A few years ago when my blog was online for just a few months, I wanted to find a way to recognize the people within the low-carb community who were having the greatest impact on behalf of healthy low-carb living on our culture. Thus was birthed my annual Top 10 Low-Carb Movers & Shakers where I give accolades to the people I feel are helping to advance the overall message of livin’ la vida low-carb the most. Yes, it’s a completely subjective list just as most of these kind of things are. While you may not agree with all of my choices or think there are people more worthy of appearing on this list, there’s no denying the influence that each of these people have made on low-carb over the past twelve months. The overall goal of making the message of carbohydrate-restriction more mainstream is being accomplished thanks to the efforts of the ten names you are about to read. Some are obvious and others may surprise you. But one thing’s for certain–these are my Top 10 Low-Carb Movers & Shakers of 2010 (in case you missed my lists from previous years, see who made it in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005):
1. GARY TAUBES
It’s hard to believe “What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” was published in the New York Times Magazine more than eight years ago and that it’s been over three years since the release of his game-changing book Good Calories Bad Calories. But the continuing ripple effect within the medical community to the concepts shared in that book has been sensational and the influence of science journalist Gary Taubes is far from over. Thanks to the response he’s received to his popular lecture explaining why obesity exists along with demand for a more consumer-friendly version of the concepts he shared in his previous book, Gary is set to release his much-awaited Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It on December 28, 2010 (listen to my September 2010 podcast interview with him about this new book) which almost guarantees he’ll probably end up back on this list again in 2011. Gary has made it every year since the release of his book and he’s certainly a force to be reckoned with as long as he stays interested in spreading the good science supporting high-fat, carbohydrate-restricted diets. Oh, and one more thing: after lots of begging from his biggest fans, he’s finally got a web site!
2. DR. ERIC WESTMAN
Since the death of Dr. Robert C. Atkins in 2003, there has been a lot of blatant misinformation put out there about what the Atkins diet is all about. This was so unsettling to a group of researchers examining low-carb nutrition that they decided to work with the Atkins Nutritionals company to create a new version of the Atkins lifestyle that would reflect the most modern research. The fruit of that labor was the March 2010 release of The New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight Fast and Feeling Great (read my review of this book) by Dr. Eric Westman, Dr. Jeff Volek, and Dr. Stephen Phinney. While Volek and Phinney are doing some truly remarkable work on the research side, it’s the way Dr. Westman became the marketing face of promoting the new Atkins that landed him on this year’s list. He turned up everywhere on national and local television spots to newspaper and magazine columns spreading the message that eating fat is good for you and that you might not need to eat as many carbohydrates as has been recommended. It was a good year for livin’ la vida low-carb because of the efforts of Dr. Eric Westman (listen to my March 2010 podcast interview with him).
3. MARK SISSON
The primal/Paleolithic movement as a subset of the low-carb community has come on strong over the past couple of years thanks to the efforts of some charismatic leaders emerging with practical concepts to make it applicable in the 21st Century. Mark Sisson is at the head of the pack in this regard. He was one of my top podcast interviews of 2009 thanks to the dynamic release of his book The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy which climbed to #2 on Amazon because of big push in the blogosphere in March. In July 2010, Mark released a follow-up companion cookbook called The Primal Blueprint Cookbook: Primal, Low Carb, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free to help people who want to eat like Grok to find ways to incorporate deliciously healthy meals into their daily menus. Mark’s ingenuity in making primal living look cool and viable in modern times makes him a relevant voice in bringing low-carb living to the forefront of our culture.
4. DR. MARY VERNON
One of the most enthusiastic doctors supporting the use of low-carb diets with patients you will ever meet is Dr. Mary Vernon. Everybody loves this woman because you can’t help but be drawn in by her personality that exudes with confidence that low-carb is a great pathway to health. She has literally been the face of low-carb science amongst her colleagues at the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) over the past few years with a specific set of lectures promoting the science behind carbohydrate-restricted diets. Her passion for educating doctors on the use of low-carb diets led her to begin Innovative Metabolic Solutions for doing just that. From their inaugural modules providing CME credit to physicians to the Summer Module Series, the fingerprints that Dr. Vernon is leaving on behalf of low-carb to medical professionals around the world is impossible to ignore. I have no doubt in my mind that a turnaround is coming where more and more physicians will want to identify themselves as a “low-carb doctor” and we’ll have Dr. Mary Vernon to thank for that! She was one of the special guest speakers for the 2010 Low-Carb Cruise and will be joining us again in 2011.
5. DR. JONNY BOWDEN
You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in the low-carb community who is a more prolific writer than Dr. Jonny Bowden. He’s been pumping out about 1-2 books a year for several years, but none quite as relevant as the one he released in 2010. After releasing a book in 2005 called Living The Low Carb Life which detailed all of the major low-carb diets giving the highs and the lows of each, the perception in the publishing world quickly turned to viewing low-carb dead as a doornail by the end of 2005 (the book eventually went out of print because the publisher thought nobody would be interested in buying a book about low-carb nutrition anymore). But Jonny knew better as he watched blogs like mine rise in popularity out of nowhere along with the steady stream of research showing tremendous support for this way of eating (which he writes frequently about on his popular blog). He was finally able to convince his publisher to re-release the book under the name Living Low Carb: Controlled-Carbohydrate Eating for Long-Term Weight Loss with a few brand new chapters as well as more of the popular diets to add to the comparison list. Listen to my April 2010 podcast interview with him about this new book to see exactly how Dr. Jonny Bowden helped advance the cause of low-carb this year earning him a spot on this list.
6. ROBB WOLF
I’m gonna be dead honest with you–I’d never even heard of Robb Wolf prior to 2010, but he’s certainly come on like a roaring lion on behalf of healthy Paleo/low-carb living this year in a big way! This man lives and breathes the Paleo diet like nobody else I’ve seen on the planet and is an unlimited wealth of knowledge about anything and everything you could think of related to Paleolithic fitness and nutrition. He started his Q&A-based “Paleolithic Solution” podcast along with his buddy Andy Deas earlier this year which quickly became one of the top health shows on iTunes hovering near the Top 10 nutrition podcasts online today. Robb appeared on my podcast in May 2010 which was one of the most-listened-to episodes I aired all year. Then just last month, he released his book The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet (read my review of this book) which has done remarkably well currently in the Top 100 of ALL books sold on Amazon. Robb Wolf is a one-man marketing machine for promoting Paleo diets to the masses and I’d be a crazy man for leaving him off of this year’s Low-Carb Movers & Shakers list!
7. DR. ROBERT LUSTIG
The mostly unlikely person to land on this year’s list has got to be Dr. Robert Lustig. Ever since his lecture entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” was posted on YouTube in July 2009, that presentation has gone completely viral showing up on Facebook pages, blogs, forums, and everywhere else in the low-carb community. I started getting requests from my podcast listeners to interview Dr. Lustig late last year and so I started pursuing it at the beginning of 2010. He initially turned me down stating very clearly, “I don’t believe in the low-carb lifestyle. But after discovering my show was about more than just low-carb and includes guests of all viewpoints, he agreed to appear on my podcast in July 2010. There’s a great possibility that Dr. Lustig and Gary Taubes will be working together on a book on sugar in the future where maybe, just maybe he’ll become more open to the principles of low-carb explicitly. Despite his reluctance to embrace the low-carb world as his own, there’s no doubting the tremendous influence he has made on it this year.
8. DENISE MINGER
One of the freshest new voices of reason in the increasingly insane world of health writing is none other than the lovely and talented Denise Minger from “Raw Foods SOS” who has made quite the name for herself in just the past few months or so taking apart bit by bit the conclusions made in Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study (considering the holy grail for the vegetarian/vegan movement). This former vegan-at-the-age-of-seven-turned-her-own-brand-of-eating that includes meat was a delightful podcast guest in late September 2010 getting as many listens as my interview with Gary Taubes. That’s pretty prestigious for someone nobody had ever heard of just six months ago! The low-carb community owes her a great deal of gratitude for taking the time to look at the actual evidence from the data presented in the China Study, analyzing it like a true scientist, and making logical conclusions that run counter to much of what Dr. Campbell passes off as evidence of a plant-based diet. There’s more than meets the eye and we have this 23-year old prodigy to thank for it!
9. DR. WILLIAM YANCY
One of Dr. Eric Westman’s colleagues at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina is a researcher named Dr. Will Yancy. Dr. Yancy is extremely interested in the science behind carbohydrate restriction and released a study in January 2010 published in Archives of Internal Medicine that found a low-carb diet is just as powerful a weight loss and health intervention as the best over-the-counter medication (Alli). He appeared on my podcast shortly after the study released to share the wonderful results with my listeners. You might have also seen the editorial response he wrote after that recent study claiming a plant-based low-carb diet is better for you than an animal-based one. The most amazing aspect of real scientists like Dr. Yancy is the fact that they let the evidence speak for itself and it’s speaking very loudly in support of low-carb living. We’ll be hearing a lot more from Dr. Will Yancy in the coming years!
10. DR. ANDREAS EENFELDT
The final member of the Top 10 Low-Carb Movers & Shakers of 2010 list is a man I am happy to call my friend although he lives halfway across the world from me. His name is Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt and his “Kosdoktorn” blog is the #1 low-carb blog in the world…and it’s written in Swedish! But this very tall but extremely cordial man is somebody that people in the English-speaking world need to pay attention to because he’s bringing the concepts of the low-carb lifestyle to people who would probably not otherwise hear it. In his homeland of Sweden, the LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) message is exploding and being delivered loud and clear to the people of that country because of the efforts of people like Dr. Eenfeldt. He has become much more actively involved in trying to bring that energy and excitement to the United States in 2010 attending our annual low-carb cruise, participating in various low-carb science conferences, and more. Plus, he’s getting ready to release a book on low-carb living in January 2011 with the possibility of it being translated into English sometime next year. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt is a name you will become much more familiar with as his low-carb reach continues to expand.
Honorable mentions: DR. RICHARD BERNSTEIN, DRS. MIKE & MARY DAN EADES, LAURIE CAGNASSOLA, DR. RICHARD FEINMAN, DR. JOHN BRIFFA, JACKIE EBERSTEIN, DR. ANDREW WEIL, DR. LARRY MCCLEARY, GARY FOSTER, DR. WILLIAM DAVIS, DANA CARPENDER, ALAN WATSON, KEVIN BROWN, ADAM KOSLOFF, DR. ERIC KOSOFF, DR. RON ROSEDALE, DR. EUGENE FINE, DR. JEFF VOLEK, DR. STEPHEN PHINNEY, DR. JOE LEONARDI, SEAN CROXTON, CHRIS MASTERJOHN, SALLY FALLON MORRELL, DR. JOHN SALERNO, KENT ALTENA, LAURA DOLSON, TOM NAUGHTON, FRED HAHN, DR. KEITH & VALERIE BERKOWITZ, KEVIN KOSKELLA & WES BERTAND, DR. RON KRAUSS, DR. EUGENE FINE, AND DREW CAREY
I’ve had my say on who the most influential low-carb “movers and shakers” have been in 2010, but I’d like to know who you think is deserving of mention on this list of prestigious names. Don’t be bashful if you think I’ve missed somebody that should have been named among the best of the best in promoting low-carb living this past year. I welcome your comments and look forward to hear who YOU think is worthy.