Newsletter 24, February 2010
This issue of the Good Diet Good Health Newsletter includes...
- Successful weight loss - the importance of the right diet
- Confused in Carbsville - Part 3
- Tell us what you think
- Visit our newsletter archive
- Free resources
1) Successful weight loss - the importance of the right diet
This time of year is traditionally 'diet season' and we know many of our Newsletter readers will be on a weight loss diet. Although there's no evidence that weight loss is any easier at this time of year, the New Year is a time of renewal and new resolutions and this seems to help motivate many people to get on and tackle their surplus pounds.
But how do you decide what sort of diet to follow? There is so much confusing advice out there. Sadly, the official 'healthy eating' low fat/low calorie weight loss diet, which recommends basing the diet on carbohydrates, is not the best course for many people. A carbohydrate-based diet can be a real problem for up to sixty per cent of people in Western populations. For these people, foods high in carbohydrate, even 'good' carbs such as wholemeal bread and fruit, trigger an excess of insulin and cause blood sugar imbalances. This results in an increased tendency to store instead of to burn surplus energy and to crave yet more carbs in a way that is very similar to addiction to nicotine, alcohol and other 'feel good' drugs.
The problem with the official 'healthy eating' low fat/low calorie weight loss diet is that it ignores these hormonal aspects of weight regulation and fails to deal with the fundamental issue of carbohydrate sensitivity. Now, carbohydrate sensitivity (sometimes referred to as carbohydrate intolerance) should not be thought of as a disease or medical condition. It is in fact our bodies' normal response to a diet high in refined carbohydrate - food that we were never designed to eat.
So what does all this have to do with the diet season and New Year's resolutions to lose weight? Well, sadly, it means an awful lot of dashed hopes as dieters fail to lose weight or else lose a little weight at first but are then unable to keep it up long term. They don't understand that, because their weight loss diet is unsuited to their biochemical and hormonal make-up, they are being set up to fail. And worse, when they do fail, they are made to feel that they are at fault, when in fact it is the diet that is at fault.
So is going on a 'healthy eating' low fat/low calorie diet always a bad idea? Well, if this means eating far fewer foods high in refined carbohydrates than you were before, that's undoubtedly a big step towards a healthier body and significant weight loss. But if you're already ahead of that game, and your normal way of eating is already low in refined carbohydrate foods such as cakes, cookies, pastries, pasta, pizza, white bread, white rice, ice cream, desserts, candy, sugary breakfast cereals, sugary drinks and the like, then you may well find that you lose little or no weight on the official 'healthy eating' low fat/low calorie diet. If this is the case, then don't waste time and energy trying any of the countless diets that are all based on the 'reduce the calories and fat and keep carbs high' principle. Don't fall for the 'You overeat for emotional reasons' or 'You only need more willpower' trap either. Understand that your biochemical and hormonal make-up prevents you from losing weight on a carbohydrate-based diet, and try the low carb approach instead.
Unfortunately there are many myths about what you actually eat on a low carb diet and many dietary 'authorities' still maintain that the carbohydrate-based low calorie/low fat 'healthy eating' diet is the only safe and effective diet, despite more and more clinical trials saying otherwise. Other 'authorities', although still wary of low carb diets, recommend their near relations, low GI (glycemic index) diets. However, low GI diets are still not generally low enough in carbs for those who are very carbohydrate sensitive - which probably includes most of us who find it hard to lose weight. Weight loss is actually a very complex subject, until you find a straightforward explanation of how it all works, which is what we hope we have provided by writing our free e-book Why You Should Consider a Low Carb or Low GI Diet. In this book we help dispel these myths by explaining the science behind low carb and low GI diets, why they are healthier for many people than the standard low calorie/low fat diet and why low carb diets may be better than low GI diets for many people.
What if you've already gone low carb but are feeling you may not be able to keep it up because you're bored with your food choices and menus, and it's too hard to stick to? Then you're probably missing some important knowledge in the low carber's armoury - how to use low carb substitute ingredients to make delicious low carb versions of your favourite foods such as bread, pizza, pastry, cakes, cookies, sauces, ice cream and desserts. If you're feeling deprived on your low carb or low GI diet, then getting a good cookbook is a must for the success of your weight loss. But be aware! Many of the low carb and low GI cookbooks out there contain lots of great recipes - but they're mostly main courses of the type that don't contain carby ingredients in the first place. Not many low carb cookbooks show you how to make the favourite items that we've listed above, that are normally made with high carb flour and sugar and can, with a little expertise, be converted to low carb quite successfully. If these are the kinds of food you most miss, then check out our own Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook.
Unfortunately, as seasoned dieters will know, many diets seem to work for a while and then the weight loss comes to a stop. This is often called a diet plateau or diet stall. This can happen whatever diet you are on, and there are many possible reasons for it. As a result, it can be very difficult to work out what to do to break the stall. Much of the advice out there will focus on one or two things to change to try to get your weight loss started again. But breaking your diet plateau depends upon dealing with all, not just some, of the many nutritional, biochemical and hormonal factors that may causing it. It's important therefore to find a source of information that goes systematically through all the factors that may be causing your diet plateau and helps you to draw up a personal action plan. We didn't feel there was any such suitable, easy to understand source of information available that would do this, which was why we spent many thousands of hours researching and compiling our book Why Can't I Lose Weight. If you are one of the literally millions of people for whom losing or maintaining weight loss is a constant struggle, this book is written for you.
Life is too short and precious to spend years of it unsuccessfully pursuing a weight loss goal because you have the wrong tools!
2) Confused in Carbsville - Part 3
Here's the third instalment of our email conversation with low carber Derek who lives in Germany. Derek has kindly agreed to let us share his 'Confused in Carbsville' humour with our readers.
From: Confused in Carbsville
Sent: 21-01-2009 14:44
To: info @ lowcarbiseasy.com
Subject: Gormless in Germany
Holy Mackerel Sapphire, you done turn my world upside-down child,
My goodness Jackie, together with most of the treasured foods that I brought back from England that are in my freezer, my thoughts and thinking about my eating habits practically all have to go in the bin now! But one food that I will not consign to the dustbin are my (wonderful) home-made vegetable soups. They almost all contain carrots, some have parsnip, one is from chestnuts but very few contain potato, although I do have to admit to having thickened one or two batches with wholemeal bread. Sorry Jackie, but I enjoy my soups too much and have invested too much time and energy into making them to throw them away, but I will look for alternative recipes in the future and as the existing stocks run out.
By far and away my biggest problem is with the fats! For many years I have been wary of fats (I cannot remember the last time that I had real fish 'n chips) and in fact stopped using butter or margarine 20 odd years ago when I looked at my breakfast roll with butter and full fat Danish blue cheese and thought 'my goodness, that is just fat on fat' and have eaten all my breads without butter or marg ever since. Now then, as it turns out, I may well not have done myself too much good with this course of action as nowadays, a 'fattyish' meal sees me dashing off to the toilet - and very often much sooner too, hence reading your flat bread recipe with it's 8 tablespoonfuls of olive oil alone had me halfway to the loo!
I have modified the recipe to exclude the olive oil and replace it with soya milk, but now realise that I shall have to use some oil in the future - watch this space.
I have been religiously buying low fat, 'light' and calorie reduced products and eating very little meat (I do suffer from gout if I am not mindful of my meat intake) products for a year or so, but you have blown this regime to kingdom come now!
Before I close, I do have a couple of 'quickies' for you please - after a while of low-carb eating, would a sudden excess of carbs - a restaurant meal for example, have such an adverse effect as a sudden excess of calories would have? Secondly, after having studied several tables, can I assume that 0 carb things like chicken meat, without skin of course, and fish can be eaten more or less with "impunity"? And lastly, of carrots - and bearing in mind the old adage about rabbits not wearing glasses, why do we not see fat rabbits?
Oh, by the way, a little snippet here - the 'Minty lamb chop' dinner that I so looked forward to last week turned out to be a bit disappointing. To save room in my freezer, I remove all the space wasting cardboard packaging and the thawed out lamb steak turned out to be roast beef slices!
Jackie, thank you again for your time and patience - I do realise that I am not the only 'Confused in Carbsville' out there by any means.
From: Confused in Carbsville
Sent: 21-01-2009 15:22
To: info @ lowcarbiseasy.com
Subject: 'tis me again!
Sorry Jackie, it's Derek again,
I meant to ask you in my Email what 'ricotta' cheese is - I can only find a vague reference to goat's cheese and secondly, what is your idea of 'cream cheese' - do you mean the Dairylea type or something like 'Philadelphia'?
From: Low Carb is Easy.com
Sent: 08-02-2009 19:37
To: Confused in Carbsville
Subject: England calling 'Confused in Carbsville'
I'm back! Been a tad busy lately trying to sort out various family issues as well as find myself another day job for when my current contract comes to an end (unfortunately the websites/cookbooks/self-help books are more my hobby/mission to help others than a way to make a living, so I still need 'the day job', more's the pity.
Anyway, getting back to your questions - I think I owe you answers on your last two messages:
Ricotta is an Italian soft cheese made from whey. It's often the cheese used to fill pasta, but we won't be using it for that, will we?! Not sure if they have it over there in Germany. The Germans are keen on Quark but it's not the same. If you don't find it in regular supermarkets then maybe they have Italian shops over there?
By cream cheese, yes, Philadelphia is exactly what I mean. Don't touch the ultra-processed Dairylea type things. You might get some very strange results if you use the Dairylea type in my recipes! And go for the full fat Philly as well, not the 'lite' one, especially if you're using the Philly to make a cheese sauce.
I shouldn't worry too much about your soups (although the ones thickened with bread and potatoes are obviously fairly suspect if you're trying to get into ketosis - they'll hook you out of it nicely ...) People can get too worried about veggies like carrots being too high GI to use on low carb. If you continue to lose while using them, fine. If you're not losing, then look to the carrots (but only after you've checked for worse carby sins than those)!
Now. About the fats. Obviously if you're getting a 'loo effect' when you eat them, then you may need to reduce them judiciously. But be sure to check whether it's all fats or just particular types. Hopefully it's just the really bad ones, aka trans fats or 'hydrogenated vegetable oils'. By the way, I've made my flat breads with half the amount of olive oil I say in the recipe, and they work fine. I haven't tried with none at all.
Your question about a sudden excess of carbs - well, it would put you out of ketosis and you might have to spend another couple of days getting back into it, which should dampen your enthusiasm for having too many breakouts. On the other hand, I think I'm right in saying that the 'grandfather' of low carbing, Dr Richard Mackarness (see book reviews at http://www.lowcarbiseasy.com/books.htm) felt that occasionally having a breakout is fine, and good old Dr Atkins advocated a day or two of carbs as a 'reversal diet' as a way of persuading your body into starting to lose again after a plateau ... Some diet gurus warn that your body will go mad and pile on the weight ultraquickly though ... My advice is to try to avoid doing it until you're much further along with your diet, but if you just have to do it one day, don't beat yourself up about it. You may just get away with it! Everyone's different and there are no absolute guarantees in this weight loss game!
Yes, you can eat anything with 0 carbs like meat with impunity, although if impunity means a whole pound or more of meat at one meal, you may need to revise your view of portion sizes. As Dr Atkins says, eat until satisfied, not until you're stuffed. Why would you not eat the chicken skin if you like it, by the way? Oh yes, it's what you had drummed into you when you still believed that low fat thing ...
I hope this reaches 'Confused in Carbsville' early enough to prevent 'Confused' degenerating to 'Fed up and depressed in Carbsville'!
… To be continued in our next Newsletter
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