Monthly Archives: September 2020

Low-Carb Meal Plans from 1958

Looking over a menu plan for our way of eating can give you another part of the puzzle when figuring out how to eat on our keto/low-carb eating plan. In 1958, Dr. Richard Mackarness wrote Eat Fat and Grow Slim, and in that book gave menu plans for a week. 

Let us look these menu plans over, at least the ones from Tuesday and Sunday, and see if we can learn some things for our own menu plans.

BREAKFAST

Tuesday:

Tomato juice

Cod or haddock stewed in milk with 2 pats of butter

1 slice protein bread

Sunday:

Fresh berries with cream or slice of melon

Chipped beef stewed in milk or cream, or baked butterfish

1 slice protein bread

Slices of protein bread or toast are a theme in the book’s breakfasts. I do not know what sort of ‘protein bread’ was used, but I would imagine any low-carb bread that is low-carb enough would work.

The tomato juice and the berries are foods that many of us ketonians don’t think of as too possible on our eating plan. But if the quantities are limited enough, I suppose this might be done.

The main theme of these breakfasts is found in the fish or chipped beef dishes. Fish and meats are zero-carb, so you can have as large a helping as you like, so long as you just feel full when you are done, not stuffed.

LUNCH

Tuesday:

1/2 grapefruit

Sardines in oil on salad greens with sliced cucumber

2 plain soda crackers (high-protein, low-carbohydrate)

Baked custard made with non-calorie sweetener

Sunday:

Pot roast with cabbage and carrots

Tossed green salad with blue cheese dressing

Fresh berries or stewed fruit made with non-caloric sweetener and cream

There is quite of bit of fruit allowed on this book’s plan. You do not need fruit all the time to live! Salads, being much lower in carbs, are something not to duck. The sardines in oil are only okay if the oil is olive oil. If it’s soybean, canola, or something else cheap, best to get sardines in water and add a bit of EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil.) The pot roast can be a good choice. I do not know how to make a baked custard— not a big part of my eating life— and the book doesn’t give recipes, but you can substitute a serving of other low-carb desserts.

DINNER

Tuesday;

Clear onion soup

Steak

Fried Tomatoes

Water cress

Cream cheese with walnuts

Sunday:

Oyster stew made with half milk and half cream

2 plain soda crackers (high-protein, low-carbohydrate)

Fresh pineapple sprinkled with shredded coconuts

This menu plan allows a lot of items we on keto/low-carb don’t commonly eat. Fried tomatoes! Fresh pineapple! If you like meals like the ones in this meal plan, these things are worth a try. You may need an old-fashioned cook book to make some of the dishes (oyster stew, clear onion soup,) and adapt to pull out any high-carb ingredients. The half-milk, half-cream in the oyster stew might be replaced by half-cream, half-water.

This book does not contain recipes and only has a one-week meal plan, but if you like these meals you may want to get the book. I got my copy, in hardcover, for 20 cents in a thrift shop many years ago. These days you may well need to buy the book online from Amazon if you want a copy. 

You can also mix-and-match the menu plan items from this or any other group of menu plans. If you eat fewer than three meals a day, you can add some items from a ‘skipped’ meal to the meals you do eat if you like.

Since the serving sizes, even of the carb-containing items, are not given, you will have to look these things up so that you are not going over your desired carb amount for the day.

My reaction: I have owned this book for years but have not tried out the meal plans myself. But reading through them for writing this blog post, I’ve decided to try some of the meal plans when I have a chance to get to the grocery store for needed ingredients.

The Tao of Bulletproof Coffee (BPC)

Bulletproof coffee (BPC) has become a thing among low-carbers/ketonians. It wasn’t for me at first. I have always been more of a tea drinker, but I can’t stand ‘stuff’ in my tea. I’ve always drunk it plain. 

When I started making bulletproof coffee I used instant coffee since I didn’t own a coffee-maker, I still buy instant coffee. I buy Folger’s because I feel bad about how the Manson family killed Abigail Folger. 

Instant coffee has 2 net carbs per 12 oz serving. At one point I thought of getting a coffee-maker to cut my carbs, but I don’t think my instant coffee carbs have added to my daily carb counts enough to bother.

The basic recipe for full bulletproof coffee includes up to 3 Tablespoons of fat sources— butter, ghee, MCT oil, coconut oil, heavy whipping cream, even EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil.) The EVOO adds an odd flavor, but if you have people surrounding you who believe the fat-is-bad dogma, using EVOO in your coffee might be a peacemaking gesture. I cover the odd flavor of EVOO bulletproof coffee by adding 1/8 teaspoon turmeric as well as the 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon that I usually add to bulletproof coffee.

I also add sea salt to my bulletproof coffees, 1/4 teaspoon worth. I was once advised to restrict salt by my medical person, and then my blood tests came back and I was low in sodium so a little more salt is OK even with conventional medical people. The Keto/Low-Carb eating plan usually cuts way back on a person’s salt intake, so many people may need to add a bit back this way. 

I’ve tried adding kelp powder to my bulletproof coffees for the nutritional adds, but it makes the coffee taste too fishy for me. I get kelp into my body in other ways now.

Caffeine is not always bad for you, though if you are a pregnant lady you should leave it off for a while. I can’t sleep if I drink caffeinated coffee much after 2pm, so I have decaf in the house. Which is the brand my mother bought, but it tastes very nasty to me so I usually drink other things after 2.

MCT oil is medium-chain triglyceride oil which is said to be good in helping you get and stay in ketosis. It’s kind of pricey, though. Coconut oil which I buy at the dollar store has some MCT oil in it, and I usually use that. I usually put the plastic container of coconut oil (closed!) into a wide-mouth quart canning jar filled with hot tap water to make the oil non-solid at room temperature so I can measure it out accurately. It also helps keep the beverage hot, because the hot water for the coffee doesn’t not lose heat by having to melt the coconut oil.

I use heavy whipping cream when I have some in the house for my bulletproof coffee. During Lent this year I decided to give up heavy whipping cream for a sacrifice. I WAS going to use coconut milk instead, but I didn’t care for it as much and by the end of Lent I was drinking my BPC without any lightener.

Never use ‘creamer’ to replace actual cream for your BPC. ‘Creamer’ is full of chemicals, bad fats, and perhaps sugars— read the label. Instead, buy a small container of whole milk and use that by the Tablespoon or 1/2 Tablespoon. I’ve thought of buying dehydrated cream because it’s less perishable, and because one of the stores I used to buy cream at now only seems to carry ‘creamer.’

The point of BPC is to get some good fats into your body. In a world where stores cut every bit of visible fat off cuts of meat because they assume everyone’s on a low-fat diet, you might have a hard time getting enough fat in your food. BPC can help. It also helps stop hunger or food cravings. 

This post is about bulletproof COFFEE, but you can make it with tea, bone broth, cocoa/cacao/carob powder to make other bulletproof drinks. Experiment! Find one you like.

Keto is Different from ‘Dieting’

The Keto/Low-Carb approach is often misunderstood because people assumed it is just another form of ‘dieting.’ And ‘dieting’ means calorie-counting, cutting back on food amounts, experiencing hunger as a form of virtue, perhaps radical reduction of fat— the whole package that gets called ‘semi-starvation’ in scientific journal articles. 

Critics of Keto/Low-Carb have been claiming for so long that you only lose weight on our eating plan if you cut the calories that Dr. Robert C. Atkins, in his very first book in 1972, felt the need to include the case study of a patient of his who lost 80 pounds on 3000 calories a day. We cut back on the carbs, not the calories or total food amounts. 

Imagine a ‘dieter’ in the morning. He used to eat two slices of buttered toast for breakfast, now that he’s ‘dieting’ he eats his toast dry. If he can’t lose weight on that kind of restriction maybe he only eats on slice of dry toast. Or maybe he buys whole wheat bread and decides since he’s being so good, he can have 3 slices of dry toast in the morning. It’s ‘healthy whole grain!’ Without butter!

When we are on Keto, by contrast, we will ditch the bread (unless we can buy or make low-carb bread) and keep the butter. An easy solution if you are lazy like me is to put your butter in your hot coffee or tea, making it ‘bulletproof.’ If that feels too much like skipping breakfast (which many of us ketonians do) you can add an egg. Or two, or three. Eggs are low-carb enough to be a ‘free food’ on Keto. You can cook your eggs in butter, coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil. Whichever you like. Or you can have hard-boiled or baked eggs if that’s what you prefer.

A ‘dieter’ has this dilemma— he constantly has to cut back, reduce calories, eat less. But that doesn’t always lead to the desired weight loss. It may just train your body to get by with fewer calories per day. This is why dieters experience weight loss plateaus, that usually can’t be fixed without more calorie restrictions. Which leads to hunger. Which, if you are not anorexic or a diet fanatic, will lead at some point to the dieter ditching the diet to EAT something.

On Keto we work WITH our bodies. When we feel hungry, there are low-carbohydrate foods we can eat. If we are not so hungry because of being in ketosis, we can do intermittent fasting or OMAD (one meal a day) when we feel like it. 

Our bodies are not under our voluntary control. You can’t control the rate at which your heart beats, or how quickly your body digests food, or when your body makes insulin or how much it makes or if your body, because of insulin resistance, doesn’t pay proper attention to insulin.

Keto is a trick to make your body let go of the weight without feeling constant hunger pangs. Since hunger pangs are your body’s signal that you need food, healthy people can’t ignore hunger signals for long. And because of that, ‘dieting’ fails. Keto DOES hit weight loss plateaus, and you may need to do some intermittent fasting or cut down further on your carbs from time to time. But it won’t make you go hungry. 

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To get good instructions on how to go Keto/Low-Carb, get one or both of these books: Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution (1972); Dr. Atkins New Diet Cookbook (1994). They have instructions on doing the eating plan, recipes, and menu plans. 

The Menu Plan Dilemma

One tricky thing about starting Keto is all the people online who will offer to sell you a ‘Keto meal plan.’ Most of these are a waste. Do you even know if that meal plan seller knows anything about Keto? They certainly don’t know anything about you or what you want to eat that is allowed on Keto.

I recommend doing two things to find/create Keto/Low-Carb meal plans. First, learn the rules of our way-of-eating from a sound book by a well-informed source. I recommend two books by Dr. Robert C. Atkins: Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution (1972) and Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Cookbook (1994.) Both of these books have a good chapter explaining the diet rules. Read these chapters every day until you can almost recite the rules in your sleep!

The next thing is to look at the menu plans given in sound Keto/Low-Carb books. Both of the books I previously mentioned have meal plans! But don’t confine yourself to following those meal plans exactly. Since our eating plan isn’t based on calorie counts, we have some flexibility. For example, in the first Atkins book, a menu plan suggests a cheeseburger on a ‘Diet Revolution’ roll (recipe given in book) for lunch. You might make that for breakfast or supper instead. You might have a bunless cheeseburger without some sort of low-carb roll, or if you are hungry at that mealtime, eat two bunless cheeseburgers. 

You can also adapt things to your own taste. A cheese omelet is the breakfast suggestion in the Atkins menu plan. Maybe you prefer your omelet without cheese, or with bacon plus cheese, or a bigger omelet made with three eggs, or a mini-omelet made with just one. Maybe you really want a kimchi omelet! And maybe you can eat this omelet-of-your-choice every single morning instead of switching things around.

By mixing-and-matching a menu plan from a sound source, you are getting something better than a menu plan being peddled on the internet. You are getting something that won’t be leading you astray! And you will be tailor-making it to your own taste. If the menu plan calls for curried deviled eggs and you hate curry, you can make deviled eggs without curry. Or with bacon bits. Whatever pleases your taste.

Remember always that our way-of-eating is not about punishing yourself for your dietary sins, or eating stuff you can’t choke down. It’s about eating good stuff that you like that just omits excess carbs from your life. No matter how much you got addicted to the carbs you used to eat, there are some low-carb foods that you will not only like, but think of as a great treat. Perhaps when you get over your carb habit they will become new favorites.

You also don’t have to eat at all the eating times demanded in a menu plan. In my Atkins book, it gives three meals and a snack every day. When just starting out on Induction, you may be hungry that many times in a day, or more. Eat when you like, as long as you are not over-eating carbs. I remember one time I started Induction, and I divided my salad ration into 3 equal parts and ate some at breakfast-time. I’ve never been a big salad fiend, but it was something I could have that was a bit different. I didn’t think of myself as a big meat-eater back then, and so my Low-Carbing meant eating a lot of foods I didn’t much care for. (In time I learned there were many low-carb foods I could really like.)

Most good Low-Carb/Keto books that I own do have a menu plan section. If I wanted to, I could follow any number of menu plans, in order to try new low-carb things and get out of a rut (if I wanted that— normally I like my rut.)

Keto/Low-Carb cooking can have a different shape depending on how many you are cooking for. Many of us cook Keto for only ourselves— either because we live alone or because no one else does Keto. Some have to cook for several ketonians, and some need to prepare Keto food plus allow carb foods for certain family members. 

You have to find the cooking/food-preparation plan that works for you. Some people do a lot of home cooking on Keto. Others purchase Keto meals online. Still others often buy fast-food burgers and de-bun them at home. My own advice is to at least learn a little bit about Keto cooking. You don’t want to be too dependent on a Keto meal vendor or the fast-food industry, to the extent that changes to the corporations involved might leave you without decent meals. 

The Scientific Reasons Why Calories Don’t Count

Some medical people are so convinced of the merits of the semi-starvation diet (calorie-counting) that when the first popular ketogenic eating plan came out, Atkins, they proclaimed without gathering evidence that anyone who lost weight on Atkins did so because they were eating less calories, perhaps because Atkins was so ‘boring.’ (For me, I’ve never gotten bored by being able to eat when I’m hungry instead of having to endure hunger pangs.)

Atkins tackled this issue in his first book in 1972. He gave the case history of a man, Herb,  who had a calorie intake on the Atkins eating plan of 3000 calories a day— not a semi-starvation diet calorie level! And yet he lost 85 pounds in four months on this eating plan.

According to advocates of the calorie-watching, semi-starvation diet, our bodies are like calorie calculators and with all these ‘extra’ calories in 3000 calories a day, Herb should have been steadily gaining weight, not losing 85 pounds. The numbers don’t add up for weight loss, and for semi-starvation diet advocates it is all about the numbers.

In the Keto/Low-Carb realm, it’s all about the science. We look on the body not as a calorie calculator that will punish us with fat if our numbers are wrong, but as a metabolism, that uses insulin to metabolize our food, and that can be thrown out of whack by a condition called insulin resistance— where the body learns to ignore the insulin it makes, and so makes ever more insulin which it ignores ever more, and in the end results in T2 diabetes— which is a disease with too much insulin, not too little as in T1. The ‘fix’ for T2 diabetes is not insulin shots, which normally cause weight gain and give the body even more insulin to semi-ignore, but to lower one’s carb intake and get one’s body back in balance— at best, through the standard Keto/Low-Carb eating plan. 

The golden standard of science is the experiment which is sound enough to get published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The case studies Dr. Atkins gives aren’t as good. We don’t know how carefully he observed his patients, and we don’t know whether he ‘cherry-picked’ through a thousand case studies to get the ones he wanted for his books. Scientific journal studies are much more ‘sciency.’

The best or at least best-known study for the case of ‘calories don’t count’ is the Kekwick and Pawan study of 1957 (Remember those names and that year.) It was called ‘Metabolic Study in Human Obesity with Isocalorie Diets High in Fat, Protein or Carbohydrate,’ published in ‘Metabolism Clinical and Experimental.’ 

This is how it worked. Kekwick & Pawan compared three 1000 calorie a day diets. But one was high in carbohydrate, one high in protein, and one high in fat. The high-carbohydrate dieters lost very little weight even though they were consuming only 1000 calories per day. The high-protein dieters did lose weight. And the high-fat dieters lost the most weight of all.

Think for a moment. The semi-starvation diet’s advocates have a slogan— ‘a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.’ That’s their way of saying only calories count. But Kekwick & Pawan’s study kicked that slogan in the butt. A calorie acts differently in the human body, depending on whether it is a calorie of carbohydrate, protein or fat. 

The results of the three different Kekwick & Pawan experimental diets explain why our eating plan is LOW in carbohydrates, MODERATE in protein, and HIGH in healthy fats. It’s the best way for weight loss, and in addition a ketogenic diet has proven beneficial for a number of health conditions (See Jimmy Moore’s book “Keto Clarity” for more details.)

And this ‘calories don’t count’ science explains one technique used by successful Keto/Low-Carb eaters. They eat something low-carb whenever they get hungry. They are not counting every calorie and limiting the day’s total. They are eating to feed their body well enough not to be tempted into carbohydrate binges. This is especially important during Induction, the first and strictest level of many Keto eating plans. Don’t get all hung up on the ‘dieting’ mindset and allow yourself to get hungry because you are being ‘good.’ Eating all the zero-carb foods your body might want IS being good on this way-of-eating. If someone tells you that you have to do calorie restriction in order to lose weight on Keto, that person is not scientifically up to date. Don’t let some ill-informed person turn your happy Keto life into a life of hunger and restriction. The semi-starvation diet has been proven through scientific study to fail dieters most of the time. Don’t turn healthy Keto into an imitation of that!

Making Bread-Machine Low-Carb Bread at Home

Sometimes on low-carb you just want a bit of bread— for sandwiches, grilled cheese, French toast or whatever. Grocery-store bread is too high-carb for us, and in me at least just makes me hungry for more bread. ‘Keto’ bread can be bought online— for $13 a loaf, and you have no control over how many carbs are in it, or whether the corporation will change the recipe or go out of business.

You can make low-carb bread in your bread machine at home. It does use ‘vital wheat gluten’ and so is not gluten-free. There are recipes in Dana Carpender’s 500 Low-Carb Recipes. I have made the sesame seed bread and the cinnamon raisin bread (without the raisins,) and plan to make the rye bread next.

I make some modifications to the recipes. If it calls for blackstrap molasses or Splenda, I use Swerve, and I may reduce the sweetening— if it calls for 1/4 cup (3 Tablespoons) Splenda, I may use 2 Tablespoons Swerve. If it calls for vanilla whey protein, I use Isopure unflavored whey protein. When it calls for oat bran, I use half the amount in oat bran and half in oat fiber, which is lower carb but less tasty.

I have 2 bread machines from my carb-eating days, and both will make a 1 pound loaf which is what the recipes call for. I’ve looked at newer bread machines and many make a 1 1/2 pound loaf as the smallest size.

I don’t make 1 1/2 pound loaves because I have a hard time cutting a loaf into the suggested number of slices as it is. If I made 1 1/2 pound loaves I would have to cut 18 slices instead of twelve and I have a hard enough time cutting 12. 

Cutting the cool bread can be a chore. Make sure you have a sharp bread knife. Dull knives may squish more than cut, and the effort to cut with them can lead to cut fingers. It’s best and tastiest to slice the bread into thin slices.

Home-made low-carb bread does not always fit in the toaster (if you still have one.) I ‘toast’ my bread with butter in the oven, or fry it a little in butter or ghee. 

Low-carb bread has to be rationed. If you eat too many slices in a day, it may kick you out of ketosis. Store some of your sliced low-carb bread in the freezer to prevent bread-binging and to keep it fresh-tasting. I find that the bread from these recipes is good, but doesn’t make me want to go on a bread-eating binge.

If you have not made bread before— be sure your yeast is very fresh. I used some nearly expired yeast and the bread from that batch didn’t rise much. I also used some older vital wheat gluten that smelled musty, but thank goodness the bread turned out OK. I have since purchased some new yeast and vital wheat gluten, also some whole rye flour so I can try the rye bread recipe.

On Keto bread is not meant to be our ‘staff of life’ or primary food. But it is so easy to make a cheese sandwich or a tuna-and-mayo sandwich when you don’t feel like cooking, it may be worth it to get in the habit of low-carb bread making.