What’s Sugar Free and Keto Friendly at Taco Bell?

What’s Sugar Free and Keto Friendly at Taco Bell?

As I have continued writing these What’s Sugar Free and Keto Friendly at Restaurants posts, I have noticed that some of these posts get a little negative pushback.  In light of that, I feel like I have to say right up front that no one is suggesting that Taco Bell is actually a healthy place to eat.  It just isn’t.  We will look at some of the ingredients they have in a minute but rest assured, if you are trying to eat as healthy as you can, stay away from Taco Bell.

However, sometimes you find yourself in a Taco Bell and need to know what to eat.  My son lives next to a Taco Bell and it is the only restaurant within walking distance.  Or you are out at 2AM and it’s the only restaurant open.  It happens.  I get it.  No judgments here.

First, let’s discuss the good news.  Taco Bell actually lists out the ingredients to their food, except for the taco meat.  For that, I had to track down an old ABC News article.  Having done the research for a lot of these posts, any restaurant that reveals what is actually in their food gets a big thumbs up from me as that is a shockingly uncommon phenomenon.

Now the bad news.  Every meat in Taco Bell has some kind of sugar.  It’s in the seasoning for the taco meat, steak and chicken but it is dextrose and maltodextrin so not only is it in relatively small amounts, it contains no fructose which is the the most obesogenic type of sugar.  I’m going to include these meats on the OK list because it is such a small amount and I doubt it would have a huge effect on anyone’s blood sugar levels but you need to be aware of the issue.

Also, literally nothing on the menu is low carb as is.  You are going to have to assemble a taco salad without the shell and specifically list the ingredients you want in the salad.  However, a salad with lettuce, tomato, pico de gallo, 2 sides of chicken and/or steak, sour cream and guacamole tastes pretty good and comes in at under 10 bucks.  I think this is going to be your best bet and you can even throw on some Fire Sauce as it is the only sauce without sugar.

So without further ado, here are the list of keto friendly ingredients.

Sugar Free and Keto Friendly Ingredients at Taco Bell

Bacon – Seasoned with a small amount of sugar

Border Sauce – Fire – Contains a very small amount of modified food starch and the spices appear to contain a small amount of wheat.

Cheddar Cheese

Cilantro

Eggs

Fire Grilled Chicken – Contains a small amount of sugar and dextrose in the seasoning

Fire Roasted Salsa – Might be the cleanest thing on the menu

Lettuce

Jalapenos

Onions

Pico de Gallo

Premium Guacamole

Rainforest Coffee

Salsa del Sol

Sausage Crumbles – Seasoned with Dextrose

Sausage Patty – Seasoned with Dextrose

Three Cheese Blend

Tomatoes

Marinated Beef – Seasoned with Dextrose and Sugar

Seasoned Ground Beef – Seasoned with Maltodextrin and Trehalose (Whatever that is)

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What's Sugar Free and Keto Friendly at Taco Bell?

Keto Questions: Does a Ketogenic Diet Help You Make Good Decisions?

Keto Questions: Does a Ketogenic Diet Help You Make Good Decisions?

First of all, I need to admit that I’ve never been asked this question in exactly this way before.  Usually when I get something like this, it is usually in the context of the cognitive benefits of ketosis which deserves its own blogpost that I will surely get to one of these days.  But something happened last week that has gotten me thinking about the role of blood sugar levels in decision making and how ketosis can help with this.

I have been working my way through Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and have found it fascinating.  It is about the difference between the 2 main ways we think, namely the quick decision making that seems to come from our gut vs. the long slow process of working through a difficult issue. His thesis is that all of our physical, mental, and emotional processes come from the same pool of resources.  In other words, if you are doing strenuous physical activity, it hampers your ability to think through a subject or react with tempered emotions to a new development.  Or if you are under extreme emotional stress and anxiety, you will find it difficult to concentrate on a difficult mental problem.  I think most of us intuitively know this to be at least somewhat true just from the experiences of our own lives.

The part of his contention that caught my eye was his assertion that this “pool of resources” we are drawing on to perform these tasks is linked to our blood sugar levels.  In other words, as your blood sugar levels fall (and I’m thinking specifically about the typical sugar-burner here) your ability to exert yourself physically, control your emotions, or concentrate on a subject decreases.  Again, most of us intuitively know this.  I remember from my sugar-burning days that about 3 in the afternoon, I was useless unless I had a snack to get my blood sugar levels back where they needed to be.  One example given in the book was how a prison parole board tended to parole more prisoners just after lunch and the farther they got from their meal time, the more they defaulted to their default “Parole Denied” as their blood sugar levels dropped throughout the day.

What does this mean for us ketoers?  I need to be clear that everything from this point on is purely conjecture as the author did not deal with ketoers in his research but it seems to me that if your ability to draw from this “pool of resources” falls as your blood sugar levels fall, what would change if your blood sugar levels remain steady throughout the day?  I think this is another one of the areas where the ketogenic diet will shine as soon as someone gets around to doing some science around it.  I know one of the first things I noticed when I cut out the carbs was the increased physical endurance I needed to just make it through my day without needing a nap.  And if it’s true that “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” than a diet that helps combat fatigue by providing an almost infinite energy source of ketones would help us react more bravely and emotionally stable in difficult situations.

But for the purposes of this post, I think the strongest benefit might be in the ability to be able to think through situations and see the different angles of problems regardless of how long it has been since our last meal.  I can think back over my life and remember several times I made a poor decision simply because it was the end of the workday and I just wanted to go home and get something to eat.  Now that I am in ketosis, I am amazed at how often something difficult will come up at work and I am able to tackle the issue with the necessary energy, even though by that point I have usually been fasting for 12 hours or longer.  In fact, my ability to thrive at work despite almost never eating at work is not only impressive to the people I work with but has allowed me to get a lot more done compared to my fellow employees.  That “pool of resources” I have to draw from simply never shrinks.

I would love to hear your opinion on this.  Have you noticed an improvement in your mental abilities since entering ketosis?  Please let me know in the comments!

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The My Sugar Free Journey Podcast – Episode 33: Hannah Crum and How to Make Kombucha

The My Sugar Free Journey Podcast – Episode 33: Hannah Crum and How to Make Kombucha

In this week’s My Sugar Free Journey Podcast we are talking to Hannah Crum all about Kombucha!

Remember that you can follow us on iTunes and I would really appreciate a review there on iTunes.  Thanks!

Podcast Shownotes

You can find Hannah’s Website Kombucha Kamp here.

You can get Hannah’s book The Big Book of Kombucha here.

You can follow her on Instagram here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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Other Articles on the Site This Week

Keto Question: Can Eating Too Much Meat Kill You?

Crispy Keto Cauliflower Hashbrown Recipe!

I Love Me More Than Sugar Review

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Keto Question: Can Eating Too Much Meat Kill You?

Keto Question: Can Eating Too Much Meat Kill You?

Eating Red Meat makes you die sooner!  Oh noes! Throw out all your steak!  (And send it to me!)  The Washington Post ran a story earlier this month with this same tired headline we’ve been hearing since the 80’s.  I remember it even being a plot point on an early episode of The Cosby Show.  All that terrible Saturated Fat just clogs up the ole arteries and you are just one fatty steak with butter away from a massive coronary.

But in the interest of seeing exactly how these headlines keep cropping up and how you can educate yourself with how these unscientific Scientific Reports keep getting disseminated, let’s break this down.  The first thing you need to know is the study this news article is based on.  It is Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality that was published in JAMA and is a large Cohort study.

Why Cohort Studies Should Be Taken With a Grain of Salt

Any time you see the words “Cohort Study” your internal alarm bells should already be ringing because this means that this isn’t a clinical study done with a control group and tightly scrutinized but is typically a survey or questionaire filled out by a large group of people and looked at for correlations in the data.  In this case they took data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study where they ask numerous health professionals several questions pertaining to different health risks like smoking, physical activity and medications.  Then every 4 years they are asked questions about their diet and are asked to remember what they ate over the last 4 years.  Now go back and read that last sentence again.  Can you remember how often you ate junk food in the last 4 years?  Or vegetables?  Or meat?  I can barely remember what I ate yesterday.  Also, if you are health professional, wouldn’t you tend to fudge your answers a bit to make you seem healthier than what you are?

Adjustments?  More Like Fabrications

So already, we are seeing some issues with the data collected but now let’s look at how that data is manipulated after the fact.  The respondents were asked if they ate more vegetable protein (bread, cereals, pasta, nuts, beans and legumes) or animal protein (not just steak or chicken but processed meats like hot dogs, salami, bologna sausage and kielbasa).  Now here is the tricky part, in order for the study to have value, you have to find any differences in the people who ate more vegetables vs. meat and correct for that.  In this case, people who ate more veggies exercised more and smoked less.  So an adjustment is made in order to level the playing field.  So what adjustment needs to be made?  Who knows?  The adjustment is a best guess, or to put it in more honest terms, totally made up and pulled from thin air.  Any time you see and “Adjustment” made to a study, just know that from that point forward, the data can be made to say whatever the authors want it to say.  (If you want more info on this, just Google “P Hacking“)

Conclusion: You Will Die No Matter What You Eat

So now let’s look at the results.  The study says that for every 10% increase in animal protein to your diet, your risk of dying increases 2% (Not statistically significant) and your risk of dying from heart disease increases 8% (Barely statistically significant).  In other words, if you eat more meat, you won’t die any faster but if you do die, chances are increased it will be from cardiovascular disease.  So what does this tell us about what happens if you eat more vegetable protein?  Well, your risk of death is statistically the same but the chances of it being from a heart attack are decreased.  In other words, if you eat more veggies, you will die at the same rate as the meat eater but from something different.  So who cares if it is a heart attack or something else that gets you?  And keep in mind that these are the results AFTER the “adjustment” that forced these number to say this.

So why tout such a misleading study in this way?  Because it already fits in the existing “Meat Kills” narrative and is sure to get lots of press like the Washington Post article that inspired this post.  After all, if you are someone that invested all this time and money into this study, you need to justify the expense and nothing does that like press.  Oh sure, the public is misled and lives are affected, but really cares about all that.

Now The Good News

So now that we’ve said why you shouldn’t be scared of this study, let’s take a look at one piece of data that actually is a bit of good news.

I know that table is a bit blurry but what it says is important.  It is breaking down the TYPES of meat that cause the different types of death like CVD, Cancer, etc.  Can you see the outlier?  Can you see the one type of meat that is most deadly?  Yep, it’s processed meats like bologna, sausage, etc.

Just to help us understand the difference between a steak and bologna, let’s take a look at the ingredients list for standard Oscar Mayer Bologna.

Nothing Says Healthy Like “Mechanically Separated Chicken”. Yum!

The first ingredient is Mechanically Separated Chicken.  What is that?  Well after all the usable chicken is removed from the carcass, the chickens are run through a machine that grinds them up and then they are spun to separate the “meat” from the bones.  That meat is stuff like internal organs, eyeballs, flecks of skin, who knows what all else but it barely qualifies as meat.   Then the magic ingredient is added to that slurry, Corn Syrup.  Yep, not only are you getting “meat” but you are getting it sweetened with sugar.  Then take a look at all those other chemicals and flavorings added to it.  Who knows what those chemicals do to you?  Well I guess we do know based on this study, they kill you.

Just Eat Real Food

So what should we take from this?  Don’t eat processed meat, it’ll kill you slowly.  In fact, what we learn is what we’ve always known.  Just Eat Real Food.  If you removed processed meat from this study, the rates of disease on the meat-eaters side would be so small that everyone would realize that eating meat is healthier for you than eating vegetables.  (Can’t have that!)  So eat real steak, chicken and pork and stay away from the processed meats like bologna, cheap sausages, and cheap deli meats.  Read your ingredients and if you see a lot of fillers like sweeteners, avoid at all costs.  And most importantly, next time you see a new article that screams about the dangers of eating meat and how saturated fat will kill you, just roll your eyes.  In the words of President Trump, it’s “Fake News!”

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3/29 Weightloss Wednesday: Another Step Closer To My Goal!

3/29 Weightloss Wednesday: Another Step Closer To My Goal!

Here is this week’s Weightloss Wednesday!  It’s been an interesting week as my weight has been up and down but as of this morning I’m at 212 which I will certainly take.  This means I have lost 188 lbs so far and I’m that much closer to my goal of being under 200 lbs.  I’m ready for that to happen!

I also got a kettlebell this weekend and started kettlebell workouts.  And by started I mean I did exactly 1.  I really didn’t know what to expect and while I expected to work out my legs and shoulders, I didn’t expect what it would do to my back.  Holy cow!  I’ve spent the last 3 days unable to bend at the waist.  I’ve probably taken more aspirin this week than in the last year.

However, now that the initial pain has faded, I’m excited about the prospect of starting back up tomorrow.  I really want to see what kettlebell exercises can do for me and how it can change the shape of my body.  Especially since, with almost 200 lbs gone, I look like a sack of potatoes left out in the sun too long with my shirt off.  I really need a little muscle definition in my arms, chest and back to see if I can fill out some of this loose skin.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how things are going.  How are you doing this week?  Let me know in the comments!

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