February 10, 2016

Book Review: The KetoDiet Cookbook

Fact: I’m a pretty boring cook. I generally keep things really simple in the kitchen. Lots of ground beef, baked sausages, steamed or roasted vegetables, meat & vegetable quiches, and lots & lots of canned seafood. This works for me. I’m single and I live alone. No picky kids to feed, no spouse or significant other who turns his nose up at leftovers. I could eat the same things three days in a row and be perfectly content.

It’s pretty funny, then, that I have a sizeable cookbook collection. What can I say? Just because I tend to stick to a relatively small culinary repertoire doesn’t mean I don’t like reading new recipes and, even more, looking at drool-worthy pictures of delicious food. (Yes, I’m a “food-porn” junkie, whether it’s LCHF or not.) I don’t often follow recipes step-by-step. If I’m making something for the first time, then yes, I stick to the recipe as written. But once I’ve made something a time or two, I tend to alter things a bit and make it my own. This is one of the best things about cookbooks, for me: inspiration. Above anything, cookbooks give me ideas for new things to try. New flavor combinations, new cooking techniques, ways to cook vegetables I see at the farmers’ market and have no idea what to do with. (Celery root and sunchokes, anyone?)

BUT: Even though I don’t use cookbooks as my roadmap in the kitchen every day, I know lots of you out there are always on the lookout for trustworthy low-carb, keto, and/or Paleo/Primal recipes. And with the exploding popularity of these dietary strategies, there is a corresponding explosion of cookbooks popping up online and in brick-and-mortar stores. I reviewed Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich’s The Ketogenic Cookbook a few months ago, and today, I’d like to share another keto winner with you. It’s The KetoDiet Cookbook, by Martina Slajerova, who is the brilliant woman behind the KetoDiet App, and she also has a great blog with tons of amazing recipes and down-to-earth info about keto diets in general.

I get emails from people interested in LCHF and ketogenic meal plans. This isn’t something I’m keen on creating, but since I know there’s such a high demand out there for good recipes for people who don’t want to just brown some ground beef in a skillet, add some hot sauce, roast some cauliflower, and call it good, I’m happy to have books like this to recommend.

February 2, 2016

Being Fat Adapted Versus "In Ketosis" (a.k.a. Don't be a Ketard) Pt.3/3

Now that the issues of fat adaptation and fat loss versus ketosis—or the lack thereof—have been clarified, let’s move on to a related issue that drives me crazy: newbie low-carbers freaking out if they eat something that not only takes away that beloved purple, but—gasp!—causes the scale to go up a few pounds.

When a low-carber who doesn’t understand some basics about human physiology gains weight after indulging in a pile of something sweet or starchy, they go absolutely apoplectic. Not knowing any better, they step on the scale the next day, see that their weight has gone up a few pounds, and they Just. Freak. Out. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people post to forums and message boards either in tears or in a raging anger, because they ate a donut, or a bagel, or two slices of pizza, and gained, say, four pounds the next day. They then fall into thinking that their body is so fundamentally carbohydrate intolerant that after indulging in one carbohydrate-laden meal, they gained, overnight, four pounds of fat. (Never mind that the total weight of the amount of food they consumed for the entire day probably didn't even weigh four pounds, let alone that one bit of carb splurge, so I don't see any logic to how they think this works, but I digress.)

I’m not really sure how to talk about this without expressing grave concern over these well-intentioned folks’ ignorance as to the inner workings of their own bodies. (And by “expressing grave concern,” I mean, “shaking my head at the utter lunacy out there.”)

Time for a quick lesson in glycogen storage. 

January 25, 2016

Being Fat Adapted Versus "In Ketosis" (a.k.a. Don't be a Ketard) Pt.2/3

In the previous post, we established the difference between fat adaptation and ketosis. Now, let’s revisit the “got kicked out of ketosis” thing. 

People new to low-carbing—and also people not-so-new, but who just don’t understand how this all works—will utter that dreaded phrase when they pee on a ketostick and don’t see their beloved dark purple, or—gasp!—not even a little pink. No color change at all. They will then assume that whatever they ate sometime prior to testing “kicked them out of ketosis,” and they will summarily cross that food item off their menu forever, banishing it to their ever-growing list of forbidden foods. (They will also spread tales of woe on forums far and wide, thereby terrifying other newbie low-carbers into avoiding these foods as well.)

But here’s the thing: ketostix are fickle things. Elevated ketones in the blood, urine, and breath, are fickle things. What else was going on before testing? Was this person very acutely stressed? Did they do an intense workout? Both of these can cause a temporary rise in blood glucose (albeit a smallish one), which might trigger a temporary rise in insulin, which could put a temporary stop to ketosis. Temporary. Note: it will not put a stop to being fat-adapted; only to having excess acetoacetate in the urine or elevated beta-hydroxybutyrate in the blood at that particular moment in time.

January 21, 2016

Being Fat Adapted Versus "In Ketosis" (a.k.a. Don't be a Ketard) Pt.1/3

“I got kicked out of ketosis.”

If I never hear or read those six words, in that order, ever again, I’ll be one happy individual.

Based on what I come across on low-carb forums, blogs, and videos, there is a lot of confusion about the correct use of urine ketone test strips (which I’ll sometimes refer to as ketostix, since “ketone test strips” is a mouthful, even when you’re only reading). So allow me to ‘splain a little bit about how to interpret these things, and what role they should play—if any—in your low-carb life.

First and foremost is the most important thing you will read in today’s post. (And it is so important that I will likely repeat it in all the posts to follow in this little series. Plus, you can tell it’s important because it’s red, bold, in italics, and all caps, hehheh.)

You can be in ketosis and not lose body fat, 
and you can lose body fat without being in ketosis.

January 13, 2016

Chronic Constipation (a.k.a. The Poop Post!)

Since I write a lot about nutrition and health, I mostly talk about what we put into our bodies: food, beverages, supplements, etc. Today, let’s change gears a bit and talk about what comes out of our bodies. Or, rather, what doesn’t come out. Yes, that’s right: we’re talkin’ chronic constipation. It’s the poop post!

Well, not really all the poop. Just constipation. It is beyond the scope of one lil’ post to cover all the details of what does or does not happen in the small and large intestines (and the gallbladder!) that could result in diarrhea, gas and bloating, steatorrhea (“fatty stools,” a.k.a. science-speak for oily poop), black or tar-colored stool, or even clay-colored/whitish stool. (Yikes!) If you want to learn more about different kinds of stool and what they mean, start with the Bristol stool chart. You can find modified versions of it in two of my favorite health books: Paul Chek’s How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy, and Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo, in which she paid homage to Chek’s version, which was the inspiration for her own.

We’re going to leave all the other poop stuff aside and just talk constipation. I have to assume that if you’re reading this, you experience chronic constipation or want to help someone who does. So there’s no point in me going on about diarrhea or “ideal stools” anyway. If you had either of those, you wouldn’t be wasting your time with this blog post. Unless, of course, you just enjoy my writing and would read anything I write (in which case, thanks! [And you obviously have good taste]), OR, you have an odd fascination with difficult defecation, even when you, yourself, don’t experience it (in which case…well, perhaps I’m not the blogger for you; there are lots of other people who specialize in freaky fetishes, hehheh).

January 8, 2016

Food for Thought Friday: Rickety, or Robust?

I have bad news, everyone: we’re going to get old.

All of us. Every single one of us.

If we’re lucky, that is.

If God, or nature, or the universe, or whatever, sees fit to let us ripen to an old, old age, it will no doubt be a bumpy ride. Predictable and unpredictable ups & downs and trials & tribulations await us. As a dear friend’s grandmother used to say, “It’s hell to get old, but the alternative isn’t any better.” (Getting old really is a privilege. Not everyone is so fortunate.) (Aside, to MW: I don’t know if you still read my blog or not, but if you do, it was your grandmother, HC, who said that.)

If we’re also lucky, we will retain most of our physical and mental/cognitive capacities well into old age. Some of these will inevitably decline—the physical more so than the mental/cognitive. And if we do start to experience cognitive decline, guess what? Alzheimer’s is the result of "REVERSIBLE metabolic syndromes." And for once, that’s not me saying so, but rather, the MD who knows it’s reversible, because he’s done it. But I digress…

It’s just not reasonable that an eighty-year-old will have the same strength and speed they had in their younger years, even for individuals who devote a significant amount of time and effort toward preserving strength and mobility as they age. We can slow the loss of muscle mass and muscle strength, but we cannot stop them completely.