Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's been over a year now...

My wife and I have been working on weight loss for over a year now. Long walks, even several miles, no longer winds me. My feet don't hurt. My ankles no longer swell. I no longer have as much trouble with my lower back. I'm no longer tired all of the time. I feel great! Unfortunately, without the aches and pains to remind me, it becomes increasingly difficult to stick with a diet plan. As I approach my goal weight, I find it easier and easier to make excuses to take extra days off of the plan. So, for the last several months, I have perhaps only spent 60-70% of my days doing low carb. As a result, my weight has fluctuated within a ten pound range. The lower end is still 15 pounds away from my original goal of losing 100 pounds (or 18% body fat). I weigh about 260 right now.

My work is picking up this winter. I am told that I must work 3 weeks a month in Paris, France. This intensive travel is fairly certain for January and February but could run through June. I know that in France, I will be doing tons of walking. While there, I'd like to be able to sample and enjoy their local foods. Plus, I'm not sure how easily I would be able to dine out low carb there. I don't know the language and many meals will probably be the result of my guessing at what the menu means. Therefore, I have decided to drop the low-carb "lifestyle" for a while.


I am going to try to eat "normal" food but not binge. I'll commit to doing at least one weigh-in per month each time that I am home in Kentucky. After my first 3 week trip, I should have a better handle on the French foods that I can eat. If my weight has gone up too much (say 20 pounds?) then I will go back on the low carb diet, likely Protein Power Plan rather than carb cycling.

For the near future, I will still be reading various low carb forums. And, I may post occasionally about my status. It is highly likely that I will return to the low carb way of eating. So, I may be back here in a few months actively posting again. In the mean time, I wish you all luck in your personal diet adventures. I have grown vary fond of many fellow weight-loss bloggers. I almost feel like friends with some even though we've never met. I absolutely love the support and camaraderie that the online low carb community has provided. I seriously doubt that I would have lost 80 pounds without this support. Thanks!



Au revoir pour maintenant,
Big Daddy D

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Where to buy low carb products online

I have been shopping at Netrition.com for about a year now. And, I have been occasionally bragging on their products and sometimes linking to their site to help fellow low-carbers find hard-to-get items. Without netrition.com, I would be running all over town trying to pick up key low-carb ingredients that are stocked in one local grocery store but not the others. Also, where I live, I don't have to pay any sales tax on my netrition.com purchases. The savings on taxes alone usually covers their low shipping charges.

Well, it finally dawned on me that I should sign up for their affiliates program. As long as I'm sending them all of this business, I might as well get a cut, right? I don't know many of you noticed last month's addition of netrition.com advertisements on the side bar and bottom of my blog. I put them to the side and bottom so that they wouldn't be obtrusive. This month, I earned a whopping $7, nearly twice what I made from google ads in over a year! I'm telling you this because I don't want you to think that I am making a living from blogging. I place a high value on integrity and honesty. If I say something positive about a product, it is because I believe what I am saying. It is not that I am being paid to do so.

Regardless of my affiliation with netrition.com, I will continue to selflessly promote other products and services that I like even if there is no profit in it for me. This is because I feel that too many good low carb products have failed simply because nobody knew about them in time.

Today, I went back through all of my recipes and added links to netrition.com for hard to find ingredients. This is partly in hopes of gaining some profit and partly to make it easier for my readers to find these items.

The following is a list of ingredients from my recipes that I have added links to. Many of these items are indispensable in a low-carb kitchen. I hope you give them a try.

  • Carbquik - low carb baking mix similar to bisquik.
  • Almond Meal - great tasting flour.
  • Hazelnut Meal - another great tasting flour.
  • Aloha Nu Coconut Flour - this ingredient has tons of potential but is a bit tricky to work with. I'd like to see more people to experiment with coconut flour.
  • Flax Meal - flax is all the rage right now.
  • Vital wheat gluton - I consider this a great alternative to flour. But some people have trouble digesting it properly and others have allergies.
  • Soy Protein Powder (soy isolate)- Great substitute for flour. Plain has little to no flavor.
  • Soy Flour - This is simply ground soy beans. It works well as a flour replacement but has a funky soy taste that I consider too overpowering for most recipes.
  • Xanthan gum - Seems to work good making cookies chewie and not crumbly. Some people use to thicken liquids. I'm still experimenting with this ingredient.
  • Splenda Quick Pack - one packet = 1 cup of sugar. This form of splenda does not contain fillers and therefore is much lower in carbs than granular splenda.
  • Da Vinci Syrups - the low carb syrups offer a wide variety of flavors. Online low carbers can't seem to get enough of these.
  • Carb Counter brownie mix - pretty good low carb brownies.
  • Cinnamunch - Cinnamon pork rinds. These remind me of Taca Bell's cinnamon twists.
  • Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup - a little watery but better than no chocolate.
  • Heinz Ketchup reduced sugar or one carb - "one carb" and "reduced sugar" are different names for the same product.
  • Baja Bob's Sugar Free Margaritas and other mixers - Now tequila makes her clothes fall off in more ways than one.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hot Chocolate - 5 net carbs per serving

As the days get colder, we need something warm and comforting. Hot chocolate can do the trick. I have found a way to make hot chocolate that is much easier even than the powdered mixes that I grew up on. Simply take one cup of Hood Calorie Countdown Chocolate Dairy Beverage in a coffee cup. Microwave on high for one and a half minutes. Top with unsweetened whipped cream. Yum.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What's for Dinner?

Last night, my wife Brandi and I made chicken tenders using Brandi's breading. They were excellent. This breading is good and is liked by even non-low-carbers. With it, we made mashed Foetatoes. Then, we topped it all with Campbell's brand cream gravy which has surprisingly few carbs.

I found the foetatos recipe online. It called for mashed up cauliflower with butter and cream cheese plus xanthan gum. We made a huge batch. The xanthan gum ruined it. Yes, the mixture thickened up nicely but it had an odd gummy consistency. We ended up throwing most of it out. I think if we make fake mashed potatoes again, we'll leave the xanthan gum out and live with slightly soggy mashers. Have any of you found a decent substitution for mashed potatoes?

Also, I'd be interested in hearing about my reader's experiences using xanthan and guar gums. Have you tried using xanthan gum as either a thickener or to duplicate the texture and bonding power of sugar?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Calculating Net Carbs

I received the following e-mail:


I was wanting to know how you calculate a recipe that has carbs. Is there a place that you site you can go type in a recipe and have it calculate the carbs, fats, calories etc..? I have enjoyed your Blog. Thank you for your help...


I have heard many people say that they use recipe net carb calculators. I tried one a while back but found that many of my ingredients were not in their database. This made the tool useless to me. Perhaps our readers have had better luck and can share their experiences with us. I typically look up each ingredient and do my own math.

There are tons of good carbohydrate and fiber reference books that you can purchase at just about any bookstore. Just about any one will do that lists both carbohydrates and fiber. Some, such as the protein power guide simplifies this by listing "ECC" which is another way of saying "net carbs". I use these books when on the road. But, at home, I use calorieking.com to look up nutritional information. Calorieking.com has information about fresh foods, commercial products, and even many popular restaurant's menu items.

Regardless of where you look up the nutritional information, you are going to have to do some math! Because the serving size may not be in the units of measure that you are using, you will have to learn cooking measurement conversions!

I calculate net carbs by taking the total carbohydrates minus fiber minus 1/2 of carbs from sugar alcohols.

Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods that move food through the digestive system. Some people call it "nature's broom". Humans, unlike cattle can not metabolize the energy bound up in fiber. This is why cows can survive on eating grass but we can't. And, because our bodies can not utilize this energy, those of us doing a low carbohydrate diets do not need to count fiber because we can't burn fiber for energy.

Sugar alcohols (also known asa polyol, polyhydric alcohol, or polyalcohol) are often used as artificial sweeteners. Your body can metabolize 1/3 to 1/2 of the carbohydrates from sugar alcohols. This is why I count half of these carbohydrates when calculating net carbs. Unfortunately, most packages for foods containing sugar alcohols make very low net carb claims by not counting any of the carbohydrates. I guarantee you that if you eat a substantial amount of sugar alcohols, you will not lose weight regardless of the net carb claims on the package. For this reason, always do your own math! Usually, but not always, sugar alcohols are listed on the dietary label under the heading "carbohydrates", just below the fiber. But sometimes, you only know that it is used if you read the actual ingredients. If you calculate the carbs based on the nutrition panal and it doesn't match the net carb claim on the front of the package, 9 times out of 10, you'll find sugar alcohols in the ingredients. Sugar Alcohols can also have laxative effects and cause excessive farting in some individuals. The following are some common sugar alcohols:

Glycol
Glycerol (glycerine)
Erythritol
Arabitol
Xylitol
Mannitol
Sorbitol
Isomalt
Maltitol
Lactitol
Some "Atkins" products also contain something called "polydextrose". This is some sort of soluble fiber. I am not sure how much of this can be metabolized. Perhaps another reader can comment. I usually play it safe by ignoring the package claim about polydextrose not affecting blood sugar levels.

The following is a simple example, Bob's Red Mill Hazelnut Meal/Flour. The total carbs are 5 minus the 3 fiber equals 2 net carbs per serving (5 - 3).


Serving Size: 1/4 Cup (28g)
Servings Per Container: 14
Amount Per Serving:

Total Carbohydrates 5 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Sugars 1 g

Ingredients: Hazelnuts.


The following is an example with sugar alcohols listed on the nutritional panel. This is from a label on Chocolate Dreams and Wishes Dark Chocolate Cups with Coconut. The total carbs of 16 minus 8 fiber and minus 1/2 of 6 sugar alcohols equals 5 net carbs (16 - 8 - 3).


Serving Size: (28)g, 1oz, (1/2 Cluster)
Servings Per Container: 2

Total Carbohydrates 16 g
Dietary Fiber 8 g

Sugars 0 g
Sugar Alcohols (Polyols) 6 g

Ingredients: Chocolate Liquor, Inulin, Erythritol, Cocoa Butter, Desiccated coconut, Milk Fat, Soya Lecithin (an emulsifier), Acesulfame-K, Artificial Flavors and Sucralose.



The following is an example that even I need help on. This is from the label on Atkins NutritionalsAdvantage Bars, Caramel Chocolate Peanut Nougat. The front of the package claims only 2 net carbs. I calculate it as 8. And, it claims 0 sugar alcohols but clearly contains glycerine which is a sugar alcohol.

Total Carbohydrates 17 g
Dietary Fiber 9 g
Sugars 1 g
Sugar Alcohols (Polyols) 0 g

**Polydextrose and glycerine, while included in the 'Calories' count, have been omitted from the 'Total Carb' count as their impact on blood sugar/insulin levels is negligible.

Ingredients: Protein blend (whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed collagen), polydextrose, glycerin, peanuts, palm kernel and palm oil, inulin, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), natural and artificial flavors, coconut oil, non fat dry milk, butter, soy lecithin, salt, citric acid, sucralose, acesulfame potassium. Vitamins and Minerals blend: Calcium (tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate), Magnesium (magnesium oxide),Vitamin A (vitamin a palmitate),Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate), Vitamin B-1 (thiamine mononitrate),Vitamin B-2, (riboflavin), Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), Vitamin B-12(cyanocobalamin), Vitamin E (DL Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), vitamin B-3 (niacinamide), biotin, pantothenic acid (d-calcium pantothenate), zinc (zinc oxide), folic acid, chromium (chromium chelate), vitamin K, (phytonadione), selenium (sodium selenite).


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Write-Up on 'Weight Loss Tips' Website

About a month ago, I was asked to complete a survey for http://www.wltips.com/. My story can be found here, listed under "General Weight Loss". I appreciate their interest in me and hope it brings additional readers to my site. I also hope it inspires more people to try carb cycling so that we'll gain better knowledge of this weight loss strategy. Please check out their website and read the other success stories that they have gathered.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Status Update

After another 2 weeks off plan, I had regained a whopping 15 pounds! 3 days into low-carb resulted in a loss of 10 pounds. Now, I know that this weight loss is too rapid to include much fat. I can only assume that the primary difference is either water or how much food was in my digestive track. So, while I can't say that I have just lost 10 pounds of fat, I also can not say that I had gained 15 pounds of fat while off plan!

Today, the beginning of day 5, I weighed 260 pounds. This is still about 9 pounds more than I weighed 3 months ago. But, over the last three months, I only completed one full 11 day carb-down. So, it's not surprising. Regardless, I still weigh 76 pounds less than I weighed when I started on a low-carb plan. And, I am finally back on track.