Low carb alternatives to pasta

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I’m just going to come out and say it. Despite the information in the article I’m linking to today I don’t think there is a true acceptable alternative to traditional pasta. Pasta substitutes just can’t compete. That doesn’t mean you can’t use these items. But just know that your dish will not be the same.

What I use is pictured above. They are thin sheets of eggs cut into noodles. To me they have been the best substitute for pasta. They’re not watery like zucchini or other vegetables. They’re not gummy like shirataki noodles. They hold sauce and soups in the tiny bubbles of the egg sheets. They have a texture that acts much like a traditional noodle. But, make no mistake it still is not pasta.

People can use vegetables such as spaghetti squash, zucchini, and cabbage in place of regular pasta. They can also use kelp noodles or bean sprouts. These low-carb substitutes have additional beneficial nutrients and fiber, which may help to balance a person’s blood glucose.

Using pasta alternatives allows people who choose low-carb diets or those who are intolerant to gluten to enjoy their favorite recipes. The alternatives are often easy to prepare, and some are suitable for dishes such as spaghetti Bolognese and lasagna.

Medical News Today

Today show covers the keto diet

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What is ketosis?
The body always seeks out glucose (and its stored form, glycogen) for fuel. Limiting carbohydrates mean limiting the body’s favorite fuel — and so it must adapt.

The alternative solution is to burn stored fat instead. The metabolic shift from burning glucose to fat produces ketones. Ketones are important because while the body is burning fat for energy, the brain doesn’t have the ability to do this. Instead, the brain will fuel on ketones produced by the liver instead. Once the body fuels on fat and the brain fuels on ketones, you are in ketosis.

What is the ketogenic diet?
The keto diet is one in which you drain your liver glycogen stores and force the body to find that alternative fuel. In addition to limiting carbohydrates to achieve this, protein content may also need to be reduced. That’s because protein actually has a small insulin-stimulating effect, which suppresses ketone creation.

Today.com

I would say this is a good overview. Some of it is a little off the mark and Kristin Kirkpatrick doesn’t cover the part about how your body can make it’s own glucose through gluconeogenesis.

Gluconeogenesis – 24 hours to 2 days – The liver manufactures new glucose from amino acids in a process called “gluconeogenesis”. Literally, this is translated as “making new glucose”. In non-diabetic persons, glucose levels fall but stay within the normal range.

The Fasting Method

It’s a good introduction to keto and low carb lifestyles. I would suggest picking up some books though if you really want the details on a lifestyle that can have enormous health benefits for almost everyone.

Image by healthguru from Pixabay

Continuous glucose monitors are becoming all the rage

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I looked into getting a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) before. Not because I have diabetes but because I was experimenting on myself with taking a more strict low carb diet. It turns out you need a prescription to get one. I don’t know why since I was able to get a ketone and glucose test kit from Keto Mojo. These kits do pretty much the same thing as a CGM except you have to test on demand rather than test continuously.

Scarcity may be driving part of the demand. Because it’s a medical device, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the continuous glucose monitor, so it requires a prescription. If you’re not diabetic, insurance almost certainly won’t cover it. Many doctors won’t prescribe it.

Wall Street Journal

If I can use an on demand type test where I have to prick my finger and put a drop of blood on a test strip why can’t I get a CGM? Why does this need a prescription? I’m not ingesting anything. All I want to do is see how quickly my body reacts to certain types of food.

Some doctors are against it. They think people are nuts for doing this.

Still, some experts object to widespread monitoring, like Dr. David Slawson, professor of family medicine at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There’s been no rigorous research to show it improves quality of life for healthy people and may lead to anxiety and depression, he says. “It looks very cool and the graphs are great and glitzy, but the reality is it doesn’t improve anything,” he says. “We are nuts to be doing this.”

Wall Street Journal

I don’t see how this will lead to anxiety and depression. If you’re already susceptible to eating disorders or other addictive type behaviors knowing your blood sugar levels isn’t going to change that in my opinion.

My metabolism is different than my wife’s. I’m able to eat a higher level of carbohydrates than she can without gaining weight. What I would like to know, however, is what is really happening in my body? Is my blood sugar spiking anyway but somehow I’m able to burn the glucose faster than she can? I think it would be good for her too so she knows what foods to avoid if she’s looking to lose or maintain weight. Diet and exercise are very personal and we all react a little different to food and training.

“People say, why don’t you just read a book and eat low carbs,” says Dr. Casey Means, co-founder and chief medical officer of Levels Health.”The problem is you and I can eat the exact same banana, and my glucose might go up 100 points and you go up 10. One-size-fits-all nutrition recommendations really fall short,” given new understanding of biochemical individuality, she says.

Wall Street Journal

Hopefully one day it will over the counter so I can just pick one up and monitor my own health the way I want.

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NYT blames meat first for obesity and COVID-19

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Jane Brody of the New York Times has it right when she calls out obesity and Type-2 diabetes for being high risk factors for severe cases of COVID-19. This has been known since almost the beginning of the pandemic. What she doesn’t get right unnecessarily blaming meat.

Of course, in recent decades many of the policies of the department Mr. Vilsack now heads have contributed mightily to Americans’ access to inexpensive foods that flesh out their bones with unwholesome calories and undermine their health. Two telling examples: The government subsidizes the production of both soybeans and corn, most of which is used to feed livestock.

Not only does livestock production make a major contribution to global warming, much of its output ends up as inexpensive, often highly processed fast foods that can prompt people to overeat and raise their risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease. But there are no subsidies for the kinds of fruits and vegetables that can counter the disorders that render people more vulnerable to the coronavirus.

New York Times

It’s not meat that is the problem here. It’s the highly processed foods, sugars, and other excessive carbohydrates that we pump into our bodies. She does talk about the rest of the bad things in the average person’s diet later in the column. But I think those things should have been mentioned first because beef, chicken, and pork will not cause a person to become obese.

Keto bread fantasy

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Good keto bread and keto friendly bread is what many low carb dieters long for. I have tried different recipes and looked at commercial “keto friendly” loaves of bread available at grocery stores and have yet to find anything that is both good and low carb.

What makes good bread? Gluten. And where does gluten come from? Wheat. All traditional bread is made with flour. White, wheat, rye, pumpernickel, or whatever. Combined with yeast the gluten in wheat holds the interior of bread together to create those lovely large holes in a baguette. It’s also what makes those tight tiny holes in soft and spongey Japanese milk bread. It’s the magic secret sauce that produces all that bread goodness. Almond flour, coconut flour, or any low carb alternative can’t hold a candle to wheat flour. Can you believe that people are so desperate that they are even willing to try flours made from crickets?

Low carb bread recipes try to mimic gluten by using mozzarella cheese, psyllium husk powder, or xanthan gum as binders to hold low carb flours together. What you end up with is something that might look a little like bread but has the texture of something mealy and grainy. All the times I’ve tried making those recipes I’m always left disappointed.

The low carb and keto friendly bread in the stores are not truly low carb either. Each one has somewhere between 12 to 15 grams of carbs in each slice. Some make the claim that they are 1 gram of net carbs because they subtract the fiber content from the total count. To me net carbs is a bit of a cheat. To compare low carb to standard bread, my favorite wheat bread that I used to eat is 21 Whole Grain Dave’s Killer Bread. Each slice has 22 grams of carbs or 17 grams of net carbs. Meanwhile, a slice of Wonder Bread has only about 15 grams of carbs or 14 grams net carbs. Total carbs between low carb and standard bread is not much different. But, if you are addicted to bread and need the fix using the low carb breads are better than nothing. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to make it a regular habit. You’ll only end up eating lots of it.

So, what can a person trying to stay low carb but wants bread? If you’re not epileptic and you’re going low carb purely for weight loss I think you can eat keto friendly and still have bread. You just can’t eat it every day. If you’re able, limit yourself to having those carbs you crave to once a month or less. Learn to make your own because then you control the ingredients. Look at labels and watch out for added sugars. Most commercial breads have sugar in some form. But, if you know you cannot limit yourself once you start then skip it and use the low carb alternatives to wean yourself off completely.

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Eliminating sugar good for gut health

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The article makes a great case for eliminating added sugars from a person’s diet.

If added sugar is likely causing inflammation in the gut, what happens to your gut when you remove added sugar from your diet? Dr. Bulsiewicz says many people experience balance. “If you eliminate foods that we know are damaging to the gut, like sugar, and what you’re left with is foods that we know to be good for the gut, that will bring more balance to the gut,” he says.

When the gut is balanced, this means the good bacteria is thriving; a gut imbalance is when there is more bad bacteria in the gut than there should be, which then can cause a variety of health problems such as digestive issues in the short term and cognitive decline and chronic disease in the long term.

wellandgood.com

But it falls short by recommending people that might live in food desserts to try to stick to US Dietary Guidelines because of the lack of real food in their neighborhoods. I think the advice should remain the same regardless. It may be more difficult in those areas to cut out added sugar because of processed foods but the elimination should still be the goal.

Instead of making a goal to cut added sugar completely, it may make more sense to aim to stick within the recommendations U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines advocate for keeping added sugars at 10 percent of daily calories.

10% of daily calories is still a lot of sugar. In a 2,000 calorie diet 200 calories of sugar is about 52 grams of carbohydrates. You cannot stay on a low carb diet consuming that much sugar every day. Period. End of story. The reason it is unlikely is there are carbs in most of the other foods your eating. I think it is preferable to try to eliminate all added sugars as the goal.

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Eating eggs for weight loss

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The one thing consistent about eggs is the nutrition industry likes to bat them around like a shuttlecock. Eggs is a perfect food. It has almost everything you need in a tiny package. I think it’s virtually impossible to over eat eggs as well. Think about how full you would feel eating a dozen eggs? Pretty damn full. And they’re dirt cheap!

Here are some great nutrition facts on eggs:

One egg has about 60 calories, six grams of protein, and four grams of fat, making it a pretty low-cal source of protein. Here’s the full nutritional breakdown:

Calories: 60
Fat:
 6 g
Protein:
 4 g
Cholesterol:
 165 mg
Carbohydrates:
 0 g

Eggs are also packed with nutrients. “An egg is a good source of several B vitamins, and provides meaningful levels of immune-supporting nutrients, like zinc and selenium,” says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a nutrition and wellness expert based in New York City. “Plus, an egg is packed with choline, an important nutrient for brain development and health, and is one of the few food sources of vitamin D.”

Eggs provide a significant amount of essential nutrients and no wasted calories, Angelone says, making them a good choice for achieving your weight-loss goals.

Women’s Health Magazine

And for weight loss?

For one, when 152 overweight or obese people ate either two eggs in the morning or a bagel for eight weeks, the egg eaters had a 61 percent larger reduction in their BMI, a 65 percent greater amount of weight loss, a 34 percent larger reduction in their waist circumference, and a 16 percent greater reduction in their body fat by the end of the study, per research in the International Journal of Obesity.

Women’s Health Magazine
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Caffeine aids in burning fat

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People burn less fat in the morning than in the afternoons. Who knew? What can you do to help burn some extra fat during your morning workout? Have a cup of coffee.

These findings confirm the previously reported diurnal variation in the whole-body fat oxidation rate during graded exercise in active caffeine-naïve men, and indicate that the acute ingestion of 3 mg/kg of caffeine increases MFO, Fatmax and VO2max independent of the time of day.

biomedcentral.com

In plain English this means that consuming caffeine regardless of the time of day helps aid in burning fat during exercise.

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Are tomatoes Keto friendly?

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The short answer is… yes! But like any fruit you have to watch out for the quantity.

If using canned tomatoes read the label. You want to make sure there are no sugars or odd ingredients. Canned tomatoes are a great source when tomatoes are not in season. Tomatoes that are canned at the moment of peak ripeness and often times taste better than fresh tomatoes you find in the grocery store or farmer’s market.

Here’s how many carbs are in the top tomato varieties.

Type of tomato100 grams (g)Carbs (g)
Roma tomato4.73
Grape tomato5.51
Green tomato5.1
Cherry tomato4.96
San Marzano tomato4.35
Plum (aka Italian) tomato 🇮🇹4.13

Tomatoes have a low carb count compared to other types of fruit. To put it in perspective, a single small banana has about 23 grams of carbs.

greatist.com
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