Coconut Oil Debate

I was watching Dr. Oz last week and he had on 2 doctors debating about whether coconut oil is good for us or bad for us.  He was urged to do this show because of the latest article from the American Heart Association (AHA) saying that saturated fat is bad for you and will cause heart disease.  If you weren’t confused before watching the show, you would be now.  One doctor says it is bad due to the saturated fat and even put on a demonstration with the amounts of saturated fat in lard, butter and coconut oil (coconut oil dominating the other 2).  So butter has less saturated fat than coconut oil but it is still high in saturated fats.  Haven’t we been told lately that butter is actually good for you?  I mean it’s certainly better than plasticized margarine (hydrogenated fats).

The other doctor talked about why coconut oil is not so bad due to the MCT (medium chain triglycerides) which behave completely different than other saturated fats. He went on to say how it protects our brain from amyloid deposits which cause Alzheimer’s disease among other advantages like anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.

So what the heck is one to think?  At the end of the show, Dr. Oz said that you can have a little coconut oil but not to over do it.  This is where you all need to make up your own mind whether you choose to believe it is good for you or not.  As always, it is best to do your own research from all different professionals, medical and natural.  Personally I choose to believe it is good for me and only use coconut oil for cooking, baking and putting on steamed veggies etc.  I use MCT oil with Balsamic vinegar for my salad dressings and in my smoothies and yet I still use some olive oil due to it’s health benefits as well.  I eat avocados which are high in fat but again it’s a good fat.

Bottom line…we should not be afraid of eating a lot of good fats as they have health promoting properties and pretty much every cell needs them.  We should however be afraid of eating the bad fats especially hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and trans-fats which you will find in processed foods.  Stick to fresh foods and natural fats.  Seems a little obvious but it is what it is.  If you want more information on coconut oil and MCT oil, you will find it in my earlier blogs.

Fat Burning Foods

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could eat and the foods you eat help you burn fat?  What a concept…but there are foods that help you lose weight.  Some foods either help you build muscle, some promote fat burning, and some simply use energy (burn calories) just to digest them!  Keep in mind that that muscle tissue is metabolically active so the more muscle you have, the more you burn fat as it increases your resting metabolism.  In other words, because muscle needs a lot of energy to maintain, the more muscle you have, the more you are burning fat at rest.  This is why it is vital that you get enough protein in your diet so you don’t waste your muscles away.  Let’s have a look at some of them and how they work:

  1. Whey Protein: builds muscle; burns fat
  2. Eggs: builds muscle; burns fat
  3. Lean meats: build muscle; burns fat
  4. Almonds and other nuts: builds muscle; reduces cravings; burns fat
  5. Low fat dairy; builds bones; increases metabolism
  6. Coconut Oil/MCT oil; burns fat
  7. Avocados: burns fat; reduces cravings
  8. Berries; improves satiety; prevents cravings (also powerful antioxidant)
  9. Celery; takes more energy to metabolize than what you have ingested
  10. Peanut butter; boosts testosterone which builds muscle and burns fat
  11. Dark chocolate (70% or higher cacao): encourages fat burning; reduces cravings
  12. Fatty fish (herrings, mackerel, salmon, tuna); builds muscle; burns fat
  13. Green tea; increases metabolism; burns fat (also great for immune system)
  14. Grapefruit: burns fat; regulates blood sugar and metabolism
  15. Chili peppers; boosts metabolism
  16. Beans and legumes; builds muscle; burns fat; helps digestion
  17. Apple cider vinegar: burns carbs; burns fat; levels blood sugar
  18. Lemon water: burns fat; makes you feel full
  19. Oysters: Regulates appetite

So try to add as many of these foods in your diet and let’s burn some fat!!!  What can it hurt?

What Vitamins Should I Take While Following a Low Carb Diet?

As far as vitamins when cutting out carbs, I will always recommend a good quality multi vitamin.  This assures you will get all of the vitamins and minerals that the body needs.  There are many multi vitamins that are gender specific as you should be taking women’s multi if you are a woman and men’s multi if you are a man.  Also, if you are over 40 you should be taking a vitamin geared to your age group as well as they will have added ingredients to protect you from age related issues like hormonal imbalances, heart protection, cancer prevention etc.

Fish oil is my second recommendation and this will take care of both at the same time.  When following a low carb diet it is important to add more good fats.  I personally take MCT oil daily.  This oil comes from coconut and body builders and dieters use it to help them burn fat and stay in ketosis.  In case you are unaware, ketosis means the body is using fat for energy instead of sugar (carbs).  You can read more about both ketosis and MCT oil on my previous blogs.  You can use MCT oil in your shakes, salad dressings or just take a shot of it with your meals.

Other fats that you should include in your diet are coconut oil, olive oil, butter and avocado’s.  Smoothies as a snack is a great way to get in more MCT oil and dense nutrients.  My smoothies include a protein powder, MCT oil, a greens powder and berries powder.  I also add liquid fish oils.  You couldn’t possibly eat all day long and get the amount of nutrients in this shake.  Also, I never use fresh or frozen fruit as they are too high in carbs.  I literally put water in my shaker cup, add the protein, oils, and powders, shake and go.  It’s low carb and easy to make.

How To Still Eat All Of Your Favorite Foods But Low Carb Version

Some people think that following a low carb or ketogenic diet is too difficult to follow especially for the long run but you would be completely wrong if you know how to substitute your favorite foods.  Let’s look at some alternative foods that are easy to make and taste virtually the same or better than the high carb choice.

Potatoes:  One small to medium potato has a whopping 30g carbs!  But what about our beloved mashed potatoes that goes so well with meatloaf?  Make mashed potatoes with cauliflower!  Simply boil cauliflower for 12-15 minutes until well cooked and drain it well.  You can put the cauliflower in a clean dish towel and squeeze until dry.  The dryer the cauliflower the better your mashed potatoes will turn out.  Mash them with some butter or coconut oil, ¼ cup sour cream (lower carb than milk), salt and pepper.  I like to add a little parmesan cheese and garlic for added flavor and my husband actually adds pickle juice and it’s actually really good.

Rice: 100g of white rice has 28g carbs, minimally.  White rice is also void of nutrients and is simply starch.  Substitute rice for cauliflower.  (I love this vegetable!)  Simply place cauliflower chunks in a food processor and pulse until broken down into rice-size pieces.  Or you can grate the cauliflower instead.   Heat some olive oil or coconut oil in a skillet and cook over medium heat until it turns slightly brown (3-5 minutes).   Mix in your favorite ingredients that you would normally put in your rice (low carb ingredients of course).

Bread: 2 slices of bread have between 20-25g carbs.  I have posted many recipes for low carb, gluten free bread, naan bread and buns.  Scroll down on my blog and you will see many recipes or you can simply google low carb almond flour bread or low carb coconut flour bread.  Most recipes I have seen have about 1-3 net carbs per serving.

Pizza:  1 large slice of pizza has at least 25g carbs.  You can make low carb pizza using yet again, cauliflower!  Prepare your cauliflower exactly the same as you do for the rice.  Boil the rice for about 5-7 minutes and drain.  Wrap the cooked cauliflower in a clean dish towel and squeeze until the cauliflower is dry.  Again, the dryer the better.  Put in a bowl and add 2 eggs (beaten), ½ cup mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, 1 tsp oregano, a little salt and garlic.  Mix well.  Don’t be afraid to get your hands in there to mix it well.  Put on baking tray lined with parchment paper so it doesn’t stick.  Press so it looks like a pizza crust.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Add all of your favorite (low carb) toppings and bake again for another 10 minutes or until browned at the top.

Pasta: 100g of pasta has no less than 25g carbs.  Well, this time I cannot give you a cauliflower recipe for pasta but I can recommend some low carb pastas that you can buy in a grocery store or local health food store.  While there are many low carb pastas to choose from, I recommend ones that are not made with wheat flour.  Some of them could include:

  • Miracle Noodles: There are 8 different types of Miracle Noodles (including a rice version) available which all have ZERO carbs and are made out of a water-soluble fiber made from the Konjac plant
  • Zucchini pasta: You can buy (or make) zucchini pasta which contains in 1 cup less than 4 total carbs and 1-2g fiber which leaves only 2 net carbs
  • Black bean pasta: Made from 92 percent black beans (and 8 percent water), they’re loaded with 25 grams of protein per serving, 17 total carbs and 12g fiber which leaves the net carbs at only 5g!

Add all of your favorite toppings but be careful with spaghetti sauce as it often has added sugar.  Used mashed tomatoes or olive oil instead.  Add some ground beef, cheese and spices like garlic and oregano and you will be in heaven!

So enjoy your favorite meals without the guilt!

Coconut Flour Bread

This coconut flour bread is gluten free and has only 1 Net Carb Per Slice!  This recipe makes 1 loaf or 12 slices

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until very smooth.
  4. Grease a small bread pan with coconut oil or use parchment paper and fill about ⅔ of the way full with batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Recipe taken from Diet Doctor

Low Carb Naan Bread!

Two pieces is only 3 net carbs!

Ingredients

Garlic butter

  • 3½ oz. butter
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced

Instructions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add oil and then boiling water and stir thoroughly.
  2. Allow to rise for five minutes. The dough will turn firm fairly quickly, but stay flexible. It should resemble the consistency of Play-Doh. If you find it’s too runny then add more psyllium husk until it feels right. The amount needed may vary depending on what brand of husk or coconut flour you use.
  3. Divide into 6 or 8 pieces and form into balls that you flatten with your hands directly on parchment paper or on the kitchen counter.
  4. Fry rounds in coconut oil over medium heat until the Naan turn a nice golden color.
  5. Heat the oven to 140°F (70°C) and keep the bread warm while you make more.
  6. Melt the butter and stir in the freshly squeezed garlic. Apply the melted butter on the bread pieces using a brush and sprinkle flaked salt on top.
  7. Pour the rest of the garlic butter in a bowl and dip pieces of bread in it.

Recipe taken from The Diet doctor: https://www.dietdoctor.com/recipes/low-carb

Appetite Control and Leptin

Appetite Control and Leptin

Leptin, the “satiety hormone”, discovered in just 1994 is a hormone made by fat cells that helps to regulate hunger.  After you eat, leptin is released into the bloodstream where it travels to the brain telling you to stop eating because you’re full.  Without leptin we could continue to eat until we explode.  Some people have what’s called leptin resistance where the brain is unable to pick up its signals causing mindless eating and overeating.  It’s also a cycle where the more you eat, the more engorged your fat cells, and the greater the risk of worsening your leptin resistance because it is your fat cells that make this hormone.  The more you gain, the more sensitive your body becomes to leptin.  Leptin resistance is associated with certain other medical conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, thyroid issues, and elevated triglycerides in the bloodstream.  Leptin’s main role is long-term regulation of energy balance… the amount of calories we eat and expend, and how much fat we store on our bodies

People with leptin resistance may find that they have frequent or even constant cravings or feelings of hunger. Researchers are still working to fully understand and develop effective treatments for leptin resistance, but for now, controlling cravings is the key to combating the effects of this condition.  If you’re eating lots of sugar/carbs, or if you’re very stressed or sleep deprived, you’re more likely to feel like you have an appetite you just can’t satisfy. To beat your cravings, protein and fiber are the keys as they both keep you very full for a long time.

Reversing Leptin Resistance:  How do you know if you’re leptin resistant?  There is no set blood test done to determine leptin levels. The best test to do to determine if you are leptin resistant is to look in the mirror.  If you have a lot of body fat, especially in the belly area then you are almost certainly leptin resistant.  Leptin resistance occurs years before insulin resistance and full blown diabetes.

So what can we do?  The low carb, gluten free diet will help you tremendously!

  • Cut out grains, refined sugars and processed foods and replace them with “slow burn” foods like protein and fats so you avoid leptin spikes that cause leptin resistance
  • Increase the good fats in your diet including avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, fish oils, butter, ghee and olive oil. Take 2,000mg-3,000mg Omega 3 (fish oils)
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Increase fiber in your diet. I recommend taking fiber supplements 30 minutes before each meal
  • Always have protein with each meal
  • Eat 3 meals per day and not snacking all day stabilizes leptin levels and avoids spikes
  • Exercise like resistance training increases leptin sensitivity so the signals can reach your brain that you’re full
  • Reduce your stress levels and get plenty of sleep

So here is yet another reason to follow a low carb, gluten free lifestyle.  Eating real low carb/sugar food, exercising and sleeping well are all lifelong endeavours that require a shift in lifestyle.