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Low Carb Mistakes

05/06/05

  10:57:54 am, by Nimble   , 820 words  
Categories: Low-Carb

Low Carb Mistakes

I've been noticing some low-carb products disappearing, some becoming harder to find, although there's still a trickle of new products.

Now, low-carb eating is still a mighty effective way to lose or maintain weight. So why aren't we seeing low-carb products win out the same way low-fat products did?

Here's a few points I think where low-carb products failed, or are failing:

  • Some of the bulk sugar substitutes, most notably sugar alcohols like maltitol, have some seriously nasty effects. Two maltitol-based chocolates are enough to send a lot of folks' guts gurgling. Reminds me of the Faustian bargain that went on stateside with Olestra.
  • It is not just counting 'effective carbs'. Based on personal experience, the particular ingredients have a definite effect. Between two products of the same 'carb count', the one that has soy protein, dextrose and polydextrose will be more effective than one that has semolina and glucose/fructose in it.

By way of example, Panago was offering a 'low carb crust' pizza, and although I'm sure it was 'better' than regular pizza in low carb terms, it certainly felt 'carby', and the scale reflected this.

By 'carby' feeling, I mean that there is a certain feeling associated with eating carbohydrate-rich foods after a hiatus, a certain loagieness, a mild amount of nausea, but a bit more 'quick energy' (low carb depletes your glycogen, and you don't know what this means until you try sprinting from a jog, to find out you can't - a little like the feeling you get when you've been running for a while, minus the euphoria and sweat :)

One thing that the Atkins-spearheaded movement has done is brought sucralose to the masses. It kicks ass all over aspartame. No, seriously. It was invented by my favorite old sugar company, Tate & Lyle, which made my Scottish childhood eating porridge oats tolerable.

"Light" cranberry juice was the first accessible item to use sucralose, and now we are starting to get it in pop (Diet Orange Crush in Canada does, as does Lipton's new Diet Iced Tea, and it's used in the half-calories colas Pepsi Advantage and C2)

(Let me take a brief aside... if you search for sucralose, one of the first sites you'll see is one by Dr. Mercola. I'm going to go right ahead and call him a crank pending further evidence. He has some realistic-sounding anti-sucralose quotes on his web site now, but I view them with extreme suspicion considering the quotes he had solicited and posted prior to this. Like the woman who ate two bags of the low-carb Jelly Belly jelly beans, who "recognized all the ingredients on the bag except sucralose", with her severe symptoms. Total bullcrap - I've seen the product, it's almost pure sugar alcohols, and the effects she had were sugar alcohol reactions. The rest of the strange freak show of people with pre-existing renal failure and the like had stories just as relevant to the average person.)

(Just keep that, and which side his bread is buttered on, in mind if you visit his site.)

There are some good products still hanging around. Some of the Carb Options products have been good solid staples, especially the salad dressings (well, ranch you can get anywhere, but they make a very good catalina/california tastealike) and the powdered drinks (peach, raspberry and iced tea - yum!).

Michelina's Advantage and Swanson's CarbWatch products also seem to have the right idea.

Breyer's Smart Scoop, surprisingly, lives up to its low carb name. It seems almost criminal to be having a close equivalent of ice cream on a 'diet', but hey, what works, works.

You can have some of the low carb breads and wraps in moderation, too. Just check the ingredients; they seem to make a difference, even with similar counts (usu. 5-7g/slice) Atkins cereals do well as well.

On the strange-but-good front is Dairyland's new Carb Aware milk. It's pretty expensive, but keeps very well. It has a bit of an odd taste to it, though - tastes like milk plus milk powder plus something you'd use for bodybuilding. It works great everywhere you'd use milk, but the taste may be too rich/thick for just drinking it straight out of the carton :) (In Calgary, I've managed to buy it at the 16th Avenue CO-OP near Edmonton Trail)

Yoplait's Source yogurts are pretty good as well, and use sucralose to round out the sweetness. They taste good - you wouldn't know the difference. Don't eat the whole 1L tub in one sitting, though :)

And, of course, the staples of a low carb diet, meat and veggies, don't really need any special branding at all :)

What it comes down to is the too-expensive and not-effective products seem to be dropping out, although taking some good items with them. So don't expect them to approach the fame and ubiquity of low-fat products, but what's left over is actually going to be pretty good.

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