I just finished The Low Carb Dietitian’s Guide to Health and Beauty,
written by Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE, and published last month. CDE, but the way, means Certified Diabetes Educator. Per Amazon’s rating system, I give it five stars (I love it).
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This valuable addition to the low-carb literature is unique: No other book covers the beauty and health aspects of low-carb eating specifically in women.
I’m a strong proponent of carbohydrate-restricted eating for weight management and cure or control of certain medical conditions. The great advantages of low-carbing for weight loss are 1) suppression of hunger, and 2) proven greater efficacy compared to other types of dieting. Nevertheless, I wasn’t aware that this way of eating also had potential benefits in terms of beauty maintenance or improvement. The author persuasively makes that case in this ground-breaking book.
Just because she has RD (registered dietitian) behind her name doesn’t mean you just have to take her word for it. Franziska gives us references to the scientific literature if you want to check it out yourself.
The author focuses on health and beauty; the weight loss happens naturally with low-carb eating. That’s a helpful “side effect” since 2/3 of women in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
She covers all the basics of low-carb eating, including the rationale, potential side effects and how to prevent or deal with them, the science of “good fats,” the importance of plant-derived foods and fiber, info on artificial sweeteners, and management of weight-loss stalls.
Then Franziska does something else unique and very helpful. She offers three different eating plans along with a simple test to help determine which is the best for you. The options are 1) low-carbohydrate diet, 2) high-fiber, moderate saturated fat, low-carb diet, and 3) intermittent fasting low-carb diet with weekly treat meal. You can dig right in with a week’s worth of easy meals made from readily available ingredients.
It was interesting for me to learn that the author ate vegan-style and then pescetarian for awhile. In 2011 she was eating the usual doctor-recommended “healthy” low-fat high-fiber diet when life insurance blood work indicated she had prediabetes. So she cut her daily dietary carbs from 150 grams to 50 or less, with subsequent return of the labs to normal ranges.
I only had a few quibbles with the book. For instance, there’s no index, but that’s mitigated by a very detailed table of contents. The font size is on the small side for my 60-year-old eyes. If either of those issues bother you, get the ebook version. “Net carbs” are mentioned briefly before they are defined, which might confuse folks new to low-carbing.
A particular feature that appealed to me is the vegetarian meal options. Low-carb eating is often criticized as being meat-centric. Franziska shows it doesn’t have to be.
I also appreciate that she provides the net carb grams and calorie counts for her meal plans and recipes. All diabetics and many prediabetics need to know the carb grams. Calorie counts come in handy when analyzing the cause of a weight loss stall. Yes, calories still count in weight management.
I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that the author’s top low-carb beauty foods are avocados, berries, cinnamon, cocoa/dark chocolate, fatty fish, flaxseed, full-fat dairy, green tea, nuts, olives/olive oil, and non-starchy vegetables. I was skeptical at the start of the beauty foods chapter, but Franziska’s scientific references support her recommendations. I’m already eating most of these foods. Now I’m going to try green tea and ground flaxseed (e.g., her flaxseed bread recipe).
The author will also get you going on exercise. I heartily agree with her that exercise is truly a fountain of youth.
Menopausal? The author has your special challenges covered.
If you’re curious about the paleo diet, note that only about a quarter of these recipes are pure paleo. Dairy products disqualify many of them.
Here are a just a few tidbits I picked up, to help me remember them:
- a blood test called fructosamine reflects blood sugar levels over the previous three weeks
- you’ll have less wrinkles if you can reduce the advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) in your skin
- Japanese women on the highest-fat diets have less wrinkling and better skin elasticity
- soluble fiber from plants helps to reduce appetite, improves blood sugar control, and helps with weight regulation (see her table of high-fiber plants, including soluble and insoluble fiber)
- seitan is a meat substitute for vegetarians
- erythritol (an artificial sweetener) may have less gastrointestinal effects (gas, bloating, diarrhea) than many other artificial sweeteners
- maltitol (another artificial sweetener in the sugar alcohols class) tends to increase blood sugar more than the other sugar alcohols
- I’m going to try her “sardines mashed with avocados” recipe (Alton Brown popularized sardine-avocado sandwiches, so it’s not as bizarre as it sounds!)
I wouldn’t be surprised if Franziska’s recommendations help men as well as women keep or regain their youthfulness.
Steve Parker, M.D.