Top 10 Reasons & 101 Foods for a Low-Carb Lifestyle.

The low-carb lifestyle is not just ‘another fad diet’. It’s a method of enjoying your food, staying healthy through your life, and eating in a way that supports your mental and physical well-being.  We all want to look and feel our best, and so much excellent research has been done now into this that we think it’s really important to understand a  bit about the science behind it.

And to help you make a start, here a list of 101 low-carb foods (approx – we haven’t counted!)

Top 10 reasons for low carb living:

1. The low-carb lifestyle.
First point, this isn’t about a ‘diet’ in the old, weight loss sense of the word. It’s about salmon-dish-food-meal-46239.jpegyour lifestyle choices. You can manage your health by keeping your carb intake at a sensible level, and manage your weight by reducing that a little further.

2. Eating low-carb foods reduces your appetite.
Because of its effects on blood sugar levels and therefore cravings, one of the best things about eating low-carb is that it leads to a natural reduction in your appetite. Gradually, your appetite tends to go down and you often end up eating much fewer calories without trying. To manage hunger pangs at key points in the day (11, 4 and pre-dinner snacks) we have developed some easy and quick little recipes for sweet and savoury stopgaps HERE.

3. Managing your weight with a low-carb lifestyle.
Studies show that people comsuming low-carb foods lose more weight, faster, than people restricting their fat intake… even when people are actively restricting calories. One of the reasons for this is that low-carb diets tend to get rid of excess water from the body. Because they lower insulin levels, the kidneys start shedding excess sodium, leading to rapid weight loss in the first week or two (1, 2). In studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, the low-carbers sometimes lose 2-3 times as much weight, without being hungry (3, 4). (It’s true – we’ve been there!) So if you find you’re losing weight, add in a portion of healthier carbs when you have reached your goal weight.

4. A low-carb lifestyle should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and tdiabetes-blood-sugar-diabetic-medicine-46173.jpegype 2 diabetes.
A large percentage of the fat lost on low-carb diets tends to come from the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that is known to cause serious metabolic problems. We have both subcutaneous fat (under the skin), and visceral fat (in the abdominal cavity). It this visceral fat is fat that tends to lodge around the organs and can cause serious problems. Having a lot of fat in the abdominal cavity can trigger inflammation, which leads to and exacerbates all kinds of ailments. It also increases insulin resistance, believed to be a leading driver of the metabolic dysfunction that is so common in Western countries today (5). So a low-carb lifestyle should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

5. The low-carb lifestyle is better for your heart, triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
A low-carb lifestyle is very effective at lowering blood triglycerides, which are fat molecules in the blood and a well-known risk factor for heart disease. It will also increase the levels of HDL (High-density lipoprotein), one of the lipoproteins that carry cholesterol away from the body and into the liver, where it can be reused or excreted. The Triglycerides:HDL ratio is another very strong predictor of heart disease risk. By lowering triglycerides and raising HDL levels, low-carb diets lead to a major improvement in this ratio. (6, 7, 8).

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6. And has a tendency to lower blood pressure.
Having elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is an important risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Studies show that reducing carbs leads to a significant reduction in blood pressure, which should lead to a reduced risk of many common diseases.

7. The effects of low-carb on Type 2 Diabetes is amazing!
When we eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars (mostly glucose) in the digestive tract. From there, they enter the bloodstream and elevate blood sugar levels. Because high blood sugars are toxic, the body responds with a hormone called insulin, which tells the cells to bring the glucose into the cells and to start burning or storing it. For people who are insulin-resistant this can lead to Type 2 diabetes, when the body fails to secrete enough insulin to lower the blood sugar after meals. By cutting carbohydrates, you remove the need for all of that insulin – both blood sugars and insulin go way down (9, 10).
According to Dr. Eric Westman, who has treated many diabetics using a low-carb approach, he needs to reduce their insulin dosage by 50% on the first day (11).
In one study in type 2 diabetics, 95.2% had managed to reduce or eliminate their glucose-lowering medication within 6 months (12).
***If you are currently on blood sugar lowering medication, then talk to your doctor before making changes to your carbohydrate intake, because your dosage may need to be adjusted in order to prevent hypoglycaemia.***

8. It can help Metabolic Syndrome.
The metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms that is highly associated with the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated fasting blood sugar levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDL levels

Amazingly, all five symptoms improve dramatically on a low-carb diet (13). Unfortunately, the government and major health organization still recommend a low-fat diet for this purpose, which is pretty much useless because it does nothing to address the underlying metabolic problem.

9. Low-Carb Diets Improve The Pattern of LDL Cholesterol.
Scientists have now shown that it is the type of LDL that matters. Low-density lipoproteins, often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, are not all equal. It is the size of the particles that is important.

  • Mostly small particles = high risk of heart disease.
  • Mostly large particles = low risk of heart disease (14).

When you eat a low-carb diet, your LDL particles change from small (bad) LDL to large LDL – which is benign. Cutting carbs may also reduce the number of LDL particles floating around in the bloodstream. Who knew?!

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10. Several Brain Disorders respond well to the low-carb lifestyle.
We need a quick recap of the Ketogenic diet here:
Glucose is necessary for the brain and that’s why the liver produces glucose out of protein if we don’t eat any carbs. But a large part of the brain can also burn ketones, which are formed during starvation or when carbohydrate intake is very low. This is the mechanism behind the ketogenic diet, which has been used for decades to treat epilepsy in children who don’t respond to drug treatment (15). Very low-carb/ketogenic diets are now being studied for other brain disorders as well, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (16).

Few things are as well established in nutrition science as the immense health benefits of a low-carb lifestyle. Which makes it even more amazing that we can still find sweets at the checkout, fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate in vending machines in sports halls, hospitals, schools, blah blah blah! After 40 years preaching this I feel like a stuck record…..

Print out this list of 101 low-carb foods and get going. What have you got to lose?

This is a synopsis of the article written by Kris Gunnars BSc for www.healthline.com. (For more information and some of the research, click on the hyperlinks.)
For more excellent medical information, visit http://thenoakesfoundation.org
For help with diet and recipes, see https://www.dietdoctor.com

 

Hayley’s Oat Bran Bread

IMG_2873-1As a wheat-free foodie, I love this ‘bread’ and I make this probably twice a week. It’s become a big part of our diet, which is really saying something when you live the man who literally wrote the book on bread! What Daniel Stevens doesn’t know about baking isn’t worth knowing, so the fact that he’s adopted this recipe into his repertoire is a pretty big deal for me. It’s super high protein and wheat free, packed with fibre and can be topped with sweet or savoury things. It has a dense texture, similar to rye or pumpernickel bread, and also makes great crostini or bruschetta.

Ingredients:

200g Oat Bran (you can get this in most supermarkets now, in the cereal aisle, or Holland & Barrett do a fine cut one which is my favourite)

2-3 Eggs, or vegan equivalent

2 Tablespoons of Greek Yoghurt or vegan equivalent

Pinch of sea salt

Baking Powder

1 Table spoon of Olive Oil (or similar)

Seeds, nuts or dried berries (optional)

Method:

Pre-Heat your oven to about 180*C and line a tin with baking paper. I usually use a round 8 inch cake tin, and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment.

Use two large or three medium eggs, egg replacer or aqua faba (chick pea or bean water) of an equivalent amount and beat with a fork or whisk.

Add the oat bran in table spoons, starting with about six. Keep adding until you have a thick paste.

Then add the greek yoghurt, or vegan alternative (almond or Soya milk is fine) and mix in, loosening the paste. Beat in half a teaspoon of baking powder at this stage also, and add some salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Once you have the basic mixture, you can add seeds (I use sunflower, linseeds and pumpkin seeds), nuts or dried berries to create different flavours of bread. Goji berries would work really nicely and would add a delicious sweetness.

Once you’ve added your extras, scrape the mix into your baking tin. You can add more seeds to decorate the top before you pop it in the oven if you like.

Bake at 180*C for about 30 mins. I have yet to burn a loaf of this bread – it seems you can cook it for quite some time before it even begins to colour! You may a get a little rise from the baking powder and eggs, but not much.

Check after 20 mins and see if you want the top to colour more. Once it’s golden brown, remove it from the oven and tip the bread out onto a wire rack to cool. It doesn’t slice very well when it’s still warm, so you’ll have to be patient before you try it!

 

Top with organic grass-fed butter or avocados and tomato salsa, smoked salmon, peanut butter and homemade jam, marmalade… The list is endless!! I’ve yet to find something it doesn’t go with 😀

 

Hayley x

Hannah’s low carb biscuit bars

These very low carb/high protein snack bars are fantastic for that moment when you would reach for cake/biscuit/chocolate – something with your hot drink to keep you going until lunch or dinner time.
Cinnamon is amazing – it contains compounds that promote insulin function, improve blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity, so it’s very helpful when you’re feeling hungry. It also slows down the speed at which food is digested so it lowers the ‘glycaemic load’ of your food. You might want to play with the amount, to suit your taste.

 

In a bowl, mix:

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100g oat bran

15g goji berries

25g chopped nuts

25g flaked almonds

15g ground almonds

A tsp cinnamon

 

Whisk together:

1 egg (or 50ml chick pea water)

1tbsp water

1 tbsp Xylitol (e.g. Natural Sweet)

Half a tsp of vanilla essence

Combine the ingredients and press into a 7” square cake tine, lined with parchment. Score into 9 squares. You could use a small, round sandwich tin and score into triangles. Bake in a fairly hot over for 15 minutes. Turn out, peel off the paper and gently separate the pieces before you allow to cool. Keeps well in an airtight container.

Gluten free, low GI Christmas pudding cake

     

This recipe substitutes low GI apple, prune and apricot for the traditional high GI currants, raisins and sultanas, so it may help people who suffer from digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, which is notoriously sensitive to sugar-laden dried fruit.IMG_2548-1

If you want to reduce the carb content, substitute 100g of the flour with oat bran.

You could serve this recipe warm with double cream or crème fraiche, as a lighter alternative to Christmas pudding. It also keeps extremely well, if you can resist it!

Ingredients
250g            gluten-free self-raising flour
1 tsp            baking powder (Supercook do a gluten-free version)
150g            xylitol (Total Sweet is the one I use)
250g            butter, softened
3                 eggs
1 tsp            vanilla extract (buy good quality – lasts for ages)
150g            dried apricots, stoned (organic/unsulphured)
200g            prunes, stoned
one large or 2 small Bramley apples, peeled and chopped (should total about 200g)
150ml          orange or apple juice or (replace 50 ml with brandy)
grated peel of 1 orange and 1 lemon
3/4 tsp         ground ginger
2 tsp            cinnamon
1 tsp            mixed spice
100g            ground almonds

Instructions
Grease a 22cm (9”) cake tin and double-line with baking paper.
Heat oven to 160 degrees c
Boil prunes, apricots and chopped apple in the juice for seven minutes, then blitz in a food processor, or chop very finely before you boil.
Beat the softened butter and xylitol with a spoon or electric hand mixer.
Beat in eggs singly, then vanilla extract. (Don’t worry if it curdles.)
Sieve in flour, baking powder and spices, and mix gently.
Mix in fruit, then ground almonds. Spoon into tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 60 minutes. Don’t hang about – the heat from the fruit will activate the baking powder so get it in the oven! It’s ready when a skewer comes out clean. Cooking time will vary – you might need more if you have conventional oven, less in an Aga. Cover the cake to prevent browning – I used butter paper. Cool it in the tin – it’s quite fragile when it first comes out but firms up when cool.

http://www.hannahlovegrove.com