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.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Weather and Your Weight


Or stall-gains (as one smart lady on a low-carb board once phrased it). Stall-gains can do a real number on your mindset, as I can personally attest. A stall-gain means that, despite your best efforts at low-carbing and exercise, there is no progress on the scale except an upward trend and little or no progress with inches lost, either.

Whatever one calls it, it’s the bane of low-carbing. For that matter, it's the bane of any healthy eating style in which one aims to improve that health and get a little bit (or a lot of bit!) trimmer. But it is never an excuse to give up!

The definition of a bona fide stall or plateau means no loss in both weight and inches for at least 4 consecutive weeks or longer. (We can “halt” or even increase on the scale, while building up LBM – Lean Body Mass - while at the same time we’re losing inches! That doesn't qualify as a plateau or stall; it would qualify for what I call an "exercise gain," but that's a good thing.)

A halt is just what it seems to be: a temporary "halt" of progress on the scale, usually just a matter of days. Those are nothing to worry about!

When nothing else works to break the true and dreaded plateau, there are other matters to research (but that’s a topic for a future article). If it's not the diet or medication or supplements or exercise, the "trouble" could be something I've not yet found seriously addressed in any of the popular low carb resources: the weather.

Based on my personal experience, as well as observing what is happening to most low-carbers during the winter months, I offer the humble opinion that we either slow down or completely halt if we live where ever there is true winter (snow, ice, freezing rain). The halts and the true plateaus inevitably hit everyone at least once when the inclement weather starts. The “stall-gains” seem to be a matter of adding insult to injury.

In reality, however, there’s no insult and no injury done – as long as we’re sticking to the plan. All of the other benefits we’ve already experienced are still consider it a rest-stop on the low-carb journey. (You may have no choice on how long that rest lasts; your only choice is to stay on plan and wait!)

Btw: On this topic, I am not taking "cheats" into consideration. Cheats, by their very name and nature, explain gains and stalls. However, as a member of various low-carb boards, I’ve observed that there is more inclination to veer off the low-carb plan during the winter.

But why?

It's not only due to boredom, though that's often the case. Suddenly, there are more questions about “falling out of ketosis” or concerns about suddenly increased appetite. We may find ourselves actually wanting more protein, or more fat, or (egads!) more carbs – with the latter being the worst culprit to immediate wt. gain.

It very well may be an instinctual thing to suddenly want to eat more once the winter weather hits. Even though resisting that desire, as I do, the plateaus or bounces (“stall-gains”) may continue.

After literally trying every trick in the low-carb book(s), my conclusion is that the metabolism puts the winter survival mechanism into high gear. That means the metabolism adjusts to keep the fat on the ole bod, in order to help us survive the winter.

Again, that's only a theory (mine) and it’s one I cannot prove, since I don't have low-carb volunteers or a lab at my disposal. Yet it's as good a theory as any.

So what to do?

Stick with it anyway! Using an old maxim but giving it a low-carb spin: We have everything to gain and nothing to lose if we abandon the low carb lifestyle. When we go off plan, we'll very easily gain weight within a day or two (and we’ll keep gaining if we continue veering off the low carb path). We’ll also gain the high blood pressure, the lack of energy, the headaches, the bloated, upset tummies, the GERDS, the over-all “blahs,” etc., etc., etc.!

In other words: When we go off plan, we'll lose every benefit for which we worked all the months before!

Conclusion: It's simply not worth it!

The winter must end eventually...and I choose to greet spring at the same constant wt. (or very close to it) rather than with a substantial regain, not to mention lack of self-esteem, energy that goes with it!

It might be darned hard to wait all these months to break a plateau or see any losses that stick, but I'll be darned if I'm going to give up the race now when I've made 2/3 of the journey!

Not only that, I figure the Whoosh Fairy will have a lot of lost time for which she must make amends. After all, she has not kept to her part of the bargain! (And I fully intend to see she does!) :>

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mind over Matter

It's funny how various things pull themselves together in one's mind, steering one to a particular course of action.

A few positive or negative remarks, the course of the weather, how matters are going at home or work, a certain tune on the radio, the scent of the air that promises something good...all these things, and more, possess the ability to affect our mindset.

Notice I said "possess the ability;" I didn't say they always did affect our mindset.

In the past few weeks, I've been receiving many nice compliments. It's amazing, actually. But that is not what suddenly rejuvenated me. I've been low-carbing since May (after many attempts for the past 10 years!) and never have I had such success.

What motivates me is my mind, which affects the will. Late last winter, I reached a point - a rather low one actually - when I said to Self, "That's it. No more. No more sickness, no more pain, no more inability to even walk through my own house, no more frustration, no more humiliation. I don't care what it takes, but I am going to get better!"

That was my first goal - just getting better. But with that goal was its twin - losing the weight which has piled on, not without notice, and which always had its way with me. I can't relate with those who say the weight piled on and they didn't notice; nor can I relate with those who say they can't control themselves. Self-control was not my problem.

The problem is that I have hyperinsulinemia. As far as I can tell, I've likely had it since entering puberty (which is when I went from slim to slightly chubby to chubby). That was in the 1970's, and who knew of hyperinsulemia then? Even today, hyperinsulinemia is not well-acknowledged, even among health care professionals. In my experience, those who do acknowledge it either say "Fine, try low carb" but they offer no real support or advice or they say one can't actually live the low-carb lifestyle.

Wanna bet?

My low-carb journey began in January 1997, when I came across Dr. Robert Atkin's book, The "New" Diet Revolution. Its opening paragraphs were a revelation to me; the questions he asked (and the answers he provided) were directed at me. Here was a doctor who believed me when I stated I didn't binge, overeat, or otherwise overly indulge in food.

So I began low-carbing. I dropped 15 lbs. in 3 weeks, and then discovered I was expecting. End of low-carbing - for then, anyway.

I tried low-carbing again many times, and I was always determined. Something "bad" always happened to stop me, usually illness. What was wrong with me? Fibromyalgia, for starters. "Mild" lupus, as a specialist diagnosed it ("mild" meaning no renal involvement so far). Chronic bronchitis and asthma, resulting in bouts of pneumonia almost every winter. Symptoms of osteo-arthritis but nothing definitely showed with blood tests. Yet arthritis or the fibro explained the increasing pain in my neck and lower back. My children were still young (from teen to new-born) and, with my husband's grueling work hours, I had no free time for regular exercise. What I didn't know then was that "normal" exercise didn't help.

Docs say push thru the pain and exercise by bicycling, walking, resistance training, and cardio. Yes, I tried it all - and it only made my pain worse.

About a year ago, I finally managed to talk my doctor into ordering an MRI. It diagnosed two herniated disks, with a third one ready to go, and narrowing of the "horse's tail" (the main nerves in the lower back which "trunk" into a "Y" shape, down into the legs.) My doctor's recommendation? "There's a wheelchair in your future...I'd say within 5 years."

That did it. Due to the excruciating pain in my lower back, I was already leaning heavily on a cane. Standing upright was impossible. A bona fide walk of any kind was out of the question; it caused too much pain. There were occasions before and after that diagnosis in which I was forced to use a wheelchair. But I was not going to live like that if I could help it!

It took a few months to find what to do, because trouble always comes in pairs or trios. My mom's health took a turn for the worse; after that two-month emergency, my symptoms became worse. Stress does that to fibromyalgics. It took a few months to recover, both in mind and body. I hit rock-bottom and the only way to go was even further down or work my way out of that black hole of illness and pain.

I chose to go up.

The answer, as I discovered, was not just correct low-carb nutrition, but "cycling" carbs, fats and proteins - along with various natural supplements and water exercise. I don't mean aerobics; I mean gentle stretching and strengthening, like the movements one learns in drama class (called "movement") or ballet. In the water.

Water movement ("exercises") gave me what I consider a miracle. When in the water, I am always moving, always stretching, always conditioning. I don't do an imitation of a talking buoy; I don't jump around, trying to increase my heart rate. The first thing are the stretching and strengthening movements. That's my key to lessening and finally eradicating the pain from fibromyalgia.

The winter is not kind to fibromyalgics and arthritics, because the fluctuating barometer increases inflammation. For me, that means pain, outright water retention and "weight gain," which is not fat but all water. Living in a cold weather state makes it difficult to get into a pool every day, even if one has a local community center. Mine isn't that local; it's a 30 minute drive, both ways. Add to that the time in the pool (1.5 hours, every other day), shower time, complete drying time (otherwise I'll get very sick), and we're talking 4 hours given to "water therapy" - but it more than worth the time!

There were days this winter I simply couldn't make it to the center. Eventually, the bad weather turned those days into weeks...and gradually, the pain, stiffness, and other distressing fibromyalgia symptoms returned. Fortunately, my mind was prodding me - I simply had to get moving in the water again. I had to make the time. It was either that or...well, I decided months ago that the alternative is not an option.

Then spring left its calling card yesterday....the lovely scents on the air and higher temperature of the air allured. I thought of the coming summer, about how far I've come, and how much I want to keep the benfits I have...and keep increasing the benefits, too.

It really is a situation of "mind over matter." The first thing we must make our own is the right mental attitude. Despite setbacks, whatever they may be, never give in and never give up!

So I returned to my Water Workout last night...and I think I'll start using the indoor track or the treadmill on other days. If I can't get to the center every day, then at home I'll do gentle Callanetics and light resistance bands.

Something has to give, and it's not going to be ME!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tweaking the Low Carb Lifestyle

I'm a tweaker. Yep, I'm (semi) famous for tweaking my low-carb menus. It's a long story, but the bottom line is that, last summer, I discovered "cycling" the grams of carbs, fats and proteins usually helps.

At the moment, I am tweaking on a day-by-day schedule. I used to tweak week by week, but I think (like everything else) the metabolism catches on. Halts, stalls, long-lasting plateaus - they are reality but they are not the reason to abandon the low-carb lifestyle.

After all these months, I realize the battle first must take place in my mind - after that, the "diet" is the easy part! I have no problem sticking with lc or doing what I have to do, as long as it works. These long stalls (plateaus, actually) are a heavy weight (no pun intended) to the mind, but we can never forget the other benefits which low-carbing provides.

Yes, we all fall for the number on the scale to "measure" our success. But what about ALL the other benefits? These are the gifts that low-carbing and water calisthenics have done for me, and I must never forget them:

---Normal blood pressure (no more medication)
---Increased agility (thanks to water exercise)
---Increased energy (ditto)
---Complete disappearance of GERDs (again, no more medication!)
---Decreased pain of fibromyalgia, arthritis, and lupus (as long as I keep up with my water workouts)
---No more need for a cane (after 2 years of using it for short-distance walking, when not using a wheelchair for any kind of longer-term outings)
---Inches, inches, inches off - everywhere!
---Fantastic drop in clothing sizes!
---Increased confidence (and this is just as important)

As for a lower number on the scale, something is working (for now, anyway), since I lost 4.8 lbs. since last Thursday! I tweaked every single day since last Thursday, and now I'm trying to figure out the pattern. The best guess is that I had one day (Saturday) of higher "fats and proteins" to bring up the totals to a maintenance caloric level (which was way too easy to accomplish), but the other days were fairly low carb. Btw, I did maintain on Sunday after the higher fat-higher protein Sat. menu.

Here's what my numbers were for the past 4 days (with all carb grams total, not net):

Thursday: Cals 1525, fat-carb-protein grams: 80-17-157
(Dropped 1.2 lbs. the next day)

Friday: Cals 1617, fat-carb-protein grams: 93-98-76
(Dropped 1.8 lbs. the next day)

Saturday: Cals 2289, fat-carb-protein grams: 163-49-148
(Maintained the next day)

Sunday: Cals 1708, fat-carb-protein grams: 97-46-143
(Dropped 2 lbs. today)

I have a theory about lack of progress (on the scale), especially during the winter months. But more about that in a future post...