Update on Fats: 2017

Since I first posted this in 2013, we’ve gotten even more research, especially about saturated fats, and the news is good:  they help decrease heart disease and they truly help inflammation.

Here is the latest:

You need fats.  Do NOT try and lose weight by turning to low fat options.  Guess what they trade for fat so that the product tastes ok?  SUGAR = CARBS.  The trade off is that you’re hungry in an hour!  Why?  Your insulin just spiked.

 

How many times have you eaten a meal only to feel hungry in an hour or two?  Fat gives us satiety, the feeling of “I’ve had enought to eat”.  So, fat is your FRIEND, especially if you want to lose weight.  Here’s simple guidelines for fat consumption.  Did you know you don’t absorb certain vitamins without fat?  Vitamins A, D, E and K are considered “fat soluble” and are absorbed MUCH better when paired with fat.

List of “Good” Fats:

vary where they come from, add them to your meals, and find you’ll stay full longer.

 

  • Cold Pressed, unrefined Olive oil
  • Grass Fed, pasture raised Ghee, which is clarified butter from milk from grass fed cows, which is their normal diet (this butter has high amounts of healty Omega 3’s, unlike our “regular” butter)
  • Coconut oil (yes, it’s saturated, but healthy despite that, see references below)  Refined coconut oil is one of the BEST cooking oils, and it doesn’t have a huge “coconuty” flavor, but it is one of the best oils for handling higher heats. I use almost nothing but olive and coconut and walnut (salad drsg) in my food prep
  • Sesame, flax and pumpkin seed oil
  • Avocados
  • Cold water fish:  (sardines, salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, crab, cod, anchovies)
  • Eggs (yes, eat the yolk!!  they do NOT raise cholesterol!)
  • Olives
  • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Almond butter, cashew butter
  • Whole Seeds:  Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, pine nuts

 

 

Further Reading, Links updated 2017:

 

Why Fat Doesn’t Make you Fat

Saturated Fat Probably Good for You

Saturated Fat Does Not Clog Your Arteries

Coconut Oil Benefits

A List of High Fat Foods and Why they are good for You

Is Saturated Fat Bad for You?

 

A Great Book:  Eat Fat, Get Thin by Dr. Mark Hyman (see below for a short video on it)

 

 

 

How to survive Holiday Parties

Have you lost weight and want it to stay off? Are you actively trying to lose weight… or, are you a good weight but don’t want the upcoming months, holidays and winter to add on the post-holiday ten pounds?

One of the hardest things is dealing with food and social gatherings.   No matter what holidays you celebrate, food is pivotal in all of them.  Here are the guidelines that work well for me.

The basic thing to avoid is the one component that makes your insulin shoot up, making you WANT more food:  CARBOHYDRATES!

Here’s a good strategy:

  1.  Be absolutely sure you eat protein.  Chicken, shrimp, beef, fish, nuts.  Buffets often have smaller portions, so pick your selections so you get your 4 oz. serving by end of night.
  2.  EAT FAT.  Yes, I said EAT FAT.  That’s what will satiate you.  So, dips, cheese (if you can tolerate dairy), bacon, dressings that aren’t loaded with sugar.  Fat will make you feel full.
  3.  AVOID CARBS AT EVERY TURN.  Put dip on veggies, not crackers.  Skip the treat area and have more chicken skewers!
  4. Eat lots of vegetable options, especially raw veggies.  Get your fill of fiber.  Fiber will not only stabilize your blood sugar, but it will make it so that you will take longer to digest your meal.
  5. Avoid hidden carbs like processed cheese, certain deli meats that are made with fillers, most fruit, (especially dried fruit like apricots and raisins) and dishes made with honey, agave, and other “sugar” alternatives.
  6. A number of cocktails can also contain carbs, especially drinks made with a fruit-juice-concentrate mixer or tonic water.  Stick with a martini and you have zero carbs!  Actually, vodka, gin, rum and whiskey have no carbs.  I often use Club Soda (sorry, tonic has carbs) as a mixer.  Wine has some carbs, but much less than sugary drinks like margaritas, old fashioned, pina coladas, cosmos or mojitos (which can hide 10 to 35 carbs depending on the size).
  7. If you are still hungry, eat more fat or have a few more bites of protein or veggies with dip.
  8. Finally, if someone pressures you to eat something you don’t want, just say:

“My doctor has prescribed a food plan for me that doesn’t include that, I’d love to eat it but I just can’t.”  That usually stops them cold!

10 Days, 10 Ways to Lower Carbs, Day 10

day10Ok, Day 10 of 10!  For my “finale” (thank God, this has been hard to post 10 days in a row!),  I’ll talk about supplements to add to your regimen and some general guidelines and links to articles that I think have important information about insulin resistance, weight loss, and staying healthy.

 

Here are a few supplements that can help stabilize your insulin levels and lower your blood sugar:

pillsIt’s important you take a good multi-vitamin, even if you are eating totally healthy.  (read why here and more here).  I take Multigenics Phyto Multi which contains vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  It is widely available.

Vitamin D is not really a vitamin, but plays a very important role in metabolism.  Many of us are Vitamin D deficient.  As you doctor to check your level.  Taking 1,000-5,000 units/day of Vitamin D3 is considered pretty safe in most people. read more here

There are a few other things that can help your insulin levels stabilize if you’ve struggled with your weight, or if you want to lose weight*:

  • chromium
  • biotin
  • magnesium (helps relax you, lowers blood pressure and a low Mg+ is shown to increase insulin resistance) read more here
  • alpha lipoic acid:  among many other things, ALA increases insulin sensitivity, recycles CoQ10 and is a great anti-oxidant
  • other herbs including green tea and cinnamon can also help stabilize blood sugar and insulin response
  • omega 3 fats (EPA/DHA) like fish oil help reduce inflammation
  • Fiber powder like PGX, which I devoted an entire post to, read here

A Few final thoughts, since this is Day 10:

  1. Consider intermittent fasting along with a low carb food plan.  Read my article on fasting here.
  2. Educate yourself.  There are several good books out there.  One is Mark Hyman’s 2016 “Eat Fat, Get Thin” and another is David Ludwig’s 2015 “Always Hungry?  Conquer Cravings, Retrain your Fat Cells and Lose Weight”   Here is a great interview with Ludwig, a Harvard researcher.
  3. It takes 28 days to change a habit.  If you mess up, start again.  And again.  Until it sticks.
  4. WHAT YOU EAT is way more important than WHAT YOU WEIGH.  Think of food as fuel for your body.  You wouldn’t put crappy fuel in your car, so why would you fill your body up with garbage?  Think of it as a way of extending the number of years you will be HEALTHY.  So much of our chronic disease is directly related to our intake of processed food and carbs!  (read a study here if you need to be convinced)
  5. You must exercise to lose weight.  Increasing muscle mass burns more calories even when you’re asleep!

*All these recommendations are for an average healthy person.  If you have medical problems, please talk to your doctor before starting any new plan.  And find a doctor who will work with you, assess your fasting insulin levels, levels of inflammation, and is willing to help you on your path to wellness. It’s easier than you think.  Food IS medicine.

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10 Days, 10 Ways to Lower Carbs, Day 9

Today is simple.  The next time you want to reach for potato chips, try one of these low carb snack alternatives!  In general, I’ve avoided cheese because I don’t eat dairy.  You can add cheese in small amounts if you can tolerate dairy.

The key for a snack is this:  you MUST have some protein, some fat and some flavor!  Then, you won’t feel deprived!

Protein  +  Good Fat = Good Snack!

  1. Olives – high in healthy fats, they’ll keep you feeling full.
  2. Celery with Nut Butter
  3. Cucumber chips with guacamole
  4. Hard Boiled Egg!  A little salt and pepper and you’re set
  5. A handful of almonds, cashews, pecans or walnuts. High fiber, low carbs, good fats
  6. ½ cup berries, and if you can do dairy, ½ cup greek plain yogurt
  7. One or two of my strawberry cookies!
  8. Half an avocado with tuna or chicken salad (home made if possible)
  9. Half an avocado with ½ tomato with salt and pepper
  10. Organic lunch meat without fillers (read your label) with asparagus or dill pickles
  11. Egg salad in lettuce wraps

Although opinions vary about dairy, you can use it in moderation to snack wisely!

And now that I’ve worked on this post before my dinner, I’m starving, so see you all after I eat!  I’d love to know your favorite snacks!

10 Days, 10 Ways to Lower Carbs, Day 8

day8Condiment Caution!

It may seem negligible, but ketchup can sabotage you!  Hiding behind it’s pretty red “I’m a vegetable” mask is actually a food that has a fair number of carbs.  Let’s look at condiments, some of the common ones.  Everybody knows jam and jelly have sugar, so I won’t address those.  Just the usual common condiments we eat every day with food.

I did NOT use the same measurement for each one, for obvious reasons.  You would probably not eat 3 TBS. of mustard, but you could easily have that much mayo with tuna salad, or dipping french fries in either ketchup or mayo (yes, some people prefer mayo to ketchup on fries!).

So, here they are.  Now, the calories are important, but not NEARLY as important as what happens to your blood sugar and insulin levels after you eat anything.  Yes, calories matter, but carbs are the driver behind the steering wheel of your insulin response.  More carbs, more insulin.  More insulin, more fat storage, more hunger.  In order to break the cycle, you must eat less carbs.  And you can have an amazing meal of protein and veggies, and think you’re doing great, only to sabotage yourself with Fat Free Dressing and pickle relish!

condiment.table

Condiment hacks:  Dill Relish, Sugar Free Ketchup, Regular dressing (NOT low fat, see my other post on this here).

Best choices?  Skip the ketchup, use mustard, make your own dressing or use olive oil and vinegar!  At least be informed about what these “invisible calories” are doing to your sugar levels.

 

Oh, one final thing in comparison.  Seedless Strawberry Jam (Smuckers, 2 Tablespoons) has a whopping 26 grams of carbs!

Want to know your specific brand?  Go to Caloriecount.com and check it out!

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10 Days, 10 Ways to Lower Carbs: Day 7

day7Avoid, or at least be skeptical of anything labeled “non-fat”.

This is the biggest scam around.  We were taught, since the 1960’s that fat was to be avoided.  Now that recent research has cleared that stinkin’ thinkin’ up, we still see recipes calling for low fat cheese, low fat milk, low fat yogurt.  WHY?!?  Because habits are hard to break!  Yes, it is ok to eat low fat cheese and yogurt, but NOT if you choose one that has had carbs added to make up for the taste of taking the fat out!  That’s how food companies get low fat/non-fat items to taste better.  Additives, carbs and thickeners.  (chemicals!)

I’m going to pick three common foods and compare them side by side.  Full fat is often better, keeps you full longer, and won’t spike insulin.  Dr. Atkins had some of it right, and with the exception of avoiding dairy, I basically eat a low carb diet.

Example 1: Peanut Butter

Low Fat Peanut Butter is a joke, because they add sugar to make it taste better.  Check out these three brands:  #1 is regular JIF.  #2 is reduced fat JIF. #3 is Smuckers natural — pure peanuts and salt.  Which one do you think won’t spike your insulin?  That’s right, the natural peanut butter, which clearly has the lowest carbs and sugars.  The reduced fat is WORST.    Compare the sugars, carbs and calories.  Do the math.

pb.comps

Example 2: Low Fat Granola

Most types of granola—”low fat” or not—sneak in sugar with names like brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice. In fact, a serving of granola (just half to two-thirds of a cup) can have 17 grams of sugar. And they remove the nuts to make it low fat, so guess what?  That fiber that the nuts had, which slows down the absorption of sugar is gone, so whammo!  Sugar spike! This super sweet start to your day will leave you with a blood sugar crash that has you reaching for snacks long before lunch.  Read more about low carb options for breakfast here.  If you love granola, make my recipe from scratch.  No chemicals, and I guarantee you, it will never sit around long enough to spoil! Best option:  plain greek yogurt with fresh berries and a few nuts.  That WILL hold you until lunch.  Speaking of yogurt…

Example 3: Low Fat Yogurt vs. Plain Greek Yogurt vs. “light” yogurt

Although I don’t eat dairy, I’m adding it in here as an example. Yogurt is one of the most popular things in stores.  One of our local grocery stores has over 80 different yogurts!  Many people think that when they choose yogurt, they’re “picking healthy”.  Not so fast.  You may — or you may be sabotaging yourself!  Let’s take a look.

First, Greek Yogurt in general has more protein and a higher viscosity than regular yogurt, as it has had more water removed.  In general, greek yogurt is healthier, and has double or even triple the protein. I think either PLAIN greek yogurt below are good choices (full fat or nonfat).  The two in the second row?  Not so great:  Here’s where you need to get savvy.  What are the INGREDIENTS?  Look at the carbs and sugars, then read the ingredient list.  Clearly, the WORST yogurt here is the strawberry nonfat greek, with the Dannon “light and fit” a close second. So, my point?  Eating lowfat sugar free is not the best, both for satiety and wellness.

yogurts

 

STAY AWAY: no milk protein concentrate, no thickeners, no rbST, no additives like sugar, corn starch, “natural flavors”, xanthan gum

LOOK FOR:  Organic, grass fed or pasture yogurt, plain, (and if you really need fruit, add fresh fruit and a bit of stevia for a sweetner), Live active cultures (s. thermophilus, l. bulgaricus, l. acidophilus, bifidus, l. casei).

Read your labels people.  They can definitely keep you out of trouble.  For another post on this, see Label Lessons, Learned the Hard Way.

 

 

 

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