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Old Wed, Feb-18-04, 11:47
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gotbeer gotbeer is offline
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Posts: 2,889
Plan: Atkins
Stats: 280/203/200 Male 69 inches
Progress: 96%
Location: Dallas, TX, USA

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Low-carb language

It's not easy to keep the low-carb lingo straight. Here are some basic terms used in this lifestyle:

Net carbs. The number that results from subtracting grams of fiber from grams of carbohydrates in a food serving. The idea is that since fiber isn't absorbed -- and has no effect on blood sugar -- it isn't counted as a carb.

Glycemic index. An index measuring how quickly a 50-gram serving of a certain food converts to sugar. Foods with high glycemic indices cause dramatic rises in blood sugar levels; therefore, low-carb diets suggest eating low-glycemic carbs (such as green vegetables), instead.

Induction. The first, and most stringent, phase of low-carb diets such as Atkins. It's designed to induce weight loss by switching the body from a carb-burning to a fat-burning metabolism, and by stabilizing blood sugar levels to prevent cravings.

Ketosis. A term describing what happens to the body when it switches to fat as its main source of fuel. The body is in ketosis when a person keeps his or her carb intake low enough to lower insulin levels and break down fat.

Sugar alcohols. Also called polyols, these sugar-free sweeteners (maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, etc.) are carbohydrates but are not sugar. Included in low-carb diets because they don't cause sudden increases in blood sugar (and thus prompt food cravings), but are slowly and incompletely absorbed from the small intestine into the blood.

Sources: Living the Low Carb Life (Sterling Publishing, 2004); Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution (Quill, 2002).

Fast food adapts to the craze

What good is a diet if you can’t stick to it once you leave the house? The low-carb craze has stalked its way into the nation’s fast-food joints, and here’s what you’re likely to find as alternatives to the requisite burgers and buns:

Subway is trying to wrap up the low-carb eater with its Carb-Controlled Turkey Bacon Melt and Chicken Bacon Ranch Melt. Gone are the fresh-baked breads on which Subway staked its claim; in their place are "Atkins-friendly" tortillas that hold shredded Monterey Cheddar cheese, bacon, onions, green peppers, olives and a chipotle Southwest sauce, and chicken, Swiss cheese, bacon, onions, green peppers, olives and ranch dressing, respectively.

Each wrap contains fewer than 11 net carbs, or those carbs with no impact on blood sugar levels. Subway is the only fast-food eatery with menu items created with input from the Atkins brand.

"Hold the buns, hold the ketchup" is the new low-carb mantra at Burger King. Its U.S. restaurants are now serving Whoppers in plastic salad bowls along with forks and knives. BK says its bunless beef and chicken Whoppers contain fewer than 5 grams of carbs — and to keep counts low, the fast-food chain suggests low-carb followers ditch the ketchup (3 grams per plastic packet), forgo regular soft drinks, and trade those fries for a side salad.

McDonald’s restaurants in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area last month launched "McDonald’s Real Life Choices," a campaign giving diners tips on reducing their carb, calorie and fat intake when eating at these 650-plus stores. Through posters and brochures, the campaign shows customers how to have it their way at Mickey D’s. Those "Watching Carbohydrates" can, for example, order a double order of scrambled eggs for breakfast (less than 5 grams of carbs) or a Quarter Pounder minus the bun and ketchup (less than 7).

Hardee’s in December trotted out the "Low Carb Thickburger," a bunless, iceberg lettuce-wrapped number with just 5 grams of carbs. The burger comes with mustard, mayo, cheese, tomato, red onion and pickles — and a reduced amount of ketchup. The result, according to Hardee’s? A whopping 49 fewer carb grams than its original charbroiled Thickburger.

While it isn’t quite fast food, Caribou Coffee recently introduced the Skinny ’Bou, which claims to be the nation’s first line of low-carb and lower-calorie specialty coffee drinks. These vanilla- or caramel-flavored lattes are sweetened with Atkins-approved Splenda. And, thanks to the sugar substitute, add only 7 carb grams to your diet rather than the 33 grams found in Caribou’s regular latte versions. Finally an eye opener that doesn’t widen your waist.

Want to give it a try?

Making the switch to a low-carb lifestyle isn't always easy. But here are some tips to help you make it work whether you're cooking at home or dining out:

When you go to restaurants, says author Jonny Bowden, think as the Europeans do when it comes to portion size. Order an appetizer and a salad -- and if you order an entree, take half home. He says this way of eating has become "very New York and L.A." among trendy low-carbers.

Another dining-out tip from Bowden: Divide your plate into thirds. Load up one-third with a serving of protein, and the other two-thirds with veggies and fruits. If you've got a sweet tooth, occasionally work a sweet potato into the mix.

Consider nuts as a low-carb snack, say Bowden and Atkins' Colette Heimowitz. They can help reduce heart disease and stabilize blood sugar while adding fiber, protein and healthy fats to your diet.

If you're past the initial phase of a low-carb plan, cut out "nutritionally void" carbs such as soda, white flour and white sugar from your diet, says Heimowitz. Since you're counting carbs, replace these with more fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as brown rice and oats.

If sugar is listed as one of the first three ingredients on a food label, says Heimowitz, "put it down."

Before munching on sweets, be sure to check food labels for ingredients such as sorbitol, maltitol -- and any others ending in "ol," says Denise Foley of Prevention. In some people, these sugar alcohol sweeteners can have a laxative effect or cause other digestive distress. Foley suggests starting with small portions until you discover how your system reacts. In other words, go slow on the sweet stuff.

Add a nutrition or health professional to your weight loss team, suggests the American Dietetic Association's Sue Moores. "A dietitian can help make [low-carb diets] more sensical for folks so that they can achieve success," she says.

Maureen Jenkins
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