Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sugar and you

Energy from our food comes from three sources - protein, fat and carbohydrates. Most foods are a combination of at least two of them. Our bodies and our brains handle them differently. While fats and proteins follow one path, carbohydrates take a different one, a path that will influence your ability to think and how much weight you carry around your waist, to name a couple.

Why should you care? Remember that the carbohydrates in the food you eat has to be metabolized differently, you know, the "different path." What many people miss is that many supposedly innocent foods are loaded with carbohydrates - a.k.a.sugar! As a low carber, of course I avoid the obvious things like sugar, bread and pasta. But did you know that fruit is full of carbohydrates? Even fresh fruit, even organic fruit. I just don't eat it. Did you know that all root vegetables have a lot of carbs? We all might think about potatoes, but what about turnips and carrots? Full of carbs. If it grows beneath ground level, I just avoid it. And how about a glass of wine or beer with dinner? Nope. Both are full of carbs!

If your breakfast is a bowl of cereal, even without any added sugar, and maybe a piece of toast, washed down with a glass of orange juice, you are setting up your brain to tell you to eat more in just a couple of hours. You are whetting your appetite for carbohydrate laden food for the rest of the day. If you don't believe me, try this breakfast and tell me how long it takes for you to be hungry again.
  • Scramble three eggs in a tablespoon of butter.
  • Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Top with a little more soft butter
  • Eat and enjoy.
  • Have a glass of water and some coffee, black
  • STOP
I can almost guarantee you that you will not even think about food for four or five hours. Try it! Just for one day. Please!! And if you do, let me know how it works for you. (I hear how low carb diets are so expensive, but eggs are very cheap. Deviled eggs - yum! Egg salad, also yum. Mayo is pretty inexpensive as well.) While I'm not a fan of soy, black organic soy beans do make a great salad. (Don't use black turtle beans - they are FULL OF CARBS.) Drain and rinse, then add homemade vinegar and oil dressing (or check the label on the stuff from store to find some without carbs), crumbled feta cheese, cilantro or mint and a tablespoon of very finely chopped red onion for a little seasoning. Not too many onions though. They fall into the "root vegetable" category. Then salt and pepper to taste. It's an occasional treat for me.

Your will see references to "ketosis" and "ketogenic diet" in this blog. There will be more about that in my next blog. For now, it's enough to know that a ketogenic diet is one very low in carbohydrates and very high in fats. Details later.

Here are some good reasons to start cutting sugar and carbohydrates out of your diet - obviously not all of them, but virtually everyone should be able to happily live on 100 grams of carbohydrates a day. (You can record your consumption at - no cost to join for an eye-opening view of just how many carbs you are eating.) 
  1. Your brain will thank you. You will think more clearly. I know people who have been able to cut out antidepressants when eating a low carb diet. About 35% of epileptics will experience reduced seizures, and in many cases a complete cure, with a very low carb diet (under 50 grams per day). Although the study was very small, two women with bi-polar disorder were able to cease taking any medication with a very low carb diet. Children with autism are known to function better with a very high fat, very low carbohydrate diet. Don't take my word for it - start googling!
  2. Your waistline will thank you. Nothing will get rid of belly fat better than the good old-fashioned Atkins diet. You really don't have to pack the pounds around your waistline. Really! Go to the Atkins site for a lot of support and good recipes. It's free.
  3. Your heart will thank you. Your triglyceride level is a more effective measurement of heart health (or lack thereof) than your cholesterol reading. Speaking for myself only, when I went into ketosis with a very low carb diet, my reading fell from 105 to 53. Not too shabby! Yup, my total cholesterol reading went up, but my ratio of HDL to LDL is very good. 
  4. Your blood sugar will thank you. Google "the use of a ketogenic diet in controlling type 2 diabetes" and read all about it. Sadly, the average age of the onset of Type 2 diabetes is getting lower and lower. Soda isn't the only culprit. The hamburger bun isn't good, either, and French fries, and cereal, and pancakes with syrup, and mashed potatoes and gravy. Eating too many carbs increases insulin resistance, which of course leads to Type 2 diabetes, but also is a part of metabolic syndrome associated with heart disease. Can you imagine how much less this country would spend on medical care if we cut back on the carbs in our diet? It's going to be hard to do with the push for vegetarianism, the malignment of meat, and nutritionist encouraging the consumption of whole grains. There really are no "good" carbs, just foods with carbs that have offsetting advantages, such as kale, cauliflower and nuts, to name a few.
So with increasing publicity for paleo and low carb diets, why do people still eat all of the carbs? Because sugar a.k.a. carbohydrates make us feel good - at least temporarily. Short term pleasure vs. long term health? I know what most people choose. A friend of mine was on statins, knew how bad they were, but she loved her sweets, and she said she could eat more sweets if she took statins. Really? 

So if you want to try a low carb diet, here are some tips.
  1. Go to Atkins (or another is and record your food for a couple of days just to see where you are with your current diet. If you are doing this for weight loss, record your weight.
  2. Strive for a menu that is 10% to 15% carbohydrates, 65% fat and 20% to 25% protein. Don't make the mistake of replacing carbohydrates with protein. Replace them with fat, really.  And stay away from polyunsaturated and trans fats. Best are saturated fat and monounsaturated fat. If you want to fry something, using lard or clarified butter is better than olive oil because they can be heated to a higher temperature without damaging them. But by all means use olive oil for salad dressing or a light sauté of vegetables.
  3. Try eating this way for just one day. Don't decide about what you are going to do tomorrow until you get up tomorrow. One day at a time - it works. Really.
  4. Have some good foods on hand. Get eggs! You can buy a pack of 24 eggs at Meijers for less than $2.00. Cauliflower can be used for everything you would do with potatoes, including really good mashed "potatoes" and "potato" salad.
  5. Read the labels when you shop. Take your smart phone with you and look up carb count of fresh vegetables that don't carry nutritional labels. Don't bother to look up the fruit. Just stay away from it for the time being. When checking for carb count, you can deduct the fiber from it - so if something has 10 carbs per serving but 2 grams of fiber, your net carb count would be 8.
  6. I don't have to tell you not to eat between meals because you won't want to. But should you get the urge, have a BIG glass of water. If you still want something, eat a few nuts, walnuts being the best choice, or maybe a couple of Brazil nuts. You will be fine. Really.
  7. My biggest challenge is the desire to nosh in the evening. If you ate a "proper" dinner, e.g. a hamburger with no bun, mustard and/or mayo instead of ketchup, and a side of mashed cauliflower with plenty of butter, at least your stomach and your brain will not be telling you to eat. But the evening munchies is kind of a bad habit. Not sure what to tell you. Just bite the bullet, and eventually it will be time for bed. And BTW, you will sleep better on this regimen.
  8. Focus on what you CAN eat, not on what you can't eat. Steak on the grill topped with blue cheese and a side of greens swimming in olive oil? No problem! Here is another site with great recipes, one I use a lot. Linda's Low Carb Recipes
I would like very much to get a group together to hold each other up and give encouragement to stay on a low carb way of eating. If you are interested, be sure to send me a comment on this blog. And now, here is a picture of your brain on cocaine, and your brain on sugar. Really!

There are nice red spots in the middle of those green blobs in a healthy brain! I don't see any here. Do you?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susan! I was looking at some old stuff, stumbled upon my own blog (which is empty) but see yours!

    I really need to do something - in the last 3 years I've gained another 20 pounds! Still try to stay HFLC BUT some days I will swing thru fast food and of course HF HC = weight gain. ugh.
    i'm up right now way past my bedtime but let me know if you get a group together. I really need to do something to get back on track. my email addy is