Friday, November 21, 2014

A Cut Above: Your ultimate guide to steak

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A juicy steak hot off the grill is a staple of summer and the perfect low-carb meal. If you’re following Atkins, you can enjoy red meat in every Phase. Read on for more about red meat’s health benefits, how to pick and grill the perfect steak, plus some of our favorite grilling recipes. 

Red meat is rich in vitamins B12, B3 and B6, plus selenium, protein and monounsaturated fat. Grass-fed beef, although pricier, has more omega-3 polyunsaturated fats than grain-fed beef. It’s true that red meat has gotten a bad rap in the past due to its supposed link to an increase in heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but scientists have found that processed meat—not red meat—is associated with heart disease and diabetes. Why is that? Processed meats (such as lunch meats and hot dogs) often contain preservatives like nitrates and nitrites, major sources of nitrosamines that may contribute to insulin resistance and Type-2 diabetes. 

It was also thought that the saturated fats in red meat increase your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which leads to cardiovascular disease, among other illnesses. While it’s true that saturated fats may increase LDL cholesterol, when your entire diet is taken into consideration, there is no link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. And when you consume saturated fat on a low-carb diet like Atkins, where your body is burning primarily fat for fuel, published research has shown that the level of saturated fat in the blood does not increase. 

Making the Grade

Now that you’re ready to get grilling, here’s how to pick the right cut of red meat. First, look for marbling, which are visible grains of fat that run through the steak and add moisture and flavor. In terms of tenderness, the more fat the cut has, the location of the cut (loin and rib are the most tender because they are the least-used muscles) and the age of the beef all come into consideration. 

Look for a steak that is 1½-inches to 2-inches thick. Thin steaks tend to overcook. You want a steak that’s thick enough to have a nice sear on the outside while being tender and juicy on the inside.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) divides beef into three grades:

•    Prime—This only includes 2% of all meat, and is naturally the most expensive. It is usually sold to restaurants, specialty butchers and high-end grocery stores, and it is harder to find. It has the most marbling and is great for grilling, as well as roasting or broiling. 
•    Choice—This is probably your best overall choice for price, tenderness and marbling.
•    Select—This is still a high-quality cut of red meat, but it is very lean (which means less marbling). It is tender, but has less flavor and juiciness than Prime or Choice. 

Grass-fed beef typically has less marbling and is leaner than grain-fed beef. 

When it comes to grilling, here are some cuts of beef to look for:

Ribeye—This is often considered the most flavorful cut and is very juicy, although it is usually less tender. 

Filet mignon—This is the most tender, but it does not have as much flavor as the ribeye.

Strip steak—This is a favorite of steakhouses. It is tender and flavorful, with good marbling.

Porterhouse/T-bone—This is extremely tender and great for grilling.

Sirloin—This is usually less tender but very flavorful. 


Get Cooking


Steak should be at/close to room temperature when you cook it because when you put it on the grill, you want it to cook evenly. Trim the steak of excess fat, and brush evenly with olive oil. Salt generously with kosher salt and sprinkle with pepper. 

Preheat your grill to high. Place the steaks on the grill and cook until golden brown and slightly charred, which is usually about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the steaks over and continue to grill 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare (an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit), 5 to 7 minutes for medium (140 degrees Fahrenheit) or 8 to 10 minutes for medium-well (150 degrees Fahrenheit).

Move the steaks to a cutting board or platter, tent loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. This will let the juices distribute throughout the steak. Keep in mind that the steaks will continue to cook while they rest. 

If you choose a leaner or grass-fed cut of meat with less marbling, cook it a lower temperature, which will help ensure it doesn’t overcook and dry out. Remove your steak from the grill 10 degrees before it hits your desired temperature. Use a meat thermometer for most accurate results.


Serve your steak with delicious sides such as grilled asparagus, mushrooms and zucchini or sliced on spinach salad. You can also experiment with different spice rubs and marinades. The options are endless when you’re on Atkins.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What Not to Eat on a Low Carb Diet


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That white bread has been sitting in your refrigerator untouched ever since you started your low carb diet.  You’ve been strong and avoided high carb foods, but why keep the temptation around?  National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day on November 15th is the ideal day to get rid of simple carbs!  Here is a list of what not to eat on a low carb diet so you will know what to keep and what to give away:

White Bread

Though this has already been mentioned, make sure to get rid of any white bread in your fridge!  Whether it’s hot dog buns, hamburger buns, or regular sliced bread, they all fall into the category of simple carbs.  Bread doesn’t need to be completely cut out of your diet, though—tryAtkins Cuisine Bread.  Atkins Cuisine Bread is approved for those following Phases 2, 3, or 4 and has 1.8g of net carbs per serving.

Pasta

Just like white bread, regular pasta is another high carb food that will not fit into a low carb diet very easily.  Once you reach Phase 4, you can enjoy whole wheat pasta or Atkins Cuisine Penne, which has 19g of net carbs.

Sauces with Added Sugar

Tomato sauces often contain a lot of sugar not only because of the tomatoes themselves, but also because of added sugars.  Donate cans of premade pasta sauce that have sugar as a top ingredient and make this Atkins Basic Tomato Sauce as an alternative.  Basic Tomato Sauce has 8.2g of net carbs per serving and is perfect for individuals following Phases 2, 3, or 4.


Cookies, Cake, and Candy


Having these sugar-laden treats around will not make staying on your low carb diet easy.  The added sugar is a simple carb that will be digested quickly, which is the opposite of what you want from your food.  Get rid of any sweet treat unless it happens to be low carb, like these Atkins dessert recipes.


Soft Drinks


Regular soft drinks are chock full of sugar and aren’t a great source of nutrients so getting rid of those cans of cola on National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day is a good idea.  Water is a healthy substitute, but if you want something with a little flavor, add a small amount of lemon juice.


Now that you’ve learned more about what not to eat on a low carb diet, learn more about what you can eat.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Most favorable exercise...

Exercise Comes in Two Flavors



The best exercise programs combine aerobic and anaerobic activity.


Aerobic exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate and causes you to consume more oxygen. Every cell in your body requires a constant supply of oxygen, and if you've been a couch potato for years, many of those cells are being deprived. This is why, once you accustom yourself to a regular routine of aerobic exercise, you will begin to feel better than you did before.


If it's been a long time since you did any vigorous activity, consider getting some professional advice from both your doctor and a certified fitness expert. It’s important that you start slowly and learn how to stretch, warm up and cool down in order to avoid injury. You also may want to try an exercise trampoline. This is a gentle way to increase the stress on your bones and send a signal to the vertebrae to lay down more calcium along the stress-bearing planes.


Exercise such as walking, golf, doubles tennis, horseback riding, Ping-Pong and dancing may only mildly increase the pumping action of your heart, but they are still tremendous improvements for a former non-exerciser. If you fall into that category, walking is the best way to begin. If you are someone who hasn't walked more than two blocks in years, you'll notice an immediate and great change in how feel. Walk five blocks, and then try six. If it's hard on you today, take comfort in the certainty that the stiffness will ease, your breathing will improve and relaxing endorphins will be released into your body. And before you know it, you'll be walking a mile. Moving can and will feel good—it's actually what your body was built to do and what it wants! Remember, Mother Nature did not design us for our sedentary modern lifestyle.


Anaerobic exercise is any type of physical activity that isn’t significantly aerobic. This includes exercise that builds muscle mass, such as weight lifting. It also includes other types of training such as resistance and isometrics. Building muscle mass does not mean becoming one of those bulging bodybuilders. If you keep at it, you will begin to notice a gradual sculpting taking place under your skin—and you’re going to like how it looks. But if vanity doesn’t drive you to take up some weight-bearing exercise, maybe the fear of frailty will. It is this type of exercise that helps stave off the loss of bone density that accompanies aging. This is why resistance training is so important to prevent osteoporosis.



Selected References:


1. Jespersen, J., Hein, H.O., Suadicani, P., et al., "Triglyceride Concentration and Ischemic Heart Disease: An Eight-Year Follow-Up in the Copenhagen Male Study," Circulation, 97(11), 1998, pages 1029-1036.
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