Friday, June 29, 2007

This month's carb cycling results...

It feels as if my last 20 pounds to target will never come off. My carb cycling strategy was supposed to prevent plateaus. Well, this wasn't the case during this poorly done 2 week cycle. For the last month, my weight hasn't changed. I have lost about a half inch around my waist and hips. But, this might be due to skin tightening. If not, it means I am gaining muscle while losing fat. I'd rather it be my skin shrinking as I don't want to be saggy.

But, this hasn't been the perfect month.

During my most recent 2 week cycle, I gained 10 pounds during my carb-up days. This is the most that I have gained during any of my 3 day carbs up. My selection of carbs on these days was far from optimal. Rather than fruits, I ate mostly snack cakes and cookies. It seemed that the more of this crap I ate the more that I craved. Regardless, I attribute most of the weight gain to water as carby foods tend to be high in salt and potassium. Which would explain why the entire 10 pounds fell off 2 days into my carb-down period. I also cheated one day during the first week by drinking lots of beer. The beer stopped my ketosis dead in it's tracks. But, by the time Friday came around I had actually lost one pound. During the second week (low carb days 5 through 11), I thought that I was being good and hadn't cheated. I gained two pounds. This means that the net change over the two week cycle was gaining 1 pound. That sucks. And, today, I weighed exactly what I did one month ago.

So, I am looking back over my week to figure out what I did wrong. And by George, I think I have found it. Two nights ago, while on the road, I ate at PF Changes. I ordered a lettuce wrap and stir fry consisting of meat and veggies. I asked them to not bring me any rice. The food was excellent and didn't taste sweet. But, in an attempt to figure out my week's carb intake, I went to the itnernet and looked up what I ate. I had 1/2 of the Chang's Lettuce Wraps, Chicken appetizer (34 of 68 net carbs). And, I ate the entire Beef, A La Sichuan (56 net carbs). I am not sure if the carb count includes rice or not. But even if I subtract carbs from rice, I'm way above my allotment of carbs for the day. In addition to the carbs, I am sure that both dishes were loaded with salt which would cause water retention. So, there you have it. If you are not the cook, be very careful what you eat. Lesson learned.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Discovering More Low Carb Blogs

I have added a few more low-carb blogs to my feeds site: http://lowcarbblogs.blogspot.com/. I am always finding more good low-carb blogs. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Low Carb Confidential

Low carb weight loss insight and recipes from someone who’s done it. I especially like the post "10 rules for fast and easy low carb cooking".


Kick'n Carb Clutter

The Daily Ups and Downs of Living the Low Carb Lifestyle in a High CarbWorld.


The Low-Carb Band-It...

On a quest to a healthier life she was banded in July of 2005. Having PCOS and being Insulin Resistance has created an interesting journey for her and she is now convinced that the safest and healthiest alternative for her weight loss and healthier lifestyle is by consuming a low-carb diet and eating as close to whole foods as possible.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Carbohydrates and Cognitive Abilities

It has been almost a week since I have posted. I've been very busy recently. Not only am I traveling a great deal but I am also studying for a big exam this coming weekend (APICS CSCP certification). To keep a clear head for the exam, I am contemplating taking Friday evening and Saturday morning off of the diet. It seems that my cognitive abilities are better when I am consuming carbohydrates. There's a lot riding on this test so lots of nutrients and sleep beforehand might do me some good. But, at the same time, I hate to "cheat" mid-cycle.

Not every cooking experiment is successful...

Regardless of my busy schedule, I have managed to get a little cooking in here and there... However, not all of my experiments are successful. I'm trying to only post the recipes that are of high quality.


Here's some simple experiments that were successful:

We made french fries by slicing and deep frying jicama (Mexican turnip). They tasted great but not like french fries. They remind me a little of sweet potato fries but not quite. This, we will probably do again.

We used jicama to make hash browns. Now, these were AWESOME! I just grated them on a cheese shredder then fried in a skillet with oil. When they were brown, we put them on paper towels then sprinkled with salt. Perfect side item for breakfast or dinner.

A few weeks ago, I posted about a pizza crust that I made. It was pretty good but not fantastic. I've not yet had a chance to make it again. I want to tweak the recipe a little more before posting. But you should see it here once it is up to par.

I came up with my own recipe for biscuits made with cottage cheese and protein powder. These were fantastic. I want to make them one more time before posting so that I know my recipe is written down correctly. This will likely be the next recipe that I post.


Here are some recipes that didn't work out...

So many good dips are low-carb but I can't find much worth dipping. This week, I made some so-so flax crackers. I think I can perfect the crackers but they still need a little work.

Earlier in the week, I made a not-so-great batch of blue berry muffins using coconut flour and flax meal. I think that coconut flour has tons of potential but it is very difficult to work with. Many of my coconut experiments have come out too dry. And many of my flax experiments have been too moist and oily. I thought mixing the two might result in a happy middle ground. But instead they were heavy and rubbery.

Last night, I made a batch of moc-baked apples using a jicama (Mexican turnip). It was awful. I had followed a recipe that I found on a low carb discussion forum. Everybody there thought it was great. I have to admit that it sounded good. But, it wasn't.

A few weeks ago, we made moc fresh apples by soaking jicama slices in lemon juice and sweetener over night. The next day, they tasted a little more like fresh apples. We dipped them in Walden Farm's zero carb caramel sauce. I liked the jicama this way but didn't care much for the fake caramel.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Before and During Pictures

Wow. I am in Eastern Kentucky tonight, backing up my mother-in-law's photo files to CD. I just came across a year old picture of me with my son Skylar. The picture on the top was taken one year ago, in June. The picture on the bottom was taken just a few days ago... Look at my frick'n neck in the first one! Sorry that I don't have any good recent body shots. Perhaps I'll post some decent before and afters when I reach the 100 pound lost mark or reach 1 year on the diet (in August).



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Friday, June 15, 2007

Carb Cycling Results

This last 2 week cycle has not been that great. My drinking too much bass ale on Wednesday was cheating. And it stopped my ketosis dead in it's tracks. My night of drunkin bliss cost me 2 days out of my cycle. Anyways, this cycle resulted in only about 1 pound in weight loss. However, I did lose a solid 1/2 inch around my waistline. I say solid because it is a 1/2 inch smaller for all 3 ways I measure: sucked in all the way, relaxed, and puffed out as far as possible. When I calculate my lean weight and percentage body fat, I average these 3 waist measurements. This half inch affects my lean body weight calculation by making it appear that I might have gained 2 pounds of lean muscle. If this is true, then my 1 pound weight loss could actually mean 3 pounds of fat lost. Whatever. I'll just keep on going until I reach 18% body fat.

Regardless, since August, I have lost 82 pounds and am now within 18 pounds of my original weight goal. My wife has been following the same regiments (except she started two months later) and has lost roughly 70 pounds. I am assuming that the leaner we get, the harder it will be to lose. So, I suppose the slow-down should be no surprise whether I am doing straight low-carb or carbcycling (with or without cheating).

On the up side, today is a carb-up day... For lunch, Brandi and I went to a Pizza Hut buffet. And, I was able to eat some cinnamon sticks with frosting... mmmmmm...mmm... I am learning to really enjoy the foods that I used to take for granted. But by the time Sunday roles around, all of my cravings will be settled down and I will actually be looking forward to going back on the diet. I think I actually feel better physically end emotionally when I am on the carb down days.

I'm also starting the think that carb-cycling might not be a bad maintenance plan... perhaps it would entail shorter cycles... Doing so would keep my weight under control and still allow me to indulge once in a while but not too frequently. And, if I were to add weight lifting, I might bulk up and become a sexy hunk... hey, crazier things have happened.

If any of my readers have successfully lost 50 or more pounds and kept it off, I would very much like to hear the details of your maintenance plan. I actually lost 60 pounds on the Protein Power Plan several years ago. At the time, I was still in my mid 20's (I am now 33 years old). And, I managed to keep it off for a whole year with no maintenance plan at all. The only change between pre-diet and post-diet was that I was much more aware of the impact of what I was eating so I might not have indulged quite as much as before. But, after that first skinny year ended, my fat decided to come back with a vengance.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Screwed up last night...

Well, last night, my co-workers and I made it back to the Drury Inn during happy hour and each received our three free drinks. I had rum & diet coke with a lime. Then, a group of 15 of us went to Longhorn Steakhouse. My boss bought me a beer. I thought it was only about 6 net carbs, but wasn't sure and didn't have my book on me. Then, when we were seated, I ordered another. Then another. Then another. On my fourth or fifth bottle of Bass Ale, Mike, who is a diabetic, informed me that each bottle contained a whopping 13 net carbs... Oops.

Then, on the way back to the hotel we stopped at a liquor store and bought some Skyy vodka. We had the hotel manager open up their bar to pour us each some tonic to which we could add the vodka. Needless to say, the alcohol blew my diet that day. I didn't weigh this morning. If I had weighed, I suspect that the scale would show me weighing significantly less due to the alcohol induced dehydration... but, I'm sure the ketosis has stopped and that my fat burning for that day and today took a hit. I'm back to low-carb today with no beer. And I guess tomorrow will still be my official carb-up. I've been so good for 10 months.

But, you know what? It was worth it. I don't think that I've gotten drunk since before my wife was pregnant which means that it is going on two years. We all had a great time. It was my happiest night out in Nashville in the two years that I've been working down there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Keeping Up Appearances...

The other day, I realized that all of my shorts and jeans were way too big. So, I went shopping again. The cheapest place in my city that I have found to buy name brand paints in my size is in the big and tall section at Burlington Coat Factory. My wife is also "plus sized." While I like Burlington's men's clothes, I think that the women's plus size department sucks. But back to me. I went there to buy clothes because all of mine were getting too baggy again. Instinctively I went to the plus sized department, as usual. But when I started looked through the clothes, I realized that they start at size 44. I'm now down to a 40. Woohoo, I thought, I'm too skinny for fat clothes. But then, I went to the "normal" section and found that the brands I liked only went up to 38. Crap. I'm in the middle.... too fat for the normal clothes and too thin for the fat clothes. I guess I should be happy regardless.


Along the lines of appearance, I had been thinking of lightening my hair. I told the lady who cuts my hair. She said that she thought it'd look good but that she'd be a bit concerned that it might turn yellow. She said that if it did, not to worry, just bleach it again and the yellow would go away. So, Sunday night, the day before I left for a business trip, I decided to go ahead and do it. My wife helped spread the bleach through my hair. We waited the 30 minutes and washed it out. My hair was a bright clown yellow. I was a bit nervous as I didn't want yellow hair when I met up with my co-workers in Nashville the next morning. So, we decided to bleach it again. But because we feared it might go too light, we only left it in only 10 minutes. I washed and it looked exactly the same. So then we did it a third time. This time, the bleach was burning my scalp. We left it in another 30 minutes then rinsed. Now, it was much lighter but still yellow. My head looked like a cute little fluffy baby chicken. This was not at all the look I was going for... I told my wife that I looked like a gay rave-rat. My 13 month old son was laughing at me while patting his own head! Even he thought it was comical.


By this time, I was starting to freak out a little. My wife recommended that we simply dye it back. So we went to the drug store and bought a box of "ash blond" dye. Remember that this is the night before my business trip. When we put the dye on my head and it burned like hell. I wondered if all this bleaching and dying might make my hair simply fall out. But, I had gone too far to give up, so I gritted my teeth, determined to cover up the yellow! So, now we had to wait another half hour.... Toward the end of the waiting period, the un-rinsed dye on my head had turned purple. I was thinking, "Oh shit! I can't go to work with purple hair!"

I had visions of myself having to shave my head. If it wasn't for my work, I'd love to have a funky colored hair. But, I just don't think that the executives I work with would understand or tolerate anything too far out of the norm. I work with corporate directors and vice presidents for God's sake. Within two days there would probably be a new dress code implemented that forbid purple hair and they'd likely start looking for reasons to get rid of me. Or at least my chances of a future promotion would be nil.


Anyways, I finally rinsed and conditioned, AGAIN. When my hair was dry, I was relieved to see that it wasn't purple after all. But it wasn't any darker either. It was still almost white but at least the dye had successfully killed most of the yellow! It was lighter than I had intended but didn't look that bad. So.... here's my new look:




Of course, upon entering the office Monday morning I was accosted with tons of blond jokes.

There is one older gentleman I work with who I had been suspecting was dying his hair. Each month when I see him, it looks a little more brown and a little less gray. This month, it looked all brown with no gray. I finally was convinced that he was dying it. Nobody else in the office had noticed. He walked up and stood directly in front of me and said with a smirk, "you look different." To which I replied, "So do you." Not knowing how to reply, he awkwardly mumbled, turned, and quickly walked away. Later, he confided in me that he was using "Just for men." And, he said that his wife hadn't even noticed yet... I guess because it's been a gradual transition and she sees him frequently that it was easier for me to notice having only seen him every few weeks. It's kind of the same with losing weight... those who see you daily tend not to notice. But those who you see only occasionally always comment on how much weight you have lost.


One lady at work told me that she liked my hair because it matched my eyebrows. Another told me that it made me look much younger. The women all seem cool with it. Most of the men just think it's funny that a man would bother to bleach his hair. But, you know what, I like it anyway.


Its a good look. It makes me look a little less conservative. I think I've been looking too conservative for too long. I think that looking boring makes it difficult to make the kind of friends that I like to have. The people who want to get to know me better are usually the kind of people that bore me to death. Also, when mundane people get to know me and start realizing that I'm actually a little out there, they're often uncertain how to react. On the flip side, eccentric and interesting people often superficially assume that we'd have little in common. At heart, I too am eccentric and open minded. I might be a business man, but I'm also a closet artist and philosopher.... I just don't make that impression... until now that is.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Low Carb Dining at Panera Bread?

That's right, low-carb dining at Panera Bread. Not only do they have great salads but you can order their sandwiches to be made on fabulous low-carb bread! I had been avoiding this place and was amazed to find that it serves my dietary needs quite well.

A co-worker who suffers from celiac's disease (gluten intolerance) was telling me that Panera had great salads. Friday, I asked my wife to go with me to try their salads. She didn't want to go because she thought it'd be pure torture being tempted by delicious breads and pastries that are off limits to our diet. Reluctantly, she joined me for a salad at Panera. Each salad comes with side items. I explained that I was on a low-carb diet and couldn't eat bread, chips, or fruit and so would have to do without a side item. I must say that the salads were pretty good.

While eating, I sat back and was reading the menu across the room. Holy cow! At the very bottom of their bread menu, they had two types of low-carb bread. I went to the counter and asked for nutrition info. The pumpkin seed loaf had only 5 net carbs per slice and the Italian Herb loaf had 6 net carbs per slice. For some reason, I didn't think to buy a loaf right then.

Saturday, we decided to go back to Panera. This time, we ordered sandwiches and had them substitute the Italian Herb bread for the regular bread. Wow! This bread is awesome. If I wasn't on a low-carb diet, I would still love eating it. The sandwiches come with a choice of high-carb sides. I wanted to try their pumpkin seed bread and they let us substitute pumpkin seed bread for the side on my plate. With my wife's, we got a side of fruit for our 13 month old to eat.

I have to say that the sandwiches were fantastic. We bought a loaf of the Italian Herb bread to take home with us. I plan on taking part of this loaf with me on a business trip next week. When I'm not traveling, I usually work out of home. Panera has free Wi-Fi Internet access. So, I think this coming Friday that I might try using their cafe as my morning office.

I think my wife and I are going to become regulars at Panera. It seems almost too good to be true. Now if only they could invent some low-carb bagels and other pastries.

Added August 30, 2007:

Panera Bread Company has just stopped selling low carb bread. I am saddened by this loss. I feel that the low carb items would have been successful if they were properly advertised and had a more prominent place on the menu. Those on low carb diets typically don't frequent bakeries, so advertising the product might have made a world of difference. Please write to Panera and beg them to return this product!

Write to: http://www.panerabread.com/about/contact/

Thanks!

Warning about Subway

A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to a Subway restaurant. My wife ordered a low carb wrap. When they were fixing it, I noticed the tortilla looked different. I mentioned this to them and asked if it was still low-carb. They said, "Yes. We have a better tortilla now and it's still low carb." But, they couldn't tell us how many carbs it had. I just found out today that Subway no longer has low carb tortillas. They are more like 35-40 net carbs each. So, be very cautious of promises made by ill informed or uncaring workers at Subway. I am disappointed by Subway in many ways. First, they have prided themselves in being a leader in weight loss and healthier foods but they dropped the only option available for a diet that works much better than low fat. And second, their retail employees obviously don't give a rats ass about customers concerns. I suggest you go to the subway site and place a comment requesting the return of low-carb wraps.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Bear's Spicy Roast Chicken

"Meat Lover" over at the Steaks are High blog posted a very good recipe for roasted chicken. This recipe is said to have been created by Owsley Stanely (AKA "The Bear"). He is what the Grateful Dead dancing bear represents and is the namesake for "Owsley Acid" from the 1960's. For nearly 50 years, Owsley has been on a strict diet allowing only animal products and a small amount of herbs. His recipe for roasted chicken can be found at:

http://www.thesteaksarehigh.com/2007/05/the_bears_spicy.html

I tried this yesterday and loved it. My wife is not a big fan of curry, so we made our own spice mix out of garlic, basil, thyme, and rosemary. The result was a delicious and moist roasted chicken. I wanted to share this with you since it is a dish that we will surely make again and again.

Friday, June 1, 2007

"Re-Feed" vs. "Carb-Shock"

I think there is a bit of confusion around our carb-cycling experiments.

Most often, the term "carb-cycling" refers to alternating carb-intake to improve weight training results. For body building, you want short cycles. Body builders' cycles are fairly short with carb-up days usually coinciding with their heavy lifting. They might for example do one day high-carb, one ultra-low, one low then start over. The carb-up days are often called "re-feeds". This method seems to work for them in that it allows for burning small amounts of fat while providing nutrients for workouts. But, these short cycles are really designed for those who are doing heavy workouts and have very little body fat to begin with.

I am more interested in longer carb-cycles intended for rapid weight loss. The theory is that while on a low-carb diet that mixing in days of high carb intake will prevent the body from adjusting and becoming accustomed to a steady low input of carbohydrates. It seems that the body adjusts to some extent to any steady intake of nutrients. So, we want to shake it up a bit and "keep the body guessing". I'm not shooting for a "re-feed" but rather a "carb-shock". Short cycles like those used for body building do not allow enough time for heavy ketosis to kick in. Therefore, longer cycles are used. I tried 5 days down and 2 days up (basically low-carb on weekdays only) but found it only allowed me to be in ketosis for a couple of days at best. I still lost weight, just not as quickly as I had hoped for. Now, I have increased the length to 11 days down and 3 days up. This allows me to stay in ketosis longer. And, my overall weight loss so far has been roughly the same as doing low-carb everyday.

It should be noted that while I have had positive results, the verdict is still out on whether or not this strategy is better than low-carb everyday. The only way we will know for sure would be if more people try it and share their results. PJ over at The Divine Low Carb has just begun a similar experiment using a 14 day cycle. Her strategy is a bit more complex than mine. Keep an eye on her results...