The Atkins’ Induction diet ended two weeks ago, and since then I’ve been traveling and generally drinking and eating as if these would be my last meals ever! In hindsight, the Atkins’ diet wasn’t so horrific (although I’m sure that’s a result of my selective memory). There was nothing wrong with the diet – it was strict, but doable, and I definitely saw results within those two weeks (I lost 6 lbs and felt so much more awake during the day). The problem only came when I ended the diet.
There was the initial joyous anticipation, which started a few days before the diet was scheduled to end, and I didn’t stray from the diet during those few last days even though I had to fly to Atlanta (I dutifully packed some home-made jerky and Atkins’ mudslide bars for the flight and enjoyed a very large salad (see photo) at the airport before the flight). I know, pat pat on the shoulders! Then, there was the day itself – I wasn’t too bad initially (I had a sticky bun at a local brunch place in Woodstock, GA), but then it just fell apart over the following two weeks as more and more carb-full and sugar-packed delights came into my purview. I had everything from milkshakes (including a foie gras one that I did not enjoy) to burgers and doughnuts (the ones at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland were amazing!). Then I topped it all off with a brioche french toast brunch coupled with butter slathered on moist biscuits (the Southern kind) this morning at Craftbar. Sigh. I knew after the meal that something had to change. I was exhausted and ready to go to sleep at 2pm in the afternoon after having only gotten up two hours previously. This was not how I wanted to spend my previous weekend days.
So, a new challenge. No more eating out for a WHOLE MONTH! It’s going to recharge my energy, boost my health, and increase my bank balance! Friends, if you want to see me for dinner, bring your dinner and come over to eat 😀 I’ll even share some of my food with you! I’d like to say I can do this challenge for longer, but I already have a trip to Chicago planned in mid-October (traveling always seems to screw up my diet as Atlanta and Portland demonstrated!).
And to keep up with my experimentation of low carb diets, I am planning to start Mark Sisson’s Primal diet (a popular version of the Paleo “caveman” diet) next week.
I was lazy this past weekend and didn’t cook any food to eat for dinner during the week. Dinner has therefore been a nightmare to plan for. At 8pm, I sit and ponder through the short list of choices that I can order from while hunger pangs gnaw at my stomach lining. I skim through the seamlessweb list again hoping, even though I have given up hope, that there’ll be miracle restaurant that I’d missed on my previous 300 browses. Sigh. Nothing. That’s when I give up and order from one of my regular places. It’s not amazing, but it’s sustenance, and some of it is pretty decent! Here’s my top 5 restaurant choices for the Atkins induction diet:
Meat grilled on a stick. I like most grilled meats as long as it’s not too overcooked, but I do have a beef with the stingy amount of meat that a lot of restaurants serve while charging me $15! I got dinner from Dervish Restaurant (on 47th between 6th and 7th) and ordered my you-can’t-go-wrong chicken kebab (they called it brochette, which is just a fancy french word for kebab!). My heart sank as soon as I saw the dish. 5 pieces of chicken sat atop of bed of rice, and the container came with a brown bag of naan bread. They certainly gave me enough food – just not enough low carb food.
Healthy healthy sheep food. Chomp Chomp Chomp! There’s all sorts of salad options, and pretty much every restaurant has one that you can eat without the dressing. Even McDonalds has salads that you can eat (although you might have to pick out some of those oh-so-tasty carrot slices). When it comes to salad places, I like places where you create your own salad by physically grabbing the tongs and putting into your bowl how much you want as opposed to places where there’s a server who daintily scoops exactly 6 tiny pieces of chicken cubes into my salad.
I didn’t really eat steak growing up, and I definitely didn’t eat steak that had even a faint shade of pink in the middle! When I first came to America, I started eating steak well done, then after a few years, I moved down to medium well, and now I’m at medium. However, I’m still not a fan of the steak swimming in its own blood, so I doubt I’ll be ordering it rare anytime soon!
I love BBQ – the grilling and smoking just makes the meat so tender and flavorful. Of course, a lot of the time, that flavor is coming from the BBQ sauce and that’s when I sadly have to decline to eat the meat. Luckily, Hill Country’s BBQ doesn’t come already slathered in sauce and they deliver, so I can just gobble up their moist brisket for dinner most nights.
1. Rotisserie Chicken:
I would normally never dream of putting any kind of chicken number 1 in a food list – I just think there are way better meats than chicken. But, I have learnt that some rotisserie chicken, like the ones at Pio Pio, are just so tender and juicy, they taste good enough for a meal even without their green spicy sauce (commonly described in Yelp reviews as crack!).
I never use my oven enough when I’m cooking – I think it’s probably the Asian in me! My parents have a large kitchen with 3 ovens, and yet they never use any of them! I’m not even positive they know how to use the oven! The only time I remember using the oven before college was to dry a piece of plastic (which then melted of course, duh!) and making cheese on toast (a fav of mine from my childhood days!). Well, this diet is pushing me to discover new appliances! I discovered what the broiler button on my oven did a year ago (while trying to figure a way of cooking sausages more conveniently), and now I’m discovering just how good salmon can taste when baked in the oven. This is a simple and quick recipe from allrecipes.
Ingredients to make 2 fillets of salmon
It sounds like something from a Frankenstein movie outside – thunder and lightning and huge sheets of rain drumming against the window. But inside, I’m nice and dry and about to bake something delicious! Eggs are a staple ingredient of low carb life. It’s good as a snack, as a salad garnish, or as a meal. However, hard boiled eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets and egg salads are so commonplace that the thought of having to eat them again and again can create severe nausea and a pounding headache! So here is a new way to spice up your egg-eating life – the bacon egg bake. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com, and it works great! In essence it’s just a different way of dressing up the bacon and eggs that I eat for breakfast daily, but it does look a lot more appetizing – it almost looks like something you’d find at an upscale brunch place, especially if you place it on a bed of green leaves!
Ingredients to make 1 Bacon Egg Bake
It’s day 6, and I still haven’t caved in, although I hit a bit of a rocky patch on Tuesday and had to consume 3 Atkins bars in order to keep going! So what have I been eating? Well, it’s been a bit easier since starting back at work on Monday since my office has a cafeteria, although you can get what I’ve been eating for breakfast and lunch in most cities!
For breakfast, I devour 3 fried eggs with some bacon (I’m usually starving by the time I get to work). I’m rather bored by just eggs alone so the bacon helps to add some flavor to things. Omelets and scrambled eggs can make for a bit of a variation. Or if you’re super lazy, you can boil a dozen eggs in one go, peel them and store them in the fridge. Then have 2 or 3 each morning for breakfast. I quite like the taste of caesar salad dressing so you could cut up your eggs with a fork and mix it with some of that for a bit more flavor and less dryness. Also, some soy sauces (or liquid aminos) have 0 carbs (or very small amounts) and can add great flavor to eggs cooked any way! Soy sauce gets mixed responses from Atkins dieters because its ingredient list contains wheat, which is not allowed on the diet. As an alternative to soy sauce, you can try Liquid Aminos, which are made from soybeans and water. Bragg (one manufacturer of liquid aminos) claims that each 1/2 teaspoon contains 0.1g of carbs.
For lunch, I’ve gotten salads several times. I put in some boiled eggs (cut up), some tuna, some onions, and some spinach. I’ve also thrown some olives in a few times. I usually also get a fillet of salmon freshly grilled. I then shred the salmon meat and stick it into my salad. Then everything is tossed with 3 tablespoons of caesar dressing (I say “tossed” but really I just put everything into the box they supply in my cafeteria and shake vigorous!). Several other salad dressings are permitted on the Atkins induction diet including, blue cheese, italian, lemon juice, oil and vinegar, and ranch, although caesar contains by far the least amount of carbs per serving, which means more spare carbs to consume elsewhere during the day! Of course, you don’t have to do salads! I got a grilled hanger steak one day and had it with some veggies. Grilled fish is also good as long as there’s no sauce on it. I often also get some chicken broth to have as a soup – I just skim the liquid off the top of a chicken noodle soup.
So far, this gets me to around 2pm. I can make it most days to around 3pm or 4pm just on the above described breakfast and lunch. However, once that afternoon slump hits, it’s deathly! To get water from the pantry, I have to walk past the vending machine and these chocolate covered almond machines! I can usually make it past the vending machines without incident, but those almonds! They’re just sitting in this glass bowl, and my eyes just stray over to them as I turn the corner out of the pantry. Last time I went to get water, I nearly walked into the wall because my legs kept moving whereas my eyes remained fixed on that delicious sweet sensation! Sigh. That’s when I turn to the Atkins bars. Everyone (except perhaps Atkins) claims that you get the best results if you stay away from the bars. Some people on the diet are purists and want to stay away from anything that might be controversial, including diet sodas, soy sauce, and Atkins bars. I, however, cannot do it. In fact, I was so enamored with those bars that I bought a whole 12-pack of them from Amazon! I really like the Marshmallow Mudslide flavor although the Chocolate Chip Granola Barcomes a close second. There’s a Cookies N Creme bar that’s coming soon, and if I were planning to continue this diet for a while, then I would definitely be eagerly awaiting their release! Of course, there are other snacks, for example, cheese. I bought the Robusto aged gouda from Wholefoods and cut it up into 1 oz pieces (approximately 2 inches by 0.5 inches by 0.5 inches) and individually wrapped them. Then you can take a few pieces into work as a snack. (I had 2 of those pieces as an after dinner snack tonight.)
Dinner…this always perplexes me. I don’t really want to spend ages cooking when I get off work so I usually cobble together a smattering of different dishes that I’ve cooked during the weekend or on a less tiring night. The dishes include salmon salad, egg salad, tuna salad, slow cooker pork belly, slow cooker chicken, and whatever else I can think off that’ll keep in the fridge for a few days (there’s currently a nice slab of beef brisket cooking in my slower cooker). It’s quick, and it gives me some variation – at the very least, my plate looks very colorful!
What do I think so far of the diet? It’s painful! But, because I really don’t have hardly any sugar highs, I never really feel that awful crushing crash when you go off the sugar high. Then, of course there’s the issue of no alcohol. I’m 50/50 on this at the moment – I hate not being able to drink anything except water and soda water at a bar, but yet I’m grateful the next morning when I’m not waking up to a dry mouth and a pounding head! However, I feel that several “celebratory” drinks will be waiting at the end of the next 8 days…
It’s all very well saying here’s what you can eat and here’s what you can’t eat on this diet, but when it comes down to having to pick out food for eat meal, it’s a lot more problematic. Foods that you normally took for granted are suddenly on the forbidden list. Foods that you thought were low carb turn out to have way more sugar in them than allowed on the diet. Eating the same food day after day is also annoying. So, here is what I’m eating daily on this diet along with my total estimated calorie and carb intake.
Total Carb Count for Day 1: Calories = 1440 Carbs = 7.2g
Day 1 – Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with onions and a side of prosciutto. Calories = 400 Carbs = 4g
Day 1 – Lunch: Home-made grass-fed beef patty (lemon infused macademia oil, all-spice, salt). Calories = 380 Carbs = 0g
Day 1 – Afternoon Snack: Atkins Advantage Peanut Fudge Granola Bar. Calories = 210 Carbs = 2g
Day 1 – Dinner: Egg Salad. Calories = 300 Carbs = 1.2g
Day 1 – Midnight Snack (because I hate going to bed hungry!): Slow-cooker Chicken. Calories = 150 Carbs = 0
Day1 – Drinks: Decaf black tea with coconut milk, Iced Rishi Mint Rooibos tea, and of course lots and lots of water.
Today is day 1 of the 2 week challenges and the start of the Atkins induction diet. I did my research by reading the atkins’ diet website and Dr. Robert C. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution book. A large section of the book deals with the science behind the diet – from insulin to metabolic advantage. Then there’s a large chunk of the book that talks in detail about the diet and what you can and cannot eat. The induction diet is the first couple of weeks on the Atkins’ diet (the 1st of 4 phases of the diet). It is also the hardest part of the diet as it contains the most restrictions on what you can and cannot eat. They suggest that most people should go on the induction part of the diet for at least 14 days and that you can see results (I think they’re talking about weight loss here) within that period. Unfortunately, 14 days of this diet is going to be seriously challenging – I currently feel like all I can eat is eggs, steak, and celery!
What Can You Eat on the Atkins’ Induction Diet?
What Can You Drink?
Basically anything without caffeine or sugar. The list includes broth, club soda, heavy or light cream (2-3 tablespoons per day), decaf coffee or tea, diet sodas sweetened with sucralose (Splenda), flavored zero-carlorie seltzers, herbal tea, 2-3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice, and of course water.
What Can You NOT Eat?
Wow, this list is long! It’s basically anything with a lot of carbs in it! But, on the induction diet, you’re also not allowed nuts and fruits, which a lot of other low carb diets allow. The diet also tells you to stay away from certain artificial sweeteners due to harmful effects and recommends Splenda as the best one (max 3 packets a day due to the 1 gram of carbs it has per packet). However, if you’re using liquid sucralose, there should be no restriction as there is no sugar in it at all. Soft fresh cheeses are also not allowed along with other diary products such as milk (which has a fair amount of sugar) and yogurt.
Water and Vitamins
Dr. Atkins recommends drinking plenty of water on this diet (eight 8 oz glasses of water per day). He also believes that we are vitamin and mineral deficient and require some supplements. I recommend the Source Naturals Life Force Multiple as it contains a much better balance of nutrients than other brands.
I realized several weeks ago that my food habits were slipping and in danger of falling down completely into a giant tub of Breyer’s ice-cream! So I said to myself, I’ll just be bad for a few more days, and then I’ll start back on my locarbolicious diet afresh. Those few days dragged into 2 weeks! It’s just so hard to swim out of that gooey tub of ice-cream!
To celebrate my return to low carb, or rather “to punish myself for straying from the diet,” I’ve decided to embark on several 2 week diet challenges. I plan to try various low carb diets and examine their “effectiveness” and difficulty. First up will be the Atkins induction diet, and then there’ll be the paleo (caveman) diet, the South Beach Diet, and the raw food diet. There might be some other diets thrown into this experiment if I can deal with it. I have never been particularly good at keeping to diets, so this will be a serious test of my mental strength. Fingers crossed!
It’s hard living without noodles and pasta, especially when instant ramen noodles and quick pasta dishes played such an important part of my college life! Here’s 4 noodles/pasta you can eat on a low carb diet – they all have practically no calories and no carbs (the 3rd and 4th noodles are different variations of each other)!
1. Zucchini Noodles Start with 3 zucchinis and a Julienne peeler (kinda like a potato peeler but it cuts everything into thin strands at the same time). Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise, place the flat side down onto your chopping board and start peeling away with the Julienne peeler. It’s easy to use – just pull down like in the photo. You end up with strands of zucchini noodles ready to cook.
There are various ways of cooking the zucchini noodles. The easiest is to put a bit of olive oil into a frying pan. Add some minced garlic and chopped chives and then put in the zucchini noodles. Cook in the frying pan for a minute, add salt to taste, drain and serve. Out of the 4 noodles, these were definitely my favorite!
2. Kelp Noodles I picked up this packet of kelp noodles for $2.49 from my local Korean supermarket (H-Mart on 32nd St., New York). Kelps are large seaweeds according to Wikipedia – they’re fat-free, gluten-free, low-calorie (55 cals per 12oz pack, which can serve 2 people) and 0 net carbs (11g of fiber).
The noodles are edible straight from the packet, but are rather crunchy and have no flavor. I washed the noodles in cold water and then squeezed out the excess water. I then added some soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and chives, and then mixed it all together in a bowl. I put the bowl into the microwave for 30 seconds on high and poured out any excess liquids afterwards. The noodles were still rather crunchy, but not bad.
3. Shirataki Noodles (White) I tried these noodles a while ago as Wholefoods sold them and they had gotten a lot of press as a diet food. They’re made from the root of a type of asian yam (sometimes called konjac or elephant yam), but unlike the yams that we’re used to which contain a lot of net carbs, these so called “yam” plants have pretty much all fiber. Each 1 oz packet contains less than 1g of net carbs and 0 calories. The packet pictured below are white Shirataki Noodles (also called Yam Noodles) that contain no tofu or soy. Some manufacturers make a tofu Shirataki noodle, which as you might have guessed contains tofu. Supposedly, the tofu makes the noodles less rubbery, but it also adds some carbs to the noodles.
How to cook them? Take them out of the packet and wash them with cold water 3 times. I find the noodles to smell a bit fishy (literally), and so I like to rinse them well. Then place the noodles into the microwave and cook on high for 30 seconds – this helps to get rid of the fishy smell and makes them less rubbery. Rinse again in cold water. Add in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and chives and mix together. Cook again in the microwave on high for 20 seconds. Drain the excess liquid and serve.
4. Shirataki Noodles (Brown) These are basically the same as the white shirataki noodles except they have some seaweed food-coloring in them! They taste pretty much the same too and have the same nutritional values – it just adds a bit of variety to our meals.
More recipes on how to make delicious low-carb meals with these noodles will follow.
I always shy away from the chicken dish at a restaurant, because chicken just tastes like chicken – rather bland and not all that interesting. Part of the problem is that restaurants tend to serve chicken breast, which I’ve always found to be dry and seriously lacking in any flavor. Well, this recipe was amazing – a huge burst of flavor. I found it on food.com, and I’ve so far only made it with drumsticks and wings, but I can’t wait to try it with chicken breasts to see if they can spice them up too! It’s a slow-cooker recipe, which means it’s super easy – but it does require a lot of spices (although you can probably make it with just salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, and onion powder). It’s also a very very cheap dish!
Ingredients (makes 5 drumsticks and 5 wings)