Sunday, 15 April 2012

Newsletter 31, April 2012 - The Calorie Advantage with Low Carb Diets

Get the calorie advantage and avoid starvation mode

Many experts believe that low carb diets are the best diets for avoiding the starvation mode trap. By this I mean the situation where your body thinks your weight loss is unintentional and slows down your metabolism to prevent further weight loss, thus protecting you from the 'famine'. Low carb diets are believed to have an advantage in this respect because, besides minimising insulin levels (high insulin levels encourage fat storage and prevent its release), they allow weight loss at a higher calorie intake than low calorie/low fat diets. This is sometimes referred to as the 'calorie advantage' or 'metabolic advantage'.

That a calorie advantage can exist is not universally accepted, because the concept of being able to lose weight on a higher level of calories when these come from protein rather than carbohydrate foods does not fit with the idea that 'all calories are equal'. Detractors of the calorie advantage say that it defies the Laws of Thermodynamics because energy cannot 'just disappear'. (The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can only change from one form to another).

However, low carb diets are usually high in protein. Protein takes more energy to metabolise than either carbohydrates or fat, because longer and more complex biochemical reactions are required in order to break the protein down into energy that the body can use. As a result, when protein is digested, more heat is produced. This explains the 'missing' calories and so satisfies the First Law of Thermodynamics. This 'wasting' of calories is also predicted by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says that in any reaction that is irreversible there is a loss or dissipation of energy in that reaction.

So it seems that your body 'wastes' more of your calories when you go low carb. Allowing you to eat more calories than if you were doing the traditional low calorie/low fat diet is an advantage in itself, but enabling you to lose weight without reducing your calories too drastically helps keep your body from going into starvation mode, which is another very significant benefit. Moreover, low carb/high protein diets also eliminate the constant hunger commonly experienced on low calorie/low fat diets, which is yet another signal to the body to go into starvation mode.

Put like that, there doesn't seem to be a lot going for low calorie/low fat diets, does there? Read more about the tricks to successful weight loss in 'Why Can't I Lose Weight - the Real Reasons Diets Fail and What to Do About It'.

New Recipes in the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook

For those of our readers who are subscribers to the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook, two new recipes have just been released: Family Blackberry Crumble (4-24) and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (6-30). You will find these recipes already in your Cookbook next time you log in.

Your Successes, Requests and Questions

This is your spot. Whether it's your dietary success story, a request to cover a particular topic in a future newsletter or a question you would like answered, we would love to hear from you. Please do contact us.

Here is a question we answered recently:

Q: I've been following a low carb/high protein eating plan and have lost almost 50 lbs in about 4-4 1/2 months and feeling great, but I am chewing a stick or two of sugar-containing gum, but it doesn't seem to be hurting my loss. What have you to say about this?? I also do drink my caffeine diet pop daily, and, again, nothing BAD has happened, it doesn't seem. Isn't the theory that drinking diet pop will make you want sweet things more? If you don't, or don't eat the sweet things, isn't it okay to continue this way? Just wondering what YOUR take would be on these two points!

A: Congratulations on your 50lbs lost! I wouldn't worry about the small amount of sugar in chewing gum if you're still losing weight and you're taking in plenty of protein, vegetables and salads. (Assuming that you are not having more than one or two pieces of gum a day).

If your diet pop is not making you crave sweet things, then you are proving the 'theory' wrong (or at least, that it is not true for all people!) However, you do need to be wary of what sweeteners are used in the pop. Most experts now say that all artificial sweeteners are harmful, but in my opinion the one that is most important to avoid is aspartame (Nutrasweet). This is because it is an endocrine disrupter. If it disrupts the balance of your hormones its effects may not be immediately obvious, but take many years to have an effect.

Additionally, anything that is acidic and carbonated (as most pops are) is also very hard on tooth enamel and may also contribute to osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones. The caffeine in the pop will also be driving your adrenal glands hard (as will caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate, painkillers etc). Taken with the stress on your adrenal glands that ongoing weight loss causes, I would certainly suggest you limit your intake of pop to one glass per day if you feel you have to have it. Having said that, if the pop is important in helping you to stay on low carb, then having it is better than cutting it out completely and risking falling off the diet.

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With best wishes for your continued good health
Jackie Bushell
Founder Director, GoodDietGoodHealth.com

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Newsletter 30, January 2012: hCG Diet Guide and Why Can't I Lose Weight Update

I lost 35 pounds in less than 10 weeks of dieting!

Well, it's certainly been a busy and eventful year. Having spent quite some months researching the hCG Diet, navigating through the copious conflicting and often scientifically unsupportable information about it, I eventually felt confident enough to try it out for myself. I am more than delighted to say it lived up to its reputation for producing unbelievably fast weight loss, even in a hard loser like myself.

I did two 'Rounds' of the hCG Diet, because I needed to lose 35 pounds - more than the maximum number you are allowed to lose in a single Round. In the very low calorie diet (VLCD) fat-loss phase of Round 1 (I did four weeks) I lost 17 pounds. That's only one pound less than the average of between 18 and 24 pounds for a female. For me, this was an astounding result, bearing in mind my long-standing thyroid and adrenal problems. I would have been surprised and delighted had I lost only half that!

Despite only taking in 500 calories a day on the VLCD, I was not hungry. I then came off the VLCD and kept my weight stable in the 'stabilisation' phase for eight weeks with my usual low carb way of eating before starting Round 2, losing a further 18 pounds (five-and-a-half weeks of VLCD this time). So my total loss over the entire four month period (of which incredibly only nine-and-a-half weeks were actual VLCD and weight loss weeks) was 35 pounds - bang on target! For more on my personal weight loss story see My Story.

This kind of rapid weight loss is usually termed a crash diet. Whether the hCG Diet should be termed a crash diet I do not know, as it is usually used as a perjorative term - a warning that it is not good for your health and that the weight loss is illusory, probably mostly water weight, or worse, it's lean muscle rather than fat that you're losing. However, to tar the hCG Diet with this brush would seem wholly unjustified, as not only does it have a reputation for being very safe but reports are that it produces a much higher loss of fat compared with lean muscle than other diets, which has to be good from the point of view of maintaining the weight loss in the future. And the weight loss is far too high and too sustained to be accounted for by 'water loss'. So I shall categorise the hCG Diet as a healthy ultra-rapid fat loss diet.

Then of course, as is my way when I find something that is of use to those of us who struggle with weight- and diet-related issues, I decided to write a comprehensive guide to the hCG Diet so that others could benefit from it without having to spend months of time and effort sorting the truth from the myth like I did. Writing the "The Easy Guide to the hCG Diet" took up another couple of months, and then there was a major update of my e-book "Why Can't I Lose Weight" to make, together with a minor update of my "Low Carb is Easy Cookbook". So if I haven't updated my blog or websites quite as regularly as I would have liked, that's the reason. I have nevertheless continued to respond to questions about weight loss problems, low carb and stone age diets and recipes and other diet-related issues during the year, and look forward to receiving and responding to more of your interesting questions in 2012.

Your Successes, Requests and Questions

This is your spot. Whether it's your dietary success story, a request to cover a particular topic in a future newsletter or a question you would like answered, we would love to hear from you. Please do contact us.

Here is a question we answered recently:

Q: I am just starting Atkins, but saw something about trying to eliminate coffee or strong teas... why? Also, having just started I bought a grand amount of salami and have been wolfing that down ... afraid I will get cravings otherwise...

A: There are lots of opposing views on whether the caffeine in coffee (and in tea, chocolate, colas and some other soft drinks, some painkillers and cough/cold remedies too for that matter) will affect weight loss. Dr. Atkins recommends avoiding caffeine as it may trigger insulin. One thing is for sure - you know you're having too much caffeine if you get palpitations/nervousness/jitters with it. And if you 'need' your caffeine to get you going (and very probably, if you get headaches or other withdrawal symptoms when you stop) that indicates you're addicted to it. So although no-one is sure whether caffeine will affect your weight loss on a low carb (or any other) diet, it's not that good an idea to get too much of it for other reasons.

Salami is not too good for you because it usually contains a lot of cancer-promoting chemicals called nitrites (as may any processed meat and fish). Processsed meats (and fish) may also contain carbs due to the sugar they are cured with, or sugar may be added, and/or they may contain fillers such as 'rusk' or other forms of starch which all contain carbs.

Having said that, you may (as I do) take the view that if a certain amount of caffeine and salami helps you get over the first period when you are adjusting to your new low carb way of eating, then that is better than cutting them out entirely if this results in your succumbing to cravings and giving up your low carb diet altogether.

Personally I switched to decaffeinated coffee and herbal caffeine-free teas some years ago and don't miss the ordinary coffee and tea at all now. I'm now lessening the impact of the decaffeinated coffee (which has issues of its own) by having just half a teaspoon of decaff together with half a teaspoon of a chicory-based coffee substitute. I think the main thing is to be open to trying new (and hopefully less damaging) foods and drinks and not get stuck in a rut with what we've always eaten/drunk.

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With best wishes for your continued good health
Jackie Bushell
Founder Director, GoodDietGoodHealth.com

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Newsletter 29, October 2011

The hCG Diet

The hottest diet of the year (and possibly the decade) must surely be the hCG Diet. Claiming that it produces an average weight loss of three to five pounds a week, resets your set point so that you do not suffer the accelerated fat storage that dogs the return to 'normal' eating of most other diets, keeps you fed 'internally' so that you do not feel hungry on the 500 calorie a day fat-loss phase of the diet, and leaves you looking remarkably unscraggy by taking off unwanted or 'abnormal' fat rather than the much-needed structural fat that comes off on other diets, what's not to like?

Well, and I say this from recent personal experience, the hCG Diet is very stringent, exacting and demanding of your time in learning how to do it and organising your shopping, meals and social life around it. However, the potential benefits of the hCG Diet are great. Many people are reporting fantastic success with it, particularly those who have had trouble achieving weight loss with other diets, and those who are hypothyroid (have an underactive or sluggish thyroid). Both of these problems are of course very close to my heart, so once I became aware that both my thyroid doctor and my nutritional therapist were in favour of the hCG Diet, I felt confident that it was safe for me to try. I am extremely pleased with the results, as you can read in my latest update to My Story.

So do I think the hCG Diet will supplant the low carb diet that I have been faithfully following since 2000? No. Dr Simeons, the author of the original hCG Diet, which he published in his book "Pounds and Inches - A New Approach to Obesity" in 1967, clearly recognised that carbohydrates are the villains for many people. In his book he is very emphatic about the need to refrain from all sugars and starches in the fat-loss and stabilisation phases of the hCG Diet, only reintroducing them gradually in the long term maintenance phase, and then only if they do not cause an increase in weight. Like me, I suspect that most dieters will find that their tolerance to carbs is such that they will effectively end up on a low or at least a controlled carb way of eating.

This is not cause for dismay, though. The number of clinical studies demonstrating the health benefits of a low carb way of eating for the large sector of the population that is carbohydrate intolerant has ballooned in recent years. So too has the availability of low carb substitute ingredients and knowledge of how to use them. The many good low carb cookbooks that are now available are testament to this, and low carbers no longer need to go without their favourite foods. On the subject of low carb cookbooks, we have just released another couple of recipes into our own Low Carb is Easy Cookbook.

New Recipes in the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook

For those of our readers who are subscribers to the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook, two new recipes have just been released: Red Grape Fool (4-22) and Banana Cheesecake (4-23). You will find these recipes already in your Cookbook next time you log in.

Your Successes, Requests and Questions

This is your spot. Whether it's your dietary success story, a request to cover a particular topic in a future newsletter or a question you would like answered, we would love to hear from you. Please do contact us.

Here is a question we answered recently:

Q: I am female, 39 and have pcos. I have been on the atkins for about nearly a month now and I haven’t lost a single pound despite the fact that I have been in continuous ketosis for about 3 weeks. The stix is always in ketosis. I am a vegetarian and have been eating quorn and a bit more cheese to replace the meat but everything else is by the book and I am always under 20g per day. Any ideas what could be preventing this from working?

A: It is possible to be "in ketosis" (as in showing ketones on the stix) without burning your own fat stores if you've got enough energy coming in in your diet to fuel your body's needs. In other words, the stix could be reflecting the burning of your incoming fuel, not the burning of your fat stores.

You may have to reduce your total calories.

You might find it helpful to read 'Why Can't I Lose Weight - the Real Reasons Diets Fail and What to Do About It' as it explains the many more reasons why you might not be losing weight.

Visit our Newsletter Archive

Did you miss an issue? Want to review an issue you really enjoyed? Be sure to check out our newsletter archive.

With best wishes for your continued good health
Jackie Bushell
Founder Director, GoodDietGoodHealth.com

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Hypothyroidism and the Adrenal Connection - Explained on Video

From the maker of the brilliant video about the TSH Test for Hypothyroidism and why it is often useless, another great video called 'Why Isn't My Thyroid Medication Working?' This time it's about weak adrenals (also called low adrenal reserve, adrenal insufficiency, or adrenal fatigue)and how they affect the thyroid.

If your thyroid medication is not working, you really need to watch this video, and so probably do your doctor and endocrinologist!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The TSH Test for Hypothyroidism - Explained on Video

For those of us hypothyroids who have suffered and still are suffering at the hands of the TSH test, here is a video which I think sums up the situation perfectly with a wonderful sense of humour. May all doctors and endocrinologists the world over watch it!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOb2POQGE6g

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Newsletter 28, January 2011

Fructose, Diabetes, Weight Loss and High Blood Pressure

Is fructose healthy? Is it good for diabetics? Does it help you lose weight? Surely it must be good for you, because it is a natural sugar contained in honey, fruit and vegetables?

Diabetics have been encouraged to favour fructose (or 'fruit sugar') over ordinary table sugar (sucrose) because it does not require insulin to process it and because it is low on the glycaemic index, so it does not cause a spike in blood sugar.

The health-conscious and those trying to lose weight have also been encouraged to see the granulated fructose on their supermarket shelves as more healthy and natural than the bags of granulated sucrose sitting next to it. Agave syrup is another high-fructose product that has been marketed in this way.

However fructose may not be as benign as we have been led to believe. Fructose moves into the liver where it is processed into glycerol, a component of the triglyceride molecule. As a consequence, eating significant amounts of fructose usually causes levels of VLD (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) and triglycerides to rise, which is absolutely not what we want.

The latest buzz from the natural health world is that a byproduct of fructose metabolism is uric acid, which drives blood pressure up. Studies have also shown that regular consumption of fructose can impair the body's handling of glucose and lead to insulin resistance (the end point of which is type 2 diabetes). In fact, feeding lab rats fructose is a standard method of causing them to become insulin resistant and develop high blood pressure.

And what usually goes hand-in-hand with the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes? Obesity. Many fructose researchers believe that high levels of fructose in our diet may be a significant factor in the development of today's obesity epidemic.

What's more, fructose is readily able to attach to proteins and damage them in the process called fructation. This can wreak havoc with critical body structures, causing permanent damage ranging from premature aging of the skin to cataracts and even failure of major organs such as the kidneys and heart.

The amount of fructose ingested and therefore the risk of suffering these effects increases massively with the consumption of processed foods and drinks. Particularly worrying in this regard are soft drinks and sodas. Almost all of those sold today contain very high levels of fructose because they are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Manufacturers use HFCS instead of sucrose because it is cheaper.

So the bottom line seems to be that products containing HFCS have no place at all in anyone's diet, that granulated fructose 'fruit sugar' and agave syrup may be even worse for you than other forms of sugar, and that those who know they already have a problem with overweight, insulin resistance, diabetes or high blood pressure may even need to minimise their consumption of raw whole fruit (especially those with high levels of fructose such as grapes, mango, sharon, apples, pears and cherries).

For more information there is an excellent Youtube video on the dangers of fructose by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology. On Dr Joseph Mercola's website there is also a transcript of his very interesting interview with fructose researcher Dr Richard Johnson.

New Recipes in the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook

For those of our readers who are subscribers to the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook, two new recipes have just been released: Sea bass with ginger (5-25) and coconut, hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seed cookies (3-27). You will find these recipes already in your Cookbook next time you log in.

Your Successes, Requests and Questions

This is your spot. Whether it's your dietary success story, a request to cover a particular topic in a future newsletter or a question you would like answered, we would love to hear from you. Please do contact us.

Here is a question we answered recently:

Q: I've been on the GI diet for three weeks now, and have lost only 2 pounds in total. I'm desperate to lose each week on a regular basis to keep me motivated - has anyone else had the same problem? I know there's not much between, low carb and GI, but from what I've read on this site, maybe I am eating too many carbs? I've been on a low carb diet before (not Atkins) and lost 7lbs my first week, and then 2-3 lbs thereafter. Perhaps I should switch, or perhaps it takes time for my body to adjust to a new way of eating?

A: It sounds to me that you may be one of those people whose level of carbohydrate tolerance is too low to lose weight on a low GI diet. I'm the same!

It is also true that losing weight gets more difficult on each successive diet. There are lots of other reasons why you might not be losing weight, but my advice would be to try out a low carb diet first to see if that helps. You might also find it helpful to read 'Why Can't I Lose Weight - the Real Reasons Diets Fail and What to Do About It'.

Visit our Newsletter Archive

Did you miss an issue? Want to review an issue you really enjoyed? Be sure to check out our newsletter archive.

With best wishes for your continued good health
Jackie Bushell
Founder Director, GoodDietGoodHealth.com

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Newsletter 27, December 2010

Christmas Diet Willpower

Christmas is coming. Time to get my Christmas diet strategy sorted out. For me that means minimising any 'off-diet' time by replacing the traditional high carbohydrate, high sugar foods with low carb versions.

Tins of chocolates have already started appearing in the office (horrors!) but luckily I am fairly immune to temptation at the moment, having been low-carbing without a break for many months. As a result, I am in what I call 'non-addicted mode'. I can look at something carby, think it would be nice to eat, but I don't absolutely have to have it. I'll stay that way until I eat something that triggers a strong blood sugar/insulin reaction (like a piece of non-low carb bread or cake, or more than just a small piece of fruit). At that point, I'm in 'addicted mode' and carby treats become almost impossible to resist. I may succeed at first, but the 'I must eat that' messages will keep disturbing whatever I'm doing. And one piece of course will not be enough. By then my biochemistry has well and truly taken over my conscious will.

This is why I hate it when failing on a diet is blamed on 'lack of willpower'. I think those who use the phrase have never experienced this 'addicted mode' and don't understand that there is a great difference between 'willpower' as they experience it and the willpower that a carbohydrate intolerant person has to exert when in addicted mode. The pity of it is that the dieters themselves accept this insult of 'lack of willpower' as some sort of character defect, not realising that they are fighting against a biochemical imperative that is almost as strong as the basic urge to eat or drink. Until they escape from 'addicted mode' they cannot hope to succeed on their diet. And they cannot do this while listening to the 'everything in moderation' brigade. Expecting a carbohydrate-intolerant person to moderate their food intake is about as logical as suggesting 'just a tiny sip won't hurt' to a recovering alcoholic.

So, if you 'just can't resist' a carby food, and particularly if you keep wanting more, you may well be in addicted mode. If you haven't ever tried a very low carb diet, you may never have experienced the 'take it or leave it' kind of easy willpower that 'normal' people experience. Try it and see!

To get back to my own diet strategy this Christmas, the first danger event will be an early Christmas lunch at work. I'll be having the usual turkey and bacon rolls and lots of veg but leaving out the potatoes. Christmas pudding and mince pies are on the menu for dessert, which would send me into 'addicted mode' straight away, so I'll either take a piece of my own low carb Christmas pudding or a low carb chocolate ├ęclair, and perhaps one of my low carb mince pies. That way I'll fully enjoy the meal and won't feel deprived. But most importantly of all, I'll come away feeling satisfied, with no awful cravings to fight against.

That should keep me on the straight and narrow until Christmas Day, when I'll follow a similar strategy of replacing the most carby foods and minimising the damage if I choose to indulge in the odd chocolate. The leftovers of the big meal will figure largely in menus in the days after Christmas, risotto and bubble and squeak (fry-up of cooked green vegetables and potato) being particular favourites of mine. Of course, the risotto will be rice-less and the bubble and squeak will be potato-free (grated cauliflower and mashed swede substituting for the rice and potato respectively.) A low carb Yule log will also ensure I've always got a low carb dessert treat on hand when necessary.

All my low carb Christmas recipes are in my Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook.

Your Successes, Requests and Questions

This is your spot. Whether it's your dietary success story, a request to cover a particular topic in a future newsletter or a question you would like answered, we would love to hear from you. Please do contact us.

Here is a question we answered recently:
Q: I have given up coffee and really hate tea so I like to start my day with a cup of Cocoa as I need a hot drink. I make it with one heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder and 60ml of cream (I also hate soy milk) topped up with water. I add some sweetener. Is this low GI and low carb?

A: Yes, this is both low GI and low carb (presuming your sweetener is not in granular form, which usually means sugar has been added as the filler, and that your cocoa is pure cocoa powder and not a ready-mix cocoa drink powder - these also contain sugar).

Visit our Newsletter Archive

Did you miss an issue? Want to review an issue you really enjoyed? Be sure to check out our newsletter archive.

With best wishes for your continued good health

Jackie Bushell
Founder Director, GoodDietGoodHealth.com