Monday, March 18, 2013

Eating Meat and a Love of Animals

I find it mildly amusing when people (mostly vegans and vegetarians) accuse people on a paleo or low carb  diet of hating animals.  As if the simple act of eating another create makes us hateful people who want to abuse puppies and step on bugs.  Well, I'd like to argue that being paleo/low carb has actually made me more of an animal lover.

When you're eating a diet of mostly meat and eggs, you start thinking a lot about how the animals are treated.  Who wants to eat meat from a sick, abused animal?  When I eat eggs or meat or cheese, I want to know that the animals they came from were happy and healthy. 

This line of thought has actually inspired me to start my own mini-farm someday.  We can't afford it now, but someday down the road, we're going to buy a house in the country (in a city that allows you to keep animals on your property, unlike where we currently live) with a nice big yard, and I'm going to keep chickens and goats.  Maybe eventually I'll have a  few cows.  The point is, I want to be intimately involved with the care and welfare of the creatures that feed me, so I know that they're happy and healthy, in the same way I love growing big, healthy vegetables.

I do love animals.  I think they're wonderful, beautiful, and that they deserve the same kindness that we give to each other.  However, I also believe that there is a circle to life.  Without death, there is no life.  That's true of every creature on God's green earth.  If there were no predators, herbivore populations would get so large that they would run out of food and starve to death.  There has to be a balance. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What we need...

I've come to the conclusion that we low carbers need a really simple way to spread the word about our way of eating.  I'm sure we've all run into this problem.  Someone asks you about the way you eat, and you intend to answer in the most understandable, concise way possible, but instead you find yourself rambling on for half an hour about insulin and government recommendations and bad science and generally sounding like a conspiracy theorist.

I did that to one of my friends last week.  She mentioned that she and her husband were going to start a diet, to both lose weight and to help her husband with his high blood pressure (he's in his early 30s).  I really feel like the ideas of the low carb lifestyle and the science behind it are worth sharing, even though I don't feel like it's my place to tell others what they should and shouldn't be eating.  But when I tried to explain to her about insulin resistance and carbs and everything, I really just sounded like a crazy person who had spent too much time on the internet.

I wish some of the great thinkers and writers in the low carb/paleo/primal communities would come together and create a neat little handout that you could print out and give to people, that would explain very clearly the benefits of a cleaner more natural way of eating.  Maybe I'll email some people about it.  Or perhaps I should just ask google and find out if there might already be such a handout out there.

The best way to convince people to change their habits, though, is through example.  If you change your lifestyle and improve your health, people are going to notice and ask you how you did it.  And if they're open minded enough, they might even try the change themselves.

I actually just got my mom to start a low carb diet last week, which is awesome.  She's almost 65, with high blood pressure, bad arthritis, very out of shape, and probably 60-80 pounds overweight.  She called me up on the night of her first day, and said, "I'm actually full!  I'm not hungry at all!  I can't believe you can lose weight on this diet."

So even though I probably didn't do much to convince my friend, at least I convinced my mom to give it a try.  I hope as more science de-vilifies the low carb way of eating, my friend will remember what I said and look more into the subject.

What I should have done was just handed her a dvd of Fat Head and walked away without saying a word.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

No S Diet Progress

I started eating a low carb version of the No S Diet about two weeks ago, in an attempt to stop my in-between-meal hunger and the snacking that followed.  So I thought it would be a great time for an update.

Just to recap, on the No S Diet, you basically just eat three square meals a day with no snacks, no sweets, and no seconds.  The first two days I was on the diet, I decided to pretty much stuff myself at meal times in hopes that it would help get me through to the next meal.  For the most part, that worked, but I did still feel a little hunger.  Also, I realized that eating that much actually gave me unnatural amounts of energy and made me incredibly hot (which sounds great, but actually having a ton of energy you don't know how to use can be uncomfortable).  So by the third day, I decided to tone it down a bit and eat what I would have normally eaten anyway. 

The results?  By the third day, my in-between-meals hunger had completely gone away, and I'm not eating any more at meal times than I was before.  I'm completely amazed at how quickly my body was able to adjust to only getting food at meal times.  I did backslide on the day of and the day after Chad and I did the Reese's portion of our N=2 experiment.  Eating so much sugar made me so hungry that night, and even the day after, I had those same in-between-meals pangs that I used to get.  But by the next day, I was good to go again. 

I'm really curious to see if this will affect my weight.  I've actually put on weight since I started, but I know from experience that that's just a normal part of my menstrual cycle and it'll go away in a few days.

Monday, March 4, 2013

N=2: Atkins PB Cups

My husband Chad and I are very big nerds.  We love science, and we love numbers, figures, and graphs, especially when it comes to low carb stuff.  So when we first got our glucose meter, I knew we would be doing some very interesting experiments with it. 

I found myself walking through Walmart's supplement isle a couple weeks ago, when I noticed a whole line of Atkins items.  Bars, meal replacement shakes, and snacks.  The thought of being able to eat sweets on a low carb diet is incredibly enticing to me, but I've seen the Diet Doctor talk about how processed Atkins foods are a fairy tale, so I was hesitant.

But being the science nerd that I am, I had to find out for sure what these foods do to blood glucose levels.  So I bought the one item I knew I could find in a conventional form to test against.

The front of the box says there are only 2g net carbs, but the back says different.  This is what you'll see on the back:

According to their logic, you should subtract all of the sugar alcohols from the total carb (18 - 5 - 11 = 2).  And although I know you can use this simple math if the sugar alcohol in question is erythritol, that's not the case with the Atkins PB cups.  Here's what's inside this item:

Ingredients: Maltitol, cocoa butter, peanut butter (peanuts, mono & diglycerides, salt, mixed tocopherols), polydextrose, chocolate liquor, clarified butter, peanuts, less than 2% of peanut oil, sodium caseinate, milk powder, natural flavor, vanillin, tocopherols, palm kernel and palm oil, soy lecithin, salt, sucralose
 The first ingredient in this list is maltitol, which, yes, is a sugar alcohol, but that doesn't automatically mean that it's carb free.  It's hard to find hard data on the internet, but from what I was able to scrounge up, maltitol syrup has a glycemic index of 52 (whereas table sugar has a GI of 60).  Powdered maltitol is a little lower with a GI of 36, but that's nonetheless a blood sugar response.  Some sources say that you can count the carbs for maltitol by cutting them in half.  So if the label says there are 11g of sugar alcohols, then your body will absorb 5.5g.

 But like I said before, I would much rather find in first hand what this would do to my blood sugar than blindly believe whatever I read on the internet.  So Chad and I went out and bought the Atkins cups, some Reese's cups, and some extra glucose test strips.  For comparison, here's the nutrition and ingredients for the Reese's:

Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (Milk Chocolate contains Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Nonfat Milk, Milk Fat, Lactose, and Soy Lecithin and PGPR (as Emulsifiers), Peanuts, Sugar, Dextrose, Salt, and TBHQ (to Preserve Freshness)
The first test we did was on the Atkins cups.  We took base readings, then took readings every 30 minutes after finishing the candies.

I have to admit, we were both pleasantly surprised at how nice the Atkins pb cups are.  They're smooth and chocolatey, and the peanut butter tastes like real peanuts.  The chocolate does have a bit of a cooling effect from the maltitol, but I did rather like them.  They're actually better than the Reese's, which really surprised me, considering I used to practically worship Reese's when I was a kid.

These charts have no key, so I'll just say that the red bar is Chad, and the green bar is me.

So here is the chart for the Atkins:

We then tested the Reese's the next day, at the same time, to make sure we got a similar reading.

(Before I get too far, I want to say that my last reading was actually at 130 minutes, but I couldn't figure out how to properly chart that, so I just stuck it on the 120 line.)

We had full intentions of only testing as many times as we did for the Atkins.  However, after getting such a high (and sustained) reading, Chad decided to keep testing.  And toward the end there, I started to feel really hungry, so I thought I should test another time as well, to see what was going on.  Now I'm a little bit disappointed we didn't test longer for the Atkins cups.  However, we made sure to keep track of our hunger after eating both kinds of pb cups, and neither of us felt any increase in hunger with the Atkins the way we did with the Reese's (I was positively ravenous by the time I got dinner on the table that night).  

I want to also mention how interesting it is to see the difference between our blood sugar levels.  Chad is a tall, skinny but muscular guy, whereas I'm a medium height, chuncky girl with a history of PCOS (I actually weigh a little more than Chad, despite his being nearly a foot taller than me).  But despite the fact that you would think that I should be less insulin sensitive, Chad has always gotten higher and longer sustained blood sugar levels when we test.  But, I do tend to eat lower carb than he does, so maybe that's made me super sensitive.

After eating the Atkins cups, Chad and I felt pretty normal.  He said there was a little bit of the aftertaste he gets when he eats real sugar, but it wasn't very strong, and I didn't notice anything at all.  However, after eating the Reese's cups, we both felt pretty crappy.  He had a strong aftertaste after eating them, and then after the 120 minute mark, I started feeling incredibly hungry.  At the 150 minute mark, Chad said he was feeling really tired.  We ate dinner shortly after that, but for the rest of the night, both of us were so tired we mostly just sat on the couch, and then we ended up going to bed at 9PM(!).  Now, I can't say for certain that the Reese's caused our extreme tiredness.  Chad may have been going through caffeine withdrawal, and since we have been actively trying to have a baby, I could possibly be pregnant (tiredness is an early symptom).  I find it strange that we didn't start feeling tired until after we ate the Reese's cups, though.

My conclusion is that, although the Atkins peanut butter cups could raise your blood sugar a little, they're not nearly as bad as the Reese's cups.  The ingredients list on the Atkins, while not perfect, is actually pretty decent for a candy.  I wouldn't recommend eating these every day, but if you're just transitioning to the low carb lifestyle, or if you have a hankering for something indulgent, these could be a useful tool on your journey. 

(And no, I'm not at all connected to the Atkins or the Reese's companies, I didn't get any compensation, and I paid for both products with my own money.)