November 30, 2016

A Word About Upcoming Posts

I try to be a voice of sensibility in the vast and overwhelming sea of information regarding low carbohydrate and ketogenic ways of eating. It even says so at the top of my homepage: “A source of sanity in the sea of nutritional madness.” What I know compared to what there is left to learn is like a thimble of water compared to the Pacific Ocean. There’s a lot more—a lot more—I don’t know than what I do know, but I try to share with you the small bits of knowledge I gain as I hang on for dear life while traversing these tumultuous waters. I’ve done it about digestion, cancer, insulin, fuel partitioning, and more. (My Alzheimer’s book has been completely rewritten and updated for a March 2017 release as a print book from a big name publisher, so I’ll continue do it about Alzheimer’s, too.)   

However, I am starting to worry that, due to my penchant for ranting about things that bother me about the low carb and ketogenic communities, I’m developing a reputation for being an angry, hateful, vicious, and vindictive person. I assure you, I am neither angry, nor hateful, nor vicious, nor vindictive. In fact, “in real life,” I am quiet, shy, and, I’d like to think, gentle and kind. Nevertheless, there’s no denying the fact that I do rant a lot. But what can I say? The utter madness being masqueraded as fact in certain spaces provides no shortage of material to rant about. Being a gentle and kind person, I assume the spreading of misinformation occurs as a result of plain ol’ ignorance, rather than deliberate malice and ill intent. Whatever the intent, the end result is that misinformation is being spread, and because of it, people are experiencing setbacks along their roads to better health, fat loss, better blood sugar control, and more.

Why do I care? Well, like I mentioned in my rant post about fasting, as a nutritionist working with clients, I deal with the consequences of what happens when people follow advice that is either straight-up false, or advice that is perfectly appropriate for a certain context, but which is not applicable to their context.

It’s getting old, folks. I’m tired of trying to respond politely to emails from people who are afraid to eat two ounces of carrots in a serving of mixed vegetables, but who think it’s completely normal to put five tablespoons of butter and coconut oil in a cup of coffee. (Or better yet, to drink that 500-calorie coffee in the morning and say they’re “fasting.”) I’m tired of trying to respond politely to emails from grown adults who are restricting themselves to 45 grams of protein a day because they’re afraid that if they eat more than that, they’ll be at less than 80% fat and they’ll mess up their “keto ratios,” and also because the excess protein will be turned immediately into glucose and cause a huge spike in their blood sugar. (No, it won’t. Really, it won’t. Seriously now, it won’t.) I’m tired of trying to respond politely to emails from people who are disappointed and frustrated because they’re not losing weight or are maybe even gaining weight, even though they’re listening to their trusted experts online and are eating more fat – adding lots of extra butter to things, eating fat bombs, and shunning anything that even hints at being lean or low in fat. They’re as afraid of skinless chicken breasts as they are of 64-ounce troughs of Mountain Dew. And I’m tired of trying to respond politely to emails from people who, for whatever reasons—and there are many—are convinced that they must, must be in ketosis at all times. I swear, if I read or hear “I got kicked out of ketosis” one more time…

I am frustrated, and good-hearted people out there trying to follow low carb or ketogenic diets are frustrated, too.

In this spirit, I have a few more rants planned (already written, in fact) about the problematic things I see in the carbohydrate restriction community. But I don’t want to be a one-trick pony. I don’t want to have a reputation as an angry person who only ever posts electronic versions of hissy fits. Nevertheless, now that I’m more active in a few Facebook groups, I am confronted with these problematic things every day, and I feel compelled to address them. Since I don’t want to address them over and over and over again, I am going to post these few rants and then be done with them. (For now. Heaven knows there will always be something else that gets a rise out of me, but I’ll try to keep the ranting to a minimum once these next few posts are out of my system.) And get them out of my system I must. I don’t have children. What I have instead are ideas to write about, and they nag me, metaphorically pulling on my pant leg, until I finally give them they attention they require and see to their care and feeding.

I have three such posts in the hopper. You will know them when you see them. One of them—the last one I’ll post—is a candidate for a spot in my top three longest posts ever (alongside the one about my mother and the one about vitamin J). I thought about breaking it up into three or four separate posts, but I’d rather just get it all out at once and be done with it. Plus, that way, if I ever need to respond to someone on social media, or someone who emails me directly, in regard to some of what that post includes, I can just send them a link and it will all be centrally located.

As for what I’m going to write about after that, I’ll continue with more Low Carb Cooking Class (LC3), and I have not forgotten about the series on the metabolic theory of cancer. I do plan to pick it up again, as we have finally, finally gotten to the point where we can talk about the ketogenic diet and have it make sense. And I have been saying for ages now that I’d like to write something about sodium, and how salt is not something to fear, but that’s going to take a while. Before that, I’m going to post a couple of things that I see a need for, if questions on Twitter and Facebook are any indication: a guide to dining out on a low carb or ketogenic diet, and breakfast ideas for people who either don’t like bacon and eggs, or who are “tired of them.” (Yes, apparently such a thing is possible, though I have yet to witness this rare phenomenon in person.) I’m also contemplating sharing my thoughts on “zero carb” diets, as well as my growing suspicion that a plethora of modern chronic illnesses are driven not just by hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia, which are both, of course, huge issues, but by chronic nutrient insufficiency. The more I learn about the nuances of certain biochemical processes and the modern food supply, the more I appreciate just how robust the human body is, because frankly, I’m actually surprised there aren’t even more very ill people in our midst. That there aren’t is a testament to the ability of the human body to adapt and overcome and keep on truckin’ even when all indicators suggest someone is about to keel over and die at any moment.  

That’s all. Just wanted to warn you let you know what’s in store for the next few posts. After that, I’ll get back to writing things that might be more helpful for people, and I’ll try to keep my anger out of things. (Although I have to say, while I don’t want a reputation for being angry, my sarcasm and snark seem to go over pretty well, and I’m totally okay with being known for that.)  ;-) 

Disclaimer: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician. Links in this post and all others may direct you to, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through my affiliate links.

November 21, 2016

Low Carb Retreat

Calling all introverted low carbers!

Are you intimidated by the mere thought of attending one of the huge, flashy, noisy, low-carb, Paleo, and ketogenic conferences and festivals that are all the rage these days? I remember several years ago, when Jimmy Moore’s Low Carb Cruise was the only event where like-minded low carbers could meet in person, do fun stuff together, and best of all, chow down on low-carb food (and not-so-low-carb food…it is a cruise, after all). Now, however, you can’t shake a stick without hitting an event having something to do with low carb, Paleo, Primal, ketogenic, or ancestral eating.

Just off the top of my head, we have: 

Some of these events are somewhat subdued and more academically focused, while others are basically kombucha keg parties disguised as events about health & fitness. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a good keg party!) Each has its place, and its ideal audience/attendees.

For those of you who prefer something quieter, smaller, and maybe aren’t totally into the Bulletproof-barefoot-orange goggles-six-pack abs-being terrified of Splenda and omega-6-do-you-even-lift-bro, and you wonder if you even really belong to any of the communities where these things reign supreme, I have good news for you!

If that sort of stuff isn’t your speed (lord knows it ain’t mine), but you’d still like to mingle with like-minded people (at least where food is concerned), and do it in a peaceful and beautiful place, where nothing is asked of you but to enjoy nature, take a nap, go hiking or fishing, and eat yummy low carb foods, I’m putting some feelers out for Wendy, a long-time blog reader who has generously offered to organize a low carb weekend retreat near her home in Kemptville, Ontario, just a little south of Ottawa. I’ve haven’t been there, myself (yet), but she assures me it is quite beautiful, and is a great setting for those of you who would enjoy nature walks, kayaking, cycling, or just simply “getting away from it all.”

We would schedule a few sessions throughout the weekend—maybe a couple of talks from yours truly, some group discussions, and a class or two on low-carb cooking and meal planning. (We’re open to other ideas if anyone has any.) Mostly, it would be pretty low-key, with people free to come and go as they please, attend everything or nothing. If all you want to do is take naps in the grass and have someone wake you when it’s time to eat, that can be arranged! (Thinking about doing that, myself, to be honest...)

Anyway, this is all very nebulous right now. This is in the early, early planning stages and at this point we’re just trying to gauge if there’s even an interest for something like this. So if this is something that appeals to you—and if you have ideas for specific things you would like and would not like to be part of the weekend, please contact Wendy directly at (I told her I’ll be happy to attend but am not a good planner and organizer. As I said to her, I make a great Indian but a terrible chief. A bad leader, but a great follower.)  ;-)

Thanks, everyone, and maybe I’ll see you in Canada sometime!

Disclaimer: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician. Links in this post and all others may direct you to, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through my affiliate links.

November 16, 2016

Obesity is (mostly) a Hormonal Issue: Let's Stop Pretending it's Solely About Calories

When doctors or nutritionists see someone with gigantism or acromegaly, is their first thought, “Clearly, that person just needs to grow less and shrink more”? No. Obviously not. Because it is clear—like, crystal clear, beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt, smack-you-upside-the-head clear that these conditions result from hormonal irregularities. You can no more control what results from the hormonal effects of a pituitary tumor hemorrhaging human growth hormone than you can control what results from the hormonal effects of a fourteen year old boy who found a special magazine hidden away in his dad’s nightstand. (Do kids still do that these days, or do they just find it on the interwebz instead?)

People with gigantism or acromegaly aren’t abnormally tall or large because they want to be, or because they somehow willed themselves to be. They are at the mercy of hormones. Like I said, to anyone with half a brain, this is obvious. No one questions this. No one blames these individuals for needing custom-made clothing or other accommodations. No one says, “Well, if they had just not grown so much…if only they hadn’t let themselves get so tall, they wouldn’t be in this situation.” “They'd be fine if they were just less tall and more short. No one says idiotic things like this because people understand that this is not within someone’s control.

So why, then, when it comes to the outward, rather than upward, expansion of the human body, does it all of a sudden become about willpower, discipline, and “calories?” Why is not more widely recognized that the horizontal growth of the body results from hormonal irregularities just as the vertical expansion does?

Why do so few people get this?

November 10, 2016

Attention Data Lovers!

Confession: I am a dinosaur.

I am not tech-savvy, and other than my phone and my computer, I have almost zero electronic gadgets, gizmos, and doohickeys, and cannot for the life of me relate at all to people who line up outside electronics stores the night before a new product is released from their favorite company just so they can be the very first in their family or friend group to get their grubby mitts on the latest and greatest. That I figured out how to create even this sad little blog is nothing short of a miracle. (This is really pathetic, considering I graduated from Carnegie Mellon, which is one of the foremost computer engineering universities in the world. Alas, I studied creative writing there, which is why the writing part of my site is so much better than the aesthetics and functionality.)

BUT: this post is not about me. It’s about you. Specifically, it’s about those of you who are tech savvy, and also those of you who are data junkies.

I am not a data junkie. I don’t have spreadsheets, apps, and wearable devices loaded with numbers and metrics about my body. I don’t own blood or breath ketone meters, nor a heart rate monitor, nor a blood pressure cuff, nor a Fitbit, nor a fancy-schmancy watch that keeps track of running pace. Like I said: di-no-saur.

HOWEVER! I know many of you, dear readers, are not living like it’s 1987 (except my phone and computer are both way smaller now), and you do enjoy employing the technology available to track all sorts of health-related data.

With this in mind, allow me introduce you to Heads Up Health. The people at Heads Up Health have asked me to let you know about the very handy one-stop-shop they’ve created for you to keep track of all your data in one convenient place.

November 7, 2016

The Complete Guide to Ketogenic Diets

I’ve joined the 21st Century and have finally started becoming active on a few Facebook groups dedicated to low-carb and ketogenic diets. Some focus on fat loss and bodybuilding, some are exclusively for discussing the science behind the strategy, and some are geared more toward overall health, with members implementing these types of diets to improve, manage, or reverse conditions like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, PCOS, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, cancer, and more.

Now that I am more active in these groups, I can see why I stayed away for so long. And I’m considering retreating back into my Twitter comfort zone, because if I don’t see the madness and morass of misinformation being propagated on Facebook about ketogenic and low-carb diets, then I can pretend it doesn’t exist. (It’s more difficult to say idiotic and flat-out incorrect things in 140 characters, although it’s certainly possible. [And it happens all the time.])

I realize I am breaking my own rule here and juxtaposing “ketogenic” and “low-carb,” which might give people the impression that these two dietary approaches are exactly the same, and that the words are interchangeable. They are not. However, just for now, I’m using both phrases for the sake of simplicity, since the same inaccuracies abound about both of these.
With this in mind, here is a comprehensive and exhaustive list of everything required in order to implement a ketogenic diet:

  1. Water
  2. Foods that are low in carbohydrate
  3. (Maybe) supplemental electrolytes (specifically, sodium, magnesium, and potassium)

Here is a list of things that are not required in order to implement a ketogenic diet:

  1. A blood ketone meter
  2. A breath ketone meter
  3. Urine ketone test strips
  4. Fasting
  5. MCT oil
  6. MCT powder
  7. Exogenous ketones
  8. Coconut oil
  9. Coconut butter
  10. Erythritol
  11. Flavored stevia drops
  12. Protein powder
  13. 400-calorie cups of “coffee”
  14. Fat bombs

Now, the thing is, there are tips, tricks, “hacks” (even though I loathe that word), and other add-ons that can be beneficial—in certain circumstances. As always, context, context, CONTEXT!  (As the theme song to the old 80’s show Diff’rent Strokes said, “What might be right for you might not be right for some.” But I would reverse that:  what might be right for some other people might not be right for you.)  It all depends on your goals, and WHY you are implementing this type of diet. Is it for fat loss? As an adjuvant to conventional cancer treatments? To reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures? To boost ketones to fuel the brain because of Alzheimer’s or another form of cognitive decline? There might be—might be—a role for some of the more esoteric (and expensive!) substances, supplements, and measuring/tracking devices in some of those cases. And some people can truly benefit from fasting, while fasting could be disastrous for others. But in terms of just getting started and mastering the basics, stick with that first list and stop driving yourself crazy.

Again, just so we’re clear: I’m not saying any of the things in the second list are outright harmful. I don’t think they are, and some of them can, in fact, be quite helpful … in the right #CONTEXT. As I wrote about recently: different goals may necessitate a different strategy.

That’s all for now.
Keep calm and keto on.

Disclaimer: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician. Links in this post and all others may direct you to, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through my affiliate links.

October 26, 2016

Not So ... Fast ... (Part 2)

In part 1 of this rant, I got a little hot-headed about having to explain to people who should not be fasting that fasting is not appropriate for everyone. In this follow-up and continuation, I’d like to say a couple more things because these ideas have been nagging at the back of my mind, and they won’t go away unless I get them out. I don’t think anyone will learn anything from this one, and that’s okay. I rarely use my blog as a plain ol’ brain dump with no educational tidbits whatsoever, but I suppose I’m entitled to that once in a while.

Before I start, let’s clarify something:  if you feel good doing what you’re doing with regard to diet, exercise, fasting, and sleep, then keep doing it. But if you don’t feel good, there might be reasons why you don’t feel good. And my intention in writing about some of them (aside from letting off steam, because this is all starting to really get to me) is to bring attention to the mere possibility—just the chance—that any of this might make sense. Please know that this is wildly speculative. I’m thinking out loud. That’s all. My blog isn’t a doctoral thesis I’m required to stand up and defend against a panel of experts geared up to prove me wrong. It’s just my thoughts and opinions, which, as always, you are welcome to read and ponder, or completely ignore. You can even disagree with me; I ask only that you do so in a civilized, polite way to facilitate discourse like the intelligent adults we are. :-)