Saturday, January 11, 2014

Once more into the breach

To those of you who follow my blog, a heartfelt apology. I thought that I was dealing well with a family tragedy, and I found out that that was not true. I slammed the door on everything but trying to make it to Christmas Break. Thank you for still being with me. As Arnold said, "I'm back."

I found some comments/questions when I logged in to my blog, and I'm going to try to address them.

Matthew, complex carbs are the "healthy" carbs that we are told to eat: Not white bread, but whole-wheat bread. Not instant oatmeal, but steel-cut oats. Complex carbs are carbs that haven't been as processed and still contain fiber. Whole grains, beans, and fruit fall into that category. The problem is, that they are still carbs. Yes, the fiber slows down the spike in glucose (blood sugar), but they still attribute to fatty liver, insulin resistance, and fat storage. Anytime you trigger an insulin release, fat storage takes place. That's what insulin does. Complex carbs are still carbs.

Cohen, I'm not sure of your question. If you are confused because of my failure to communicate, please let me know. I want to make sure that I am presenting date-based findings and explaining them in such a way that they are still true to the research.

Anonymous and Matthew, thank you for the kind words. The low-carb lifestyle saved my life, since I weighed 245 pounds, had retinal edema, triglyceride readings in the 170s, and fasting glucose readings approaching the 120s. My waist measurement was in the 40s. (Can you say, "Metabolic Syndrome," boys and girls?)

Anonymous, this is a basic day for me. (As a side note, any link I post that leads to a company, person, or product, I do NOT receive any kind of "kick-back" from anyone. I happen to use certain companies, sites, and products, and I post them here for clarity and convenience.) I try to keep my intake at 75 - 80% fat, 15% protein, and 5% carb.

Breakfast:

Half-caf coffee with liquid Splenda and a half-heavy cream/unsweetened almond milk mixture

Maria's "fat-bomb" (coconut oil, natural peanut butter, unsweetened cocoa, Splenda)

This high-fat breakfast usually keeps me satisfied until lunchtime. I make sure to drink water, and sometimes will have more coffee with the cream/almond milk mixture, and float a bit of coconut oil in my coffee.

Lunch:

An Atkins shake or a Quest bar or left-overs from a previous dinner

I am a high-school counselor who also does discipline, and my lunch is after the students' lunch. If there are problems that I have to handle, my lunch sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. My favorite lunches are bacon and cream cheese, and dill pickles with full-fat cheese.

Dinner:

A bit of fatty protein (bacon, pork roast, sausage-stuffed mushrooms, fried eggs (two or three yolks with one white), baked dark-meat chicken with the skin, home-made chili (no beans) with the fat left in.

Sometimes a non-starchy veg (Brussels sprouts roasted in bacon grease, broccoli with home-made cheese sauce (easy), or mushrooms sauteed in butter and bacon fat with garlic.

Evening:

Decaf tea with the cream/almond milk mixture
Another "fat bomb"

This way of eating gives me tons of energy and keeps me full. Since I am releasing very little insulin (protein and carbs trigger insulin, fat does not), I am tapping into my body's fat stores for that energy. 

I just slogged my way through The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, by Drs. Phinney and Volek, and was, again, reminded that I am not a health-care professional. It was very much worth reading, though (skimming the parts when my eyes started to cross), and I learned even more as to why carbohydrates are deadly for me. Others might have more tolerance for carbohydrates, but I can gain 10 - 20 pounds in a week or two, if I eat lots of sugar and starch. And, no, I am NOT exaggerating. Ten to twenty pounds in that short a time frame.

I also ordered a blood ketone meter, which I use once a week. The test strips are ridiculously expensive, but one a week is manageable. I am not weighing myself, but am using two markers: Blood ketone reading, and waist measurement. The book I mentioned above said, "Don't trust your mental health to the scale." Precious words.

I highly recommend that you download Keto Adapted, for $14.99. Maria explains the science of a healthy, high-fat lifestyle in a way that doesn't make you wish that you were a biochemist. I've made a batch of her broth (tasty), and I have a mug of it every day to keep my sodium intake up. Yes, that's right. Sodium intake UP. I'll talk about that one at a later date.

Meanwhile, hug your loved ones, treat yourself and others with mercy and patience, and make 2014 the best year to date.

The Bionic Broad out.



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Everybody out of the water


Just when you thought that complex carbs were healthy carbs, the kill-joys at the University of Colorado School of Medicine have rained on our parade.

The researchers were trying to find out the connection between obesity, fatty liver, and insulin resistance.

We already knew that when we consume added sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup and table sugar (sucrose), we receive all the benefits of eating that carbage: A liver that becomes too fatty to do its job. It develops scar tissue from all the fatty deposits, which causes cirrhosis, and the liver looks like it's been on a 25-year alcoholic bender. Also, the cells in the body rebel, and refuse to absorb all that extra sugar (glucose) floating around in our blood. (Can you say "diabetes," boys and girls?)

But wait! There's more!

Those pesky researchers have reported that fatty liver and insulin resistance may also result from fructose produced in the liver from non-fructose containing carbohydrates.

Say what? The liver produces its own fructose?  From consumed carbohydrate?

But...but...we are bombarded every day with how, according to the USDA food pyramid, we are supposed to eat 11 servings of "heart-healthy whole-grain high-fiber carbohydrate foods" every day! Carbohydrate is necessary for energy! For good health! For... well...the development of obesity and insulin resistance!

 A direct quote from said researchers: "Our data suggests that it is the fructose generated from glucose that is largely responsible for how carbohydrates cause fatty liver and insulin resistance."

Gasp!

Let's try another: "Ironically, our study shows that much of the risk from ingesting high glycemic foods is actually due to the generation of fructose... These studies challenge the dogma that fructose is safe and that it is simply the high glycemic carbohydrates that need to be restricted."

Take that, you "new-Atkins" sell-outs.

It doesn't matter if that slice of bread is whole-wheat, or that cracker is gluten-free rice, or you are glomming down steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast. Your body is going to take that carb, convert it to fructose, and wreak havoc on your metabolic health.

Drat those researchers in Colorado!

The Bionic Broad out.

 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Almost right

Here's an interesting short video about fat, even though the "brushing off" of saturated fat is wrong. At least science is heading in the general direction of the truth. One can only hope.

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/what-is-fat-george-zaidan

The Bionic Broad out.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Hitting the wall

With the advent of summer vacation, I usually begin my day with the recorded TV shows that Best Half doesn't especially care for, and Chopped is usually good for some mindless entertainment.

But I knew that I was in trouble when all four contestant chefs had each lost at least 100 pounds by giving up, "butter, cream, and all those other harmful fats." Then, when one of the ingredients in the basket was pork rinds, Ted Allen lamely quipped, "You gain weight just looking at pork rinds." I looked at my cup of coffee (Fat-bomb coffee) and hoisted the sucker in a toast to Mainstream Media Culture's continuing state of willful ignorance.

If I eat a diet of pastries, bread, pasta, potatoes, cake, pie, candy, rice, corn, sugar, sugar, carb, carb, carb, how can I blame the fat for my obesity? This reminds me of my teacher days, when whining students would bleat, "How can I have an F? I turned everything in." Right.

At the high school where I'm blessed to be employed, I see students, every day, mind you, stand in line to get their pizza slice, fruit drink, chocolate milk, and apple or carrots. The kids then blot the pizza with a napkin, complaining about the grease. The grease?!? How about the crust (sugar), the drinks (sugar), and the raw veg/fruit (sugar)? How about the baked "chips" (sugar), the fruit cocktail (sugar), the cookies (sugar), the slushees (sugar), the sports drinks (sugar), and the frozen treats (sugar)? Or the French toast sticks (sugar), the pancakes with syrup (sugar), and the Pop Tarts (sugar)? The students eat this way every day, a population that is 75 - 80% Latino, genetically pre-disposed to diabetes and obesity.  But oh no, it's the arterycloggingsaturatedfat! And we wonder why so many of our young people look like Pillsbury Doughbutts.

(Breathe. Breathe.)

We. Need. Saturated. Fat.

People on low-fat and/or high-sugar diets are starving themselves at a cellular level. When they take the fat out of their diet, it has to be replaced with something, and that something is usually some form of carb: Starches and sugars/fructose. Blood sugar levels rise; insulin is triggered. Insulin not only stores fat, but prevents the fat cells from releasing those fatty acids to be burned for energy. In the process, the mitochondria (the "energy factories" of the cell) are damaged. We get fat.

I know thin, hard-hitting gym rats who could out-perform me at any physical task, and who are on brutally low-fat diets. Their skin looks hard and stretched, because saturated fat keeps the cellular walls pliable, allowing waste products out. Sat-fat-depleted cell walls get stiff and non-porous, trapping those wastes in the cell, which shortens the life expectancy of the cell. Think of plastic left out too long in the sun. Cr-r-r-a-a-a-ack.

I know people who insist that they need carb for energy, and eat lots of it, avoiding all those "evil fats." They have skinny arms, and skinny legs. And pot-bellies. And bra-rolls. They are the skinny-fat ones, who probably have much more visceral (internal) fat than is healthy, wrapped around their gizzard. Visceral fat is NOT inert. It is very much active, and the chemicals it pumps out cause inflammation of the blood vessel walls. That inflammation is what causes our arteries to clog like a sink trap at a beauty shop.

Since low-fat dieters (and Typical American Diet-eaters) give their bodies an unending supply of sugar, the liver doesn't need do one of its most important jobs, which is the on-demand conversion of non-carb sources into glucose (gluconeogenesis). So, it gets very lazy. This can lead to a fatty liver, which results in scarring and eventual cirrhosis. (My obese grandmother, who never touched a drop of alcohol in her life, was found at the time of her death to have cirrhosis.)

 We. Don't. Need. Carb. (Just in case you didn't read the explanation of gluconeogenesis.)

Imagine my trying to use a tiny charcoal grill to cook up big, juicy steaks for the whole family. Since I can't get enough charcoal into that itsy-bitsy hibachi to do the whole job, I have to keep adding more and more fuel, and more and more charcoal lighter to ignite that fuel. Eventually, I might get done, but, by then, my family would be a semi-circle of starved skeletons around the grill.

Now imagine a different scenario: Me, my brand-new gas grill, and a freshly filled canister of propane. Fuel on demand. Turn up the heat. Turn down the heat. In a flash, I would be done, my family and I around the table, stuffed and steak-breathed.

Why would I want to burn sugar, a short-term storage solution in the body? After my glycogen stores in the muscles and liver are depleted, and I "hit the wall," so to speak, what am I supposed to do? Insulin keeps me from burning my own fat for energy. Well, guess what I do? I crave and eat more carb. And hit the wall again. And crave. And crave. And crave. The body won't let itself starve.

Why not choose to burn a readily available source? Once the body goes into a health-promoting fat-burning mode (ketosis), we have energy whenever we need it. Plus, it puts the liver back to work. We burn our own fat. The liver burns its fat. A win-win situation if there ever was one. Thinner me. Thinner liver.

But no. Cream and butter are evil, and pork rinds make us porky. Hand me those rice cakes, will you?

The Bionic Broad out.




















Monday, May 27, 2013

Hard truth

Photo courtesy of mepassaocardapio.com
Oh, where to begin, where to begin?

For the past two weeks, I have been mentally wrestling with the idea of "man vs. food," and, by that, I am not referring to the nausea-inducing TV show of the same name. (Dear Lord, I have a stomach that can hold 6 - 8 ounces. What would I do with 5 pounds of food? Aaargh.)

Yesterday, with my newly-sleeved Bro-in-Law, I was discussing the fact that Sleeved Ones oftentimes undergo a grieving process for food. No longer are we able to eat recreationally, emotionally, or frequently. We are slapped in the face with the fact that we not only have developed a relationship with a non-sentient item, but that the relationship has to change. That brought me around to the idea of "comfort food."

We chide older children for still sucking their thumb, or carrying around a tattered blanket, or refusing to give up a care-worn stuffed animal. But while we berate our children, we think nothing of glomming down a bag of chips, a carton of ice cream, a few chocolate bars, more than a few brews, or a 2-liter of soda after a terrible week. Comfort thumb, comfort binky, comfort bear, comfort food.

Almost all comfort foods are high in carbs: The pasta in the mac and cheese or lasagna, the sugar in the chocolate or ice cream, the grain in the beer, or the potatoes in the chips or mash. And, usually, these foods are associated with pleasant memories, much like the bubble-gum pop music I used to listen to when I was but a wee thing.

From a biochemical standpoint, the rise in blood sugar (glucose) from all that carb is temporarily calming, and acts like a short-term relaxant, a bit of a narcotic. (Then the "crash," of course, and the cravings, and the jitters, and more carb, and the "crash," and...well, you get the picture.)

Comfort foods are powerful reminders of past relationships, loved ones gone, and happy childhood times. But there comes a time when the foods, themselves, become more important than the comfort they bring.  

When I was in the military, I'd swill alcohol at the club with friends after a particularly tough week. Eventually, I needed no tough week as an excuse to swill. The alcohol became more important than the de-stressing sessions with friends. I didn't need the friends, only the alcohol. "Warning, Bill Robinson!"

Such it is with comfort foods. More times than I can count, I hear people say, "I'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofatI'msofat," and then snarf the monstrously huge Panera bagel, chocolate bar, piece of cake, doughnut, or box of Cheez-Its.

As Cher said in Moonstruck, "SNAP OUT OF IT!!!!!!!"

For crying out loud, what do we want?

Is the food more important than liking what we see in the mirror, wearing with no shame a bathing suit, being able to move during sex, or keeping up with kids and grand-kids? If so, every time we open our mouth to complain about our weight, plug it with Panera.

If not, if our health and happiness and self-esteem and image are more important, we must find a way to cope with the emotions that send us running for culinary comfort.

Before you pop the Pringles or dunk the doughnut, EAT SATURATED FAT. Let me repeat that: FAT. SATURATED. EAT IT.

Have a cup of coffee or tea. Add heavy cream. Sweeten to taste with Splenda, etc., or don't sweeten it, if you're a Yankee. Eat a couple pieces of bacon, or a few cubes of full-fat cheese. (Touch a cracker and I'll slap your hand.)

After 15 - 20 minutes, if you still want the carby comfort, go for it. But you won't eat as much, trust me. You might not eat it at all.

Carbs beget cravings, cravings beget carbs, which beget even more cravings. It is a cruel fact of obese life: The more carbage we eat, the more we want, ad nauseum.

Lousy week? Breathe deeply. (Stress causes us to tighten our upper body, reducing the amount of air we pull in.) Walk the dog or yourself. Clean out a drawer, or clear some annoying clutter. Play a mindless online game. Call a friend. Watch a few videos from Wimp.com.

If you've done all that, and you still want to eat, substitute: Eat the darkest chocolate that you can, at least 78% cocoa. Munch nuts (not cashews - too high in sugar). Fry full-fat hard cheese until it's crispy. Eat fresh berries sweetened with Splenda and drowned in heavy cream. Microwave pepperoni until it's crispy and use the chips to scoop up your favorite (full-fat and not loaded with corn syrup) dip. Make that grilled cheese with tons of real butter, full-fat cheese, and a lower-carb bread (My Male Household uses Oroweat's Double Fiber bread.) Use Dreamfields lower-carb pasta to make that mac and cheese, spaghetti, or lasagna. Do something.

But let's not open our pie hole and moan "I'msofatI'msofatI'msofat" if we're not willing to do something about it.

The Bionic Broad (who still battles the Chip Monster) out.













Saturday, May 4, 2013

Don't get statin-ed

Do you take statins? Do you know someone who does? Please make the time to watch this, and share it with your friends and loved ones.


The Bionic Broad out.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Juiced

Yesterday, I had my two-month check-in with the post-op Bariatric physician. In the waiting room, a video played on a monitor, in some Time Lord never-ending loop. Please understand that this medical office mostly services patients who are, like me, post-op, and those attending the required classes before having weight-loss surgery. Let's just say that all the chairs in the joint are triple-wide.

I didn't pay much attention to the video, as I was busy trying to conquer level 17 on Jewels Deluxe. But one speaker came on, and his voice was so nasal and whiny that I had to listen. After I had gone through a full loop and watched the whole message, I was flabbergasted.

I want you to imagine a weight-loss center waiting room running a loop of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Or anything off of Food Network. Silly, right?

In my waiting room, before an audience of many people weighing 300+ pounds, my HMO was running a video on the benefits of a diet full of fruit and vegetable juices.

Excuse me?

Behold:

1.  Protein and carbohydrate are turned into glucose, a type of sugar.

2. The normal and healthy amount of glucose in our bloodstream at any given time is about 1 teaspoon.

3.  A half-cup of tomato juice has about 5 grams of carb. One gram = 1/4 teaspoon. So, that measly half-cup of tomato juice has over a teaspoon of sugar. It may not sound like much, but, without the fiber to slow down the impact of the sugar hitting the bloodstream, the juice makes our blood sugar level double within 7 minutes. That triggers insulin, and, if you read my last post, you know that that is B-A-D for those trying to lose or maintain their weight. (Actually, it's bad for everyone.)

4. At the opposite end of the spectrum, grape and cranberry juices have about 18 grams of carb per tiny little half cup. Doing the math, each half cup packs a blood sugar wallop of over a tablespoon of sugar. That level of sugar in the blood is toxic, and must be dealt with. That is the job of insulin, as you know, which handles the situation by forcing that glucose into the fat cells, oftentimes in the belly. Not good.

God didn't put bottles of juice on trees and sprouting from the ground. If you want fruit, eat fruit, preferably low-sugar ones like berries. That berry is a whole package, with all the nutrients and fiber.

It's the same with veggies. Choose non-starchy ones, in all of Nature's colors. They, too, are dense packages of nutrition. Potatoes, peas, corn, and iceberg lettuce don't qualify. 

So ask yourself. Would you rather have the steak, or the blood squeezed from the steak? Sure changes the face of the backyard BBQ, doesn't it?

The Bionic Broad out.