Sunday, November 05, 2006

How Can Bacon Stall Low-Carb Weight Loss?

Are you consuming a lot of bacon and not losing weight?

Courtesy of our friends over at The Weight Loss Daily Blog, I learned something new about the food that most people erroneously stereotype as the staple of livin' la vida low-carb: BACON!

Although the idea that those of us who are on a low-carb diet sit around all day snacking on bacon, eggs and cheese is completely untrue, the popular perception by most uneducated people about this way of eating is that you should eat that way. That's why the people who go on their own version of "the Atkins diet" are robbing themselves of the right way to do low-carb.

Because it seems the nitrates and nitrites that are added to bacon as a way to help preserve their color and protect against the growth of bacteria is actually the culprit in the added risk of cancer and those dreaded weight loss stalls.

When nitrates and nitrites come under intense heat in the curing process, they are transformed into what is called nitrosamines. This problem extends to some other meats as well like sausage, ham and smoked fish, although it is most common in bacon.

The reason for the stall in your low-carb weight loss appears to happen when the fat intake is higher than what is needed to satisfy your hunger according to the column. While the columnist alleges cured meats are high in LDL cholesterol which "is responsible for clogged arteries" (no, it's not!), the fact is that you NEED fat because it serves as your fuel on the low-carb lifestyle.

While I personally haven't eaten bacon very often on my low-carb plan in the past year, I do eat a lot of meat. Primarily, I enjoy turkey breast, chicken, sausage, Wild Alaskan Salmon, steak, and sometimes ham. Bacon is consumed primarily when I eat out at a breakfast-type restaurant or buffet place.

This nitrate and nitrite problem is one low-carbers should certainly watch out for, but it is easily remedied by limiting your intake of bacon and other cured meats or finding alternatives that are nitrate-free.

The article recommends finding "a source of preservative-free, fresh meat, whether it be a local butcher or a mail-order meat source." GREAT IDEA and I'll keep my eyes open for a good source for such products. If you have any recommendations, then please feel free to share in the comments section below.

At the end of the article, there is a warning for people on the low-carb lifestyle to only select meats and portions that keep cholesterol consumption to 300mg or less and fat intake at the prescribed minimum for low-carb diets.

Let's get one thing straight: consuming cholesterol in your diet does NOT increase the cholesterol in your body. Dana Carpender hits this point very hard in her book Every Calorie Counts and it is one worth repeating over and over again. This is one of the most misunderstood health concepts that people still don't understand. Wake up people! It's NOT the cholesterol you eat that gives you high cholesterol!

As for the warning about only eating the amount of fat prescribed on your low-carb plan, what the heck is that? The last time I checked, there is NO limit to the amount of fat you can eat on most low-carb programs, especially Atkins. Fat is the lifeblood of your low-carb weight loss plan and limiting it will not help you shed the pounds any faster. The notion that you'll clog your arteries with fat is as old and outdated as the low-fat diet itself. We have GOT to get over this fat phobia people!

While I appreciate the information regarding nitrates and nitrites from The Weight Loss Daily Blog, the information provided was a mixed bag at best. That's why you must always be discerning and skeptical of any and all information you read about, even what you read here at "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb."

When more people start becoming independent thinkers rather than mind-numbed robots believing everything we hear, then we will see a radical shift in attitude about these long-held dietary beliefs. Until then, we'll have to keep correcting the lies when they rear their ugly head!

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Blogger Wanda said...

"When more people start becoming independent thinkers rather than mind-numbed robots believing everything we hear, "

Isn't that about right?

Personally I have 4 slices of bacon every Sunday like clockwork. It's a Sunday thing that my family and I have and the only thing I took away was the bread.
I also think instead of these people making it "law" they should also add that everyone has to find what stalls them and do their homework.
What stalls me is if I eat more then my share of nuts or alot of the low carb bars and stuff.....

I do know a place with "fresh bacon" though at a local butcher, might have to check it out.

I am also confused why they keep coming back to the cholesterol issue.
I was off Lipitor within 4 weeks of eating low carb so what research are they doing?

11/05/2006 10:23 PM  
Blogger Jeff Hamlin said...

What exactly is the "right" way for low carb, Jimmy? Many people do fine eating just bacon, meat, eggs, and cheese. I could personally care less what the media thinks. I'll do it my own way (should I choose the great zero carb path or not)and not obsess myself with mainstream acceptance because it's just not happening. We have to do what's best for us. Down with appeasement! :)

11/06/2006 12:58 AM  
Blogger Calianna said...

Aside from the fact that nitrates are preservatives (and the use of so many preservatives in the diet is questionable at best), I'd be more concerned about the sugar used in the curing solution of such meats as bacon. The amount of sugar in one serving usually isn't enough to register on the nutrition information as even one carb, but eat enough bacon, and you could certainly throw off your carb count for the day.

As for the cholesterol count in bacon, even if I subscribed to the theory that ingestion of too much dietary cholesterol was to blame for high serum cholesterol in humans (which I don't), I wouldn't worry too much about bacon being a major source of it. According to the nutrition information on the locally produced brand that I use (on rare occasions - I'm just not a big fan of bacon), the amount of cholesterol in one slice of microwave cooked bacon is a whopping 2% of your daily allowance.

The amount of fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrate in your bacon is definitely a case of "Your Mileage May Vary" though, because different brands may be sliced thicker or thinner, may be fatter or leaner, and different brands may be cured with more or less nitrates/nitrites and sugars. The cooking method also affects the amount of fat and cholesterol that remains in the bacon after cooking, if you're concerned about those numbers.

11/06/2006 12:54 PM  
Blogger renegadediabetic said...

Another thing is that bacon is often sugar cured. I don't eat it very often -- mostly for flavoring or when eating out.

It also has a lot of fat and not a lot of protein. I have nothing against fat, but I'd like more protein from my meat.

11/06/2006 1:24 PM  
Blogger renegadediabetic said...

About the cholesterol thing, when I stopped eating cereal and skim milk for breakfast and started eating eggs, my cholesterol went down. I also avoided further pressure to take Lipitor.

11/06/2006 2:20 PM  
Blogger Grumblebee said...

Canadian bacon and pancetta are good alternatives to traditional bacon and dont have nitrates or sugars adding during curing. :)

11/07/2006 3:52 AM  

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