February 15, 2017

New Perspectives on Low Carb Diets for Weight Loss

As I wrote about in a recent post, I’ve finally gotten active in a few Facebook groups dedicated to low carb and ketogenic diets. There’s a world of good being done there, and heaps upon heaps of great information being shared—life-changing and life-saving information people aren’t hearing from their doctors. But there’s also a lot—and I mean a lot—of stuff that makes me want to: a) grab people tightly by the upper arms and shake some sense into them (because that’s more humane than ramming them head-first into a brick wall, which is what I’d really like to do in some cases), or b) wrap them in a long, warm hug, and help them feel better about things. I got all my keto-related anger out in the epic end-of-year rant I posted in December, so today, let’s focus on the kinder, gentler side of things.

I am paraphrasing, but here are a few examples of what I routinely read in various FB groups and blog comments:

  1. “I’ve been following a strict ketogenic diet for two months and have only lost 10 pounds. What am I doing wrong?”   
  2. “I’ve been doing strict keto for three months. I’m off my blood pressure medication and have reduced my insulin dose by half. I feel fantastic and have tons of energy, but I haven’t lost any weight. Why isn’t this working for me?” 
  3. “I’m doing a keto diet and I lost four pounds the first week, three the second week, then only two the third week, and now I’m up a pound. What did I do wrong?” 

February 8, 2017

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) -- Roasted Vegetables

Time for another installment of Low Carb Cooking Class!

Today’s lesson is for people who claim they don’t like vegetables.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: despite what has been pounded into your head for pretty much your entire life, vegetables are not actually required in the human diet. They’re just not. I’m sure that is quite shocking to some of you. (What about fiber?! What about feeding your gut bacteria? What about the phytochemicals?! Don’t we need quercetin, resveratrol, curcumin, sulphorophane, and other goodies we get from plants? Well, sure, they might be helpful in certain circumstances, but required? Nope.) There are no essential nutrients—none—that you get from plant foods that you can’t get from animal products. You can, indeed, live on a “zero carb” or animal-only diet. (Kind of like the opposite of veganism.) You don't even need the fiber. In fact, lots of people with IBS and other issues related to impaired digestion of plant material seem to do better on diets low in indigestible fiber. I’m not saying I recommend a zero-carb diet; only that it is, technically, possible. (And not only is it possible, but many people are absolutely thriving on this way of eating, when just about everything else—including regular ol’ low carb and ketogenic diets—did not give them the results they were looking for.) According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, “The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed.” And since fiber is a carbohydrate, zero dietary carbohydrate means zero dietary fiber. But again, I’m not saying a zero carb diet is recommended or optimal; I’m simply noting that you don’t need to force down copious amounts of indigestible plant material if you really, really don't like it.

But for those of you out there who do want to include vegetables in your diet, but maybe aren’t the biggest fan of them, why is this? My guess would be that you grew up in a home where your only exposure to vegetables was via frozen or canned vegetables heated up in a microwave, or fresh vegetables boiled beyond all recognition, with flavor and texture both rendered completely unappetizing. If you don’t like vegetables because you’re accustomed to being served veg that are mushy, soggy, bland, and just plain lifeless, that ends now!

January 24, 2017

Low Carb Cooking Class! -- Roasted Chicken & Veg

Just when you thought my blog was becoming nothing but rants about ketogenic diets…

It’s time for another installment of Low Carb Cooking Class!

We’ve covered lots of ground so far in this series on very simple and easy cooking for low carbers like myself, who want to eat delicious, homemade low carb foods, but who are not about to spend a fortune on almond or coconut flour, erythritol, coconut aminos, and all sorts of other esoteric ingredients that are absolutely not required in order to put a nutritious and yummy low carb meal together. Here’s the territory we’ve visited so far

To be honest, I feel kind of silly writing blog posts that boil down to, “brown ground meat in a skillet with some onions and zucchini, and add some salt.” I mean, really? There are people who don’t know how to cook low carb like this? But maybe there are. And that’s what this series is all about—low carb cooking that is simple, easy, and above all, practical—the kind of cooking you’ll do all throughout the week, on busy nights when your kids have six different activities going on, or you get home from work and you’re ravenous, and you “don’t know what to make for dinner.

I have a nice collection of low carb, ketogenic, and Paleo cookbooks, and I love flipping through them for the food porn (and for ideas…food ideas, not porn ideas, haha), but to be honest, I rarely make any of the dishes in them. I have no kids and no boyfriend, so in preparing food for myself, sometimes dinner is as boring simple as a can of salmon and a raw green pepper. I think we somehow got this idea that every meal has to be the stuff of legends and worthy of being posted on Instagram. (I do not post pictures to Instagram, mostly because I’m a terrible photographer, but also because no one wants to see pictures of a can of salmon and a green pepper.)

So, in the interest of keeping things simple yet delicious, today we’re going to cover something that should be a staple of basic cooking for just about everybody, whether they eat low carb or not. It’s time for roasted chicken!

January 11, 2017

My Top 10 Favorite Posts

I missed my four year blogversary!

My blog has existed since August 2012. I would have celebrated sooner, but August 2016 blew right past me. (Probably because I was mired in a deep and longstanding depression, which I thought I was starting to come out of, but which is actually back in full force and only lifted temporarily.)  As of this writing, there are 242 posts. I don’t think I hit my stride until sometime mid-2013, but there are a couple of gems going back as far as September 2012.

For those of you who found me a few years into my blathering blogging, and since new people stumble upon my blog every week, I thought it would be nice to start the new year by sharing a selection of my personal favorite posts for those of you who have only recently tuned in, as well as for any of you who are wondering what the “must read” posts are. (In my opinion, anyway.) I tried to purge all my low carb and keto-related anger in a few posts prior to the close of 2016 so that I could start 2017 on a more positive note. I can’t promise I won’t post any more rants in the future (I think we can all agree I’m not physically capable of holding it in), but I am going to try to stick to things that are a little more scientific, as well as posting tips and insights that are helpful for following these types of diets in the real world.

With no further ado, here are my top ten favorites, in no particular order, except that the first one is probably nearest and dearest to my heart and resonates with me, personally, the most deeply:

December 28, 2016

Stop Following a Medically Therapeutic Diet "Just 'Cuz" (a.k.a. The Keto Train to CrazyTown)

This is a very long post (even for me). Take it or leave it. You have been warned. Comments have been disabled for this one. Love this post or hate it, agree with some of it, disagree with some of it. Whatever your feelings, you are free to express them elsewhere.  

This will be the last of my emotionally charged posts for a little while. I have to get it out of my system, but once it's out and the new year gets underway, I'll focus on posting things that are more educational and helpful (or intended to be, anyway).

It’s funny. Considering I advertise myself as a low carb and keto-friendly nutritionist, I often find myself recommending that clients eat more carbs. More protein. And that they abandon weighing and measuring every morsel of food and pouring olive oil and melted butter on everything in an effort to arrive at some magical, no-fail, automatic-fat-loss-inducing macronutrient ratio somewhere upward of 75% fat.

I have been threatening promising on social media for a while now that I was going to post an epic rant about some problematic things I see when healthy, fit, active people follow a medically therapeutic diet because they have come to believe they should. (Or worse, have come to believe that they have to, because it’s the only way to be healthy and prevent metabolic illness. 

Now, before I get into things, we’ve got to establish some ground rules:

December 7, 2016

9 Ketogenic Diet Myths

Let me burst your bubble right here at the beginning. This list is for people who are already following a ketogenic diet or are considering beginning one specifically for the purpose of losing body fat. If you’re looking for a nice, solid debunking of other myths about this way of eating (e.g., “All that saturated fat will clog your arteries,” “All that protein is bad for the kidneys,” “You need carbs for energy,” “I learned in medical school four hundred years ago that ketosis is fatal,” and other such nonsense), here are two excellent debunkings: one from Authority Nutrition, and one from my dear friend Ellen Davis, creator of Ketogenic Diet Resource, which is the single best one-stop-shop, gateway entry I'm aware of for all things ketogenic-diet related. (And I'm not just saying that because Ellen's a friend. I'm saying it because it's true. The reason we became friends is because I came across her site a few years ago, and ... well, the rest is history.)

Why do these ideas need to be called out for the myths that they are?

Well, now that I’m participating more in social media related to low-carb and keto, I’m noticing—and I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is only my imagination—that there are a few falsehoods that have become quite pervasive in our community. So pervasive, in fact, that they persist despite being flat-out incorrect. And because they persist, we continue to see post after post after post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and wherever else, from people at their wit's end because they aren’t losing fat, are gaining fat, or have not had every single longstanding malady resolve immediately upon ditching bread and loading up a cup of coffee with butter and coconut oil, or drowning everything in cheese, as others may have promised them would happen.  

If these individuals are lucky, they stumble upon a group where logic, sanity, science, long-term experience, and the attainment of actual results rule (rather than chasing ketones for the sake of high ketones). If they’re not lucky, they fall head-first into groups where the same-old not-helpful advice is parroted ad nauseum.

With this in mind, here is my own personal list of the top 9 biggest falsehoods regarding ketogenic diets for fat loss, along with "alternate versions," intended to help us see things from a different perspective. There are probably many more out there; these are just the ones that came to me first. If you have some favorites that I've missed here, share them in the comments so we can all collectively cringe!