These are exciting times for those of us who support an alternative hypothesis to the same old high-carb, low-fat diets that focus (OBSESS!) on calories, calories, calories for being healthy. What these brilliant minds of yesteryear nutritional thinking fail to understand is that there are other important factors at play in obesity and chronic disease, including hormonal, inflammatory, metabolic and quality of life issues that directly determine whether someone is able to attain that ever-elusive ideal weight and health or not. That’s why we’re all so passionate about low-carb, primal, Paleo, Weston A. Price, real food, and however else you wanna describe this way of living you enjoy because we know how much it could greatly improve the lives of tens of millions of people RIGHT NOW if they would just stop listening to the fat-phobic scare tactics from the media and so-called health experts and embrace these dietary changes that are based on sound science that should silence this nonsensical opposition once and for all. It’s coming someday soon. Don’t lose hope!
You may recall back in April I featured my 7-Year LLVLC Blogiversary Giveaway Contest as has been my tradition since I started my blog. The first few years I just had a straight up enter to win contest with random winners chosen, but in 2009 I decided to start surveying my readers with a few questions about their thoughts on the low-carb lifestyle and its role in their lives. You can see the results of the surveys from 2009, 2010 and 2011 to get a feel for the pulse of the low-carb community over the past three years. It took me four months to compile all the data gathered from this year’s surveys because we had nearly DOUBLE the entries than we normally receive. I guess a lot of people wanted that new iPad I was giving away as the Grand Prize in 2012! The cool thing about all those entries was I got a TON of great data for this year’s survey and I have to publicly thank my dear, beautiful, wonderful, stupendous (have I said enough adjectives to adequately describe her yet?), love of my life Christine for pouring over all those entries and meticulously registering the answers that hundreds of you provided. I couldn’t be sharing this amazing information with you today without her help. THANK YOU DARLING!
We all hear what low-carb living is supposed to be from the media and it goes a little something like this: it’s a NO-carb, high-protein, pound of bacon a day, boring, artery-clogging, kill your kidneys, diet fad who’s day has come and gone. But is that the reality? The fact that a blog called “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” is still around in 2012 and thriving as one of the top-rated nutritional health blogs in the world despite all these negative connotations must say otherwise. Although a new Gallup poll released this month found that nearly two-thirds of Americans still think a low-fat diet is better for health than low-carb, the support for the low-carb lifestyle increased by 7% since 2004. With the daily barrage of negative health headlines put out there in the mainstream media and the never ending weeping and gnashing of teeth by anti-meat vegan activists, this is absolutely astonishing! We still have a lot of work left to be done, but I’m encouraged that brighter days are coming. I asked about the future of low-carb acceptance at the end of the survey and will share the results of that in a moment.
In 2011, the big trend seemed to be a move to more people identifying themselves as Paleo than ever before citing books like Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution as one of their biggest influences. With the rise of events like PaleoFX and the Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS) and a whole host of new Paleo books that have come out in the past year, it looks like this trend is growing stronger and stronger all the time and is here to stay! When I asked my readers who they deemed their most trusted health resources last year, names like Gary Taubes, Mark Sisson and Dr. Mike Eades ruled the roost. And when I asked how long it will be before high-fat, low-carb nutrition will be accepted and embraced as a healthy lifestyle in the United States, my readers were split last year between “too many years” and “the next ten years.” Will all these trends hold up again in 2012 and will there be any new surprises to share this time around? Let’s take a look.
Keep in mind the results of this informal survey of my readers is NOT meant to be scientific in any way. Doing this survey annually simply allows me to check the pulse of the low-carb community and see where the people who read this blog stand regarding the issues we talk about here on a regular basis. Whether the media, the so-called health experts, the vegans, Dr. Oz or anyone else wants to admit it or not, low-carbers are here and we’re doing very well with our health despite what people have heard about this way of eating. Heck, I’m eating a diet that’s 85% dietary fat, 12% protein and 3% carbohydrate right now that would make most dietitians keel over just thinking about! But it’s working remarkably well for me and I have no plans to stop doing it anytime soon as long as my weight and health keeps getting better and better. We all need to keep plugging away finding what works for us and sharing with the world our results. This may not be out there within the mainstream health circles, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. The results from all the data I gathered for you here is some really good stuff that I hope you find encouraging in your low-carb journey!
As always, we start off with the gender of the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog readers first. And predictably the 2012 LLVLC Reader Survey found that women (67%) by a more than 2-1 margin comprise my audience compared to men (33%). This is up slightly from 2011 when only 63% of my readers were women but this is still an indication that women are the ones who are surfing around online on my blog for information. Despite the fact there seems to be a move away from weight loss as a primary goal of low-carb living, the presence of so many women seems to indicate that’s a big issue for many of them.
When we look at the demographics of where people live, I love seeing the far-reaching impact this blog is having. This year we had survey respondents from Australia (where I’ll be visiting in November), The Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Norway, Poland, New Zealand, Germany, the UK and Canada. I was surprised I didn’t have any of my LCHF friends from Sweden participate in the 2012 LLVLC Survey. Here’s the top 10 states that included entries this year:
3. New Jersey
4. New York
At the top, we again saw California and Texas who always dominates this survey. But coming out of nowhere to represent this year was New Jersey, Ohio, Washington and Illinois. Dropping out of the top 10 were Michigan, Colorado, North Carolina and Oregon. Again, my own home state of South Carolina had just five entries. Come on Palmetto State, what’s up with that? Oh well, one of these days I guess.
Now that that we know a little bit about what gender the readers of the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog are and where they are from, let’s look at their diet. In 2011 we saw a virtual tie between Atkins (38.5%) and Paleo/primal (38%) as the top diets of choice followed by those who followed their own low-carb plan (17%). This seems to indicate that over half of my readers don’t necessarily want to identify themselves with any specific plan associated with a book or author per se. Would that hold up this year? Let’s see what the 2012 LLVLC Survey found:
3. My own low-carb plan–11%
4. Dr. Richard Bernstein–1%
5. Leptin Reset–.5%
6. Precision Nutrition Lean Eating–.5%
7. Protein Power–.5%
10. Perfect Health Diet–.5%
Despite the Paleo trend coming on like gangbusters over the past year, most people reading my blog still prefer associating themselves more with the Atkins high-fat, moderate protein, low-carbohydrate ketogenic nutritional approach. Keep in mind this survey was conducted in April 2012 before I started my n=1 on nutritional ketosis (lest you think my experiment would be skewing the results). Even still, the Paleo/primal plan had a strong showing and I expect that trend to continue in the years to come. I have an interesting question as a follow-up to this one about the diet plan people associate themselves with here in a moment that will be quite illuminating.
Before we look at that, let’s see how long people have been eating their preferred nutritional approach. Like last year, more than one-third (35%) have only been eating low-carb in the past year which means we’re still reaching a lot of people with this life-changing message. Suh-weet! Real people are trying this way of eating and succeeding. Close to half (47%) of my readers have been livin’ la vida low-carb since 2008. And what about the long-term low-carbers since 2005 who still hang around the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog after all these years? They make up 18% of the respondents in the 2011 LLVLC Reader Survey, including 5% who have been doing this for at least a decade or more! WOWZA!
This year I decided to throw in a new question in light of all the confusion about what a low-carb diet actually is. A scientific definition of low-carb was published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism in 2008 that broke it down into one of three categories: Low-carb ketogenic diet (LCKD) which is less than 50g carbs and 10% calories daily, Low-carb diet (LCD) comprised of 50-130g carbs daily and between 10-26% of calories and a Moderate-carb diet (MCD) that includes 130-225g carbs daily and between 26-45% of calories. You can assume anything above 225+ carbs daily would be classified as a High-carb diet (HCD). Wanna know how your fellow readers described what their menus look like? Check this out:
What I wanna know is who those 2% of people are eating over 225 carbs a day! I for one fall into the category of LCKD and it’s great to see that a full 92% of the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” readers are eating an excellent carbohydrate-restricted lifestyle that’s keeping their blood sugar and other key metabolic health factors in check. Many of the MCD and especially the HCD people who made up the other 8% of respondents shared with me that they feel like they need to consume that many carbohydrates in their diet to fuel their CrossFit and other high-intensity workouts. That’s cool! If it works for you, then who am I to say anything about it?
Next up we look at your most trusted resources for the information you receive about health. I realize asking this question of my readers on my blog is almost a free invitation for them to write my name down. And over half (53%) did write Jimmy Moore as a go-to resource for health information. I appreciate that, although much of my work through my podcasts primarily is highlighting the REAL health experts out there like the ones you so generously shared with me in this survey. Gary Taubes DOMINATED this list last year with 60% of the entries naming him as their top trusted health resource. After pouring through a couple hundred names that people shared, here were the top 10 who made the list in 2012:
1. Mark Sisson (30%)
2. Robb Wolf (23%)
3. Gary Taubes (21%)
4. Chris Kresser (15%)
5. Sean Croxton (10%)
6. Dr. Mike Eades (9%)
7. Dr. Robert Atkins/Atkins.com (8%%)
8. Dr. William Davis (7%)
9. Tom Naughton (7%)
10. Diane Sanfilippo (6%)
Wow, what a list this year! It’s interesting how much more spread out the favorites were this year compared with last year when the Top 5 vote getters in 2011 were all over 30%. I’m not at all surprised to see Sisson and Wolf at the top of this “most trusted resources” list and they were indeed the rock stars at both PaleoFX and AHS12 in 2012. These two guys make themselves incredibly accessible sharing the knowledge and experience they’ve acquired from the literally countless numbers of people they have influenced through their work. Plus, they’re just two really cool dudes! Gary Taubes is arguably the biggest low-carb advocate we have right now, but it’s curious how he was supplanted from the top spot by the two Paleo/primal superstars. Chris Kresser again had a strong showing as did my fellow health podcaster Sean Croxton who popped on this chart for the first time. Another newcomer was Dr. William Davis whose Wheat Belly book recently topped the New York Times bestsellers list (plus he gave a fabulous lecture on the 2012 Low-Carb Cruise). One other new name on this list was my buddy Diane Sanfilippo who just released her fabulous book Practical Paleo and I expect we’ll be hearing lots more great things from her in the coming months as well. Isn’t it great that half of the most trusted resources were Paleo and the other half were low-carb? YES! The more we can merge these two concepts together in one unified voice, the stronger our community will be to make an even greater impact on the world.
Just for fun, I decided to gauge how many people in my blog audience believe in the concept known as “safe starches,” a controversial phrase coined by Paul Jaminet and used in his book The Perfect Health Diet. I led a panel of experts on this subject earlier this month at AHS12 and it was quite the discussion and debate as you will see in the video when it releases in a few months. Ever since I asked the question in a blog post last year Is There Any Such Thing As ‘Safe Starches’ On A Low-Carb Diet? there’s been heated interest on both sides of this issue. But where do YOU guys stand? I wanted to know and here are the answers to whether you consume safe starches or not:
This is just about what I expected the result would be. One in five consume these “safe starches” of white potatoes, white rice, sweet potatoes and other starches in their diets on a regular basis for a variety of reasons. Over one-third of respondents have small servings of these starches sometimes in their diet (ostensibly because their body can tolerate them). And just under half of the survey takers said nope, no way, not eating “safe starches.” With all the hullabaloo about these starchy carbohydrates being a part of a healthy low-carb diet, it was nice to know exactly where you guys stand.
On to exercise, I wanted to see what my readers are doing to wiggle and move that body. Just over half of the respondents (51%) said they engage in cardio exercise such as walking. A little under one-third said they prefer strength/resistance training for their exercise. Interestingly, 10% like to do yoga/Pilates as a way to stretch, move and de-stress their lives. CrossFit was enjoyed by 6% of respondents and over 4% say they like using Kettlebells in their workouts. So how often do the readers engage in these exercise activities? Close to one-third (32%) do it three times weekly. Nearly one-fourth (23%) of my readers are hardcore exercisers doing it 5+ days a week. Shockingly, another 23% said they NEVER do any exercise at all. Hmmmm, I wouldn’t have guessed it would be that high. But if you don’t like exercise, I guess you’re not gonna do it.
Looking at those who read the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog, 35% found it in the past year and have become regular readers. YAY! 10% have stuck with me for more than five years. You guys should get a medal or something! The most hilarious statistic was the 4% of respondents who said “I don’t read your blog.” Hmmm, then how did you enter my survey? HA! Of those people who DO read my blog, almost half (47%) found it through a search engine (that’s what good Google rankings do for you!) another one in four who discovered it heard about it on another blog. Awesome! THANK YOU to the loving Paleo low-carb blogosphere for sharing about my work. I constantly seek to pay it forward and send traffic to other sites because we are all in this together. And a rising tide lifts all ships. Let’s never forget that!
With all these Paleo and low-carb conferences available for people to attend, I wanted to know how many of my readers are actually going to these events and if they aren’t then why not. Let’s first look at what people said about whether they would be attending PaleoFX, the Low-Carb Cruise or AHS12:
For those who ARE attending one of the BIG THREE events, which ones are you going to? Let’s see what they said:
The numbers don’t add up to 100% because some people attended multiple events. It is pretty amazing how so few people who are involved in the Paleo and low-carb community do not participate in these big conference events. I was curious as to why and the answers were not totally unexpected. Over half (51%) said they couldn’t afford to go to Austin, Galveston or Boston for these events. Another 27% said their life is too busy to attend something like this. Distance to travel (12%), family obligations (12%) and limited vacation time (11%) also made it quite difficult to commit to any of these three events. Maybe as these events rotate around the country to different locations there will be more opportunities for people to attend and be a part of the excitement that is happening.
I created a new podcast in 2012 called “Ask The Low-Carb Experts” which is a LIVE show airing on Thursday nights at 7PM ET. It features an expert on a particular subject and I invite my listeners to submit their questions to me ahead of time via email or ask their question on the air directly to the guests. It’s a fun, fast-paced format that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. But is anybody listening after a few months of being on the air when I surveyed in April? What a delight it was to see that two-thirds of you are listening to the podcast with another 17% who didn’t know about the podcast and stated that they would start listening to it. So what about the other 17% of you out there NOT listening–what’s the deal? HA! You know I’m kidding you…or am I?
And the last question I asked my readers was one I’ve been asking for a few years now. Here’s what I wanted to know: “How many more years do you think it will take before high-fat, low-carb nutrition is accepted and embraced as a healthy lifestyle in the United States?” This is never an easy question and truth be told none of us really knows for sure what the answer will be. But it does reveal how optimistic or pessimistic we are about the future of low-carb which is why I keep asking it year after year. Last year, 27% of respondents said it would happen in the next ten years and it was up slightly (29%) in 2012. Unfortunately, those who think it will “never happen” rose sharply from just 8% of 2011 survey respondents to a whopping 35% in 2012. Are we losing hope that this ship is ever going to get turned around? I sure hope not, but these survey results reveals some pretty serious concerns by advocates that we are not approaching the light at the end of the tunnel.
What’s it gonna take? Over one-fourth (26%) say it is going to have to happen at the grassroots level through blogs, podcasts and other personal encounters with this information. One in five think the medical profession has to step it up and get physicians to begin openly endorsing low-carb diets with their patients to improve outcomes. This is happening amongst a brave few out there. Big Pharma, Big Food and Big Government also have to stop having such a vested financial interest in keeping the status quo according to 18% of respondents–and maybe that’s why there’s such negative thoughts about our prospects since we know that’s not changing anytime soon. But don’t lose hope my friends because we are making a real difference out there one person at a time every time we share the positive changes that have happened to us because of healthy low-carb living. YOU are what’s gonna make people embrace this, so stay upbeat and positive that better days are on the horizon however long it takes to get here.
That’s all the results I have from the 2012 “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” Reader Survey. Again, a very special thank you to Christine Moore for compiling all of your answers and adding up all the numbers for me to provide you these statistics today. And THANK YOU to my loyal readers who participated in my blogiversary contest back in April and filled out the survey answers so this invaluable information could be provided to you today. Let’s keep on educating, encouraging and inspiring each other and everyone within our spheres of influence about the healthy low-carb lifestyle. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic disease are NOT more mighty than healthy low-carb living. Let’s shout that message from the mountaintops and keep being that example for others to see on a daily basis. As we progress forward over this next year, keep on striving to be better and better in your example and never stop learning what makes this way of eating work. Thanks so much for reading the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog and I am sincerely grateful to each and every one of you for being such a big part of my life. I love you guys!