A: Ideally NO – sugar free chewing gum is full off additives, sweeteners and goodness knows what else. Even though you are not swallowing the gum, you are certainly ingesting all this artificial rubbish that is going to upset gut bacteria and cause long term issues that ultimately make weight loss more difficult. If chewing gum relates to your breath, then my advice here is to drink more water and brush your teeth more often.
The Low Carb 6-Week Challenge Rapid Fire Q&A - Part 1
Common low carb questions answered.
Please scroll down to find a transcript of this video
Q1: Can I chew sugar free gum
Q1: Can I drink diet soft drink?
A: I know it can be difficult to break this habit if this is something you have drunk prior to coming into the challenge but the best time to stop drinking soft drink, of any type, is right now and this is for many reasons.
Firstly they certainly don’t fit into the category of being real food – most of the chemicals, flavours and sweeteners in these drinks we know very little about. Aspartame is a particularly interesting and controversial one. If you do a search in the Facebook group for aspartame, you’ll see in one of the comments I put a link to a video about this sweetener – the video is about 7minutes and is really interesting. If you are a diet soft drink drinker, I highly recommend checking it out.
Artificial sweeteners have a number of negative side effects that we are aware of and then many others that I’m sure we’ll hear about over the coming years. There is some indication that despite zero carbohydrates we still see an insulin response and hence an inability to become fat adapted. The sweetness they create will also continue to perpetuate our need for sweetness, making giving up or reducing your sugar intake extremely challenging. Water is of course your best bet! Add a slice of lemon, a few mint leaves, try a few different herbal teas, many you can also have cold but stay away from soft drink!
Q: Is it okay to exercise on fast days?
A: The short answer here is, Yes you absolutely can! When beginning low carb and whilst you are still adapting, exercise may be a struggle on any day. Remember your body is just not used to using fat as a fuel and isn’t doing it efficiently as yet. As time goes by you will get better and better at this and so exercising in general will feel better and better. Fat adaptation and exercise/athletic performance is a topic on its own, but is it safe to exercise when fasting, is it okay to do this, should you do this – yes, yes and yes. You might not feel great initially and may need to tone down your session but in time, through trial and error and by becoming better adapted to using fat (and ketones) this will all improve
Q: Can I have soy products like soy milk, tofu, tempeh, edamame beans etc and are these a good protein source?
A: The question of soy is a common one for people who are wanting to follow a low carb diet yet are either vegetarian, vegan or simply have a preference to eat less meat. We can categorise soy into 3 main categories 1. Whole soy (edamame), 2. Fermented soy (tempeh, miso, natoo, tamari) and 3. Processed soy (milk, cheese, flours, tofu). So as I always say your default should be JERF (Just Eat Real Food). You could check out some videos online about soy processing – this involves a large amount of chemical processing – acid washing, neutralization solutions and high temperature treatments – this is not a comforting picture at all and for this reason I would be recommending that anything in group 3 is off your list (so that is a NO to soy lattes, definitely not a good option). Fermentation on the other hand has many benefits, particularly those related to gut health (which we are now learning is impacting the body on many levels) and therefore if you were going to include soy in your diet, either the whole form or fermented forms should be what you choose. Organic is vital when it comes to soy – nearly all soy is genetically modified and it has one of the highest pesticide contamination levels of any crop. Other considerations: there are plant hormones present in soy that mimic oestrogen – this is a potential problem with some studies indicating that this could potentially mess with the oestrogen receptors in our body. The evidence here is however mixed and there is a lot of work to be done – I would however be cautious! Soy is also high in phytic acid, which blocks the body’s absorption of some minerals (fermentation does reduce phytic acid but not completely). A big problem with soy is that it is used as a ‘bulk filler’ in many many processed food items and so it has been present in our diets in amounts a lot higher than we realise. I could go on and on but basically if you are going to have soy, choose whole or fermented and have it occasionally only.
Q: If I’m ordering a milky coffee at a café, what milk is best? Almond, skinny, full fat, soy
A: Full fat cow’s milk is your best option here. Stay away from soy (see answer to soy questions for details here); anything skinny, low fat, light or diet should never enter your diet in any form ever again – full fat is the closest form to real food and has the least carbs. When it comes to almond milk then, it depends on why you are having it? If you can’t tolerate dairy then this can be a reasonable option, however many almond milks have sugar and other funny things added so be sure to ask questions at the café as to which almond milk they use and you could even ask to check out the ingredients if you’re game enough. If you’re having almond milk because you like the taste, again check ingredients. If however you’re having it because you think it is a healthier or better option as compared to cow’s milk, well think again. There is actually very little value in drinking almond milk, it is void of anything nutritious – consider that it a litre of almond milk is made from only a small handful of almonds, translating to very little nutrient quality and quantity. Sure that means it doesn’t have much in terms of carbs either, but it really is adding no value to your diet at all. Whilst this is okay occasionally I wouldn’t recommend it as a daily drink.
Q: Can I have a latte between meals?
A: No – if you want a coffee between meals it should be a black coffee. The milk in a latte is going to give you a good whack of carbs, anything from 12-20g of carbs in one hit (depending on the size of your latte) and therefore will significantly spike insulin. A latte isn’t a good idea even with a meal, again it is just adding way to many carbs. If you want a milky coffee with your meal, go for something with less milk – ask for a ½ full latte or even better a piccolo or a macchiato
Q: Since starting LCHF I’m suffering from reflux or my reflux is worse, what can I do?
A: In most cases reflux will improve or completely resolve when following a low carb diet (although this may take some time to occur). It is a common misconception (and one perpetuated by the very drug companies that market the drugs for this) that reflux is a result of too much acid in your stomach that is then pushed into the oesophagus. Were as what we really know is that as we age we get decreased levels of stomach acid and we also see increased rates of reflux, so something is amiss. Most medications prescribed for reflux do the exact opposite of what you want them to do and although they relieve symptoms, they are not looking after the cause of the reflux, which is low stomach acid and/or dysfunction with the valve between the stomach and oesophagus. What I’m trying to say without getting to complicated is that acid reflux medication should be avoided and we should rather be looking at the cause. In most cases reflux is caused by 1. Over consumption of carbs 2. Overgrowth of bacteria in the stomach. Going low carb therefore mostly resolves reflux, however for some people symptoms are ongoing or may even worsen when going low carb and this may be because proper secretion of stomach acid needs to be restored. Things that you can do to aid in this include: 1. Probiotic (think JERF here and not popping a pill) – foods that provide good levels of probiotics include things like kefir, sauerkraut, kim chi (you want to have these in SMALL amounts), 2. Avoid artificial sweeteners! 3. Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice have been shown to be helpful – could use as part of dressings or in hot water 4. Avoid drinking water with your meals as this can further dilute your stomach acid and make things worse (drink away from food) – that is except for wine, a few sips may actually be helpful 5. Homemade bone broth is great for healing the stomach lining. Failing any improvements with all of this, I would suggest seeing an open-minded doctor who is open to treatments such as hydrochloric acid and pepsin (and not antacids).