Dr Suzie Edge on 21st century nutrition and health

Tag: high fat diet

You need to make a choice.

You need to make a choice.

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 […]

Getting started with your ketogenic diet : Part I

Getting started with your ketogenic diet : Part I

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, […]

Low carb diets set up your environment to cope

Low carb diets set up your environment to cope

When it comes to weight loss advice we are often told to stop and think about what we are about to do, when we reach for food and snacks. This is supposed to stop us from overindulging through mindfullness. Mindfullness is a big buzzword of the moment and it is another perfect thing to strive for and another thing to feel guilty about when we don’t get it right.

For years at home we had a page pulled from a magazine on our kitchen cupboard door. It was a picture of a young fit couple running on a beach in swimwear. It was supposed to make us stop and realise that we would not be fit and healthy (or young?!) if we ate what was in the cupboard. I would just open the cupboard door, swear at the picture and eat the food anyway.

Now, I find with a low carb diet that I have the space and ability to cope and have that conversation with myself because I am not hungry. Hunger is so overpowering, it gets in the way of that conversation and it drives the “OK, just this once and then I will start again tomorrow” self-deception. Low-fat, calorie counting and restrictive diets only ever made me hungry.

Without hunger I can now have rational conversations with myself about whether or not I actually want THAT food, and what hormonal effect it will have on my body. This is how I can have foods in the house (that my husband, kids or visitors might want) and how I can sit in the staffroom at work surrounded by chocolates and biscuits and how I can live on a street with a Chinese takeaway, without being remotely interested.

Low-carb healthy-fat diets kick hunger out of the park. Eat the bacon.

Suzie

…but you “just can’t cut out a whole food group”.

…but you “just can’t cut out a whole food group”.

Every day I hear the scoffing phrase “you just can’t cut out a whole food group” or “you just can’t demonise a food group”. It is an inbuilt, long-ago-learned phrase that you will often hear said against those improving their health by reducing their carbohydrate […]

Is the UK leading the way in a grass roots LCHF public health solution?

Is the UK leading the way in a grass roots LCHF public health solution?

This week has been a very positive one. Could the UK be leading the way in a grass roots low-carb public health solution? Listening to the KetoWoman Podcast at the end of last week was a treat. Daisy and Louise had been at the Public […]

We need to talk about breakfast.

We need to talk about breakfast.

We need to talk about breakfast.

The most common question I am asked when it comes to diet is what to eat for breakfast, especially by those seeking a low-carb option. When you’ve got a whole family to sort out before school and work, breakfast needs to be fast and free of too much thought. It is no wonder breakfast cereals have risen in popularity (convenience being one thing but the vast amounts of addictive sugar being another). In the past, it has been no different in my house, especially once my girls were able to make breakfast for themselves. Health seekers, keen to not fill up on so much sugar will go for yoghurts, low-fat of course, fruit juice, raisins, and oats. Either way, the sugar and carbohydrate content are still high and the hormonal response by the body will be the opposite of what you might think. I wrote about this in another post here.

As a doctor based in hospital, I was recently discussing the overnight wayward blood sugars of one of our patients when the breakfast trolley was wheeled past. Our conversation stopped in its tracks, I just couldn’t take my eyes off the breakfast. I was asked if I wanted some.

Er, no thanks.

The trolley was laden with toasted white bread, with pots of fake butter and jams, there were boxes of sugary breakfast cereals with skimmed milk, there were cartons of orange and apple juice and low-fat fruit yoghurts. I was shocked at the amount of sugar and carbohydrate we were feeding our patients but that’s breakfast isn’t it? It really shouldn’t be.

I was told that you can’t expect hospital patients to get bacon and eggs, after all who is going to cook it? Of course, there is nobody to cook it, because we are too cheap to pay someone to cook for our patients. We choose cheap convenience over our health and the health of our hospital patients. They need protein and fat, but we can’t provide it with the resources or the attitudes that we have.

At home it is easy to make the effort to change what we choose for breakfast. We can choose how to start our day with a breakfast that will not shoot up our insulin, nor prevent fat cells from giving up their precious reserves and will not make us hungry only hours later. In hospital it is a different matter. The foods we feed our patients, the very people who need the best nutrition that we have, are based on the government guidelines that attempt to prevent obesity, diabetes and heart disease. They don’t prevent obesity, diabetes or heart disease, they make it worse.

Breakfast needs to break free from the low-fat, high-carb sugary nonsense. We need eggs, meat, fish, real yoghurt, real butter, real cream, nuts and seeds. It can’t be fat-free and protein-free, these essentials are being restricted by this diet. The only thing you are restricting with a low carbohydrate diet are chronic western diseases.

What we need to do is to start taking what we feed our patients seriously, as seriously as we take all the drugs we dish out. We might be able to do that at home but unfortunately, things won’t change in our institutions without a change in the government guidelines and that’s not coming any day soon.

Suzie

Why you won’t lose weight trying to balance with will power.

Why you won’t lose weight trying to balance with will power.

Go find yourself a beam, a branch or one of those slack-lines and try balancing for a bit. How long can you last? Probably not as long as you’d like because chance are, like me, you are not an Olympic gymnast. Sure, you can engage […]

Crap Nutrition School 101

Crap Nutrition School 101

I was just flicking through a book that I used as a junior doctor when I first started working. Oxford Handbooks are the pocket sized bibles for anyone starting in medicine. Page 87 got me thinking – the page of nutritional requirements. At the top […]

Dealing with cramps – Part I

Dealing with cramps – Part I

Leg cramps are a common complaint for those starting out on a low carb or ketogenic diet. I was a bit worried, if I’m honest, because I have a grizzly history with cramps. I was afflicted from an early age (long before keto) and my mother was the same. My pregnancies were just nine long months of painful cramps and endless peeing. They are benign, nocturnal or exercise induced cramps and I also often get some less troublesome post-exercise fasciculations (twitching as opposed to big muscle contractions).

My blood levels of Potassium, Sodium and Magnesium have never been anything other than normal (when being tested of course). I went to my GP once, when I was 19, I was playing rugby, drinking beer, partying a lot and waking at night with vicious cramps. His suggestion – stop eating tomatoes. He meant well and was genuinely looking for up-to-date answers but I was sceptical and never took his advice.

My cramps were noticeable when I started a proper ketogenic diet this time round. I’ve played about with low carb/ketogenic diets previously but don’t remember thinking about cramps in depth.  The cramps occur most often in my calves but also in the front of my legs (so so painful), throughout my feet and also my hands (that’s actually quite funny when it happens, as long as it doesn’t last). I get cramps in my abdominal muscles and in my big back/neck muscles. You name them, lots of my muscles like to cramp. It can from time to time be distressing and can leave me sore for many days. You can see why I went to the GP. My cramps may have increased on the ketogenic diet but at the same time I increased the amount of exercise I was doing. I am rugby training as well as martial arts training, I recently ran a 10km and have been in competition for steps with my fitbit friends. I have also been very self-aware since ditching carbs, clocking every feeling and twitch, so it may not have been an increase, just an increased awareness.

Of course I have seen the advice to drink more water, take more salt, check my potassium and magnesium intake, drink bone broth, drink pickle juice. I take supplements. I haven’t noticed any change. I see a lot of people advising potassium or magnesium supplementation but I never saw any of them quote any evidence.

I wanted some answers and so I started researching. There is some interesting physiology research out there, there are some brain tickling N=1 thoughts and there is lots of very general advice around keto-flu and supplementation of various electrolytes. It will be difficult though to find out what helps for me if I don’t actually quantify the cramps. I already diligently record what I eat, so I have started to record cramps, including the details of muscle groups, extent and timing. Then when I have some idea of the extent of the problem, I can start to look for correlations and can start to change up the diet and supplements to look for any changes. Again, I’m sceptical that I can find an answer after so many years, but I’m looking.

So, watch this space and I will publish some results – one way or another. I have more questions than answers just now. Here are some links…

Central nervous system or peripheral generation? I always assumed that the mechanism was a peripheral one (local to the muscle and local motor neurons/terminal nerve branches) but it looks like there could be a central mechanism that is important. This has interesting bearing on prevention.

Jimmy Moore’s take: http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/got-low-carb-leg-cramps-get-more-potassium/1680

Looks like a nice result for the magnesium crowd, though I haven’t properly read through this so can’t comment yet. Then again, maybe just if you’re pregnant.

Then there’s what Diet Doctor says. They mention Volek and Phinney’s book – I haven’t read that yet (gasp, what an admission!).

I will get back to you.

Suzie

 

Navigating Keto and lchf with sugar-filled kids

Navigating Keto and lchf with sugar-filled kids

Navigating the food pyramid with the next generation is really hard, especially when you are trying to turn it upside down. The next generation, and by that, I mean my kids, are going to need a lot of help. My children are already being taught […]

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