Tag Archives: Food and Diet

Recipes and diet diary

Veering About

I have just been scrolling through old posts and it struck me how many twists and turns I have made via my quest for slimmer hips and subsequent departure from regime. First there was Blubber Busters, most successful slimming business in the world, then Mince Monde with its red days and green days. Recipe posts abound involving the extraction of flavour normally provided by fat and the attempt to replace it with spices, salt or artificial sweetener. Next I went into my Girth Mother phase, buying locally and making everything. This was completely incompatible with either of the above diet organisations and so the weight piled back on again, I gave myself the nickname Lil (Short for Lillets, tampons which, according to the box, expand width-ways). I then went on to the Harcombe Diet and wasted several weeks waiting for her promises to come true, they didn’t.

I approve of my Girth Mother principles of buying locally and using the best ingredients, also of cooking as much of our food intake from scratch as is practically possible. My mother always cooked for us and I have tried to do the same for my family. In fact, when I think about it, the times I have used convenience products were predominantly when on a low fat diet. Low fat cooking sauces, ready made fish pie and low fat sausages. It seems awful to me now. I feel a bit like a religious convert, I could lapse but it would take a while to stop feeling guilty.

So I have returned to the advice of the redoubtable Dr Robert Atkins. His Diet Revolution book, backed up by the writings of Gary Taubes, mentioned in previous entries, has me convinced and, if I dare put this in writing after all my previous vacillation, I think I might have found an eating regime I can keep to for life.

I’m not sure everyone could manage this. Most people think I am mad. My cousin, Tyler, is staying with us at the moment, installing a new bathroom. He can’t believe that I would eat curry without rice, or roast dinner without potatoes or Yorkshire Pud. it does sound awful but I really enjoy what I eat. The biggest plus for me is that I no longer crave food. I eat when I am hungry and I stop when I’ve had enough. I don’t have to trim the fat off the chop or the skin from the chicken and I can eat butter and cream and, best of all, drink wine and whisky, daily if I wish. Each evening I pour myself a glass or two of dry wine and open the Macadamia nuts. After my meal I have a hot chocolate made with Green and Black’s cocoa (no sugar of course but some artificial sweeteners are pretty good (nothing containing aspartame though) and at the weekend I might liven my drink with a ‘tot’ of rum or whisky.

I started back on the Atkins Diet at the beginning of July and although the weight loss hasn’t been exactly fast it was pretty steady, but getting slower all the time. I was also feeling a bit jaded and lack lustre and I supposed that this might have been due to a lack of certain vitamins and minerals. By the end of September my weight loss had ground to a halt. I asked people on the lowcarbers forum for advice and tried everything suggested. I gave up dairy products, lowered my carbohydrate intake to practically nothing and gave up drinking – the final sacrifice. Then I found that Dr Atkins had written another book called The Vita-nutrient Solution and I ordered myself a copy. To my astonishment, his book included combinations of supplements to aid weight loss, combat exhaustion and overcome hormonal imbalance.

I listed all the supplements he suggested to cure all these ills, the list filled nearly two A4 pages! That couldn’t be managed, either physically or financially. On his advice I looked for the items that occurred in more than one ‘recipe’ and bingo, I had my solution. I do take rather a lot of tablets each day, and they’re not cheap, but I have started losing weight again and I feel fantastic. I’m alert and happy. I wake up instantly and drop off to sleep spontaneously and that has to be worth a few quid, hasn’t it?

This is what I take. In brackets are the reasons I take them but they do have many other benefits):

3 Nutrislim low carb dieters multi-vitamin (high concentration multi vitamin, a starting point)

6000 mcg folic acid (menopausal symptoms, fatigue, brain health)

66mg zinc (brain health, eating disorders)

1500mg L-Carnitine (fat burning)

100mg Vitamin B Complex (energy and brain health)

100mg Vitamin B6 (Hormonal health)

200mcg Selenium (anti-oxidant and thyroid health)

600mg Omega 3 fish Oil (auto-immune diseases, obesity)

1000mg flax seed and borage oil (auto-immune diseases, obesity.)

1000mg Phenylalanine (makes you happy and lowers pain threshold)

150mg COQ-10 (obesity, fatigue)

120mg Lipoic Acid (control of blood sugar)

200mg Magnesium (I take this to prevent cramp but it is valuable for the heart and brain among other things. Sadly, the dose recommended by Atkins gives me the runs)

Potassium found in Lo Salt, salt substitute) (Fatigue, also helps with cramp)

6mcg chromium (blood sugar balancer)

I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone else, this is my own, personal solution. I would recommend though, the purchase of the book Amazon.co.uk . It may be the placebo effect but I feel fantastic .

The Harcombe Diet Again

I have had a few responses to my previous article from people who say that the Harcombe Diet is not working for them.

My own view is that the fewer carbohydrates you eat, the more weight you will lose. I think the element of the Harcombe diet that says you can eat a meal of carbs as long as you keep off the fat for 3 hours is wrong.

Eating carbohydrates, even unrefined ones like brown rice and wholemeal bread, causes the pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone that enables the body to store fat, so the more carbs you eat the more fat you will store and the less of the goodness from your food will go to the places you need it i.e. your muscles and organs; you may also become hungry again because you haven’t got the goodness you need from your food. The book says don’t eat fat with the carbs because otherwise the fat will be stored as body fat by the insulin you produce by eating the carbohydrates. I say, don’t bother with the carbs (have a few but keep off the fruit and eat only low carb vegies).

I think the reason that the Harcombe diet encourages the consumption of fruit and vegetables is because these contain vitamin C. There is a book called Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes in which he points to, and provides references to, scientific evidence that all the vitamins we need can be obtained from meat, even vitamin C. The Inuits eat nothing but meat and they are very healthy, never suffering from modern diseases such as diabetes, gout, high blood pressure and certainly not older diseases like rickets (lack of vitamin D and calcium – allegedly), beri beri (lack of vitamin B1 – allegedly), or scurvy (lack of vitamin C – allegedly).

I think if you are struggling on the diet, you should try having ‘Fat’ meals only. If you still have trouble try cutting out cheese, and reducing cream.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you want to understand your body’s response to food, read Good Calories, Bad Calories. It will amaze and outrage you. If you wish to read any other advice, make sure you get scientific references for the facts stated in the book, and think about the conclusions drawn from the evidence. There was once a guy called Keyes who convinced the world that fat, and eventually cholesterol, is bad. The official advice we are now given about what constitutes a balanced diet, what is good and bad for our hearts and our blood pressure and how to treat diabetes is affected by this guy’s opinion but was he right?

Diet progress and more facts

Well, I thought I should report that I have now lost 15.7lb. It has taken me a while to work out what I can and can’t eat but I now believe that as well as giving up all forms of starch (potatoes, rice, pasta, flour) I have a slight intolerance to dairy and must cut back seriously on, in particular, cheese. I believe this because for weeks I stuck to Atkins low carb diet like glue without any weight loss. I friend suggested that I try giving up dairy and like magic the weight began to go. Thank you Melissa!

Is life worth living? You may well ask yourself. Well, as a matter of fact, life is very good and I feel excellent. After an initial period of craving for sugar, heart palpitations and energy ups and downs, I have now gained complete control of my appetite – although I have to admit that after dinner with old friends yesterday, the Thorntons chocolates gave me a bit of a hard time. I didn’t have one though because I know that it will only take one truffle to put me back where I started – addicted and binging.

In the book The Harcombe Diet Zoe states that you can eat starchy and carbohydrate fruit, vegetables and wholefoods (with no fat) for a meal – I suppose breakfast would be good, you could have brown rice cereal or oatmeal with skimmed milk and fruit. Afterwards you must only eat a meaty/fatty meal after waiting a period of time, I forget how many hours but three or four I think. This former doesn’t work for me at all. I get bloated after any starch, have terrible stomach pain and WIND! I suppose I am intolerant to something there as well, so I am a meat/fish and vegetable queen. I have salmon mousse, pate, fish in cream and mushroom sauce ( a bit of cream seems OK for me), Avocado with prawns/shrimp and Marie Rose sauce, curry ( no rice), lots of salads, mayonnaise and butter and it’s all delicious. Breakfasts consist largely of eggs, bacon, sausages and tomatoes. If I need something crunchy I have a few pecans (salted and roasted) and I also eat 2 Scandinavian Bran Crispbread per day. Instead of potatoes I have become addicted to Brussels sprout puree. Cook the sprouts until softish then whiz them with a blender until smooth. Stir in black pepper and a tablespoon of home made mayonnaise or a knob of butter.

Drinking dry wine seems fine and an occasional whisky is also acceptable. I tend to try and keep drinking to the weekend.

This will be my life from now on. Sorry friends and family I am now a pain to entertain!

Putting on weight without the help of insulin

I have discovered that for me, at least, eating too much fat on a low carb diet, still makes me gain weight. This seems to contradict the information given by Dr Atkins and by Zoe Harcombe, that if you keep insulin levels low by eating no sugar or starchy foods, it is impossible to gain fat. Zoe Harcombe states that the only way fat can be stored is with the help of insulin.

I was curious to understand how I could have gained weight, so I did some more research. It turns out that there is a substance called Acylation Stimulating Protein (ASP), which occurs alongside insulin. ASP can actually cause fat to be stored without the aid of insulin (proved in vitro) but it may call on insulin in the normal course of events. Of course there is always some insulin present in our systems unless we are diabetic. ASP levels rise when high levels of fat are eaten, and in people who have been overweight ASP levels are raised permanently. This could go some way to explaining how people with a weight problem are stuck with it for life.

This is a link to part of the research: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1885258?ordinalpos=16&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Thanks to Martin Levac and KJF on the low carbers forum http://forum.lowcarber.org/ for pointing me in the right direction

Burning muscle instead of/as well as fat

In a previous post I said that I would investigate the reason why the body would burn muscle, when fat is stored specifically for the purpose of providing food during hard times.

This information has been difficult to find but it seems that the general concensus is that the body would not need muscle in times of starvation (I somehow doubt this as if I were a starving hunter gatherer and saw a bunny loping past, I would want my muscles double quick!)

Anyway, the reason muscle is burned is that it converts to glucose which is a quick boost. As I’ve already said, fat needs to be converted to ketones and this process is slower and the effects less instant.