Archive for May, 2013

Dana Carpender is best known for her many low-carb cookbooks.  (We bought several of them, including copies for relatives, before I even knew Dana.)  Her latest cookbook is for people who want to go more paleo, or would just like to have a collection of recipes that don’t include butter, cream, sour cream or cheese.  If you’re a low-carber who needs to avoid dairy products, this is the book for you.

In the introduction to 500 Paleo Recipes, Dana explains why she wrote the book:

Low-carbers around the world tell me a shift is occurring.  I hear from more and more people who are shunning soy products, who avoid gluten, who are seeking out grass-fed meat and dairy and wild-caught fish.  More and more, I hear from people who have quit using artificial sweeteners.

Many of the recipes in my previous books are paleo-friendly, but many are not.  Indeed, my own eating habits have shifted over the years, to the point where there are recipes in my own books that I would no longer be willing to eat.  I’ve gone gluten-free, no longer eating even low-carb bread or tortillas, yet quie a few of my old recipes call for these items, or ingredients such as vital wheat gluten, wheat germ and wheat bran.  Some use canola oil, which I haven’t touched in years.

She then explains what paleo means … or more precisely, how she chose to define it for the book.  As she notes, there is no one definition of paleo.  Different people who promote what they label paleo diets sometimes disagree with each other about what foods are acceptable.  And of course, few if any of us eat a true paleo diet anyway:

It bears pointing out that unless you eat only locally hunted and gathered wild foods, you’re not really eating the same as Ogg.  (Or Grok, with a tap of the hat to blogger and author Mark Sisson, of The Primal Blueprint.)

So for the purposes of the book, Dana mostly defines paleo foods as those you could eat raw, even if you typically don’t.  You can eat meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables raw.  You wouldn’t eat grains and legumes raw unless you enjoy a good bellyache.  She also eliminates dairy, alcohol and processed foods in her paleo recipes.

If you’re a low-carber, you’ll be glad to know Dana lists the calorie and macronutrient counts for each recipe in the book.  This isn’t strictly a low-carb cookbook, but there are still plenty of low-carb recipes:

You’ll find very low-carb meat and egg recipes here, absolutely, and recipes for non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and other low-carb favorites.  But you’ll also find recipes for sweet potatoes, winter squash and other starchy vegetables.  You’ll find more fruit than I have hitherto allowed, and recipes including honey.

Just as many low-carb folks don’t eat paleo, many paleo folks are not strictly low-carb.  Most low-carbers were drawn to the diet because of obesity, blood sugar problems, or a combination of the two.  Many paleo folks, though, have always been slim and athletic, with robust metabolisms that can tolerate more carbohydrates.

Yes, and when the never-been-fat paleo youngsters insist we should all eat plenty of “safe starches” because they personally tolerate potatoes and rice so darned well, I want to smack them.  My glucometer knows better than they do.  Speaking of which:

As always, you need to pay attention to your body.  If you have blood sugar problems, your glucometer is your friend.  Pay attention to your body and pick and choose the recipes that work for you.

Amen, Dana.

As you’d expect in a book of 500 recipes, there’s a little bit of everything here:  appetizers, main courses, salads, desserts, dips, cereals, pancakes, soups, broths … there even recipes for making your own yogurt and sour cream using coconut milk.

I happen to love sour cream and don’t have any issues with dairy products as far as I can tell, so I’ll probably stick with the real thing.  But even if you have no intention of becoming a paleo purist, there are plenty of recipes in here you’ll want to try just because they sound appealing.

I encourage people to buy low-carb cookbooks to avoid letting dietary boredom torpedo their goals.  After all, if the Atkins diet were actually as limiting as some people assume it to be (nothing but steaks, eggs cheeseburgers with a little bit of salad), almost nobody would stick with it.  Same goes for paleo, or low-carb paleo, or sort-of-low-carb paleo:  you need variety to avoid boredom.

500 Paleo Recipes will help keep your diet interesting.

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I hope you all are enjoying Memorial Day.   (For our non-American readers, I hope you’re enjoying Monday.)  I had plans to work on some side projects this weekend, but caught up in testing video technology instead.  Last summer we encouraged the girls to produce their own YouTube segments for other kids, but they weren’t interested enough to take the idea and run with it.  After they joined me for my guest-host gig on Jimmy Moore’s show, they decided it was fun (and the compliments in comments section were certainly encouraging), so this summer they’re going to give their YouTube show idea a whack.

They want their show to to be fun and cartoonish at times (now where did they get that idea?), so I was experimenting with setting up a green screen in their playroom downstairs, keying out the green, working with cartoon animations (which will be Chareva’s contribution, but I needed to test the technology), pulling the animation into Adobe Premiere, etc.

We did manage to get out on Saturday night and go see the Nashville Sounds (our local AAA baseball team).  The game was followed by fireworks, and then the girls got to go run around the bases with a gazillion other kids.  After we got home from the game, I watched Saving Private Ryan.  On Memorial Day weekend, I usually watch either that or Band of Brothers.  I like to remind myself what the soldiers we honor on Memorial Day sacrificed for all of us.

Anyway, it’s still a holiday weekend, so instead of writing a full post, I decided to share some recent emails from viewers:

Mr. Naughton,

I finally got around to watching your movie about a month ago. I am certain you get plenty of e-mails regarding this, but I wanted to thank you. I started following your eating suggestions, and they have worked fantastically. I’ve lost 11 lbs in 29 days, and have never felt better in my life. I was diagnosed with depression when I was in high school, but have now been free of my medications for more two weeks, and my doctor can’t seem to believe that I just don’t feel like I need them anymore. I haven’t been stressed or depressed at all. Thank you so much for your wonderful work, and I plan to buy copies of your movie for my parents and siblings in an attempt to get them to eat better as well.

-Thank you more then I can express,
James

The weight loss is nice, James, but I’m more delighted to hear about the depression being lifted.  As Nora Gedgaudas wrote in Primal Body, Primal Mind, no amount of therapy can replace a missing nutrient or negate the effects of foods we shouldn’t eat.  Here’s to your continued progress.

Thank you, Mr. Naughton, for your documentary. It hasn’t changed my life too terribly much, but it has affected something much more dear to my heart.

My oldest son is 4 and a half. He is caring, precocious, affectionate, and … autistic. Yet very few people would ever suspect that he was autistic, because of how caring and open he is.

It wasn’t always that way. I bought into the bologna of feeding my child low-fat high carb diets, and he was distant, unfocused, easily disturbed by bright lights and loud sounds. He never made eye contact with me, and in fact we very rarely spoke at all. I watched Super Size Me, and felt that I was doing what was right for my son by imposing the limits to his diet that I had imposed. I saw your documentary on Netflix, and was amazed. It made sense, it was well researched, it worked. I drank whole milk as a child, and here I was trying to force my son to drink skim milk. I was giving him skinless chicken breast, whole wheat toast, and some sort of vegetable for dinners, and watching him get worse. His doctor was concerned about him, I was concerned about him.

I switched him to whole milk, he likes it and drinks it. I started putting butter on his veggies. Another success. I let him have chicken nuggets more often, and cheese. He improved. He is still autistic, and still has many of the underlying issues. He likely will his whole life. But… we hug without him flinching. He listens to me. We can talk about science and math. He is making friends. He is happy and healthy. He has gone from being feared to have a more severe autism to high functioning.

Your documentary gave me the tools to research what my children should be eating, and has improved both of their qualities of life. They are lean, hyper (but not hyper-active), curious boys.

We do not eat low carbohydrate, but we do eat a much higher percentage of our calories as saturated fat now. I am losing weight by being lower carb and using intermittent fasting.

Thank you so very much, sir.
Cindy

That’s great news, Cindy.  For the record, I don’t think kids need to be on low-carb diets.  They just need to avoid the junk foods, which will usually mean reducing carbs anyway.  I wish you and your boys all the best.

Hey there, Tom!

I’ve emailed you in the past, but usually just to ask questions or make comments about news stories.  But today, I figured it was time I sat down and told you how you’ve changed at least four more lives.  I hope you’ll bear with me.  I tend to ramble.

I didn’t have the best upbringing.  My mom was a single mom, worked, was going to school, dealt with my older sister who was probably the worst problem child you could ever have (she kept running away, stealing, and got pregnant at 12).  Mom drank a lot and sometimes used drugs, and was severely depressed at least at one time.  Needless to say, we didn’t eat very well back then.  I remember a lot of easy stuff, like frozen meals, spaghetti, pizza, and lots of chips, cookies, and candy.

I think partially because my only friends at that time were my cats and guinea pigs, I decided to become a vegetarian at the age of 14.  I honestly can’t remember what my thought process was, or what spurred me on to make that decision.  My mom didn’t protest really.  Since I was already chubby at that age, I bet she thought it would help me lose weight.  When I told my pediatrician, she was pretty upset (this is the only doctor who ever questioned my vegetarianism, but I was a kid so I didn’t listen to her).  She asked me where I was planning on getting my protein from, and being 14, I told her I ate lots of peanut butter.

It was that year that my health and my life started taking a pretty nasty turn for the worse.  Since my mom didn’t have the time or patience to cook separate vegetarian meals, I mostly just ate around what she made for herself.  If she made mashed potatoes with chicken gravy, I would eat just mashed potatoes for dinner.  If she made a sweet and sour stir fry with chicken and rice, I would eat the few vegetables I liked (which wasn’t many back then) with rice and lots of sweet and sour sauce.  I ate cereal for breakfast.  Lots and lots of cereal.  Sometimes two huge bowls at a time.  I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.  And don’t forget all those chips, cookies, and candy I was still eating, because they’re vegetarian.

About a year later (right before my 15th birthday), I had to have my gall bladder removed.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  No one asked if I wanted it done.  No one offered alternatives.  No one even told me what causes gall stones.  I didn’t find out what causes gall stones until just last year, and when I found out, I was pretty mad.  You know what causes gall stones?  Not using your gall bladder (i.e. low-fat diets).

That was also when I started to really pack on the weight.  I was already big to begin with.  I was a large child; tall for my age, with huge feet and big broad shoulders.  I was just big all around.  But when I started eating vegetarian, I got really fat.  When I had my gall bladder removed, I was 200 pounds.  Two years later, I hit my peak of 275 pounds.  For a 17 year old 5’8 girl, that’s a lot of weight to be carrying.

But it wasn’t just the weight that was the problem.  I was severely depressed.  My hair was falling out.  I started growing hair where girls shouldn’t be growing hair and my menstrual cycle would skip several months at a time (which I later found out was because I had developed PCOS).  I started turning away from the world, and at age 16, I dropped out of school.  Luckily I found my future husband around that time, and even though I was morbidly obese and not always fun to be around, he loved me and helped me fight off some of my depression.  Also being around him meant I wasn’t eating out of loneliness so much, and we spent a lot of time out in nature, so that by the time we moved in together when I was 22, I had managed to get down to 230 pounds.

Then a couple years later, I finally decided to try DIETING!  I found a website called Spark People that lets you track your calories and your exercise minutes.  I became instantly addicted.  I spent literally hours a day on Spark People, reading the nutrition articles, chatting on the forums, and tracking my food.  But it wasn’t fun.  I felt starved all the time.  Food was the only thing I thought about.  What I would eat, when I would eat it.  If I had 50 extra calories at the end of the day, I would plan out what small indulgence I could give myself (not much for 50 calories).  I persisted, though, and in five months, I managed to get down to 185 pounds.

Then I got appendicitis.  Again, the doctors didn’t give me an option.  No one offered me alternatives.  No one told me what causes appendicitis.  I was wheeled into the OR and had one of my organs taken from me.  It wasn’t until last year that I found out that appendicitis is a “disease of civilization”.  The worst part is, exactly one year later, my husband had his appendix removed too, and as the cook in our house, I know I did it to him and it makes me sick.

The weight crept back on after that, a little at a time.  I would occasionally try low calorie dieting again, but it was almost impossible for me to stick with it.  Like I said before, I’m a big girl.  Even if I was skinny, I would be big.  My hips are big, my shoulders are big, my feet are big.  But BMI doesn’t take that into consideration, and so to lose weight, I was told on Spark People to eat 1300 calories a day.  That’s constant hunger.

About a year ago, I was clicking around on Netflix when I saw your movie.  I was kind of intrigued, but a little hesitant to watch it because I just LOVED the movie Super Size Me and I didn’t want to hear an opposing opinion.  But after a week or two, I finally gave in and watched it.  Holy cow.  It was so life changing.  I was like, really?  This is how it really works?  Why did I have to wait 27 years to hear it?  Why did I have to find this information in a documentary filmed by a comedian?  Why isn’t this information being shouted out across the rooftops for everyone to hear it?

I was excited about the life-changing information, but also skeptical.  I wanted to have my husband watch it, but I wasn’t sure what he would think about it.  So I started just telling him some of the things you said in your film.  After about three days of constantly saying, “And something else he said in his movie…” my husband got annoyed and decided to watch the movie for himself.

I can’t say we changed our diets instantly.  I think it was a couple of days before we really decided to try low carb eating.  I was still trying to be a vegetarian at that point, and since I’m the one who cooks, my husband was pretty much vegetarian himself as well.  I cooked lots of tofu, seitan (a meat substitute made from wheat gluten….seriously), and some beans.  We saw some improvements right away, but nothing huge.  After a couple of months, we started slacking off again, and almost completely went back to our old way of eating.

Around last August or September, we decided, you know what?  If we’re going to do this, we need to really do this right.  We cut out all wheat (except for the low carb wraps my husband uses in his lunch), all sugar, and I decided to give up my identity as a vegetarian.  The first steak I had was so glorious.  It was life changing.

Since then, things have started changing at the speed of light.  For both of us, our energy has increased dramatically.  Our moods have really improved, too.  My husband used to get really depressed all the time, but now he’s so chipper and full of energy when he gets home from work.  I have issues with SAD, and even though this winter was rough at times, it was no where near as dark or depressing as last winter.  My fingernails are strong and long for the first time in 14 years!  I used to always have fingernails that were thin, brittle, and would peel off in layers, but no more.  Even though it’s gardening season, my fingernails are beautiful.

The most amazing thing to me is the muscle we’ve both put on.  My husband was what you’d call skinnyfat all his life.  6’5, 195 pounds, with absolutely no muscle.  Even though I was a weak, depressed vegetarian, I was stronger than him.  Now, he’s lean and muscular with like a runner’s build.  He’s almost completely lost his belly bulge and is starting to get some definition there instead.

As for me, even though I hadn’t lifted weights at all since becoming a low-carb exvegetarian, I put on a lot of muscle as well.  I can feel new bulges in my arms and legs, and I don’t get winded as much when I’m lifting heavy things.  I thought all the “experts” said you can’t gain muscle and lose weight at the same time!

My husband started at 195 and is now about 178.  Like I said, he’s lost almost all of his flabby tummy and the flabbiness around his face and arms.  He looks awesome, and I know for a fact that he’s eating more now than he did before.  He doesn’t suffer from severe coldness much anymore, and if he does, he’ll eat something really fatty and that helps him get warm again.

I’ve only lost about ten pounds, taking me back down to 185.  But for me, it’s not about the weight.  It’s about my fingernails, my energy, my good mood, no longer having to eat ever two hours, no longer feeling obsessed about food, no longer having crippling wrist pain, or awful IBS, or tons of pimples.  It’s about eating real whole food that makes me feel like a real whole person.  Besides, why do all women have to be stick thin?  I think round curvy women are beautiful.

We’ve been trying for a baby for the last year.  Sometimes I fear we’ll never be able to conceive, but then I remind myself that my body is still healing from 14 years of malnutrition and carb-overload.  And it’s all thanks to you, Tom.

I know this email has gone on forever already, but I also wanted to tell you that you’ve changed more lives than just mine and my husband’s.  As we’ve improved and passed on info and shared books with our family and friends, they’ve been changing their diets, too.  My hubby’s brother went low-carb and lost at least 20 pounds (probably more by now).  My mom’s low-carb and has lost 11 pounds and isn’t taking her blood pressure meds anymore.  My sister, who looks pregnant because she’s so fat, is seriously thinking about going low-carb.  And even my mother-in-law, who is a complete and total carbivore, has cut out potatoes and pasta, and limits her sweets.  Doesn’t that make you feel like a rock star?

Thanks again for all that you do.  I hope you keep spreading the word.  I know I will!

-Julie

You’ve learned a valuable lesson, Julie:  this isn’t just about weight loss.  It’s about feeling great and being happy.

When people email me with their stories, I always offer to change their names if they prefer to remain anonymous.  However, Julie has already gone public on her own blog, so with her permission, here’s the link to her blog.  It’s a good one, so check it out.

Happy Memorial Day.

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I was interviewed earlier this week on Sam Feltham’s Smash The Fat Live show.  (I didn’t realize until the last minute it was a video show, so Chareva didn’t get a chance to run in and redecorate my office and adjust the lights, which is what she usually does.  Sorry if it looks a bit messy behind me.)

You can listen to/watch the interview here.

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Here’s a journal article the anti-fat hysterics at the USDA, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, etc. all should read. (Of course if they did, they’d dismiss it.) The article, published in Advances in Nutrition, is titled Dietary Fats and Health: Dietary Recommendations in the Context of Scientific Evidence. Let’s look at some quotes:

Although early studies showed that saturated fat diets with very low levels of PUFAs increase serum cholesterol, whereas other studies showed high serum cholesterol increased the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), the evidence of dietary saturated fats increasing CAD or causing premature death was weak.

The evidence was weak because the anti-fat hysterics relied on teleoanalysis: saturated fat raises cholesterol (in some people) and cholesterol is associated with heart disease, therefore saturated fat must cause heart disease.  Bad logic leads to bad theories.

Numerous reports and reviews in recent years have begun to call the perceived pernicious effects of dietary saturated fatty acids (SFAs) into question.

And yet few of those reports have changed the thinking of your average health reporter … not to mention the goofballs who write those annoying Eat This, Not That books and articles.

The purpose of this review is to summarize the scientific understanding as it relates to dietary fats in health and disease, particularly with regard to the innocuous nature of SFAs and the physiological effects that have implicated PUFAs in numerous disorders and diseases. The role of dietary fats in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and many other diseases is complex, yet there is a powerful inertia that has allowed the saturated fat doctrine to endure.

I don’t think powerful inertia is the correct phrase here. More like powerful vested interests.

Human food preferences tend to favor foods with both fats and sugars, which complicates any attempts to correlate saturated fats with disease.

Well, that should complicate any attempts at correlation, but the geniuses at the American Heart Association and other promoters of arterycloggingsaturatefat! hysteria found a simple solution: if people who eat saturated fats mixed with sugars get heart disease, blame the fat. (After all, you can’t blame sugar and still put your seal of approval on boxes of Cocoa Puffs.)

Because dietary saturated fats do not promote inflammation, it may be wiser to minimize omega-6 PUFAs and consume more SFAs to reduce various types of inflammation.

But … but … but the American Heart Association says corn oil is good for you.

Investigators often seem to have a particular bias against saturated fats.

That’s a polite way of saying “Scientists are freakin’ liars.”

Campaigns were waged against tropical oils (palm and coconut oils) in the early 1980s because of their high levels of SFAs, even though palm oil contains about as much MUFAs acids as SFAs and has an ample amount of PUFAs to keep serum cholesterol low …. Claims that tropical oils with a high SFA content increase the risk of CAD lack clear scientific evidence to that effect. Indeed, countries with high intake of tropical oils have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.

Quick, somebody call The Guy From CSPI. He was behind those campaigns waged against tropical oils, which caused coconut oil to be replaced with trans fats – which he declared safe at the time. Given the success (ahem, ahem) of his campaigns, I’d like him to comment on that last paragraph.

Many of the shorter chain fatty acids found in milk fat and coconut oil have beneficial health effects. The shorter chain SFA in milk (C4–C12) are not only metabolized rapidly for energy in infants, but have been found to have important antiviral, antimicrobial, antitumor, and immune response functions. Lauric acid, which is present in milk and the most abundant fatty acid in coconut oil, is effective in preventing tooth decay and plaque buildup. Diets rich in coconut oils have also been shown to lower other risk factors for CAD, such as tissue plasminogen activator antigen and Lp(a).

Aren’t you glad the USDA has decided kids in school can’t drink whole milk, but sugar-laden skim milk is fine and dandy?

It should not be surprising that substitution of carbohydrates (starches) for saturated fats in the diet has relatively little effect on serum lipids. Excess carbohydrates are converted to fats for efficient energy storage, and the human body synthesizes primarily SFAs from excess carbohydrates, although MUFAs are also formed. Consequently, from a physiological viewpoint, there is no reason to believe that replacing fat in the diet with carbohydrate at a constant caloric intake will improve the serum lipid profile significantly. Indeed, a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet causes an increase in serum triglycerides and small, dense LDL particles, which are more strongly associated with CAD than serum total cholesterol or LDL-C.

So skip the bacon and eggs and eat your Cheerios. The American Heart Association says those processed grains are good for your heart.

The meager effect that saturated fats have on serum cholesterol levels when modest but adequate amounts of polyunsaturated oils are included in the diet, and the lack of any clear evidence that saturated fats are promoting any of the conditions that can be attributed to PUFA makes one wonder how saturated fats got such a bad reputation in the health literature. The influence of dietary fats on serum cholesterol has been overstated, and a physiological mechanism for saturated fats causing heart disease is still missing.

No, no, no … I’ve heard nutritionists, doctors and dietitians on TV insisting that thousands of studies prove that saturated fat causes heart disease. Thousands!

It is time to reevaluate the dietary recommendations that focus on lowering serum cholesterol and to use a more holistic approach to dietary policy.

Well, the USDA dietary experts reevaluate their dietary recommendations every five years. Then, acting like the division of Monsanto the USDA has become, they recommend even less natural saturated fat and more mutant grains. But give them another 50 years or so, and they may actually pay attention to the science.

And another 50 years after that, the American Heart Association may do the same.

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(Woops … when I first posted this, I still had the video set to private. It’s fixed now.)

My mom and nephew just left today, so I’m busy catching up on stuff I’d normally do on weekends. Seems like a good time to post the roast of the speakers for this year’s low-carb cruise.

As usual when I’m both the performer and the tech crew, I had equipment issues. I tested my microphone level in the afternoon, but with amplified speakers going during the performance, the sound became a bit distorted and my mic picked up the room echo. Last year’s video was relatively crisp; this year’s was fuzzy and wavy, despite using the same camera. So I cut in the slides for most of the presentation. (The slides start changing after my opening monologue.)

With all that explanation out of the way, here’s the roast.

Toward the end, you’ll see a photo of Jimmy Moore in an SS uniform, which actually drew a gasp or two from the crowd. I guess most of them weren’t aware that Jimmy was accused (by stupid people) of being a Nazi some months back. Too much of an inside joke, I guess.

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Yup, I figured someone had captured the annual cruise tradition of me singing “Elvira” with Jimmy Moore.  Denise Cripps (Chareva’s long-lost sister) uploaded this today.

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