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Hey, Gang -
The adventures I've had since I last reported to you! I went to LA, to the Book Expo America, where I signed copies of the new, revised, expanded How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds! - which I myself was seeing for the first time that day. Looks great, and there was a lot of interest from bookstore buyers, so you should be seeing it in a bookstore near you quite soon - I know it's in my local Barnes and Noble already.
I also had dinner at The Palm, an LA institution - and, in my big "LA Moment," got a glimpse of Harrison Ford and Calista Flockheart. I'm here to report they look just like - well, Harrison Ford, and Calista Flockheart.
It was all very exciting, but I'm happy to be back home!
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The Urge To Gorge
A while back a new low carber wrote me and asked, "What foods can I eat a lot of? I want to be able to eat huge quantities of food."
Argh. The American Super-Sized Mentality strikes again.
Here's the bad news: There is no low carb food of which you can eat vast, enormous quantities. You can certainly eat enough food to never feel hungry, and you can eat whenever you do feel hungry. But the great American custom of recreational eating - hand going from bowl or bag to mouth, over and over and over again, for hours on end? Sorry, gang. You'll have to learn to live without it.
Why? Why can't you eat unlimited quantities of low carb food? Because you'll make yourself sick to your stomach, that's why.
Low carb food isn't like the highly refined, processed, nearly nutritionless carbs you've become used to. You can eat those carbs nearly forever without becoming nauseated because your body has no satiety mechanism for them. Indeed, far from filling you up, they tend to make you hungrier and hungrier. Your body never says "enough," as many of us have learned to our sorrow.
(Personal compulsive carb-eating story: In the winter of 1990 I went to a party where I had my first encounter with Jalapeno Krunchers brand potato chips - surely the closest thing to crack in food form I've ever found. I had drunk a couple of beers, so I was already a little disinhibited, when I found a bowl with two bags worth of Jalapeno Krunchers in it. I ate one potato chip. I sat down next to the bowl. I did not move, I did not speak - except possibly to growl at anyone who came near my potato chips - until every last one of those potato chips was gone. I do not remember feeling uncomfortably full - only sorry when the last one had disappeared down my gullet.)
Your body does, however, have satiety mechanisms for protein and fat, and especially for the combination of protein and fat - into which category the vast majority of low carb foods fall. This, of course, is why we find ourselves comfortably full on our low carb diets, after living through tormenting hunger when eating a low fat, high carb diet. This is a wonderful thing! However, it also means that if you overeat significantly on these foods, you'll find yourself wishing fervently that you hadn't. Oh, you can eat a ten ounce steak when you really only needed a six ounce steak, and you'll be fine. But eat two pounds of steak and - unless you're a lot bigger than I am - you'll be very uncomfortable.
Questions of inducing nausea aside, how would you fare from a weight loss standpoint if you ate this way? Better than if you overate hugely on carbs, but it's certainly not a good idea. First of all, protein in excess of your body's needs fuels gluconeogenesis - the process by which your body turns protein into sugar. You might well throw yourself out of ketosis (assuming you're on a ketogenic-style diet like Atkins or Protein Power.) Keep an eye on your ketostix after a real protein gorge, and see if you can determine a personal limit.
Furthermore, contrary to popular, hopeful low carb myth, you can't eat unlimited quantities of calories and expect to lose weight, no matter how low you keep your carb count. You can eat more calories and still lose - most people will be able to lose with a calorie intake somewhere in the 1800 - 2500 calorie per day range, which is a very comfortable level. But - with some notable exceptions - most people won't lose at 7500 calories per day. Sorry.
(The main way a low carb diet works, of course, is by encouraging us to consume those very foods that will let us feel full and satisfied at a level of caloric intake that lets us lose weight - while influencing metabolism to allow us to consume more calories while losing.)
A clear illustration of the problems of the "eating for entertainment" mind-set transferred to low carb foods: Several years ago a junk food junkie was at my house (her husband, who was doing handyman work for me, had decided it was appropriate to bring his wife to work with him.) Long about noon, she announced she was hungry, and what was I going to feed her for lunch? I had a very busy day going, and didn't have time to argue; I just threw a bag of nut and seed mix at her and went back to work.
Later that afternoon, she announced that she felt nauseated; she just didn't know what was wrong. When I checked the bag of nut and seed mix the answer became clear: She had eaten well over a pound of nuts and seeds. She had eaten roughly 2500 calories for lunch!! (For the record, she had also consumed about 130 grams of carbohydrate, 43 grams of which was fiber, and 86 grams of protein. That's easily more than enough food for a whole day.)
I trust the illustration is clear.
Owing to the restriction of our personal diets, we also cannot eat infinite quantities of vegetables, although if we choose the lowest carb vegetables, we can eat quite a lot. Still, 3 large cucumbers contain 25 grams of carbohydrate, of which only 7 grams are fiber, or 18 grams of usable carb - enough to matter. Celery - always a dieter's staple - is better; you can eat 6 large ribs of celery for 9 total grams of carbohydrate, with 4 grams of fiber - leaving only 5 grams of usable carb, not a lot. A half a pound of fresh mushrooms has 10 grams of total carb, and 3 grams of fiber, or 7 usable grams. And you can eat 24 average radishes for only 4 total grams, with 2 grams of fiber, or 2 grams usable carbohydrate.
Still, most of us don't think of plain, raw vegetables as a big treat (although I love celery hearts just with a sprinkle of salt) - and once you add a dip, you're back to the question of overeating on fat and protein, although the vegetable/dip combination is one of your best bets if you really do want to gorge. Another possibility is to find a nearly carb-free sprinkle-on seasoning that you enjoy on these very low carb vegetables.
My favorite thing to eat when I want something I can nosh on for a fairly extended period - say, at the movies, in place of popcorn - is seeds. Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, bought in the shell - are terrific for this purpose. The shells slow you down, you see, and you can only eat one tiny kernel at a time. This lets you eat these seeds for a long time - without eating huge quantities. Add to this that both sunflower and pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious, loaded with minerals, healthy fats, and some protein, and you have a near-ideal snack food.
And that, as they say, is that.
None of this means that you shouldn't eat low carb foods ad lib to the extent needed to kill hunger. If you're hungry, eat! Have a couple of chicken wings, a hard-boiled egg (I've been keeping deviled eggs in the fridge lately, and find that two egg halves is just about the perfect snack), a couple of slices of deli ham and cheese with Dijonnaise in between.
But if you're looking for entertainment, go buy a DVD player, okay?
Please Be Patient - Carb Smart's Moving!
Boy, are we busy here at Carb Smart! First we opened our brick-and-mortar store in Huntington Beach, California - and now we've moved our etailing business to Sparks, Nevada! As a result, we don't have June's special coupon offer up on the website yet, and we're out of a few choice items.
But we're still the internet's best site for all things low carb - over 900 low carb specialty products, and every single one is at a discount!! Plus we've got our own newsletter, recipes, success stories, you name it. So check us out!
If you're Low Carb and Smart, you'll shop Carb Smart! http://www.webbalah.net/carbsmart.html
Low Carb Sweets Leading Us Astray?
Candance Bauer writes:
Have you heard, or noticed yourself, that the low carb chocolates and candy bars, etc., even if eaten in moderation, lead to the 'want' to cheat because they are sweet? My mom and I are convinced these have led to more cheating. Are we just making excuses?
Dunno. I don't find that I myself have a problem with wanting to eat, say, Oreos, because I've had a little sugar-free chocolate. I do think that a lot of people way overuse the sugar- free stuff. One friend recently diagnosed as pre-diabetic told me she'd tried the sugar free chocolate, but her gut couldn't take it. Turned out she was eating three or four sugar- free chocolate bars a day! I told her I rarely eat more than a half a bar in a day, and she was incredulous that anyone could stick to that level. This is a clear example of any use leading to immoderate use - and she's better off not eating the stuff at all.
I've also heard from some people that their blood sugar goes up after eating sugar-free sweets. There's no question that the polyols all have different rates of absorption, but in no case I'm aware of is that rate of absorption zero, so the notion that we can completely discount the carbs from the sugar free candy is -- well, hopeful at best. (Erythritol seems to be coming on as a favored sweetener; it appears to have about the lowest absorption rate of any of the polyols.)
This being said, I tried taking my blood sugar before and after eating a sugar-free brownie, and got very little blood sugar disruption - about 10 points. Since the brownie was very fudgy and gooey, signs that it was chock-full of polyols, this tells me that I, at least, am not absorbing a lot of that particular sweetener - but again, personal rates of absorption may vary, too.
Yet another county heard from: The Hellers (Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Program) claim that just a taste of sweetness will cause an insulin release, and thus ban all artificial sweeteners, including diet soda and sugar free gum, except at a Reward Meal - where you may also have sugar if you like. I've looked this idea of insulin release in response to sweet tastes on the tongue up on Medline and can find no strong corroboration for it, but the Heller's certainly have plenty of clinical experience; it may happen for some.
I do think - and I said this even in the intro to the chapter on sweets in 500 Low-Carb Recipes - that it's best to try to wean ourselves away from consuming sweet things frequently, and save even sugar-free treats for occasional use. In particular, I'm more and more unhappy about the idea of constant diet soda/Crystal Lite consumption; these may be sugar-free and calorie free, but they're still artificial garbage. Not saying no one should ever use these things - I have grapefruit Crystal Lite in my fridge right this second - but how many people never drink anything that isn't sweet?
In general, I think we need to guard against the urge to use tons of low carb specialty stuff in an attempt to make our low carb diets resemble our old diets. I've said it before, but it always bears repeating: The heart and soul of the diet is, and always should be, meat, poultry, fish, eggs and cheese, nuts and seeds, low carb veggies, low sugar fruit, healthy fats. Everything else should be approached with at least a modicum of caution. Remember, just because a candy bar is sugar free and lower carb doesn't change the fact that it's pretty much a nutrition-free zone. Sugar-free junk is still junk, and should be relegated to the position of "fringe food."
Hope this helps!
Reader Review of 500 Low-Carb Recipes
Low Carbing for Everyone
I now have four low-carb cookbooks, but this is the one I use every day. You don't have to be an expert chef to make the recipes in this book, and except for the bread and dessert section, you don't need a whole lot of special ingredients either. (Look folks, making low-carb bread is necessarily complicated--it's not as simple as subbing Splenda for sugar, given the chemistry involved). I especially like her vegetable and salad recipes (I'm always looking for ways to make myself eat more vegetables, since I ate practically none before low-carbing it), and I wouldn't have made it this far without Dana's cracker recipes, using sunflower seeds as the main ingredient. Other favorites are the smoky cauliflower and sausage, Polynesian pork, moo shu pork, and the infamous heroin wings. After nearly 4 months of low carbing, I forget to check the other cookbooks for new ideas, but I'm probably close to 100 recipes down from Dana's book already. I wish it came in a spiral binder, so it was a little easier to use, but that would make it more costly, and everyone should have this book!
Reviewer: peebeekc from Kansas City, MO United States
Read this and other reviews of 500 Low-Carb Recipes at Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/b907
However, for those of you who would prefer not to order online, 500 Low-Carb Recipes is available in bookstores all over America, and will soon be available in a UK edition - complete with metric measurements and gas marks and such - in the UK and Australia!
Any Cheetos fans out there?
Boy, talk about your rhetorical questions. Cheetos are one of those junk foods that have a huge and near-rabid following. I have one friend who has sworn that she would sell her soul for low carb Cheetos.
Have I got a new product for her.
Gram's Gourmet, makers of some of my favorite low carb products (Cream of Flax cereal, Flax 'n' Nut Crunchies, Sweet Cinnamon and Butter Crunchies) have really done it this time: Cheddar Cheese flavored pork rinds! You know that cheese powder stuff that forms the coating on Cheetos? Gram's Gourmet has put that stuff on pork rinds, instead, to make Cheddar Cheese Crunchies.
Are Cheddar Cheese Crunchies exactly like Cheetos? No. If you've had a pork rind, and you've had Cheetos, you know that the textures, while similar, are not identical - pork rinds are a little less - well, airy or something. But these are definitely highly scarf-able, with a great crunchy texture and plenty of cheddar cheese coating. They're my cheese-head husband's favorite new snack.
The other difference from Cheetos is that Cheddar Cheese Crunchies will actually fill you up, something Cheetos can never, ever do. (See The Urge To Gorge, above.) A handful or two of these will hold you for hours. All that protein, don't you know?
Cheddar Cheese Crunchies aren't completely carb-free, but they're quite low - 2 grams per serving, with a "serving" defined as 1/8th of a bag. I'd likely eat double that, but I'd still only get four grams - and these are hugely tastier than carb-free plain pork rinds, which I virtually never eat.
I found Gram's Gourmet Cheddar Cheese Crunchies at my beloved local store, Sahara Mart (Bloomington, Indiana's best source for all things low carb), so poke around stores in your area and see if you can find them - or get management to order them! Or you can check your favorite low carb etailers - Gram's Gourmet products are becoming so popular, so quickly, that lots of etailers are carrying them.
Finally. Something for the Cheetos junkies!
Cooking Low Carb!
Something for the grill! I was watching Jamie Oliver on the Food Network the other day (gotta love a network that's all about food!), and he made these really cool looking burgers for an Elvis impersonator friend of his. The way he made the burgers - including a whole huge onion and a bunch of bread crumbs - wasn't going to work for us. Furthermore, Mr. Oliver is a bit more of a purist than I am, grinding his own beef and his own spices. I figured that I'd still get a tasty burger with the carbs greatly reduced, and using store-bought ground beef, and pre-ground spices. Sure enough, the burgers came out great. So here is the new and decarbed version of:
Jamie's Elvis Burgers
2/3 cup minced sweet red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pound ground chuck
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
Pinch salt or Vege-Sal
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon or spicy brown mustard
Throw the onion and olive oil in a medium-sized, heavy bottomed skillet over lowest heat, and let the onion saute for 10 minutes or so. In the meanwhile, assemble everything else in a mixing bowl.
When the onion is quite soft - again, after about 10 minutes - add to the mixing bowl, and using clean hands, squish everything together until very well combined.
Form into 6 patties, and chill for an hour or so - in the meanwhile, get your grill going. Cook over a low charcoal fire for 5-7 minutes per side, or until done to your liking. Or, if you prefer, cook them in a skillet, or on an electric tabletop grill.
Serve with low carb ketchup, and some dill pickle slices.
6 servings, each with 3 grams carb and a trace of fiber; count 3 grams of usable carb (not including ketchup and pickle.) 28 grams protein.
That's it for this issue! See you next issue!
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