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Low Carb

I argue with my mom about this all the time.  She insists that the only way to lose weight is to expend more calories than you eat.  I tell her that there is an insulin component in there that regulates the way your body stores and uses fats and sugars.  If you know how your body works, you can use that to your advantage if you want to lose a few pounds here and there.  I am not advocating anything like the Adkins diet, although it works very well.  It just seems so unhealthy to eat so much fat and protein in whatever quantities you want.  That is the hook, though.  I like to eat a modified low-sugar diet complete with high complex carbs that break down slowly and don’t cause a big blood sugar rush.  When I want to lose weight faster, or get it “going”, I cut back on the carbs.  There are plenty of books and resources out there about how to do this safely, and plenty of reasons not to do it at all if you don’t know what you’re doing, but here’s a quick synopsis of how it works.

Low Carb Step-by-Step:

1.  You stop eating carbohydrates – bread, rice, pasta, high-starch veggies (potatoes, corn, peas), anything with sugar, fructose, honey, etc. in it including fruit and things like ketchup, salad dressing, gum & baked beans.   Instead, you eat low-starch veggies, plus protein and fat – things like lettuce, turkey, eggs, cheese, olive oil, chicken, fish, seafood, beef & pork.   This depletes your body of sugar.  It takes about 48 hours to get the sugar out of your blood and it sucks but your sugar cravings go away pretty quickly.  I always feel tired and a bit confused the first few days if I go too low on the carbs.  This too passes as my body figures out a new way to burn fuel. 

2.  The fewer carbs you eat, the less insulin you produce.  Note:  Insulin is produced when your blood glucose levels rise in order to bring the levels down in your blood stream (otherwise you have a build-up of sugar in your blood, i.e. diabetes).  Insulin also acts as a hormone to condition your body to store future carbs as fat in case of starvation and it also tells the cells not to release stored fat.

3.  So, if you aren’t eating anything that converts to glucose (carbohydrates), then insulin does not get produced and your body goes into “ketosis”.

4.  Ketosis is a state where your body primarily uses fat to fuel the body since there is no fast-burning fuel available.  Fast-burning fuel is made from carbohydrates and it is burned first.  If that’s gone, you start burning fat for energy and thereby lose weight.  If you’re always carbo loading, your body continues to burn that first plus you store the fat and never lose it.

I definately recommend you talk to your doc before starting any diet plan.  My doctor and I talk about what I eat and when I eat it (sometimes why I eat it) at every visit.  I’m a good student and I only significantly reduce my carbs for short periods of time, then reintroduce high complex carbs a little at a time (whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes), always trying to avoid white rice, white breads, potatoes and refined sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup).

See My Favorite Breakfast – Cheesy Egg Muffins

Important Things To Remember:  If you’re going to go out for a low-carb dinner, go ahead and have that wedge salad with blue cheese, grilled steak (try to pick a lean cut) smothered in mushrooms, some creamed spinach and grilled asparagus on the side.  Enjoy every bite.  It’s all low-carb or no carb.  If you’ve already burned off any sugar in your body (maybe since lunch depending on what you did to burn energy that day) and you don’t add any bread or potatoes or desert or alcohol to your meal at dinner, you will burn that meal as fat as long as you don’t add any carbs before it is burned, which could take a while.  If you eat that big fat meal and have a few bites of a roll and maybe a glass of wine or a little bit of dessert, your body is going to release insulin, burn the roll and dessert as energy first, tell your body not to release the fat and you will have just consumed a gazillion calories of food that will stick to you like glue.  That’s the danger of going off and on the carb wagon without knowing what you’re doing.  You could easily gain weight instead of lose!  Along those lines, be sure to check the “nutritional facts” on the food packaging.  Many products contain sugar or carbs and you would never know it.  Beware of foods marked “lite” or “low-fat” as well.  They can be surprisingly high in carbs.  Did you know that pretty much everything at PF Changs has sugar in it?  Be sure to ask your waiter about the ‘sauce’ you’re about to order, wherever you are.

One of the most important components of keeping the weight off is an exercise plan.  Now hear this.  You can lose weight without the burden of a full blown workout schedule and maybe that’s the best way to go at first, but I guarantee you will feel better if you get moving.  Start with a slow, short walk and some stretching and go from there. 

Allegro Medical has a Dietary Supplements category with everything from Low Carb Products to Herbal Supplements and Vitamins that just by reading the different product descriptions will educate you.   I also recommend a visit to our Exercise/Fitness area for tools to get your in-home workout plan going.  Need help losing weight?  Visit our Weight Loss Help category.

Please respond with comments below.  I would love to hear from you about your experiences with dieting, recipes, advice, etc.

As always, thanks for being an Allegro customer.


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Todd and I have been reducing our carb intake over the past couple weeks (ugh) to coax those holiday pounds off.  One good thing is that we’ve stumbled on the perfect low carb breakfast for busy people.  It’s a variation of a recipe listed in the book for Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet.  (See “How Does the Low Carb Thing Work Anyway?“).

If you know anything about frittatas, omelets or “crustless quiches”, then you know that as long as you have some eggs you can pretty much toss in whatever is in your fridge or freezer and it will come out perfect, unless all you have is mustard, beer and leftover pizza. 

These savory “egg muffins” have no flour in them so they’re very low in carbohydrates.  You can make them ahead of time, stick ’em in the fridge and take them with you to work or eat them on the run. 

Since I’m cooking for two I start with a  couple of teflon muffin tins that hold 6 muffins each (large muffins, not those little cupcake sized ones).    I use a combination of meat, cheese and veggies but you can use whatever you want, in any combo, as long as it doesn’t have sugar or flour in it.  Avoid potatoes, corn, peas and carrots because of the starch (sugar).

Val’s Favorite Cheesy Egg Muffins

24 large eggs or egg substitute equivalent

1 pkg. low fat canadian bacon (about 12 slices) diced

12 whole mushrooms, chopped

3 or 4 scallions, chopped small – slice the green part at the top and set aside for later

1/2 red pepper, diced

1 bag frozen chopped spinach or a bag of fresh

1 lg. garlic clove, chopped

6 slices of lite swiss cheese

Red chile pepper flakes (optional)

Fresh basil leaves, about 10, chopped

A small sprinkle of feta cheese for each tin

Set the oven at 350 degrees.  If your spinach is frozen, stick it in a colander and run it under water to thaw it out.  Squeeze out the excess water.  Saute the canadian bacon, scallions, mushrooms, basil, garlic and red pepper over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil or spray butter.  When warmed through, add the spinach.  Stir to mix.   If using fresh spinich, give it a minute or two to cook down.

Spoon the mixture directly into the ungreased (teflon) muffin tins, dividing it evenly.  Add chopped swiss cheese to each cup.  Crack two dozen eggs into a large, pourable glass mixing bowl or large measuring cup.  I use a clear measuring cup so I can hold it up and look at the bottom for egg shells before I pour it.   Or, I have Todd crack the eggs because he is careful and doesn’t get shells in the bowl, so it works out well.

Whisk the eggs  together and carefully pour the beaten eggs over the meat & cheese mixture, filling each cup about 3/4 full.  I have used the eggs in a carton before and I’m not a big fan because they just don’t have that full egg flavor, but they are a huge time saver and work fine if you want to use them. 

Sprinkle some feta cheese and a few of the left-over chopped scallion greens on the top.  Grind some fresh pepper and salt on each. 

Bake each tin separately.  Place the first tin in the oven, middle rack (or top rack moved to second or third from the top) and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  They should puff up like muffins and come out with a beautiful light brown top.  Let them cool in the tin while the other pan is baking.  When cool, pop them out and put them in separate sandwich bags or freezer bags.  I have one for breakfast (and sometimes one for lunch if I’m in a hurry).  You can eat them cold or pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute.  I put a little hot sauce on mine and eat it like a muffin.  It’s easy and so good.


Meat:  Real bacon bits, white chicken meat, turkey (not processed), turkey bacon, carne asada, left-over taco meat or fajita meat

Veggies & Spices:  Zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes (I buy them frozen), jalepenos, olives, parsley, italian blend, paprika, rosemary

Cheese:  Anything that melts.  I use light cheese to keep the fat down.  Often times I use the shredded cheese.  Try Jack, colby, cheddar, havarti – whatever you like.  I like to sprinkle parmasean or romano on top too.

Note:  You don’t have to saute your mixture.  Sometimes I just chop everything up, throw it in the tins, add the egg and put it in the oven.  You also don’t have to pay much attention to the quantities of each.  Just try it.  It’s really hard to mess up.

Do you have a recipe to share?  Please do!