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.

The Rules of a Low Carb Lifestyle

I think following any diet that consists of low carb, HIGH good fats and moderate protein is the healthiest thing you can do for your body. I promise if you follow what I am telling you, you will start to lose weight right away and your energy will increase and most importantly, you will lose all cravings for sugar/carbs. Please see the rules below. This program works by starving your body of sugar forcing it to burn fat for energy. The #1 fuel that your body can and does easily use is sugar. When you keep your sugars/carbs below 30 NET carbs, it has NO CHOICE but to burn its reserve energy which is fat! See below for checking how much fat you are burning.

#1 RULE to remember…EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING with the exception of meat and fat is a carbohydrate and all carbohydrates are sugar! This includes fruit, vegetables, grains…everything except meat and fat breaks down into sugar.

RULE #2: You are only allowed 30 NET carbs per day or less. What is a NET carb? Not all carbs are created equal and some behave differently than others. For example, fiber (which is a carbohydrate) and sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol etc) cannot be absorbed by the human body so they go through the system unabsorbed and more importantly, they do not have a glycemic response. This means they do not require insulin to be metabolized. So to determine your NET carbs, here is the math:
Total Carbs – Fiber – Sugar Alcohols = NET carbs. (Note: Atkins products uses glycerine in their bars and some other products which cannot be absorbed but he never lists the amount of glycerine so the math never works)
Example: Total carbs = 30 Fiber = 15 Sugar Alcohols 11. So 30-15-11= 4 NET carbs. The carbs left over after subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols (and glycerine) have a glycemic response and require insulin to be metabolized and these are what you are counting. Remember only 30 NET carbs per day. You will be surprised how many carbs are in an apple or a cup of broccoli. Here is the link for the Atkins carb counter site. Use it for reference all the time:
http://files.atkins.com/1501_CarbCounter_Online.pdf

RULE #3: No potatoes, NO pasta, NO rice, NO bread and NO fruit (for now). I have a deadly recipe for low carb, gluten free bread made with almond flour and psyllium husk but you cannot have this for at least 2-3 weeks until you break old eating habits.

RULE #4: You MUST increase your good fats. These include coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia oil and MCT oil. I use MCT oil for my salad dressings, coconut oil for EVERYTHING including cooking (it is very stable under high heat conditions) and take a shot of MCT oil mid-afternoon and/or prior to my meals.

RULE #5: You MUST check your ketones. This is non-negotiable! When you are burning fat (it usually takes 2-3 days to convert your body) a by-product of fat burning is ketones. This means that once you start burning fat for energy, ketones will be in your urine. Go to the drug store and ask for ketone stix. You can even get ketone/diastix which will show fat burning and blood sugar levels, should you have blood sugar issues. The ketone stix go from a beige color all the way up to deep purple. The darker the color, the more fat you’re burning! If you are not burning ketones, you are NOT burning fat, simple as that. This means that you are still eating too many carbs or more importantly not eating enough fat. There is no cheating on carbs on this program. Your body will happily use sugar way faster than fat for energy as it is the easiest. It’s actually exciting to pee on that damn stick to see the dark color knowing that I am burning fat! I have noticed that if I don’t eat enough fat, my ketones are just showing trace. Once I started taking more MCT oil (shots in the afternoon and as a salad dressing) my ketones went large! You will see the difference right away.

Glycemic index and glycemic load: It is important to note the glycemic index in your food choices. The low glycemic foods do not require as much insulin to metabolize. You can download lists of food and their glycemic index from Google.

So what are you eating?

Protein (eggs, cheese, meat, bacon, protein isolate shakes for snacks etc). The ONE bars ad Quest bars are low carb but I would stay away from them for the first few weeks to wean off of sugar taste. Also, they may take you out of ketosis but you will know by checking it.

Vegetables but not the root/starchy ones. Good choices are all lettuce(s), cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, celery etc. CHECK the Atkins carb counter for amount of carbs in these vegetables. We have been programmed to count calories but calories do not count on this diet. You MUST however count carbs (NET carbs).

I strongly suggest that you have a dozen boiled eggs in your fridge at all times, as well as cooked chicken and cut up vegetables and lettuce. Sometimes we get lazy cooking and so having stuff prepared makes it much easier. I also have a home-made soup in the fridge at all times. My soups have chicken and vegetables (the ones allowed above). Be careful not to eat too many vegetables though as they are carbs.

 

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.

Protein Smoothies

Protein Smoothies

I am on the road most days and tend to skip breakfast, even though I am completely aware that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…it kick starts the metabolism.  I can also be lazy so I don’t bother with a blender except if I am making one for my husband as well in which I may add frozen fruit and/or a banana.  The basic recipe for me is:

  • 1 Scoop Protein (I use protein concentrate not isolate as it is slower released and keeps me fuller longer)
  • 1 Tbls liquid fish oil (you can never taste the fish oil as they make them very tasty these days)
  • 1 Tbls Progressive Phytoberry (this is loaded with berries and fruits among many other ingredients, which is very high in anti-oxidants)
  • 1 Tbls Progressive Vege Greens (you won’t believe how many amazing ingredients in this greens product and they now have a new pineapple/coconut flavor)
  • 1-2 Tbls MCT oil (this is a great fat burner)

This is your basic recipe.  You can use whatever protein powders, greens or powder fruit blends as you choose.  I put water in my shaker cup (the one with the metal mesh ball in them), add all of the ingredients, shake and go.  It literally takes 5 minutes max.

If I use a blender, I will add one or more of the following:

  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries (you can use fresh)
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries (you can use fresh)
  • Any other types of fruit
  • You can add spinach or kale for added greens
  • The recipes are completely endless depending on your taste, just do it

I could not eat ALL DAY long and get half of the nutrients that I get in this shake.  You can even freeze it for later and have a frozen smoothie.

What Can I Eat on a Low Carb Diet and What Should I Avoid?

The one thing I quickly realized when following a low carb diet is to BE PREPARED!  A lot of us (including me) are lazy cooks.  If my husband isn’t cooking for me I would tend to open a can of tuna and have a tuna sandwich.  It’s simple, easy and fast and quite filling for me.  So, now my husband and I will cook a turkey on the weekend and then I will clean it up and boil the bones to make turkey soup.  So now I have cold turkey for my salads and soup which I just have to re-heat all week.  My soups are just meat and veggies and sometimes black beans.  I never add potatoes or rice to keep the carbs lower.  We will cook chicken and do the same thing as turkey.

The other things we prepare for the week are boiled eggs, cut up veggies and lettuce.  So, when I am hungry (and lazy or busy) I can simply put a salad together, eat soup or have some boiled eggs with cold veggies.  I use MCT oil and balsamic vinegar for my salad dressings and veggie dips with some spices.  So, what exactly should I be eating when following a low carb diet?

  • Meat – all types of beef, pork, chicken, lamb etc.
  • Fish – all types especially those high in Omega 3 such as salmon, mussels, tuna, and sardines
  • Chicken – skin on, free range
  • Vegetables – all types that grown above the ground. Leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, avocados, mushrooms, lettuce.  Stay away from root veggies, the ones that grow in the dirt
  • Cheese – choose the full fat varieties.
  • Cream – full fat, double, whipping.
  • Full fat milk – avoid all flavored milks and avoid any milk in large quantities because even though it may only contain 5% carbs, it is easy to drink a 250ml serving which equates to 12.5g carbs.
  • Nuts and seeds – a great snack but just watch not to overindulge as they still have a fair amount of carbs
  • Eggs – choose free range if you can
  • Fats – use butter, olive oil, coconut oil (high in oleic acid), lard, MCT oil

Foods to Avoid:

  • All processed sugar drinks – pop, juice, energy drinks, anything with sugar and carbs
  • All cakes, biscuits, jams, sweets.
  • All cereals – most cereal contains anywhere from 50%-80% carbs. No wonder they are known as CEREAL KILLERS!!!
  • Bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar etc. There is little nutritional value in these foods and they are loaded in carbs
  • Fruit is something that should be limited because of the high fructose content. It is natures candy. Yes fruit has vitamins and healthy nutrients, but you will be getting far more nutrients from your increase veggie intake. Choose nutrient dense, low carb fruits such as berries. Fruit such as pineapple, mango, and especially dried fruits, should be avoided. Also avoid ALL fruit juices. They have an incredibly high glycemic index, which will make your insulin spike (and start storing fat again). “If you are overweight, fruit is not your friend”.
  • All wheat products have a high glycemic index, raise your blood sugar and increase appetite
  • Grains avoid all grains including wheat, oats, barley, spelt etc.
  • Pasta  is extremely high in carbohydrates and has almost no nutritional value
  • Starchy vegetables if you can tolerate some carbs, choose highly coloured starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, beetroot or sweet potato for their wonderful phytonutrients and vitamins.
  • Rice very little nutritional value. Generally used to bulk out a meal. Try substituting rice for more vegetables or check out cauliflower rice recipes
  • Rice crackers these are almost 80% carbs and incredibly processed, especially the flavored ones. Avoid.
  • Diet or low fat products check the labels and you will see how processed they are and how much higher in carbs they are compared to their regular version e.g, low fat cream cheese can be up to 15% carbs, whereas the regular is only4%

How Do I Get Coconut Oil In My Diet?

How Do I Get Coconut Oil in My Diet?

  • Put it in your hot drinks, including coffee and hot chocolate…it tastes great
  • Put it in your smoothies
  • Bake with it
  • Fry with it
  • There are tons of recipes using coconut oil. One of my favorites are “coconut fat bombs”

Coconut Fat Bombs

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Coconut Oil
  • ½ Cup Cocoa powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla bean powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract or 1-2 Drops of Organic Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 5 Drops of Liquid Stevia, raw honey or natural sweetener of choice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Process all the ingredients together in a food processor until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour into ice cub trays or silicone molds (like these) and freeze.
  3. Once frozen, pop the coconut oil fat bombs out of the molds and store them in a freezer zip lock or jar. Enjoy!

Yields 1 1/2 cups of coconut oil fat bombs.

Author: The Coconut Mama: http://thecoconutmama.com/coconut-oil-fat-bombs/

Is Coconut Oil Good For Me? It’s a Saturated Fat!

Coconut oil is a saturated fat so isn’t that bad for me?  What fats are good for me?

“I am so confused about what fats are good and what fats are bad for me.  My best friend is a huge fan of coconut oil and is trying to get me to use it.  She is taking it mostly for weight loss however also uses it instead of any other fat in her diet because she says it’s really healthy for you.  How can fats make you lose weight and do you think coconut oil is the best for this?”

Not all fat is created equal!!!  Coconut is actually a saturated fat which we have been told to stay clear of, however this saturated fat behaves so differently in the body than all other saturated fats.

Coconut oil is about 85% – 90% saturated fat which is why it is solid at room temperature and has a long shelf life as well it is extremely stable under high heat.  Butter is about 60% – 65% and beef fat and lard is about 40% saturated fat.  Olive oil is only 15% saturated.  So how is it possible that this fat is actually good for us?   It’s because of the MCT or MCFA oil it contains.  MCFA stands for medium chain fatty acids.  Unlike LCFA’s (long chain fatty acids) that you get from liquid oils, dairy and fatty meats, MCT’s are metabolized differently in the body.  The statement from health officials that ALL saturated fats are bad for you and can cause heart disease is outdated.  Newest studies show that this information is seriously flawed.

  • MCFA’s differ from LCFA’s because they are smaller and easily digested putting less strain on your digestive system. LCFA’s require special enzymes in order for the body to utilize them
  • MCFA’s are sent directly to your liver where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. LCFA’s are stored in your body as fat and can be deposited in your arteries in the form of cholesterol
  • MCFA’s help to stimulate your metabolism leading to weight loss

Also, don’t confuse man-made saturated fats with natural saturated fats.  Man-made saturated fats are healthy fats that have been manipulated through a process called hydrogenation.  You will see hydrogenated fats or partially hydrogenated fats in the ingredients list of many, many foods.  Hydrogenation means that they can take a good healthy fat, add hydrogen atoms to it while heating the oil, producing rancid, thickened oil (thus solid at room temperature).   I call it plastic fat.  This extends the products shelf life.  The medical and scientific communities are now agreeing that hydrogenated (plastic) oils should be avoided.  These are also called trans fats and everyone has heard of these.  Some cities and states have now banned their use.  These are the same fats that we have always known to be healthy and heart friendly for over 60 years until they manipulate them.  Trans fats are the true enemy!

What foods contain trans fats?

  • Deep fried foods
  • Margarine
  • Cookies, cakes & pies
  • Crackers
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Donuts
  • Biscuits
  • Breakfast sandwiches
  • Frozen pizza

You can get a full list of foods that contain trans fats everywhere on the internet

Cooking with Fats:

In my kitchen, I only use 3 fats.  1. Coconut oil 2. MCT Oil   3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I use MCT oil and/or Olive oil with balsamic vinegar for my salad dressings.  Never heat the olive oil or MCT oil.  They are not stable under heat and will cause oxidative damage.  Also, most vegetable oils are GMO.  This would include about 90% of the soy, corn and canola oils.  Vegetable oils are also very high in omega 6 which creates an imbalance in the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats.  Excess omega 6 cause a plethora of health issues.  The only fat that is stable under heat is coconut oil so don’t use any other fats to cook with.

More Benefits of Adding Coconut Oil to Your Diet:

  • Coconut oil stimulates metabolism and burns fat
  • Coconut oil is actually amazing at raising the good HDL cholesterol
  • Alzheimer’s disease protection
  • Provides energy
  • Heart healthy
  • Brain health
  • Skin health
  • Immune system support
  • Thyroid support
  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-protozoal
  • Anti-microbial