New to Low-Carb Diets? Here’s What You Need to Know

After doing this ‘lifestyle’ for a while now, I forget that a lot of people have a completely erroneous belief system about what Atkin’s is, along with any of the other popular low-carb or moderated-carbohydrate eating plans out there making the rounds right now. I could whip out my Atkin’s book and fill your minds with all of the science behind carbs, sugars, glucose, glycogen, insulin resistance, the addicting properties of sugar, ad nauseum until your eyes roll back in your skulls and you reach for your usual evening snack of a Butterfinger and coke, but there are a lot of good books out there that explain the science. I  have a working knowledge of it, but I am no biologist, nutritionist, nor chemist.

So, let’s just start with dispelling some of the most common myths right away. These are things that I hear people chatting about in weight loss forums, and I roll my eyes at the ignorance.

“Yeah, my cousin just told me she’s doing Atkin’s. I mean, she’s living on mayo and bacon, OMG. She won’t eat bread, but bacon is ok?

“Yeah, my mom did that for awhile. She never ate fruit or veggies”.

” I can’t believe anyone who eats a diet primarily of meat fat can be healthy no matter how much weight they might lose. Imagine the clogged arteries. Just gross”. 20140108-193754.jpg

Ok ok. Enough of this crap. First of all, if the cousin is living on bacon and mayo, she might be trying to jump start ketosis. Ketosis? What’s that? A sign of kidney disease? NO. It’s not. That would be ketoacidosis, a very serious condition usually seen in uncontrolled diabetes where the body is burning too much fat. Ketones are a by-product of that fat-burn. You might notice ketone test strips for sale at the Rite Aid or see them in a diabetic friend’s bathroom. They let you know if you’re burning fat. For those of us who are healthy, a fat burn is a good thing. How do we burn fat? Well, first, it helps if you are not overeating the other fuel of your body- carbohydrate. The body prefers carbs simply because they are more easily burned, and the body does not give a flat damn how you look in jeans, it’s job is to efficiently turn your food intake into usable energy. The carbohydrate portion of what we eat is just easier to break down. It doesn’t mean it ‘s better for you. In a perfect world, all our carb sources would be vegetable and fruit, with a smattering of unrefined grains. The human body was not created with a need for , nor ability to properly assimilate the carbs known as candy bars, grocery store cakes , and those nasty little one dollar fried pies wrapped in wax paper wrappers. A little of anything will generally not hurt anyone.  So, pasta may not be brimming over with minerals, fiber, vitamins, protein- well, ok, anything of real value, really- but it’s a tasty holder for sauce and meat and veggies which do.  In low-carb diets, we just eliminate the useless, white filler foods which have no nutritional value and replace them with things that are good for you, such as more veggies, or meat or even cheese. All you’ve been hearing about fats like those in cheese turns out to not be so bad for you after all when eaten as part of a low-carb diet. Why is that?

Let’s back up to answer that. Remember the ketone strips, and burning fat rather than carbs, which convert into glucose/become glycogen.  That’s  right, either your body is running primarily on protein and fat, or it’s running primarily on some form of sugar. Most of us are in the middle. Tip the balance and we can gain or lose weight. You can also lose weight by simply consuming less, but most of us can’t seem to stay with that one long-term. Low carb makes this easier for those of us whose love of sweets and starches is more than simple oversight, more than a casual, occasional overeating phase. The bacon and mayo example above serves a great point for illustration here. As the body is being converted over from being a glucose/sugar burning machine primarily, to a fat burning one, the first two week ‘induction’ phase of most low-carb diets does consist of a lot of meat, cheese, and greens. Notice the greens. Some people swear by small fat/protein jaunts to speed up the process even faster, but I personally don’t feel it’s necessary for me.

So, which is superior nutrition? Bacon and eggs with strawberries, or cereal, pancakes, and fruit? Which has the most protein, by which your body fuels every muscle in your body? Which has more useless white  flour and sugar? Would you feed a racehorse straight sugar before a race? You see, spiking your blood sugar causes a rush of insulin to counteract. Once your blood sugar returns to pre-spike levels, you might often feel a crash, and get ravenously hungry and shaky and grouchy well before lunch. Not only does your body not have enough slower burning, necessary protein and fat to keep you going, but your blood sugar is now too low. So, in a misguided attempt to correct this, we might grab donuts, chips, candy  bars or the hallowed yet useless granola bars to quickly raise our blood sugar levels again,and it ‘s not even lunch time. I know that there are many normal weight people out there who have more stable reactions to sugars, who can eat cereal for breakfast and be fine until lunch, have their subs and chips and never be overweight, but I am not one of them, and neither are many of us. I am , like many of us in the world, strangely and profoundly addicted to the documented release in dopamine and seratonin from my brain which eating refined carbs and sugars causes. We are programmed from early childhood to capitalize on our natural enjoyment of sweetness by being rewarded with candies and cookies and cakes, for celebrations, good behavior, and are set up to think that these things are what we deserve for being ‘good’, when nothing could be further from the truth! Finally, good low carb diets like the one I follow is huge on veggies. In fact, the first two weeks meals consist of two salads per day, and after the first two weeks, the emphasis is always on veggies, low-glycemic fruits, and clean meats as much as possible, like salmon, other fish, meat, dairy and eggs/cheese. There is even a way to do low carb and still be vegan. Our carbs can come from moderate amounts of quinoa and couscous , too, but grains should NOT be the staple of the diet, veggies and protein should. I mean veggies that do not have a large carb/starch component, because the body converts that into sugar.

Help in Eating Right: Getting great nutrition without refined sugars and useless white flour: http://www.shakeology.com/leekirsten  I am a coach, and I stand behind this amazing superfood. Also, I am a health coach and soon-to-be personal trainer. I invite you to my challenge groups held online monthly. Lee MacKenzie at Facebook. Or just contact me at leekirsten.mack@gmail.com for more info. I run free or paid groups. You are welcome to find out more about either!

Please dive into the myriad of reasons that table sugar and refined carbs need to play a much more minimal role in our diets: For further reading:

http://www.sugarbusters.com

Sugar is as addictive as cocaine, and causes obesity ...

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/researcher-sugaraddictive

Science Behind Atkins

www.atkins.com/Science/ScienceBehindAtkins.aspx
If these links don’t click, just copy and paste to your browser bar/window,.

 

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“Working Out Does Not Cause Weight Loss”…( I’ve heard it said)

Well, you’ve probably heard that working out will cause you to lose weight. Not necessarily. There are a few other factors at play in the chemistry of the human body that determine weight loss. Let’s look at raw calories, for example. Let’s also consider metabolic rate of burn. Is it consistent for all, or does it vary with the individual? Ask any 6 ‘ 2″ super thin guy who never seems to stop eating, who can virtually eat anything he wants, and still have a hard time staying UP to weight if metabolisms differ. But, then again, I would wager that same guy is pretty darn active…

So, in my experience, and what I have heard for a long time now, is that diet is 70% of the component involved in weight loss. On the other hand, a casual Googling of that only yielded me the usual urban legend and ‘common knowledge’ type posts from individuals who have no sources to site for the presumption. But, let’s just say that’s true, for sake of argument. 

I must say, I’ve lost no more than three pounds since starting my T-25 BeachBody workouts about five weeks ago, almost six. But, here’s the thing that nobody bothers to mention much. Diet alone does not do this to your body. On the top, prior to working out, with diet alone. In the purple shorts, 5 1/2 weeks later, after working out 5-6 days a week, you can seeImage much more muscle definition and tone!

ImageSo, what does this mean? Should a person just stick to diet, or could working out also be a great benefit?! I think the results are clear, and in five MORE weeks, I should be able to show even more startling results, The funny part? My actual weight has barely changed. My actual tape measurements? I’ve perhaps lost an inch off my waist. What I see in the mirror, though, seems like more than just an inch. I am seeing shadows and lines and tone I have never had before. In the before, or upper picture, I have on the same type and size of shorts, just a different color. And I didn’t get a tan, that’s just a different room with dimmer light. However, the results are clear. In the above picture, I’d been doing my usual low-carb dieting, and running routine. All that running seemed to be doing for me is a great cardio workout. And I am ok with that. I still run about once a week, and will go back to it. But what I have found, is that strengthening muscle is hard work that pays more dividends than diet alone. In addition to strengthening my muscles, lungs, and the greatest muscle, my heart, I am also converting fat stores to muscle, and don’t feel like I need to hide my body. I will always have stretch marks and chicken skin ( so to speak) in my lowest ab section from becoming very large carrying my children in utero. I can live with that!! What I cannot live without anymore, until I am too old to worry about it, is the feeling of accomplishment and strength that I now have. My lower abs have been so weak all my life, and I never knew how to isolate them and work them out properly. No matter how much I lost, I still had that pooch that I despise. So, to answer all the questions. Can you lose more weight working out AND exercising? Maybe yes, and maybe no. It depends on the person. I know folks that tend to drop weight from just walking around the lake leisurely a few times per week. That’s not me. What you will lose is fat stores, which convert neatly into muscle. By the way, muscle takes more energy to maintain, so it might be that you will lose weight because you are burning more calories not only from your workout, but from simply existing. And that’s nice. 🙂 Now, to work on that cellulite …

My name is Lee. I am a mom, writer,  cashier, blogger, wedding officiant amateur wildlife advocate, voice-over artist wannabe, and a Beach Body Coach! I’ve learned a few things along my path, and I would love to help YOU reach your fitness goals! We’ve got a pretty great line up of workouts and clean-eating products and menus to get you on the right path. visit my facebook page at 

http://www.facebook.com/leeschallengegroup

 

Are you up for the challenge? Are you willing to trade instant fixes for hard work? Eating right 90% of the time and getting regular exercise IS the answer. Yes, I still follow low-carb, because that IS eating right! I might need more carb grams than I used to, but not many. I make sure to get plenty of protein and natural fats, water, and veggies! 

http://www.teambeachbody.com/leekirsten

You can message me or comment if you are ready to commit to being healthy. I can help!

 

 

Flatter Me With Cash and Fame, or…Something that Feels Like That

I really love all the attention my blog has been getting lately. I’d love to tell you it’s from my amazing poetry and short-stories, but it seems like diet and fitness are still the big draws to my blog.

I’m available to write for any number of genres, for any number of publications, and while I am certainly not cheap, I am quite reasonable. Contact me any time!

From 136 to 132- It’s Progress!

So, it’s not a lot. But it’s a lot in a relatively short time. Two -and-a-half weeks I believe. I like that. Today started with Shakeology, into which I mixed fresh raspberries and just half a banana. Total carb count- about 16 grams. I am allowing myself 30 now, due to dramatically increased exercise. It seems to be working. Thank you for checking out my blog site, and I invite your feedback and comments! 

GET this cookbook!!!

Still Livin Low Carb by George Stella is available on FB, and I got a PDF version for 1.99 or something amazingly cheap like that. What an awesome way to change up the low carb meals! GREAT recipes and ideas I can’t wait to try. One in particular, I actually have all the ingredients for right now. A marbled ricotta/almond flour cake…looks heavenly. I can’t post it, due to that’s not copyright-cool, but apparently this is his fifth cookbook to release. He’s a chef, he has pictures of his family before and after their amazing transformation, and you should really get the PDF!.

The Weight Loss Begins!

So, this is day four or five of the ketosis push. That involves staying at 20 grams of carbohydrate a day. That includes any time you get up in the middle of the night to sleepwalk to the fridge. I don’t do that, but I know that some people do. However, those carb grams can be counted for the next day if it’s after midnight. 😉

I ran today. It was my usual plodding 10.7 minute mile, but I kept at it for a good 30 minutes, and I did intervals. 3 minutes at 5.0-5.5 mph, followed by 3 minutes at six mph, or more. Repeat that every three minute session until 30 minutes are up. I need to get faster, but my heartbeat is still hitting the target range.

Blogging. Maybe I will never be famous, and never make enough money to retire from this. I got that reality firmly into my head over this last year. I had to decide that those things were never truly the reason, and should not be the reason for blogging.

Did I share anything that people enjoyed? Did I share a good recipe? Did I inspire even one person to help meet their goals?

If so, then I truly have succeeded, whether I have 12 followers or 1200.

The weight loss: Well, generally, the first three pounds melt off seemingly overnight, and the elation flows. If one dropped the ketosis at this point, though, it would most likely be a mistake. I’ve accidentally gone over yesterday and today by 3-5 grams, and that will slow me down. Yeah, it’s that tight, that tough, that unbelievably important to keep to 20 or less. However, don’t throw in the towel. Keep it up. Keep exercising. It may feel much harder to get motivated to move during ketosis. Be sure to keep drinking a lot of water, and move anyway. Despite feelings or motivation, KEEP AT IT. Don’t cave in, and in time, more results will come.

It’s always a while for me before I can jump up to 26 grams. My weight loss stops at 25 grams, and I start to gain at around 32-35. I think the key to success this time, that I failed at before, was keeping my fats intake high in proportion to my protein. I was eating a lot of meat before, and now I am focusing more on things like sour cream, butter, and avocados.

I can’t tell you that I am going to drop these 7-10 pounds overnight. That’s not sensible, nor realistic. When I say ‘overnight”, I mean in less than a month. That’s a lot! But within three months, I feel this goal is attainable. It’s the little decisions every day that add up to a habit, and habits add up to a lifestyle. A lifestyle sets our course in life like a rudder sets the boat’s direction. Having my ‘map’, I also arm myself with positive affirmations, and recognize that my weight and my diet are just a PART of my life.

I am ready to let this new direction of health and fitness pull other aspects of health toward me. a HEALTHY MINDSET is also very important.

I AM GREAT AS I AM. I am AMAZING. I help others. I am growing. I know how to use emotional maturity. i choose to believe the best of others. I will give more of myself for the good of others. I will look for opportunities and seize them. I am worthy of love, acceptance, and a bright future. Age is just a number. I will not stop, I will not give up, and I will not go down without a fight!

These are the things I am telling myself. I am learning to be better about managing my time and resources. I am gaining friends and my career is about to take off in a positive direction! God loves me, my family loves me, and I bring joy to my work and to others.

So, that’s what I am feeding myself. In addition to salads and avocados. 🙂

What do you tell yourself?

Let’s Get Real

I started this low-carb blog with several purposes in mind. First, I wanted to flex my typing fingers and actually write. I never intended to post strictly about low-carb eating, despite my blog’s title. Next, it’s good to be in a like-minded group of other low-carbers, to offer up strategies, recipes, and most importantly, support.  Finally, it feels good to write again. I would love to tell you how I am such a great writer, that I’ve been discovered and asked to write for magazines. That hasn’t happened. It’s a sobering ego-check to realize that you’re probably not that great. Then again, I usually just sit down and bang these blog posts out with very little planning or editing. You get back what you put out, to a large degree. I have not wanted to post anything here that might be good enough to plagiarize. That’s my excuse, and I like it.

As to low-carb weight loss! I am now maintaining my weight at about 132. That’s up from my all time low, as you may recall, of 122. I am certainly not depressed over being 132. I was at 147, even an all time high of 155 at one point, and I have no plans to return there. However, I would like to examine why it is that my weight has crept up.

1) I’m not holding myself to a strict 20-25 grams per day. I could not realistically continue to maintain that low carb count for two straight years. Maybe I could have, I take that back, but I didn’t.

2) In addition to playing fast and loose with the numbers, I have allowed more cheat days to creep in. There’s a bad habit our bakery department has at work of leaving mistakenly made or not-picked-up items in the break room for the employees to devour. After about the third or fourth time of walking by it, sitting next to it, and smelling it- after seeing so many other employees of all weights and sizes partake, I am only human. I cave. Incidents like these have happened more frequently as summer has come to a close. Is it just me, or does it get harder to eat right at this time of year? Every brother and their mother is bringing baked goods to work, and I even bought some canned pumpkin, which I have not opened yet. Then, my birthday is coming up, and I am already planning my splurge day.

3) Running.” You’ll get smaller,” they said. “It’s all muscle weight”, they said. I don’t know about all of that, but it seems the more I run, the more I gain. “Run more”, they said. “I’ve had enough this week!”, I said. Truth be told, I feel quite accomplished to run at ALL. I don’t know that I want to up the ante and get to 15-20 miles a week. I’ve been good at my 2-3k, 2-3 times per week. Sorry if that’s not good enough, all you hard-core runners. In fact, sometimes it’s even less. My neck and shoulders have been aching due to some sort of bone/muscle issue I’ve had off and on for years, and I haven’t run since 10-14. I did four miles that day.

4) I make the mistake of eating sugar free treats because I miss sweetness. I  have always had a huge sweet tooth, and sometimes it’s actually a fang. I eat the stuff, and I have lots of gas and frequent trips to the bathroom for hours or a day when I do. Sorry to be so graphic, but that’s why I called this post, “Let’s Get Real”. It’s not like it’s all sunshine and roses over here. I struggle to stay on low-carb, and sometimes I really run off the path and get lost in the Black Forest (cake).

So, what am I doing right? Why haven’t I gained all the weight back? Why haven’t I just given up completely?

What I am doing right: I exercise for health and heart strength, strong bones and muscles above weight loss concerns. Though I need to be more consistent, I have not given up. I keep getting back on that treadmill and doing those crunches and planks.

I still eat the majority of time in low-carb mode, including snacks. String cheese, nuts, raw veggies and ranch were yesterday’s snacks. Dinner was kielbasa and green beans with a light alfredo sauce. I was satisfied. I buy no-carb bagels online that are mostly soy protein. I drink almond milk. I enjoy eggs, bacon, and plenty of salad regularly.

I don’t throw in the towel and give up just because I splurged one day, or even on two occasions in a week, for example. I start all over the next day, attempting to balance things out.

I resign myself to the knowledge that if I really want to lose about eight pounds fairly rapidly, I will go back to eating only 20 grams of carbs per day, until I reach that goal. Turns out I am not feeling like I have to right now.

Finally, I remember that cravings for certain foods are not just physical. They are psychological and even spiritual for me. My natural desires can either be directed toward healthy habits and hobbies, or destructive ones. For example, if I am off of work, sitting here on the couch, contemplating what to do with my day, I have choices. I can involve myself in housework, work on my blog, chat with friends on Facebook, or go outside and play with my play-deprived dog. That would be constructive behavior.  OR, I can dump some food in her bowl, get in the car and do some mindless shopping for things I don’t need and can’t afford. I might throw beer or wine into my cart, with plans to enjoy it later. I might buy more sugar free foods, or another makeup item i don’t need. This is destructive behavior. Even worse, I might just never get off the sofa, watching TV all day- a huge creativity and productivity killer, with plans to work out on this gorgeous, sunny fall day, that never actually materialize.

I don’t always make the right choices. Do you? Are you the super-motivator? Are you so regularly spectacular that you are a motivational speaker now and have a couple of books published? Does Tony Robbins consult YOU? If so, congratulations. Enjoy every  moment of the fame, success, and all that life has to offer.  Wow, am I bitter?

🙂 Anyway, there’s more to life that feeding our faces or our desires. My mom is probably sitting on her sofa, wishing she could even leave her home and do anything other than suck on that oxygen tube. There are a lot of people not too far from us who could use something we have to give. I have to give. TIme, love, friendship.

Take care!