some people - heck, many people - get unreasonably frustrated by this. They feel that a diet has been a failure if they don't go from portly to fashionably slim in a month or less - which, of course, virtually no one does. They lose "only" five pounds in the first month, and give up. Of course, if they'd continued losing at that "unbearably slow" rate, they would have been 60 pounds lighter on their 1 year diet anniversary, but that's not what they want. They want to be skinny (a condition they may never reach, regardless of sustained effort!) today, or barring that, at least in time for - well, name your event: a wedding, a reunion, a vacation, whatever. (And of course they've started just 5 weeks before the big event, right?)

All of this, of course, misses the most important point. You see, the "Am I fit yet?" or "Am I thin yet?" mentality assumes that there is an end to all of this - not just a goal, but a finish line. It assumes that there will come a glorious day when all of the dieting and exercising is done, and you can slack off, sit back, eat "normally", and look fabulous.

As if.

Here's the jokes: There is no finish line. There is no end. No matter how successful your diet and exercise program may be, you will never, ever reach a point where you can quit without going back to your formerly corpulent shape and lousy energy level. Self-care is a lifetime commitment. Even if I managed to Heavyhand my way to a resting pulse of 38 and a body fat level of 18, I'd have to continue to do what I'm doing to stay there. And even if you can low carb your way all the way down to a size 5, trust me when I say that the day you start eating garbage again is the day you will start gaining again. I live with the knowledge that I could easily be 200 pounds by next spring - all it would take would be cereal for breakfast and potatoes for dinner, and not "depriving myself" every time other folks are eating sugar.

In short, health and fitness is not a destination, it's a journey, and it's not about where you are, it's about what direction you're headed. If you doubt me, think about the first 10 pounds you lost on your low carb diet - whether you dropped from 300 pounds to 290 pounds, or from 150 pounds to 140 pounds, seeing that new, lower number on the scale brought you joy - yet I'll wager that the exact same number was a source of despair when you were on your way up.

Let's stop acting like little kids asking "Are we there yet?!" Let's ask instead, "Am I going the right direction? If not, which way, and to what degree do I need to change my course? And how can I best enjoy the journey?"

(I wrote about Heavyhands as an exercise when I started the program, but every time I mention it a new reader will ask, "Why didn't you explain what Heavyhands is?" Here are links to some articles for those of you who have come in in the past couple of months, or who would just like more information on this truly dynamite form of exercise:

http://www.cbass.com/deskof.htm

http://members.tripod.com/~salty_eagle/HH_marty.html

http://www.myleanlifestyle.com/exercise/heavyhands.asp (this one has instructions for how to start a Heavyhands walking program.)


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Product Review

Went to a very cool event over the weekend - some folks from the Atkins Friends Bulletin Board asked me to come to their 3rd Annual Low Carb Pigroast. Many light beers and sugar free margaritas were consumed, the food was outstanding, and there was much dancing and jollity, along with Low Carb Truth Or Dare, and The Burning of the Fat Clothes. Very nice folks, and much fun, all on Julie McKibben's unbelievably beautiful 75 acres in rural Kentucky.

Why am I telling you about this in a product review? Because it was at the Pigroast that I tried Katiedid's Pork Rinds.

Now, those of you who have been reading my stuff for quite awhile may be aware that I am not a big pork rind person. And that's the reason that I'm carrying this review - because these pork rinds just may change my mind. They're simply far better than any pork rinds I've ever purchased from a grocery store - the texture is better, the flavor is better, they're far fresher, and they come in more interesting varieties to boot. It never would have occurred to me to put cinnamon and Splenda on a pork rind, but it occurred to Katie, and they're terrific. Add to that that Katie Arwood, the woman who makes them, is a very nice lady, and a low carber like us, working to get a small company off the ground - all things with which I identify and sympathize.

So I asked Katie to send me some information about her company and her products to pass on to you. Here it is:

I am so glad you agreed to review my pork rinds. Let me thank you in advance for adding it to your news letter. I just finished add my name to the list to receive it. You wanted me to tell you some specifics about my company so here goes:

We started cooking pork rinds in 2000. We were selling Kettle Korn (which my husband ate but not me I was on low fat diet all the time). We added pork rinds when we added Car Show to our event schedule, they seems to be a big hit with the guys.

One day this very THIN and attractive lady told me she ate them all the time on Atkins diet. Well that sparked my attention and she stood and told me all about it for almost an hour (good thing I was not busy). I read the book and started the diet and lost 12 lbs. on induction, and now I had a snack item I could eat while doing our shows. I began meeting people on the diet made quite a few friends locally. One day while cooking I added Cinnamon and Splenda to the pork rinds after they were cooked and found to me a wonderful treat and began cooking them on Sundays and they were a hit.

We sold the Kettle Korn end of the business in 2002 and I opened the web site http://www.geocities.com/lcporkrinds in February. This is June and the orders increase with each month. Many are repeat customers, I might add. These pork rinds are so much better than the store bought ones, mainly because they are cooked fresh and shipped the same day. No store bought pork rind company can say that. They are big and fluffy and light without that greasy flavor that most pork rinds have. We use 100% vegetable oil and the seasonings are added as soon as they are cooked so they stick to the rind well. There are no additives or preservatives added. The flavor really comes though in the breading, so now when you fry chicken or fish you can add a wonderful flavor to the dish as well. They will stay fresh for more than 6 months in the freezer and will last weeks in the refrigerator.

I could tell when you tried them you were impressed with the flavor and texture of our pork rinds, and I am glad you enjoyed them. I am adding the recipe for the Pork Rind French Toast so you can hold the toast with pork rinds. Thank you again for the opportunity to review our company.

Katie Arwood

FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

1-1/2 oz. of Katiedid's Plain or Unsalted pork rinds

2 eggs

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 packets Splenda®

teaspoon cinnamon

teaspoon nutmeg

cup water

teaspoon egg nog extract or Vanilla [optional]

Crumble pork rinds up until they resemble bread crumbs (use your food processor if you like - or put them in a Ziploc bag - air removed - and roll them with a rolling pin.) Set aside. Beat eggs well and then mix with remaining ingredients and beat again. Add crushed pork rinds to the egg/cream mixture and allow to sit for approximately 5 minutes. Mixture will thicken to a "gloppy" phase during this time.

Meanwhile, heat skillet or griddle with butter or oil, and when hot, fry pancake style until golden brown on both sides. Serve with your favorite low-carb maple syrup (DaVinci, Keto, Atkins, Howards, etc, etc.) If you don't tell someone who eats them, they will never have a CLUE that

these little french toast pancakes are made with pork rinds. And everyone loves 'em. Really. Yeah, really. Would I kid you? Less than 1 carb per serving.

It's important that the pork rinds be very well crushed - just one step above dust. Also - remember to let it really get to its "gloppy" phase and don't rush it. Plus, make sure the skillet is hot before you start adding the mix - with just enough oil to moisten bottom of pan but not enough to fry chicken in.

Lastly, while the eggnog extract is optional, it really adds something. If you don't have any, we suggest you substitute a vanilla, rather than just leaving it out.

Variation

PORK RIND HOE CAKES (FLAT BREAD)

Substitute Splenda and Spices with 1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Original and add 1/8 cup chopped bell peppers. Cook in Olive Oil. If you add extra water (approx 1/4 cup) you can make large cakes and use as flat bread for sandwiches. Just add tuna, egg or chicken salad lettuce and tomato and enjoy.

Dana again. I'd like to note that I tried both of these recipes at the Pigroast, and Katie ain't kiddin' that you wouldn't know that they're made out of pork rinds. She also made a wonderful dressing to go along with the roast pork; somewhere between a wheat bread stuffing and a cornbread stuffing in texture. You'll find the recipe at the Katiedid's Pork Rinds website - here's a link right to the recipes page: http://www.geocities.com/lcporkrinds/recipes.html . I'm going to be making this dressing myself, no doubt.

By the way, along with the pork rinds, Katiedid's sells pork cracklings, which have a similar flavor to the pork rinds, but a more compact texture - I liked them a lot. Furthermore, she sells pre-crushed pork rinds - if you use a lot of crushed pork rinds to bread things, or in meat loaf - or to make Katie's french toast and hoe cakes - this may be a real convenience for you.

Katiedid's Pork Rinds come in Plain Salted, Plain Unsalted, Salt & Vinegar, BBQ, Cajun, Salsa & sourcream, and Cinnamon & Splenda, with Cool Ranch flavor coming soon, and that's a heckuva lot more flavors than I've ever seen at my grocery store. They're $3 a bag, which is more than the bags at the grocery store, but the bags are bigger, and the rinds are better to boot.

So get some. I plan to!


Another Reader Poll

I got a call today from Jeff Theis, the nice man who arranges publicity for Fair Winds, the publisher of my cookbook, 500 Low Carb Recipes. He asked me if I had any idea where most of my ezine readers lived; I responded that I didn't have a clue - but I sure could ask. (What, you mean you don't all just live in my computer?)

So I'm asking! If you think you'd actually come out to meet me at a book signing, assuming I were reasonably close by, let me know - and let me know what cities of, oh, at least 300,000 or so are within reasonable striking distance for you. mailto:feedback@holdthetoast.com . I'll pass the information on to Jeff, and then he can take the information into account when planning my October publicity tour. Keep in mind that Fair Winds is only planning to send me to 3 cities, so we'll be choosing the ones with the most people relatively nearby - if you're within striking distance of, say, three cities (for instance, I'm centrally located between Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati), list all the ones you'd be willing to drive to to see me.

Thanks! And I hope to meet a whole lot of you in the fall!


Low Carb Spotlight Food-of-the-Week!

I recently got a query from reader Mary Pattison regarding yogurt. She'd read an article on Low Carb Luxury that asserted that, contrary to the labeling, plain yogurt and other fermented milk products are actually low carb. Here's a link to the article, which is quite good: http://www.lowcarbluxury.com/yogurt.html Mary wanted to know if this was true.

Yes, in my experience it is true. For those of you who don't care to go read the article at Low Carb Luxury, here's the basic info:

Milk has 12 grams of carbohydrate per cup, in the form of lactose, or milk sugar. Yogurt, buttermilk, and kefir all say on the label that they, too, have 12 grams of carbohydrate per cup (we're talking the plain stuff here, not the sweetened stuff). But this is apparently a fluke of how the USDA nutrient labeling is done.

When the nutritional content of a food is being determined, the protein and fat levels are what is measured first. After that, everything left is assumed to be carbohydrate. This is called "determination by difference" - subtract the protein and fat calories from the total calories, and the difference is automatically called "carbohydrate."

However, in cultured milk products, the bacteria that is used in culturing actually eat the lactose - that's the food they use to grow and multiply. In the process, they convert the lactose into lactic acid, which is why these cultured milks have a tangy flavor. This leaves very little actual carbohydrate in the finished product - according to The GO-Diet, by Goldberg and O'Mara, you can count just 4 grams of carbohydrate per cup of plain yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir.

When I learned this, I added yogurt back to my diet; I always liked the stuff. I'm pleased to report that reintroducing yogurt did not cause me to gain weight, nor did it act as a trigger - no nasty hunger and cravings, or energy crashes, or any of the other stuff that comes with wacky blood sugar. While I have not done blood sugar tests on yogurt, this experience, repeated over and over again, convinces me that Goldberg and O'Mara are correct, and yogurt (and the other cultured milks) are fine for low carbers.

This is very good news for a number of reasons. First of all, yogurt is yummy, and makes an great quick-and-easy snack, not to mention a cool and tasty summer breakfast for those of you who are fed up with eggs. Yogurt and buttermilk both are very useful in low carb baking, just as they are in standard baking. And cultured milk products not only contain bacteria that are beneficial to your intestinal tract, but also appear to have immune stimulating effects. Can't beat that.

Perhaps of greatest concern to us, however, is the growing body of evidence that diets high in dairy calcium make it easier to reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Several studies have show just this - that the more dairy products a dieter eats, the more likely he or she is to be successful. Here are links to a couple of brief articles:

http://www.lef.org/newsarchive/nutrition/2001/04/17/bw/0000-1577-wa-dairy-farmers-2.html

http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/lvl04/newsres/releases/press_releasesZ6V90M.asp

Of course, being low carbers and all, most of us aren't going to drink milk with its 12 grams per 8 ounce glass, but there's no reason we can't eat yogurt, buttermilk and kefir, along with cheese, of course. Note that butter, cream, and sour cream don't appear to fall into the "weight loss aid" category, simply because they're not particularly good sources of calcium; the calcium is bound to the protein fraction of the milk.

So I encourage you all to eat yogurt, and to use buttermilk and kefir too, if you like them. However, I caution you strongly to avoid most commercially flavored yogurt. Even those that are artificially sweetened often also include sugar of one kind or another, or use tapioca or other starches as stabilizers. Far better to buy or make plain yogurt, and flavor it yourself.

How? Easy. Start with a cup of plain yogurt, and add 1/4 teaspoon of the flavoring extract of your choice - around here the favorites are vanilla and lemon, but my sister, for instance, uses raspberry flavoring - and then sweeten to taste with Splenda or another sweetener. I really like to use the stevia/FOS blend to sweeten my yogurt, because the FOS actually helps the healthy bacteria to establish themselves in the intestine. Another really nice way to flavor yogurt is to mash a few berries - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, whatever you like - in the bottom of the dish before adding the yogurt. Stir the whole thing up, and sweeten to taste.

You can also eat your yogurt plain, of course, and plain yogurt also makes a good substitute for sour cream in dips, dressings, and the like. If you're fond of V-8, you can stir plain yogurt into 4 ounces of V-8 and add Worcestershire and a little hot sauce. (V-8 is one of the few juices that can fit into a low carb diet, in modest quantities - 4 ounces contains just over 4 grams of usable carb.) Making yogurt cheese is also quite simple - just line a strainer with a coffee filter, place it in a larger bowl, and spoon in plain yogurt. Let the whole thing sit overnight, and in the morning you'll have yogurt cheese - similar to cream cheese in texture, but tangier. That it is also far, far lower in fat may be considered a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.

Personally, I just eat my yogurt from a dish, with lemon extract and stevia/FOS - and I eat it pretty often; several times a week. I find it to be an ideal snack - fast, easy, tasty, filling, and nutritious, and cheap. What more could I ask?

If you want to make your own plain yogurt, here's how I do it:

Plain Yogurt

water

1 rounded tablespoon plain yogurt (start with the commercial stuff - after that, you can use the end of one batch of yogurt to make the next, for about 4 - 5 iterations, after which it's best to start fresh with commercial yogurt again.)

1 1/3 - 2 cups instant dry milk

Fill a 1 quart snap-top plastic container about half full with water. Add the plain yogurt, and whisk it for a few seconds. Then add the powdered milk and whisk again until the lumps are gone. Fill the container to the top with water, and whisk again, briefly, to blend. Put the top on. Now, put your yogurt-to-be in a warm place - I use an ancient electric heating pad set on low, tucked down into a bowl to hold it up around the plastic container, but you could put your yogurt over a pilot light (if your stove still has 'em), by a heat register (but probably not this time of year!), or if it's good and warm where you are, you could just set it outside, although I wouldn't set it in direct sunlight - kills vitamins, and might kill the yogurt bacteria.

Anyway, let your proto-yogurt bask in the warmth for about 12 hours, and it will miraculously become honest-to-God-yogurt. Stick in the fridge, and use it just like you would plain yogurt from the grocery store.

You'll notice I gave you a range of amounts of powdered milk. The larger amount will make a thicker yogurt, with more protein and calcium than the smaller amount - but with a gram or two more carbohydrate per serving, as well. Up to you. You can also add 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half to make your yogurt richer if you like; also adds a little vitamin A..

If you really, really want to buy preflavored, artificially sweetened yogurt, here's what you do: Look at the nutrition label, and subtract 8 grams of carbohydrate from the total carbohydrate count (also, of course, do your usual subtracting of fiber grams, if any.) This will compensate for the artificially high carbohydrate level attributed to the yogurt itself. If you find any brand of flavored, artificially sweetened yogurt that has a consistently low carb count, let me know and I'll pass it on to the rest of my readers!


The Great Protein Bar Challenge

Okay, I'm done poking holes in my pinkies. I finally have some answers about protein bars!

For those of you who are just coming in on this, low carb protein bars have been the source of quite a lot of controversy. The government has claimed that they're misbranded, and actually contain a lot more carbohydrate than the labels state. The manufacturers counter with the argument that the government is counting glycerin as a carbohydrate, which they are. This is another instance of calculating carbohydrate by difference - ie, the government's contention that anything that isn't protein or fat must, perforce, be carbohydrate. The truth is that glycerin is glycerin, and it acts like a carbohydrate in some ways - like replenishing your glycogen stores - and not in others, like raising your blood sugar, causing a big insulin release, and therefore triggering hunger and cravings. Way too subtle for the USDA, apparently...

Further, I've had the occasional report from a reader that this or that protein bar caused their blood sugar to go up precipitately, or triggered hunger and cravings, or seemed to stall their weight loss.. I figured that the only way for me to get some hard evidence was to arm myself with some protein bars and my handy glucometer, and go to it.

Here's how I did the tests:

First, I bought an assortment of protein bars at Sahara Mart, Bloomington, Indiana's best source for all things low carb. (Hi, guys!) I read the labels, and found that all of them had in the neighborhood of 20 grams of protein. This is roughly the same protein content as 3 eggs or 3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry - near enough for government work, as the joke goes; within a gram or two. From this, I decided that my "control" food would be three boiled eggs.

I did all my tests in the morning, just because it was the most logical time to do the tests on a truly empty stomach. The first day, I tested my fasting blood sugar, then ate 3 boiled eggs. I then tested my blood sugar at about 15 minute intervals for the next couple of hours, recording the measurements.

I then did the same thing with protein bars (all on different mornings, not one right after the other!), also recording my blood sugar values.

So, what did I learn?

Well, first of all, I learned that I really, really hate eating protein bars for breakfast. Yick. I mean, I think most protein bars are sickly-sweet to begin with, and often have a sort of a weird, chewy-pasty texture, to boot, so they're not really my idea of delicious. Oh, yeah, I'll grab one if I'm out shopping and I'm starving and I still have a half a dozen errands to run, or take one along on a hike or a canoe trip, and my husband finds them very useful for preventing blood sugar crashes during long evenings in classes, but as a substitute for real food, they're just plain lame.

What about the blood sugar effect, though? Well, it varied some. In fact, it varied quite a lot, and I couldn't predict from the carb value listed on the label what sort of blood sugar impact the bars might have.

That being said, none of them had the impact of a hefty dose of carbohydrate, as I know from having tested some fairly hefty doses of carbohydrate back when I was experimenting with "carb blockers".

Here's a rundown:

The day I tested the eggs, the blood glucose measurements looked like this:

Fasting BG: 76

Ate my eggs.

Then, at 15 min. intervals I got:

84

85

83

97

108

91

89

84

You'll notice that I did, indeed, get a blood sugar rise that topped out at about 30 points up, about 1 hour and 15 minutes after breakfast. You'll notice, too, that the rise and fall of my blood sugar was modest, slow, and smooth.

Next I tested a Carbolite Cookies and Cream Protein Bar. This was by far the tastiest bar I tried, and had the best texture, too. Here's how the readings went:

Fasting BG: 89

At protein bar

120

123

125

126

115

108

125

119

A couple of interesting things happened here. First of all, the rise in my blood sugar from this bar wasn't a whole lot greater from that caused by the eggs - 37 points up was the highest it went. However, my blood sugar jumped a lot faster - up almost 30 points in 15 minutes time. You'll notice, too, that after dropping back down to 108 an hour and a half into the experiment, it jumped again. This turned out to be more common with protein bars than I'd imagined, and I'm unsure what causes this phenomenon. I theorize that it may be that some of the carbohydrates in these bars are slowly absorbed, but are, indeed, absorbed eventually, at least in part, but I can't know for certain from this raw data.

Next I tested an Atkins Chocolate Raspberry Bar. Here are the results:

Fasting BG: 99

Ate Atkins Bar

109

106

103

107

97

77

81

93

91

This was the smallest blood sugar impact of any of the bars I tested; you'll notice that the blood sugar rise was considerably less than with the eggs - only 10 points up, at the top. However, once again, the rise in blood sugar was faster than that of eggs, with the highest value coming just 15 minutes in - and you'll notice, again, that my blood sugar took a 12 point blip up again near the end of the test.

Next came a Carb Solutions bar. Since these are widely carried at places like Kmart and WalMart, I thought it was important to test them. I tried the Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor, which I confess I didn't like much. Too chewy. However, in fairness I'll add that my husband likes these pretty well - but then, my husband would eat dryer lint if you mixed it with peanut butter.

Here are the stats on the Carb Solutions Bar:

Fasting BG: 90

109

111

92

108

93

111

95

112

Okay, what the heck is that? All that upping and downing of my blood sugar? Never got very high, but it might as well have been a yo-yo. If I was unclear at what caused the re-rise in blood sugar late in some of the other tests, I was positively stumped by this phenomenon.

Next came a Deliciously Slim bar in Chocolate Mint; not too bad. Here are the stats:

Fasting BG: 99

Ate protein bar

111

115

115

99

99

104

115

115

112

Again, this is a very modest blood sugar rise - less than the eggs - and except for that half-hour dip back down to fasting levels in the middle, it gave me a pretty steady ride. However, for some reason, this bar triggered serious hunger for me about 2 hours into the experiment - I was far hungrier by the end than I had been with any of the other bars. I should also note that this bar was heavy on the soy; long-time readers know that I am unconvinced of the safety of eating a lot of soy products. However, balancing that, this bar had no hydrogenated oils, which many low carb bars do; hydrogenated oils are really awful for you.

The final bar I tested was an Ultimate Lo-Carb Bar, in Chocolate S'Mores Supreme flavor. Let me note that this bar tasted nothing like a s'more, it was a pretty darned standard chocolate flavor, not outstanding in any way. (For my foreign readers: All Americans grow up eating s'mores at cookouts. This is a sugar-loaded delicacy made by roasting a marshmallow over a fire, then sandwiching it, along with milk chocolate, between two graham crackers. What's a graham cracker? Well, it's a lot like what's called a wheatmeal biscuit in England. Anyway, the marshmallow is gooey, and melts the chocolate, and the crackers are crunchy, and - enough of that! Anyway, it's a name that has a lot of resonance in the American Food Psyche. This thing, however, tastes nothing like one.)

The morning I tested the Ultimate Lo-Carb Bar, I had a nasty shock - my fasting blood glucose was above normal. It came up at 111. I was surprised. I washed my hands well, in case something on my skin had skewed the results, and did it again. It still came up at 105, or five points above the top end of the normal range. I have no explanation for this, but unless this happens again, I'm going to consider it a fluke. Anyway, the test results were as follows:

Fasting BG: 105

Ate protein bar

95

131

117

103

121

109

109

93

95

You'll notice that once again, I got some backing-and-forthing of my blood sugar level. I also got the highest reading of any bar, but then I also started with higher blood sugar; the rise was only 16 points, or less than with the eggs, so I don't consider this bar to have an undue blood sugar impact.

Okay, so what conclusions can we draw here?

First of all, the contentions that the carbohydrate levels of these bars are wildly higher than the labels say seem to be untrue. None of these bars jacked my blood sugar up to the levels that you would expect from a hefty dose of carbohydrate, nor did any of them, apparently, trigger a big insulin release, leading to a big blood sugar crash. I therefore conclude that these bars will not torpedo most low carb dieter's diets when used as an occasional meal replacement or snack.

That does not mean, however, that they're faultless. As I mentioned, glycerin, while it doesn't cause a blood sugar rise or an insulin release, does replenish glycogen stores. This can mean a water weight gain, since each gram of glycogen holds four grams of water. How much water weight gain? Probably not a lot; it's unlikely that any of these bars contains more than 15 - 20 grams of glycerin; that means that at most you should gain no more than a few ounces of water.

More important, perhaps, is the fact that depleting glycogen stores is needed to get into ketosis. It's possible, although not unavoidable, that these bars may knock some folks out of ketosis. It would then likely take you a day or so to "turn purple" again. In the meanwhile, you'll lose some of the metabolic advantage that comes with ketosis.

The biggest issue to me, though, is that these things are highly processed, fabricated foods. There's no question that they're better for you than most of the sugary, starchy processed and fabricated foods on the market, but they're still from factories, not farms. Many of them contain soy, many of them contain hydrogenated vegetable oil, all of them contain artificial flavors of one kind or another. Doesn't make them terrible, but a protein bar for lunch will never be the nutritional equal of a big salad with meat, poultry or fish.

And, of course, protein bars are expensive; I pay close to $2 a pop for most of them. I sure can get chicken, eggs, hamburger, and tuna for less than that. Your budget is your business, of course, but I do occasionally hear from people who are discouraged by "how terribly expensive" a low carb diet is; usually I find these folks are buying a lot of low carb processed convenience foods.

Anyway, the upshot of the Great Protein Bar Challenge is that low carb protein bars, over all, do not have a terrible impact on blood sugar or insulin release, and are probably okay for most low carbers as an occasional meal replacement or snack.

And now I'm going to let my pinkies heal.


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

Dana

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