Foods High in Protein
Shortcut: An ounce of meat or fish has approximately 7 grams of
* Hamburger patty, 4 oz – 28 grams protein
* Steak. 6 oz – 42 grams
* Most cuts of beef – 7 grams of protein per ounce
* Chicken breast, 3.5 oz - 30 grams protein
* Chicken thigh – 10 grams (for average size)
* Drumstick – 11 grams
* Wing – 6 grams
* Chicken meat, cooked, 4 oz – 35 grams
* Most fish filets or steaks are about 22 grams of protein for 3 ½ oz
(100 grams) of cooked fish, or 6 grams per ounce
* Tuna, 6 oz can - 40 grams of protein
* Pork chop, average - 22 grams protein
* Pork loin or tenderloin, 4 oz – 29 grams
* Ham, 3 oz serving – 19 grams
* Ground pork, 1 oz raw – 5 grams; 3 oz cooked – 22 grams
* Bacon, 1 slice – 3 grams
* Canadian-style bacon (back bacon), slice – 5 – 6 grams
Eggs and Dairy
* Egg, large - 6 grams protein
* Milk, 1 cup - 8 grams
* Cottage cheese, ½ cup - 15 grams
* Yogurt, 1 cup – usually 8-12 grams, check label
* Soft cheeses (Mozzarella, Brie, Camembert) – 6 grams per oz
* Medium cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss) – 7 or 8 grams per oz
* Hard cheeses (Parmesan) – 10 grams per oz
Beans (including soy)
* Tofu, ½ cup 20 grams protein
* Tofu, 1 oz, 2.3 grams
* Soy milk, 1 cup - 6 -10 grams
* Most beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc) about 7-10 grams protein per
half cup of cooked beans
* Soy beans, ½ cup cooked – 14 grams protein
* Split peas, ½ cup cooked – 8 grams
Nuts and Seeds
* Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons - 8 grams protein
* Almonds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
* Peanuts, ¼ cup – 9 grams
* Cashews, ¼ cup – 5 grams
* Pecans, ¼ cup – 2.5 grams
* Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup – 6 grams
* Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup – 19 grams
* Flax seeds – ¼ cup – 8 grams
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I have heard from many that they are sometimes hungry on exchange
But, when I do further research, I find out the ones who are hungry are
eating all their vegetable exchanges. To quote them, "I don't eat
vegetables! And I YAM, who I YAM!" Well, maybe it's time stop start
something else! Maybe you don't know you like vegetables because you
had them since you were a tiny tot. Maybe you haven't tried very many
different kind of vegetables? Or maybe you just have an aversion to
Well, now you are a adult, and as adults we know that vegetables are
cancer fighting antioxidants, fiber-which helps the colon, and liver,
also fights cancer, AND low and behold also fills our tummies! And what
may not know, they are full of FLAVOR!
Try one new vegetable a week, try it served, or cooked 2 or three
ways. Making sure you like it a certain way.
Remember if you don't like it. It's no big deal, there is many many
vegetables to try out there. It won't harm you if you don't like the
However, a life with out vegetables very well could harm you-liver and
cancer are very much directly involved in not enough fiber or
And best of all you won't feel so hungry you're tempted to fall off the
health wagon and binge out!
SOURCE: Heather -old Healthy Exchanges Board
Control the Crazy PortionsStaring into the Bottomless Plate
-- By Zach Van Hart, Staff Writer
Question: Is it possible to eat meals consisting entirely of healthy
foods, such as carrots, fish, apples and whole wheat bread, and
continue to gain weight?
Answer: Yes, because you can still eat too much, even if everything is
good for you.
Portions have grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of
decades. Not surprisingly, our weight has followed right along with it. A huge
part of the problem is that people tend to eat what’s in front of them,
whether they’re hungry or not. To fight this problem, it’s important to
find reasons to cut down on what you put on your plate in the first
Portion size is a major contributor to weight problems, whether you eat
out or at home. Restaurants serve huge plates of food, consisting of
several servings per person, making it easy to go way past the
recommended amount per meal.
It does not stop when you eat at home. It’s been estimated that portion
sizes in the past 20 years have increased in restaurants and at home by
as much as 50%. Today, the average person eats 200 more calories each
day than in the 1970s. Many store bought cookies are now more than 7
times bigger than the recommended serving size. Did you know that a
typical dinner plate holds three servings of spaghetti, not just one? When
you fill up your entire plate with food, you’re likely eating more than
you bargained for.
On the bright side, portion size is something you can change, without
getting rid of your favorite foods. All it takes is a few simple habits
to control how much you eat during a sitting. Here are a few tips you
can use when dining in or out:
Order an appetizer as an entree (main dish). Remember to stay away
from fried foods though.
Split an entree with another person.
Order from the lunch menu at dinnertime.
Leftovers are okay. Feel free to wrap up half your meal to go
Order smaller sizes such as a half-order of pasta or a "petite" cut
of meat. Even so, portions may still be hefty. It's not unusual for a
"smaller" portion of meat to be an 8-ounce serving.
In fast-food restaurants avoid "extra value" or "super size" meals,
unless you split it with a friend. A regular small hamburger is usually
equivalent to one serving of meat and two servings of grain.
Set the table with smaller plates. Since you can’t fit as many
servings on your plate, filling the whole plate is no big deal. Smaller
dishes also make the food look bigger, which has a proven effect on your
level of hunger.
Skip seconds and get out the Tupperware.
Divide up single serving portions ahead of time, in sealable bags or
Read the packaging! Follow the recommended serving size and eat only
Eat foods that curb hunger: oranges, apples, oatmeal, fish, brown
High Fiber Foods
Dietary FiberFiber is only found in plants, and functions sort of
like a skeleton for the plants to help maintain shape and
structure. Humans cannot digest fiber so it passes through the
small intestine into the colon and helps to keep the colon healthy.
Some disorders like diverticulitis, constipation and irregularity
may be connected with not getting enough fiber in the diet.
Types of Fiber
Insoluble fiber is the type of fiber found in high fiber
foods like whole grains, nuts, wheat bran and vegetables.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water so it helps to
move material through the colon faster by increasing the bulk
of the stool. This can be very helpful to people who suffer from
constipation or irregularity. Diets high in insoluble fiber may
also decrease the risk of Diabetes.
Soluble fiber is also found in many high fiber foods like oats,
citrus fruits, apples, barley, psillium, flax seeds and beans.
Soluble fiber absorbs water, which helps to soften stools
making them easier to eliminate from the body. Some soluble fibers
called beta glucan bind to bile acids which contain cholesterol.
A high fiber diet with this type of soluble fiber has been shown to
reduce cholesterol closer to healthy levels.
High Fiber Foods
According to the Institute of Medicine:
The recommended intake for total fiber for adults 50 years and
younger is set at 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women, while
for men and women over 50 it is 30 and 21 grams per day,
respectively, due to decreased food consumption.
People who currently have low fiber diets may want to increase
their daily intake of high fiber foods slowly because some fiber
may increase gas and bloating. The body adjusts the increased amount
of fiber over time and the gas and bloating will decrease. Here are
some examples of delicious and healthy high fiber foods from the USDA
National Nutrient Database:
1/2 cup cooked navy beans - 9.5 g
1/2 cup baked beans, canned – 9 g
1/2 cup cooked lentils – 7.8 g
1/2 cup cooked black beans – 7.5 g
1/2 cup dates – 7.1 g
1 cup raisin bran cereal - 7 g
1/2 cup cooked kidney beans – 6.5 g
1/2 cup cooked lima beans – 6.7 g
1/2 cup canned tomato paste – 5.9 g
1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans – 6.2 g
1/2 cup bean with ham soup – 5.6 g
1/2 cup frozen red raspberries – 5.5 g
1 medium bran muffin - 5 g
1/2 Asian pear – 5 g
1/2 cup cooked artichoke – 4.5 g
1/2 cup frozen peas, cooked – 4.4 g
1 cup oatmeal – 4 g
1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables, cooked – 4 g
1/2 cup raw blackberries – 3.8 g
1/2 cup canned pumpkin – 3.5 g
1/2 cup cooked whole-wheat spaghetti – 3.4 g
24 almonds – 3.3 g
1 apple with skin – 3.3 g
1/2 cup cooked barley 3 g
1 cup broccoli – 2.4 g
1 red sweet pepper – 2.4 g
1 nectarine – 2.3 g
28 peanuts – 2.3 g
1 slice whole grain bread – 2 g
15 walnut halves – 2 g
Food Habits To Work On
By Sally Squires
Tuesday, May 30, 2006; Page HE01
They read nutrition labels, fret about their expanding waistlines
and pay attention to portions. But fat and calories still perplex
them. They know they should move more but are mostly inactive.
They recognize the new food pyramid but choose what to eat based
on taste and price rather than health.
Sounds familiar? It should. It's a snapshot of Americans that
emerged from a new national survey of consumer behavior and
'They read nutrition labels, fret about their expanding waistlines
and pay attention to portions. But fat and calories still perplex
them. They know they should move more but are mostly inactive.
They recognize the new food pyramid but choose what to eat based
on taste and price rather than health.',
The majority of those questioned correctly understand that their
weight, diet and physical activity influence their health,
according to the survey, which was sponsored by the
International Food Information Council Foundation, a
Washington-based group funded by food, beverage and
Knowledge is one thing. Putting it into practice is another.
But there's good news: The survey found that more than half
of consumers reported having improved their diets in the past
six months by eating fewer calories and by adjusting the foods
they ate. Nearly two of every three who made improvements said
they had done so after talking with a health professional or
family and friends, or simply after reading food labels.
Here are the survey highlights, along with easy ways to make course corrections:
Calorie quandary. Nearly 90 percent of the 1,000 respondents had no
idea how many calories they should consume daily to maintain their
weight. About half couldn't even wager a guess. Only a third
understood how extra calories, no matter in what food they are
consumed, contribute to weight gain.
Simple fix: To find your caloric balance, take your weight and
multiply by 10. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, that's 1,500 calories.
This is how much energy you need just to keep breathing. If you live
a mostly sedentary life, add 20 to 40 percent more calories;
40 to 60 percent more if you are active. Or do what the federal
government does: Assume that most adults need 2,000 calories a
day for a stable weight.
Slim on healthy fat facts . Saturated fat and trans fat were
correctly fingered as unhealthy by most of those surveyed.
About half said theytry to eat fewer saturated fats;
nearly as many are attempting to
cut down on the trans fats found in many commercially prepared
fried and baked foods. But the message to eat more healthy fat
is still missed by nearly 40 percent of those polled. They didn't
know that polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats found in olive
and canola oils, healthy margarine, nuts and avocados are healthy.
About a third, however, are correctly trying to eat fewer foods
that contain hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oils.
Simple fix : At home, reduce use of processed foods, which are more
likely to have saturated or trans fat. At restaurants, skip or
skimp on the fries, chicken nuggets and fried fish filets,
which are often loaded with trans fats. At the grocery, read
labels to avoid foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat and
trans fat. Finally, remember that the recommendation is not to
increase total fat consumption, but simply to swap good fats
for the bad. Advice is still to keep total fat intake at about
30 percent of total daily calories.
Sugarcoating . About half of those polled say they are
carbohydrate-conscious, paying close attention to how many
and what types of carbs they eat. The vast majority know
that glucose, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose
and fructose are types of sugar. But fewer respondents were
aware of "added sugars" in many processed foods and just one
in six reported eating the recommended two cups of fruit and
2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily.
Simple fix : Get carbs first from fruit and vegetables, which
contain complex carbohydrates that are less likely to send
blood sugar soaring. Cut back on foods with added sugar such
as sweetened cereal, cookies, candy, ice cream and soft drinks.
Controlling intake. About half of those surveyed say they are
trying to improve their diets. The most common strategies:
portion control and reducing calories eaten.
Simple fix: To help with portion control, keep a kitchen scale and
measuring cups and spoons handy in the kitchen. Serve food on
smaller plates. Skip eating family style with large platters
of food on the table that make it easy to take extra helpings.
At restaurants, split entrees or turn one meal into two by
taking home leftovers. Another option: Order two appetizers
instead of a large entree. At fast-food restaurants, choose
small sizes or the kids meal rather than super-sized portions.
Underestimating girth. Two-thirds of respondents say that they
are overweight, extremely overweight or obese -- a percentage
consistent with the latest government figures. Even so, when
height and weight information supplied by the participants
was used to calculate body mass index, nearly a third of
participants who described themselves as being at an ideal
weight were actually overweight, while 75 percent who said
they were merely overweight qualified as obese.
Simple fix : Do a little spring preening by climbing on a scale
to check your weight. Use a free electronic calculator to
determine your body mass index at http://nhlbisupport.com/bmi ,
which will also tell you whether you are at a healthy weight,
overweight or obese. ·
Join Sally Squires, author of the recently published
"Secrets of the Lean Plate Club" (St. Martin's Press) live
online from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. today
http://www.washingtonpost.com/leanplateclub, where you can also
subscribe to the free LPC weekly e-mail newsletter.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
Here's How to Cook Almost Any Vegetable
By CeCe Sullivan
The Seattle Times
Why does the subject of vegetables inflame such passionate feelings?
A brief, innocent mention of Brussels sprouts in a casual
conversation can lead to long-winded diatribes about their vile
smell and foul flavor.
One colleague even abhors "green things" to such a degree that he's
limited his vegetable choices to three: tomatoes, corn and lettuce
(which is also green but evidently bland enough to please his picky
Then there's the contentious matter of a cooked vegetable's texture.
To some, asparagus that's been cooked al dente is perfectly sublime.
But to others, those same asparagus spears aren't tender-crisp at
all but downright raw and inedible.
Fortunately, the field of vegetables is so vast, and their cooking
methods so gloriously varied, that there's something for everyone.
In Vegetables Every Day (Harper Collins, 2001) author Jack Bishop
divides cooking techniques for vegetables into dry and moist heat
methods. It's a good starting point, because each will produce its
own flavor and texture.
So here's a guide to the best cooking methods for seasonal produce.
Blanch: Vegetables are briefly put into a saucepan of boiling water
and the timing begins immediately. This method doesn't fully cook
the food but softens the texture.
To stop the cooking and set the color, "refresh" vegetables by
immediately draining and plunging them into ice water.
Vegetables can be blanched a day in advance of serving. Once they're
refreshed, pat with paper towels, then wrap in dry towels, place in
a plastic bag and refrigerate. Finish cooking by sauteing or stir-
frying the vegetables.
Blanching and refreshing are also necessary before freezing
vegetables to keep the enzymes from breaking down both color and
Boil: Here's a myth buster. Adding a pinch of baking soda to boiling
water may indeed help keep vegetables green, but the soda's alkali
destroys cell walls, causing a mushy texture -- so skip that idea.
There is, however, a real solution to holding the vibrant color.
"Essentially, with most green vegetables, you can count on having 7
minutes of heat before there is a major color change," says Shirley
Corriher, author of CookWise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed
(William Morrow, 1997). "Cooking longer will cause the natural acids
present in vegetables to turn them yellow-brown."
Vegetables should be added to rapidly boiling water and the timing
should begin only when the water returns to the boil. Always leave
the pan uncovered. If boiling vegetables for a salad, be sure to
refresh them to stop the cooking.
Braise: Vegetables contain lots of natural moisture, which releases
in cooking. Lightly brown the vegetable in a little fat, than add a
tablespoon or two of liquid to start the cooking process. Cover the
pan and cook slowly over medium-low heat. Once the vegetable has
released its moisture, add only enough additional liquid to keep it
Poach: This technique is similar to boiling but uses less liquid and
a lower heat to gently cook more fragile vegetables.
Steam: A large pot and a simple steamer basket are the tools needed
to cook vegetables with this method. Don't pack the basket too
tightly with food or the cooking will be uneven. Bring the water to
a boil before placing the covered basket above the pot.
These evaporate moisture in the vegetables quickly, which causes the
juices to brown and the natural sugars to concentrate and become
Broil: The heat source is above the food, making this a great
technique for blistering the skins of sweet peppers or chilies for
easy peeling and a smoky flavor. Sliced vegetables such as eggplant
should be brushed lightly with oil to keep them from drying out
under the high heat.
Grill: This technique is similar to broiling, but the heat source
comes from below, and a basting liquid is needed to keep food moist.
Grill baskets or a perforated stainless-steel grid are perfect for
keeping small vegetables such as mushrooms and cherry tomatoes from
falling into the fire below. For indoor cooking, heavy grill pans
caramelize the vegetables and give them a wonderful smoky flavor.
Roast: This has become a favorite technique for cooking vegetables.
Toss with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with
salt, then roast in a single layer in a shallow, rimmed baking
sheet. The high temperature of 400 degrees or above causes the
vegetables to shrink and loose their natural moisture, which
concentrates the sugars and deepens the flavor. (Baking uses a
temperature of 375 degrees or lower.)
Saute: The pan size should be large enough to cook the vegetables in
a single layer without crowding. The bottom of the pan should have a
light coating of oil, or a mixture of oil and butter. A no-stick
cooking spray can also be used. Set the pan over medium heat and
wait for the oil to become hot before adding the vegetables. Blanch
tougher vegetables such as green beans first to speed the cooking
Stir-fry: Basically, this technique is similar to a saute, but
vegetables are cut into smaller pieces. Use medium-high to high heat
for quick cooking, and toss often.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion: The A to Z Guide to Everyday
Cooking Equipment and Ingredients (Time-Life, 2000); Vegetables
Every Day (Harper Collins, 2001) by Jack Bishop; Perfect Vegetables
by the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine (America's Test
Kitchen, 2003); CookWise (William Morrow, 1997) by Shirley Corriher.
DALLAS, April 1 - Eating fish regularly reduced the risk of heart
diabetic women by as much as 64 percent, according to study reported in
today's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American
"We found that women with type 2 diabetes who ate more fish had
significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease and total death than
those who rarely ate fish," says Frank B. Hu, M.D., lead author and
associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School
Public Health in Boston. "Previous studies have found that fish
reduces risk of heart disease in a largely healthy population. This is
first study to look at the relationship among diabetic patients, who
very high risk of heart disease."
The American Heart Association recommends that adults, except pregnant
women, eat two servings of fish a week. For those with, or at high risk
cardiovascular disease (CVD), supplementing fish in the diet with fish
capsules may be advisable in consultation with a physician.
Also known as fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids from fish have been shown
reduce the risk of irregular heartbeats that can lead to sudden death,
decrease blood triglyceride levels, improve the functions of blood
and reduce blood clot formation. These effects are particularly
for reducing risk for CVD among diabetics.
Even so, little data were available to confirm that diabetics who ate
would receive the same benefits as people without diabetes who ate
says. In addition, there was concern that fish oil might worsen control
blood sugar (glucose) among diabetic patients.
Hu and colleagues analyzed data from women with diabetes participating
the Nurses' Health Study, which was established in 1976 when 121,700
registered nurses completed a questionnaire about their medical history
lifestyle. Every two years, follow-up questionnaires have been mailed
update information on risk factors and any new health problems. The
study includes 5,103 women who reported physician-diagnosed type 2
on any questionnaire from 1976-94. Women with a history of heart
stroke or cancer reported on the 1980 questionnaire (when diet was
assessed) or before were excluded.
The women were divided into five categories according to how often they
fish: less than once a month, one to three times a month, once a week,
to four times a week, and five or more times a week.
Between 1980-96, the researchers documented 362 cases of heart disease
heart-related deaths and 221 nonfatal heart attacks). There were 468
overall. Diabetic women who ate fish at least once a month were older,
slightly heavier, typically didn't smoke, tended to have hypertension
high cholesterol, and took multivitamin and vitamin E supplements.
ate more fish also ate more fruits and vegetables but ate less red and
Compared with diabetic women who seldom ate fish (less than once a
the risk of developing heart disease was reduced on average by 30
those who ate fish one to three times a month, 40 percent for those who
it once a week, 36 percent in those who ate fish two to four times a
and 64 percent in those who ate fish five or more times a week. Higher
consumption was also associated with a significantly lower death rate.
Hu says that the association between higher fish consumption in
women and better heart health can also be extended to diabetic men
similar findings in studies of healthier men and women.
"One limitation of this study is that it is not a randomized clinical
trial," Hu says. "Thus, the benefits we observed for fish may be due to
other dietary and lifestyle factors related to fish intake." Even so,
says their findings are solid because of their "careful adjustment for
important cardiovascular risk factors.
"Regular fish consumption should be considered as part of a healthy
diabetes management," Hu says. "For individual patients, at least two
servings of fish per week is recommended."
Fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore
and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
An accompanying editorial by Scott M. Grundy, M.D., director of the
for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
at Dallas, provides a review of the current status of research on
fatty acids in fish, plants and supplements.
Grundy says Hu's research supports previous prospective epidemiological
studies that found omega-3 fatty acids offer protection against CVD.
However, he urges that clinical trials of omega-3 fatty acids after a
attack be conducted to determine if they can reduce coronary deaths in
Hu's co-authors are Eunyoung Cho, Sc.D.; Kathryn M. Rexrode, M.D.;
M. Albert, M.D.; and JoAnn E. Manson, M.D. The study was partly funded
the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.
I'm not low-carbing but I still think the sugar alcohols
should be avoided and apparently for good reason.
Should You Count Those "Net Carbs" or "Low Impact" Carbs
Every drugstore, supermarket, and department store in U.S. is filled
with snack products that claim to be perfect for low carb diet. The
labels on these products may list 24 grams of carbs but assure you that you
only have to count 2 or 3 of these grams in your daily carb allotment.
They may call these carbs "low impact carbs" or "net carbs" and display
them promenently on the front of the product, but the carb count on the
nutritional label--the only one that the FDA regulates will list a far
higher carb count.
If these disappearing "net carbs" make you suspicious, you may prefer
to buy products that list only a gram or two of carbs in their
nutritional information. But a look at their ingredient list may show that
mysterious substances like glycerine or polydextrose are major ingredients
of these bars, too--exact same substances reported on labels of bars
that claim "3 grams of Net Carbs" on the front of the package and list
20-something grams of carbs in their nutritional information panel.
What's Going on Here?
Most of these "low carb" products are sweetened with substances called
"sugar alcohols." Maltitol, lacitol, and sorbitol are some of names of
these sweeteners. Despite the name, these aren't sugars or alcohols.
They are hydrogenated starch molecules which are a byproduct of grain
processing. These sugar alcohols are manufactured by the three large
agribusiness companies: SPI Polyols, Roquette America, Inc. and Archer
Daniels Midland. Having saturated world with high fructose corn syrup, these
giant corn-producing companies have now turned to hydrogenated corn
starch molecules as yet another way to wring profits out of surplus corn.
Despite wrapper claims, these sugar alcohols are metabolized. Each gram
of a sugar alcohol turns into anywhere from less than 1 to as much as 3
calories. Erythritol comes in lowest, delivering less than one calorie
per gram. Maltitol--the sugar alcohol found in most "low carb" foods is
the highest, delivering 3 calories per gram. That is only a bit less
than 4 calories you find in regular sugar and starch.
It is because these sugar alcohols can be metabolized as carbohydrates
that US law requires that they be reported as carbohydrates on
nutritional labels and why their calories are included in calorie counts. But
though many food companies still mdo not report them in their label
Several years ago, after the FDA fined Atkins Nutritionals for ignoring
the 20+ grams of glycerin found in their product in the nutritional
panel of their Advantage Bars, the company invented the "Net Carbs"
designation that it now places on the front of wrappers--but not on the
nutritional panel. This ruse was so successful, they went on to licensed use
of this phrase and Atkins "A" to other companies so that they too could
continue deluding customers about the carb content of their foods. .
Small print on back of these label explains that fiber and sugar
alcohols have a "negligible effect on blood sugar". This, they suggest means
that you can ignore them, and magically converts foods that have 24
grams of carbs--and the associated calories--into foods with a
diet-friendly 3 grams.
If it were true that these foods did not raise blood sugar, it would
make them ideal for the low carb diet. However, it is not always true.
Some lucky people can eat these low carb treats and still lose weight on
a low carb diet. But hundreds of people who have stopped by the
alt.support.diet.low-carb news group to ask why their weight loss has stopped
cold, discover that it is these sugar alcohol-laden low carb junk foods
that have caused their long-term stalls.
The reason for this, is quite simply, that sugar alcohols, particularly
Maltitol, the one that is most common in these products, can have a
very significant impact on blood sugar. This isn't speculation. It's a
fact. Many people with diabetes, who track any rise in their blood sugar
with a blood sugar meter, find that these products cause a significant
rise in their blood sugar, contrary to the label claims.
I'm one of them. My blood sugar rises almost as high when I eat a
maltitol-sweetened Russell Stover "No Sugar" candy as it does if I eat a
regular Russell Stover candy of same size. The only difference is that it
takes two hours for the blood sugar rise to occur when I eat the "no
sugar" candy compared to the one hour that it takes when I eat regular
candy. This blood sugar rise is followed by a period of low blood
sugar--the hallmark of an insulin response--and, for me, the trigger for
intense, diet-busting hunger. So much for "truth in labeling."
I am not only person who has found this to be true. Fran McCullough
warns readers of the very high blood sugar spikes reported by diabetics
after eating glycerine-containing Atkins bars in her book, Living Low
A comprehensive review published by Canadian Journal of Diabetes gives
a very good overview of the scientific research into how sugar alcohols
affect both normal people and people with diabetes.
Note the finding, on Page 5, that for normal people, research shows
that chocolate bars sweetened with maltitol raised the blood sugar of
normal people as high as did chocolate bars sweetened with sucrose--table
Not for Everyone!
However, there are other people with diabetes who report that they
don't see a blood sugar rise when they eat foods containing these sugar
alcohols. They find these products give them a way to incorporate
legitimate treats into their diets and are grateful that they are now so
There are also a number of successful low carbers who report in diet
newsgroup that they have been able to lose significant amounts of weight
while including these "low carb" treats in their food plans on a daily
basis. You will often find them railing against "puritanism" of those
who warn new dieters against them.
So, clearly these products do not affect everyone in same way. For some
people they are a godsend. For others, they turn out to be "Stall in a
Why Do Sugar Alcohols Only Affect Some People?
Since it seems that only a subset of the population metabolizes sugar
alcohols as sugar, it is quite possible that some people lack some
enzyme(s) needed to digest them and turn them into blood sugar. Since those
people's bodies can't turn these sugar alcohols into glucose, they do
not experience a blood sugar rise when they eat them.
Lending some support to this idea is fact that some of the people who
report that they did not experience a blood sugar rise when they ate a
product with a sugar alcohol in it, add that they experienced intense
diarrhea or gas later on. These are classic symptoms of what happens when
starches pass undigested into lower gut where they may be fermented by
bacteria (causing gas) or suck water out of cells lining the colon
Many of us who do get blood sugar rise do not experience this diarrhea.
Our digestive enzymes appear to be able to break down these
hydrogenated starches into glucose--though given the time lag, this happens
Diabetes expert Rick Mendosa has a very interesting web page
http://www.mendosa.com/netcarbs.htm that points out "If the sugar
alcohols had no impact on our blood glucose, they would have a glycemic
index of zero. With the the December 2003 publication of Geoffrey Livesey's
amazing review of sugar alcohols, we now know a lot more about them
than ever before. His article, "Health potential of polyols as sugar
replacers, with emphasis on low glycemic properties," is in Nutrition
Research Reviews 2003;16:163-91.
Mendosa goes on to say: "Only two of the sugar alcohols have a GI of
zero, according to Livesey's research. These are mannitol and erythritol.
Several others have a very low GI, but two maltitol syrups have a GI
greater than 50. This is a higher GI value than that of spaghetti, orange
juice, or carrots."
What about Glycerine?
Glycerine is another sweet additive that manufacturers add to low carb
bars. Here again, you'll find tha, because manufacturers claim
glycerine does not raise blood sugar they omit it in the carb section of the
label information or, if they do list it, they do not include it in
number of diet-counted "impact" carbs. ( Glycerine is sometimes spelled
Glycerin and is another name for glycerol.)
As Lee Rodgers, proprietor of The Low Carb Retreat explains that it is
only true that Glycerine does not raise blood sugar when people are not
low carbing. Rogers states:
When liver glycogen is full, glycerol is converted to fat.
When liver glycogen is empty, glycerol is converted to glucose.
And sometimes just goes right through without doing anything
In short, if you are in ketosis (having emptied your liver of glycogen,
its stored carbs) glycerine is likely to turn into blood sugar, and
then, of course, it raises insulin, defeating mechanism by which low carb
weight loss takes place.
This past issue of Rick Mendosa's Diabetes Update Discusses in more
detail why FDA insists that glycerine must be treated as a carbohydrate on
What about Fiber?
Perhaps the most confusing part of new "net carbs" designation is that
it combines sugar alcohols and fiber in the same designation. This is
Fiber, unlike sugar alcohols, is not metabolized into a significant
amount of calories and does not turn into blood sugar. Therefore it can
usually be deducted from a food's total carb count.
But even here, a little caution is required. That's because labeling
laws outside United States often treat fiber differently. In many
European countries, fiber is already deducted from the label's total carb
count. For example, imported Scandinavian bran crackers that list 3 grams
of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber do not contain zero grams of
carbohydrate. If they followed U.S. labeling conventions, their labels would
show 6 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber, since the European
labels have already deducted the fiber from the total. This is also true
of many imported chocolates.
To make it even more confusing, many U.S. nut labels also deduct fiber
from total counts, too--walnuts in particular. Despite fact that Walnut
labels usually say "3 grams total carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber" walnuts
are not a zero carb treat! They contain about 2 grams of carbohydrate
Net Carbs and Restaurant Food
Where "net carb" designation becomes truly dangerous is in restaurants
because new "low carb" restaurant menus do not giveyou complete
nutritional data or any hint of an item's ingredients, only the "net carb"
So for all you know, that "3 gram net carbs" cheese cake may contain 40
grams of maltitol, which is the equivalent of 30 grams of sugar. Nor
can you distinguish between a food that contains 10 grams of fiber and
one that contains 10 grams of a lacitol, the sugar alcohol many dieters
have found causes profound diarrhea. All you know when you see that "net
carbs" designation is that the carb count of the food you are about to
eat is much higher than what restaurant would have to report were it
giving you legal carb counts. You can hope that the additional carbs are
fiber, but you may very well be wrong.
So What Does This Mean for You?
If you are just starting out low carbing, you would be well advised to
treat with caution any supposedly "low carb" product that cites net
carbs rather than total carbs. If you are one of people who do metabolize
sugar alcohols, these "low impact carbs" will turn into regular, old,
high-impact glucose, and eating a couple of these treats each day can
easily derail your low carb diet by adding another 20 to 40 grams of
carbohydrate to your intake.
That's why you might be wise to try low carbing without any of these
suspect foods for the first few weeks of your diet until you have become
accustomed to how your body feels when your blood sugar has stabilized
on a truly low carb regimen. If you crave a sweet treat during these
first few weeks, try one of truly low carb treats and snacks whose
recipes have been posted on web. You can find these recipes using Google
Groups Advanced Search scanning the alt.support.diet.low-carb newsgroup for
term "REC." You'll find hundreds of recipes containing no "hidden
carbs" at all. Do this until you've gotten the hang of what low carbing
feels like to your body.
Once you've gotten into a steady low carb regimen and are losing weight
steadily, you can test these commercial "low carb" products to see what
effect they have on you. If you keep losing weight after introducing
them, you can relax. You are one of lucky ones who can, in fact, treat
them as having "low impact" carbs. If you don't, well, for you there's no
free lunch. Continue making your own truly low carb treats--and losing
If you are diabetic, you don't have to guess about how sugar alcohols
affect you. You can turn to your trusty blood sugar meter to see what
they do to your blood sugar. But if you test, test products containing
sugar alcohols 2 and 3 hours after eating. Testing only at one hour after
eating may be too early and you may miss blood sugar spikes they cause.
With the new "low carb" pastas, you may have to test as many as 5 hours
after eating and you should also look at your fasting blood sugar the
next morning. Several people have reported that while they didn't spike
on the low carb pastas, their fasting blood sugars were significantly
elevated the next morning.
Watch Out for Increased Hunger
No matter what you see on your scale or observe on a blood sugar meter,
be alert for an increase in your hunger level when you eat these "net
carbs" foods. My own experience and that of some other low carb dieters
who have reported this on the newsgroup is that some of "low carb"
products made with sugar alcohols cause an increase in hunger that is out
of proportion to the blood sugar readings they produce. I have found
this especially noticeable with foods containing lacitol.
If you notice yourself suddenly getting hungry, or just plain eating
more food after you have introduced a new "low carb" treat into your
diet, back off for a few days and see what happens to your hunger level. If
it goes down, you'll need to treat these foods with caution. The whole
point of low carbing is to eliminate the hunger cravings that make
dieting so difficult.
Don't Forget the Extra Calories
Even if you can eat snack products containing sugar alcohols without
experiencing blood sugar spikes or hunger cravings, it's worth giving
some thought to the question of how good an idea it is to fill your diet
up with calorie-dense low carb junk food.
Though the best selling diet book authors make it sound as if low
carbing somehow magically "melts fat away" this is not true. Low carbing
evens out blood sugar which eliminates hunger and makes it very easy to
eat a lot less. But to achieve long term weight loss you must eat less
than you burn each day.
As you get closer to your weight goal, this becomes more and more
evident. The smaller you are, the less food your body burns. As a result,
most people find they cannot get last the 20 pounds off without watching
their calories closely and eating only 9 - 10 times their body weight
in calories. (i.e. if you weigh 140 lbs you may find you have to eat as
little as 1269 to 1400 calories a day to lose, depending on speed of
your metabolism and your activity level.)
With that in mind, you can see why, independent of the blood sugar
issue, that snack bar with its 240 calories that you eat every day between
meals may have serious repercussions for your diet--it is adding 1680
calories a week--over 1/2 pound's worth of calories--besides replacing
more nutritious foods like the high fiber, low carb vegetables that are
an important part of the diet of long-term successful low carb dieters.