I’ve always been a big believer in giving honor and recognition to those who are doing great work on behalf of the low-carb community. There are some truly amazing people who are making sacrifices with their time and energy to make sure the life-changing message of low-carb living is presented to the public in a compelling manner so that people can be educated about the benefits this way of eating can offer them. And while weight loss is generally what attracts people to low-carb diet at the beginning, you quickly realize that this goes well beyond what the scale shows. In fact, fat loss is merely a side effect of a healthy nutritional plan like carbohydrate restriction. The primary reason to go low-carb is to experience drastic improvements in your health which is being confirmed in study after study. Anyone who denies the scientific basis for livin’ la vida low-carb is either blind or ignorant of the evidence that’s staring them right in the face.
There are certainly enough negative forces out there who are questioning the veracity and even the necessity of a controlled-carbohydrate nutritional approach as a means for achieving optimal health. From radical vegan activists to even some in the pro-carb wing of the Paleo community, it seems that low-carb, high-fat diets have become the preferred punching bag for all those who support the archaic and mistaken notion of an “essential” carbohydrate. There is no such thing. In fact, I believe the whole “body needs carbs” concept is designed as a means for excusing the inclusion of more carbohydrates in the diet for whatever reason and perpetuating the “calories in, calories out” mantra that has dominated nutritional dogma for as long as I’ve been alive. If your body can get away with you consuming more carbohydrates, then more power to ya.
But for so many of us (yes, myself included) dealing with the ramifications of a lifetime of poor nutritional choices which has caused us to become metabolically damaged as a result in some form or fashion, then the reality of the situation is that we MUST keep our carbohydrate intake in check lest we suffer the consequences to our health. It’s difficult for some people to wrap their heads around this idea that not everyone does well eating carbs because of the years of self-abuse from consuming gobs of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, white flour, fast food, and other junk food “carbage.” As an old Baptist preacher once said in a sermon, “Payday someday.” And that day is now. The chickens have come home to roost and now we require an effective game plan for reversing the ill effects that have happened hormonally as a result of this virtual carb-fest. That’s where livin’ la vida low-carb comes into the picture and it has quite literally been a lifesaver for so many of us who were mired in the high-carb, low-fat dogma that dominates cultural views on nutrition even to this day.
That’s what makes those who are forwarding the low-carb message into the public conversation about diet and health so special to me and why I’m incredibly privileged to highlight those individuals who are having the greatest impact on behalf of healthy low-carb living on our culture. I’ve been doing this annually at the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog since I started writing posts here beginning in 2005 through what I call my Top 10 Low-Carb Movers & Shakers of the year. It’s good to step back and give recognition to the people who I feel are helping to advance the overall message of the low-carb lifestyle the most. This is certainly not a definitive list by any means, but I think I’ve hit on most of the ones who did an outstanding job in 2011 of presenting low-carb to the masses in their own unique way. These people were able to cross over into the mainstream discussion of thoughts and ideas regarding diet and health to proudly put low-carb living on full display to everyone who will listen.
I realize that not everyone will agree with these ten choices I am sharing today but that’s the fun of making a list like this. There will be debate about who was included and who was left off, but one thing is for certain: the low-carb lifestyle is making waves, people are learning how it can positively impact their lives in so many ways, and it’s all because of the hard work and dedication over the past year of the people I am about to share with you. You should recognize most of these names. Then again, maybe you’ll learn about people you didn’t know about before. So now without further adieu, here are my Top 10 Low-Carb Movers & Shakers of 2011 (in case you missed my lists from previous years, see who made it in 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005):
1. GARY TAUBES
Gary Taubes is perennially named to this list each year and for good reason. He’s been THE face of low-carb by making bigger waves into mainstream culture than just about anyone else out there right now. With two bestselling books–Good Calories, Bad Calories and his latest Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It–and an accompanying blog (which he doesn’t update nearly enough), Gary is staying a busy man. But in 2011 he made a breakthrough when he was invited to be a guest on the #1 daytime television program in America, The Dr. Oz Show. Despite a friendly conversation on “The Dr. Oz Radio Show” just one month prior, it was his March 7, 2011 appearance on national television that prompted a firestorm because of the way Dr. Oz and his producers painted healthy low-carb living in a negative light. I interviewed Gary about this afterwards (listen to that interview here) and while he was disappointed in the way he was portrayed, the fact is the low-carb message got out there. It stoked the curiosity of those interested in what low-carb living is all about. Mission accomplished! Then in April, Gary published a column in New York Times Magazine entitled “Is Sugar Toxic?” that opened the door for even more conversation about the need for people to cut back on sugar as a means for improving health. And despite the dust-up between him and Stephan Guyenet at the Ancestral Health Symposium in August, I still believe Gary Taubes is doing incredible work on behalf of the low-carb lifestyle. It will be a real privilege to have him join us as one of the featured guest speakers on The 2012 Low-Carb Cruise.
2. DR. WILLIAM DAVIS
Another guest speaker on the upcoming May 6-13, 2012 Low-Carb Cruise will be the amazing Dr. William Davis from “The Heart Scan Blog.” In 2011, he released his long-awaited book on the health dangers of grain consumption entitled Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health. I spoke with him in an interview on my podcast where he shared why people should not just be concerned with cutting sugar as Gary Taubes has suggested but to take it one step further in reducing wheat consumption as well because of the ill effects it is having on health. This book has married one of the key concepts of the Paleo community (ditching grains) with the low-carb message to make a more convincing argument for becoming more low-carb with our diets. That’s the primary reason he made this years Low-Carb Movers & Shakers list.
3. TIM FERRISS
You might be wondering why in the world I am including Tim Ferriss on this year’s list of Low-Carb Movers & Shakers. After all, he’s the famous Four-Hour Workweek author and blogger who doesn’t really talk about nutrition and health that much except for the many self-experimentations he does on himself. But in 2011, Tim released an incredible book about how to improve your body called The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman which catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list. I got the chance to talk with him about his advocacy for the “slow carb” approach on my podcast and millions of people have been exposed to the concept of reducing their carbohydrate intake as a result of Tim Ferriss this year. How could I NOT list him?
4. DR. STEPHEN PHINNEY & DR. JEFF VOLEK
Two of the most widely-recognized names from the research side of the low-carb community are Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek. These two men teamed up with Dr. Eric Westman in 2010 to write an updated version of the Atkins diet for consumers that landed on The New York Times bestsellers list called The New Atkins For A New You…but in 2011, they decided to take the message of low-carb directly to the educated consumer and medical professional with an outstanding new book called The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable (visit the official web site and read my review of this book). While there are some who make the argument that low-carb diets are merely based on belief in a nutritional approach stemming from their own personal experience, Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek would beg to differ. They cite plenty of studies that they themselves have conducted over the years along with many of their fellow low-carb diet research colleagues to support their arguments in favor of a carbohydrate-restricted lifestyle. These contributions cannot be denied and we’ve been paying attention to them closely for many years. It’s time to give credit where credit is due.
5. DR. RON ROSEDALE
We’ve got a lot of medical doctors who have been out there for many years promoting the benefits of healthy low-carb living and one such physician is Dr. Ron Rosedale. While Dr. Rosedale has been off the grid for a little while with his work in India the past few years, he has come back on the low-carb scene again with a vengeance over the past year. His 100-minute interview on my podcast in 2010 where he detailed much of the work he has been doing on behalf of low-carb living for nearly two decades has been a virtual reintroduction of sorts for this incredibly thoughtful and knowledgable man. His recent epic response in the “safe starches” debate is proof positive that he lives and breathes what he shares with his patients and is seeking to further the message of low-carb living to as many people as possible. It’s good to have a voice like his on our side.
6. ZOE HARCOMBE
One of the most delightful discoveries over the past year is finding the great work of a low-carb champion in the UK named Zoë Harcombe. This British obesity expert has firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with in shifting the cultural tide towards nutrition in favor of healthy low-carb living through columns she has written for the UK Daily Mail like “Everything you thought you knew about food is WRONG.” Additionally, she’s authored several books about diet and health, namely The Obesity Epidemic: What Caused It? How Can We Stop It? and Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight: The Harcombe Diet in recent years. You can’t help but love Zoë and her infectious enthusiasm for low-carb living that was on full display in my podcast interview with her. If you’re not already a fan of Zoë Harmcombe, then I highly encourage you to learn more about The Harcombe Diet.
7. STEPHANIE SENEFF
Another name you may not be completely familiar with is Stephanie Seneff. She’s a Senior Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a specific interest in recent years on the subject of the relationship between nutrition and health. In 2011, she authored two papers that were published in medical journals outlining the relationship between carbohydrate consumption and the negative impact that plays on health outcomes: “Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet” published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine and “Is the metabolic syndrome caused by a high fructose, and relatively low fat, low cholesterol diet?” published in the Archives of Medical Science. She also written quite extensively on the ineffectiveness of statin drugs, low-fat diets leading to Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic syndrome being a nutritional deficiency disease, ADHD brought on by a lack of dietary fat, and the implications of sulfur deficiency. I was pleased to speak with her in an interview recently about the work she is doing and you’ll be hearing a lot more from Stephanie Seneff in the years to come!
8. NORA GEDGAUDAS
If you’ve been actively engaged in the low-carb, Paleo, primal and ancestral nutritional movement in recent years, then no doubt you are already abundantly aware of the great work that Nora Gedgaudas is doing. After being contacted by a publisher who wanted to pick up her book for wider distribution in 2011, she re-released and updated version of Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life to help further the message of high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb living! I spoke with her about it and she was so excited to have the opportunity for a larger audience for promoting the principles that are helping so many people overcome their obesity and chronic diseases. If you’re not already a huge fan of Nora Gedgaudas, then it’s high time you give her a serious second look. And Nora is truly one of the nicest people you will ever meet in your life. How can you not love somebody like that?
9. DR. JACK KRUSE
Bursting on the scene in 2011 seemingly out of nowhere in 2011 was an eager and enthusiastic neurosurgeon from Nashville, Tennessee named Dr. Jack Kruse. After experiencing his own low-carb renaissance and renewal by shedding a whole lotta weight implementing a controlled-carbohydrate nutritional approach, he’s been on a one-man mission to sharing some of the most thought-provoking and compelling information about health and longevity online through his “Quilt” concept. And if you’re not already reading Dr. Kruse’s blog, then you’re missing out on some of the most controversial columns in the health blogosphere. Some don’t know what to make of him, but I’m sure that’s okay with Dr. Jack Kruse. His Leptin Prescription is helping people implement an effective low-carb Paleo nutritional plan for dealing with leptin resistance–an under-appreciated and under-served subject of discussion in the low-carb community. And the man speaks with the same passion and enthusiasm that he writes.
10. DR. FRED PESCATORE
And last but most certainly not least, we’re seeing a huge resurgence of interest in the amazing work of Dr. Fred Pescatore in 2011. After working with the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins in his complementary medicine practice in New York City for several years and then penning the New York Times bestselling Hampton’s Diet book several years back, Dr. Pescatore seemed to fall off the radar screen for a few years. But now he’s back and has a golden opportunity to be working with Rachael Ray on her popular daytime television talk show to discuss the dangers of consuming sugar helping viewers beat their sugar addiction. AWESOME message! When you listen to Dr. Pescatore, you quickly realize why he made it on this year’s list of Low-Carb Movers & Shakers. Follow his tweets to keep up with this low-carb superstar!
Honorable mentions: TOM NAUGHTON, DIANE SANFILIPPO, BRENT POTTENGER/AARON BLAISDELL, RON KANE, DANA CARPENDER, LAURA DOLSON, MARK SISSON, DR. ERIC WESTMAN, DR. MARY VERNON, JACKIE EBERSTEIN, DR. RICHARD FEINMAN, DR. ANDREAS EENFELDT, DR. MIKE EADES, ANGELO COPPOLA, MARLA “FLY LADY” CILLEY, HANK GARNER, DR. ROBERT SU, FRED HAHN, DR. SOFIE HEXEBERG, DR. STEVE PARKER, DR. TRACEY GREEN, DR. UFFE RAVNSKOV, DR. LARRY MCCLEARY, DR. MICHAEL FOX, PAUL JAMINET, DR. ANN CHILDERS, DR. ROBERT LUSTIG, ROBB WOLF, DR. RICHARD BERNSTEIN, DR. JOHN BRIFFA, DR. JONNY BOWDEN, JUDY BARNES BAKER, KENT ALTENA
Now that you know who I think are the most influential low-carb “movers and shakers” of 2011, let’s hear what YOU think. Who is deserving to be on this list that I left off? Do you agree with any of the people I’ve chosen this year? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.