July 25, 2016

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) - Kitchen Prep

Class is in session!

Welcome to the second installment of Low Carb Cooking Class, a.k.a. LC3.

As I explained in the intro post, we’re starting things off with what is probably the most important lesson: how to stock your kitchen so that you can have delicious low carb meals ready quickly and with no need for advance planning. I realize that, as a single and childless individual, my notions of how simple it is to prepare food is approximately seventeen million lightyears away from what moms and/or dads of large families experience. That being said, I still have never understood some people’s certainty that they are incapable of sticking to a certain type of diet—be it Paleo, low-carb, keto, or anything else—without a “meal plan.” Even the phrase “meal plan” makes me cringe. It’s as bad as nails on a chalkboard for me.

I refuse to do meal plans for clients. I’m sorry, but you are a grown adult and I am not going to tell you what to have for lunch three Tuesdays from now. What I will do, and love to do, is show people how easy it is to stay low carb without a meal plan. (As they say, instead of cooking a fish for someone, I prefer to teach them to fish.) When you have a basic understanding of what to cook and how to cook it, you don’t need an instruction manual. (I did say this isn’t rocket science, yes?)

BUT: The thing is, even if you know what to cook and how to cook it, you can’t cook it if you don’t have it. So that’s what today’s post is about: what to keep on hand in your kitchen so that, when it’s mealtime and the house (or your life in general) is in chaos, the one thing you won’t have to stress over is what to make for dinner. (Or breakfast or lunch.)

July 18, 2016

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) - Intro

Whaddup, y’all?

I tweeted this not long ago:

If the unexpectedly large response to my tweet is any indication, there are a lot of people out there who want some super simple and quick low carb meals that can be put together in minutes. I have to say, I was surprised by the response. I guess I’ve been at this long enough that it’s never a struggle for me to prepare something to eat, and I don’t rack my brain trying to figure out how the odd mish-mash of things in my fridge and pantry can be turned into a meal that someone—me, usually, but on occasion, other people, too—would consider palatable and actually want to eat.

I take it for granted that everyone thinks cooking is as easy as I do. I’m no Michelin-starred chef, but I’ve been feeding myself for over three decades now, and I’m still here. (I’ll let you decide whether or not this is a good thing.) I don’t create dazzling, four-course gourmet meals every night (or ever, pretty much), but I can usually whip up a tasty low carb meal by grabbing a bit of this, a little of that, and a bunch of that other thing over there.

And that’s really the issue, folks: whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a crowd, not every meal you prepare has to be the stuff of legends. You and I are not Iron Chefs, and we are not aiming to “beat Bobby Flay.” (Apologies to my overseas readers if you’re not familiar with the Food Network or the Cooking Channel in the U.S.) We do not have to jazz everything up with some fancy-schmancy roasted jalapeƱo & garlic aioli, or create a sweet & sour gastrique to impress the people gathered around the table. With a couple of good pots & pans, a baking sheet, and a well-stocked pantry, fridge, and freezer, low carb cooking is a breeze. Most cooking is a breeze. Really, it’s much simpler than you might think it is.

With this in mind, I am starting this “Low Carb Cooking Class” series, or, as I like to think of it: LC3.

July 13, 2016

I Love You. Now *You* Love You, Too. (a.k.a. Everyone Okay Out There?)

Hey everyone,

Today’s post is a slight departure from my usual offerings. It’s not about insulin, or cancer, stubborn fat loss, or junkfood masquerading as health food. Oh, no. It’s much, much more important than any of that. It has a little something to do with diet, nutrients, supplements, and other stuff you (maybe) come to my blog for. But it’s mostly about something else, and that’s totally cool, because it’s my blog, and that means I get to write about whatever I want. I do like to keep my readers happy, but I also have to follow my heart and write and share what speaks to me. And right now, something is telling me to write this. (Actually, no. Telling? More like compelling.) Something powerful that I don’t want to ignore, even though part of me is saying this is stupid and humiliating and I shouldn’t bother. I have one thing to say to that demon inside my brain: SHUT UP! I’M PUTTING THIS OUT THERE WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!

Also, there’s that saying, “You don’t regret the things you do; you regret the things you don’t do.” So with that in mind, I don’t want this to become a regret because I didn’t post it.

Before we proceed, though, I must direct you more emphatically than ever to an excerpt from the disclaimer that appears at the bottom of my posts: 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.

Okay. Now that you can’t sue me, here goes.

July 6, 2016

Book Review: Sweet & Savory Fat Bombs

Like I said in the title of my review of this book on Amazon, Martina Slajerova has outdone herself! Her first book, The KetoDiet Cookbook (which I reviewed on the blog a while back) is a great addition to any low-carb kitchen, but with Sweet and Savory Fat Bombs, she’s knocked it out of the park. I’m not kidding, kids. This one’s a keeper!

(Before I go on, in the interest of full disclosure: I received a courtesy copy of this book. Take that for what you will.)

Whether you prefer sweet or salty, chocolatey or fruity, this book delivers. Even if you have a nut allergy or dairy sensitivity, there are plenty of delicious fat bombs here for you to enjoy. It goes way beyond the usual fat bomb recipes: peanut butter, chocolate, coconut. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those!) There’s orange creamsicle, dulce de leche, green tea & lemon, gingerbread, pistachio, strawberry basil. A huge variety of out-of-the-ordinary flavors and textures to keep you going back to this book again and again.

June 14, 2016

Metabolic Theory of Cancer: Speculation on the Causes of Cancer -- and How to Mitigate Them (Pt.5B)


I left off last time saying that we have two big issues to address with regard to hypoxia as a cause or exacerbating factor in cancer: 
  1. What causes tissue to become hypoxic?
  2. Is there a role for hyperbaric oxygen therapy in fighting cancer?

Let’s tackle them in order.

To be honest with you, I still don’t know which comes first: low oxygen, or mitochondrial dysfunction. The fact is, even when there’s plenty of oxygen available, if the mitochondria are malfunctioning, they can’t use it. But what if what’s causing the mitochondria to malfunction is insufficient oxygen? (I told you last time this stuff is complicated!)

It almost doesn’t matter, right? The bottom line is, whether the tissue is hypoxic or not, the mitochondria are not using whatever oxygen might be present. (Well, they’re using some of it. Remember, kids, when it comes to biology and biochemistry, there are very rarely any absolutes, yes or no, on or off. Things aren't binary, but rather, there's a balancing act. Even cancer cells have some mitochondria that are okay; it’s just that the majority of them are messed up.)

I just have a hard time wrapping my head around it all. Think about angiogenesis: the creation of blood vessels specifically so that the cancerous tissue ensures it has a steady supply of fuel and nutrients. But what does blood carry besides fuel and nutrients? OXYGEN. So you would think that angiogenesis would give cancer cells more oxygen, not less. So going one step further, this being the case, it seems like the mitochondrial dysfunction comes first, because theoretically, there should be sufficient oxygen delivery to the cancer cells, what with all those blood vessels they created for their own nefarious purposes. So there is sufficient oxygen (“normoxia”), yet we have hypoxia-inducible factors out the yin-yang upregulating all sorts of nasty pathways and reactions in these cells to keep themselves alive because they think they’re hypoxic. And the reason they think they’re hypoxic is because the mitochondria aren’t using the oxygen. (That’s my logic, anyway. I told you there was going to be a lot of wild speculation here, and so it begins.)

June 1, 2016

Metabolic Theory of Cancer: Speculation on the Causes of Cancer -- and How to Mitigate Them (Pt.5A)

Graphic adapted from Seyfried et al., 2015

OH. EM. GEE!!!!!

It’s baaa-aaaaack!

Today is June 1, 2016. Looking back through the blog archives, I saw that the previous post in this series on the metabolic theory of cancer was published on June 1, 2015. Yes, kids, it’s been a year. A full year! An entire year to the day. If you have been waiting and waiting (and waiting!) for me to get back to this and address some key concepts we haven’t gotten to yet, believe me, nobody wanted me to get back to this more than I did. I absolutely did not plan on it taking a year. But alas. Hopefully, in that time, you’ve learned a thing or two about insulin, stubborn fat loss, and the use of ketogenic diets for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions. In fact, I am in the process of adding a new installment to the “ITIS/It’s the Insulin, Stupid” series, but when I saw that I was coming up on the one-year anniversary of neglecting the cancer series, I knew I had to get my rear in gear and just DO IT. I really wanted to do the insulin post first, but considering the date, I thought it would be apropos for me to do this one instead.

Also, just to let you know, since the writing of that last post, I have had the honor of meeting Drs. Seyfried, D’Agostino, and Poff in person. {Squee!!}  I also got to meet Dr. Cunnane, Dr. Newport, Dr. Rho, and Dr. Maffetone. Holy moly…it was a nonstop conference of metabolism rock stars.

I am most definitely going to get to the mamma-jamma, granddaddy of all topics we’ve been waiting for in this cancer series—the ketogenic diet—but please be patient. I’ve very recently had more work stuff come up (in a good way), and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I will write about ketosis. I can’t promise when, exactly, that will happen, but I promise it won’t take a year. (Maybe just a couple weeks, considering I’m already working on it.)  ;-)

If you’re new to my blog and have no idea what’s going on right now, the series I’ve written on the metabolic theory of cancer is a “fan favorite” – at least, among the people who like to geek out on the science with me. The cancer series is representative of when my blog becomes a free course in (very basic) biochemistry and physiology, and is peppered with links and quotes from the scientific literature. If you prefer my rants, shakedowns of food labels, and other casual-type posts, no prob! Whatever floats your boat. But for those of you who need to kill lots of time at your desk job, or who perhaps need help falling asleep, you might want to start way back at the beginning and work your way toward today’s post. (Actually, that’s sarcasm. The truth is, I think this stuff is fascinating, and perhaps some of my best work. I swear, that hexokinase 2 stuff STILL blows my mind.)

Since it has been a year (!!) since the last installment, I’ll make it easy for you and list all the posts in order, from first to most recent: 
  1. Introduction
  2. Cells Behaving Badly
  3. Cellular Energy Generation 1 - Glycolysis
  4. Cellular Energy Generation 2 - Mighty Mitochondria (Krebs Cycle, Electron Transport Chain)
  5. Mitochondrial Dysfunction 1
  6. Mitochondrial Dysfunction 2 - They ARE Broken
  7. Glycolysis Run Amok & Mutant Hexokinase
  8. Aerobic Fermentation (a.k.a. "The Warburg Effect")
  9. Cancer Cells are Sugar Junkies
  10. Mutations vs. Mitochondria
  11. Cancer as a Protective Mechanism
  12. Speculation on the Causes of Cancer (Pt.1)
  13. Video Lesson! (Thomas Seyfried, PhD)
  14. Speculation on the Causes of Cancer -- and How to Mitigate Risk (Pt.2)

Buckle up and hang on tight, everyone. HERE WE GO!