Archive for December, 2010

Another study of low fat vs low carb? Winner = low carb

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Here’s a smaller study that compared overweight women placed on a 1200 calorie diet for 8 weeks and measured the results.  One group was given a low fat diet, the other group a low GI diet (lower carb).

They had about the same weight loss, blood pressure and BMI (fat %), but only the group on the low carb diet improved their markers for better heart health and better liver function.  Meaning the low carb group had additional health benefits that the low fat group did not.  They also concluded that a low-GI diet would be better reommended for overall health vs a low fat diet.

So I guess if you wanted a healthier heart and liver, then low carb is the way to go.  I do wonder however, if the low-GI group were given even a lower carbohydrate diet, say like under 10g of carbs per meal, what would have happened to their weight loss then.

And how come us guys were left out on that study? I would like to see a larger sample size, but applaud their initial efforts.

At any rate, yet another encouraging study showing the benefits of low carb diets.

Low carb fatigue

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Having spent the last 5 months living the low carb lifestyle, I can tell you that the first week or so of starting a low carb diet is indeed the hardest part.  And I recently found a study at the NIH on the effects of a ketogenic diet and fatigue.  And it confirms my own personal experience.  It takes a week or two to get your body used to being in ketosis and eating low carb.

BUT… after that first couple of weeks of acclimating to the low carb diet, your body will regain it’s energy levels.  In other words, there is no measurable loss in energy from eating a low carb diet.  It does NOT cause a loss of energy.  And in my case, my body performs BETTER eating lower carbs.  Now the only exception to this is competitive anaerobic athletes – meaning sprinters and weight lifters.  These folks use up the sugar, required in large amounts for anaerobic activity, to perform at their optimal and should be eating more carbs in general.  But for the rest of us, low carb will provide you all the energy you can handle.

I continually hear that low carb makes people tired.  And I keep saying, yes – for the first week or two that’s true.  But after that you’ll begin to feel better and better.  I know I do.  The longer I go on low carb, the better I feel.  Kinda like when you go from sea level to up in the mountains, it takes a while to get used to breathing at a higher altitude, but your body will adjust.  My friends, family and co-workers all have noticed a significant improvement in my mood and well-being.  Why?  Cause I feel better!!  I have more energy and a better overall mental mood eating low carb.

I think the problem people have is not being consistent with the low carb approach.  And for many people they just mistake certain foods for being low carb when they aren’t.  For example, when I am referring to low carb, I am talking about less than 10g of carbs per MEAL.  So a bowl of oatmeal is not low carb.  And I think what’s causing so many symptoms of low carb fatigue is that people are constantly going back and forth from low carb to high carb.  And they never spend enough time in ketosis and consequently they never get adjusted to being and eating low carb so they abandon the diet, saying it didn’t work them.

A low carb diet WORKS….IF you eat the right foods AND you do it long enough.  You have to give enough time for your body to get used to it.  And that takes at least 2 weeks.  In that time frame, if you keep your meals under 10g of carb each, you will eventually begin to get used to low carb and your body will too.  And I can tell you from personal experience that the longer I eat low carb consistently, the better I feel.

And lastly, I also would suggest adding a bit of raw organic coconut oil (I use Udo’s Oil Blend) for MCT’s (Medium chain triglycerides) which should help with your energy levels during that first week.  MCT’s are quickly and easily used forms of energy for your body and would seem to be ideal with a low carb lifestyle.

Tuna, Merucry Levels and our Health

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

I like tuna.  I still eat it about once or twice a week.  It’s zero carbs.  But I don’t like mercury with my tuna.  That’s for sure.

I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that there is mercury in tuna.  And not really by natural means, but from corporations.  Businesses, like coal fired power plants are still dumping harmful levels of mercury into the atmosphere where it gets into the water.  That’s simply inexcusable.  To take a what would be an otherwise good and healthy food choice and contaminating it with something that’s preventable if the businesses actually cared is crazily mind boggling.  To me, it’s one of the worst problems we have on our planet.  As the population grows, our food supplies need to remain sustainable, renewable and non-toxic if we are to exist.

Here’s an interesting article on it from PBS.  Apparently, in California, they have warnings on tuna, swordfish and shark.   So it’s just not tuna.  That’s why pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat fish.  Because mercury could damage the unborn child.

What to do?  A recent study by Consumer Reports showed that light tuna in general had less mercury (looked like about 5x less on average) than white tuna.  So I’d stick with light.  It’s zero carbs and I feel it has more flavor than albacore anyway.  But there are also other fish, like wild caught salmon, halibut, tilapia, cod, grouper, mahi mah, striped bass, etc.  It’s just that as Americans we eat a lot of tuna and it’s our preferred fish.

You also could start eating more of the other proteins instead, like free range chickens, turkeys, pork, venison, grass-fed beef, duck, etc.

Although I don’t know how much science there is behind the idea that chlorophyll helps to remove heavy metals from the body (via natural chelation), I would suggest that eating a good large serving of dark green leafy vegetables (lots of chlorophyll) is not a bad idea when eating fish.  Greenveggies are a critical part of my low carb diet.

Ketone bodies and the brain?

Monday, December 13th, 2010

I found this interesting video online.  And it’s talking about ketone bodies and using medium chain triglycerides for brain fuel.

Ketones are produced when your body converts fat instead of sugar for fuel.  With a regular American diet, sugar and carbohydrates are the main ingredient.  And so your body just runs on sugar all the time primarily.  But when you deplete your body from sugar / carbohydrates for several days in a row through a low carb / ketogenic diet, your body begins to switch over and burn fat as it’s primary fuel source.  And ketone bodies are produced during ketosis.  Your brain then uses those ketones for fuel (as well as excrete them through urine).

So they were suggesting (and obviously more studies would be needed) that you can readily increase your ketone bodies by taking 20g or more of MCT (medium chain triglycerides).  This would be a couple of tablespoons worth.  And they went on to suggest taking coconut oil for the medium chain triglycerides as the source.

For me, I like how I feel mentally when I am in ketosis.  Things seem clearer, I get more work done, there is less fogginess.  And so I use a low carb diet not only for weight loss, but because I like the clarity.  I haven’t tried coconut oil lately (I don’t care too much for the taste), although there are medium chain triglycerides in the Udo’s oil blend I take.  But perhaps I’ll start with a teaspoon and see if I notice anything.

Now I wonder if supplementing with a little coconut oil during the first week of starting a low carb diet and transitioning into ketosis would help alleviate some of the difficulty some people have when first starting.  I have noticed that personally.  But after the first week to ten days, things start just getting better and better as my body gets used to being ketosis.