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! 

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 amazon.com, 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 wendy@celticrathskallions.ca. (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 amazon.com, 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?