Thursday, May 31, 2007

Re-Cap of my Current Diet Strategy

For those of you who are new to my blog, here is a re-cap of my current diet strategy:

Two Week Carb Cycling (11 down -3 up):

  1. Every other weekend, allow unlimited carbs 3 days in a row (Friday through Sunday).
  2. Remaining days in 2 week cycle are to follow low-carb ketogenic diet (like Atkins or Protein Power).
  3. Record Weekly weight and measurements on Friday mornings.
  4. No cheat days except family birthdays and significant vacations.
  5. Cycle start and ends are not set in stone. They may be occasionally moved to Accommodate special occasions.
  6. Continue until reaching goal. If monthly weight-loss is less than 5 pounds, consider adjusting or trying another diet strategy.
The hypothesis behind carb cycling is that the body metabolism will adjust when given a steady level of carbohydrates. The carb up days are supposed to shock your body to avoid insulin sensitivity. It also gives you a chance to reload any nutrients that might be lacking during the carb down days. From experimenting, I found that a 5-2 cycle (low carb weekdays, high on weekends) didn't work well for rapid weight loss. This is because it took me 3 or 4 days to slip into ketosis, leaving only 1 or 2 days for weight loss. So far, the two week cycle described above seems to work as well as low-carb everyday.

Staying in Ketosis vs. Carb Cycling

I have a dilemma. For the past few days, my ketone strips are reading around 100 mg/dL, which is a large amount of ketones. This means that my body is currently burning fat at a fast rate. And, that's great. However, tomorrow is supposed to be the start of a carb-up in my cycle. And, I hate to knock myself out of ketosis when it is burning fat so well. On the flip side of the coin, it is likely due to my carb cycling that I am in heavy ketosis right now. Not doing a carb up might allow my body to adjust to the small amounts of carbohydrates that I have been consuming. So, even though I have reservations about it, I have made a decision. Slip out of ketosis and enjoy high carb food this weekend. If my theories on dieting are correct this will, in the long run, result in greater weight loss.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Other Diet Blogs that I Read

I have started another blogger site: http://lowcarbblogs.blogspot.com.

This new blogger site shows the most recent posts at each of the low carb blogs that I follow. The motivation was to save myself time as well as to share other sites with my readers.

The idea for this page was stolen from PJ of The Divine Low Carb. She had generated a second blogger page that showed all of her favorite low carb blogs along with most recent posts. Her list of favorite blogs can be found at lowcarbmania.blogspot.com.

Hey PJ, you know what they say, "imitation is the finest form of flattery."

Revision 5/30/2007:

Changed URL from http://otherdietblogsthatiread.blogspot.com/ to http://lowcarbblogs.blogspot.com.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cheeseburger Pie - 2 net carbs per serving

Cheeseburger Pie is easy and tastes great. It's good for dinner but with sausage it's perfect for breakfast. This is another dish where your house guests will never know it's diet. This recipe is a low-carb adaptation of the "Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie" recipe that is printed on the inside of each box of Bisquick. To make it low carb, I have used carbquik (available on netrition.com) in place of Bisquick. This substitution gets rid of a whopping 27 net carbs. When using carbquik in Bisquick recipes containing meat, you will need to add some Parmesan cheese to absorb the grease. Without it, recipes like this one and the popular sausage cheese balls will be dripping in oil. I have also used Hood calorie countdown dairy in place of milk. If using milk, add 9 net carbs to the entire recipe or 1.5 net carbs per serving.

Servings: 6 @ 2 net carbs each

Ingredients:


1 lb. ground beef or sausage
1/4 onion (3 net carbs)
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. Carbquik baking mix (6 net carbs)
1 c. hood calorie countdown dairy beverage (3 net carbs)
2 eggs
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown hamburger, onion, and paprika. In seperate bowl, mix salt, Parmesan cheese, carbquik, hood calorie countdown, and eggs. Transfer meat into greased pie dish. Put shredded cheese on top of meat. Pour batter into pie pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lemonade - 4 net carbs per serving

One thing that I miss on this diet is not being able to drink much juice. Now that summer is here, I have been craving lemonade. And, it dawned on me that lemonade, unlike orange juice, is diluted. Which means that lemonade can be okay on a low-carb diet! For the sweetener, I used Sweetzfree, but you could also use a Splenda Quick Pack. One quick pack equals a cup of sugar. They sweeten as well as normal Splenda but lack the maltodextrine which is used give Splenda bulk to make it easy measure to sugar. Since the quick packs do not have the filler, they dissolve easier in water and have fewer carbohydrates. Most grocery stores stock Splenda Quick Packs next to the koolaid mixes.

Servings: 6 @ about 4 net carbs each.

Ingredients:
6 Lemons (2 cups of juice)
4 cups water (adjust to taste)
Equiv. 1 cup sugar

Instructions:
Juice the lemons. The easiest way to juice a lemon is with a citrus press but other methods can work. Add water. Add sweetener. Stir. Enjoy.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Carb Cycling Findings

The diet log that I am maintaining on this site has only one weight per week, so it is hard for you to see how great the fluctuations are. Typically during my 3 days of carb up, I gain between 5 and 10 pounds. This weight then comes off very fast once I begin my carb down. I think that the fluctuations are due primarily to water retention. So, if you try carb cycling, don't freak out over the rapid weight gain following your first up cycle. Try to step back and look at your long term weight changes or simply focus on your waste and hips measurements.

Loosely following a diet of under 45 net carbs daily for 6 months resulted in an average weekly weight loss of 2.3 pounds per week or 0.78% of total body weight. The rate of weight loss slowed over time. So, if only looking at the last 2 of 6 months, the average weekly loss was 0.7 pounds or 0.25% of total body weight).

5-2 carb cycling (5 days under 45 net carbs, 2 days over 190*) for 5 weeks resulted in an average weekly loss of 0.4 pounds or 0.15% of total body weight.

11-3 carb cycling (11 days under 45 net carbs, 3 days over 190*) for 7 weeks resulted in an average weekly loss of 0.66 pounds or 0.24% of total body weight.

So far, it seems obvious that the 5-2 cycling (taking every weekend off from your low-carb diet) does not work nearly as good as low carb every day. However, the 11-3 cycling (taking a slightly longer weekend off every other week) seems to work almost as well as low-carb every day. Keep in mind that the leaner I get, the harder it is to lose weight. So, my 0.66 pounds per week might be the same or greater than what I would have lost had I taken no carb-up days. Hopefully some of my fellow low-carb bloggers willfollow suit so that we can compare results.

It is still not apparent whether or not the carb-up days will result in increased metabolism.
Regardless, even if cycling does not impact metabolism, it is comforting to have some weekends off of the diet and not feel like my will power is broken.

*For me, carb up days seem to usually wind up somewhere between 300 and 400 net carbs per day.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Metabolism and Ketosis

Dr. Michael Eades, co-author of Protein Power, recently made a very interesting blog entry on metabolism and ketosis. I highly recommend that if you are doing a low-carb diet that you read the original post (http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/?p=719). I am very impressed by how quickly and thoroughly the Drs. Eades answer my questions.

I wrote the this comment:

May 24th, 2007 at 9:40 am

You said that the average person requires about 200 gr. of sugar. And that when the ketosis process is humming along the requirement for glucose drops to about 120-130 gm per day.

What is the reason for the drop in glucose requirements?

Can this help explain why many people doing low carb often lose 10-30 pounds per month the first few months then substantially less the subsequent months?

I am struggling to understand why weight loss seems more and more difficult the longer I am on a low-carb diet. I have lost 80 pounds over 9 months and am 20 pounds away from having 18% body fat. The first six months were pretty much by the book. At the end of the sixth month, I was losing at a rate of less than 5 pounds per month, 1/6 of what I experienced during the first month. There was a noticeable slow-down during the 3rd month. Any thoughts on why the slow-down?



His Reply:

Hi Daron–

It takes a while to become fully ketone adapted. At first, the body is making the ketones, but the tissues haven’t completely converted to using them for energy yet. The body then wastes the unused ketones (which are highly caloric) in the breath and urine. As time rolls on and the body becomes ketone adapted, it wrings every smidgen of energy it can out of the ketones, so you don’t get as great a loss as you do early on.

Second, as you lose weight, you decrease your metabolic rate. Resting metabolic rate is a function of weight more than anything else, and resting metabolic rate is the largest component of most people’s total metabolic rate. As you lose and the metabolic rate falls, it becomes more difficult to lose more. Sometimes it’s easier to think of weight loss in terms of percentage of body weight than in pounds. As you get smaller, you lose less, but even though you’re losing less, that less represents about the same percentage of your overall body weight as did the larger amounts you lost when you were larger.

The very best way to look at it is by percentage body fat. If you’re a male, then you should shoot for a body fat percentage of around 15-18% irrespective of what overall weight that represents. Which seems to be what you’re doing. Remember, you can decrease body fat percentage without losing any weight if you increase your muscle
mass.

Cheers–
MRE

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Holy Grail... Low Carb Pizza

I love good pizza; hate bad pizza. More than anything, I crave pizza. And, based on numerous low-carb discussion forums, I'd have to say that I am not alone. There are numerous low-carb pizza dough recipes posted all over the Internet. It seems that everyone is trying to make pizza. There are many that look like pizza but few that can come close to a good crisp & chewy hand-tossed pizza crust. Quite often, I see recipes for pizza dough that use a variety of cheeses in the crust itself. I keep seeing variations of recipes that include various flours plus mozzarella, parmesan, and cream cheese. I was reluctant to try it... but, I finally gave it a shot. Since most of the comments on these crusts was that they were too dry, I added some flax meal. And, you know what? It wasn't bad. I wouldn't say it was the best pizza I'd ever eaten, but it was far superior to places like Domino's and Little Caesar's. I'm going to continue playing around with this and post a recipe in a few weeks. In the mean-time, if you have a pizza dough recipe that you like (preferably using yeast) please post it here by clicking the "responses" link below. Thanks.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

80 Pounds Lost

Well, as of this morning, I have officially lost 80 pounds. I have only 20 to go before reaching my goal weight of 236 pounds. It definitely seems to get more and more difficult to lose weight as my body becomes leaner.

I am half way through my third 11 to 3 carb cycle. This strategy requires me to follow a regiment of 11 days low carb (30-45 net carbs) followed by 3 days of high carb (minimum 190 net carbs, no maximum). The first cycle, I actually gained one pound. The second cycle, I lost about 2 pounds. I am half way through the third cycle and have lost about 5 pounds. In total, my first 5 weeks of 11 to 3 cycling has resulted in about a net loss of 6 pounds. This is about what I was losing when I was on a slightly modified version of protein power. So, my premature conclusion based on only my self is that it works equally well. I am not certain what sort of results my wife has been having.

As my body adjusts to the cycling, it will be interesting to see if the weight loss rate will increase. If so, I may reach my goal very soon. But, I fear that as my body becomes leaner that losing weight is bound to become more difficult...

Friday, May 11, 2007

3 Minute Brownies - 3 net carbs per serving

This is my own variation on the 3 minute lemon cake. I made it on a whim and it turned out pretty good. Once again, I use Aloha Nu coconut flour (purchased from netrition.com). This has only 1 net carb per 2 tablespoons. Bob's Red Mill Coconut flour is easier to find but has 4 net carbs per 2 tablespoons.

2 T melted butter
2 T Cocoa Powder
Splash Vanilla
1 egg
12 drops sweetzfree (or other sweetener equiv. to 1/2 cup sugar)
1/2 t. baking powder
1 T. oil
2 T. coconut flour
1 T. heavy cream or Hood calorie countdown dairy

Whisk in bowl. Nuke for 1 min. 30 seconds. Times may vary depending on your microwave. If you want, you might pour some Walden Farms chocolate syrup on top.

3 Minute Lemon Cake - 3.5 net carbs

I am not good at following directions. So, I naturally make every recipe my own by modifying it significantly. However, in this case, I couldn't think of much to do to improve upon it besides to add a little sweetener. This recipe is the invention of "BetsyJ64". The original recipe can be found on the lowcarber forum at http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthread.php?threadid=332108.

I use Aloha Nu coconut flour (purchased from netrition.com). This has only 1 net carb per 2 tablespoons. Bob's Red Mill Coconut flour is easier to find but has 4 net carbs per 2 tablespoons.

2 T melted butter
1 beaten egg
1 T grated lemon zest
Juice from 1/2 lemon
splash vanilla extract
8 drops Sweetzfree (or other sweetener equiv. to 1/3 cup sugar)
1/2 t baking powder
1 T oil
2 T coconut flour
1 T heavy cream or Hood calorie countdown dairy

Mix it all up and nuke for 1 minute, 20 seconds (you may want to adjust for your own microwave). I used a cereal bowl. It comes out nice and spongy!

My wife and I topped with 1/2 cup of raspberries and unsweetened whipping cream (add 3.4 net carbs). With these toppings, the 3 minute lemon cake is diet food good enough to serve to company.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Cinnamon Streussal Flax Muffins - 2.5 net carbs each.

I came across an awesome recipe for cinnamon streussal flax muffins in a message forum on lowcarbfriends.com. With a few minor changes to the recipe, I was able to shave off additional 2 carbs per muffin without really changing the flavor or texture. My version has only 2.5 net carbs per muffin. See below for substitutions for hard-to-find ingredients.

Servings 12 muffins.


Batter Ingredients:

2 c. hazelnut meal/flour*
1 c. flax meal / ground flax
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. Sweetzfree**
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. Hood Calorie Countdown Dairy***
1/4 c. melted butter
4 eggs


Streussal Ingredients:

1 c. hazelnut meal*
9 packets splenda
1 T. cinnamon
1/8 t. salt
1/4 c. chilled butter


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin pan (I use pam spray). I have tried cup-cake liners but the liners were difficult to remove without tearing apart the muffin. I'd recommend not using them.


In bowl, use pastry cutter to mix struessal ingredients until coarse and crumbly. You could do this in a food processor using pulse. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix all muffin batter ingredients with whisk or spoon.

Put a thin layer of batter (about 2 tablespoons) into each muffin cup. Add a tablespoon of struessal to each cup. Top with remaining batter. Then top this with the remaining struessal.

Bake 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove from muffin pan to continue cooling.


Substitutions:

The entire recipe makes 12 muffins with a total of 30.5 net carbs. If you can't find all of the ingredients, you can substitute the following:

*For the Hazelnut meal/flour, substitue almond meal/flour (add 12 net carbs to entire recipe).

**For 3/4 teaspoons of Sweetzfree, use 2 Splenda Quick Packs (add 8 net carbs to entire recipe).

***For 1 cup of Hood Calorie Countdown dairy beverage, substitute 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup water (add 1.5 net carbs to entire recipe).


Snazz it up with this addition:


For a different spin, one time, I added 1/2 cup of Graduates bite-sized apples (add 10 net carbs for entire recipe). These are freeze dried apples that can be found in the baby food section of your grocery store.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Carb Freedom Fries w/ Bacon and Cheddar - 2 net carbs per serving

Not long ago, I was craving French fries. So, I went to Google and searched for low carb french fries. The vast majority of results were recipes using tofu. Some people fried it. Some baked it. Others coated it in oil and broiled it. My wife and I tried it all. Fried, it becomes tough. When broiling or baking, we couldn't tell any difference between the plain fries and the ones brushed with oil. The simplest recipe seems to be the best. Martha Stewart posted a similar recipe to her website. She calls them "Soy Sticks" instead of french fries. These look exactly like french fries. The taste isn't too far off either. But the texture is a tad on the chewy side. They're not bad. My wife and I both agree that we'd like them much better if we weren't trying to compare them to fries made from potatoes. While they're okay as-is, we decided to kick them up a notch by using Lowry's Seasoning Salt and adding melted cheddar with bacon. If you like, serve these with either low-carb ketchup or ranch dressing for dipping.


4-6 Servings at about 2 net carbs each.
.
Ingredients:
.
2 packages of extra firm tofu
Lowry's seasoning salt (to taste)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Crumbled Bacon

Instructions:

Cut tofu into half inch slices. Place on layer of paper towels. Put more paper towels on top. Press out liquid. Now cut the slices into french-fry-like strips. Place strips onto greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle strips with Lowry's seasoning salt. Broil on top rack of oven until golden brown. Turn over strips. Sprinkle with more seasoning salt. Then broil again. It should take about 10 minutes per side. They should be dry with no wet sides when done. You can stop here and eat.

To add the next dimension of flavor, transfer fries to oven-safe plate. Cover with shredded cheddar cheese and bacon. Place back in oven. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted.

Optionally serve with ranch or low-carb ketchup.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Weight Loss Progress and Forecast


I imported my diet log into excel and calculated a trend line. The result is a weight-loss forecast which predicts that I may reach my goal of losing 100 pounds around mid July, 2007.