Thursday, August 31, 2006

Magnificent Magnesium.

One of the things I have tried to wrap my mind around is the link between whole grains and lower level of insulin resistance. Time after time, when studies compare whole grains like steal cut oats and legumes, to reduced carb diets, the whole grain and legume diet generally fares as well or better in reducing signs and symptoms of insulin resistance. We often hear that all carbs are converted in to sugar, and this is more or less true. With the advent of the glycemic index, we now know that some sources of carbohydrate convert faster than others. These same sources of slow carbs also tend to be very high in magnesium. "So what", you say. Well, magnesium is involved in many aspects of carbohydrates metabolism. How convenient. Now here is where it gets interesting to me. Magnesium uptake and usage is influenced by calcium and B vitamins. So lets put together a meal that would be high in Mg, with adequate calcium and Vitamin B; Steak, spinach and white bean salad, a real - whole grain sour dough roll, and a glass of milk. A meal even a mother could love. Hmmmmmmm, it's the four basic food groups that we all grew up with. (at least if your my age or older) Perhaps there's a reason there were a lot less fat kids back then.

Rich sources of magnesium include tofu, legumes, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, wheat bran, Brazil nuts, soybean flour, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, pumpkin and squash seeds, pine nuts, and black walnuts. Other good dietary sources of this mineral include peanuts, whole wheat flour, oat flour, beet greens, spinach, pistachio nuts, shredded wheat, bran cereals, oatmeal, bananas, and baked potatoes (with skin), chocolate, and cocoa powder. Many herbs, spices, and seaweeds supply magnesium, such as agar seaweed, coriander, dill weed, celery seed, sage, dried mustard, basil, cocoa powder, fennel seed, savory, cumin seed, tarragon, marjoram, poppy seed.
For full run down please visit:

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why ?

WHY DO WE GET FAT?? This is a very different question than How do we get fat. How we get fat is pretty straight forward. With few exceptions, we get fat from eating too much. So Why is it we get fat? Now we want to blame the media, the food industry, the nasty sugar mongering advertisers, the government and pretty much every one but ourselves. But so far, I have yet to meet anyone who was force fed. Nobody picked up the little Debbie snack cake, pulled a revolver and said eat this or else. Nope, the simple fact is we did this to ourselves. The real question is, why? I was not a fat child, nor was I a skinny child. For the majority of my life I was a medium size person. I allowed my self to become fat, and knew that I was gaining weight while it was happening and chose to do nothing about it. Buying bigger size pants is a pretty good clue!. The thing that astonishes me the most now, is that for some reason I just accepted this as normal. After all, all of my older relatives were overweight, and some diabetic. I had learned from my family that becoming fat as I got older was not only ok, it was to be expected. Oh, how my elder would love to sit around and talk about their latest medications, and trips to the doctor. They would even smile, and with a certain pride tell me "someday, all this will be yours". At the age of 35 I was told I had High cholesterol, High Triglycerides, High Fasting Blood Sugar, High Blood Pressure, and medically speaking was "borderline obese", I weighed 238lbs at 5'8". I was one of them.
As I sit here today, I am still heavier than I want to be, but down 35lbs from my heaviest. With all the news about the obesity epidemic, I wonder why do we allow ourselves to get fat? Is it learned? I actually think it might be. How much of the current situation is a thinking problem vs an eating problem. If we stop accepting that it is normal and reasonable to gain weight of the point of obesity, can a behavior change be far behind? Even the best of diets will fail if our minds don't accept that the change is good and necessary. Get your mind on the right track and your body will follow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I can't get no, satisfaction

Eat Until Satisfied!! I keep hearing and reading his, however I have yet to really experience this. The other night my wife and I went out for dinner at a local steak and seafood establishment. This fits us well as they offer you vegetables or a potato, plus a soup and salad bar, and no bread basket. The salad bar is pretty standard, and there is always vegetable crab soup. One of the benefits of living on the Chesapeake bay is the abundance of fresh seafood, and the creative ways the locals have developed to make use of a plentiful, and formerly cheap food supply.( Growing up here we ate a lot of fish as fishing cost time not money). The Down Side is of this geography is that really good beef is hard to come by, and requires going to a restaurant, or mail order from some place out west. So, out we went and I ordered the 24 oz porterhouse, medium rare. Oh, yeah, baby. Prior to the Arrival of my chunk o' meat, I ate a salad, and two cups of crab soup. I then proceeded to eat my steak, vegetables, the portion of my wife's dinner she didn't eat, and washed it all down with two beers. Satisfied? Nope. I was about to get up and go get more crab soup when my wife asked, "Haven't you had enough, dear?" The tone in her voice on the word "dear" stopped me dead in my tracks. and I sat back down. Was I still Hungry, no. Did I want to eat more, yes. I could feel the crab soup in all its spicy flavors and delicate aroma's calling me from across the room. Every fiber of my being screamed for more soup. I looked over at the soup bar, then glanced over at my wife. I asked the waitress for our bill.
By All accounts I should have been satisfied with what I ate. While my hunger had long since abated, part of me left the restaurant that night unsatisfied. Left to my own devices I can and have gained weight on a low carb diet. I did this once by accident, and again to win a bet. The first time I was on a happy low carb all you can eat buffet plan. I could eat whatever I wanted, until I was "satisfied" as long as there were no carbs in it. Well I wasn't satisfied until I couldn't shove another bite of low carb food into my mouth. The second time was a bet with one of those low carb Zionists who told me it was impossible to gain weight on a low carb diet. I took his hundred bucks. For me there is no substitute for portion control. I can't rely on those internal cues that I've had enough. It requires planning and thoughtful preparation to ensure that I'm getting sufficient nutrition without excessive caloric intake. If you are low carbing and not seeing the results you want, it may not be what you're eating, but how much.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The diet wars at Home

While the Mrs and I have been on track so far, we are still trying to find our way into an organized plan, primarily of our own making. Mainly our diet consists of meat, eggs, vegetables, some fruit, nuts, cheese and olive oil. In addition to Olive Oil, we do cook with butter and use some heavy cream in different recipes, but have both discovered that too much butter fat stalls progress, but Olive and Nut oils don't have he same effect.

A few differences, however, are begining to arise between our ideas of what should or should not be included on a regular basis. The Mrs has developed a love for low carb baked goodies. Muffins, pound cakes, and pancakes made with almond meal, flax meal, or soy flour. I on the other hand, think yogurt, beans, and the occasional slice of Ezekiel Bread is more the way to go. Philosophically, She is more of a "Net Carb", whereas I am more of an "Organic/Whole Food". Now this is not to say that I won't eat something that isn't organic or that she only counts carbs, but, our approaches are slightly different. A lot of this comes down to one basic difference in our approach to eating that has been present even before we ever heard of low carb. For the Mrs, life with out dessert is just not worth living. I, on the other hand, if given a choice between a second helping of lasagna or saving room for dessert, will always choose the lasagna. So we compromise. Like diner last night, was my famous, at least in my house, Shrimp Stuffe` ("stu-fay" french always makes it sound better). and Carb Quick Biscuits. I must Admit the carb quick biscuits were not bad, but I think I need to adjust the box recipe just a bit.

Shrimp Stuffe`

4 oz Andouille Sausage - I use the Aidelles Chicken type, but use what ever you like
1 lb raw shrimp
1 15oz can Black Soy Beans, drained and rinsed - we can find these at our local Safeway
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
.25C chopped onion
.25C chopped celery
.25C chopped red/green pepper
2Tbsp Olive Oil
1Tbsp chopped garlic
cayenne, oregano,Thyme, salt and Pepper to taste

In a non-stick skillet, over med heat, begin to brown the sausage. As the sausage begins to brown after a couple of minutes, add the olive oil, onions, celery, and peppers. cook until the onions are soft. Add the spices and garlic, cook for 30 seconds to one minute, add the tomatoes and soy beans, bring to a simmer and add the shrimp, cook until shrimp are pink. Serves 4. Total prep and Cook time about 30 min.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Insulin is your friend

Lock up the women and Hide the children, the boy has lost his mind. He is using the "I" word, and he thinks its our friend. Go get the Holy fat of Atkins and douse him good. Every LCer knows that insulin is evil.
WELL, no, insulin is not evil, and it really is our friend. Despite all the rhetoric on the LC boards and blogs, with out insulin we would die. If our body stopped making insulin we would have to inject it into our system, thats called Type 1 diabetes. The problem is that most people have a fundamental misunderstanding of the role insulin plays in our metabolism. The scary story that usually surrounds insulin goes something like this- we eat carbs, insulin is realeased, bad things happen. The problem here is that insulin is not the problem. One of the primary functions of insulin is to lower our blood sugar, which is a good thing. Glucose doesn't belong in our blood, it belongs in our cells were it can be used in a things called glycolysis and the Krebbs cycle to create energy for our cells to do their cell work. The problem we run into is when we keep stuffing our pie hole long after we've met our energy needs. When we repeatedly over eat, the cells that take up the glucose become immune, or resistant, to the effects of insulin.
So then how do we make the receptors more sensitive to insulin? Excellent question, I'm so glad you asked. Calorie restriction and exercise are the two most effective ways of increasing insulin sensitivity, short of medication. For example, Cutting carbs combined with full body strength training routines. Eliminating carbs btw, will not eliminate your need for insulin. Protien digestion, also stimulates insulin secretion. One of insulins other functions is to stimulate protien synthesis. Which if you strength train, helps to restore any muscle mass that may have been lost from disuse and aging. Fat is the only macronutrient not to stimulate insulin. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to eat a meal of just fat. Besides, you must eat protein. Protein is used up everyday in normal metabolism as part of tissue repair and immune functions, among other things.

So how did insulin get such a bad name? Well in short, insulin stops you from burning fat for energy, and promotes fat storage. So yes, it does have a downside. The trick here is to manage the amount of insulin you secrete, and to increase your sensitivity to the insulin you do secrete. Over time if you increase your sensitivity to insulin, your body will produce less insulin to do the job we need it to do.

[NOTE to the Science Nerds out there: I know that each glucose becomes 2 pyruvate prior to entering the krebbs cycle, so save it]

Monday, August 07, 2006


Low carb has a dirty little secret. What’s The secret?
It’s really a low calorie way of eating!
No way! - Way!
Despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, low carb works because you eat less. For my first trick I am going to need a volunteer. Ok, The Drs Eades, step right up. According to Protein Power Life plan I should be eating 120 grams of protein and 40 or less grams of “effective carbs”. So using the template provided in the book I devised the following menu.

Eggs Whole 5
Turkey Breakfast Sausage 2 pieces
Strawberries 0.5 cup
Blueberries 0.5 cups
538 calories 41g protein 33g fat 18g carbs 5g fiber

Top Round 5oz
Summer Squash 1 cup
Blueberries 0.5 cup
Spinach Raw 2 cups
Olive oil 1tbsp
532 calories 48g protein 30g fat 20g carbs 8g fiber

Salmon 6oz
Green beans 0.5 cup
Cauliflower 0.5 cup
Tomato 0.5 cup
Olive Oil 1 tbsp
381 calories 39g protein 20g fat 11g carbs 4g fiber

Total for the day
1451 calories 128g protein 48g carbs 17g fiber 31g ECC

Guess what, I could lose weight on any diet eating 1451 calories. So why bother with the restriction of low carb? Well for one, and likely the most important reason, it works. While it’s not magic, it is effective. The reduced calorie levels will not be noticed by many people due to the satiating effects of the fat and protein. Protein and fat work together to make you fuller faster, and keep you satisfied longer. Two, your blood sugar will normalize. Those nasty peaks and crashes associated with high carb diets that send you running to the snack machine don’t happen. Three, you prefer the food associated with a low carb diet vs a low fat diet. It might sound easy to commit to a plan, but don’t underestimate the drudgery if you aren’t happy with your food choices.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Analysis Paralysis

The MRS. and I have been trying to Get back Into the weight loss mode of Low Carb Living. I must admit its been much harder the second time around. While we had continued to eat what most would consider a "clean" diet, the pounds had crept back on, and were not budging with normal diet and exercise modifications. I tried one of the new fancy schmancy diets called the "Abs Diet" from men's health. It was ok, and it stopped the weight gain, but I was never really able to lose anything thing on this plan. I never completely got my mind around the concept of what it was trying to achieve food wise. So maybe it wasn't the plan, maybe it was me. The Mrs. Tried one of the female plans from Rodale, and lost a couple of Pounds, but the time and food restrictions were very onerous. So Back to LCing we go. The first time thru we did the South Beach Diet. While it does not professing to being a LC diet, in reality it is LC, just not a Ketogenic LC. I'm still undecided on the value of Ketosis. While I am aware of the difference between ketosis, and ketoacidosis, I just don't know if there really is a metabolic benefit to it or not. It may be a very individual thing. One of our first steps at returning to LC weight loss was to purchase some new reading material. We bought the "Hamptons Diet Cookbook", George Stella's cook books, and recently a copy of the "Protein Power LIfe Plan". These in combination with the previous South Beach books we had, have given me a bit of information overload and led to paralysis from analysis. Its time to get off the fence and pick a plan, and ride the LC train to weight loss. I'll keep you posted with what happens next.