Last month during my 5-Year Blogiversary Contest Giveaway I conducted a reader survey that yielded some outstanding demographics of the people who read my blog and of low-carbers in general. When I did this in 2009, it really opened my eyes to exactly who is coming to the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog and why. Thanks to the record-breaking number of entries I received, I was able to do it all over again in 2010 to see what if any new trends have emerged. I sincerely appreciate everyone who submitted your responses because it shows the world that the low-carb community is indeed alive and well impacting the world of nutrition in a positive way!
These survey results are by no means scientific, but it does give you a snapshot of the current state of low-carb. Anyone who thinks low-carb diets are some fringe fad diet that just faded away when Dr. Atkins died in 2003 is sorely mistaken. Low-carb isn’t a phrase to run away from in 2010, but rather one to be embraced, shaped, and molded into the healthy high-fat, moderate protein, low-carbohydrate nutritional approach that is helping so many people not only shed the pounds but radically improve health markers like blood sugar, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL particle size, blood pressure, and so much more. This is a subject that is not to be taken lightly by the media and the so-called health “experts” any longer because the lives of real people are at stake in this discussion. Whether they like it or not, low-carb living is the catalyst for good changes that are happening to people and will continue to come about thanks to the efforts of those seeking to educate, encourage, and inspire others to become more pro-active in their own personal health.
This survey was so spectacularly received last year that I wanted to ask many of the same questions to see how the answers would change if at all as well as throw in a few others that I was curious about. I’m pleased to share the results of that survey with you in this column today because I think you’ll enjoy getting to know your fellow readers who frequent here as you do. I’ll include the data gathered from the survey as well as my personal analysis of what it all means. This should be fun to read and I welcome your feedback in the comments section at the end of the post.
First up is the gender of the people who visit the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog. Not surprisingly, two thirds of them are women. That’s twice as many female readers as male and fairly predictable considering women tend to be more interested in diets and weight loss than men do. But in 2009, women comprised a 3-1 ratio of the total readers meaning more men have started checking out the information I provide now. Despite my 180-pound weight loss success in 2004 on the Atkins diet, I do not consider myself a “weight loss blogger” as much as I do a “health and nutrition blogger.” There is a HUGE difference. Yes, weight loss is a nice side effect of livin’ la vida low-carb, it is not the primary reason for carbohydrate-restriction as I’ve stated many times before. The tremendous health benefits of this way of eating make it the optimal default diet for virtually anyone who struggles metabolically in some form or fashion. I see the male migration to the blog as a sign that the guys are beginning to understand it’s not all about the weight loss either.
Second, I’m always curious about where in the world people are reading my posts. And it’s literally all around the world, too, with entries from nine foreign countries, including South Africa, New Zealand, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Israel, Ireland, the UK, and Canada (with the province of Ontario leading the way followed by Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba). All of the countries I thought would enter the survey last year did indeed get represented in the 2010 survey. The “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” message is expanding abroad and that should be encouraging to those of us who may sometimes feel the whole world is against low-carb. That’s clearly not the case.
So what about here in the United States? Here are the top 10 represented:
6. New York–4%
(tie) 10. Wisconsin–2.5%
(tie) 10. Minnesota–2.5%
(tie) 10. Ohio–2.5%
(tie) 10. Colorado–2.5%
California jumped from #3 to #1 to edge out Texas this year compared to 2009. Michigan readership fell while Florida remained the same. The biggest surprise was the emergence of the state of Washington which didn’t even show up among the top states in 2009, but landed at #3 in 2010. The most significant drop came from North Carolina which comprised 4% of the survey respondents last year to garner the #4 spot fell to just 1.5% this year. Once again my home state of South Carolina doesn’t care much about low-carb living apparently with only 2 entries into the survey. This could explain why the Palmetto State is the 2nd fattest state in our country!
Alrighty then, let’s take a closer look at the kind of low-carb plan people who read the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog are following. Low-carb plans are quite literally a dime a dozen with some that are pretty good and others not so much. Dr. Jonny Bowden did an outstanding job comparing most of them in his newly-updated Living Low Carb book. Last year, the Atkins diet dominated with 56% of the survey respondents stating that was their chosen low-carb plan. But a shift of sorts has taken place in how people are describing the way they are eating now.
2. My own low-carb plan–25%
4. Protein Power–5%
5. Dr. Bernstein–4%
6. South Beach–2%
7. Weston A. Price Foundation–1%
The Atkins diet, including New Atkins For A New You released earlier this year, led the pack of low-carb diets people use yet again, but I noticed two particular trends that cut into the dominating lead that Atkins has had in previous years. One is the move for people to follow their own plan. In 2009, that answer made up 19% of the responses. But the 2010 survey showed one in four opting to craft their own personalized low-carb diet. This could be the result of personal research and study into the best aspects of various plans and tailoring it to fit the needs of the individual dieter. I have a highly intelligent readership and most of them understand the concepts of low-carb nutrition well enough that they know what is right for them. That’s a fantastic trend so long as it is based on solid scientific principles and understanding.
The other surprise this year about the chosen plan noted in the survey was the emergence of people identifying themselves as eating Paleo or primal. Thanks to the tireless work of people like Mark Sisson, Dr. Kurt Harris, Richard Nikoley, Nora Gedgaudas, Dr. Loren Cordain, Art DeVany and others, the ancestral eating movement is thriving as a subset of the low-carb community exploding five-fold from how we saw people self-identifying their diet in 2009. While not all Paleo/primal dieters eat low-carb, a good number of them do and believe in the science supporting carbohydrate restriction. They’ve made their way into the low-carb blogosphere and have become an active voice in support of the low-carb way of life. This is an exciting trend that I see continuing for many years to come. Grok on, baby!
Other low-carb diets represented in the survey answers combined comprised less than 3% of the plans used, including the Ideal Protein Plan, Nutrisystem D, HCG, The 6-Week Cure by the Eades, Zone Diet, Silver Cloud Diet, Hampton’s Diet, and Somersize. As I’ve often said, find the plan that is right for you, follow that plan exactly as prescribed and then keep doing it for the rest of your life. It’s the way to be successful in your healthy low-carb lifestyle and it looks like my readers are doing well with doing just that.
Next up is how long people have been on a low-carb diet and how much weight they have lost. I was surprised to find a large segment of people reading my blog (41%) have only begun eating low-carb in the past year, including nearly one-fourth (22%) since January 2010! The number of new low-carb dieters to emerge since this time last year nearly doubled from what we saw in 2009 (rising from 23% to 41%). This is something that should not be overlooked because it shows lots of people are not being discouraged from eating low-carb despite hearing the erroneous reports about how unhealthy it is and nearly every major nutritional organization touting the low-fat, high whole grain diet as the best. In other words, people are getting educated about how fat is healthy for them, moderate amounts of protein at every meal is ideal, and that carbohydrate consumption needs to be dramatically less than it has been. Yes, the message of livin’ la vida low-carb is getting out there in a BIG way and the growth of the low-carb community continues to confound the critics.
As for the long-term low-carb success stories, one-third of respondents have been eating this way for over 3 years with nearly one-fourth (24%) following the low-carb nutritional approach for more than five years. The longest respondent said she has been eating this way since 1990 with quite a few who have surpassed the 10-year mark. I’ve got a few more years to go to hit that one myself–but I’m getting there! But what about the weight loss impact? I’m so glad you asked! Although over four in ten have only just begun low-carbing in the past year, we still saw close to half (47%) lose between 21-70 pounds. That’s quite a feat for people who need to lose weight. And impressive 8% of my readers have lost triple digits clocking in fat-shedding of over 100 pounds each. The largest weight loss was 212 pounds and he’s kept it off for over five years and counting.
A surprising answer to this question I asked about how much weight was lost eating low-carb was when people said they didn’t eat this way to lose weight. Hmmmm. A whopping 16% of the survey respondents told me they didn’t really need to lose any weight, but wanted to experience the tremendous health benefits of livin’ la vida low-carb. WOO HOO! What a statement this makes to all those people who think low-carb is only about weight loss. Wrong-o! A lot of people have health issues that low-carb is perfectly suited for helping with.
I asked why people started eating low-carb and I received quite a diverse set of answers to this question with a few obvious and not-so-obvious reasons stated. Predictably, weight loss and improving health was the choice of nearly one-third (32%) of the respondents. But reading a low-carb book or web site (15%) and blood sugar issues (15%) were also a major attraction to cutting the carbs. Other key reasons for beginning a low-carb regimen included the influence of Gary Taubes’ writings (7%), friend or family member success (7%), tried all other diets and failed (7%), the scientific support for low-carb (6%), and tired of being hungry and craving carbs (6%). One answer that I was pleased to see on 3% of the surveys was that their doctor recommended they begin eating low-carb. YES! I feature low-carb friendly physicians because I think they deserve to be appreciated for understanding that we need individual plans to meet our specific metabolic needs. It seems their influence on patients is having an even greater impact on behalf of low-carb and I look for this to become even more prevalent as the science continues proving the veracity of healthy low-carb living over the next few years and major health groups start changing their recommendations (starting with the American Diabetes Association first).
My next question asked specifically about what has arguably been the most significant book about low-carb nutrition since Dr. Atkins hit the scene in the early 1970s. I’m of course referring to the September 2007 magnanimous release of the bestselling book Good Calories Bad Calories by investigative science journalist Gary Taubes (listen to my podcast interviews with him here, here, and here). After Dr. Atkins died in 2003, many believed that low-carb diets would simply fade away into the sunset like every other passing fad diet that had come before it. But Taubes had done his homework on carbohydrate-restricted, high-fat diets when he wrote his infamous “What If It’s All Been A Big Fat Lie?” column in July 2002 and he realized there was more to this story than we had been told. That’s what birthed what we affectionately refer to as “GCBC” in the low-carb community which exactly half of my readers said they have read. I was a little surprised more people hadn’t read it yet, but another 17% said they had read either some or most of it. The other one-third said they were waiting for his new consumer-friendly version of the book set to be released on January 4, 2011 tentatively-titled Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. I predict that book will re-ignite a grassroots low-carb revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen in many years.
One subject that is of particular interest to the readers of the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog is diabetes. While 14% identified themselves as diabetic (93% of them Type 2 and 7% Type 1), another 11% noted they have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. While three-fourths of my readers don’t have blood sugar issues leading them down the path to diabetes, over half (53%) have a family member who does. So this is an issue affecting just about everyone and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. If low-carb was taken more seriously as an effective therapy for people suffering from diabetes, then we’d be so much better off. We’ve got a long way to go before that happens, though.
Turning to the blog itself, it reflects all the new low-carb dieters to come in just the past year alone with 46% finding “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” since 2009, including one in five just since January 2010. COOL! Almost three out of every four (69%) readers have only been with me the past two years or less, although 7% have been reading since day one. Hey, you stuck around for a while! Half of the survey respondents said they found the blog through a Google search which is awesome to me since I don’t do anything special with search engine optimization (SEO) to make that happen. I just try to post quality information and let the content attract people to read. This plan seems to be working well for me. Almost another one-third (31%) saw the blog mentioned on another web site, forum, or somewhere in the media. My twice-weekly iTunes podcast show introduced 11% of my readers to the blog for the first time. Speaking of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” podcast, 44% of the survey respondents said that’s their favorite part of the blog. Close to one in five (19%) stated they enjoy my style, honesty, and being a real person they can connect with. Another 14% said they like EVERYTHING about the blog, 13% enjoy the low-carb news columns, 10% are fans of my daily low-carb menus, and 6% each remarked on how much they appreciate the columns on science/studies, links to new books, blogs, and products, and Fun-Filled Fridays.
With the emergence of our Annual Low-Carb Cruise in the past few years, I asked my readers if they would be interested in coming on the cruise with us. Over one-third (35%) said a resounding yes, 40% said maybe depending on the circumstances, and one-fourth said absolutely not never ever ever…EVER! Some asked if there would be any land-based meet-ups like the cruise where people could come together, but probably not. These cruises have become pretty popular in a short time (growing to what is expected to be well in excess of 200 people for the next one in May 2011!). Hope you can come!
Finally, I wanted to know any new guests I should interview on my podcast show. I was surprised to see so many people name speakers I’ve already interviewed which means there’s a whole slew of interviews a lot of people aren’t even aware of. What an opportunity to spread the word about all the amazing experts I’ve had on my show! As for the ones I haven’t interviewed yet, these were the names that rose to the top.
1. Suzanne Somers
2. Sugar-Free Sheila
3. Michael Pollan
4. Jamie “Cleochatra” Van Eaton
5. Alton Brown
6. Jorge Cruise
7. Dr. Mehmet Oz
8. Jamie Oliver
9. Jillian Michaels
10. Dr. Robert Lustig
For the record, I’ve asked all of these people for an interview and most have turned me down for various reasons. I’m close to booking Jorge Cruise who is changing his tune about low-carb diets because of Gary Taubes’ influence, but all the rest have either declined or ignored my request. That’s okay, though, because I’ll keep trying to bring you the highest quality of speakers that interest YOU! THANK YOU for your input!
Well, that’s it for the 2010 “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” Reader Survey results. Once again, you have shown me who you are and why you like to read my stuff. I’m very grateful to all of you for making my little corner of the online universe a part of your life and I hope to keep doing this for a long time to come. Stay engaged in the process because I sense we are on the verge of a dramatic shift that is coming soon and you’re gonna be a major part of that. We live in some opportunistic times right now where the low-carb message is ripe to be heard by people who are frustrated about the direction of their weight and health. Low-carb may not be the one-size-fits-all answer that people are expecting, but it sure is a great place to start! As we charge through the rest of 2010, you can hold your head high knowing that livin’ la vida low-carb is making you fitter and healthier than ever before. Never let anyone tell you otherwise! You guys are amazing!