Sunday, July 31, 2011

Last Inner Carnivore Post

This will be my last post on Inner Carnivore. I will continue blogging, but am moving to my new blog, Low Carb Wisdom.

Why the change? Inner Carnivore could best be described as the "honeymoon period" I have had with the low carb way of life. It was a voyage of discovery for me, as I learned a lot of new things about the low carb way of eating. However, after five months and 55 pounds of weight loss, I have also begun to notice the warts about low carbing and I want to change the focus of the blog.

The new blog will be a critical examination of the pros and cons of low carbing, including an in depth examination of the Conventional Wisdom and Prevailing Opinion about the low carb lifestyle. I will continue the low carb way of eating, but as I mentioned in the previous post, it is not a magic weight loss bullet. Hard work, willpower, and calorie counting are still necessities, as I will explain.

So if you have enjoyed reading Inner Carnivore, follow me over to Low Carb Wisdom.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Epiphany: No Magic Bullet

I have written about nutritional conventional wisdom or prevailing opinion (CWOPO) before and it is one of the most read articles on this site. However, I have come the the realization that CWOPO exists within the low carb community as well and, as is often the case with conventional nutritional wisdom, low carb CWOPO can be wrong. At least for me. Let me explain.

As I have mentioned before, I have at one time lost a lot of weight (100+ pounds) using Weight Watchers, but gained it all back. Over a nine month period, I averaged 2.4 pounds per week on WW. Five months into my low carb journey and I am averaging less weight loss per week (2.3) than on WW. I realize I am almost 50 years old, and that should explain some of the slow down, but not all. In recent weeks, my weight loss has slowed considerably, to less than two pounds per week. The low carb community on the web often talks about weight loss stalls, or plateaus, and I want to avoid that. So I have been analyzing what I have been eating, including my total calories, using software I have written about before. This led to my epiphany.

The low carb diet is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. This makes sense: if you reduce carbs, you must replace the macro nutrient total with either protein or fat and too much protein can be dangerous (according to chapter 15, p. 210 of The Art and Science of Low Carb Living). So we increase the fat. If you look at my macro nutrient breakdown from yesterday (for a total of 2,100 calories) using the software, it looks like this:
So I am clearly following a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. But here is where low carb CWOPO comes into play: CWOPO tells me that calories do not count, that low carbing provides a metabolic advantage, and that I should be adding a lot of fat to my diet to boost my fat intake total. So I added fat, didn't count calories, and counted on the metabolic advantage to take care of the rest. And my weight loss has slowed.

Then I had an epiphany. At 2,100 calories, I AM eating a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. There is no need to add a lot of additional fat to the diet, and calories do count.

So I have made some changes. I am watching/tracking my calories on, I am cutting some of the fat (as adding it only adds calories, and they do count!) and for me, metabolic advantage is a myth.

What I wanted was a magic bullet to cure my weight problems. I thought low carb was it. It works well for me, it keeps the hunger demons at bay, intrinsically, I like it A LOT more than the low fat diets like Weight Watchers, but it isn't the magic bullet I wanted. It still requires willpower and hard work to make it to my goal. And it provides a way to maintain my weight that I can live with.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tracking Macro Nutrients

I recently discovered the web site (developed by the Lance Armstrong foundation). While it is based on faulty nutritional assumptions (CWOPO), such as lowering cholesterol and sodium intake, it is very useful for tracking calories and your macro nutrient breakdown (e.g., how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates you consume).

As I have mentioned before, the low carb lifestyle is more about fat than protein. It is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. In percentage terms, my macro nutrient breakdown for yesterday is as follows:

Translated into numbers, yesterday, I consumed 165 grams of protein, 29 grams of "arbs" (or "carbs," of which 7 grams were fiber, for a net carb total of 22 grams), and 230 grams of fat. My total calories consumed yesterday came to 2,808 but, according to this software, I also walked the dog for 330 calories, making my net caloric intake yesterday 2,478 calories. The database at this site is very extensive, the best I have seen.

So while I do not really track calories (I only track grams of carbs and I am still losing weight), this was a very useful software tool for tracking macro nutrients and for getting a picture of what I am eating.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Low Carb vs. Low Fat for Weight Loss

Apparently, 14 clinical trials comparing a low carb diets with low fat diets with statistically significant results have been published between 2003 and 2008. In all 14 trials, those on low carb diets lost significantly more weight than those on low fat diets. The author is careful to point out that he only selected studies that statistically compared one diet to another, and that the "low carb" diets were truly low carb. (Some studies claiming to compare low fat with "low carb" are not really low carb, as there are more than 30% of calories from carbohydrates. In a true low carb diet, carbs are usually 5 to 10% of calories).

The author of the article summarizing this list has given permission to copy it onto other blogs, so I am taking advantage of his generosity. Here are the studies, complete with links, for you data junkies out there.

Randomized controlled trials showing significantly more weight loss with low carb diets:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

Hello Low Carb Conversation visitors! I have discontinued this blog but have started another, Low Carb Wisdom. Visit me there!

I've mentioned before this is not a recipe blog, but I have been known to make exceptions before. Time for another exception.

While in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, last week, we had dinner at an amazing restaurant called the Yellow Fin. We had perhaps the best shrimp cocktail I have ever eaten, and it was the cocktail sauce that made all the difference. I asked the server how it was made, and she told me.  It is really easy, to boot, plus purely low carb.

Take 6 to 8 ripe, medium sized tomatoes. Peel and seed the tomatoes.
Pulse the tomatoes in your food processor (but do not puree; leave chunks).
Add 1/4 cup pure horseradish (or perhaps a bit more, if you like more bite to your sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste.  
Juice from 1/4 lemon
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce (optional).

Then stir it all together. Makes about one cup of cocktail sauce for your cold, boiled shrimp. Without using processed and carb-laden ketchup.

We discovered that it tastes better if it has had a while for the flavors to mix, so prepare some a few hours before you need it. And we sometimes needed to put the sauce on the shrimp with a spoon, but it was really good.

Dietary Consequences of Farm Subsidies

Soybeans are heavily subsidized by the U.S. government, as is corn. If you read labels, you will notice that corn and soybean products are in everything. Why? Since they are subsidized, they are very inexpensive and hence are used more often than other, more expensive raw materials. For example, compare the price of olive oil, which is not subsidized, with the price of corn or soybean oil, which are subsidized. If we are what we eat, then, according to Michael Pollan, we are corn and soybeans.

Read the ingredients label on any processed food in your pantry; chances are, they will contain soy or corn. Some estimates suggest that 40% of the calories in the standard American diet come directly from either soy (a cheap source of protein and fat) or corn (a cheap source of carbohydrates). And even more is consumed indirectly, since much of the diet of cattle and chicken is also comprised of soy and corn.

So what's the problem? Isn't saving families money a good thing? Saving money is a good thing, but what if, in the attempt to save money, you are eating foods that are a direct cause of the national obesity and diabetes crises?

Is consuming so many products made from corn and soy even healthy? Some people have suggested that eating soy products is dangerous and entire books have been written about the negative aspects of soy consumption. Others suggest that the fear of soy is overblown but suggest caution and limited quantities anyway. High fructose corn syrup has taken a beating in the popular press lately, so much so that the Corn Refiner's Association has petitioned the FDA to rebrand high fructose corn syrup as "corn sugar." And carbohydrates in general, such as those provided by corn products, are increasingly being fingered as a cause of dietary harm, even in the mainstream media, in such publications as the New York Times and the Los AngelesTimes.

Vegetable and seed oils, such as corn and soybean oils, have replaced fats from animal sources in the standard American diet, with a lot of unexpected, negative consequences.

Here's the problem: real food (fresh fruits, vegetables, non-grain fed meats, eggs, dairy products from pastured cows, animal sources of fats, etc.), food that is healthy and that will nourish you, is not subsidized and is much more expensive. In other words, the type of food we low carbers eat. Cheap, subsidized, and processed foods, dense in carbohydrates, are very fattening. Is this an appropriate use of our tax dollars?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekly Update

My weight loss has slowed somewhat over the past two weeks. I have lost a total of 2.6 pounds in the past two weeks, including our vacation to Maine. So I am not disappointed with the loss, as we have been eating out way too much. I make good choices, the best available, but it is certainly easier to eat at home. Follow my weight loss progress with this chart. I have now lost 52.6 pounds in 23 weeks, for a weekly average loss of 2.29 pounds.