Friday, December 19, 2008
Buy the book. Read the book. Get the book and read it from cover to cover prior to starting your plan. If you are new to the plan read it twice. If you need to buy a book, I'd recommend either "The 30-Day Low-Carb Diet Solution" by the Eades' or "The South Beach Diet" By Agatston. The Eades book is probably the easiest to follow for a complete beginner, or those just wishing for a tell me what to eat jumpstart. Neither book requires you to count calories or carb grams. Just follow the food lists and meal templates, and off you go.
Practice your plan. Take a day or two along the way, and practice eating LC. That's right, practice LC. You haven't done this for a while, and you need to get in the groove. This will also help to ensure that you start accumulating the grocery's needed.. One of the worst things you can do is to jump right from the sugar plum fairy dreams of the holidays directly into very low carb dieting. Ease up on the refined carbs as you work your way to the end of the year, and starting adding protein. These steps will help ease the transition, and reduce the shock of going cold turkey.
If you don't have one, get a cookbook appropriate for your plan. If you
don't want to spend any money, search the web for recipes appropriate for your plan and have a collection of them ready before you start. The Forums on ProteinPower.com and southbeach-diet-plan.com are both full of recipes. Of course for SB eaters, Kalyns Kitchen is a wonderful resource and one of the top ten reasons to eat SB. These resources will add needed variety to your food choices. Eggs with bacon, Baked chicken and salad, meat and vegetables , will get old. Having new ways to add flavors and textures will keep your food interesting and keep you on plan.
If all the above seems like a lot of work, then you aren't really serious about changing the way you eat. It would be better for you to start your plan a week or two later and have all your ducks in a row, than go off half cocked on Jan 1, and be done by Jan 10.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
If one were to actually look at the diets of the people the MTD is based upon, you find that there is little evidence to support the low fat myth. Low fat or fat free cheese and yogurt just did not exist. The people ate real cheese, generally an ounce or two a day. The yogurt would have been the full fat custard kind like Fage, not the runny stuff available in most supermarkets today. The single biggest item to contribute to tier daily calories was olive oil. These folks got 20 - 25% of the daily calories from olive oil alone.
While it is true that bread, beans, and grains are a part of the MTD, when one looks at the portion sizes of said items, it becomes clear that Modern America, and circa 1960 Crete and Sicily bear little resemblance in understanding what constitutes a portion. To put it in contemporary serving sizes, They would have eaten about 2 slices of bread, 1/2 -2/3 thirds cup each of beans and cous cous or pasta. About what you expect in a typical phase 2 of South Beach or while in The Zone. A far cry from what we are currently presented with as ideal.
What they really constituted the bulk of tier diet was a variety of vegetables. On average 6 cups cooked plus 4 cups raw. To this add 2 or three pieces of fruit, 3 oz of fish/seafood, an egg or two, and some nuts. Coffee wine, beer and sprits of local origin would have rounded out the day. Red meat was very expensive at the time, and lack of access to it was a chief complaint among those interviewed. So it was generally reserved for the meal at weekend family dinners.
The most important part of the MTD, that we seldom hear of in the news is the lifestyle portion. Anyone who has ever traveled can tell you, they live a different life "over there". Even though it is starting to westernize, Strong family, community, and cultural ties are part of what defines life on the Mediterranean. To this add mandatory vacation, shorter work weeks, unlimited unemployment benefits and guaranteed access to health care. Unlike most of the U.S., walking and riding a bicycle is a reasonable choice of transportation for many of life's daily activities. At the time of the early surveys gas was in shortage and rationed, and cars were prohibitively expensive for most. Even now, the price of a gallon of gasoline is $8-10 on average thru out the region, so walking to and from public transportation is still common.
These Areas were still recovering from the horror and ravages of World War 2 when the survey was taken. The diet reflected the economic realities of post war Europe, and was not necessarily one of choice. The biggest mistake we see when the mainstream media portray the MTD as a panacea, is the separation of diet from lifestyle. As a Healthy Eating and Activity Pattern, (HEAP), the MTD is an exemplar of one possible solution, but it is by no means the only solution. The diet in and of itself is certainly an improvement over the Standard American Diet, but without the lifestyle portion of the equation, it falls short.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
4oz 85/15 ground beef broiled 11.9 4.5
2 oz scrapple 8 2
eggs whole x2 10.6 3.2
2 chicken thighs skin on 19.2 5.4
olive oil 2.5 tbsp 33.75 4.75
almonds 1 oz 14.4 1.1
Plain Whole Yogurt 1cup 7 5
Totals 104.85 25.95
According to conventional wisdom, and popular advice, we should get no more than 10% of our calories from saturated fat, based on our projected caloric needs. My projected caloric requirements are about 2400 Cal. per day which gives me a daily allotment of 26 grams of saturated fat, out of a total of 106 grams total fat based on the recommendations of Willet and Skerrit (EAT, DRINK, AND BE HEALTHY). Now 26 grams of saturated fat doesn't seem like much, but when you look at what I ate above, 26 grams of Saturated fat goes quite a ways. The above values come from calorieking.com
Now to be honest I didn't measure and weigh my fruits, vegetables, or beans, I'm just not that concerned about counting calories right now. But for completeness I also ate cantaloupe, grapes, a nectarine, a peach, blueberries, chic peas, a big salad, broccoli, spinach, and a couple of scoops of whey protein powder.
Lets call the case against saturated fat what it really is, a thinly veiled political war on eating meat.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I am going to admit up front that my own personal preference is for the South Beach plan. This is based on my attempts at very low carb dieting, which I hated. With in a couple of days of starting phase one of SB, I always start to feel "better". Even after several days of induction, I can't shake the feeling of death warmed over. I never seem to get to that happy ketosis place. Even accounting for the people like me who don't do well with induction, there seem to be other components which make one successful on one plan versus the other.
While in each eating plan, both red meat and seafood are allowed, even encouraged, the Atkins plan seems to draw the meat eaters, while the seafood folks gravitate to SB. I am sure there are exceptions to this observation, but based on my observations both on and off line this seems to be a general distinction between the groups. Using myself as an example, if I had to eat Fish or beef every day for a month for dinner, I would choose the fish. I like beef, but if I eat it once a week that's enough. I cannot, however, say I have met (in real or cyber space) a practitioner of Atkins who would make the same choice, or that has the same preferences. Maybe they exist, but I haven't met one.
A second area where preferences seem to differ is the choice between olive oil and butter. I'll admit that I think real butter from grass fed cows has a place in every kitchen. I also think that the fear of saturated fat is unwarranted. Most SBer's I know use a bit of real butter now and again. Many Atkinser's use olive oil as well. Perhaps because the SB book encourages olive oil, and the Atkins book doesn't discourage butter that this is a side effect of the plan, but I also think that personal preference plays into this as well. Given the amount of veggies both plans encourage you to eat, a preference for olive oil or butter may be a factor in deciding which plan is best for you. While its true that you can use olive oil on Atkins and one the butter type spreads on SB, if you start looking at the recipes and menus associated with the plans, the trend becomes clear.
There are certainly other points of distinction between the diets, that may be make or break issues for some. Some will prefer to count carbs, while other will prefer to follow the rules and food lists of SB. Some people won't like either diet. With all of the noise lately about low carb vs low fat vs the Mediterranean diet, I find that the South Beach plan provides a livable mix of the best parts of a reduced carb and Mediterranean type diet. Success on any plan is about the commitment to change the way you eat permanently, whether you ultimately end up choosing South Beach, Atkins, or even the Ornish plan,
Monday, July 14, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
One of my biggest frustrations during that period was trying to get meaningful answers from doctors who barely spoke English. Not to mention the cultural issues some of these guys have when some one questions their decisions. I'm looking to get a second opinion, but the health insurance I have requires me to go through their process. I've come to the conclusion that managed care equals managed symptoms, not a cure. If nothing else, maybe this'll serve as an example to others. If you aren't getting results, and you are really trying, and following your chosen plan, go see your doctor. Convince him/her to test "everything". Leave no metabolic or hormonal test undone.
On the one hand the meds make me feel better then I have felt in quite some time. Many of the minor ailments I had attributed to aging and normal wear and tear are going away. I no longer have any issues with my cholesterol or glucose metabolism. I still haven't lost any weight, not that I've been trying. In fact my appetite has increased rather markedly. My exercise as of late has consisted of walking, and for the first time in quite a while I have something that resembles aerobic endurance. I'm not yet sure where all this is headed, but it promises to be an interesting ride.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
By current standards they did everything wrong. They ate butter and pork fat. They ate sugar and white flour. They ate fried foods, remind me sometime to tell you about her clam fritters. And in spite of all that they lived to ripe old ages with out succumbing to heart disease or diabetes. They lived quietly and with a deliberateness seldom seen today. How much did they know about how to live that we failed to learn?
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The Definition Diet
Unlike plan A, there is no measuring, weighing or counting of anything. The diet goes like this; eat as much meat, eggs, cheese and green vegetables as you want, just don't stuff yourself in the process. The only exceptions to the green vegetables are red peppers, summer squash, mushrooms, and cauliflower. So if its not on the above list don't eat it, no exceptions. Now you can add butter, oil, avocados and cream to make your food taste better, and for cooking. You can drink water, coffee, tea, wine and hard liquor (Max of 3 drinks total per day for men, 2 for women). Again, no exceptions - Not even diet soda or crystal light. Spices and seasonings of all kinds are fine as long as the don't have any type of sugar or starch in them. Thats it. If you don't see it mentioned, it isn't part of the plan. I may seem to repeat myself here, but people always seem to say but what about ...., If it isn't on the list the answer is no, you can't eat it or drink it. Not for the next 6 weeks. For the first few days, you might feel a little rough, suck it up. In six weeks you can accomplish what the plan A guys are going to take 12 weeks to do. But like most things in life there are trade offs. So you'll just have to console yourself for the next 6 weeks with delmonico steaks, broccoli with cheese sauce and Jack Daniels or Cab Sav for dinner.
The workout requirements for plan b are the same as for plan A. Though I would recommend the Circuit Training option over the strength training and cardio combination. I recently came across a good collection of routines for this program in a book called the "Abs Diet - Get Fit Stay Fit". Its an interesting assortment of workouts using a variety of equipment that can be adapted easily. While the routines are certainly not strength focused, they will meet the bill for fitness and fat loss.
Monday, March 03, 2008
The Neutral Diet
I call this the neutral diet because it is not high or low in anything. There will be some extremists who say that it's too much/little protein, or too many/too few carbs or too much/too little fat or too what ever. To all of them I say b*llsh*t. Now there are a couple of assumptions built in to the neutral diet. The first being that you are willing and able to do hard exercise 3 or 4 days a week. The second is that you are willing and able to plan and track your eating. Lastly, that you are at a body fat level that would be considered "healthy" by the ACSM. This means 15-24% for males, 22-31% for females. If you are fatter than this you can still use the basic template, just don't do the refeeds. If you are leaner then this it may not be enough calories and cause you to stall or lose lean mass.
The set up is simple. Your weight in lbs. equals the number of grams of carbs. Divide your weight in lbs. by 3 to get the number of fat grams, and multiply your weight in lbs. by 0.7 to get your grams of protein. Recalculate your diet with every 10 lbs of lost weight. To move from fat loss to maintenance ,add 200 calories to your day, in weekly increments. in a balanced manner. This set up provides sufficient carbs to fuel your work outs and avoid muscle glycogen depletion, adequate protein for muscle building and repair, and adequate fat to maintain hormonal tonus and provide satiety. While that sounds all sciencey, it means this, your won't "bonk" during your work outs, you shouldn't lose lean muscle, your hormone levels shouldn't get all crazy, and your food can still taste good.
As part of this, include one free meal a week, and one carb refeed every other week. Now, about free meals. These are not an excuse to go face down in a buffet until they call the cops to escort you out. Generally speaking I recommend this meal be eaten out with out worrying about your diet. Have a dessert and fried food if you like. Just don't gorge your self. The refeed is a bit more structured. In these, double the amount of carbs you eat for one day, while keeping the fat and protein level close to normal. Many people use refeeds to indulge in candy, pop-tarts, and pancakes with syrup. All of which are fine, as long as fat and protein levels are maintained.
The associated work out plan I recommend for this is three circuit training sessions a week using alternating routines, or two full body strength training sessions with some type of interval training done on two other days. If you don't know which way to go, try one for a month, then try the other the next month. See which one you prefer, or even continue to alternate on a monthly basis. Fred Fornicola has two excellent examples of circuit training on his blog.
Interval Training is explained here.
Keep this up for three months and you can drop enough fat to need smaller pants.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about the recent Internet dust up between Dr M Eades and A Colpo. Two very bright individuals with strong ego's. Each with a vested interest, for very different reasons, in the existence, or lack there of, of a metabolic advantage in very low carb ketogenic diets (VLCKD). The basic problem for each of them is that each of their arguments can be, and have been negated. There are a number of studies that categorically find that any and all weight loss is a matter of caloric balance. There are other studies that find the exact opposite. To assert that there is a universal advantage to VLCKD's, is to invite a "black swan". In other words, all it takes to negate the argument, is a single person for whom the advantage does not exist. The same holds true for the opposite argument, one person who shows a metabolic advantage on a VLCKD, negates the argument that caloric balance is all that matters.
So what are we left with? A paradox? Not quite.
Each argument assumes that the only independent variable is diet. When dealing with human beings however, things like diet do not exist in a vacuum. One of the big, if not the biggest variable in determining if someone will show a metabolic advantage with a low carb diet or not, is insulin sensitivity. If you are resistant to insulin, and/or have hyperinsulemia, then I have little doubt that carbohydrate restriction will allow you to eat more calories and still loose weight, then would be possible on a standard high carb low fat diet. Hence the existence of a metabolic advantage. If, however, you are insulin sensitive, a low carb diet will not affect your weight loss or gain beyond caloric balance. --No metabolic advantage. (In fact I've seen two studies that show that insulin sensitive people do better on low fat diets)
So what we really should be asking is how do we tell who is going to derive the most benefit from low carb diets. If you and your doctor are willing, go and have some lab work done. A standard lipid panel, A1C, and fasting glucose, would get the job done. The standard lipid panel is going to provide you with your HDL and triglyceride numbers. Ideally when you divide your triglyceride number by your HDL number it should be less than 2, 3 is ok but not great, 4 is not good, and 6 is really not good. Your fasting glucose should be less than 100, and your A1C less than 6. Depending on where you are in your progression with insulin resistance, the Tg/HDL ratio will be the first place it will show, followed in order by high fasting glucose and then elevated A1C. If your glucose is over 126,and/or your A1C is over 7, you probably have or are well on your way to diabetes, and your doctor has probably already scheduled you for more tests. If any of the following apply to you, you can benefit by cutting down on your carb intake; fasting glucose is over 95; A1C is 6 or more; TG/HDL ratio is above 2. The farther you are from these values, the more you need to cut your carbs. If you are diabetic, or very close, then you may need to down to less than 50g of carbs, if you are just a little off, then somewhere between 100 - 150g will probably do the trick.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Now lets make sure we are all on the same page here. If for example, you are a 198lb guy, the novice one rep max for dead lifts is 289lbs. This means if you are doing 225 -230 for eight reps, your one rep max should be about 289. If after six months of exercise, and three months of dead lifting, you are nowhere near the weight you would need to get to hit your one rep max, its time to re-evaluate. First, are you really trying? If you are really trying, then, probably less exercise is in order. That's right, less not more. While in many mainstream publications and web sites, they will tell you you need more, I am here to tell you you need less. Even for the guys in the second group, many will get stronger faster buy doing less. The name of this blog is lowcarbhit. Well my friends, its time to up the ante, and try a little new school, old fashioned HIT (High Intensity Training). First thing, drop any and all cardio and conditioning work. (Hold your applause till the end.) Next get a stop watch with a cord. Now lets re-organize your workouts. From this point on you are only going to be doing one set of each exercise. The goal is to reach fatigue in about 55 - 90 seconds, this is why we have the stop watch. I want you to preform the exercises in a deliberately slow manner. I am not worried about a specific time that each rep should take, just move as slowly as you can while still moving . If you need to, reduce the weight you were using by 10 -20% so you can slow down your rep speed. Don't worry about counting the reps, we're going to be tracking time. For example, you are about to due a set of bicep curls. With the stop watch around your neck or otherwise easy to get to, start the watch just prior to grabbing the bar. Do your curls slowly, and keep going until you reach a point where you can't move the bar. Put the bar down and stop the watch. Subtract 10 seconds from the time on the watch. If it is less than 50 seconds, you used to much weight. If its more than 90 seconds, add a little weight next time. This is how all you exercises will be done except for the dead lift. On the dead lift stop at the last full rep you can complete in good form. Your new routine looks like this;
Ball Squats/Wall Sits
For those folks who workout in a gym your workout looks like this;
Low Back Extension
You are going to also reduce the number of times you work out from twice a week to once every 5 days, or a Mon, Fri, Wed schedule. Meaning you will workout On Monday and Friday one week, Wednesday the next week, and so forth. Don't be fooled, if you work each exercise as hard as you can work it, you will need 5 days between workouts. If in doubt, take 7 days between workouts. Keep this up for a good 4 - 6 weeks, and you'll be surprised at how strong you can get.