Monday, 30 January 2017

Post 43: All About Chocolate


Hi Guys,


Last week I touched on one of my indulgences: coffee. You can read all about that here. In that that post I alluded to my food philosophy: base your diet on completely natural and unprocessed foods, then remove and add items which provide a net benefit. This week we’re looking at another “c” that gives me great pleasure: chocolate.


As with all things, the poison is in the dose, and chocolate is no exception. It’s also one of those foods which people say they “absolutely could not live without”. So it’s quite important that in order to make a diet sustainable, we’re going to need to work chocolate into it somehow. Today we’re going to see why you don’t need to eliminate chocolate, and how it can be your friend rather than your enemy.


I’ve been eating my diet for years, and chocolate, or more specifically dark chocolate, has stayed the course. Very strict Paleo-ers would not include it because of the dairy (however small the amount may be), the fact that it is a relatively modern invention, and that it is a processed food (technically).








The unfortunate, milky truth


As with all the posts you read here, you’re not going to be getting the conventional advice. I already know that just having a few squares a day doesn’t work, because I’ve tried it. To quote Alfie: “what I do understand is human bleedin’ nature!”. So trying to eat milk chocolate in moderation, is off the table.


The sugary madness that is milk chocolate will fire the addiction pathways in your brain, leading to a siren call emanating from your cupboards which can only be satisfied by an anaconda inspired feast.


Now admittedly I’m an absolute glutton, but I’m also younger, taller, and more physically active than a lot of people: people who will be affected just as much by having much less.


We’re told by conventional wisdom to eat everything in moderation, but the truth is that moderating consumption of something so addictive and harmful is ludicrous. Better to just stay away entirely because milk chocolate is a true, nutrient poor, junk food.


As regular readers will know, it’s not the fat content of milk chocolate that concerns me, it’s the sugar content. But when you pair the two together, you get a deadly duo which doles out one-way tickets to obese city. The fat provides the calories and the sugar provides more calories plus the secret ingredient: it triggers an insulin release. As we found out in my post on why low carb diets work (link here), insulin sends a signal to your body to store fuel, first as muscle energy stores (good) and next as fat stores (bad). Hey presto! You’ve signalled your body to store fat and given it the resources to do so!


But we already know that milk chocolate is bad for us. That’s old news. Now I want to explain the benefits and the deleterious effects of the cocoa itself. Remember that what it is is always vastly more important than how much of it you eat!



The good, the bad, and the delicious


With chocolate, there isn’t as much to discuss chemically and hormonally as there is with coffee but first off, a chocolate primer. Cacao seeds are processed into two goods, cocoa butter and cocoa solids. This gives us our first benefit: cocoa butter is an excellent, healthy source of saturated fat. Remember, that saturated fat is actually the best type of fat, because it is much, much harder to oxidise.




The cocoa solids are where the rest of the good stuff can be found. It has a high mineral, antioxidant and fibre content. All of which aids in keeping the body healthy and promoting good “thin people” gut bacteria. The cocoa solids themselves contain most of the food group specific benefits, so we want to focus on eating chocolate with the highest cocoa solids % and the fewest ingredients.


On top of the above, it’s also a great way to satisfy cravings. Sometimes you want to feel like you’re indulging and what way is better than something that’s actually good for you?!


Now for the bad stuff. First up we have phytic acid: antinutrients which bind to minerals and stop your body absorbing them. On the other hand, the processing that goes into making chocolate degrades these to a large extent. Phytic acid isn’t a large concern when it comes to chocolate.


The other negatives depend on the type and quality of chocolate you’re eating. Most chocolate contains at least some sugar, which you might be trying to avoid in its entirety. It also might contain dairy (to which a lot of people are sensitive), mould toxins, and additives. As I mentioned earlier, we want to go for high quality chocolate with the fewest ingredients.


An interesting downside to watch out for is that chocolate contains oxalates which can bind to calcium in your blood and form small, sharp oxalic acid crystals. For someone on a raw vegetarian/vegan diet where lots of oxalate is consumed, eating more chocolate could be a bad idea.


Something I haven’t seen before, but only recently found out about was “alkalised cocoa powder” which may also be disguised as “dutch processed”. In this case, the cocoa powder has been chemically treated to remove its bitterness. Unfortunately, this removes up to 90% of the antioxidants.


The last negative, which could almost be a positive for some, is the caffeine content. Doing a little digging online brings up some very different numbers: a quick google search states 43mg in 100g of “dark chocolate” (cocoa solids % undefined), whereas Green and Black’s website states that 40g of their organic milk chocolate contains 3mg. Take those estimates with a pinch of salt, and consider that a shot of espresso contains around 40mg of caffeine. Although, eating 100g of dark chocolate in one sitting seems unlikely for most people (unless they are me - C). If you’re sensitive to caffeine, or have eliminated caffeinated drinks after midday and still have trouble sleeping, then dropping chocolate in the same time frame might be wise also.


Cowlean’s chocolate consumption


I love chocolate, but I stick to 70% cocoa solids or higher for the range and depth of flavour, and because the advantages and disadvantages from above are amplified and depressed respectively.


Working towards eating and enjoying darker chocolate is healthier and contributes towards your connoisseur status. II wrote about being a connoisseur and becoming a “one man brand” in a post on staying healthy at social events (that post can be found here). For me, chocolate is a part of that.


f you’re not eating any dark chocolate now, start with the lower % bars, then just work your way up gradually. By now, I find 70% dark chocolate a true sweet tooth indulgence because over time your tastebuds adapt. The higher levels of sugar in a 70% bar bring out the fruity flavours, whereas the 85% brings more of a cocoa hit. Once you start to truly enjoy these chocolates, you’ll realise just how sweet and flavourless your run of the mill milk chocolate is. On top of that, when you eat good quality dark chocolate, you feel satisfied. When you’re eating milk chocolate, soon enough you’re wanting more.


To be specific about what I like to eat: I always go for 70% and above, even though you can find chocolate claiming to be dark with as low as 50% cocoa solids. I don’t consider these true dark chocolates, and they’ll commonly still have a load of sugar and additives.


My favourite brands are Lindt and Green and Black’s. In particular I enjoy Lindt’s 70% (which I save for workout days) and G&B’s 85%. If I can get my hands on it, I also love Ombar’s raw 90% chocolate. Occasionally, I’ve been known to eat 100% chocolate from Montezuma, which is an experience in and of itself.


If you look around yourself in the supermarket you’ll be a rapidly growing market for dark chocolate. I’ve eaten it for years and have seen the variety on offer expand drastically, so try out the different types and find the types that you like the most.


Takeaways


So that’s it, my chocolate post. I enjoy giving my thoughts on things like chocolate, because I want to show people how they can enjoy themselves, feel good, look good, indulge, and still be healthy at the same time! Here’s this week’s takeaways:


  1. Ditch the milk chocolate; it’s a true junk food
  2. Start working your way up the dark chocolate ladder (however ominous that sounds- C); don’t worry, your tastes will change
  3. Experiment with different brands and percentage cocoa solids; watch for the flavours present


That’s all for this week. Happy chocolate chomping.


Until next time,


Cowlean


Monday, 23 January 2017

Post 42: All About Coffee


Hi guys,

This week’s post is all about one of our favourite drugs: coffee. You’ll know by now that I am an avid coffee drinker, and start most days with a steaming mug of joe blended with grass-fed butter. Now, this beverage is not strictly Paleo; Loren Cordain (who effectively began the modern movement) advises against it because of the caffeine content. In addition, it certainly was not drunk by our ancestors. In fact, coffee wasn’t around until the 15th century.


Even so, I still drink it. Coffee is symbolic of what I aim for in food: I start with Paleo (whole foods) as a base because I respect the motivations and conclusions of the people involved, then decide whether it’s biologically advantageous to enjoy. Finally, I work out how I deal with it personally, from a physical and mental health perspective. I might deal with the food group well, but tend to binge when it’s available. That means it has to be allocated to a mental category for “treats”.

It's amazing what google turns up
Coffee has a lot of benefits, and a few caution signs too, which we need to address. Like many health aficionados, I’ve decided that the benefits are worth it, not to mention the fact that is tastes great (when you know what to do or where to go), smells great, and makes you feel great!





How does coffee work?

First I thought I’d start by telling you how coffee (or more specifically, caffeine) actually works. Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in your brain. Normally, when adenosine binds to the receptors, you feel sleepy, but when caffeine is already there, you don’t get the signal. To cut a complex story simple, caffeine doesn’t energise you, it just stops your brain from receiving the sleepy signal!

What caffeine also does is cause a cortisol release. Cortisol is stress, which is good in manageable doses, because it excites our bodies to work harder and faster. However, release too much cortisol and you become overstressed (irritable, mood swings, etc.).

Here’s some good news before we dive back into the negatives (sorry!), espresso contains less caffeine than drip or filtered coffee and, in my opinion, the taste is much better. So by drinking espresso based drinks you will be less stressed (which can be good or bad), but at least it will be delicious.



Coffee Cautions

Let’s start with the warning signs. When people reach for coffee, I imagine the majority are motivated by the mental and cognitive benefits. I am of course referring to caffeine. Caffeine is the main driver behind the “is coffee good or bad for you?” argument because, like any drug, the poison is in the dose.

Drink too much and you’ll become over reliant; you’ll be trying to cover up a poor diet which is making you feel sick and tired. A poor diet is contributing to bad sleep, so you feel as if you need coffee even more. A vicious circle ensues: you feel tired, so you drink more coffee, which interferes with your sleep, etc.

Not only that but as you become a habitual drinker (I call them “jug a day” people), the stimulating effects become lessened. While the stimulation will never completely diminish, you’ll always be chasing that old high.

And that’s just referring to the coffee itself. Once you start adding in lots of milk, creamers, half’n’half, sweeteners and syrups, the sugar content becomes astronomical. A concoction like that will skyrocket your blood sugar as well as the effect of the caffeine.

Here’s something interesting as well: heating the sugar found in dairy (lactose), turns it into something called beta-lactose. Beta-lactose increases blood sugar even quicker than lactose. So by having that vente pumpkin spiced latte, you’re destined for a blood sugar spike and crash of biblical proportions.


Before we leave this dark place, I want to draw your attention to another effect of stimulating cortisol release: it encourages your body to release more cortisol in response to other stressors. So, for example, you wake up early for an important presentation and quickly slam some espresso because it’s going to be a big day. Your body is now primed to be overstressed, and the little things will get to you even more, not to mention the big event itself! Ironically, it would be better to avoid coffee on days where you will be stressed out, because you will already feel the benefits of the cortisol release originating from your workload.



The Good Stuff

Now let’s shake off those bad feelings, and get loved up to coffee. Before coming into this post, I was well aware that I wasn’t going to convince people to stop drinking it and I had no intention to do so anyway. I am certainly going to carry on drinking coffee, but we all might as well know the deal we’re agreeing to.

There are many claims for its benefits, including decreasing the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, but here are some that I want to talk about in more detail.

Caffeine - we’ve talked about this above, and it probably is the main reason why coffee is so popular. It makes you think faster, have greater mental endurance, and lets you perform better in the gym. I like to have my bulletproof coffee at the beginning of the day rather than a traditional breakfast because it’s quicker and easier, and provides energy for my morning workload. There’s not a huge amount to discuss here on top of what has been said above, but it’s important to draw attention to this popular stimulating effect.

Soluble fibre and digestion - coffee has a lot of soluble fibre (rather than insoluble e.g. in vegetables), which helps in a way which I’ll leave to the imagination… It also promotes gastric acid production, which will aid in digesting food quicker. This is one of the nice synergies with adding butter to your coffee, you consume an energy source and have the tools to break it down quickly.


Antioxidants and Polyphenols - it’s possible that coffee might actually be the highest source of antioxidants for Americans. Drinking the stuff aids in feeding your “good” gut bacteria and starving the “bad” types.

mTOR Suppression - This one I’ve covered in my post on intermittent fasting (link here), so I won’t go over it again in detail. What’s important is that by suppresing mTOR before working out, and then eating, leads to greater muscle gains.

Appetite Suppressant - I wanted to leave this one in here even though it could be seen as a positive or negative factor. Of course, if you’re using coffee in an attempt to starve yourself, that’s bad. If you’re a healthy individual who needs a little extra time on their hands or wants to fast a little longer, then it’s okay. On rare occasions it can be a useful tool in your arsenal.



Takeaways

So what is my actual advice on the matter? I’ve said that I don’t want or expect you to give it up if you have a healthy relationship with this particular drug. If you’re suspicious that you’re reliant on it, then take a week off and stick only to decaf. If you have withdrawals from the caffeine, then you probably had a problem. Otherwise, I think it fits in nicely with what we’re doing here and segues into my takeaways to boot:

  1. Coffee can mask a poor diet; don’t drink it if you’re reliant on it for energy or to suppress appetite
  2. To minimise the effects of caffeine on sleep, only drink decaf after 2pm
  3. Work your way down to black coffee and eliminate sugar filled extras and artificial sweeteners; enjoy the coffee for what it is!

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did (and you aren’t already), follow me on Twitter @tomcowlin for regular updates.

Until next time,

Cowlean

Monday, 16 January 2017

Post 41: Cowlean Goes Vegetarian


Hi guys,

Let’s be honest, that was a bit clickbait-y of me, so before you go running off to tell Grandma it’s the end of the world, it’s not. I’m still going to be eating meat, but what if I did indeed lose a portion of my marbles and became a vegetarian?

Humans are not designed to be vegetarians, just look at some of our teeth: we’re omnivores. But just because we have the tools, doesn’t mean that we must use them.


It might be easy for me to stand here and say “I could never go vegetarian”, but on the other hand there’s a tonne of people out there who say “I could never give up pasta”. Taking the first step is always the hardest one, and once you’re past that you find that everything is a lot easier than you thought. So am I planning on binning the meat? No. But I know that I could.

I’ve said before, that I think a decent rationale for vegetarianism is ethical grounds. Most meat comes from animals which are treated poorly and this translates to unhealthy food. From my own selfish perspective, that’s something I want to avoid. When most people go vegetarian, they remove a lot of what was making them feel bad, and they consequently lose weight. Then again, moving away from the standard western diet in most cases is positive.

So to sum up my thoughts on the “why do it” train: if you can afford high quality meat, go for it, and we don’t need as much as most people are eating. A little bit of the right thing is much better than lots of a mediocre food. If good meat is too pricey, then being a vegetarian might be a wise choice.


If animal ethics is your primary concern, then my advice would be to take care of the animals yourself and treat them as you see fit, giving you access to fresh produce.

Today we’re going to look at exactly what I would do if I went vegetarian, and I mean proper vegetarian. I’m not going to chicken out (huhuhuhuh) and go for pescetarian because I want to explore this topic in more detail. As a pescetarian I would eat nearly exactly the same food but swap meat for fish.


But before we get started, you need to consider that the vast majority of my diet is already vegetarian. One of my main focuses is to eat nutritious and natural food which helps me to look and feel the way I want to. This is something which I think that a lot of vegetarians would agree with.

But just because it comes from the earth doesn’t mean that it’s healthy (e.g. grains). There are a lot of products out there which are vegetarian, but should still be thought of as junk food. There are no “free-passes”, as it were. The same goes for foods marked as paleo. The problem is that you must always be on-guard!

As I just said, there are natural foods which I wouldn’t eat much of if at all, including grains and legumes (beans). Now, these can be a big part of a vegetarian’s diet, which leaves me thinking: where are the calories going to come from?

The answer lies in fats, including butter, eggs, and avocados. I would probably also increase my carb content by eating more sweet potatoes and white rice (more on this later).



Protein

Getting enough protein is a common concern/criticism of vegetarian diets, but this comes full circle to what I was saying earlier about pasta. People are out there thinking: if I don’t eat bread then what can I eat for lunch?! Having changed my diet years ago, I know there’s a land of plenty beyond that change.

I wouldn’t be eating legumes, which contain a decent amount of protein, so enter eggs. Lots and lots of eggs.


Eggs provide an enormous array of vitamins and nutrients (think about it, the egg has to provide the fuel to grow an entire chick). I would definitely increase my intake.

They’ve also got a great macronutrient profile: roughly 4.5g of fat and 6g of protein, which is 40.5 kcals from fat and 24 kcals from protein (63% fat and 37% protein). That’s a solid profile to build from.

Dairy might also be a good protein source, but firstly it contains too much sugar (lactose), and causes me skin problems. Dairy can be a problem for many people, and you never really know before you eliminate and reintroduce it. The good news is that you can still use butter and ghee, due to negligible amounts of dairy protein (casein). For me, chugging pints of milk is a no-go, but some here and there plus cheese is certainly doable.


Another source of protein would be nuts, but I wouldn’t overdo them. As we go into later, it will skew your omega 6 to omega 3 ratio negatively, and they’re also full of PUFAs. PUFA stands for polyunsaturated fatty acid. This type of fat is easily oxidised. Oxidised fats cause inflammation and accelerated aging.



Meat Substitutes

One thing I certainly would not eat are meat substitutes. One popular brand is made using something dubbed “mycoprotein”, essentially protein derived from mushrooms. Now, mushrooms are okay in my books, but they’re susceptible to mould plus you’re eating a synthetic product: something that goes against my food philosophy.

Other meat substitutes are made of soy, which are dreadful for a number of reasons including: high PUFAs, soy is incredibly allergenic, antinutrients, it is damaging to your thyroid and slows metabolism, and phytoestrogens (mimics estrogen in your body).

I also take issue at the attempt to replicate meat. In my opinion, if you’re a vegetarian, you’ve made a decision not to eat meat so therefore at a base level you should not want it. It’s like going low carb but always having “low-carb” versions of things. These substitutes are trying and failing to give you what your body actually wants. The real experience contains a full set of amino acids. So if you’re dead-set of being vegetarian, then maybe just consider eating meat once a month, and only have the very best you can find, rather than eating these frankenfoods.




Fats

Animal fats are an important part of my diet, and of course they would have to go, even if I chose to be pescetarian. I like to mix up the fats that I cook with, but I use goose fat and lard often, which would be swapped out most likely for coconut oil.


Coconut oil is a great fat to cook with because of its high saturated fat content and high smoke point. Basically it is incredibly hard to oxidise.

Like I said earlier, grass-fed butter would still be included, and it is a good source of omega 3 fat as well.

Unfortunately, when you remove access to grass fed meat and fish, your omega 3 levels will suffer. This means you’re going to have to pay special attention to you omega 6 consumption because you should aim for a ratio in the neighbourhood of 4:1 omega 6 to omega 3. My recommendation for someone following a vegetarian diet would be to make a special exception and purchase a high quality omega 3 supplement. In addition you can eat omega 3 enriched eggs.



Ketogenic Diet and Vegetarianism

I couldn’t finish this post without discussing my precious #ketodiet ;)

It it possible? Of course. Is it harder? Yes.

By taking a quick swipe through paleo-vegetarian recipes and dishes, I’m struck by the sheer amount of sugar that’s on display. I know that the food in these articles are supposed to be appetising and enticing, but it makes me think that being a keto vegetarian would be a struggle.

My current diet is characterised by low carb, and often ultra low carb days, so of course those meals wouldn’t make it into my cookbook.

I imagine that it would be much easier to maintain or very slowly gain weight (primarily muscle, hopefully) while being a keto-veggie. If you’re losing weight, you want to up your protein to maintain muscle, and I think that would require an unreasonable amount of eggs!

On workout days you could closely track, but ultimately eat more, carbs. By keeping a beady eye on your ketones and pushing the limit with your carbs, you’d be able to increase the number of calories consumed whilst staying ketogenic.



Takeaways

I hope you enjoyed the post this week. I liked putting together this thought experiment, and collating my thoughts on the matter. It should be of use to many vegetarians out there. Here’s this week’s takeaways:

  1. Identify the protein sources you can safely eat and make sure you get enough, but don’t worry, there are lots of healthy options
  2. Be mindful of PUFA content as a vegetarian; it can be easy to fall into the trap of eating too many
  3. If you can make some exceptions as a vegetarian: once a month eat some very high quality meat, and consider a high quality omega 3 supplement

Until next time,

Cowlean

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Post 40: 5 Reasons Why Low Carb Works


Hi guys,


Welcome! This week I want to go back to my roots and discuss something in detail. It’s been a while since I wrote something scientific; instead I’ve been focusing on the psychology of weight loss from personal experience. That was great, and I think it’s right to write from the heart, giving full honesty and showing what you should expect, warts and all. But I felt like my writing was going down a bit of a dark path.


So this week we’re addressing something different. This week we’re going to cover exactly why low carb diets cause you to lose weight effectively, and how it helps you to keep it off.






You can use this post as a go-to source of information for your colleagues, friends and family who might question what you’re up to.


Out of all the diet choices out there, low carb is one of the best, in my opinion. In fact, it becomes more like a lifestyle than a diet, because of the ease of implementation. It’s effective and enjoyable, which begets more compliance, and hence sustainability.


You may not know that a version of low carb dieting (under the form of “banting”) was one of the first popular diets; so it’s clearly been around and hung on through multiple dieting fads.


While on one hand you have to reduce the carbs which you previously found downright addictive, you get to gorge on a load of indulgent and delicious food! So for anyone trying to lose weight as part of New Year’s resolutions, low carb gets my seal of approval,


First we need a little disclaimer. One criticism of the diet is that you only lose water weight, and this is true to an extent. Restricting carb consumption does indeed reduce water weight (see my post on salt for a full rundown), and studies have shown that low carb diets cause the same fat loss as calorie restricted diets. So why restrict carbs? What you should know, is that in those studies the low carb dieters did not have to count calories or restrict the amount of food they were eating. In the end, calories in vs calories out governs fat loss, but by going low carb you will find it easier.


Another criticism is that you will lose muscle mass, but the truth is that if you eat adequate protein and do a little resistance training, this isn’t the case. The problem is that conventional wisdom can’t change its point of view. If you eat a moderate to high carb diet, and you take those carbs away, your body will look at breaking down proteins (muscle) into sugar. However, if you eat low carb, and go through a two week fat adaptation, your body will be instead looking at fat stores for immediate energy. Conventional wisdom completely ignores fat adaptation.


Reason 1: Insulin and Fat Storage


You’ve probably heard of insulin before, and sufferers of diabetes will be intimately familiar with this hormone. Insulin control is the main driver behind low carb’s effectiveness; we could even end the post right here!


Insulin is released by your body to normalise blood sugar levels, but you shouldn’t think that this is insulin’s main purpose. Insulin primarily is used to direct and store energy. If the energy stores in your muscles are full, then the leftovers are taken to fill up fat stores, and they can grow in size and number indefinitely!


So really you should see insulin as a hormone which shuts down fat burning and turns on fat storage.


When eating a low carb diet, you aren’t spiking your blood sugar as often or as forcefully. Carbohydrates cause increases in blood sugar levels, leading to insulin release. This is why we call carbs insulinogenic (they lead to insulin release).




Eating protein and fats doesn’t raise your blood sugar much if at all. In this case there’s no insulin release, so we call them non-insulinogenic (they don’t lead to insulin release).


So the take home message is this: when you eat carbs, your body will fill fuel stores including fat stores. When you eat only proteins and fats, your body will not try to create extra fat.


Reason 2: Insulin and Inflammation


What might be a tad confusing is that insulin also appears to suppress inflammation. That makes insulin sound good right?


The problem lies in the fact that as we eat a moderate to high carb diet, we’re slowly becoming insulin resistant. Our carb consumption causes blood sugar spikes, leading to insulin release. Over time we need more and more insulin to do the same job, because our cells are becoming resistant to its effects.


That means that you enjoy less of insulin’s anti-inflammatory side effects. Therefore by choosing low carb, you’re better positioned to enjoy the positives of insulin.


Reason 3: Satiation, Calories, and Other Hormones




Reason three revolves around how full you feel. When you go low carb, you’ll probably eat more protein and you’ll definitely eat more fat (whether it’s dietary or coming from your love handles!).


In the standard western diet, there are lots of carbs. Carbohydrates are quickly digested and shuttled off your immediate use as energy, or stored for later use. On the other hand, fats take much longer to digest and proteins the longest.


Low carb works because your meals make you feel fuller; the term we use is that they are more satiating. Since your meals are more filling, you don’t get the urge to snack and continually “graze”.


When you eat fat and protein, your small intestine will signal for a leptin release. Leptin is a hormone which tells your brain that you are full, and don’t want any more food. In my post on fruit (found here), you can learn more about this hormone.


This all contributes towards a reduction in the number of calories you’re eating, without the need to count them!


Reason 4: It’s Sustainable


There is a misconception in conventional wisdom that low carb lifestyles are not sustainable. Again this is a point of view problem. Conventional wisdom thinks that people can’t be trusted to stop eating carbs, that they will be constantly craving them. It assumes that people will eventually “give in” because restricting carbs is “unsustainable”.


The truth is that low carb eating is very indulgent, and there is great pleasure to be taken from indulging in previously “forbidden” foods. Someone who eats low carb will also develop their taste buds considerably, so that when they do have something sweet they realise just how saccharine it tastes!




On top of that, you start to break down the pathways in your brain which expect carbs, especially those for sugar. You’re no longer addicted and you get to a point where you can say to yourself “I’m better off without it”.


This is the virtuous spiral I was referring to earlier. You start to see results and lose weight, so you continue to lay off carbs. This leads to further results and weight loss, and positive side effects such as a reduced need for medication (e.g. for diabetes). All this positive feedback reinforces your decision, contributing to low carb’s sustainability.


Reason 5: Constant Source of Energy


When you rely on carbs for energy, you’re going to be riding the blood sugar rollercoaster every day of the week. Periods of high energy are followed by crashes and lethargy. When you go low carb, you become fat adapted. So instead of making you hungry, your body simply looks at its internal stores of energy for fuel.


At this point you will feel like you have boundless energy, which is true to an extent! Fat is stored all around your body. Its purpose is to provide fuel for when we don’t have anything to eat. So when you’re fat adapted your body will siphon off what it needs as and when.


And don’t be fooled by conventional wisdom saying you need sugar to power your brain. When you’re fat adapted, your liver produces ketones from fat which can be used in the brain.


Takeaways


I hope you enjoyed this week’s post; I certainly enjoyed writing it! I want to take a chance to reiterate my earlier recommendation: if you’re trying to lose weight, give low carb a chance. Here’s this week’s takeaways:


  1. Insulin is the key; don’t release as much and give yourself a chance to burn fat rather than create it
  2. Don’t be fooled by conventional wisdom; it won’t change its point of view and the perspective ends up massively skewed
  3. Low carb lifestyles are reinforcing; positive results lead to adherence leads to more positive results


Until next time,

Cowlean