Low-Carb Diet: How to Do it Right

Keto ClarityI knew the low-carb diet had finally gone mainstream when General Hospital mob boss Julian Jerome stopped eating carbs. It was about time. Low-carb first became part of American diet culture in 1972 when Dr. Robert Atkins’ book, ‘Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution’ made the best-seller lists. Atkins created the diet for himself, based on things he’d read in medical journal articles, but the medical establishment called him a heretic for not promoting a calorie counting or low-fat approach.

Low-carb, also called ketogenic, diets are different from temporary weight loss diets. You have to change your eating patterns for life to reap the benefits.

The problem with low-carb is that everyone has heard of it but precious few people know how to do it. Look at this scene, which takes place at a buffet:

Husband: Look at those bread rolls! Don’t they look great?

Wife: We can’t have them, dear. We are eating low-carb now, remember?

Husband: Then let’s have these buttermilk biscuits, then. Or that corn bread.

Wife: We can’t have those, either. They are bread, too. Sort of.

Husband: Well, what can we eat, then?

Wife: Well, how about this mashed potatoes? It’s a vegetable. Surely no diet can restrict our vegetables? And this fruit salad— I’m sure we can have as much fruit as we like.

Husband: What about this macaroni and cheese?

Wife: Well, it’s got pasta, but pasta isn’t bread. And cheese is a low-carb diet food— go for it!

This, as you may have guessed, is NOT the way to do low-carb. In order to do it right, you have to get a sound low-carb diet book with good instructions on how foods fit in to the low-carb eating plan. In this plan, there are three classes of foods:

  1. Foods to eat freely: meats (beef, pork, lamb, venison, chicken, turkey), fish and seafood (salmon, tuna, cod, smelt, perch, shrimp— all kinds except clams, scallops and oysters), eggs, mayonnaise, butter, coconut oil, olive oil.
  2.  Foods to ration: salads, non-starchy vegetables, heavy whipping cream, cheese, nut products such as almond flour, coconut flour. (A good low-carb diet plan will tell you how much of each you are allowed.)
  3. Foods you may not eat: bananas, figs, candy, cake, bread, muffins, pasta, milk, pancakes, corn, cornstarch, sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, jam, honey, potatoes, raisins, sweet potatoes, yams, sweetened yogurt.

The low-carb diet is a trade-off. There are some foods you just cannot eat at all— unlike the calorie-counting approach where you can have tiny portions of such food. In exchange, there are foods you can eat without restrictions.

When you are consuming no more than 20 or 25 grams of carbohydrate per day, your metabolism changes. It stops running on glucose— sugar— and starts running on ketones. Ketones result when your body is running on fat instead of sugar. It’s very healthful, not just for weight loss but for many other conditions. A ketogenic (ketone producing) diet has been used to treat epilepsy for decades, and helps in diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, kidney disease, and other conditions. Read ‘Keto Clarity‘ for more information, much of it contributed by doctors.

When choosing your Basic Diet Book for your eating plan, beware of these things: first, some ‘low-carb’ diets are not low carb. They just reduce your carbs a little. So you don’t get the benefits of a low-carb/ketogenic diet.

Also, the Atkins approach has steps. You start at a healthy 20 or so grams of carbs, and then after two weeks you start adding more carbs back. This triggers your food cravings for carb foods and can lead to food binges on carb foods. This is why people go off Atkins and swear it didn’t work for them. Advice: ignore the instructions for the steps, except that if you are healthy you might try the first addition of 5 more carb grams, which you can use on nuts or certain fruits (berries, mostly).

The ‘Carbohydrate Addicts Diet’ is another plan to avoid. On it, you eat two meals a day of low-carb food, and one reward meal in which you can eat any foods you like, so long as you finish the meal within one hour. This plan doesn’t work on some people at all, and with others it works initially but then quits working. It can lead to food binges on carb-foods. Remember, for most people who go on diets, carb foods are like alcohol is to an alcoholic. They must be avoided.

The Paleo diet is NOT a low-carb ketogenic diet. It does not restrict fruit consumption, for example. The book Neanderthin is a more low-carb approach to the Paleo diet, but even there you will have to get another eating plan to provide your carb restriction plan. It adds more restrictions to the diet— you will have to give up cream, butter and cheese— but some people like a low-carb Paleo approach.

Some recommended diet plan books:

Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution

Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution

The Diabetes Diet

The Four Corners Diet

How to use the diet plan books: Buy one or more of the books above. Everyone should probably have a copy of the original Atkins book, even if your eating plan is based on The Diabetes Diet or Four Corners. Read them cover to cover. Find the section of the book that is the ‘diet sheet’ — that sums up what foods you can and can’t eat. Make two copies of it. Keep one in your billfold or purse. Put the other up on the refrigerator or somewhere else handy in the kitchen. You can put it on the inside of a cupboard door if you like.

Make a point of reading in your diet plan book for ten minutes every day. This will keep your enthusiasm up, and it will help you remember all the things you need to know about your new diet.

You will also need other books for your low-carb/ketogenic lifestyle. Books like Keto Clarity which show you the benefits of the diet. Recipe books, like those by Dana Carpender.  But you don’t need all that to start with. I started out with just the original Atkins book which I bought at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop. Later, I added an early Atkins recipe book.

Have you ever tried Atkins or another low-carb diet plan? Did you commit to it as a lifelong eating plan? Did you try it for weight loss or for one of the other health benefits? Are you still on it? Do you think it helps you?

Low-Carb Recipe: Cloud Bread/Diet Revolution Roll

cloud bread 3

Cloud bread baked in muffin top pan.

Haven’t done any low-carb lifestyle posts in a while. Very neglectful of me. So here’s what I’ve been making recently.

In the original Atkins diet book published in 1972, there is a recipe called ‘Diet Revolution Rolls’ consisting of separated eggs, cottage cheese and  a pince of cream of tartar, total carbs 3.1 for the whole batch of six rolls.I tried a couple of times but it never turned out well until I bought a muffin top pan. Since I don’t have a working full-size oven, I use a convection oven and so had to buy a four muffin-top size pan to fit.

This improved the rolls quite a bit, but since I put the full batter in the four slots I guess it came out a little thick.

So I Googled. And I found a recipe for ‘Carb Free Cloud Bread’ http://www.food.com/recipe/carb-free-cloud-bread-411501.  It has the SAME ingredients but there are some differences in how you make it. First, that you make 10 ‘rolls’/bread pieces instead of the 6 of the Diet Revolution Bread recipe.  Second, that you cool the bread pieces, put them in a large baggie or some Tupperware, and refrigerate overnight to make it more ‘bready’

So I tried it myself and am working to refine my own version of the recipe. Here’s the preliminary version:

Basic Cloud Bread

 

Cloud bread in my muffin top pan

Cloud bread in my muffin top pan

3 eggs, separated

3 Tablespoons cottage cheese or cream cheese, made from WHOLE milk, not low-fat or fat-free.

1/4 cream of tartar

1 packet (2 teaspoon equivalent) stevia sweetner, WITHOUT maltodextrin (read labels— Truvia and Walmart store brand are OK so far, Family Dollar store brand has the maltodextrin.)

Oven: 300 degrees.

Separate the eggs into 2 bowls. Not one speck of yolk can get into the white. If you are new to separating eggs, have a third bowl to separate the egg whites in to. That way you only ruin one egg white if you get yolk in. Set the egg white bowl with the 3 whites aside.

Add the cottage cheese or cream cheese to the yolks, and the stevia packet. Use a mixer or a hand blender to mix well. (You will either have to wash the blades well, or else use a hand blender for this step and a mixer for the next.

Now, set the yolk mixture aside and get out the egg whites. Add the cream of tartar. Then, beat the eggs with a mixer for a LONG time. Set your timer to 5 minutes. You want the egg whites to form fluffy white peaks.

Mix the yolk mixture very carefully into the whites. Stir just enough to mix well.

Now, prepare your muffin top pans. You must have enough pans for your ten bread pieces. If you don’t have enough muffin top pans, use a plain cookie sheet for the rest of the slices. Spray the pans with non-stick cooking spray (I prefer olive-oil based sprays).

Use a soup spoon or other larger spoon to spoon out the mixture into the pans. Do it one spoonful into each slot and then start over to add the second spoonful. Try to distribute it evenly. Using your spoon, smooth the mixture so that each one is an even round the diameter of a hamburger bun (this is where the muffin top pan makes it easy.)

Bake in a preheated 300 degree Fahrenheit over for about 30 minutes. The time can vary— check near the end of the 30 minutes. Breads should be the color of a store bought hamburger’s bun.

Put the bread pans somewhere safe to cool. You can take them off the pan if you like. When the breads are wholly cool, put them in an airtight plastic bag or plastic container.

Use 2 of the breads to make sandwiches of all sorts, use them as buns for hamburgers or hot dogs. You can even buy take-out burgers and switch the nasty, sweet buns that they come with for these breads.

Carb count (cottage cheese version)

Whole batch: 3.1

Each bread piece: .31

Variations:

Add things like a bit of minced onion, sauted, or some caraway seeds or poppy seeds.

cloud bread 2

Cloud bread on an ordinary cookie sheet. (Excuse the foil lining, it’s a bad idea unless your cookie sheet is old and nasty, like mine.)

Cloud bread is good for low carb lifestyles and is also gluten-free. It’s not quite kosher on Paleo, unless you decide to do a ‘modified Paleo’ which allows dairy and sets severe limits on the fruits (because of the carbs).

It is a good daily bread. If you have children, don’t buy ordinary bread for them even if you are compelled to feed them too many carbs in other parts of their daily diet. Get them used to low-carb daily bread and other staple foods of the low-carb lifestyle.

For Ketogenic diets: this is low-carb enough, but only 4% fat. If you are on the ‘fat-fast’ diet for the moment, you’ll probably end up with only one of the breads to make room for the higher fat items that you’ll want to eat with it. The fat-fast diet is a temporary, very restricted diet for people on a strict low-carb lifestyle (such as Atkins Induction or Bernstein’s Diabetes Diet) who have not been losing weight on it. For more info, read Dana Carpender’s Fat Fast Cookbook. http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Fast-Cookbook-Recipes-Weight/dp/0970493126

 

This Diabetic is Kicking the Drug Habit

OK, it’s like this: ever since I was diagnosed with diabetes a few years back, I have been on from one to two oral diabetes medications (metformin and Actos). When I developed kidney complications I have been on from one to two high blood pressure drugs (lisinopril and amlodipine). Even so, I’ve had to at least partially follow a low carbohydrate diet to get decent blood sugar readings.

And then my latest kidney test comes along, and my kidney doctor gets to shrilly screaming on the phone to my real doctor (who’s a nurse) that I have to quit both my diabetes drug and my high blood pressure drug AT ONCE!!! and so I’m kicking the drug habit.

Luckily I know about low-carb dieting as an aid in controlling diabetes. There are a lot of myths about the LC diet— that it’s a fad diet (the first diet book published was low carb, Banting’s Letter on Corpulence), or that it’s high in fat or has too much protein (actually I eat less fat, and smaller portions of protein foods, when I’m strict LC).

The major books I use to guide me (since there are no doctors around here that I can get to that know low-carb) are:

Atkins Diabetes Revolution (Robert C. Atkins, M. D.)

Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution (Richard K. Bernstein, M. D.)

Dr. Bernstein’s diet is a little stricter, and so I go mostly by that, though if there are foods Bernstein bans but Atkins allows (like raw carrots), I feel free to consume in small quantities if I don’t go over Dr. Bernstein’s carb limits.

The Results:

My blood pressure has immediately gone down to very good levels. My blood sugars are not yet great, BUT they are better than they were on pills and a half-hearted approach to low-carb dieting.

My Low-Carb Breakfast this morning:

IM001195I was in the mood for an ultralight breakfast this morning. So I had some celery sticks which I spread with spreadable Gouda cheese which I bought in the specialty-cheese section of the grocery store in Menominee, MI, which is where my mother lives. I also had a cup of low-carb hot chocolate. The recipe was based on one in an Atkins recipe book. That one called for 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, 2/3 cup water, 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder and a bit of an allowed artificial sweetener. And then you gotta put in in a pot and heat it on the stove for a bit. My recipe is easier— I make it in a styrofoam cup.

Nissa’s Hot Chocolate:

Heat water up in tea kettle or whatever you use to make water for tea.

In your cup, place 1 teaspoon cocoa and 1 to 2 Splenda tablets to sweeten (Or whatever sweetener YOUR preferred Low-Carb book allows).

Pour about 3/4 cup hot water in cup and stir.

Pour about 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream in cup and stir again.

(If you like your hot chocolate really HOT you may have to resort to the kettle method.)

Net carbs of the original Atkins hot chocolate was 5, so this should come in at about 3-4 grams of carb depending on how much cream you use.