It’s almost become passé this time of the year to reflect on what has happened over the previous 12 months by compiling lists to recap the year. From the top news, sports, and entertainment stories, these lists are everywhere. But they are a friendly reminder of what has happened throughout the year that will very likely be remembered in the years to come. That’s why I decided to jump into the fray with a top 10 list of my own this year to highlight what I believe has been a banner year for livin’ la vida low-carb in 2010. Unlike any year since I’ve been paying attention to low-carb health and nutrition news, this one was without a doubt a game-changer in the mainstream of public thought when it comes to taking the healthy low-carb lifestyle more seriously not just as a weight loss tool (which it does a wonderful job with), but also for improving various aspects of health. It seemed like every month or so we’d see some headline extolling the virtues of restricting carbohydrates, increasing fat in your diet, or other basic principles that you hear me share about here at my blog and podcast each and every week. I don’t know if it’s the influence of the blogosphere, more readily available information online, Gary Taubes, the rise of the Paleo movement or what, but something has triggered a huge shift in thinking in the right direction about the high-fat, low-carb way of life. As someone who has absorbed his life into this topic for nearly seven years, I find it encouraging to see even a glimmer of hope for real lasting cultural change when it comes to nutrition as it relates to health. Only time will tell if we’ll see this trend continue into 2011 and beyond, but for now here are my Top 10 Low-Carb Headlines of 2010:
10. (TIE) “Susan Masino Awarded $1.7 Million National Institutes Of Health Grant”
Published in the Hartfort Courant on October 28, 2010
This unassumingly-titled column printed in the Hartford, Connecticut newspaper may not seem like much on the surface. But when you read it you’ll quickly notice it’s a very big deal because it involves future research on low-carb diets–funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)! A four-year, $1.786 million grant seeks to answer the question why ketogenic diets work so well in controlling epileptic seizures. We know from the great work of people like Dr. Eric Kossoff and Dr. Deborah Snyder that the ketogenic therapy is great for people with epilepsy and other diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, brain diseases, and chronic pain. This research grant will open doors to greater acceptance of the low-carb diet for the therapeutic effects it can have on a wide variety of health issues which will mean more research, more funding, and eventually more acceptance from the public once these studies become published in major medical journals. It may take a few years for the fruits of this research to be borne out, but we’ll look back to 2010 as the genesis of something spectacular happening!
10. (TIE) “Drew Carey: How I Lost 80 Lbs.”
Published in People Magazine on July 29, 2010
So Drew Carey isn’t exactly an A-list Hollywood celebrity, but he did make quite a splash in the media when he showed up at the CBS Fall line-up announcement news conference looking all slender. The People story said he had Type 2 diabetes and was able to beat it while taking 80 pounds off of his body by “shaving his diet of carbohydrates.” WOW! Here’s what Drew said about his diet: “Basically no carbs, not even a cracker. No bread at all. No pizza, nothing. No corn, no beans, no starches of any kind. Egg whites in the morning or like, Greek yogurt, cut some fruit.” Yes, I know, the message wasn’t exactly perfect since it sounded like he was obsessed with trimming the fat in his diet too. But the impact of his weight loss success being credited to his reduction of carb intake in his diet can’t help but have a lasting impact on the fans who embark on their own low-carb journey to better health. In case you missed my blog post on this story, check it out to learn more about Drew Carey’s transformation.
9. “Low-carb diet best for lowering blood pressure”
Published in Reuters on January 26, 2010
Research into low-carb diets is happening behind-the-scenes of the general public and the results have been nothing short of astonishing. Early in the year, we got this study published in the January 25, 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine from Dr. William Yancy at Duke University who compared the impact of a high-fat, low-carb diet with a low-fat diet plus the weight loss drug Alli. The result? As the headline suggests, blood pressure lowered the best on livin’ la vida low-carb. But as I noted in my blog post about this study, this was about so much more than the study participant’s BP levels. It proved that low-carb is just as effective as the most powerful over-the-counter weight loss aid on the market today. That’s the huge headline that was missed by the mainstream media–but we didn’t! Check out my brief podcast interview with Dr. Yancy about his exciting study that released in 2010.
8. “Low-Carb Diets Improve Cholesterol Long Term”
Published in WebMD on August 2, 2010
This study from Dr. Gary Foster at Temple University had been in the pipeline for several years and was anxiously awaited by low-carb diet enthusiasts to answer a lot of the criticisms of this way of eating–namely the impact of carbohydrate-restriction on blood lipids and heart health. The results were published in the August 3, 2010 edition of the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine and sent out the message loud and clear–HDL cholesterol improves so much better on a low-carb plan long-term which in turn is a good indicator that this nutritional approach is not as unhealthy for the heart as once thought. As I shared in my blog post on this study, I believe this study will have far-reaching implications into the future for low-carb diets because it took the focus off of the weight loss aspect and more on the health improvements experienced by those who ate this way. That to me is so much more interesting to see happen than what happens on the scale. We haven’t heard the last of Dr. Gary Foster!
7. “Everything you thought you knew about food is WRONG”
Published in the UK Daily Mail on November 2, 2010
You should have seen my e-mail inbox and Facebook page in early November when this story from across the pond hit the Internet–everybody and their momma was sending me a link to it and begging me to get The Obesity Epidemic author Zoë Harcombe to come on my podcast for an interview. Of course, I had already heard about her work in the UK and had Zoë booked for Episode 427 a couple of months prior. But this story was saying all the right things with the low-carb message by dispelling many of the most common health myths being perpetrated by the purveyors of conventional dietary wisdom. It certainly helped that Zoë is such a fun-loving, likable person which garnered her several major media appearances in the United States to talk about the healthy benefits of restricting carbohydrates in your diet.
6. “Kill or cure? Atkins diet debated in diabetes”
Published in theheart.org on October 18, 2010
At the European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference that took place in Stockholm, Sweden in September 2010, there were plenty of pharmaceutical ideas about how to best control Type 2 diabetes bantered about. But leave it to a modern-day rebel with a cause like Duke University researcher and low-carb diet practitioner Dr. Eric Westman to stir the pot just a bit. This co-author of The New Atkins For A New You book released in 2010 dared to suggest that the Atkins low-carb approach can be even MORE powerful in treating diabetes than the drug therapies. This column gave a lot of ink quoting Dr. Westman’s philosophy and why it works so well for many of his patients. Of course, there were dissenting opinions shared from the usual suspects like the American Heart Association’s Dr. Robert Eckel and an American Diabetes Association representative, but the overall message of the reporting was clear–more research into the efficacy of low-carb is necessary and no longer needs to be ignored. HERE HERE! Don’t miss all the fabulous comments left at the end of this column from many of the superstars of low-carb science weighing in like Dr. Jay Wortman, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, Gary Taubes, Dr. Robert Su, Dr. Richard Feinman, Dr. Steve Parker, Mark Sisson, and even a few low-fat nut jobs!
5. “Egg on Their Faces: Government dietary advice often proves disastrous”
Published in the New York City-based City Journal in the Summer 2010 issue
Although this publication isn’t as well-known as The New York Times, there was certainly no denying the message of this column–we’ve been severely let down by the people behind the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They’ve been shaping nutritional policy every five years for decades and yet public health and waistlines continue to go in the wrong direction. I was able to have my say at the USDA in July 2010 (by the way, the USDA has still not posted the transcript of the testimonies they promised many moons ago although it perpetually shows “coming soon.” Sigh.) testifying before this committee that will be declaring what the “best” diet should be for Americans any day now. But what they’re proposing for the 2010 version isn’t sitting too well with the low-carb community. That’s what made this column so fabulous because it openly chastised the USDA and HHS for continuing to perpetrate the lies about dietary fat while completely ignoring the preponderance of the evidence damning carbohydrate consumption. Plan on seeing more of this kind of reporting in 2011.
4. “Can cutting carbohydrates from your diet make you live longer?”
Published in the UK Daily Mail on October 26, 2010
I’m super-impressed with the openness to low-carb principles shown by Jerome Burne at the UK Daily Mail. He also wrote the column on Zoë Harcombe I noted above, but he also published this amazing one in October on the great work of Cynthia Kenyon whose work on aging is legendary in scientific circles. What she has found in observing roundworms is the fastest way to speed up the process of getting older is to eat more carbohydrates. HUGE FINDING! If she had made this discovery about dietary fat, then they’d be heralding her as the greatest nutritional scientist of our day and giving her the Nobel Prize. But, alas, we are talking reality here and that’s not happening in 2010 society. Don’t be surprised though when we see the paradigm shift begin to take root and her work becomes the standard for all future research. Check out my blog post on Kenyon’s work–and, yes, I’ve asked for a podcast interview but was turned down because she said she needed to focus on her research. As long as she keeps pumping out quality content, that’s perfectly fine with me.
3. “Fat or Carbs: Which Is Worse?”
Published in The Huffington Post on July 2, 2010
Ever since Gary Taubes released Good Calories Bad Calories in September 2007, something incredible has happened to one of the most highly-respected health authorities of our day–Dr. Andrew Weil. He first went public on CNN’s Larry King Live show praising Taubes’ book while the rest of the panel was mocking him for rehashing the Atkins diet. But Dr. Weil didn’t stop there. He’s gone on to speak out about the negative effects carbohydrates can play in the diet of people who are metabolically predisposed to be sensitive to consuming carbs on his web site and at his annual conferences (even inviting Taubes to speak–a dramatic shift in philosophy!). However, this column in The Huffington Post further solidified his newfound belief in the detrimental impact of carbohydrate and the not-so-bad idea of consuming fats. I don’t know where his thinking will take him next, but I have heard from his assistant that Dr. Weil is currently writing two new books set to be released sometime in 2011. We’ll have to wait and see how firmly his stance on the high-fat, low-carb diet becomes when these books are published.
2. “The New Age Cavemen and the City”
Published in The New York Times on January 8, 2010
Make no mistake about it–2010 was a breakthrough year for the Paleo diet! I often refer to the Paleo movement as a cousin of the low-carb community because we are walking along parallel paths to the same goal. People like Robb Wolf, Art De Vany, Mark Sisson, Loren Cordain and others are all trailblazers in this regard by publishing bestselling diet and health books on the topic of primal living. And yet we could look back to this New York Times column in January as the catalyst that began a newfound interest in Paleolithic nutrition again. When I recently interviewed Dr. Cordain for an upcoming episode of my podcast in early 2011, he said his publisher came to him about midyear and asked him to write a follow-up cookbook because of the surge in sales of his 2002 classic The Paleo Diet. The three main people featured in that story–John Durant, Melissa McEwen, and Vladimir Averbukh–experienced a strong boost in readers and media appearances (Durant was even invited to be a guest on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report because of the Times exposure) to their respective blogs and helped put the Paleo message in front of tens of millions worldwide who have decided to give this “caveman diet” a try for themselves. This can’t help but be good for the low-carb cause!
1. (TIE) “Saturated fats not linked to heart disease: Meta-analysis”
Published in Food Navigator on February 12, 2010
Whenever I’ve been interviewed on other podcasts about what I think the most impressive thing that happened for livin’ la vida low-carb in 2010 was, I point to this study by Dr. Ronald Krauss published in the January 13, 2010 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In it, Dr. Krauss declares in not-so-uncertain terms that saturated fat is NOT GUILTY in heart disease. This tee-totally flies in the face of the stance taken by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the National Institutes of Health, and just about every major medical and nutritional group across the globe. Will they immediately change their policy based on Dr. Krauss’ work? NOT A CHANCE! But there’s no denying that the tide is turning in favor of viewing saturated fat as passive in the absence of carbohydrate in the diet. When acceptance of saturated fat as a part of a heart-healthy diet becomes the norm, then I believe low-carb acceptance is not far behind. It’s sad this earth-shattering study wasn’t more widely publicized than it was, but we did our part to shout it from the mountaintops!
1. (TIE) “A reversal on carbs”
Published in the Los Angeles Times on December 20, 2010
If you were traveling last week due to the Christmas holidays, then you might have missed what is arguably the biggest story of the year about low-carb diets. I wonder if they purposely waited until they thought nobody was paying attention to publish this article–okay, that’s the conspiracy theorist side of me coming out. Seriously, though, this is an outstanding column worthy of reading from start to finish and it quotes everyone from Harvard School of Public Health chairman Dr. Walter Willett, his colleague at Harvard Dr. Frank Hu, low-carb researcher and co-author of The New Atkins For A New You Dr. Stephen Phinney, Duke University researcher and practitioner Dr. Eric Westman, and Dr. Ronald Krauss. This wasn’t some chintzy publication either–it’s the freakin’ LA Times! If you believe in the carbohydrate-health connection in the slightest, then you couldn’t help but smile at this gigantic Christmas gift to end what was indeed a banner year for livin’ la vida low-carb!
Did I miss any major low-carb headlines from 2010 that were worthy of mention on my year-end list? Share your comments below and let me know what you think of these stories I’ve mentioned and any others you want to highlight. I’m sincerely looking forward to seeing this trend in favor of a high-fat, low-carb nutritional approach continuing and become even stronger in 2011 and beyond!