Sunday, May 3, 2009

Be Encouraged!


As most of my readers know, low-carbing is a lifestyle, not a quick weight-loss diet. Early in the process of low-carbing, weight is often lost rapidly, and some of the health improvements come right away. But as weeks move into months move into years, changes come more slowly and more gradually. Reading a diary or meeting an old friend will be a reminder that the low-carb life is better, but day-to-day excitement gradually morphs into an overall feeling of wellbeing.

As low-carbing becomes a way of life, what used to be a black-and-white eating plan begins to become shades of gray. What about eating a slice of Smart Carb bread instead of using a lettuce wrap on my sandwich? I miss bread, and this bread even contains exta (incomplete) protein. Could I substitute one or two low-carb Monster Energy drinks for a couple of bottles of water? They sure taste good and give me a mental and physical boost after all.

There are all sorts of low-carb substitutes for high carb foods. There are many vendors ready to sell them to us, and lots of cookbooks to show us how to make them ourselves. We see low-carb forums with large areas devoted to recipes. And if we try low-carb substitutes, in the short term it very often does not hurt. But what happens in the long term?

In April 2009 there was a Nutrition & Metabolism Society conference in Charleston, South Carolina. Jimmy Moore attended and posted pictures of some prominent low-carbers on his menus blog. Please check out the pictures of low-carb experts Laura Dolson and Dr. Mary Vernon. Another low-carb expert, Dana Carpender, also seems to be having weight issues. Jimmy Moore himself has recently reported that he weighs 246 pounds (an obese-level BMI of 30.7) with a body fat percentage (measured on a bathroom scale) of 31.5.

How could this be? These are prominent low-carbers. Please click on and scroll through the websites of Laura Dolson, Dr. Mary Vernon--note the array of fruit across the top, Dana Carpender and Jimmy Moore's menus blog for a clue.

Does this mean that low-carbers are doomed--doomed to gain weight in the long run? No. It does mean that the basic low-carb formula of complete protein, healthy fat and a few low-carb vegetables is hard to maintain over time. Dr. Michael Eades recently had a blogpost that graphically demonstrated that two groups of people living under similar circumstances could have drastically different outcomes for health and longevity. The hunter-gatherers had periods of starvation and fairly short lifespans, but were healthy in most respects. The agriculturalists had access to the same array of animal proteins, but they preferred to eat carbs. They were willing to suffer from increased infant mortality, painful defects in bone formation, dental cavities and bone infections in order to get a high percentage of calories from carbs rather than animal sources.

The pull of carbs and carb-replacements is strong. For one thing, they taste good. For another, the culture we live in encourages high-carb eating. But for those who are hanging in there and eating complete protein, healthy fat and low-carb vegetables, keep up the good work! In the long run, you're doing what is best for your body and in the long run, you will reap the rewards.

19 comments:

Shell said...

I love your blog, such excellent reading! A good reminder of why the basics of low carb works, the substitutes are where it can go haywire I think.

Stargazey said...

Thanks, Shell!

Judith said...

Thanks for another enlightening post. I have learned such a lot from your blog. I am still new to low carb (about 3-4 months)but my instinct is to avoid all replacements and substitutes,even something as seemingly innocent as (for instance) bread made out of flax seed, or artificial sweeteners. The carbohydrate monster is always straining at the leash and it is all to easy to unleash it.

Chris said...

Interesting thoughts. I however am not so sure that it is so difficult to eat properly - low carb read foods: meat, fat, veggies, eggs etc. It is a decision. As I've said before the occasional bit of junk is not a problem but when these people make products a foundation of their diets we can see the results - it is the emperors new clothes.

Do you ever venture over to the zero carb forum? there is a good discussion of JM's menus.

http://forum.zeroinginonhealth.com/showthread.php?tid=364&page=337

Ultimately it is all about busienss for these people. They have to keep selling their products

Keep up the blogging

Stargazey said...

Judith--I think your instincts are great! Once you stray into replacements and substitutes it's easy to get "lost in the weeds"--literally!

Chris--Yes, I read frequently at Charles Washington's site "Zeroing in on Health". I'm more of a very-low-carber than a zero-carber, but I like the no-nonsense approach over there. I don't agree with everything Charles says about biochemistry, so this isn't a 100% endorsement. On the other hand, many of his comments in the discussions are right on the money.

OnPoint said...

Hi Stargazey:

'Memba me?

You have a great blog. Very insightful.

I have found that products and artificial sweeteners can be detrimental even to dieters who are not on strict low carb diets. Look at Anti-Jared, for example. He lost 200+ lbs in one year on WW Core, which is similar to South Beach. I took special note that he rarely eats processed foods and consumes NO diet sodas. He specifically gave up diet sodas when he began this weight loss journey b/c he felt they might be a hindrance.

I think he's right. I've had an easier time controlling my weight since mostly cutting out diet drinks.

I too had noticed that a few of the low carb experts at the nutrition conference seemed to be struggling with their weights. Either the body (over-?) adjusts to very low carb eating over time, or the products/AS themselves cause weight gain or stalls.

Stargazey said...

Hi, OnPoint! It's great to see you again!

Judging from the websites of the overweight low-carb gurus, my guess is that they have overindulged in products, higher-carb treats and artificial sweeteners. It's easy to do, as we both know.

As I said in a previous comment, I have found it helpful to read Charles Washington's Zeroing in on Health blog. I can't agree with everything Charles says there, but I like his no-nonsense approach to proper eating. If you fall off the wagon, admit it, get up and get on with it. No coddling or enabling.

How are you doing these days?

OnPoint said...

Hi Stargazey:

Me? Well . . . I've had too many higher carb treats and artificial sweeteners. :-)

I don't do "products," b/c I think the carb counts on Atkins bars (which don't even taste good) and such are nearly the same as regular candy bars. I'm now correcting a very humiliating rebound.

I've been losing pretty good on up to 80 carbs/day, so long as I cut my carbs back in the afternoon and evening and avoid diet drinks. I also fall in the group that must count calories. I can gain weight even on Induction by overeating.

I may have to adjust my plan as I get further along. Natch, the heavier you are, the easier it is to lose.

Atkins never lived up to the hype for me. The Anti-Jared and Mr. LowBodyFat are doing things that work. Muata had a series on his blog about his own weight loss journey, including a section where he stalled on Atkins about 60 lbs short of his goal for about a yr. His WOE is somewhat similar to Tony's, based on what I have gleaned from their sites. I'd rather end up like Tony or Muata, or Gregory Ellis (Mr. 13%), than Jimmy Moore. Charles is extremely lean, but I think he's a zealot in some ways. I don't want to go so far to an extreme.

I was advised by Charles a couple of years ago to stop counting calories, to cut all products, and to go ZC. Well, I didn't go ZC, but pretty close to it. I stomped on my reservations and went down to 10-15 carbs/day. I was coming off a period of too low calories for a man my size, so some weight gain was expected. I ended with with a total nightmare - gained 30 lbs in 6 weeks on almost zero carbs.

I've never been to Charles forum. I clicked the link when I saw it in comments here a few days ago, but I didn't want to sign in. He is a very smart guy with a clear (if extreme) perspective, so I think I will sign in to see what's up.

Stargazey said...

I remember that you had gained weight on Very-Low-Carb, OnPoint. From what I understand at the Zero-Carb forum, it may be necessary to do no carbs whatsoever in order to be successful. And some people have to omit cheese, butter and/or eggs as well. It sounds extreme, but I have been watching them for over a year and nobody seems to have the health issues that eventually pop up on diets like Kimkins. To repeat, I myself am not a zero-carber, but I have been very interested in what they do.

What encourages me about that forum is that the people have either reached their goal weight or are steadily losing. So many of the other forums have participants who can answer all your low-carb questions, but have been on the boards for years and are still not at their goal weight.

Asclepius said...

I have a simple way of keeping myself on track. If I can eat the food 'raw', then I eat it!

That is not to say that I eat my foods raw, just that it helps me look at a food, any food, and decide if I should eat it or not.

Now of course I 'stray' every so often, but the thing is, if you are eating a food that can be eaten raw, then it is unlikely that it will have been processed - and it is the processing of food for which there is a mark-up/premium (euphamistically called 'adding value' I believe).

If you mostly stick to foods that 'they' can't fiddle with, then you should be ok....notwithstanding antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides and genetic engineering - but you get my point. However, at this point you could simply engage with 'slow food' and/or grow your own! Eat 'close to the ground'.

Great blog. Keep it up.

brainpower said...

About "substitute" foods: Doesn't anyone realise that there are big bucks in all these "low-carb"-products? I was amazed at the number of adverts on Jimmy's website and at the way he actively promotes these oh-so-wonderful snacks and low-carb-bars, diet drinks etc.etc. I commented on their uselessness on his website and got a brushing off. Seems he had to learn the hard way. Can't say that I feel terribly sorry. Low-carb is about eating the food that suits our genetic needs. If you choose to clog the system with unnatural, highly-processed crap then this is your privilege but don't complain about being unable to lose weight.

OnPoint said...

Hi Stargazey:

I finally logged on to the ZIOH board to read the Frankenfoods thread. I'm posting here, b/c I don't like the general tone of conversation there. I'm not saying JM is a great example for the LC community, but some of the comments there are too personally negative. It also seems like there's some bad blood between some of the members there and JM.

I do not believe JM eats at Denny's or the Pizza Inn all the time. I think diet Coke sells a version with lemon, plus many of his menus could be easily duplicated at home.

I was rather surprised that someone recently accused YOU of enabling JM. They obviously don't know your history with him. Go back and read the comments for his menus for January 18. It's LOL funny, and it was a little disappointing that he wouldn't acknowledge the point that you were trying to get across - that not posting his weights could hurt LC newbies who might follow his menus w/o knowing the consequences.

I'm VERY curious to see JM's weigh-in on Monday. As I told Pooti on her blog, with his frequent consumption this month of French toast, biscotti, cake, bowls of ice cream, and salted green beans, if it's anything under 250, I'm crying foul. I wouldn't be shocked if he's up to 255 or so, though.

Stargazey said...

Hi, OnPoint! Some comments on your comments:

There does seem to be a nasty tone to some ZIOH comments on the Frankenfoods thread. I attribute it to the way that Zero Carb got kicked off of JM's forum. I was only reading there occasionally at the time, so I don't feel like I'm entitled to take sides one way or the other. I just ignore it.

If Jimmy is telling the truth about his menus, I do believe he does eat out much of the time. My first clue was on May 1, 2009. A poster asked him where he ate the steak meal. He said he made it at home. OnPoint, those are Denny's dishes, Denny's mixed vegetables and Denny's shrimp on a skewer. Any time you see that mixed vegetable combination, it's a Denny's meal.

Then I noticed "Pepperoni, sausage, bacon, hamburger meat, cheese, a little spaghetti sauce" was appearing over and over. Jimmy says he makes it himself, but have you ever seen a picture of it? Nope. Pizza Inn has a pizza with those toppings, and they have lemons for their iced tea. That's where the Diet Coke with lemon comes from. It's Diet Coke with lemons in it.

One of the ZIOH members said that she had made a comment at the Menus Blog and Jimmy didn't post it. Back during Kimkins he said he wouldn't change blog comments any more, but he does decline to post them. So "THANKS" is not the only response a commenter might get. Check out my postings at May 13, 2009. Two of my comments (including a quote from Google where JM says that he eats out at Denny's all the time) didn't make it out of moderation.

Check out the border of the plate and the mixed vegetables in the picture, by the way. Another meal at Denny's.

Sadly, I'm starting to think that there is more to JM than meets the eye.

OnPoint said...

Didn't JM used to work for Denny's? Maybe he stole the plates from when he worked there. :-)

But seriously . . . Stargazey, I'm stunned. I went to the Denny's website and saw the EXACT meal posted for his May 1 meal at 1 p.m. Why on Earth he'd lie about something like that is beyond me? Eating at Denny's isn't the worst thing in the world.

Why lie about something so easily checked?

I stand corrected.

You also said something very insightful on ZIOH that I had not considered before - that JM goes from fad-to-fad - raw dairy, grass-fed beef, Paleo eating, etc. - knowing it will draw in new readers specifically interested in that WOE. I had often wondered why he seemed to flit aimlessly from one thing to the next, only to lose interest after just a week or two.

There may indeed be more than meets the eye w/ JM. What's real and what's calculated? Who knows?

Chris said...

On Point

I spent months trying to encourage Jimmy thinking that he really was struggling to lose weight. But his diet is appalling. Ultimately I realised that it is all a business for him. He refused to answer simple straight questions about one of his so called challenges and became quite childish. For someone claiming to be a leader n the low carb world and a christian he seriously disturbs me.

All he needs to do is eat real food ..... but there is no money in that.

OnPoint said...

Chris, I recall that exchange in April. I was very disappointed with Jimmy's games with you.

My diet is FAR from perfect, and I tried to cut JM some slack. The one thing I encouraged him to do, ack'g his reluctance to return to sweet-free (or even test further to see why it worked so well, since he no longer believes his losses in the fall were from going sweet-free), was to be both transparent and honest - to "keep it real," as it were. I hoped that he'd just own up to the fact that his WOE could be problematic and not pretend otherwise.

Here's a quote from Stargazey (JM's menus from 1/18/09) that sums up what I'm trying to say:

"You are welcome to set any goals you wish for weight loss success.

However, it is important for you to communicate to your readers that if they follow a low-carb plan like the one represented in your daily menus, they can expect to gain back dozens of pounds."

whatsonthemenu said...

"The pull of carbs and carb-replacements is strong. For one thing, they taste good. For another, the culture we live in encourages high-carb eating."

Not all carbs taste good by themselves. Fruit is delicious as is. Some veggies like cucumbers and carrots are palate-pleasing raw and undressed with condiments or herbs. Most carbs do not taste good without fat or salt. That is especially true of grains, legumes, and potatoes. Realizing that starchy foods get their flavor not from the starches themselves but from the sauces, herbs, and condiments helped me transition to low-carb. Homemade tomato sauce tastes just as good served over summer squash as it does on top of spaghetti.

"The agriculturalists had access to the same array of animal proteins, but they preferred to eat carbs. They were willing to suffer from increased infant mortality, painful defects in bone formation, dental cavities and bone infections in order to get a high percentage of calories from carbs rather than animal sources."

I find it hard to believe that any people would actually think corn and beans taste better than roasted wild boar. I think the agriculturalists' food choices were motivated not out of taste preferences but out of the conveniences of farming over hunting and gathering. Hunting down wild animals was no easy or risk-free task.

Some of the low-carbers mentioned aren't just overweight but obese. Overweight and normal weight people have about the same average lifespan, but higher mortality kicks in and rises steeeply as one moves into the obese range. The above low-carbers are reputed to have excellent blood markers. However, we have only their word, no tangible evidence. Even if they have normal blood pressure, blood glucose, high HDL, and low triglycerides, all that extra weight will still stress out their joints. Fat is metabolically active, so I wonder how someone carrying around so much of it can be healthy.

As an adult with a sojouner lifestyle, my weight has fluctuated in a BMI range of 22 to 27. Right now I am a 24 with a fair amount of muscle owing to walking and light strength-training. I would like to firm up and lose a bit more fat (I can still pinch an inch or 2). Obese low-carbers are not role models for people like me. Fit low-carbers like Mark Sisson and Art Devany are.

I found your blog via link from Jimmy Moore. I hope you'll post more entries explaining the science of food metabolism. Understanding the science behind healthy and unhealthy eating habits motivates me to make better choices.

Stargazey said...

Thanks for your comment, whatsonthemenu! I looked at your blog and was impressed with your rational and healthy food choices. You would probably do well on a more conventional diet because you have educated yourself and you have trained your palate to make healthy choices.

Sad to say, most of the people I know don't eat like that. They use food for comfort, for recreation and for reward. Their taste buds have been dulled by years of packaged processed food. Their minds have been glazed over by advertisements that show tempting pictures of Cokes, chips, fast food meals, and sugary desserts. Those are the people that low-carb can help.

I agree with most of your very thoughtful comments, and thank you for making them. I'm trained as a research biochemist, so that's the perspective I come from in this blog. If medical biochemistry fits in with what you want to learn about nutritional science, please do browse the rest of this blog. Most of the articles are not time-sensitive. If you have questions, I will be glad to try to answer them. If it's an old post, however, please indicate in your comment which one it is. Blogger doesn't have a feature that tells me which post a comment comes from. Thanks in advance!

whatsonthemenu said...

Thanks for having a look at my blog. I just posted once in Blogger to check out its features and compare them with Wordpress, where I'd posted several daily menus before taking a trip out of town.

I credit my eating habits to a decade of living in Asia. On my first trip to a supermarket in Seoul, I wandered around confused, looking in vain for aisles of boxed meal kits and glass cases full of heat-and-eat meals that didn't exist. A healthy, balanced meal made mostly from scratch could be had for $3 or less in any ordinary Korean restaurant. Sadly, food habits are changing, and Koreans are consuming more processed food products. In Korea and China, large urban apartment complexes include small stores selling not only snack foods but also fresh produce. I used to stop by a little store every day after work and pick up greens for that evening's dinner.

BTW, I had another look at the North American hunter-gatherer / agricultural comparison and noticed that, as I suspected, the hunter-gatherer group lived 5,000 years ago while the agriculturalists lived in the 1500s.