Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tim Noakes Hearing: Dietitians Vs. #LCHF Doctor in South Africa

Dietitians accuse banting doctor Tim Noakes of being unethical, but is this a case of the porridge pot calling the kettle black?

One of the most fascinating face-offs of the century is happening right now in South Africa for people around the globe who follow the politics of low-carb high-fat diets vs. conventional medical dietary guidelines.

And it all started with a simple tweet.
Is this Photoshopped
parody of Gerber baby food
so far off the mark?

On one side we have the South African medical mafia sponsored by Big Food companies like Kellogg's.

On the other, Professor Tim Noakes -- athlete, medical doctor, professor, author and banting advocate (banting is South Africa's exotic name for a low-carb high-fat diet).

So getting back to the tweet, here's what happened: Professor Noakes replied to a Twitter query posted by a mother seeking weaning advice, “Baby doesn’t eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high fat breast milk. Key is to ween baby onto LCHF [Low Carbohydrate, High Fat diet i.e Banting].”

Noakes' response struck a sour note with Claire Julsing-Strydom, former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA). She alleged the doctor acted unethically by providing unconventional medical advice via social media, and the advice did not consider the specific health issues of the infant.

Aside from the fact that anyone who conflates a tweet with medical advice is unhinged, we suspect that if Noakes had told the mom to wean her baby on highly processed baby food cereal,  it would have been dandy. When a gaggle of dietitians decree something is correct, it just is -- regardless of whether their clients get fatter or sicker following their advice.

The unprofessional conduct charge against Noakes lodged by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) at the dietitian society's behest would be almost comical if so many people's wellness were not at stake.

Ironically, it is the dietitians -- not Professor Noakes -- whose ethics are questionable.

In recent years, companies like Kellogg's and Coca Cola have been outed for funneling money to medical "experts" to minimize their products' role in the rise of diabetes and other metabolic conditions. Even a pro-business magazine like Forbes was skeptical of a cardiologist who concluded sugar plays a much smaller role than exercise in causing obesity.

"Marked declines in physical activity . .  is by far the major cause of obesity, not sugar and fast foods.” --  Dr. Carl Lavie

Though Dr. Lavie denied his conclusion was influenced by money he received from Coca Cola, the Forbes article included data that research funded by soft drink companies is five times less likely to blame sugar for causing obesity than that which is industry neutral.

Which brings us back to a more critical medical ethics issue the Noakes HPCSA hearing does not address. Conventional health advice -- including most western countries' dietary guidelines -- is bought and paid for by Big Food, which sponsors studies on which the findings are biased based.

Until dietitians, doctors and disease organizations stop taking money from corporations like Coca Cola and Kellogg's, they have no business questioning the ethics of medical doctors and nutrition researchers who disagree with them.

You can keep up with the Noakes hearing daily by following journalist @MarikaSboros on Twitter and reading her recap articles on the hearing here.

More from Diet Skeptic:

Why I'm Addicted to Chia Seeds

Why Fat Head Pizza Is the Holy Grail of Low Carb Pizzas 

The Shocking Truth About Imported Olive Oil

Making Cauliflower Rice in the Vitamix 

Why WebMD Doesn't Want You to Get Well

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest

Monday, November 23, 2015

Can Low Carb Bars Help You Say 'No' to Cupcakes and Candy?

So recently at work one of my new students offered me a tangerine because word on the floor was I'm a "health nut."

Given the word "health" in this decade has more definitions than Imelda Marcos has shoes, most mainstream nutritionists would not call me a health nut at all since I eat lots of butter and eschew whole grains. I politely declined the offer because I follow a low-carb high-fat diet and typically don't snack on fruit other than berries.

What amused me was that I had been labeled a "health nut" because I have a rep for not habitually accepting whatever food is offered to me (though rarely is that offer a fruit). Ironically, I work as a trainer for a major health care organization.

One of my secrets for being able to turn down most of the sweet treats that magically appear in my workplace during the six-month "holiday season" between Halloween and Easter is that I eat a GNC Advanced Protein Bar every day. These bars are very similar macro-wise to the better known Quest bars, which are also sold at GNC; but I prefer the GNC bars because they do not contain corn fiber and taste less sweet. My preferred flavor GNC bar is the chocolate chip cookie dough, which reminds me a little of the Middle Eastern treat, halvah.

About two years ago I lost 35 pounds on the Medifast Take Shape for Life (TSFL) program and serendipitously discovered that eating meal replacement bars made it less tempting for me to eat sugary treats. Though I no longer eat Medifast products, the GNC protein bars now serve the same purpose as a treat sublimation strategy.

Fast forward to this morning . . .  while researching the controversy over the Quest bar formula change to corn fiber and other cheap fillers, I was led to an interesting blog post on a website called Breakfast Criminals in which various "health" minded professionals weighed in on why Quest Bars are essentially no better than candy corn.

One argument I found intriguing was from a registered dietitian named Willow Jarosh, who is affiliated with SELF Magazine, Bumble Bee Foods, and Bob Greene’s Best Life program.

“If you’re eating a Quest bar to avoid eating something that you really want (i.e., a piece of dark chocolate, a brownie, a cookie, etc.)," writes Jarosh, "then this can lead to a feeling of being deprived which can then lead to overeating the original food you craved. Or eating a couple Quest bars at a time to try to satisfy the craving (and therefore eating more food total than if you’d just had a small portion of the food you were craving)."

For me, just the opposite is true. Knowing I can have a GNC bar, I don't feel the urge to eat all the junk food that is offered to me. My sweet tooth has been weakened to the point where a square of dark chocolate tastes plenty sweet and most baked goods taste like they contain sugar on steroids. In other words, I actually prefer my GNC bar to most goodies and do not feel the least bit deprived.

Sometimes expert dietary theories sound good, but from my admittedly n=1 perspective, they're not always true. In my case, eating a healthier version of a processed food makes me crave the sweeter version less, and I do not need to eat two GNC bars at a time for this to happen.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Low Carb Blogs with Cool Names

I confess! Not only have I judged books by their covers, I have also judged blogs by their names -- although scant correlation exists between quality web content and cool name quotient.

My inner linguaphile can't help but be drawn to cleverly named blogs, especially those which deal with one of my favorite topics -- low-carb high-fat recipes and health research. So while I faithfully follow a blog called Authority Nutrition because it contains evidence based nutrition information, my heart skips a beat when I discover a new #LCHF blog with a quirky title.

Here are a few of the creatively named low-carb blogs I enjoy visiting, with a brief description of each:

All Day I Dream About Food: Recipe site with mostly low-carb gluten-free recipes. Founded by mom blogger Carolyn Ketchum who turned to the LC way of eating after experiencing gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Butter Makes Your Pants Fall Off: Blog founded by a guy nicknamed "Butter Bob" Briggs, who lost 145 pounds following LCHF diet combined with intermittent fasting. Started as a You Tube video with the same name, which Briggs almost called "Sugar made me so fat I couldn't sit in a folding chair."

Peace Love and Low Carb: Low-carb recipe site with a primal spin. Self-proclaimed foodie Kyndra Holley also dabbles in cross fit and essential oils, and her blog is just as fun as its name. "Watching someone eat something I created is pure joy," writes Holley. "If I were to eat bacon while watching someone eat something that I made, I just might explode."

My Big Fat Low Carb Life: Technically not a blog, this Facebook community page is a treasure trove of LCHF resources, with links to recipes, research articles and videos.

Low Carbe Diem: This blog's mission is to make the low-carb way of eating more doable. "One morning, as you approach the breakfast table, you think to yourself, 'If I have to eat another egg, I will throw myself down a flight of stairs.' And you almost mean it," writes Ann Moore in her blog's About section.

Honorable Mentions:

Ditch the Carbs

Butter is Not a Carb

Sugar Free Sheila

I Breathe I'm Hungry

No Bun Please

Hold the Toast

Low Carb Confidential

Carb Wars

The Loquacious Lowcarbivore (shameless plug)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why 'Never Skip Breakfast' Is Just Another Diet Myth

How US Dietary Guidelines Got It Wrong on 'Most Important Meal of the Day'

The widely accepted "fact" that skipping breakfast may cause people to pack on pounds turns out to be just another myth promoted by the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This is the same panel of people paid off by the food industry alleged experts that pushes sugar-filled low-fat chocolate milk on school children and has for years warned Americans to avoid egg yolks because they contain cholesterol.* 
Don't like breakfast? Don't feel bad.
It's okay to eat your first meal
later in the day.

Instead of using randomized controlled trials, the USDA relies heavily on observational studies in which participants unreliably self report their behavior and it can appear one thing causes another because the two are associated.

In the case of the breakfast hypothesis, for instance, other associations that could explain weight gain for breakfast skippers could be less sleep, higher stress levels or other confounding factors.

A Stanford University Departments of Medicine, Health Research and Policy abstract cited an alarming statistic about health research published in highly respected journals: "Of 52 major claims made by observational studies, none was validated when tested in RCTs."

Which is pretty bad because even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Keep in mind, randomized controlled trials -- or RCTs -- are considered the gold standard of science and are far more rigorous and reliable than the observational studies on which so much dubious dietary policy is based.

The good news is at least one rogue nutritionist is refuting the USDA guidance on eating breakfast. In his ObesityWeek presentation this month -- "Myths, truths, skepticism and curiosity on null findings: striking a balance" -- Dr. David B. Allison of the University of Alabama presented data from six RCTs that yielded no evidence people who eat breakfast are more successful at losing weight.

Ironically, the opposite was true: breakfast skippers were more successful at losing weight in some cases. (See Slide 11 of Dr. Allison's presentation.)

As my previous blog post on the link between herd theory and lack of medical doctors who recommend low-carb high-fat diets suggests, the more a myth is repeated by respected opinion leaders, the more likely people are to believe it -- regardless of the scientific data or dearth thereof.

With more evidence accumulating that intermittent fasting combined with a low-carb high-fat diet could be metabolically advantageous, people who prefer to skip breakfast should feel free to experiment with what works best for their body and stop feeling guilty for postponing their first meal until later in the day.

*(Concerning the USDA flip flop on egg yolks, what the dietary guidelines panel failed to consider is the liver will produce cholesterol to compensate for the amount one does not get from food. Few people consume more dietary cholesterol from food than their body needs to function.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why I'm Addicted to Chia Seeds

As much as I credit Medifast for helping me melt off 35 pounds a couple of years ago, I never envisioned eating space food forever. Nor did I wish to follow the Medifast maintenance plan, which is way too high in carbohydrates and low in fats to be satiating, healthy or sustaining.

So once I reached my ideal weight, I parted ways with Medifast and started a new adventure to discover a healthy diet I could adhere to on a permanent basis.

Which ultimately led me to chia seeds.
This chia pudding recipe from
the Food Network blog uses
almond milk, lemon and cinnamon.

If I had to name just one food that has helped me keep my weight off, it is this low-carb superfood loaded with fiber, protein, antioxidants, Omega 3 and a cornucopia of crucial minerals like iron, calcium and selenium.

Because chia seeds contain a ton of soluble fiber, they are a great prebiotic, which is necessary for probiotics to thrive.

Chia seeds can absorb 12 times their weight in water; so they slow down the process of digestive enzymes converting carbohydrates into blood sugar. They are credited with helping to prevent diabetes, cardiovascular and other metabolic diseases.

About two months ago I started consuming chia seeds daily for health reasons and was happily surprised at an unexpected side effect.

I lost five pounds without changing anything else I was doing.

(And to think that for decades Americans thought the best use of chia seeds was to sprout them as hair for Chia Pets instead of, uh, eating them as, you know, food?)

If you see chia seeds in the grocery store, they look a lot like gravel. Fortunately, they are relatively tasteless and can be sneakily hidden into most any food or drink without affecting the flavor. Here are the two main ways I consume chia seeds.

Chia Fresca

Add a spoonful of chia seeds to a mixture of lemon juice and water. The chia seeds soak up the liquid and turn into gel balls, transforming my refreshing lemon water into the texture of Japanese bubble tea.

Chia Pudding 

Mix about one cup of unsweetened almond milk with two cups of canned full-fat coconut milk and then add a splash of vanilla extract, Lacanto Golden Monkfruit Sweetener to taste and 3/4 cup of chia seeds. This makes several servings of lunch, which I either eat plain or top with blueberries, pomegranate seeds and/or walnuts. You could omit the Lacanto or use a different sweetener, but monkfruit/erythritol is currently my favorite not-sugar and works well in this recipe.

This morning I started researching other ways to use chia seeds in recipes and found out you can "bread" foods without breadcrumbs if you combine chia seeds with almond flour and Parmesan cheese. You can also sprinkle chia seeds on salads or any other food to add a slightly nutty texture and tons of health benefits.

Don't pay any heed to people who say you have to grind chia seeds to make them bioavailable; they're conflating chia with flax seeds. Chia seeds have much thinner shells that dissolve quickly; so the nutrients are easily absorbed.

However, the one way you should NOT consume chia seeds is to eat them plain and chase them with water. Apparently one man who tried this ended up with a glob of chia gel stuck to his esophagus, and this stubbornly sticky mass had to be surgically removed.