Thursday, May 05, 2005

Traveling Is No Excuse For Not Doing Low-Carb

She Knows Network asks a good question for people who are livin' la vida low-carb especially in light of the upcoming vacation time coming this summer -- what can you eat at the airport?

I haven't traveled by airplane for more than five years and don't know personally about the limitations on food choices in airports. However, from what I do remember about airports, the food selection varies depending on how big it is. But with a little bit of creativity and planning, you shouldn't have to "blow" your low-carb lifestyle just because you are traveling.

"When I am forced to eat a mass-transit meal, my first low-carb thought is always eggs," says Derek Alessi, LowCarb Energy fitness expert and author of Lose Fat Forever. "Eggs -- especially the egg whites -- are a great source of protein. In fact, eggs have the highest absorption of any natural protein at a 96 percent value. That means 96 percent of the protein you consume from eggs will absorb into the body."

Eggs are very handy indeed. In fact, I just had egg with American cheese on Atkins bread for supper last night. Yummy! If you find a breakfast shop in the airport, this is a great place to stop for a quick bite between flights. Of course, a lot of people bemoan eating so many eggs when they are on Atkins. If that's you, then there are other options, too.

You can also order a cheeseburger or chicken sandwich without the bun.

"If I am fortunate enough to be at a restaurant that offers a salad, I will ask for the bun-less burger or chicken to be put over the salad," Alessi says.

For people on a low-carb lifestyle, you get used to eating a burger or other sandwiches without the bread. It's a way of life for us now because we know the carbs in that big bun or submarine sandwich would put us back for days. You can skip the fries, too, and ask for a salad, even if it happens to cost you a little more money. The savings to your health make it much more worth it!

I was concerned when I read about a woman who is doing low-carb and is lactose intolerant because of the following statement she made: "I'm also fat-conscious, so I will order my sandwich with no mayonnaise; then I'll add extra mustard," she says.

Yikes! As I have said many times before (but it's worth repeating often), it is extremely dangerous to mix a low-carb lifestyle with a low-fat diet. The two in conjunction are counterproductive to your weight loss and health goals. DON'T DO IT! Your body needs the fat in the foods you eat while livin' la vida low-carb to keep you satisfied and to do Atkins correctly. You are only going to get frustrated and eventually quit if you try to combine low-carb with low-fat.

Of course, you could plan ahead before you go on your trip and pack some handy low-carb snacks such as nuts, mozzarella cheese sticks, pepperoni slices, low-carb candy and bars, etc. It's a whole lot cheaper and you're sure to have something you can eat if the airport selection lets you down. This is a good idea anytime you are going somewhere unfamiliar and you want to make sure you don't mess up on your low-carb plan.

The article has a list of 5 suggestions for low-carbers while traveling that I agree with in part and disagree with other parts (look for my parenthetical comments):

1. Strictly avoid the "white hazard"-- white flour, white rice, potatoes, sugar and sweets.

2. Eat as many vegetables (I would add the phrase "that are acceptable on Atkins") as possible.

3. Strictly avoid all liquid calories, with the exception of one serving of wine, liquor or low-carb beer (I would remove the exception because I don't recommend any alcoholic beverages when you are livin' la vida low-carb because they dehydrate your body and slow your metabolism).

4. Always have some healthy protein such as seafood, skinless poultry, lean beef or pork, nuts, beans (I would not recommend you eat beans because they're too high in carbs!) or eggs.

5. Always control your portions: With the exception of vegetables, limit the amount you eat to the equivalent of your hands cupped together. Phetteplace spaces her allotted daily carbs over the course of several meals. "I'm much healthier if I eat three or four small carb meals throughout the day instead of one huge meal," says Phetteplace. (Okay, ignore this suggestion completely because portion size is irrelevant on a low-carb lifestyle. It's good to eat lots of small meals throughout the day to satisfy your hunger, but just eat until you're not hungry anymore. It's not rocket science people!).

One final point in the article that I thought was worth mentioning is the woman doing low-carb wanting restaurants and their employees to become more educated about what low-carb is all about. She detailed her concerns in a story about a recent visit she had to a national restaurant chain where she asked if he knew the carb content of the foods on the low-carb menu.

"The young man, who was probably new, gave me a, 'No, I don't know,' instead of trying to direct me to some of the literature they had that would have answered my question. I finally figured it out and was able to order, but it was frustrating," says Phetteplace.

Welcome to my world. I have to do this at literally any restaurant I go to nowadays. It is frustrating because it shouldn't be very hard to inform the staff of the carb totals in foods. It's no less important than knowing the fat content on the low-fat menu (and I bet most of them know that by heart!). The education about low-carb will need to continue as more and more people are livin' la vida low-carb.

The story ends with some good advice from a doctor: "With a little preparation and wise choices, you will be able to keep your nutrition disciplined on the road."

So enjoy your trip in the coming months, but don't use it as an excuse for not doing low-carb!

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