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Frequently e-mailed questions

Frequently E-Mailed Questions

People e-mail me a lot with “How do I?” and “Where do I get?” questions… and I don’t have the time I would like to answer them! So, I thought I would put together an FEQ for you all! These are in no particular order or relevance…

  1. Where can I buy almond flour?
  2. Can you send me a list of foods I can eat and foods I need to avoid? Have you a plan I can follow?
  3. Can you send me a complete list of Carbohydrates in foods?
  4. How can I keep temptation away when I have to keep “normal” stuff in the house for my kids?
  5. I am doing Dr Atkins Induction, and I have only lost 7 pounds in the 2 weeks! Is this right?
  6. I’m not losing. I am not cheating and I feel like I must be doing something wrong.
  7. Can I have any food I want as long as I keep the carb count below 20?
  8. Do you know where I can buy low carb foods?
  9. What are your feelings on aspartame?
  10. I’m having problems with U.S. measurements.
  11. Do you find that this plan takes a lot of time and energy?
  12. How have you been affected financially by this diet?
  13. I heard that cutting out carbs is dangerous. Does this really work?
  14. I need to lose a stone before I get married, can you help?
  15. You don’t mention exercise. What is your exercise plan?
  16. I feel weakness, nausea, and I’m having terrible headaches! Why?
  17. What about this “Stacking” I am hearing about?
  18. American Carb counts are Different to ours why? Why do Americans talk about bioavailable carbs? Can I subtract fibre?
  19. Do I need to clear my cupboards of all “illegal” stuff?
  20. Do you have any suggestions for relieving constipation?
  21. Do you ever go off your plan now and then?
  22. I love nuts and seeds. Are they alllowed?
  23. Do you allow yourself any fruit?
?I would like to know where to buy almond flour, and other nut flours. Is this the same as Ground Almonds? I see them in lots of American low-carb recipes that I really want to make!
red dot Ground Almonds are what we call Almond Flour. Most supermarkets sell them in the Home baking section.
Other Ground nuts are not so easy to obtain. Amazon can be helpful here, but the other choice is to make your own. You do this by grinding the nuts yourself in a burr-style coffee grinder, blade-style tend to make Nut butters! You can use either roasted, blanched, or raw nuts depending on what you’ll use them for.
Blanched almonds work best for most almond-flour uses, but adding in a percentage of toasted almond flour gives a nice warm flavor. Almonds, pecans, macadamias, walnuts and hazelnuts make the best (and lowest carb) flour, but other nuts can be used as well. Keep unused nut flours refrigerated or frozen to avoid spoilage.
?Can you send me a list of foods I can eat and foods I need to avoid? Have you a plan I can follow?
red dotHere’s a question I get a quite a bit. Go read my How do I start? page for some general guidelines… then please refer to the book that lays out the plan you’re following.
If you’re trying to do this without buying a plan book, in my opnion, that is plain foolish! You *need* all the information you can get, as people *will* be attacking your food choices. Low-carbing requires thought.
Go do your own research! 🙂 Spend the £6.99 for a paperback…
Can you send me a complete list of Carbohydrate/Protein content in foods please?
Sorry, no I cannot… I don’t have one.
I get my carb counts from the back of packets. If it doesn’t list anything, I don’t buy the product. However, Collins do a Good book of Food counts: The Fat, Fibre and Carbohydrate Counter by Dell Stanton
 How can I keep temptation away when I have to keep Sweets, squashes, sauces and baked goods in the house for my kids?
I boggle at the premise that kids need masses of sugar for energy… It is nutrient sapping, makes them fat, rots their teeth, and is definitely connected with Hyperactivity and ADHD. If you could go back in time and not have started a lifetime of the devastating effects of sugar consumption in your own life, wouldn’t you?
Unless they already have a weight problem, no one’s saying the kids should be on strict low-carb diet, in fact, they do need plentiful “good” carbohydrates, which should be coming from natural sources, such as vegetables, nuts, seeds and low sugar fruits.
Can you really justify giving your child a “minimum daily requirement” of chemical additives, sugar and flour? Clearing your home of these “temptations” is only good sense. For everyone.
I have just completed Dr Atkins’ induction diet, and only lost 7 pounds in the 2 weeks. I have heard that I should expect a larger loss… So, is my 7lbs normal? Should I stay on the induction for longer than 14 days?
This is one of many very similar questions that arrive in e-mail quite often. There is no “normal”. Everyone loses at a different rate. It depends on a great deal of factors, not the least of which is how much you have to lose. If your induction nets you an appreciable loss, I’d call that a victory. (If you are still not happy, then go to the supermarket, and load a hand basket with what you lost in sugar, then pick it up and carry it around for a while…)

Don’t get hung up on comparing your results to others you know, especially if you are comparing yourself to your husband… Men always lose fat and gain muscle more easily than women… Biology is a bitch like that! As for prolonged induction, it’s an individual choice. Induction in Atkins means 20 grams of carbs or less per day, coming from Vegetable sources.I personally would not recommend it, as you can end up increasing your insulin sensitivity to such a fine degree that your body will have 20g of carbs as a “set point” where you will gain when you eat much more about that. I know, I did this to myself, and it took me a good while to reverse that change!

 I been low-carbing for a while, and I am not losing any more. I’m not cheating at all and I’ve started to feel like I’m doing something wrong. Can you help?
When we have been dieting a while, our body needs to take stock of its new parameters and create a new reference for its homoeostasis. It is called a Stall, and happens on every type of diet. They are disheartening, horrible and plain annoying, but they are necessary biology. *sigh*

All you can really do is sit it out. After all, you have renewed energy, vigour, normalised blood pressure & hormonal balace, excellent cholesterol and triglyceride levels, better hair, skin and nails, better muscle tone, and control over what you eat. I always view “Weight loss” as a secondary part of eating low-carb. The main objective is to get healthy.

Some times dietary tweeks can be done to break the stall, The most common being less carbs, more water, more fish or more fat. Make one change at a time, then you know what broke your stall!

Also, make sure that you are eating enough! We are conditioned that “Diet” means “Less food”. With low-carbing it doesn’t. Your body needs energy input to work, and if it isn’t getting enough in, it will hang on to its reserves as it thinks you are a famine.

Check the tape measure as well. There is often a scale stall when the inches are still moving, This is because fat is less dense than muscles. So, where you gain muscle and lose fat, the scale stays the same, but the measurements reduce.

Above all, know that low-carbing works to give you the body you evolved to have, however long it takes. It’s the diet that Homo Sapiens Sapiens evolved to eat. Keep the faith and you *will* reduce eventually… I go and read Lora’s on-line Journal when ever I need “Stall grit”.

Lora was stalled the whole summer of 2001 at a 99lb loss! 5 months of no movement is enough to tax anyone, but she hung in there, enjoyed improved health and is now 156lbs down. A whole new life eh?

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 Is it true that I can have any food I want as long as I keep the total carb count my limit for the day?
Well, you can but it is not advised. Some foods are so highly glycemic (cause such a huge insulin spike) that they are real no-no’s. These include (but are not limited to) sugar in all forms, any form of flour, pasta, potatoes, rice, and corn products.
Also, if you eat no carbs all day and then eat all your limit in one hit, you’ll call up an insulin response and sugar crash pronto. Low-carbing is not like low-carlorie, you just cannot “save up” your Carbs, biology doesn’t work like that! The 20 gram limit (usually ascribed to Dr Atkins’ “Induction” plan) or any personal daily limit, is assumed to be spread evenly throughout the day.
Making this an even spread helps your liver to “learn” how much insulin your body really needs. Keeping it even is better for your body, and will also give it the keys to respond appropriately if you go have a bigger carb hit than usual on occasion! 🙂
 Do you know where I can buy low carb foods?
Go and check out this very good Article by Jeanettte and the UK shopping links in my links page.
 What are your feelings about Aspartame? (Nutrasweet, Candarel etc)
I try to not get into the aspartame debate since everyone has their own ideas about preferences and safety. For me personally, I try to keep aspartame to a minimum for a number of reasons.
One – It makes me gain weight. I bloat out, and can gain as much as half a stone if I have a Diet Coke (TM).
Two – I can’t bake with it, as it loses its sweetening capacity at temperatures above 70C, and I just LOVE to bake.
The Problem in the UK is that most “diet” products that require sweetening contain Aspartame. Although there is a big move to using Sucralose (Splenda), the continuing Aspartame preference gives us problems, and limits what would could have otherwise legitimately enjoyed… *sigh*
 I love the look of the recipes on most US sites, but what on earth is “A Cup”? And how much is a “stick” of butter? Help!
One cup is 240ml. There is no easily given individual “Weight” amount equivalent for any given ingredient, as a cup is a Volume measurement.
If you still need to work in weight rather than volume, it helps to have a converter.
Here is a cookery unit converter for international equivalences:
These will help you convert each ingredient. Notate your recipes so you have the work done for you next time. 🙂
However, sometimes it’s just easier to follow the recipe as written, so I went and bought myself a set of cups (Asda, Lakeland, Tesco all sell them, I have two sets of the Asda Metal Cups, and a Set of Plastic Lakeland Cups) and now very rarely use my scales!
One US “stick” of butter is 125g, 1/4 of a cup and and half of one of our packs of butter.
American Butter is also slightly less fatty (80% Fat as opposed to our 82%. American’s call European style butter “Plugra”) than our butter, but I haven’t found that made a difference to anything!
 I work long hours and also have children and a house to take care of. I don’t have time to cook time-consuming meals. Do you find that this plan takes a lot of time and energy?
Yes, this diet (as with any life-changing commitment) takes time and energy.
Especially in the beginning while you’re learning the ropes and finding new ways to structure meal planning and cooking ahead. If you are thinking in terms of this way of life being “too much bother” or inconvenient, then you might not be ready to take this on. Nothing worth having is ever a quick and easy task. If it’s important enough to you to save your health and change your life, you’ll find the time.
Most of us — me included — work long hours and have to look to the family for support. On top of my day-job, I have the admin work to do for this and my other websites, I never see my friends enough, spend most of my evenings writing articles and reading e-mails, and devote time and energy to this eating plan.
I do it because it matters, my health matters. Make the commitment to do it and you will succeed.
 How have you been affected financially by this change in diet? Meat and fish costs lots of money!
 Well, It is swings and roundabouts. If you are “poor”, by default you buy & “fill up” on the cheap foods, which is flour, pasta, rice and potatoes. This is going to give you health issues and increased body fat 🙁
The cheap protein foods in low-carbing are Liver, Eggs, Cheese, and canned Fish (Tuna and Salmon). And green veggies are always cheap, poor or not! 🙂
Good meat and fish does cost money, but if you go for cuts of meat that need slow cooking these are generally cheap and tasty (Make friends with your local butcher!) and “Yellow label” shopping (the reduced stuff at the end of the day) is fantastic for picking up enough good quality fast-cook meat to do you for a while… I fill my freezer with “yellow label” steak as often as I can!
What you are then spending on good nutrition is balanced out by what you are not spending on junk. You know, the odd Mars bar (TM) here and there, the quickly grabbed pre-packed sandwich, the convenience dinners…
If you buy Antacids, you won’t have to buy them, as LC rebalanced your stomach. I also personally rarely have to buy painkillers anymore as the headaches I used to suffer evaporated once I stabilised my blood sugars.
It does seem to be more expensive when you start, but it rights itself in a month or so… You are just spending your money in different places.

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 I heard that cutting out carbs works but can be dangerous. I want to do this and have been very good about keeping my fat intake low, but does this really work?
 If you’ve read my story, you can see it works. You can see it in thousands of stories all over the web. But let’s address the first question. Although you can read this in each of the books outlining the popular low-carb plans, let me stress here once again, that our way of eating is low carb; not NO carb!
The advantage to low-carb is that it allows for plenty to eat, really rich and delicious foods, and lots of variety. In addition to meats, eggs, cheeses, etc, we still have plenty of veggies, a large list of acceptable fruits, and a varied diet.
We give up very little of any value to us nutritionally, are never hungry and lose weight pretty easily. Our health improves, our blood pressure and cholesterol goes down and we have tons of energy.
Oh, and don’t try to keep your fat intake low — your body needs a healthy level of fat in the diet to properly function. Don’t attempt to do low-fat and low-carb at the same time. Now that is unhealthy!
We are aiming for a “high fat/protein adequate/low carb” macronutrient balance.
 I am getting married in three months and need to lose at least a stone… please help! Give me tips what to do and recipes.
Firstly, Your are enough. Your fiancée loves you for you. You do not “need” to lose weight to make anyone happy on your wedding day. Your wedding is about you and your partner being happy and making a commitment to each other, not about your waist size.
Losing weight fast “for life event X” is pretty much the worst way to lose weight, as any fat reduction plan that will give you a slim and healthy body long term has to be entered into mindfully. Otherwise, all that weight you lose will pop right back on after “Life Event X”. I wrote about that in my “fast or safe” article.
Saying all that, at 3 months out, following a sensible low-carb diet plan will almost certainly see you drop a stone in weight, maybe even two. If you’ve come here with a week to go, not much I can do to help however!
Accompany good eating with work on changing you mindset away from “the diet being for the wedding” and towards “being healthy for married life”. And don’t pig out on Wedding cake icing at the reception! 😉
Happy Nuptuals!

 You don’t have many articles on exercise. What is your exercise plan?

That is because I don’t have a plan, and don’t do any “formal” exercise! 😉
While exercise is always a useful adjunct to any dieting regime, it’s a personal thing. Advocating a specific form of exercise implies that sort of plan is best with low-carbing. In reality, it’s your choice. If you’re not comfortable with the exercise plan, or the level, you won’t do it.
Also, Some people are not ready. I’ve known many low-carbers that lost their first stone, 3 stone, or even 7 stone before they were small enough amd/or energetic enough to not only be comfortable with a regular exercise plan, but actually crave doing it!
Remember, this diet brings with it lots of extra energy. When you’re ready, you’ll know, and there are plenty of places on the web, on TV, and in books and video to get structured in your chosen plan.
Simple walking is often the best plan for beginners or those very overweight, and any form of lifting/resistance strength building exercises to improve muscle and so increase metabolism are a winner. (This can be as simple as walking back from the supermarket, carrying the shopping!) Yoga & Pilates are also great for developing muscle strength.
However, use any chosen Aerobic exercise sparingly – whilst short explosive bursts of movement are very good for the body (we evolved to run fast from predators after all!), too much too consistently releases stress hormones and causes “catabolic” muscle breakdown, the exact opposite of what your body needs.
Remember, you will probably drop fat a bit faster when you include resistance and general exercise, but it isn’t a necessary component of the plan until you want it to be.

 I thought this diet is supposed to make you feel good. One week in and I feel weakness, nausea, and having terrible headaches!
This is very common. You are in Sugar Withdrawl. Go read this just starting out article.
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 What about this “Stacking” or “The ECA Stack” I am hearing about? I am very skeptical. Can you tell me any more?
 And so you should be! The product you refer to is normally made up of ephedrine in the “natural” form “Ma Huang” (Also called “Herbal Speed”), Caffeine and Aspirin.
Ephedrines are supposed to suppress appetite and increase the body’s metabolic rate. Alas, they also increase blood pressure, and trigger anxiety and insomnia.
Add to that a rather large dose of caffeine (usually 200mg) and “acetylsalicylic acid” AKA (aspirin) and together they raise your body temperature, hence the other name you might here for this nasty little cocktail –  “thermogenic product”.
They make up what’s known in the body building and diet worlds as “stacking”.
There are those who believe they really lose better by doing it. But these folks would have had the same reaction with any amphetamine/diet pill. They think because one of the ingredients is considered “herbal”, it must be safe.
It really isn’t and could stop their heart just as fast as any stimulant. Drugging yourself is not the answer to weight loss.
And it’s only the current popularity of Low Carb diets that inspires these companies to now market to the low-carb market segment. Stay away from this if someone suggests you try it to help you out.
 How do I calculate the “Effective Carbohydrate count”? / “Atkins Net Carbs”?
What are “”Hidden carbs”?
Do Polyols Count? Most US sites say they don’t!
First, let’s deal with “Effective” or “Net” Carbs:
In the UK, all of our carbohydrate counts are already “Net”.  No need for complex maths or any other mucking about, for us, a listed per 100g carb count on a package of food is 100% of the carbs we need to count. We have no “hidden” carbs at all. Polyols, I’ll discuss below, but as long as to know a carb is a carb is a carb in the UK,  you will be fine.
So, why is the very confusing concept of “Net” carbs mentioned at all?
It’s due to the very whacky way that Fibre is measured by US FDA, and how US labelling regulations counts macronutrients for food labelling purposes.
US macronutrient counts as mandated by the FDA are not measured accurately per 100g as ours are. Firstly, the product is assessed “per serving” (which can be any amount the manufacturer chooses!). This gives what we would see as unhelpful advice, as how can one accurately judge the food based on an arbitrary measure?
Also, american product labelling includes fiber (purposeful US spelling) in the carb and calorie counts, as fibre is, chemically speaking, a very long-chain carbohydrate. However, as fibre cannot be processed by humans in anyway, it is not a digestible carbohydrate. So, American Low-carbers subtract the fiber from their given counts.
The FDA makes food assayers accurately count Fat, Protein and Fibre, then anything left over is deemed to be carbohydrate of some form or another. The count is obtained “by difference” not by measurement.
It gets worse… US manufacturers can then “hide” carbs away as carbohydrate counts thus obtained can then legitimately be rounded down to the nearest gram by the manufacturer or producer.
i.e. one egg has 0.6g of Carbohydrate in it, but US food producers can list this as Zero in any products made from eggs where the service size would be 1 egg or less (Because they can make that up to suit as well – although there are thoughts on changing this, but not in what we would think of as a meaningful way).
That 0.6g is an example of “Hidden carbs” mentioned by US low-carbers. In the US, they are not listed, but will affect their Low-carb WoE if they eat too may of them!

And to cap it all, there is no clear US labelling standard concerning Polyols.
A great deal of Low-carb food manufacturers simply ignore them, or say that they are non-digestible, tell you the count, but then exclude that from the total food values! Lora explains this here

So, DANDR, being written by an American, for the American market is written with this in mind, and this is what is explained about how you count carbs in Chapter 5.

For the UK version, until very recently, Vermillion did not edit this chapter to reflect our labelling laws. How stupid can you get, as our labelling standards and laws are completely different!

The EU requires that if a manufactuer chooses to label its foods’ macronutrients, the label must specify the food values per 100g and per “portion” (or actual size), and each measure much be to an accuracy of 0.1g.

Food producers must accurately measure and state per 100g of food, how much

  • Protein,
  • Fat (and breakdown the specific fat types included),
  • Digestible carbohydrates (and breakdown the specifics of Sugar, Starch and Polyols included),
  • Fibre
  • and Sodium

there is in the product. Anything else they list is at the manufacturers discretion.

So, when Polyols are not included in the food, the Carbohydrate count listed is your accurate and complete “Net” or “Effective” Carb count.

If Polyols are included, it’s very much a “Your milage may vary” thing. I tend to think of them as a “half hit” carbohydrate. Most people will up to half of the Polyol they eat into glucose. Polyols are long chain Carbohydrates, and partially digestible because they not quite as long as fibre.
You have to see for yourself how you react to it, but for safety sake, I would count it as half the carb content.

ie you got 10g of Polyol in a product, think of that as 5g of carbohydrate.

Click here to take you to a site that explains this labelling difference perfectly!

  Do I need to clear my cupboards of all “illegal” stuff – Crisps, sweets, biscuits, pasta, rice, bread, sugar, etc?
 Yes, if at all possible – depending on your life, family, and residential situation, it’s ideal to not have temptation on hand. It’s just good sense.
 Do you have any suggestions for relieving constipation? Even with the added veggies I still have trouble with this. I drink lots of water each day as well.
First, make sure the veggies you’re including are the high-fibre ones like salad greens. I personally get great relief from spinach when I need it (not often these days! 🙂 ). There’s also psyllium husks and ground Linseeds, these that can be a great help in adding a little more fibre.
If things are desparate, there are various things that will help ease the situation. Jeanette swears by 600mg of Magnesium Citrate, taken before bed. You could also try LARGE amounts of Vitamin C (I am talking 10-40g) as once the body reaches its tolerance level you *will* excrete the rest in short order. Barry Groves recommends upping water intake, and adding fat to your breakfast to ensure good peristalsis.
If things get so desparate as that you need a laxative, choose a senna based one to clear things short term, and then make sure that you are eating enough veggies, and drinking enough water. Prevention is better than cure!
 Do you ever go off your plan now and then and if you do how do you handle coming back to it?
If you have a bad carb addiction, then going “off plan” – for a special occasion, when depressed, for vacation, etc, etc, is going to lead to downfall. If you have a less than ideal relationship with food, it will be easy for you to rationalise that since you are off anyway, you “might as well have” that bowl of Frosties you are missing. And a baked potato. And a plate of spaghetti. And then that will be that for your “latest diet attempt.”
As for me? I never go off my plan. I don’t want to feel the Hunger monster sitting on my shoulder again. I don’t want to be a slave to hypoglycaemia and my next sugar fix ever again.
For my 30th birthday, I went to Pizza express, and decided that, as I’d done so well, I was going to eat whatever I wanted. I had a whole pizza, garlic dough-balls and ice-cream. I felt lousy. Over the next few days I was also massively hungry and I’d instantly gained half a stone from the meal in Water and Glycogen. I went back to NDR induction (because that was who I was following at the time) and started again.

In the now, my plan is built to cope with “those times” where less than ideal food choices are all you have. I work to minimise any damage by making the best choice I can, and get right back on track at the next opportunity. I’ve worked hard to let go of my issues around food, and just don’t allow guilt or shame at a “bad/naughty choice” to rent my head and absolve me for a further bad choice because “I might as well have…”. It was what it was, time to get on with the rest of living!

 I love to snack on nuts and seeds. Do low-carb plans allow these?
Yes, most low-carb plans allow for nuts and seeds. I love them and work them into lots of my recipes as well as snacking! They are calorie-dense so you will find that won’t want to get crazy, as are self-limiting. They are chock full of excellent nutrition and also keep you not-hungry for a long time.
 Do you allow yourself any fruit?
Occasionally yes, Fruit adds variety and (for some people) pleasure to the diet. But it must be used with caution because it can stall you faster than anything else.
This is because Fructose converts directly to triglyceride (fat) in the body, without the need for insulin. Fruits make you fat!!! Think about when it naturally grows, our bodies are designed to use it to lay down fat stores for the Winter lean times.
So you may find that eating more than the odd occasional few strawberries is something that will have to wait until maintenance.
The “safest” fruits are the berries (especially strawberries) but other good low-carb options are a small peach, a small plum, melon (especially cantaloupe, but stay away from highly glycemic
A small amount of unsweetened pineapple and tart apple is also good for ingredient adding in recipes. Tart cherries are also an option. But the high sugar fruits are pretty much always out. You can never sit down and eat a banana or a big navel orange. But that’s where flavourings and extracts come in – when you crave one of these, flavour a shake or an almond flour cake etc with these flavours and enjoy!
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