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Thanks To #AHS11, I’ve Shifted My Diet To A Low-Carb Paleo Approach

I’ve got some BIG NEWS to share below that I can’t wait to tell you about. But more on that in a moment. It’s been just over three weeks since the inaugural Ancestral Health Symposium (aka hashtag #AHS11 on Twitter) took place on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles, California on August 5-6, 2011. And I’m sure I speak for many of the 600 people who were in attendance at this glorious event when I say I’m still on Cloud 9 from it! In case you missed any of the lectures (39 of them have been posted as of writing this blog post) that were presented at #AHS11, they are now online for your viewing pleasure. And I HIGHLY recommend you watch them to learn more about what was shared there. There were some prominent low-carb speakers, including Gary Taubes, Tom Naughton, Dr. Richard Feinman, Dr. Mike Eades and Dr. Andreas Eenfelt (Who I gave up my speaking slot for so he could have a chance to talk about the LCHF movement in Sweden. Video of his lecture has not yet been posted online but he’ll be on my podcast on Thursday.) as well as many friends of low-carb living such as Nora Gedgaudas, Dr. Emily Deans and Jamie Scott, Robb Wolf, Doug McGuff, John Durant and Mark Sisson. Having interviewed a great majority of the speakers at #AHS11 on my “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” podcast over the years, it was surreal seeing them all in one place and in the flesh.

My favorite encounter with someone I’ve interviewed twice was with none other than Dr. Robert Lustig (from “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” fame) who was, in all honesty, one of my toughest challenges to get “loose” on my podcast. He’s a very formal guy when it comes to public speaking and it was on full display at #AHS11. Most people I talked to there instantly recognized me and had no trouble coming up to me to say hello. But Dr. Lustig was different. I had seen his AHS lecture and watched him speaking with various people between speaking sessions as people huddled around him. He glanced at me once like he thought he knew me, but then looked away. During lunchtime, I saw Dr. Lustig and walked up to him with the greeting, “Hey Robert!” He offered a very short “hello” and then I shared who I was. “This is Jimmy Moore.” The look on his face was priceless. He immediately changed his demeanor and tone with me stating “Hi, Mr. Moore.” He noted that he thought he recognized me earlier. We had a fabulous conversation where he said he wasn’t against a low-carb diet but that there needs to be more research done on it for him to embrace the concept. Dr. Feinman also got into some one-on-one discussions with him about carbohydrate restriction. Oh to be a fly on the wall during those chats!

Christine and I were grateful to John and Rossana Forzanti from Viva Low-Carb for providing us transportation to and from the airport as well as a fabulous dinner while were were in LA. John is a big fan of the science of low-carb living and attended #AHS11 with us. On the way from the airport to our hotel, we got into a conversation about Paleo diets and how not everyone at this conference believes low-carb and Paleo go together. “But aren’t they synonymous?” John asked. I went on to explain that there are people in the Paleo community who eat more carbohydrates than what we would consider “low-carb” and there are others who consume a WHOLE LOT MORE carbs on their Paleo diet. This falls right in line with Chris Kresser’s “Paleo template” concept which we discussed on Episode 20 of “Low-Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore & Friends.” It was a mish-mash of all sorts of people across the Paleo spectrum at #AHS11 which made for an interesting conversation piece throughout the conference.

I did sense there was some tension between the low-carb attendees and those Paleo peeps who call for more carbohydrates in their ancestral diet. Most of the attention has been given to the squabble between Gary Taubes and Stephan Guyenet which prompted the latter to write a blog post entitled “The Carbohydrate Hypothesis of Obesity: a Critical Examination” where he attempts to dismantle the “carbohydrates raise insulin which leads to obesity” theory promoted by Taubes. You can see video of Taubes’ question to Guyenet during the Q&A session following Guyenet’s lecture here. Many in the audience felt Taubes was rude for the “you should pay attention…” comment he made at the end of his question to Guyenet. And quite honestly, it was. Taubes later apologized to Guyenet privately (probably should have been public), but the gauntlet had been lowered. Guyenet has since posted another column called “A Roadmap To Obesity” where he outlines the case for his “food reward” theory which he thinks is the underlying culprit in people getting fat. Taubes is working on a blog post of his own at GaryTaubes.com which he tells me is forthcoming soon (could be a few days…might be a few weeks) after which both he and Guyenet have agreed to come on my podcast to talk about their respective theories regarding what leads to obesity. I see this kind of open discussion as a very good thing because it allows for us to hash out all the pros and cons of what we believe and why we believe. The moment we stop trying to learn is when we become mindless robots making what we believe is true into a nutritional religious belief (Robb Wolf addressed this in his talk). And if we get the science wrong, we also become a laughingstock which doesn’t help our cause (Mat “The Kracken” Lalonde made this point during his lecture).

Honestly, though, most of the people who attended #AHS11 were under the age of 30, looked very healthy and fit, and are super-enthusiastic about this way of eating that has helped them get there. But as someone over the age of 30 (I’m turning 40 in December), once weighing in at 410 pounds but now with stellar health markers despite some extra weight, and equally gung-ho about the low-carb lifestyle and what it has done for me, I found all this inter-dietary-squabbling about the slight differences we have between us just a bit odd. Aren’t we all on the same page trying to help people who are mindlessly eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) find a pathway to improved health by making better choices in their diets? That has been a major reason why I have been active at my blog, podcasts, YouTube videos and all the other work online for over the past six years to help educate, encourage and inspire others to make this change for themselves. Must we get so caught up in the minutia of how much carbohydrate someone must eat in our diet that we forget the average Joe and Jane are downing Coca-Cola, Twinkies, McDonald’s French Fries and Doritos like they’re going out of style? None of us thinks this is healthy and yet this is the typical fare for more Americans than we probably know.

While I can appreciate (and even actively promote) an exuberant passion for sharing what you have learned in your own personal nutritional journey, it’s important to remember that we are not all the same. For some of us who aren’t as young and fit as the average #AHS11 attendee, perhaps people who are “metabolically deranged” require a more restrictive diet that is lower in carbohydrates to help them attain optimal health. This is an ongoing discussion that I am pleased to see continue as long as we keep our eyes on the big picture of what all of this means regarding the impact ancestral/Paleo/low-carb living has on public health. All of this leads me to the main point of why I’m writing this blog post. For all the so-called “controversy” of #AHS11, in the end it was a fabulous meeting that I highly recommend for anyone interested in their health. #AHS12 is already planned for August 9-11, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts at Harvard University in association with the Harvard Food Law Society. If you missed out on #AHS11 and are kicking yourself for it, then be sure to keep your eyes peeled closely to AncestryFoundation.org for all the details about this event moving to the East Coast in 2012! Listen to my podcast interview with the creators of The Ancestral Health Symposium–Brent Pottenger and Aaron Blaisdell–coming up on Thursday, September 9, 2011.

Okay, so here’s the big news I alluded to at the beginning of this post: Christine and I have decided to try a high-fat, low-carb version of the Paleo diet. We started last Sunday, August 21, 2011 and have been enjoying it immensely so far. I’m so proud of Christine for making the choice to do this after years of dibble-dabbling with low-carb just kinda sorta. She’s never had a weight problem so it wasn’t as evident to her about why she needed to eat this way. But thanks to the heaps of inspiration coming out of #AHS11, it has caused her to shift her personal diet to a low-carb Paleo approach. And she’s even letting me train her with weights now to add some muscle to her body too. If you know my wife Christine, both of these moves are HUGE for her. It’s been a long time coming for me too since I had allowed some bad habits to creep into my low-carb lifestyle. From diet sodas to artificial sweeteners and even the “low-carb” products, I had grown lackadaisical and sloppy in my livin’ la vida low-carb journey. Although I had included some elements of Paleo into my routine (grass-fed meats, coconut oil, etc.), I’d never jumped in all the way–until now.

When I announced this on Twitter and Facebook, some people thought I had “left” low-carb (whatever that means). Uhhh, no, I haven’t departed from the diet that helped me shed triple digit weight and attain some of the most incredible health numbers of my entire life. High-fat, low-carb principles still apply with what I’m doing now. The major differences are I have decided to cut out dairy (we’ll see if it makes a difference in me), grains and vegetable oils (haven’t been consuming these anyway), no artificial sweeteners at all, choosing only grass-fed, pastured, and organic foods whenever possible, and even dabbling in some various “other” parts of the animal to try (just got me some beef tongue from my local farmer). Guess what? So far, so good. This has rekindled my love for cooking again and here’s just a sampling of the kind of dishes I’ve been serving up in the Moore household over the past week:

Using fresh garlic, spices, fresh locally-grown and raised foods, and the best quality ingredients I can find, this has been an amazing ride so far (and we can’t wait to try so many new foods in the coming months)! We cleaned out our refrigerator and cupboards so that all that’s left is Paleo-friendly (I’ll likely do a video of the food I have in my house now). Plus, I’ve needed to adjust my n=1 experiments to reflect these changes and I’ll be testing the so-called “safe” carbs as espoused by people like Paul Jaminet (his #AHS11 lecture has not yet been posted) later this year. I’m also skipping to every other month with these experiments to limit the impact on my weight and health. Since I’d already started the Atkins products with the shakes in July, I’ll do the Atkins bars in September to complete that circle. However, I don’t see that I’d eat those bars as part of my low-carb Paleo lifestyle.

So many of my readers have already been making these kind of changes in their low-carb lifestyle as I discovered in my blog survey earlier this year. A real, whole foods approach is the goal of livin’ la vida low-carb anyway. I think too many people get hung up on trying to find a “low-carb” version of cakes, cookies, pizza, bread, pasta, and other such foods that they forget to just eat real food (JERF as my buddy Sean Croxton calls it). So that’s where I am with the full support and participation of my wife right now and I look forward to seeing what if any impact this will make. I’ll let you know in the coming months what is happening. I’d love to know what you think about these changes. Feel free to leave your comments below.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=693651904 Lisa Crawford Geiger

    “While I can appreciate (and even actively promote) an exuberant passion for sharing what you have learned in your own personal nutritional journey, it’s important to remember that we are not all the same. For some of us who aren’t as young and fit as the average #AHS11 attendee, perhaps people who are ‘metabolically deranged’ require a more restrictive diet that is lower in carbohydrates to help them attain optimal health”

    Well stated, Jimmy. I, too, have given up vegetable oils and grains, and only have dairy occasionally (it doesn’t really effect me too much when I eat it) and eat mostly a Paleo/Primal low carb diet. I started out on Atkins, too, and while I am grateful for what Atkins did for me, eating whole foods makes sense to me, and I feel better for it. Personally, I can’t embrace the eating of starchy vegetables because I am one of those metabolically deranged individuals you mentioned. How could I not be after eating low fat, low calorie off and on for decades? I have a potato every now and again, but not even on a weekly basis. I can’t say it’s bad for everyone, though, it’s just not good for me. I am pleased to see you making this transition, and so glad that Christine is on board! I look forward to your progress reports.

    • Anonymous

      I do think Dr. Atkins would have moved in this direction with his philosophy.

  • philis

    It is great to change diets up, especially when there seem to be specific advantages. You and Christine adopting the diet together makes it even more enjoyable to test together the effects of a cleaner menu. It will be a pleasure to share in your journey as you write about your combined experiences. Can not wait to learn from what you two discover. 

    • Anonymous

      Should be fun!

  • philis

    It is great to change diets up, especially when there seem to be specific advantages. You and Christine adopting the diet together makes it even more enjoyable to test together the effects of a cleaner menu. It will be a pleasure to share in your journey as you write about your combined experiences. Can not wait to learn from what you two discover. 

  • TrishM

    Sounds like a very positive move in the right direction Jimmy.  So glad Christine is on board too.  She will enjoy the benefits of weight training as well.  Good luck with this.  TrishM

    • Anonymous

      She was cute today telling me her biceps and triceps were sore. GOOD! ;)

      • http://twitter.com/balancedbites Diane Sanfilippo

        One time I brought my mom to a workout with a trainer I was working with and the next day she said “my ribs are sore.” I had to point out that she has muscles there called ABS! ;) LOL. We still laugh about that today… my yogi mom discovered her abs!

        • Anonymous

          Too funny!

    • Anonymous

      She was cute today telling me her biceps and triceps were sore. GOOD! ;)

  • TrishM

    Sounds like a very positive move in the right direction Jimmy.  So glad Christine is on board too.  She will enjoy the benefits of weight training as well.  Good luck with this.  TrishM

  • Dame Liberty

    Jimmy, this is indeed welcome news. Regarding dairy, I’ve removed it and then added it back in (a bit of heavy cream and some grassfed cheese every now and then) without any noticeable effect.  Will you be reintroducing it later?  I think it was Sisson who pointed out that when our HG ancestors killed a bison, they probably didn’t leave the mammary glands behind.

    And finally, will you be still be testing the Questbars in February?  They are my only “cheat.”  BTW, thank you for for requesting that they make a no-artificial-sweetener version.  You ROCK, Jimmy.

    See you at AHS in Boston (my neck of the woods) in 2012!

    • Anonymous

      Maybe. We’ll see how no dairy works. I’d love cream and raw cheese, but none for now. Testing the theory. Yes, testing QuestBars in 2012. Can’t wait for #AHS12!

    • Anonymous

      Maybe. We’ll see how no dairy works. I’d love cream and raw cheese, but none for now. Testing the theory. Yes, testing QuestBars in 2012. Can’t wait for #AHS12!

  • Dame Liberty

    Jimmy, this is indeed welcome news. Regarding dairy, I’ve removed it and then added it back in (a bit of heavy cream and some grassfed cheese every now and then) without any noticeable effect.  Will you be reintroducing it later?  I think it was Sisson who pointed out that when our HG ancestors killed a bison, they probably didn’t leave the mammary glands behind.

    And finally, will you be still be testing the Questbars in February?  They are my only “cheat.”  BTW, thank you for for requesting that they make a no-artificial-sweetener version.  You ROCK, Jimmy.

    See you at AHS in Boston (my neck of the woods) in 2012!

  • http://twitter.com/balancedbites Diane Sanfilippo

    Rock on, Jimmy. We welcome you with open arms into the Paleo community as you’ve done a world of good within it already by hosting so many of us on your show! :)

  • http://twitter.com/balancedbites Diane Sanfilippo

    Rock on, Jimmy. We welcome you with open arms into the Paleo community as you’ve done a world of good within it already by hosting so many of us on your show! :)

  • Anonymous

    Laurie, you so have to be there! Of course, I’ll see you on the Low-Carb Cruise in May. :D

  • Anonymous

    Took me a while, but I get it.

    • Duncan Margetts

      About 6 years by my calculations Jimmy.. remember? :-)

      regards,

      Duncan Margetts.

      • Anonymous

        Better late than never! ;)

        • Chris Highcock

          Jimmy, good news.  It did take a while!  You may remember that I gave up commenting on your menus blog because of my frustration at your diet and the continued inclusion for years of low carb products with artificial sweeteners and fillers.   Faced with your continuing struggles with your weight, despite your impressive health markers, I was always encouraging you to just eat real food.  

          It is fantastic that this is what you are finally doing and some of those meals above look absolutely mouthwatering!

          I’ve been including more starch recently really encouraged by Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet – no gluten but certainly potatoes, sweet potatoes, edoes and tapioca – and I’ve been getting leaner.  If you have been very low carb for a while – as I was – it is a big thing to start eating starch again, but you will find that it is OK.  

          Keep it up Jimmy and all the best to Christine.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks Chris. I did appreciate your gentle prodding in this direction. It’s better that I made this move myself because I’ll do it full-fledged rather than half-hearted. Still skittish on adding starch just yet, but we’ll see. And the food has been amazing on this so far. I’m loving cooking again with REAL FOOD!

  • Anonymous

    It appears we are indeed Hank! Best wishes to you as you move forward.

    • Hank Garner

      Thanks, and you too!

  • Mike Farinha

    Good luck on your new paleo journey!
    I started doing low carb since May after reading “Why We Get Fat” and watching “Fat Head” and have so far lost a little over 25lbs so far. I’ve also been reading books and blogs from both the paleo/primal crowd and the WAPF crowd. I personally think there is a lot of merit in the information in both of these ‘circles’. I also believe that they have a lot of overlap with eachother. I completely disagree with the food reward theory of Guyenet but appreciate the public challenge to the excesive insulin theory of Taubes; we can’t be sure unless we hash this out. The food reward theory may prove to be a type of symptom but not a cause.

    So after much of what I’ve read I cannot say my diet falls within any particular ideology but rather a mish-mash of Paleo/WAPF while being mindful of carbs. I avoid grains, aside from the ocational slice of sprouted sourdough for breakfast. I have incorporated more fruit than would be typically allowed on a low carb diet and I also drink raw milk from time to time.

    In addition, I agree that all three groups need to keep their eyes on the ball; and that is to help bring about the destruction of the Standard American Diet. This isn’t an easy fight since it will involve not only changing the mind of the researchers studying this but also puting pressure on politicians to get out of pushing their misguided agenda.

    • Anonymous

      And you’ve found the diet that’s right for YOU. That’s all that matters.

  • http://twitter.com/AskBryan Bryan Davis

    This is great. I can’t wait to follow along and see how this changes the conversation on your blog, podcast and twitter.
    Also, working as a team with your wife will renew your spirit, guaranteed.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been quite pro-Paleo for a while…maybe I’ll learn some things on this new direction though.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been quite pro-Paleo for a while…maybe I’ll learn some things on this new direction though.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6MRGYM2HI2ZOCN64AZ3IB2A4XM mikep

    Hi Jimmy.

    Good for you for switching to Paleo. I think you will really like it. I’m glad you are keeping an open mind to introducing safe starches in your diet. I think if you raise your carbs somewhat you might actually lose weight. From what I learned from Robb Wolf, when you are low low carb for too long, your cortisol levels can become elevated, hindering weightloss. I think adding back a little fruit, and some sweet potatoes, or even white potatoes without the skin may benefit you.

    I have a lot more respect for you, since you are not dogmatically sticking with low carb non-paleo, but are trying new approaches to see what works for you.

    Ultimately, it’s the N=1, done properly, and with scientific evidence behnid it, that is what a healthy eating is all about.

    I look forward to your new interviews with AHS participants, especially Gary Taubes. I have a lot of respect for him, but I think he was out of line with his parting shots. He definitely needs to make a public apology, and he should have done that weeks ago.

    • Anonymous

      I’m eating some fruit, but the thought of potatoes freaks me out. Love sweet potatoes though. We’ll see.

      I agree Gary didn’t handle the Stephan Guyenet incident the best, but I’ll ask him about it in my interview soon.

  • jeffk8900

    So glad to hear of your dieter modifications. I think that you will see an improvement going to paleo way. I still am a believer in Taubes overall hypothesis and I keep my carb count low. I do ingest some of high-carb foods (sweet potatoes mostly) but in limited quantities. Looking at your old food blog I often wished you would change to this path.

    • Anonymous

      I’m here now. :)

  • Anonymous

    I’ll be sharing what I learn.

  • Anonymous

    Erin, thanks for your leadership.

  • Atalas Lorak

    Jimmy, You are the man…..Thank you so much for all you do. I look forward to all your podcasts and posts. You have brought integrity and honesty to this challenge that many of us face daily. I admire your leadership and enthusiasm.  The best of luck and may many good things come to you and Christine. 

    • Anonymous

      Thank you! Should be a fun next step.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll see what each of them thinks about this when I interview them soon.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty easy to make amazing foods. Maybe people don’t realize how easy it is.

    • Demuralist

      Much better to focus on what we get to eat and enjoy than on how to mimic something we are letting go of because it has not served us well! 

      congrats on your move.

      • Anonymous

        Well said.

  • Heckhelm

    I think this is great that you’re moving to a more whole, real unprocessed foods diet. Although I think a “paleo” diet is definately not an optimal diet (being that there have been a millennia’s worth of healthy people live and diet since our “paleo” ancestors), eating a more whole foods diet is never a bad thing. Good luck James.

    • Anonymous

      The principles of Paleo are what matters most. THANKS for the feedback.

  • Pjnoir

    way to go Jimmy! Paleo was the natural progression from Atkins, Low Carb and natural foods. I reduced my Paleo habits those past spring for more of a low carb JERF and regret it. Paleo does require an ethic that isn’t easily found at times. I eat more in summer and less in winter and try not to force an out of season Paleo diet on my body. Congrts again.

    • Anonymous

      This was the right thing for me and I look forward to seeing the impact it will have in me.

  • Dawna

    Yay Jimmy!  I was going to ask you on twitter but thought I’d check here first  =)

    • Anonymous

      I’m in! We’ll see how it goes. :D

  • Ascloseastheair

    Palep isn’t a religion with a rulebook, it’s a concept with a cookbook.

    • Anonymous

      Uhhh, okay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1436470114 FatThen FitNow

    Sounds great Jimmy, I have gone more this way in the last year.  I will be covering it in the second edition of my book which I hope to have ready by the new year.  All the best your friend Joe.

    • Anonymous

      Awesome Joe!

  • Anonymous

    Same could be said about any plan. And I agree.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6ZPXB5DBFDYKX36DEYLTOH6XM4 Space Vegetable

    Interesting discussions! I think the way I’ve been doing low-carb leans toward Paleo anyway, but I’m keeping my dairy for the calcium. I have low bone density due to 27 years of corticosteroids, so dairy helps me get more calcium. I have been less restrictive when it comes to vegetables and fruits than what the standard low-carb approach recommends, since I love my fruits and veggies as much as my meat and fish, especially since my garden has been producing quite well this summer. Not sure about totally giving up sweeteners, though. I like having some sugar-free chocolate (and hey, chocolate is good for you!) sometimes and I simply can’t have my coffee without sweetening (and no way am I giving up the java!). Overall, though, I think the key is simply eating real food and avoiding the fake franken-food and processed grains (and anything with soy – blech!). That probably solves 90% of dietary problems out there.  Good luck with your new dietary adventure.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t do soy either. Ewwww!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6ZPXB5DBFDYKX36DEYLTOH6XM4 Space Vegetable

        Oh, and I meant to ask… what is the orange stuff in the picture below the summer squash rounds? I don’t recognize it.  I do love how colorful your meals are, though. Isn’t there a rule of thumb about how eating food of all colors helps you get all your vital nutrients? Regardless, it certainly looks tasty!

        • Anonymous

          That’s freshly-made almond butter with organic cinnamon sprinkled on top–my new favorite snack. :D

    • Michellew86

      artificial sweetners are tantamount to poison, which I’m sure you know… but have you tried Stevia?? the Natural alternative…

      • Anonymous

        Of course. It’s in my cupboard, but I’m learning to do with it less and less.

  • CindyS

    I’m so grateful you are sharing this journey with us, Jimmy, having been on the same fence myself for awhile.  I’m not well-versed in paleo yet and still feel I need more of a high-fat ketogenic approach, which it kind of looks like you are doing?  Guess we all have to figure our own optimum eating real food.  Again, thanks for all the podcasts and bringing this info out. Great job!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Cindy. We are all on our own personal journies. Wishing you well on yours.

  • http://profiles.google.com/aaluther Anne Luther

    I plan to attend AHS 2012. Had to miss it this year for the birth of my grandchild. If I get to go next year I will raise the average age of the attendees ;)

    I agree that low carb is often needed for people like me who have done so much damage from eating a “healthy” SAD. I am metabolically damaged but not overweight.

    • Anonymous

      Yay Anne! I know you will enjoy it.