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Top 10 Low-Carb Movers & Shakers Of 2012

As we’re winding down the year 2012, it’s time to take a look back on the past twelve months to see who made waves on behalf of the message of healthy low-carb living. It’s incredible to think about just how vilified this way of eating has become in our culture. Even still there are prestigious medical doctors, esteemed scientific researchers and average, everyday laypeople all willing to be identified with this concept because they have seen for themselves the amazing health improvements that can happen as a result of embracing a high-fat, controlled-carbohydrate nutritional approach.

The power of a changed life resulting from a shift in thinking regarding what you eat and how you live is undeniable. Nobody can ever take that away from you once you’ve seen changes in weight and health that are lasting while bucking the trend of conventional wisdom. That alone tells you that there’s something wrong with the way we are doing things which is what makes this message of low-carb so necessary now more than ever before!

The public exposure to the low-carb lifestyle is being forwarded by some very brave men and women who are willing to take the ridicule and scorn that comes from ascribing to the notion that carbohydrates raise insulin which leads to obesity and chronic disease. There are other lifestyle issues at play here as well, including seed oils, sleep, toxic chemical exposure and more. But most people are seeing incredible changes for the better in their weight and health when they ditch the processed carbage, embrace whole foods and stop fearing the fat.

That’s the message that the following individuals are sharing with the public and it gives me great joy to tell you about them today. I’ve been publishing my list of the Top 10 Low-Carb Movers & Shakers every year since I started this blog (see who won in previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005). This is my way of paying it forward to those who are doing some of the most incredible work to keep the low-carb fire burning brightly. It was good to see so many of these people making waves into the mainstream in 2012 to help people understand and embrace the message we believe in so much.

Here are my Top 10 Low-Carb Movers & Shakers of 2012:

1. DR. WILLIAM DAVIS
What a year it was for a preventative cardiologist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin named Dr. William Davis. I’m not so sure even he realized just how huge his book Wheat Belly was gonna be when it released in August 2011. But in 2012, that 300-page book warning about the dangers of consuming a high-yield variation of a plant that once grew tall but now is very different from the wheat of yesteryear has exploded into the mainstream. With high-profile appearances on The Dr. Oz Show, CBS This Morning, LIVE with Kelly as well as a prominent mention by conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly, the anti-wheat idea got out there in a big way! I was honored to have Dr. Davis on my “Ask The Low-Carb Experts” podcast in Episode 3 and on The 2012 Low-Carb Cruise spreading the word about why “healthy whole grains” needs to end as a prominent dietary dictate in our culture. Interest in this message will undoubtedly continue as Dr. Davis releases a brand new book of 150 recipes based on his New York Times bestselling book (for six months in a row and counting!) on December 24, 2012 entitled Wheat Belly Cookbook. Dr. Davis made the low-carb community very proud of his boldness in sharing our message with the world in 2012!

2. GARY TAUBES/DR. PETER ATTIA
When I interviewed Dr. Peter Attia from the “Eating Academy” blog (then called the “War On Insulin” blog) in March 2012 in Episode 560 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” podcast, he told me about a collaboration he was putting together with the New York Times bestselling author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat named Gary Taubes who is certainly no stranger to the low-carb community. Taubes has arguably been the superstar face of the low-carb movement over the past few years and now his collaboration with Dr. Attia on the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) that began in September 2012 has increased the excitement about the prospects of what will happens with this in the years to come. There are a lot of hypotheses that we talk about regarding low-carb diets, but unfortunately the funding for conducting research of these ideas is severely lacking. That’s where NuSI will come into play to help finance independent researchers looking to find answers to the toughest questions surrounding diet. This is the kind of forward-thinking that has been lacking in the low-carb science world in recent years with researchers all doing their own thing. I have great hopes that NuSI will bring all these ideas together in one cohesive voice so that people can see that there’s a whole lot more than just theory regarding healthy low-carb living. And we’ll look back on 2012 as the genesis of it all someday.

3. JENNY RUHL
One of the best envelope-pushers out there in the low-carb community has got to be the brutally-honest Jenny Ruhl from “Blood Sugar 101.” She’s definitely lived through the ups and downs of low-carb living as a diabetic seeking to help others control their blood sugar and manage their weight. As such, she’s seen a lot that disturbs her about the messages being marketed to the low-carb community that aren’t really addressing the real life problems that exist for many people. That’s why she released a book about it this year called Diet 101: The Truth About Low Carb Diets which I talked with her about in Episode 582 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show”. In that podcast she explained why she believes some people experience frustrations even eating low-carb and she took on questions from my listeners about it in Episode 27 of “Ask The Low-Carb Experts.” She created this Ideal Nutrient Intake for Weight Loss or Maintenance Calculator to help others know what they need to do in their own diet to shed the pounds and keep it off. If we’re going to progress the message of low-carb living into the mainstream, then we need people like Jenny Ruhl telling us the truth about optimizing this way of eating for the individual.

4. DR. STEPHEN PHINNEY/DR. JEFF VOLEK
How can you put together a list of “movers and shakers” in the world of low-carb without mentioning the great work of Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek? This dynamic duo of researchers joined forces in 2010 with Dr. Eric Westman on the New York Times bestselling book The New Atkins For A New You. Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek came back with a fantastic self-published follow-up book in 2011 entitled The Art And Science Of Low Carbohydrate Living, but it was the April 2012 release of their hidden gem book called The Art And Science Of Low Carbohydrate Performance that has made a profound impact on my life and the lives of so many others who had become frustrated by our low-carb life. While they wrote it as a means of optimizing exercise performance for athletes by switching from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner, the information they shared in there about measuring blood ketones as a means for determining fat-burning and to see if you have become keto-adapted has been a revolutionary next step in the low-carb message. It’s what inspired my n=1 testing of “nutritional ketosis” that has resulted in helping me shed over 60 pounds in seven months with a myriad of health improvements which Dr. Volek shared would happen in his lecture on the 2012 Low-Carb Cruise. I don’t know if Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek realized just how profound an impact their book would make on athletes and non-athletes alike. I am confident we’ll continue to hear great things from this amazing low-carb mind-meld in the years to come.

5. TIMOTHY NOAKES
While we remain mired in the high-carb, low-fat doctrine that passes for healthy nutrition in the United States, there’s something remarkable happening in the country of South Africa. A running legend and exercise science researcher named Dr. Timothy Noakes who wrote the virtual Bible on the sport called Lore Of Running in 1991 became exposed to the high-fat, low-carb way of eating–and now he’s become quite vocal about it. He has publicly admitted “I was wrong” and had his coming-out party in this Runner’s World column. The response to Noakes’ 180-degree turnaround regarding diet has been mostly receptive as people hear his clear-cut low-carb message. Listen to Episode 588 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” podcast for my June 2012 interview with him and don’t miss my follow-up conversation with him during “Encore Week” 2013 on Thursday, January 3, 2013. BIG things are happening in South Africa on behalf of the low-carb lifestyle.

6. DR. MARY NEWPORT
I’m always pleased to learn about how a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet can be used therapeutically to treat a variety of health conditions. So when I first heard the story of Dr. Mary Newport in Episode 240 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” a few years back detailing how a high-fat, coconut oil-based diet helped her husband Steve beat back his Alzheimer’s disease, I was completely blown away. As we’re learning more and more about this tragic brain disease, many neuroscience researchers looking into the root cause of how Alzheimer’s develops in people are realizing that this is less about genetics as you get older and more of a metabolic condition now commonly referred to as Type 3 diabetes. Dr. Newport released a book sharing the story about how Steve has greatly improved his cognition by becoming more reliant on ketones for fuel rather than glucose. It’s called Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure? The Story Of Ketones and we talked about it in Episode 612 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” where Dr. Newport noted they’ve added in the element of moderating protein, lowering carbohydrate intake and measuring blood ketones to maintain optimal levels to control Steve’s Alzheimer’s. This ketogenic plan for success is giving hope to the millions of families dealing with the pain and grief associated with losing their loved ones mentally. And it’s yet another way low-carb is penetrating the mainstream medical thinking.

7. STEVE COOKSEY
This next person on my “low-carb movers and shakers” list probably never suspected one year ago that his name would become a lot more famous than it was. But that’s precisely what happened to Steve Cooksey from the “Diabetes Warrior” blog in 2012 when a group of busybody dietitians in North Carolina decided to try to make an example of him for espousing a diabetic diet that runs contrary to their beloved low-fat, high-carb, grain-heavy diet with more and more insulin in order to control the disease. The director of the North Carolina Board of Dietitians said Cooksey is not allowed to disseminate nutritional advice without a license. They informed him that they would be conducting an investigation into his web site and offered up their suggestions for bringing his site into full compliance. They even threatened to shut down his web site, but Cooksey stood firm in his First Amendment American right as a blogger to educate the public about how he has controlled his diabetes eating a high-fat, low-carb Paleo-styled diet without the need for insulin or drugs. I conducted this exclusive interview with him in January 2011 and he went on to get several prominent media appearances talking about this, including the Huffington Post, The Weekly Standard and The New York Times, among others. Cooksey filed a free speech lawsuit against the State Board in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in May 2012 but it was dismissed because he was not “injured”. This case had big implications for all of us health bloggers and I have a feeling this fight has only just begun.

8. DR. EUGENE FINE
As cancer continues to be a major public health threat with most research continuing to focus pharmaceutical solutions along with traditional chemotherapy treatment, there’s a new kid on the block that is capturing the imagination of the mainstream research community. It’s the ketogenic diet with a focus on high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb nutrition as a means for helping advanced stage cancer patients have a more natural and incredibly effective way to slow the progression of or even reverse this disease. That’s the theory that nuclear medicine professor and ketogenic diet/cancer researcher Dr. Eugene Fine brought to his RECHARGE Trial of ten patients that was published in the October 2012 issue of the journal Nutrition. We discussed Dr. Fine’s study with him in Episode 628 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” and he’s hopeful his small pilot study of 10 patients will lead to more research of the efficacy of ketogenic diets on cancer. Don’t miss the guest columns by Dr. Fine regarding his research in Part 1 and Part 2. Ketosis and cancer is definitely the cutting-edge treatment of the future for this terrible disease. Dr. Fine’s work is laying the groundwork for more investigation into this.

9. DR. COLIN CHAMP
Dr. Fine is not the only one looking into ketogenic diets and cancer. A newcomer on the scene in 2012 is a young medical doctor who is currently completing his specialty training in radiation oncology and has published his research in many peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, one of the top oncology journals in the world. His name is Dr. Colin Champ from the “Caveman Doctor” blog and the co-host with Roger Dickerman on the “Relentless Roger & The Caveman Doctor” podcast. He has long had a keen interest in the dietary effects on the prevention and treatment of cancer, supplementing traditional cancer therapies with diet and exercise, and the effects of a ketogenic diet on cancer. He is one of the few physicians in the field of oncology that incorporates many aspects of a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, in his care of cancer patients. Dr. Champ was a guest in Episode 31 of the “Ask The Low-Carb Experts” podcast discussing this passion by answering questions from my listeners and I have no doubt in my mind he will be at the forefront of this issue when it hits big into mainstream cancer care. That will be happening a whole lot sooner than later.

10. DR. DWIGHT LUNDELL
And finally, I’d like to highlight a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon named Dr. Dwight Lundell who had authored a book several years back entitled The Cure For Heart Disease. But to Dr. Lundell’s great surprise in March 2012, his work was on full display when a column was published online unbeknownst to him at a web site called Sign Of The Times entitled “Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease.” This story sharing how everything we’ve been told about cardiovascular health has been dead wrong was quickly picked up by several prominent media personalities, including conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh reading the column on the air to his millions of nationwide listeners. I had already interviewed Dr. Lundell three years ago in Episode 280 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show,” but I invited him back on to talk about his overnight fame from this column in Episode 571. We’re excited to have Dr. Lundell as one of our guest speakers on the upcoming 2013 Low-Carb Cruise in May 2013. His simple message of encouraging people to cut their carbohydrate intake while ending their fear of fat is a solid message that needs to be embraced if obesity, diabetes and heart disease is ever going to turn around.

Honorable mentions: JACKIE EBERSTEIN, DR. RON ROSEDALE, DR. MARY VERNON, DR. CATE SHANAHAN, MARK SISSON, ROBB WOLF, NORA GEDGAUDAS, DR. ERIC WESTMAN, DR. RICHARD FEINMAN, DR. THOMAS DAYSPRING, DR. JONNY BOWDEN, PHOENIX GILMAN, DIANE SANFILIPPO, TOM NAUGHTON, DR. RICHARD JOHNSON, DR. THOMAS SEYFRIED, DR. RICHARD BERNSTEIN, LARRY ISTRAIL, CHRISTINE CRONAU, DR. ANDREI OSTRIC, BEN GREENFIELD, DR. SPENCER NADOLSKY, DR. JOHN BRIFFA, DR. JAYSON AND MIRA CALTON, DR. ANDREAS EENFELDT, JENNIFER ELOFF, KENT ALTENA, LAURA DOLSON, ABEL JAMES, CASSIE BJORK, DANA CARPENDER, ANDREW DIMINO, DR. ROD TAYLER, JAMIE HAYES, TIM OLSON, CJ HUNT

These are my picks for who the most influential low-carb “movers and shakers” of 2012 were, but what do YOU think? Is there anyone else deserving of recognition and honor for the work on behalf of promoting the message of healthy low-carb living? Feel free to share your nominees in the comments section below.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peggy-Holloway/520343437 Peggy Holloway

    Phinney and Volek, definitely. Their books are what finally convinced my retired physician partner to go “ketogenic.” I also credit William Davis with getting into the mainstream (just bought a supermarket magazine today because the entire recipe/diet section was based on “Wheat Belly”), and of course my all-time hero is Gary Taubes who has now been joined by Peter Attia (upon whom I have a secret crush). Missing from the list: Dr. Jay Wortman and where the heck is Jimmy Moore? :)

  • http://twitter.com/paleozeta paleo zeta

    anyone knows what ‘s up with dr. robert su. long time he has not released any news/podcast.
    i add brad pilon and martin berkham for their work on IF, which combined with ketogenic diet it is a power!! i also would like jimmy to interview dr. vera tarman ( again?).

    • LLVLCBlog

      Dr. Su has taken a break for a while from his practice and his podcast. It’s a lot more taxing to keep a show up regularly that people realize.

      • http://twitter.com/paleozeta paleo zeta

        ok thanks. i didn’t know because there is no information to look at on his blog. bye

        • LLVLCBlog

          I know. I told him he needed to let people know where he is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PowerUnit John Hanson

    Yeah Jenny. She has a big following on most of the diabetes forums.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scilla.burton Scilla Burton

    I’ve only heard of 3 of these people lol, Dr. Davis, Steve Cooksey, & Gary Taubes

  • Lynda Scott

    I love that Dr Davis is at the top – he was so instrumental in my change of diet. And Jimmy you left out JIMMY MOORE!! Surely you deserve to be on that list :)

  • Tracey Weaver

    I have been a “clean eater” for years but not low carb. I have dropped grains the past month and have never felt better! I did this because I stumbled upon Maria Emmerich. Her blog is incredible http://mariahealth.blogspot.com/ I think she deserves recognition too! :-) Thanks for the list…so many more people for me to explore!!

    • LLVLCBlog

      I LOVE Maria’s work…she’s been on two of my podcasts. :)

  • Derek Hurst

    Good thing you didn’t include Robb in this list.

    http://robbwolf.com/2012/12/19/carb-paleo-thoughts-part-1/

    • LLVLCBlog

      He’s in the honorable mentions. But he’s still pro low-carb.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clyde-Barrow/100002591034348 Clyde Barrow

        Jimmy, Can you get an interveiw with Robb and ask these questions.

        1. Who duped him ?
        2. Who is he referring to in the below statement ?
        3. What types of Carbs does he now recommend for those of us who are LC athletes, Sugar ? Potato ? Rice?

        “The insistence on the part of the LC community in adhering to the “no insulin, no fat gain” dogma ends up discrediting the real therapeutic benefit of LC and hurts us all.”

        Thanks

        • LLVLCBlog

          I’m sure Robb will be sharing more in his series of blog posts about this. Stay tuned.

        • Derek Hurst

          It surely doesn’t jive well with Dr. Su’s past stance of “carbohydrates kill”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leanne.ely Leanne Rouch Ely

    Top pick should have been Dr. Terry Wahls. Her low carb/paleo Wahls Diet deserves top billing; it got her out of a wheelchair from secondary progressive MS. If that doesn’t tell you how important your diet is, nothing will.

    • LLVLCBlog

      She’s definitely an inspiration!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kentishkate Kate Holland

    Good article, I have heard of about half of them and will be finding more about the others! I also nominate Zoe Harcombe, Her site is a goldmine of info!

    • LLVLCBlog

      Love Zoe!