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colette_heimowitz's Blog

Your office can be a danger zone full of processed carbs and sugary treats. Whether you’re encountering doughnuts in the break room or it’s the boss’s birthday and everyone’s going out to celebrate at lunch, there are temptations at every turn. Maybe it’s lunchtime, and fast food is your only quick option. Or you’re too busy to leave your desk, so you’re going to have to brown bag it. Or you’re working overtime, and everyone decides to order out for pizza. How can you possibly stick to your low-carb way of eating and still survive at work? Answer: It’s easy—all it takes is some will power and advance planning. Here’s how to avoid the high-carb and sugary traps that lurk in most offices and other work environments:

Conquering Coffee Breaks and Surviving Snacks
Your office vending machine is full of sugary soft drinks, cookies, candy and other high-carb snacks. The break room adds a minefield of doughnuts, muffins and pastries. Don’t even consider them! Also, remember that too much caffeine intake is not good either. If you have already had your morning coffee, decaffeinated coffee or tea or herbal tea are better bets. Keep a water bottle filled and by your side at all times so you stay hydrated; sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger.

Eat a satisfying, low-carb breakfast before you go to work so you aren’t tempted at break time. If mornings are too rushed to prepare a nutritious meal, have an Atkins Advantage Bar or shake, or an Atkins frozen meal, which heats up in minutes. You can even throw any of these options in your briefcase or purse and eat them at work. The key is to start the day off right. A breakfast with sufficient protein and fat not only sets you up for a positive and productive day, it keeps you from experiencing an energy dip and being ravenous by mid-morning.

Low-carb snacks are important for keeping your hunger in check and making sure you are less likely to succumb to the temptations in your office. Make sure you have some easy low-carb snacks on hand when hunger hits at mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Good, convenient choices include wrapped individual cheese portions or homemade snacks as hard-boiled eggs or celery sticks filled with cream cheese or ham or turkey rolled up in romaine lettuce leaves with a little mayo and cheese. Once you're beyond the Induction phase, your can have low-carb snacks such as nuts and seeds and some fruits, like berries. And when it’s your turn to bring in the doughnuts, instead provide a healthy low-carb alternative, such as a crustless quiche, that everyone can enjoy. You can even find delicious low-carb recipes for doughnuts at www.atkins.com/recipes.aspx. Your co-workers may never know the difference!

Lunching In
You should be able to get a suitable lunch at the company cafeteria. Skip the fried foods, sandwiches and desserts. Instead, scrutinize the hot entrées, the salad bar and the grill section for good low-carb lunch choices. Ask to substitute extra veggies for high-carb sides. Or exercise a host of options by bringing your own meals. If a refrigerator is not available, pack your homemade lunch in an insulated bag or small cooler. Transport tuna fish, chicken or egg salads in plastic containers; green salads can travel in a zip-strip plastic bag with dressing on the side. Baked chicken legs, slices of roast beef or turkey and steamed shrimp are also highly portable. (These foods work equally well if your job involves frequent car travel.) And don’t forget your leftovers. Make extra portions of your low-carb dinner recipes and pack them up for lunch.

Lunching Out
When dining out with co-workers or a client, you should be able to find plenty of alternatives to carb-heavy foods on the menu of just about any restaurant. Instead of something breaded or fried, order a baked or broiled dish. Ask to substitute extra veggies or a salad for starchy side dishes such as rice or potatoes. Pass on pastries and other sweet desserts; instead, choose berries with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. Business lunches used to routinely include alcohol, but in today's work environment it's perfectly acceptable—even preferable—to skip the booze. While alcohol is not that high in carbs, mixers often are. Moreover, your body burns alcohol for fuel before fat, so that drink will slow down your fat-burning process.
Sometimes fast food is all that's available or all you have time for, but it's not impossible to get a good low-carb lunch at many of these places. Your best option at a hamburger restaurant is to order a couple of cheeseburgers (banish the buns) along with a side salad, or to try one of the larger lunch salads with some grilled chicken. Make sure you watch the grams of Net Carbs in the salad dressings that accompany these salads. Pass on the French fries. No matter how pressed you are for time; don't skip lunch—you'll only be more tempted to eat carbohydrates later in the day when your energy level nosedives.

 Working Late
Overtime carbs may be the hardest of all to avoid, especially if you weren't able to plan ahead by packing dinner or an extra snacks. As your workday stretches out even longer, your level of stress rises—as does your desire for something sweet or crunchy. Create an emergency stash of low-carb snacks and bars so before you get to this dangerous point you can dip into it instead. When your coworkers are sending out for dinnertime food, go ahead and join in, making the best choice you can from the available menu. If your office has a freezer, make sure to stash a supply of Atkins frozen meals, so that you always have a low-carb meal at your fingertips.

It’s OK to occasionally indulge in your cravings, whether to comfort yourself or to celebrate a special occasion. Don't beat yourself up too much, just use it as a learning tool and know that when you do indulge it can be a slippery slope. Digging into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every time you’re stressed out or had a bad day will eventually catch up to you and have a negative impact on your health. The boost in mood you get from sugar is only fleeting; soon you will experience a crash in blood sugar, and renewed hunger shortly after—and cravings for more carbs, sugar and fat. And, eventually you will gain weight if you continue this cycle.

Fortunately, if you are on Atkins, you have found that the Atkins way of eating—which features optimal protein, high fiber and healthy fats—has helped diminish or even completely eliminate your cravings for starchy carbs and sugar while keeping you full and satisfied. Here are some tips you can follow that will help you control your emotional eating and nip those cravings in the bud:

Write it down. We always recommend that you keep a food journal so that you can track your grams of Net Carbs and your meals and snacks. But you can also use this as a place to record your emotions and cravings. Once you have an idea of when and why those weak moments hit, you can make sure you have a plan in place.

Remove temptation. Eliminate the trigger foods from your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Out of sight, out of mind.
 
Distract yourself. Once you begin to understand what triggers your cravings, create some distractions. Go for a walk or hit the gym (exercise is a great stress-reliever), call a friend or do something that is not related to food.

Find an alternative. Find low-carb substitutes for your high-carb cravings. Make sure you have Atkins bars or treats on hand to satisfy your sugar cravings. There are also plenty of delicious recipes at www.atkins.com/recipes.aspx that are perfectly acceptable on any Phase of Atkins. In the mood for salt? Oven-baked cheddar cheese crisps can satisfy your urge for chips. Craving comfort food? Cauliflower mashed with rich butter and cream taste just as good as mashed potatoes. And there’s always room for dessert—there are recipes for low-carb ice cream, cake, cookies and more.

Finally, it’s important to realize that no one is perfect. Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break. After all, Atkins will hopefully become a way of eating you can live with and continue to return to, not a quick-fix diet. Put your overindulgence behind you, make your next meal a satisfying low-carb one, increase your activity level and dial back your total grams of Net Carbs if you need to get back on track.

Here are the latest developments in clinical research on controlled-carbohydrate nutritional practices and the Atkins Diet’s reduced carbohydrate way of eating. I’ve summarized some excellent recent research studies, how they relate to Atkins and what it means to you.

Dietary Carbohydrate Restriction as the First Approach in Diabetes Management. Critical Review and Evidence Base
Authors: Richard David Feinman, PhD, Wendy Knapp Pogozelski, PhD, Arne Astrup, MD, Richard K. Bernstein, MD, Eugene J. Fine, MD, Eric C. Westman, MD, MHS, Anthony Accurso, MD, Lynda Frasetto, MD, Samy McFarlane, MD, Jörgen Vesti Nielsen, MD, Thure Krarup, MD, Barbara A. Gower, PhD, Laura Saslow, PhD, Karl S. Roth, MD, Mary C. Vernon, MD, Jeff S. Volek, RD, PhD, Gilbert B. Wilshire, MD, Annika Dahlqvist, MD, Ralf Sundberg, MD, Ann Childers, MD, Katharine Morrison, MD, Anssi H. Manninen, MHS, Hussein Dashti, MD, Richard J. Wood, PhD, Jay Wortman, MD, Nicolai Worm, PhD

Nutrition, July 15, 2014; http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007(14)00332-3/abstract

BACKGROUND:

Current low-fat dietary recommendations have been shown to be ineffective in controlling the diabetes epidemic. Commonly prescribed diabetic medications have significant side effects. Additionally, there has been more science demonstrating the success of low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. For these reasons, there is an urgent need to review and revise dietary guidelines.

METHODS:

The authors present 12 points of evidence supporting the use of low-carb diets as the first approach to treating Type-2 diabetes and Type-1 diabetes (in conjunction with medications). They represent the best-documented, least controversial results.

CONCLUSIONS:

The 12 points of evidence are based on published clinical and experimental studies and the experience of the authors. The points are supported by established principles in biochemistry and physiology and emphasize that the benefits of treating diabetes and metabolic syndrome with a low-carb diet are immediate and documented.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?

Low-carb diets may be effective in treating diabetes and metabolic syndrome and dietary guidelines should be re-evaluated to reflect this.


A Very Low-Carbohydrate, Low-Saturated Fat Diet for Type-2 Diabetes Management: A Randomized Trial

Authors:  Jeannie Tay, Natalie D. Luscombe-Marsh, Campbell H. Thompson, Manny Noakes, Jon D. Buckley, Gary A. Wittert, William S. Yancy Jr., and Grant D. Brinkworth

Diabetes Care, July 28, 2014; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25071075

BACKGROUND:

There has been much debate over whether a low-carbohydrate diet or low-fat diet is more effective dietary at managing Type-2 diabetes. 

METHODS:

In this randomized control trial, 155 obese, Type-2 diabetic adults were randomly selected to follow either a low-carb/low-saturated fat or a high-carb/low-fat diet. 

CONCLUSIONS:

Both diets achieved substantial improvements for several clinical glycemic control and cardiovascular disease risk markers, but were greater with the low-carb diet.  Also, the need for blood-sugar-lowering medications was less with the low-carb diet.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?

This suggests that a low-carb diet with low saturated fat may be an effective at managing for Type-2 diabetes.


Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets
Authors:  Lydia A. Bazzano; Tian Hu; Kristi Reynolds; Lu Yao; Calynn Bunol; Yanxi Liu; Chung-Shiuan Chen; Michael J. Klag; Paul K. Whelton; and Jiang He

Annals of Internal Medicine, September 3, 2014; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25178568
BACKGROUND:

Low-carbohydrate diets are popular for weight loss, but their cardiovascular effects have not been well studied, particularly in diverse populations.

METHODS:

In this randomized, control trial, 148 men and women without cardiovascular disease and diabetes were randomly selected to follow either a low-carbohydrate diet or a low-fat diet. Both groups received dietary counseling at regular intervals throughout the trial.

CONCLUSION:

The low-carb diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?

Once again, this is another study that shows that decreasing your carbohydrate intake may help you lose weight and lower your risk of heart disease.


Comparison of Weight Loss Among Named Diet Programs in Overweight and Obese Adults

Authors:  Bradley C. Johnston, PhD; Steve Kanters, MSc; Kristofer Bandayrel, MPH; PingWu, MBBS, MSc; Faysal Naji, BHSc; Reed A. Siemieniuk, MD; Geoff D. C. Ball, RD, PhD; JasonW. Busse, DC, PhD; Kristian Thorlund, PhD; Gordon Guyatt, MD, MSc; Jeroen P. Jansen, PhD; Edward J. Mills, PhD, MSc

JAMA, September 3, 2014; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25182101

BACKGROUND:

Many claims have been made regarding the superiority of one diet or another for inducing weight loss. Which diet is the best remains unclear.

METHODS:

In this meta-analysis, researchers reviewed six electronic databases: AMED, CDSR, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, and MEDLINE from inception of each database to April 2014. Overweight or obese adults (body mass index ≥25) were randomly selected to follow a popular self-administered named diet and they reported weight or body mass index data at after three months or longer.

CONCLUSION:

Significant weight loss was observed with any low-carb or low-fat diet. Weight loss differences between individual named diets were small.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?

The diet that works best for weight loss is the diet that you are able to stick to so that you can maintain your weight loss and permanently change your eating habits.

Insulin, Carbohydrate Restriction, Metabolic Syndrome and Cancer

Authors:   Eugene J. Fine and Richard David Feinman

Expert Rev. Endocrinol. Metab.

BACKGROUND:

The authors propose that dietary carbohydrate restriction, particularly ketogenic diets, may provide benefit as a therapeutic or preventive strategy in cancer, alone or in combination with medication.

METHODS:

Authors review the literature, and developed their argument from several points of evidence:

• There is a close association between cancer and both diabetes and obesity.
• Extensive evidence shows that low-carb diets are the most effective dietary treatment of Type-2 diabetes and dietary adjunct in Type 1.
• Such diets also target all the markers of metabolic syndrome.
• Finally, de facto reduction in carb intake likely contributes to total dietary restriction, which is effective in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

CONCLUSION:

The authors suggest more research is needed to explore the connection between carbohydrate restriction for treating and preventing cancer, in combination with medication.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU?

Doctors should consider low-carb diets, in conjunction with traditional treatments, as a possible treatment of cancer.

It’s time to change the way we think about nutrition. It’s not just about losing weight and looking good for your class reunion or wedding— what you eat on a daily basis has a long-lasting effect on your overall health, well-being and quality and length of life. Nutrition should no longer be thought of as an “alternative” therapy to drug therapy when it comes to disease prevention.

The ultimate issue isn’t which drug is better or worse than others; it’s the continuing failure to recognize that drug therapy is inappropriate for any condition that can be improved with lifestyle and dietary changes. Drug cures continue to be researched right into a corner. The more research we have to validate drug therapy, the least likely a doctor will give you the opportunity to investigate alternative therapies. Unfortunate but true.
 
We need to be our own caretakers and ask ourselves; are we willing to adhere to a low-carb lifestyle, which research has already demonstrated to lower inflammation markers such as CRP, improve cardiac risk factors, diminish risk for diabetes and heart disease, and, more recently, promising results to prevent cancer?
 
The goal of excellence in medicine will be achieved through an informed choice from an array of all possible therapies. The controlled-carbohydrate lifestyle has been scientifically proven to improve clinical parameters. Good medicine should offer a patient the best benefit-to-risk ratio, and the benefit of a controlled-carbohydrate diet far outweighs the risks and side effects associated with drugs.
 
While drugs are certainly appropriate for specific patient populations under certain circumstances, they are not appropriate for those who can accomplish the same results with lifestyle changes.

What we need to do is change how we think about food—it can be considered medicine, and a means of improving your life and prolonging your lifespan, while making you feel better and more energetic. Who doesn’t want that? Throwing out that bag of potato chips and purging your pantry of packaged foods and choosing to focus on whole foods, such as healthy protein and fats, and plenty of fresh vegetables, seems like a far preferable solution than taking one pill after another, and then another pill to alleviate the symptoms that the first pill causes. This is not to say that in many cases, it is important to use more aggressive strategies to cure a disease, but why not start with good nutrition, in this case, a controlled-carbohydrate way of life?
 
Case in point: A new study to be published shortly in the Expert Review of Endocrinology and Metabolism examines how a low-carb diet can be a therapeutic or preventive measure in cancer treatment. The hypothesis is that there is a close association between cancer and diabetes and obesity. And a low-carb diet has been shown to be effective in both situations. While the conclusion is that there is some validity in this hypothesis, there is definitely more research that needs to be done. But the authors also state that “Putting together the pieces of the puzzle, insulin in cancer, the diabetes-cancer link, caloric restriction and the effects of carbohydrate restriction in metabolic syndrome will provide 5 year of fundamental information about cancer, about its link to diet and about the metabolism of ketone bodies, even if it turns out the therapeutic value is not as high as it seems. Much will be lost if we don’t try.”

In a nutshell, no. Here are some very good reasons why you need to consume fat on Atkins. First of all, fat is the mechanism that makes controlled carbohydrate weight loss work, and the Atkins Diet teaches you how to use fat to your advantage. When you are doing Atkins, fat is your friend, not only because it is satiating (keeps you full for longer) but because it slows down the release of glucose into the blood. By moderating blood sugar swings, fat reduces carbohydrate cravings. Dietary fat, in combination with controlled carbohydrate consumption, accelerates the burning of stored body fat. When your body uses fat, rather than glucose for fuel, the metabolic process is called lipolysis. Eating fat fuels a fat-burning metabolism and accelerates the burning of fat, both dietary (from the foods you eat) and stored (from the excess around your waist, hips and other areas).

However, you do want to eat good fat. Natural, healthy fat is found in olives and olive oil, avocado, seeds, nuts, seed and nut oils and butters, and oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel and butter. Saturated fat, found in meats, butter and coconut oil, poses no health risk when your carb intake is low enough, and you are burning fat for fuel. In fact, you will burn both dietary and body for energy.

Three types of fats (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) are necessary and important to human health, and they should be incorporated into your diet in a balanced proportion. Saturated fat, particularly in the early phases of Atkins when carbohydrate intake is low, is not dangerous to human health. On the contrary, when balanced with mono- and polyunsaturated fats in a controlled carbohydrate dietary environment, saturated fat may actually have real and measurable benefits in a number of different arenas.

When you are no longer in a primarily fat-burning mode, it may be prudent to curtail the amount of total fat so you are not taking in an enormous amount of calories. Your dietary pattern should play seesaw with carbs and fat, while your protein intake remains constant. As long as you are consuming 50 grams of Net Carbs or less, there is no need to adjust fat intake. What you want to avoid is a high-fat AND a high-carbohydrate combination.

The kinds of fat you should avoid are chemically altered, processed hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fats. Look for cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils, and store them in a dark, cool place to keep them from going rancid or oxidizing. High heat changes the molecular structure of the cell and will transform even a good fat into a bad fat, so be sure not to burn oil or allow it to smoke while cooking.

If you try to do your own low-fat version of Atkins, you will not only be hungry, but you also will not achieve the same weight loss results of people who consume healthy fats.

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