Friday, July 18, 2008

Why You Plateau: It Could be Your Hormones (Intro)

It seems a good number of the longer-term low-carbers [Say that three times, fast!] of my online acquaintance share another thing besides the low-carb lifestyle: Plateaus of a serious length of time before reaching maintenance level.

We’re all seeking the answer to overcome that dilemma. Some have 15-20 lbs. more to go; some have quite a bit more yet to drop. Despite our all-out efforts with low-carbing and cycling the low-carb woes and/or the exercise routine, there’s not much change on the scale and hardly any [if any a’tall] reduction in inches.

As the months go by, I consider that a plateau with serious intent!

Discussing the same issue with my doctor just weeks ago, he agreed the cause could be hormonal – especially when I described the inexplicable stall-gains each and every month. After taking various blood tests, I received a phone call three days later.

Results: Everything was “great” and “within normal range” [quote/unquote].

That wasn't true a year ago.

But now, I received uplifting reports for fasting glucose, cholesterol, and a beautiful HDL number of 58. According to the Protein Power books - for women, an HDL of 50 or over is fantastic! Hormones, too, were in 'normal range.'

The fun part came when the nurse stage-whispered over the phone, “Honey, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!” As it turns out, she, too, is a low-carber! But my low carb lifestyle is not a secret with my doc. This time, he sat up and took notice of my great results, including all the weight loss. He actually asked what I did - forgetting we had discussed my plan over a year ago.

But I digress. I took the conversation with the friendly nurse a step further, asking for my exact test result numbers, as well as a break down for each hormone [and the numbers for ‘normal range’]. Despite being WITHIN normal range, there’s no doubt that some of my hormones are in the very LOW normal zone. [See, it all depends on how you define “normal range.” What was NOT clarified until I asked is that hormonal results ARE normal but LOW normal.) I won’t wait for them to bottom out (especially when those low numbers are already doing a number on me!).

There are two points to all this:

First, low-carbing greatly improves health, not just the number on the scale. So don't let the scale rule you because, as I have long said, "The scale doesn't tell the whole tale!"

Second, we arrive at my theory that a stall could be the result of one thing or a combination of things. A serious low-carb lifestyle can get the insulin response under control, but we can't forget that other hormones also play their part. If other hormones are either declining or out of balance, doesn't it make sense that they may be the cause of a long-term plateau ?

Insulin is, after all, a hormone. So low-carbing whips that little baby into line. However, for some, 'Zero Carbing' [ZC] is the only way to keep it totally under control. Yes, I said ZERO carbs. (Boggles the mind, doesn't it? It may take some time to wrap the mind around that axle, but let's at least give serious consideration to the idea.) Simply stated - Zero Carb means eating fattier cuts of meat - that is, fats and proteins - and that's it. [Zero Carb is not Stillman's, by the way, because Stillman's is low or no fat.] For some, ZC means no eggs, either, since eggs do contain a scant amount of carbs.

The reason for ZCing is a super-sensitive case of hyperinsulinemia, in which even small amounts of carbs still induce an insulin response. ZC's aim is to completely eradicate any insulin response, thus forcing the body to give up any fat hanging out in the cells and use that fat for energy. In other words, the 'metabolic bank' is trying to force us to put 'something' in the savings account, rather than allowing us to make a fat withdrawal. :> The only way to counter that is to refuse to put any carbs into the metabolic bank, thus forcing the bank to give us both the cash and the interest - that is, making it give up the fat it's trying so hard to hang onto!

Then there's leptin - another hormone. If it is not doing its job properly, it dictates the wrong message to the thyroid. The bigger fat cells have given up the ghost - that is, they gave up their fat, swelled with water for a while in retaliation, and may now be empty. But then again, maybe not, if leptin is the issue. And the smaller fat cells don't give up the fat so easily.

For women in [or approaching] the peri-menopausal years, it could be a leptin issue plus estrogen dominance. Estrogen likes to hang out in fat, and we ladies have an extra layer of fat that men don’t have (lucky things!). And what about cortisol - the 'stress hormone'?

Then, too, we ladies also have to deal with rising and declining hormone levels every single month. Sure, both men and women have hormones, and whacked out hormones could be an issue for both. But it is also clear that we of the fairer sex have 'extra' hormonal factors to consider, especially when we hit a true stall.

But don't freak out over all this, will ya? It can all be remedied by nutrition and, in some cases (like mine), with natural supplements to help the body do what it must. I realize some won't agree that supplementation is necessary, and that's fine...but I think otherwise.

One thing I've decided to do is start using a cream that contains prenelone and DHEA, which is sometimes called 'the youth hormone.' Prenelone is the 'precursor' hormone or the 'grandpa' hormone to progesterone - because if there there is not enough progesterone, estrogen dominance can be the result.

The other thing I'm seriously attempting, in order to overcome stubborn hyperinsulinemia, is to aim for "Zero Carb" - a serious step that many, understandably, wish to avoid. To repeat myself [because the topic bears repeating] Zero Carb has to do with completely controlling the insulin hormone. I'm also of the opinion that we should try, if at all possible, to eat meat and poultry that have not had hormones or chemicals added to them via shots or their food, because then we're assimilating that junk and very likely upsetting our own hormonal balance! I realize truly organic eating is an expensive lifestyle, especiallly in these days, but we can start with baby there will be more on Zero Carb and hormonal topics later!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been training via a combo of ‘nutritional’ or ‘naturopathic' classes while simultaneously researching and experimenting with "Zero Carbing."

As I've been studying 'outside the box' nutrition studies and theories for quite some time now, I try what I think applies to my circumstances. That willingness to try something 'unconventional' has held me in good stead, or else I would not have been low-carbing, or cycling, and I would never have gotten this far.

Since I find I'm not alone in the Land of the Grand Plateau, you're more than welcome to join me as I look for the passage OUT! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another Way to Cycle (with Stillman Plans)

Here's the scoop. During a five-month bout of stall-gains (a term a fellow low-carber shared with me, which means we not only stall but the scale tends to easily bounce up), I knew I had to be patient and stick with my low-carb lifestyle, no matter what.

As far as I could ascertain, my lengthy battle was due to the winter season. I'm quite serious, since there is no other explanation. To add insult to injury, my chronic inflammatory conditions seemed to be the real culprits. The result: Water retention, with a vengeance. I won't go into all the details, but I researched, tried every trick in the low-carb books, and even had to resort to Lasix, a loop diuretic. Since I didn't want to continue on any form of medication, due to side effects and drops in my potassium levels, I looked for additional natural methods to combat water retention and found the lemon water miracle.

By April 14, I had been busy with a writing project, which kept me in front of the computer (and on my duff) over 12 hours a day for two weeks. Although I stayed on plan, the weight was catching up with me - again. So on April 15, I took what I perceive as a drastic measure. I decided to try the Stillman's 14 Day Shape Up Program.

Within 9 days, I had dropped 15 lbs.!

I've been asked how I exactly did it. First, although I didn't plan it this way, I ended up experimenting by kicking off with the basic Stillman's plan, which means unlimited lean proteins, no added fats, and no veggies - nada, zilch, zip.

The reason I did that was to find out if it was true that 'practically zero' carbs plus no added fats means faster weight loss.

Yep, it's true.

The first day, I dropped a lb. The next day, I dropped 5.4 lbs. overnight. Talk about a Whooshie!

Now here's an interesting tidbit: The minute I noticed the loss slowed down on any given morning, that's the day I switched to Stillman's 14 Day Shape Up program. For me, that meant adding one small, plain salad to lunch and dinner. Doing that resulted in a better scale loss the next day, upon which I immediately resumed the basic Stillman's woe.

When the weight loss slowed again, I did exactly the same thing: One day of the 14 Day Shape Up program, then returning to basic Stillman's the very next day.

A few Divine Tips to follow a similar cycle with great success:
-Pull back on caffeine. Although I had completely broken the habit last spring, once winter hit full force, I started drinking hot black tea again. So it was back to weaning myself off caffeine, limiting myself to one 12 oz. cup in the morning.

-Take at least the basic vitamins and supplements, as outlined in my blog entry, "Do You Know What Your Supplements Are?"

-Use very small amounts of virgin olive oil in a spritzer for home-made "Pam" spray; it's a much healther course to use minimal amounts of real fats than no fats.

-Drink up! Drink green tea, hot or cold, or green tea with fresh lemon (good for the liver and kidneys) and, if desired, use stevia as a sweetener. I recently found Arizona Diet Green Tea with Ginseng (which uses Splenda and not aspartame), so I drank that occasionally but mainly focused on plain, cold water. (That is because I completely avoid aspartame, and try my best to also avoid Splenda. Why? It's chlorinated sugar, which means bleached sugar - done to remove carbs - but what is it adding to our bodies? Avoid diet sodas like the plague!) Keeping the body absolutely permeated with clear liquids is an absolute must while on an all-protein cycle.

-Keep the meals basic and simple. Whenever possible, eat small but frequent meals. By small, I mean a few eggs in the morning, 4-6 oz. of some favorite lean protein a few hours later, another lean protein snack 2-3 hours after that, etc. Doing so helps the metabolism adjust, keeps hunger at bay, keeps glucose levels steady, and keeps the mind focused on your goal --- and that's where the real battle of the bulge takes place!

-If feeling a bit shaky or light-headed, immediately eat a small green salad with an unlimited amount of lean protein and your favorite dressing (preferably low carb, high fat). If that is not possible, eat a few slices of real cheese (not processed cheese food) and plenty of water.

-Alternate every other day between whole (preferably organic) brown eggs and Eggbeaters (or egg whites from the organic brown eggs).

-On the days you incorporate a 1 cup green salad, consider using 1 tbsp. of a full-fat salad dressing, not a low-fat version (since low-fat dressings include higher carbs). If you prefer the low-fat version, keep it to "just enough" - don't drizzle the salad!

-Enjoy a 4 oz. sugar-free gelatin cup either between meals or right after them. (Limit: 3 per day)

-Take it easy with the exercise. Stillman's recommended only two 15 minute light exercise routines, morning and a casual stroll, stretching, that sort of thing. This is not the time to jog, walk miles at high speed, etc. It is a good time to enjoy an easy bicycle ride, do 15 minutes of Callanetics, or other slow, easier exercises.

My plan is to finish the 14 days of alternating between the two Stillman programs, then cycling to the Protein Power Life Plan for two weeks, then back to the two Stillman woe's for another two weeks.

If this works, I'll be at my dream goal before I know it!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Do You Know What Your Supplements Are?

I have a very helpful book by Fran McCullough entitled Living Low Carb that features a plan on 'how-to-lose-10-lbs-fast." It goes like this:

--First of all, pull out all the stops with all the supplements: liver cleansing (which can include milk thistle), L-Carnitine (acetyl L-Carnitine is the best but it's more expensive), and Omega 3's.

--Drink even more water than usual - a gallon a day would not be too much. Just sip water all day - don't guzzle or you could become seriously ill.

--Exercise more than usual. (However, I've found that I lose inches but not lbs., and that's ok, too. That does for your body what defragging does for your hard drive!)

--Eat enough protein to lose wt. but not enough to maintain. (Divine Tip: Use the formula from the book, Protein Power Life Plan by the Drs. Eades. If that amount does not work, drop the daily protein grams by 20-30).

--Cut out or drastically reduce all dairy products - no milk, creamers or cheese.

--Keep fruit to an absolute minimum of low-carb fruits only (strawberries are best, and one can have up to 1/2 cup every other day). But it's even better to cut out all fruits.

--Consume no alcohol.

--For carbs, keep the emphasis on dark green vegetables and greens (dark, leafy lettuces, green beans, asparagus, and broccoli are best choices; avoid peas because they are too starchy) Divine Tip: Also, don't overdo it even with these foods...keep the quantities to about 1.5 cups, twice a day (lunch and dinner). To them, add a small amount of real fat. Did you know that we must have fat with veggies, otherwise we don't absorb their nutrients as well?

--Check that daily calories are between 1200-1500, depending on your height, frame, and gender.

--"Don't follow this regimen for more than 2 weeks at a time; you don't want to send your body into starvation mode, which will slow down your metabolism and leave you with a permanent limited calorie budget." This comment was made without backup documentation, but I'm including it here as 'food for thought.' :) I, for one, do believe Starvation Mode is a reality.

Of course, now we know there are various ways to avoid of Starvation Mode - by cycling low-carb plans and/or carefully implementing occasional free meals.

A Few Neat Tips:

Dr. Atkins recommended 2 tbsps. fresh lemon juice in warm water, a diluted form of lemon water, before breakfast or any other meal - as a liver detox! End a meal with probiotics (the good flora and fauna for the intestinal tract). Both of these ideas should help with digestive problems we low-carbers often experience. (Please see my blog entry, "Lemon Water: The Good It Does Your Body.")

For other health benefits and along with other supplements, Dr. Schwarzbein strongly recommends both a Vitamin B Complex as well as Vitamin D3, a hormone that helps with fat burning, helps insulin resistance, and improves the GI tract.

A List of Possible Supplements: Read Carefully!

The following are informational excerpts in regard to vitamins and other supplements and which were recommended by Dr. Atkins and/or Dr. Mary Dan Eades, both whom I will quote below. Interestingly enough, both doctors insisted that low-carbers should take nutritional supplements, since we cut out grain products and fruit that provided absolutely needed nutrients. I’ll also include info and paraphrases from the Living Low Carb book by Fran McCullough, who refers to these two doctors and provides a basic summary on some of their research:

---Chromium Picolinate. Best dosage is 300-600 mcg per day. Chromium Picolinate is an “intermediary between the B vitamins pantothenic acid and the important coenzyme A” and it "will build muscle (an anabolic effect), decrease body fat, plus lower the cholesterol levels.” (Dr. Atkins)

---Pantetheine. Dr. A recommended 100-400 mcg per day. “It plays a pivotal role in many metabolic pathways and is a remarkable cholesterol-control nutrient.” Note: Liquid forms are best, since vitamin supplements that claim to contain pantetheine were found, on essay, to contain none. (Dr. Atkins)

---Selenium. (200 mcg per day). It is “valuable as an antioxidant and its deficiency seems to provide an increased cancer risk. In addition, a recent animal study by McNeill suggested that it plays a beneficial nutritional role in diabetes prevention.” (Dr. Atkins)

---Biotin. No recommended dosage found in the Atkins book. However, Dr. A said it was discovered by J.C. Coggeshall and his associates that biotin caused a “significant drop in diabetic blood-sugar levels.” (Dr. Atkins)

---Vitamin C (especially in the form of Esther-C). Recommended dosage: 500 mg or more. Helps boost wt. loss, not to mention “shoring up our resistance to infections.” (Dr. Atkins)

---Magnesium. The standard dose is 300 mg - 600 mg of chelated magnesium (malate, citrate, or aspartate) before bed. Diabetics especially are deficient in this mineral.

Magnesium “strengthens the heart, normalizes blood sugar, helps with mood disorders (like anxiety and depression), acts as a natural laxative and is a natural sleep aid." Note: Calcium is often found combined with magnesium, since magnesium blocks calcium's negative affects but keeps its good ones. That's because calcium alone can deposit itself into our arteries and block them, as well as do other damaging things - but ONLY when left alone! So try to find a chelated mix of magnesium and calcium of at least 300 mg. magnesium per capsule. (Fran McCullough)

---Vitamin E. Must be taken with soluble fat to work effectively (like Omega 3 or Omega 3-6-9 or from a natural food source, like eggs or fish). Standard dose is 400 mg (in a tocotrienol mix, not just alpha-tocopherol). Vitamin E helps prevent heart disease and is a potent free-radical attacker, clot buster, and anti-aging help. We also won't see the wrinkles advance so easily when using Vitamin E! More importantly, Vitamin E increases insulin sensitivity (which means that the more sensitive our cells are to insulin, the less insulin we need to produce – and that’s the reason for low-carbing!). (Fran McCullough)

--- Folate (a B vitamin), also known as Folic Acid. Standard dose is 400 mcg a day - but if one has high levels of homoysteine, thought to be a major player in heart disease, ask your doctor about taking a higher amt. Low carbers can easily reach a deficiency in this vitamin since it’s mostly found in foods we avoid (like bananas and beans). (Fran McCullough)

---Acetyl L-Carnitine. For special conditions, the dosage ranges between 1000 and 2000 mg per day. “Carnitine is involved in fat transport and, when it is deficient, overweight people have difficulty getting into ketosis/lipolysis.” Primary use is in heart disease, "where it corrects a certain type of cardiomyopathy, helps stabilize heart rhythm, lower triglyceride levels, and increase HDL cholesterol.” (Dr. Atkins)

---Coenzyme Q 10 (C0-Q10). (Used in a study, the recommended amt. was 100 mg daily for research purposes.) It is “essential to proper working of the immune system and is a specific nutritional correction for periodontal (gum) disease. But overweight readers might be interested in a Belgian study, headed by Dr. Luc Van Gall, which showed that over half of a group of obese patients had deficiency levels of CoQ10 and compared them with a similar group without deficiency. After nine weeks, the formerly deficient group lost 29.7 lbs. on a standard diet, compared to the non-deficient ones who lost 12.7 lbs. on the same diet. If this work mirrors the incidence of CoQ10 deficiency in all overweight subjects, then one out of two of you will benefit considerably from this single nutrient.” (Dr. Atkins)

---The Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6, as well as other research that includes Omega 9). For general purposes, Dr. A recommended 2 capsules of borage oil, 2 of super–EPA, and 2 of flaxseed oil. Personal Note from yours truly: There is a delicate balance in using the Omega supplements, so I myself use the KAL brand of Omega 3-6-9.) Omega 3’s provide the essential oil called alpha-linolenic acid, while Omega 6, a special "subdivision called gamma linolenic acid is found useful for atopic eczema, PMS, cholesterol elevation, and many other deficiency situations and contained in EPA, borage oil, and black currant oil.” (Dr. Atkins)

From Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution:

The following were recommendations from Dr. Atkins (who was firstly a cardiologist, btw, which is what led him to researching the benefits of low-carbing) for “specific answers to common dieters’ problems.”

For what I called, due to modesty, 'clogged pipes': You may use magnesium oxide, extra Vitamin C, or a variety of vegetable laxatives and bulking agents. Dr. A's choice was psyllium husks. Start with 1 tablespoon in one full glass of water and increase or decrease the dose until the optimal bowel movement is obtained.

For super cravings: L-Glutamine, 500-1000 mg before meals and perhaps right at the point when craving is greatest. Extra chromium [picolinate] is valuable here, too.

For hunger not assuaged by being in ketosis: L-phenylalanine or acetyl L-tyrosine, 500 mg of the former, or 300 mg of the latter, before meals.

For fluid retention: Pyidoxal 5 phosphate, 50-100 mg, PLUS L-taurine, 1500-3000 mg daily. Asparagus tablets work very well, too. (My own observation: So do Parsley Tablets!)

For fatigue: Octacosanol, 5-10 mg., PABA, 600-2000 mg., dimethylglycine, 3-6 sublingual (under the tongue) tablets per day; sublingual B12 tablets, 1-3 daily, or 1-3 B complex tablets daily (50 mg. strength per tablet)

For nervousness: Inositol, 500-2000 mg daily, and herbal teas such as chamomile, valerian, and passion flower.

For insomnia: The above taken at night, plus melatonin 3-6 mg. before bed (ties your sleep cycle into day/night cycle; counterproductive for night workers). Calcium, magnesium, niacinamide, pantothenic acid, and 5 HTP (hydroxyl tryptophan) may all be useful here as well.

For hypoglycemics: Dr. Atkins used his Basic Formula, plus chromium, L-glatamine, zinc, selenium, magnesium, all of the B complex, PAK, extra biotin, L-alanine.

PAK is the acronym for Pyridoxine alpha-ketoglutarate, which seems to have a favorable effect on diabetes. Recommended dosage is 500-1500 mcg per day.

For diabetes: Dr. Atkins used the Basic Formula, plus extra chromium, zinc, selenium, inositol, CoQ10, PAK, biotin, vanadyl sulfate, magnesium.

For the lowering or prevention of cholesterol elevations, Dr. Atkins used lecithin granules (aha – lecithin is contained in whole eggs!), chromium, pantetheine, niacin and other B complex factors, garlic, Vitamin C, GLA (borage, primrose, or black currant oils), EPA (fish oil), sitosterol, glucomannan, guar gum, pectin, psyllium husks, dimethyl glycine, CoQ10, phosphatidyl choline, or use the Atkins Lipid Formula plus the Essential Oils Formula.

For elevated triglycerides, the slate is similar to the list for cholesterol, except the L-Carnitine and EPA are emphasized. Also because of the correlation of triglycerides and hyperinsulinism, the nutrients helpful in diabetes will prove to be helpful here.

For hypertension (high blood pressure), Dr. Atkins used magnesium (preferably as orotate, taurate, arginate, or aspartate), L-taurine, pyridoxal 5 phosphate or pyridoxine, garlic, essential fatty acids (GLA and EPA), CoQ10, potassium, or the Atkins Formula AH-3, plus the Essential Oils Formula.

For coronary heart disease, Dr. Atkins used one of the above mentioned magnesium compounds, L-Carnitine, Vitamin E, CoQ10, serrapeptase and/or bromelain, garlic, chromium picolinate, or his Formula CV-4.

For arthritis, Dr. Atkins used shark cartilage, superoxide dismutase, calcium EATP, pantetheine, niacinaide, pyridoxine, PABA, Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, Vitamin E, SOD/catalase, copper sebacate, or Atkins Formula AA-5, plus the Essential Oils Formula.

As Dr. A stated (all emphasis below is mine):

“The roster of nutrients which have been studied favorably in these conditions should provide a glimmer of insight into how much published work there is on nutraceuticals. Consider at the same time the almost obscene profit margins consistently reported by the pharmaceutical industry and you may get a flash of recognition as to why all these bone fide medical studies supporting a competing therapy are not widely disseminated. When your doctor doesn’t tell you about them, it’s only because nobody told him about them.”

“The restriction of carbohydrate gives you an edge and, similarly, the targeted use of nutritional supplements gives you another kind of edge. Learn about them, learn how to use them, and use them properly. When you do, the Edge will surely be with you.”

Divine's Home-Made, Low-Carb Chicken Broth

Canned broth, consomme and bouillon. At one point or another, we've probably tried them at least once. The problem is finding a low-sodium version that really is low-salt (read the label; you'll be surprised to see how low it isn't).

So, although I now prefer quick 'n' easy low-carb meals, I don't bother with grocery store options for broth but make my own.

In fact, I am convinced my clear chicken stock facilitates weight loss. I enjoy it mostly in the afternoons and evenings, between meals. It’s tasty, warm, satisfying, features organically grown spring broilers (and veggies, when I can find them) and – best of all – it’s home-made!

With mostly low-carb veggies (parsnips, mushrooms, green pepper, dandelion greens, celery) and with even "higher" carb choices (tomato, green onion), this is a very nutritional, low-carb, and flavorful broth - and I control the sodium content! (Btw, the mushrooms add the "salt" flavor we might miss, without upping sodium. Mushrooms also add low-carb nutrition!)

For 8 quarts:

1 left-over spring or roasting chicken (with the skin, pre-roasted)
*2 large parsnips (top cut off)1 or 2 whole turnips (top "nubs" cut off)
1/2 bunch of green onions (end strings cut off)
1 cup fresh mushrooms
1 tomato (with skin)
1/2 - 1 whole green pepper (with seeds and "whites" inside removed)
1 bunch dandelion greens
1/2 of a celery "bunch"
Optional: ½ head cabbage
For flavoring: Mrs. Dash No-Sodium Garlic with Herbs (for seasoning) or low-sodium salt, parsley, oregano, onion and garlic powder (not salt!)

*If using an uncooked chicken, be sure to skim off the soup base as it cooks.

1. Wash vegetables. Peel parsnips and turnips (if desired, but not necessary.)(If using an uncooked chicken, and not left-overs, rinse thoroughly.)
2. Place left-over chicken carcass and vegetables in an 8 qt. crockpot, add 7.5 qts. water, put top on, set to high and cook for 4 hrs (set on low; 8 hrs.) Or use an 8 qt. sauce pan (no top) and simmer gently 3-4 hrs.
3. Strain vegetables and chicken into a large bowl (or two). When the chicken has cooled, pull white (and/or dark) meat from the bones and place in either small-serving freezer bags or freezer-safe plastic containers. (Very useful for small meals, like chicken “salad” with low-fat ranch dressing or low-fat mayonnaise.)
4. When broth is cool, pour into sealable containers (a 10 qt. Tupperware bowl with seal is great! Or use 2-3 smaller Tupperware bowls). Place bowl(s) in the coldest part of the refrigerator – you want this to stay as fresh as possible for up to 5 days.
5. For use, just reheat the desired amt. and drink as many cups as desired - every day throughout the week! (I aim for 2-4 12 oz. mugs per day.)


Since the old rule of thumb for making wonderful, home-made chicken stock is to use at least 5 veggies, I simply looked for low-carb, nutritional options, as well as those that will add flavor. I use "1/2" amts. for the green onions, pepper, and celery only because I split each half into 2 pots. (We usually roast 2 broilers to feed my entire family, and I use the left-over chicken carcasses for 2 big pots of home-made broth.)

I'm sorry I can't give a total carb count, but it seems they are negligible when compared to canned broth. This recipe is very low-sodium – much lower than bouillion or low-fat canned broth. (I’ve discovered by trial and error that I have to be careful with sodium content, otherwise I look just like an upset blowfish.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lemon Water: The Good It Does Your Body

Lemon tree
Very pretty
And the lemon flower is sweet

But the fruit
of the poor lemon
is impossible to eat...
(The refrain from a very old song)

And then (with my apologies to U2 and their bizzare "Lemon" lyrics), there is also...

"Lemon...she wore lemons...she's going to make you wish for lemon." Maybe there was a great reason that the girl in the song was so crazy about lemons - so the possible reason is the subject of this entry!

But first, I wish to stress that the following article is not mine. As I have discovered, the info it contains helps me in fighting the ongoing water retention battle...which is most likely due to a number of factors, the foremost being my my chronic inflammatory illnesses.

Second, it is possible that lemon water might be the answer to other "challenges" which most low-carbers experience. That alone is a great reason to talk about the juice of fresh lemons!

During my winter battle with water retention, I use the freshly squeezed juice of a whole lemon, poured in a large coffee mug, to which is added 10-12 oz. of boiling hot water (and I do this twice a day before a meal). I've found my way of enjoying hot lemon water is the simplest and most effective way to use this wonderful tip.

In my personal experience, lemon water greatly assists in reducing water retention by detoxing the liver and other areas of the GI tract (which means it's very effective in "clearing the lower pipes" - if you catch my meaning), in naturally treating the pain of arthritis, in keeping potassium levels stable, and in stopping a cold (including swollen glands and sore throat) within hours. Low carbers will also be happy to know it does NOT make for higher glucose levels. For these reasons, and a few more, here's the original article (with all bold emphasis mine):

Lemon Water: Amazing Results
After visiting some friends recently who drank copious amounts of water spiked with fresh organic limes and lemons from trees in their yard and freely offered this delicious concoction to all their guests, the following article reminded me of the value of our mutual dedication to planetary health and wellness through simple healthful remedies.

There are basic lifestyle habits that are important to incorporate into your daily life, and this is certainly one of them. However, we are talking about organic lemons that are tree ripened. If you are buying commercial lemons from the store, learn kinesiology and muscle test the lemons you buy so that you know one way or another whether the lemons you are purchasing are actually therapeutic for you.
by Ann Heustad, R.N.

“When life gives you a lemon... squeeze it, mix it with six ounces of distilled water and drink twice daily.”

The value of eating lemons is reported by Jethro Kloss in his book Back to Eden:

The medicinal value of the lemon is as follows: It is an antiseptic, or is an agent that prevents sepsis [the presence of pathogenic bacteria] or putrefaction [decomposition of tissue]. It is also anti-scorbutic, a term meaning a remedy which will prevent disease and assist in cleansing the system of impurities.”

Due to the digestive qualities of lemon juice, symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching are relieved. By drinking lemon juice regularly, the bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently thus controlling constipation and diarrhea.

On page 659 of Back to Eden, Mr. Kloss points out that, “The lemon is a wonderful stimulant to the liver and is a dissolvent of uric acid and other poisons, liquefies the bile, and is very good in cases of malaria. Sufferers of chronic rheumatism and gout will benefit by taking lemon juice, also those who have a tendency to bleed, uterine hemorrhages, etc.; rickets and tuberculosis. In pregnancy, it will help to build bone in the child. We find that the lemon contains certain elements which will go to build up a healthy system and keep that system healthy and well. As a food, we find, owing to its potassium content, it will nourish the brain and nerve cells. Its calcium builds up the bony structure and makes healthy teeth.

“Its magnesium, in conjunction with calcium, has an important part to play in the formation of albumen in the blood. The lemon contains potassium 48.3, calcium 29.9, phosphorus 11.1, magnesium 4.4. Lemons are useful in treating asthma, biliousness, colds, coughs, sore throat, diphtheria, la grippe [flu or influenza], heartburn, liver complaint[s], scurvy, fevers and rheumatism.”

Since many people today suffer from what they used to call biliousness, it is important to edify our readers to the definition.

Biliousness -- 1. A symptom of a disorder of the liver causing constipation, headache, loss of appetite and vomiting of bile. 2. excess of bile; a bilious fever.

Why the lemon works so well
On page 19 of A.F. Beddoe's book “Biological Ionization in Human Nutrition,” he states that: “Man does not live off the food he eats but off of the energy that is produced from the food he eats.”

The energy you get from your food comes from the atoms and molecules of energy in your food. A reaction takes place as cationic food enters the digestive tract and encounters anionic digestive enzymes.

To explain further, an ion is part of a molecule con-atom or a group of atoms that carry an electrical charge. Ions which carry positive charges are “cations.” Lemons are considered to be anionic, having more electrons (negatively charged ions) of energy as compared to cations (positively charged ions) in their atomic structure. Saliva, hydrochloric acid, bile and the stomach's other digestive juices are also anionic.

Lemon is one of the only foods on the planet that has more anions than cations in its atomic structure.

When considering the electromagnetic properties of food Dr. Beddoe points out that all foods are considered cationic with the exception of fresh, raw lemon juice. Some have suggested that the reason fresh lemon juice is similar to digestive enzymes is due to the low amount of sulfur in lemons. It should be noted that pasteurized and packaged lemon juice is cationic and, therefore, ineffective as a health remedy.

Who Can Benefit From Lemon Water
Dr. Beddoe continues on page 194: “Lemon water is used in every person that can tolerate it. That is, if there is no allergy to lemon (a very few have a true allergy to lemon) and no active ulcers, then all adults and most children should use the lemon water. The purpose of the lemon is to:

a. provide a natural strengthening agent to the liver enzymes when they are too dilute.
b. The liver can make more enzymes out of fresh lemon juice than any other food element.
c. The lemon helps fix oxygen and calciums in the liver because it regulates blood carbohydrate levels which affect the blood oxygen levels.”

In the above book, Dr. Beddoe also cites an article by Dr. Michael Lesser on the medical promise of citric acid in “Anabolism, Journal of Preventive Medicine.” He uses this article to validate the value of using fresh lemon juice daily: “It appears that citric acid, the major carrier of biochemicals in the body's energy system, shows important promise, primarily because of its excellent properties as a chelator. Its ability to form soluble complexes with calcium offers major promise in the successful treatment of pancreatic stones and has also been employed to dissolve kidney stones. Since calcium deposits are of major significance in the much greater problem of hardening of the arteries, citric acid may possibly contribute to a safe and effective reversal of this widespread degenerative disease.”

Even though medical doctors are not currently employing lemon juice in the treatment of the above conditions, this article substantiates the fact that one of the benefits of fresh lemon water is the way the citric acid is able to act upon the body's systems differently than any other food.

Lemon Remedies, Published by Jethro Kloss in Back to Eden

· For sore throat, dilute lemon juice with water and gargle frequently. Dilute one-half lemon juice with one-half water. It is even better to use straight lemon juice.
· A slice of lemon bound over a corn overnight will greatly relieve the pain.
· A slice of lemon bound over a felon [pus formation on a finger joint] will not fail to bring the pus to the surface where it can be easily removed.
· To relieve asthma, take a tablespoon of lemon juice one hour before each meal.
· For liver complaints, the juice of the lemon should be taken in a glass of hot water one hour before breakfast every morning.
· To break up la grippe [flu or influenza], drink a large glass of hot water with the juice of a lemon added, while at the same time have the feet in a deep bucket or other vessel of water with mustard added to it. The water should be deep enough to where it comes nearly up to the knees. Keep adding hot water to the patient's tolerance and until the patient begins to perspire freely (about 20-30 minutes). Be sure there is no draft on the person while this is done. The patient should be near a bed so he can get in it easily and avoid any danger of getting chilled. If convenient, a full hot bathtub would be good in place of the foot-bath. The lemon water should be taken every hour until the patient feels that all the symptoms of the cold are gone.
· A teaspoon of lemon juice in half a glass of water relieves heartburn.
· For rheumatism, one or two ounces of lemon juice diluted in water should be taken three times a day: one hour before meals and at bedtime.
· In cases of hemorrhage, lemon juice diluted in water and taken as cold as possible will stop it.
· Scurvy is treated by giving one to two ounces of lemon juice diluted with water every two to four hours.
· In excessive menstruation, the juice of three to four lemons a day will help check it. Best to take the juice of one lemon at a time in a glass of cold water.

Mr. Kloss explains how lemon juice can even help someone with stomach ulcers:

“How can one with an inflamed or ulcerated stomach partake in the juice? Would not a strong acid like that of the lemon act as an irritant? That would depend on how it was taken. If in quantity, yes. But to take it very weak at first [diluted sufficiently in water], it will cease to burn. The sufferer afflicted with ulcerated stomach has to use great perseverance to affect a cure, and it can be cured if care and patience is used. The gastric juice in the stomach is four times as strong as lemon juice.”

In these cases, I recommend one to two tablespoons of Aloe Vera Gel before the lemon water. Taking 500 mg. of Bromelin has also proven to be helpful.

Buying a sweet lemon
Some lemons are more sweet than others. A rule of thumb for selecting a lemon that is both sweet and high in mineral content, is to pick one that has a high specific gravity measurement and is heavy for its size. By comparing equal-sized fruit, the one with the greatest weight will have the most mineral content and sugar. A thick skinned lemon will not be as heavy as a thin skinned lemon and will not have the desired sweetness or mineral content.

The method I use to ensure the purchase of sweet lemons is to look at the stem end of the lemon. There are two ends on the lemon. One end has a point where the blossom started to grow; the other end has a stem or a dimple where the stem used to be located. On the stem end of a highly mineralized, sweet lemon, you will see little lines radiating out of the stem like sunbeams. These little lines can look like a star shaped structure and is called a calyx. The calyx may have three, four, five or more points to the star. The greater the number of points on the calyx, the higher the mineral content of the lemon.

How much lemon to use
If you are in good health and weigh less than 150 pounds, squeeze the juice of one half a lemon (one ounce) into a glass of purified water and drink this mixture twice a day (one whole lemon a day.) If you weigh over 150 pounds, squeeze the juice out of an entire lemon (two ounces) into a glass of purified water and drink this mixture twice a day (two whole lemons a day.) The lemon juice can be diluted more according to taste.

To help your body get the energy from the food you are eating, drink lemon water regularly. Next to drinking plain purified water, drinking lemon water daily is the most important thing you can do for your health.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Magical Wish List: Reasons to Low Carb, 1-10

Less than a year ago, when I decided I would restart low-carbing and make it a success, no matter how often my health might set me back, I began compiling a list of wishes, reasons, goals, and successes to keep me inspired! As time goes by, I add to that list. For those new to low-carbing (as well as for those who are thinking about it), the following points came from my original list:

1. I want to look and feel better. That includes getting off all my current meds, avoiding diabetes and other serious health problems,
not to mention being able to walk up and down stairs without my heart bursting out of my chest.

2. I want both my husband and I to make it to a healthy old age - together!

3. I want to be able to run (or at least walk really, really fast) or bicycle with our youngest child, who has no memories of a somewhat healthier mommy, as do his older siblings.

4. I want to dance as I once did- cuz
, honey, could I dance!

5. I want to be known for myself, not for my weight.

6. I never want to be embarrassed again about
any pictures taken of me.

7. Never, ever again do I want to sit in a wheelchair, due to arthritis and fibromyalgia or any health problems, when I need or want to walk some distance.

8. I want to feel like the real me instead of feeling as though life might as well be over for me because I'm always sick and tired. Yes, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!

9. It would be a novelty to feel some sense of satisfaction each time I do look into a mirror. (Ok, I admit it: Vanity, thy name is Woman!)

10. It would be nice to wear a nice dress and know I am not just "looking neat and clean," but lookin' pretty good.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Low Carb Feasts

When it comes to the holidays, lots of low-carbers get very nervous, and many - thinking they have no real options - prepare to cheat and then get back on track. That's called "setting yourself up" and it's so unfair to do that to yourself! Be good to yourself, will ya?

Low-carbing is so easy when it comes to a generous spread (and so elegantly decadent that others will never even know it's a low-carb feast!). The following are some ideas that provides 2 appetizers, 3 veggies, and 2 or 3 dessert ideas and after-dinner coffee ideas!

--Veggie tray (cauliflower, broccoli, parsnips instead of carrots, celery, and either cheese cubes or olives for the center section).
--Dip: Full-fat ranch or low-fat ranch (depending on what you're doing with your low-carb cycling), or a spinach/ranch dip. Imho, anything that is full-fat and low-carb is just fine!
--Deviled eggs (with real mayonnaise, NOT salad dressing that tastes like it OR with ranch dressing, or ranch dressing mixed with a bit of cream cheese to slightly thicken the mixture. After the egg yolks and mayonnaise or ranch is mixed and placed back inside the egg, sprinkle all of them with paprika, cover, and refrigerate!)
--Italian salad (mixed greens like romaine and iceberg) with cucumbers, a few tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), a few radishes or slices of pepper, and a red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing. Tip: Replace real onion garlic and onion with sprinkles of onion and garlic POWDER - which is much less in carbs!
--Low-carb Italian wedding soup! Substitute the high-carb veggies of potatoes and such with celery, parsnips, green beans, fresh or frozen spinach, etc. and at least 1/2 of a "soup" chicken (with the skin on). Or use organic, boxed, full-fat chicken broth. Bring it to a gentle boil and do the egg white trick to make it Italian wedding soup. Serve hot with fresh Romano or Romano/Asiago/Parmesan cheese. Magnifico!

The Main Meal (with Side Dishes)
---Small meatballs (with either a sugar-free apricot glaze made from SF apricot preserves and a bit of lemon, or sugar-free tomato sauce). Use parmesan cheese mixed with crushed porkrinds to replace bread crumbs, and generously add oregano, basil, garlic and onion powder - less carbs that way - for the meat mix. Fry in extra virgin olive oil! Drain on paper towels before adding the sugar-free sauce or glaze of your choice.
--A whole turkey and a Virgina-baked ham (spiral, boneless, no honey or glaze, if possible)
--Home-made gravy made with Thick-n-Thin (not cornstarch)
--Or try "chicken piccatta" (boneless, skinless chicken, dredged thru an egg wash, then coated with parmesan cheese mixed with garlic powder). Saute in melted butter or in PAM (but it's better with butter) or lay in a pan lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil....tightly cover with foil and bake in a 350 F oven. Turn chicken once after 15 minutes, cover again, and finish baking for another 15-20 minutes until a light golden brown.
--Want pasta of some sort? Buy Dreamfield's somewhere on line. (I haven't yet tried it, but I hear the brand is very good)
--Want low-carb, rich and filling bread? The very best is the kind you make yourself, but it IS another option!
--Creamed faux potatoes with cream cheese OR sour cream, and salt, pepper, perhaps garlic powder and a few sprinkles of Parmesan cheese (Faux potatoes made from steamed cauliflower, which is then mashed in the food processor)
--Green Bean Almondine
--Asparagus sauted in evco (extra virgin coconut oil)

Dessert & Beverages
--After-Dinner Ideas: Low Carb Cheesecake (homemade, of course) or Low Carb Pumpkin Pie or "Mousse" or other SF (sugar-free) desserts you can make that don't contain aspartame ingredients. Any of these things (and many others) can also be made into "mini-muffin" or "torte" pans, so that you can offer trays of low-carb goodies!
--Beverages: For you, some ideas include homemade eggnog (made with Splenda and/or SF DaVinci's syrups), or SF Rock Star Energy Drinks or flavored bottled 0 carb/0 calorie water or seltzer water with slices of real lemon! (Please avoid diet soda - in my experience, not only can aspartame blow all of your best menu efforts and make us stall, it eventually can crystallize our organs! Ewwww....)
--Coffee and tea (decaff or not, your choice) can be served with half-n-half (high in calories but low in carbs - perfect for the low-carber and a very rich addition to your menu). Your guests can have it, too - but you want to use either stevia or Splenda for your own sweetener.
--You can make a great low-carb cappucino with coffee (decaff or not, your choice), real whipping cream or (believe it or not) 2 tbsps. of original Cool Whip (it's low carb!), a sprinkle of real cinnamon (not cinnamon sugar), and Splenda or stevia to taste - for yourself and/or your guests, too! Another option: 1-2 tsps. of Sugar Free Davinci's syrup instead of cinnamon...great flavors include hazelnut and amaretto.

Then when the feast is over, won't you have the greatest fun and delight, letting your guests know it was an all-low carb spread????

For those of you visiting others during the holidays, bring a dish or two from which you can eat, and also don't forget to first focus on your allowable proteins, salads, and veggies...get full on the good food first and you won't be so tempted to go off plan! (And don't forget - the dish or two you bring are YOUR appetizer or dessert backups!)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Free Meals: Not a License to Binge!

The terms "free meal" and "refeed" receive interest among low-carbers, and I have to say it's an intriguing way to cycle.

That is, IF...

1) One knows that there's a big difference between a "refeed" and a "free meal." Depending on our Body Mass Index, our Body Fat Percentage, and our Activity Level, The Rapid Fat Loss book by Lyle McDonald says there are different formulas to follow in regard to either "Refeeds" or "Free Meals." However, Rapid Fat Loss menus are low-fat, include unlimited green veggies, and some dairy products. So tweaks had to be made, and I've adapted those ideas for low-carbers who are either low-fat (30-50 grams or less per day) low carbers or higher fat low carbers. Believe me, even that one small difference makes for a big one, including the way a "free meal" is done.

2) If one is not prone to easily falling off the low-carb wagon.

One needs self-control to enjoy a free meal. I've seen too many people try what they thought was the free meal tip (they didn't carefully read the directions or were given incomplete ones), and then completely flipped out, binging for days. That is not the idea of a free meal (after all, the phrase is singular, not plural!). Then they convince themselves something was triggered; what they really mean is something caused them to totally lose control.

Of course, that is what happened. Yet I don't believe in triggers...not in the same way as do some. That is, I do believe certain foods will trigger more cravings, but I don't believe the trigger is uncontrollable. It's totally up to us to control the initial craving or to stop it in its tracks. (A trigger is not a tsnumai, so it can be stopped.)

How? When craving something that is off the low-carb plan, eat protein! If that's not available, eat real cheese (not cheese food), followed by sugar free jello or low-carb yogurt. Don't eat protein bars or low-carb goodies - they only make it worse.

Proteins always subdue the craving - even if the trigger has already been set off. Follow the proteins with a cold drink of water and then fill the glass again. Take it with you as you leave the kitchen and go do something constructive (like ridding the closet of all those clothes that are now too big for you!). If you're at someone else's house, do the same thing...only the constructive stuff can be playing crochet, backgammon, soccer, chasing the kids, whatever you need to do!

Mindset Tip: There is no food that can "trigger" one into plowing thru the kitchen cupboard, leaving one to wonder, hours later, what in the world happened. For Pete's sake, that's not the result of a trigger, which can be immediately controlled. No, sorry to say, that's a lack of self-control. That control (or lack thereof) comes from the mind, even if a trigger started the whole thing. It is the mind and the course of action upon which the mind decides that nips the trigger right in the bud. So...

For those who know they have not yet mastered the mindset, which means mastering the self-control, "free meals" should not even be considered.


If one is following the low-carb plan of choice to a "T," is not indulging in weekend Carb Fests, and doesn't give in to nibbles and bites througout the week, then one does the possess the right mindset and the "free meal" trick will work wonderfully well!

Now, the guidelines for a free meal are as follows:

---If you have been eating low-calorie, low-fat, and low-carb, a free meal will usually helps "reset" your metabolism. That is because we seriously need fats for thyroid function, which affects metabolic rate. However, I've also found that following a higher fat, low carb woe is more healthy and beneficial - and the free meal concept still applies!

---A free meal consists in eating unlimited protein and adding only ONE "extra" to the main meal (preferably dinner) and, if truly desired, one serving of a "real" dessert.

For low carb, low fat enthusiasts, the Free Meal Rule of Thumb is to enjoy one meal in which is included one serving of a "no-no" food. Usually, the "no-no" should be low in fat but higher in carbs, like: a bagel, wheat bread, rice, pasta, low-fat pancakes, low-fat waffles (with sugar free syrup), or 1/2 to 1 cup of low-fat ice cream.

Now, the same could be done for those following a low carb, higher fat plan. They could follow the "free meal" plan exactly as above but - for better results - they could choose one higher-fat, higher carb option to accompany their entree (like one cup of full fat, chicken noodle soup), and then choose one full-fat, higher carb option for dessert (e.g. - NY cheesecake). After all, fatty acids do not make body fat (carbs do that) and there is some scientific evidence that fatty acids can actually push down rising glucose - which occurs when we who are insulin resistant eat too many carbs or just the "wrong" (higher glycemic) kind of carbs!

---Choose one night during the week to have a free meal at dinner - not breakfast or lunch. If possible, have the "free meal" at a sit-down restaurant.

Tip! The reason for having the free meal at a restaurant: It greatly helps in not going overboard as one could easily do at home. Rarely will those dining out ask for a second roll or a second helping of pasta or potato. (In another words, the free meal "dinner" at a restaurant helps us avoid what I call a "Carb Blow-out.")

The Big Question: How to do a "free meal"?

First, please make it a point to remember that a free meal is not a carb blow out. In fact, it's a "controlled cheat." What's that, you say?

A controlled cheat - not only to control any triggers but also to force your metabolism to respond in a certain way.

So here's how it's done:

+ Start with your favorite salad, using your favorite salad dressing (skip the croutions because you want to save the usual "no-no" food for the free part)
+ Have all the lean protein you want (but avoid breading). So if you want 2 monstrous pieces of chicken, or t-bone steak, or filet mignon - go for it.
+ Keep your beverage sugar-free, because there are certain carbs that will just add fat...which is not the purpose of the free meal. So plain tea with fresh lemon and stevia is a good choice. (Diet sodas contain aspartame, which is poison. To add insult to injury, it can stall wt. loss.)

Now we get to the "FREE" Part"!

+ To the menu, add just ONE favorite starchy extra (one serving of your favorite bread - not 2 servings and certainly not a whole bread basket or loaf - or a helping of pasta, or a baked potato, or mashed potatoes, or a creamy potato/bacon soup, or chicken noodle soup or a vegetable soup). So it is not bread, and pasta, and, no, no! This is a controlled experiment!

+ Want dessert? If there is truly room for dessert, conclude the meal with one, rich, elegant dessert (cheesecake sounds like a good idea here, or perhaps a small dish of fruits - like berries - topped with real whipped cream).

The trick of the free meal is not to indulge in pizza or ice cream, but to enjoy just ONE "extra" selection at an otherwise low-carb friendly dinner. That's your weekly free meal.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

In one way it is, and let me tell you in advance: "They that dance must pay the piper." And pay you will.

So why do it at all? The purpose of the free meal is twofold. It's 1) psychological and 2) physiological. (Psychological reason: Some people have trouble with weekend binging, or daily nibbles, or some form of cheating; so one free meal per week may help in overcoming that problem. Since I stay on plan 24/7, I'm more interested in the physiological - e.g, the body's response, and the promise of how the metabolism will respond to the free meal.)

So one indulges a little, then one pays --- but then comes the good part.

The initial payment: Expect an overnight gain on the scale, anywhere between 4-10 lbs for those who choose the low-fat, higher carb option for their free meals.

On the other hand, the gain could be much less if choosing a higher fat, higher carb option. I myself have experienced overnight gains of only .4 to 1.4 lbs. when my free meal included both higher fat with higher carbs (like a cup of cheese-potato-bacon soup as my entree "extra" and, for dessert, a slice of real NY cheesecake).

Here's the reward: Days later, your payment is given back to you, with interest!

How? It all depends on what is done after the free meal at dinner. First of all, recall that the controlled cheat (ok, let's consider it a slight indulgence) is now over. Finito. Zero, zilch, zip, nada - no more cheats. No matter what your plans are for the evening, no more indulgences, ok? Immediately return to low-carbing. (When I say immediately, I really mean "immediately.")

The next morning, please be ready to expect the gain. (Don't pass out, scream, holler, swear or faint - it won't change a thing. Just say, "Aha, that worked! Maybe too well, but it worked!")

Again, stay on the low carb track every single day.

Within 4 days, the scale should show a good drop and it should keep dropping a little more every day. That's the real reason for the free meal - it is to shock the metabolic system.

What happens? With the few extras at the free meal, the metabolism is given higher carbs. The metabolism's reaction is basically: "Yesssss, yummies!" and sucks them right in. Glucose spikes, and the metabolism gets busy refilling the empty glycogen stores. The old metabolism is happily chugging along, grabbing all those carbs and running to the glycogen department to fill up the shelves - but then it all stops! Just as the extra carbs suddenly arrived, now the surprise supply is shut off.

See? A controlled cheat --err, indulgence - is intended to recharge your metabolism. The metabolism, expecting those carbs to keep coming, switched gears. But then YOU immediately switched gears by getting right back on the low carb track - in self defense, you have to. The metabolism is faster at change than are you - which explains why there'll be a gain the next morning and which explains exactly why the free meal must be controlled and low-carbing immediately resumed.

So the glycogen is restored after the controlled cheat. Then the metabolism has to once more go thru the steps into ketosis - which forces it to burn the small amount of newly stored glycogen first, and then it has to move on to burning the fat.

End Result: The lbs. gained from the free meal melts away within 4 days ---and it takes a few friends with it!

This neat little trick can be done once a week, sometimes every 10 days or so, depending on one's weight and how much one gains from the free meal.

As one can see, it's a great deal all the way around, as long as the free meal is done correctly and low carbing is immediately resumed!

Your Smart But Dysfunctional Metabolism

Q. Could you tell me why weight loss slows down on a low-carb, low-fat woe, or even a plan like Atkins? I thought a person could lose at least 1 lb. a day on a low carb woe like Stillman's?

A. When first starting out on a low-carb woe, weight loss is extremely fast, as you said. Many people can see an average of 1 lb. a day gone with the wind - and that's exciting and motivating. But, as they say (and as we all learn through life), "All good things must come to an end."

For those new to the low-carb lifestyle, that means weight loss will slow down. The reason? Your metabolism is different at the starting point than it is after weeks of low carbing. Within a month's time, any new "way of eating" plan actually changes the way the metabolism works.

This fact is very important to remember: Since metabolism acclimates itself to new eating styles and new exercise, and since its main job is to preserve our very lives ( by using body fat, water, and glucose for our bodies' needs), low carb weight loss (like any "woe" - low carb or not!) eventually slows down or come to a grinding halt.

Btw, that first aggravating event is popularly known as the "third" week stall.

In all cases, the real question is: How much of that weight loss is fat or water, and how much is lean muscle? I've frequently heard "Oh, it was just water weight, anyway." And then people give up the low carb woe.

Between you and me, I don't care if the first 10 or 15 lbs. was "just" water in the first few weeks (or less) - that is still a lot of water hanging on the body that shouldn't have been there!

Of course, we're thrilled to lose extra fat - but lean muscle is another story. Losing some lean muscle is inevitable while losing fat, but losing too much muscle is very, very unhealthy - in fact, it's downright dangerous! Please don't ever forget that the heart is a muscle!

That's why cycling the low-carb plans is incredibly healthy and helpful for so many (including me). In many case, however, cycling from low-fat, low-carb (like Stillman's) or unlimited green veggies carbs/controlled proteins/low fat (Rapid Fat Loss) or higher carbs (South Beach) will show a gain on the scale. That's because the metabolism is once more acclimating and the thyroid is petering out. Why? The thyroid needs fat to do its job. With all three of those "low carb" woes just mentioned, there's very little fat to help the thyroid properly function. In the case of Rapid Fat Loss or South Beach, or any low-fat, low carb woe, the low-fat consumption cannot stop those extra carbs in their tracks. So the metabolism adjusts, learns to use what you give it, and slows down.

That's another reason why "fat is where it's at!" Our health requires it.

(As an aside, it's a crying shame that lovely, good foods like butter, half-n-half, cream, extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, etc. even bear the "fat" label...yet that's only because we've all been culturally inculculated with the silly idea that fat is bad for us. Wrong-o!)

When it comes to the menu, the secret behind that slow gain problem is the amount of carbs in combination with proteins. It's not the fats so much as the amount of proteins and carbs. The reason is that proteins can and will convert to glucose - and therein lies the real problem.

What is our personal daily amount of protein consumption? It's a matter of experimentation, but we must eat enough proteins to maintain or rebuild body organs. (The first Protein Power book provides an intricate formula that is much more personalized and accurate, while Protein Power Life Plan includes a general chart for daily minimum protein requirements according to gender, height, current weight, and activity level.)

Eating too little protein is a very serious detriment to health - remember, we don't want our bodies to consume our own muscle! On the other hand, eating fats and proteins can really push down the number on the scale, but it means eating real meals; it doesn't mean little but frequent indulgences like eating chocolate-coconut bark to up the fat grams. Instead, cook proteins in good oils (extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin or virgin olive oil, butter, ghee) - and there are the fats and proteins.

If some low-carb veggies are desired, just add just 2 tbsp. of full-fat, low-carb dressing to small salads, or drizzle a bit of butter or olive oil over steamed low-carb veggies - and did you know that we need good fats to make the vitamins from our veggies accessible to our bodies? That's why I recommend full-fat, low carb salad dressings over low-fat but higher carb salad dressings.

Adding any amount of carbs can and probably will change the fat-protein metabolic formula. So here's another tip: Keep daily fat grams almost equal or actually equal to protein grams, while keeping daily carbs at 30 total grams or less. (Please Note: Grams are not the same as you'll discover when you use Fitday or The Daily Plate.)

However, those numbers will inevitably change, too. How fast is a matter of individuality and factors like exercise or no exercise, medication or not, mineral balance, etc.

That's not a reason to get disheartened! Nor is it a reason to drop just means getting smarter at cycling!

In fact, what I call our smart-but-dysfunctional (SBD) metabolisms are the reason why the Lindora (Lean for Life) program features its own unique cycling plan. (They don't call it cycling, but that's what it is.) The SBD metabolism is also the reason why Rapid Fat Loss and Stillman's both advise switching to completely different eating plan after two weeks on their special "Quick Weight Loss" programs.

The conclusion? In most cases - after the first month on any LC woe - learning how to cycle fats, proteins and carbs keeps the metabolism on its toes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cycling Tips!

I discovered that it is not easy to overeat on a diet that is 60% healthy fats, 25% proteins and 15% carbs. Sure, I tweak those numbers just a bit to fit my individual needs, but 60-25-30 is a good base "formula."

Cycling (or rotating) various low carb plans works wonders. Since May, I've implemented ideas from Stillman's (low-fat, all lean proteins, very low-carb), Atkins Induction, the PSMF (Protein Sparing Modified Fast, aka Rapid Fat Loss), the Schwarzbein Principle, Protein Power, and Eat Fat, Get Thin.

There's even more that I've studied, including South Beach (which - let's face it - tweaked the original Atkins plan), as well as tips from professional body-builders (like Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle and Fit Over Forty). What I find true in every instance is that every one has their own low-carb philosophy. For example, some M.D.'s think carbs are not even necessary - and they explain why. Others, like body-builders, consider a low carb woe (way of eating) to be anathema...well, most of the time.

What I do is research, research, research and tweak, tweak, tweak because I know that the metabolism catches on very quickly. It's designed to do we have to be one step ahead of it if we need to slim down. (And if we're stalling, we have to think positive and stay on plan. Remember: It's always better to maintain than gain. Unless, of course, you're exercising, in which case you very well may see maintains or even steady gains. Again, that's an exercise gain of Lean Body Mass - not fat.)

These are a few tips I've learned and used, mixing and matching ideas from various sources and adding quite a few of my own:

---Log your menus and count everything - fats, carbs and proteins. Seriously. I know - I didn't want to do it, either. Yet I made myself do it. Am I glad I did! It will make all the difference in the world, months down the road, when you are analyzing what works, how you react to certain foods, how much water you really drink a day, etc. Use "The Daily Plate" or "Fitday" or any one of the free, online food diaries available. I promise, you'll find the time you put into logging goes faster every day. Besides, aren't you worth the time? Darned right you are!

---Keep daily lean protein grams to an amt. between your LBM (Lean Body Mass) and your goal wt. Another good method is to have 2-3 lean proteins at breakfast (2 eggs, 2 slices of lean Canadian bacon – because 4 small pieces of Canadian bacon is considered just 1 serving), 4-6 oz. lean protein serving at lunch, and another 4-6 oz. lean protein serving at dinner. (It's not often people want seconds on protein, but if you're honestly hungry and not just wanting to nibble, have more protein with a good fat - add a drizzle of full-fat dressing or cook your proteins in good fats. It's much better to eat the 2nd helping of protein than to have a 2nd helping of carbs - even good ones!)

---Keep it low carb. You can either start at 65 carbs per day and begin lowering the amt. (especially if you are a diabetic). Some nutritionists find that, for diabetics, 35 carb grams per day is the perfect amt. Or you can start right away with 20 carbs per day (net or total, your choice), and after 2-4 weeks, begin upping them by 5-10 gram increments. Another idea: Start with 30 total carbs per day (7-10 carbs per meal); remain at that level for 4 days, then cycle "up" to 50 carbs per day (and see how your body responds).

---Eat real foods, not convenience foods, like specialty low-carb products (for example, low-carb bars). The most important thing to do is EAT real food and heal the metabolism and hyperinsulinemia.

---Sweep the idea of even low-carb treats completely out of the mind. Treats might be fine for very special occasions, but even then be sure they are low-carb and don't over-do it. Stick with a modest serving, slowly taste it, and enjoy it. And stop right there!

---Experiment with dairy products, if you really want to. Have up to 2 servings of high-calcium milk products a day (but dairy is not a good idea if you suspect or know you have candida albicans, aka “The Yeast Syndrome”). To know serving amounts, carefully read the labels.

For example, shredded sharp cheddar cheese may state that 1 serving is ¼ cup. That means you can have a whole ¼ cup and count is as 1 serving - but be sure to count everything - protein, carbs, and fats. (Btw, 1/4 cup is just about right for your omelet or for sprinkling on a salad).

Other ideas: Have ½ cup of fat-free cottage cheese or regular cottage cheese; have 8 oz. of low-carb milk (also great for the lactose-intolerant, since the sugars have been removed), or a piece of string cheese, or 4 oz. of sugar-free yogurt or even regular, full-fat yogurt. (Some studies indicate that the good yogurt bacteria consume the sugar, so that the glucose impact from yogurt is non-existent). If you find that you are not experiencing fat loss or even gaining (while not exercising, since since exercise gains means muscle gain, and muscle is heavier than fat), then cut out the milk products for 5-7 days and see if the scale goes downward.

In my experience, low-carb yogurt (not low-fat yogurt) is a safe option but cottage cheese (low or high fat) causes maintains or slight gains. Cheese is safe, but don't go over 4 oz. a day, and if you're stalling - eradicate it from the menus until the scale moves down and keeps moving down.

---Cycle fat grams! For example, if your total fat grams have been high and if you're experiencing a stall, keep your fat gram levels between 50-60 daily grams...which is about as low as we should go. On the other side of the coin, if your fats have been too low and you're not experiencing any progress, it's time to up them. Always be ready to cycle fats up but never go way too low - our thyroids need fat to function properly, and we can easily burn them out if we keep the fat levels too low.

---Eat 4-5 mini meals (women), or (for men) 6 mini-meals.

---Use EVCO (Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: It kills yeast, bacteria and viruses! It also facilitates weight loss. The processing method to extract the coconut “oil” is important, so do purchase the extra virgin. And cook with extra virgin coconut oil. (It does wonders for skinless, boneless chicken.)

---Watch your sodium. We do need sodium in our diets, and a sprinkling of salt (sea salt, kosher salt, or potassium salt) over our main course (eggs, chicken, turkey, fish) is enough for the day. However, certain foods have very high sodium content - including but not limited to turkey pepperoni, turkey bacon, low-fat chicken broth or bouillion (cubes included), and regular bacon.

---Avoid aspartame completely! It's a terrible health risk, and it also can stall your wt. loss.

---Avoid nitrates. These are primarily found in processed meats, like bacon and deli luncheon meats (cold-cuts).

---Consume more than enough water ever day. 64 oz. a day (eight 8-oz. glasses) is just a bottom line estimate. The more weight one needs to lose, the more clear water one needs to drink every day. A 100 oz. limit, consumed throughout the day, is the minimum amt.

---Don't be afraid to cycle or rotate various low-carb woes or a combo of low-carb/controlled proteins diets (Atkins, Stillman’s, Protein Power, Eat Fat/Get Thin, etc.) This takes some experimentation and careful logging on your part, but that dedication helps you discover how your body reacts to certain foods, fats, protein and carb amounts.