It may come as a surprise but the medical wards at our local hospital are not bursting at the seams with rows and rows of scurvy sufferers, despite the rising numbers of people turning to zero-carb all meat diets. Carnivores don’t get scurvy the way […]
I adore baked beans, I always have done. Whenever I went home from University my Mum would make a special effort to stock up on lots of tins just for me. It wasn’t just Heinz that I liked, any variety would do. I love them when they’ve been cooked for far too long, like you get in the school canteen, in a catering batch made for hundreds. You get the point? I like baked beans.
I used to eat them with white bread and whatever spread was on the go. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I don’t eat beans anymore, considering what else is in the tin.
The recent television advert for Heinz Beans left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. The advert features a fitness enthusiast who is home from a run and reaches for the protein shake (OK, that’s for a different blog post) and he says that he’s looking for something with protein, fibre and low in fat. His partner smugly pulls a bowl of baked beans from the microwave and says she’d doing the same thing, but with beans.
Yes, beans have protein and not much fat. Beans also have a ridiculous amount of sugar and they conveniently didn’t mention that bit.
It is NOT OK to pretend that because a product has something that may be healthy in it, that we can simply ignore the rest of the contents. There are just under 20g of sugar per can.
Nutella is another classic example. You may have seen the advert that says how it’s great for growing bones because it has a smidgen of milk, or that it has a lick of cocoa powder and hazelnuts, oh so healthy huh? This advert completely ignores the fact that this product is mostly made of sugar and palm oil.
Foods claiming to be new healthy substitutes are doing it also. On a break at work recently I was offered a protein bar by a well meaning colleague. It had protein, so it must be good for you, especially if you avoid carbohydrates as I do. Looking at the label I was horrified to see how much sugar there was lurking in that bar. If you’re eating protein bars for the protein, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’d be better off with a steak. If you’re a vegetarian, there will still be better ways, but not necessarily with baked beans or protein bars. If an advert gets exited about containing or not containing a particular macro-nutrient, the likelihood is it has forgotten to tell you about the others, and there is a reason for that. Take a look for yourself before believing that marketing.
I didn’t see this before I wrote the blog: complaints were upheld about this advert claiming that the beans contain the same nutrients as something else, which apparently is not allowed. Who knew? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44951720
Main picture from The Grocer
We treat the NHS the way we treat Type II Diabetes and our priorities are all wrong.
With T2DM, a condition brought on by years of sugar and carbohydrate loading, we continue to shovel in more refined carbohydrates, starches and sugars. We hope it will be OK, we tell people it is a progressive disease and we just cover it with fancy expensive drugs and then insulin once it gets bad enough. Where there are real concerns we just cover them with a band-aid. When it becomes too much for the sticky plasters to handle, we have to cut off the limbs that are beyond saving.
This is a strategy that is not working.
As for the NHS, creaking as it is at the seams, we continue to pour in an increasingly unhealthy population with chronic western lifestyle diseases that are entirely preventable and in some cases reversible. We think that the solution to this problem is treatment with more money. More money for drugs and technology and nurses and doctors and beds. When there’s no longer enough money to cope, we cut off the departments, selling what we can to private companies.
This too, is a strategy that is not working.
The solution to both of these crises is to stop cramming in the things that caused the problems in the first place and guess what? They are the same things.
T2DM can be prevented or reversed by putting a stop to the onslaught of dietary carbohydrates and the subsequent hyperinsulinaemia and insulin resistance. Many of the western lifestyle associated diseases can be thought of in the same way. Decent, researched lifestyle advice, uninfluenced by the food and drug industry’s lobbying, needs to be put in place to bring a halt to the onslaught of an increasingly sick population’s need for more NHS care.
Prevention of T2DM, obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, gout, osteoarthritis, some aspects of mental illnesses, maybe even Alzheimer’s and some cancers is all possible with nutrition and lifestyle interventions. That is what will solve so many problems for the NHS, not the fancy new drugs and technologies that cost us millions and make only a handful of people their fortunes.
We need to start prioritising prevention or we will reach a point where there are no longer any limbs left to cut off and the inevitable will happen.
Newspaper headlines can be confusing with what’s good for you one minute being bad for you the next. It’s understandable that you feel confused, that is after all what the headlines are designed to do, to unsettle you. The difference between relative risk and absolute […]
After I received a few questions about how to get started with losing weight on a ketogenic or low carbohydrate diet, I wrote Getting started with your ketogenic diet : Part I, giving my thoughts on which foods to eat and avoid. Now for a […]
I am frequently asked for tips on how to get started on a ketogenic diet for weight loss. There are many reasons as well as weight loss to eat this way, so for weight loss or for health, here are some ideas.
As with everything, getting started can be the hardest part but before the WHAT, it might help first to understand the WHY.
Without carbohydrates in your diet the body will soon start to burn fat for fuel. As a result of breaking down fat, ketones are produced. There are three types of ketones, acetone (which you might taste or smell on the breath), acetoacetate (which can be detected in the urine) and beta-Hydroxybutyrate (which can be detected in the blood). When these are detectable, the body has been burning fat for fuel. It is a state that makes losing weight much easier. To reach this state, you’ll need to keep daily carbohydrate intake to around 20g. These come from vegetables and nuts.
Another crucial result of his way of eating is that it will lower insulin levels. Insulin is secreted when you’ve eaten and the more carbohydrates consumed, the more insulin is released into the blood. Insulin stops your own fat cells from giving up their fat stores so a low insulin state is what is needed for the body to burn it’s own fat.
Now, knowing that the target is to lower insulin levels, it makes sense when you look at which foods should be eaten and which foods should be avoided in a ketogenic diet.
So, what is good to eat on a ketogenic diet?
Meat and Fish (it is no longer necessary to search for lean meat, take the fattier cuts)
Natural fats (butter, olive oil, dripping, coconut oil, avocado oil)
Dairy: cheeses and cream
Full fat yoghurts (avoid sugary, flavoured low-fat yoghurts like the plague)
Nuts and seeds
Vegetables: green, non-starchy vegetables do the job. Avocados, asparagus, peas, broccoli, sprouts and cauliflower, cucumbers and olives. Tomatoes, peppers and carrots can form part of a ketogenic diet. There are many more.
This list can best be summed up as Eat Real Food.
The fewer the carbohydrates in your diet, the better for lowering insulin levels. The thing about ketogenic diets is finding what works for you as everyone is different and reacts differently. It may take time and experimentation to find what suits you, but there foods to avoid.
Breads and crackers
Pasta, rice and potatoes
Sugary drinks including sodas and fruit juices (and beer, sorry, but you might find red wine is OK)
Chocolate and sweets (but 80+% cocoa chocolate has good magnesium levels and is low in sugar)
Cakes, donuts and biscuits
A word about diet drinks and artificial/fake sugars… These do not raise blood sugars BUT they can raise insulin. As insulin drives weight gain, you need to avoid bothering your pancreas to secrete it and to keep the levels low.
Aiming for a high proportion of fat (75%) moderate protein (20%) and carbohydrates (5%) will get you started. There are ways to track your intake using apps or websites. I have used Myfitnesspal, CarbManager and Sparkspeople (though this last app is no longer supported you can use the website to track what you eat). You can tell the apps what you have eaten and they will calculate the macro percentages (carbs, fat and protein). Note I have not mentioned counting any calories, we’ve moved on from that. Some apps can scan a bar code on your product and register what you have eaten. Tracking what you are eating can really help and can show up some surprising results about what is in our food.
Here’s a starting tip so things don’t get complicated – I merely track carbs and keep them low, whilst eating more fat and moderate protein until I’m full. You might need to spend a bit more time in the shops at first, looking for alternatives to the sugary fat-free stuff, but it is there.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is the rough time you can have for week or so when coming off sugars and carbohydrates. I’m not going to sugar-coat it, it can feel rough, but getting through that withdrawal was the best thing I did and there are ways to make it feel better (more on that to come).
That’s enough food for thought just now.
Coming up in part II, I’ve written an action plan detailing what to do next if you want to get started on a ketogenic diet, as well as some links of more places to go for support.