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Hey, Gang -
Can you believe the summer is half over? (Well, for us, at any rate. For you guys down in the Southern Hemisphere, the winter is half over, which sounds better somehow.) Hope you're having as much fun as I am.
Anyway, there's an odd assortment of stuff in here - including the exciting news that we finally made the New York Times!
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!
For those of you who are coming in late, a few issues back we reported a Swedish scientific study which had discovered that baking or frying starchy foods caused high levels of a chemical called acrylamide to form. Acrylamide is known to be a carcinogen in rats, and is suspected of being a carcinogen in people. The levels forming in the foods were many times higher than are allowed in drinking water, but it is unknown whether they are high enough to cause cancer in humans. However, the Swedish researchers found these results alarming enough to stop the study and announce their totally unexpected findings early.
Here are a few developments in the story since then:
* The World Health Organization has convened to look at the issue. This is the quickest response that WHO has ever given to any issue.
* The media, perhaps predictably, has tried very hard to cast this as a problem with "french fries and potato chips" - in other words, foods that were already "bad" because they were (gasp!) high in fat. This ignores entirely the fact that one of the reasons the Swedish study was so alarming is that it showed that high acrylamide levels also form in foods that have been being pushed as the foundation of a healthy diet - whole grain breads, cold cereals, baked potatoes, and the like.
* It has been emphasized that while the amount of acrylamide found in "one serving" of french fries is 300 times that allowed by the EPA in a glass of drinking water, it is still "700 times less" than the dose shown to cause cancer in rats. This statement puzzles me. First of all, "700 times less" is a meaningless phrase, mathematically (for the record, this particular wording comes from Newsweek.) "One seven hundredth" I could understand, or "It takes 700% of that dose", but "700 times less" leaves me completely in the dark as to risk assessment.
The other problem with this statement is that "a serving" of french fries is likely to be defined as 15 or 20 fries; certainly no more than a McDonald's "regular" size order - but we're living in a super-sized world. Furthermore, this ignores the fact that Americans have had it drummed into their heads that we should eat 6 - 11 servings of these foods every day, and many eat more than that. This adds up to a whole lot more acrylamide exposure than the media seems interested in acknowledging.
* The quantity of acrylamide in baked and fried starches, however, does seem to be quite a lot greater than the quantity of carcinogenic compounds found in browned meat. We've been warned for years (if you've been paying attention to these things) that broiled and especially charcoal grilled meats are potentially carcinogenic because of compounds that are formed in browning. However, according to a panel convened by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, acrylamide forms in much greater concentration in starches than carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbons do in browned meat, and therefore may turn out to be a greater threat.
* However, the World Health Organization has stated that much more research is needed, and is not yet recommending that anyone change their diet.
Just thought I'd keep you up to date.
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I Read It In The New York Times!
From the number of you who sent it to me, many of you are already aware that this past weekend's Sunday New York Times Magazine had a big article regarding the dangers of a low fat diet, and the rapidly emerging health benefits of a low carbohydrate diet. The article, entitled, "What if it's all been a big, fat lie?", was written by Gary Taubes, whose award-winning article "The Soft Science of Dietary Fat" caused quite a stir last year when it appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Science. In the Science article, Taubes laid clear for the scientific community just how much politics, and how little hard science, lay behind the recommendations to cut fat intake, and increase consumption of complex carbohydrates. In his new article in the New York Times, Taubes talks to the general public about the mounting evidence that those low fat/high carb recommendations are behind the explosion of obesity and diabetes over the past 20 years.
Here, for those of you who missed it, is a link to the New York Times article in its entirety. You'll need to register with the New York Times website, but it's free and only takes a few moments to do so. This article is definitely worth your time, if only to show to friends and family who have been giving you a hard time about "that unhealthy fad diet you're on", or to reassure you if you're new to a low carb diet, and afraid that maybe all the critics are right and you've made a terrible mistake -
(Here, too, is a link to "The Soft Science Of Dietary Fat". Well, actually, this link goes to a bio of Taubes, and his National Association of Science Writers award. From there, though, there's a link to the full text of the article. This one is considerably longer, but fascinating. If you're stuck with a skeptical doctor, this is where I'd refer him or her.
For those of you who wouldn't dream of registering at a website to read an article, here are a few highlights:
* Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, director of obesity research at the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard University, is quoted as saying, "For a large percentage of the population, perhaps 30 - 40 percent, low fat diets are counterproductive. They have the paradoxical effect of making people gain weight."
* Remember that old wheeze about how 95% of dieters never lose weight, and 95% of those who do gain it all back? I learned from Taubes' article that this statement is attributable to a psychiatrist named Albert Stunkard - and based on a big 100 patients he treated at his obesity clinic, back during the Eisenhower administration.
* What you and I know by experience - that a high carb diet can make us hungry, while a low carb diet helps us feel full and satisfied - is referred to as "Endocrinology 101" by Dr. David Ludwig, a researcher at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ludwig - who prescribes a carbohydrate-restricted diet, based on low glycemic index carbs, for his patients -- calls this "basic endocrinology", and says it is only controversial because during the time the scientific foundation of this Endocrinology 101 was being laid, low fat theory, already riding its political wave, was all anyone was interested in. We also learn that the National Institutes of Health turned down Dr. Ludwig's first three grant proposals to study the effects of a low glycemic index diet. As a result, most of his research has been done in Canada and Australia. Only recently has the NIH decided to award Dr. Ludwig $1.2 million for further study.
* We learn that the increase in carbohydrate consumption in the US since the late 1970s has been a whopping near-60 pounds of grain per person per year, with an increase of 30 pounds per person per year of what the scientific world calls "caloric sweeteners", and you and I call sugar and corn syrup. During that time, Americans' calorie intake increased by 400 calories per day. - not too far from the extra 500 calories per day that you'd theoretically have to eat to gain a pound per week. There's that hunger kicking in...
* Taubes tells us that all the experts he consulted on the subject of diet-induced ketosis felt that it was safe. Indeed, one NIH researcher refers to ketosis as "the normal state of man."
* Five separate studies comparing a low fat/low calorie diet and a low carbohydrate diet for weight loss are listed - and we are told that in all five trials, the low carbohydrate dieters lost twice as much weight as the low fat/low cal dieters. Further, while cholesterol levels improved on both types of diet, triglyceride levels improved far better with an Atkins-style diet.
* Glory hallelujah, we're told that finally the National Institutes of Health will be funding a sizable study of low carbohydrate dieting - 360 obese subjects will be studied for five years' time.
Oh, there's lots more. Lots and lots, and it all thrills me no end. I think you should go register on the New York Times website and read it all. Then you should email copies to everyone who has given you a hard time about your low carb diet, and you should print out a copy, and reread it every time you start to wonder if the critics are right.
The icing on the cake is that CNN and the Wall Street Journal both picked up this story, as well. We just went mainstream, folks. It shouldn't be more than a year before we have low carb specials at every restaurant, and people stop looking at us funny when we turn down the donuts.
About damn time.
So What Do You Want To Talk About?
Over a year ago now, we promised you free email discussion and support lists. Uh, sorry about the delay, guys, we're a two person outfit around here, and in the intervening year one of us has written a book, and the other has held down a day job and been going to grad school. Anyway, the webmaster has informed me we're about ready to go on the project, but we need to know what groups you want, so I'm polling you again. If you think you would use an email list for support and discussion, which of these groups would you want:
Basic Low Carbohydrate Diet (Atkins/Protein Power)
Mini-Binge (Carbohydrate Addict's Diet/Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Plan)
Careful Carb Diet and other glycemic index based plans
Low Carb/Low Cal
Vegetarian Low Carbers
Diabetes support and discussion
PCOS support and discussion
It's fine to pick more than one; you can join as many lists as you care to. And if you have an idea for a list we haven't thought of, tell us. If enough people ask for a particular subject, we'll give it a go.
Email your choices to mailto:email@example.com, and I'll set the webmaster to work - after all, he needs to get this done before the fall semester starts!
Which Came First, the Breakfast or the Egg?
One of the things I've learned about this business is that covering an issue once just doesn't do it. New people subscribe, and the old subscribers forget stuff, and sooner or later you need to write about something you've already covered. In this case, I've been asked once again to suggest breakfast alternatives for people who have had it up to here with eggs.
I confess that this question never would have occurred to me. I adore eggs, and have been known to eat them for both breakfast and lunch - and even, once in a while, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Still, I don't write this ezine for me, I write it for all of you. So here, forthwith, is a list of ideas for non-egg breakfasts:
* Yogurt - now that Goldberg and O'Mara have pointed out to us that the 12 carbs per cup count on plain yogurt is mistaken, yogurt is part of the low carb diet for many of us, at just 4 grams a cup. You'll have to flavor it yourself, unless you have a source of flavored yogurt that doesn't add many carbs, but flavoring yogurt takes less than a minute, so what's the big deal? My husband's been eating yogurt with vanilla and sweetener stirred in, with a handful of blueberries. (Blueberries are one of the lowest carb fruits - 50 raw blueberries contain about 8 grams of usable carb, and they're also one of the most nutritious. If you're diabetic, blueberries are an even better bet; they contain substances which stabilize the capillaries in the eyes, and help prevent diabetic blindness.) A cup of yogurt has 8 grams of protein (closer to 10 or 12 if made from the recipe I published in the last issue), which is a little more than one egg - so you may want to take a protein snack with you, or just plan on an early lunch. Still, I find that a cup of yogurt makes me feel full for hours.
* Sausage - link or patty, a few ounces of sausage should keep you going for hours. Read the labels for the brands with the least sugar, of course. I like to cook sausage patties in my electric tabletop grill. Not only is this fast, but it minds itself, so you can be off showering or dressing or hollering at the kids that they're about to miss the bus.
* Ham - remember ham for breakfast? Okay, you probably don't want to roast an entire ham for breakfast, or even start messing with a ham slice first thing in the morning. But if you have leftover ham in the fridge, it's pretty quick and easy to hack off a couple of slices and brown them in a little butter.
* Bacon is delicious, of course, but its protein content leaves a little something to be desired. I'd stick to bacon as a side dish.
* Hamburgers - hey, there's no law saying you can't eat a hamburger patty for breakfast. If you buy pre-made patties and throw them in the electric grill, they're virtually no work, and take no more than five minutes. You may well be able to get one down the kids, too. If you are buying pre-made hamburger patties, read the label, and look for 100% beef burgers - many have fillers that add carbs.
* Chops and steaks - again, these will cook happily in an electric table top grill while you're doing other morning chores. A pork chop or small steak for breakfast is really wonderful.
* Cottage cheese - my sister ate cottage cheese for breakfast for years. A half a cup of cottage cheese contains 15 grams of protein - about the same as two eggs - and about 4 grams of carbohydrate. You can add a few berries if you like, or some chunks of melon. Or try my sister's favorite - cottage cheese with crumbled sausage.
* Protein shakes - whether you make them from a powdered mix, or buy them pre-mixed in cans, protein shakes are a quick and easy breakfast you can even take along with you. I've tried the Atkins shakes, and they taste pretty good to me. Keep them chilled, and grab one on the way out the door. The Carbolite shakes are tasty, too. I've also tried Carb Solutions shakes, available in discount stores like KMart and WalMart; didn't care for them. Way too sweet. But these things are a matter of personal taste; you may as well try all the brands available and make up your own mind.
* Protein bars - I can't recommend these for breakfast every day, since it's unclear whether they knock people out of ketosis, and they often include ingredients I find objectionable, like soy protein isolate, and hydrogenated oils. But if you've got an early meeting or the like, a protein bar tucked in your purse the night before can be a good solution to the breakfast problem.
* Leftovers - if traditional breakfast foods leave you cold, this is a really good idea - just warm up leftovers from the night before in the microwave. You could even make extra at dinner to eat for breakfast the next day. For that matter, I like leftover tuna salad for breakfast in the summer. Not that I have leftover tuna salad that often; I usually pig out and eat the whole batch.
* Cold cuts - if you don't mind eating them with your hands, you can take a few slices of turkey breast, roast beef, deli ham, or the like in a baggie, and eat them on the way to work.
* Cheese - individually wrapped chunks of cheese make a great take-along breakfast. The obvious choice is string cheese, but consider Swiss Knight, Moo-Town Snackers, and Laughing Cow Cheese Bits, too. Or, of course, you could cut a few chunks of cheese on your own, and wrap them in a baggie.
* Low carb baked goods - You can buy these from low carb etailers, or - far cheaper - you can make your own from the recipes in Diana Lee's two wonderful books, Baking Low Carb http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0967998808/lowcarbohysoluti and Bread and Breakfast: Baking Low Carb II http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0967998816/lowcarbohysoluti Bake up some low carb, high protein muffins or zucchini bread or the like over the weekend, and you'll have fast, easy breakfasts for the whole week. I'm pleased to tell you that my upcoming book 500 Low Carb Recipes also includes several recipes for low carb muffins and yeast breads. A cup of coffee and a slice of toast for breakfast will once again be a possibility - and that toast will be loaded with enough protein to get you through a busy morning.
* Low carb cereal - yes, there is such a thing. Flax-O-Meal is a popular brand of low carb hot cereal that has drawn rave reviews; look for it locally (in Bloomington, where I live, you can get it at Sahara Mart), or order it from your favorite low carb etailer. There are also a couple of low carb cold cereals I'm aware of - Nuttlettes and Keto Crisp. Nuttlettes has a similar taste and texture to Grape Nuts, while Keto Crisp - which comes in original and chocolate flavors - is similar to Rice Krispies. Since both of these cereals are soy-based, however, I'm not likely to eat either of them regularly (although the Keto Crisp makes a great cookie bar.) I don't really miss cold cereal, anyway.
Reader Review of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet - and Lost Forty Pounds
Five Stars Are Not Enough!
July 4, 2002
Reviewer: Patte Rehak from Minneapolis, MN United States
This book is by far the best of all the lowcarb books I've read! It's written in comfortable, everyday language that actually made it FUN to read - I couldn't put it down! Dana Carpender doesn't preach or lecture; she provides a wealth of nutrition, science and medical information but she manages to do it with heart and with a sense of humor - something that's definitely missing from the other lowcarb books I've read. And this book is interactive! There are no questionnaires or forms to fill out but at times you'll actually feel like you're having a conversation with the author, rather than reading a book.
By all means, I recommend this book highly. Five stars are not enough!
Order from Amazon.Com
Canadian Customers! Order from Amazon.Ca
Mode magazine, the wonderful fashion magazine for women size 12 and up, ceased publication earlier this year. I'm pleased to announce, however, that the premier issue of Grace, the new fashion magazine for those of us who are not, and will never be, rail-slim, is on the newsstands right now. I highly, highly recommend picking up this issue of Grace. Even if you're not the high fashion type - I'm certainly not - it will cheer you up the live-long day to see just how incredibly beautiful, how sexy, these woman who are definitely not anorexic look in their fabulous clothes. A very cheering experience.
Grace will be publishing quarterly. Watch for it!
Yet More About Heavyhands
I received this email recently:
I am concerned about your Heavyhands workout. Fitness magazine has published several articles recently about the dangers of using hand and ankle weights for walking. Since the weights are on the end of your limbs, they put a lot of stress on your joints. If walking alone does not get your heart rate up, a better option is a weighted vest (more like walking with extra body weight, LOL). You could also add hills to your walk. Please look into this, especially since many of your readers are likely to be older people who may already have joint problems or simply be more prone to joint injury.
First of all, Jen, thanks for your concern! It's very kind of you.
That being said, I think I'll continue with my Heavyhanding, although I'll include some cautions for others here. My reasons for continuing include:
* According to Covert Bailey, the Fit Or Fat guy, of the three things you can vary about exercise - duration, frequency, and intensity - it is intensity that will give you the greatest gains. He adds that because increasing intensity can also lead to injury, many experts are reluctant to advise it, but that you'll never reach your greatest potential without it. Rather than avoiding doing intense exercise, he recommends increasing intensity gradually and carefully, but steadily. This is what I am trying to do.
* It is the very fact that Heavyhanding stresses all four limbs, instead of just two, that leads to a very intense cardiovascular workout, and very rapid fat burning. Wearing a weighted vest would be similar in effect to what happened to the folks in the 1980s who simply carried their Heavyhands, instead of actually pumping them: virtually no net increase in exercise intensity, and certainly not the dramatic increase seen with Heavyhands four-limb exercise.
* It is the pumping of the Heavyhands during the workout that increases upper body mass - in other words, builds muscle. Increasing muscle mass leads to increased fat burning twenty four hours a day. Wearing a weighted vest would not increase upper body mass at all. No extra muscles - no extra fat burning. Anyway, the idea of wearing a weighted vest in the summer heat sounds unbearable!
* I live on a road where my walk does, indeed, include a few good-sized hills. Even walking these hills at a fast pace, I was not gaining in cardiovascular fitness to any degree I could notice, nor was I losing any of the weight I'd gained after my car wreck. I did, at one point, try walking only the hills - three of them come together at an intersection down in a hollow, and I'd walk first one, then another, repeatedly. My bad leg couldn't take it. One of the points of Heavyhanding for me was that it let me dramatically boost the intensity of my exercise without putting extra stress on my leg.
* Controlled stress is what exercise is all about. For instance, when you lift weights, you deliberately stress your muscles to the point of damaging them just a little bit. Your body's response to that stress is to build up the damaged muscle stronger than it was to begin with. This, by the way, is the reason that body builders don't work out the same muscles two days in a row - if you don't give the muscle time to rebuild, you can actually end up destroying muscles, instead.
This controlled stress principle applies to joints, too. Stressing joints in a careful, controlled way can strengthen them. Please note the words "careful" and "controlled"!
* Carefully controlled stress is very good for your bones, as well. Heavyhands walking will build as much bone mass in your upper body as it does in your legs and hips.
* While there is at least some injury potential to Heavyhands, I believe that this is true of virtually any exercise strenuous enough to get you into really good shape. Running, for instance, is widely acknowledged to be the highest-injury sport around.
All of that being said, if folks want to take up Heavyhanding, they should, indeed, do so cautiously. Here are some pointers:
* If you're in pretty poor shape, start your Heavyhanding without the weights. Just pumping your arms vigorously while walking is a good start.
* If you're in okay shape, start with very light weights, and work your way up. One pound or even ½ pound weights may well be the right place for you to start. Remember, it is always a bad idea to decide you're going to get in shape today. It took time for you to get out of shape, and it's going to take time for you to get into shape.
* Likewise, start with only 10 to fifteen minutes of Heavyhanding, although, of course, you may walk longer if you like. Build up your time gradually.
* Be aware that the more you straighten your arms, the more intense the exercise becomes. It's a simple matter of leverage.
* Never let your elbows snap out straight. Always keep them slightly "soft", even when extending your arms. Snapping your elbows straight repeatedly with a weight in your hand is a good way to end up with a raging case of tennis elbow. I learned this one the hard way! However, I have clocked many, many miles of Heavyhanding since then with no elbow trouble, by the simple expedient of not extending my elbows all the way.
* No matter what sort of condition you eventually achieve, it is a bad idea to attempt Heavyhands walking with more than 5 - 6 pound weights.
* Watch your form! This is essential for all exercise.
* If you do, indeed, find a shoulder or an elbow aching a bit, back off! Shorten your time, use lighter weights, take a day off. Strength comes gradually. Don't try to force it. "Working through the pain" is a great way to end up with doctor bills.
* If you already have joint problems, Heavyhanding may not be for you.
All of the above being said, I am thrilled with the progress I am making, and convinced that for many, Heavyhands is an excellent form of exercise, combining, as it does, increases in both muscle mass and cardiovascular condition.
I would also point out that the inventor of Heavyhands, Dr. Len Schwartz, is now 73, and is still going strong with his Heavyhands program, over 20 years later. Oh, and reportedly has a body fat level of 4%!
For those of you coming late to this discussion, here's a link to a site that give a brief overview of Heavyhands walking: http://www.myleanlifestyle.com/exercise/heavyhands.asp
And here is a link to the issue of Lowcarbezine! where I describe my Heavyhands walking routine: http://www.holdthetoast.com/archive/020417.html
The Next Project For Hold the Toast Labs
Of all the queries I get from my readers, the most frequent has been regarding Pentabosol, the new weight loss product from Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, authors of Protein Power. Accordingly, just today I ordered a three month supply, using Hold the Toast funds. I will give the stuff a fair try, and report back in a few months.
You know what the cool part of this job is? I just order $170 worth of this stuff, and it's tax deductible.
That's it for this issue! See you next issue!
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To request a full-text version of this issue by e-mail, just send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org (Message and subject can be blank.)