Remembering Kevin Moore

UAB Debate: China Study’s Dr. T. Colin Campbell vs. New Atkins’ Dr. Eric Westman

A couple of weeks ago as I was getting ready for an amazing weekend at the PaleoFX conference in Austin, Texas, I was wishing that some way, somehow I could be in Birmingham, Alabama on the evening of March 27, 2013. A fantastic debate took place that night at the Alumni House on the campus of the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) between two nutritional health powerhouses–vegan diet advocate Dr. T. Colin Campbell of The China Study and Forks Over Knives fame and low-carb nutrition researcher and practitioner Dr. Eric Westman who co-authored The New Atkins For A New You (Dr. Westman is also co-authoring with me on my August 27, 2013 book release entitled Cholesterol Clarity). For most of the 80 minutes of video footage, the two remained very professional in making the case for their chosen nutritional plan. But once questions from the audience came and they had the opportunity to rebut each other, the gloves came off at times and it got quite entertaining. WATCH THE VIDEO for yourself and see who you think made the more compelling arguments:

Campbell-Westman Debate On 3-27-13

  • Dr. Campbell focused on his science, science that supported his science, made contradictory statements, and he had no hint of question at any time. He opposed Dr. Westman with silly science. I looked up much of his claims, and I find much dispute over his protein claims. Much! Frankly, he clings to observational science. One example — plants are anti-oxidant and animal is pro-oxidant. Not only is this silly, but he later claims individual elements of nutrition when isolated do not behave as expected. Which do I believe? His claims that fat is oxidative is simply false, likely based on teh study of resulting inflammation when SADers are fed high fat which is nothing more than a flra reaction — change the diet, change the flora, change the response. It’s bad vegan science. Campbell’s whole career is based on correlation, making premature conclusions, and not willing to look at the real issues. He is like a pot-committed poker player who can’t fold.

    Dr. Westman was frank, open, quoted much more relevant science, and laid out the science behind the Atkins — namely insulin is the fat storage hormone and cancer is glyco-whatever (feeding). His argument against making conclusions on observational science is alone worth the win. I though he could have been more direct. He could have argued those Atkins symptoms are typically seen in the initial stages as the body adjusts to a new food source, again those 100 trillion bacteria that need updating. He could easily have said followers longer than a month rarely experience such issues, halitosis the only permanent symptom but arguablya social norm that needs to change.

    Overall it was quite a tame debate and not particularly convincing by either side.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Dr. Westman lets the science speak for itself without overstating it as Dr. Campbell is fond of doing.

  • ZupDude

    Very nice video, thanks for posting. I thought Westman had a more professional presentation; Campbell seemed to rely a lot on statements like ‘it’s been studied for years by many many people’.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Amazing how calm Dr. Westman remained even in the face of some pretty ridiculous claims by Dr. Campbell.

  • Johannah Bushman

    Casein, “the most relavant cancer-causing chemical ever identified”- funny how nature puts that in milk. God must have a morbid sense of humor.

    • LLVLCBlog


      • George Henderson

        Casein was used as a cancer promoter in early animal studies because it is a SELENIUM DEFICIENT protein. This was well-known at the time, but has since been conveniently overlooked.

    • jeffconsiglio

      Casein in REAL FOODS (As opposed to isolated, fake casein powder) is coupled with whey protein, which has been shown to be ANTI-carcinogenic. Having said that however, there is evidence to suggest that milk from modern cows, kept pregnant all the time and therefore having sky-high NATURAL estrogen levels, may increase risk of certain cancers. I don’t drink milk, but do use a bit of cream and cheese. The paleo arguments against dairy are much better than the vegan arguments. Always nice to be right for the right reasons, rather than accidently “right” for the wrong reasons.

    • Amy

      “God” didn’t intend for humans to drink another species milk. While casein is found in human breast milk, very few humans drink human breast milk past infancy.

  • saicho bob

    two different generations: most of dr. cambell’s studies are at least 40 y.o. whereas dr westman’s are much more recent.
    stop calling lchf diet : HIGH PROTEIN, because it is not and it is what makes the difference

    • LLVLCBlog


  • js290

    Here’s all the science you need to know:

    The oxidation of fatty acids yields significantly
    more energy per carbon atom than does the oxidation of carbohydrates. The net
    result of the oxidation of one mole of oleic acid (an 18-carbon fatty acid)
    will be 146 moles of ATP (2 mole equivalents are used during the activation of
    the fatty acid), as compared with 114 moles from an equivalent number of
    glucose carbon atoms.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmfeF1DUTOM#t=330&w=560&h=315%5D

    • This is probably a major advantage to the metabolism of fat over aerobically-metabilizing glucose, producing more ATP per mole is more oxygen-efficient and exposes you to less oxidative stress.

  • jeffconsiglio

    Oh I loooved this! Great job Dr. Westman at not letting that vegan propagandist get away with his usual bag of tricks.

    The ONLY good points I thought the vegan brought up was the fact that there is evidence to suggest that vitamins in isolated pill form appear to NOT work correctly as they do in real food. But I suspect that is even more complicated than simply saying taking a multivitamin = BAD.

    I think Westman did well showing how real science indicates LC diets are healthy indeed. I do wish he’d explained better about the “side effects” from LC diet though…that’s all basically what happens to SOME in the EARLY stages of LC, before they fully adapt to diet. (Personally why I prefer a more GRADUAL reduction in carb intake).

    And also, when the vegan said Westman was “unfairly” criticizing low fat diets that had “nothing to do” with the vegan’s diet, I would’ve loved if Westman would’ve cited the A to Z diet study, which DID compare Atkins to a WHOLE FOODS vegan diet VERY low in fat. Atkins did better in that one as well!

    In fact, I actually emailed Dr. Gardner, who did the A to Z study to ask him is perhaps the less stellar results of the Ornish vegan diet could’ve been at least partially attributable to the vegan diet group eating crap like white bread, etc. He was adamant that they were instructed to eat a WHOLE FOODS vegan diet.

    So Mr. Campbell a LARGE study HAS been done comparing how a very low fat vegan diet works in the REAL WORLD, as compared to very low carb. VLS kicked the vegan diet’s butt sir!

  • think that Dr. Westman hoped that this would be a dialogue, where Campbell was looking for a good old argument. I had hoped that Dr. Westman would have rebutted Campbell’s assertions more directly. Campbell made a lot of assertions which just have stood up to the test of time. The data from his own China study shows a much higher correlation between mortality and wheat consumption than casein, asking him to explain that might have been a good start.

  • Peter Silverman

    I thought Westman did a great job describing his own viewpoint, but then when he goes on the attack he mischaracterizes Campbell as a high carber when really he’s a vegan.

  • Nick Mailer

    I had not seen Dr Campbell speak before, and was surprised just how poor was his performance. He relied on a number of fallacies (especially Argument from Authority). I am certainly not a fan of Dr Campbell’s philosophy of nutrition, but was expecting him at least to be a persuasive proponent thereof. He’s deeply unimpressive in a way that’s almost disappointing – after all, you want your “opponent” to be worthy!

    • George Henderson

      there’s an interesting parallel here – Robert Atkins was blessed with unusually incompetent adversaries in his public debates, and owed some of his success to their set-ups.

  • Lynda Scott

    I get so tired of people thinking I eat a high protein diet – I probably eat more vegetables than a vegan or vegetarian! I just don’t eat the grains or processed foods 🙂

  • Grant

    at 49:49 it’s showing the Philippines as having a low animal fat diet. The national food is a roasted pig known as Lechon complete with crispy skin. Go figure.

  • Is there a video link for the Gary Taubes debate Dr Campbell mentioned?

  • They fed a herbivore animal protein and it had higher health risks? And this proves that animal protein is bad? Talk about begging the question.

  • George Henderson

    Plant fat increases oxidation and promotes cancer and animal fat doesn’t? Thank you Dr Campbell. It looks like you’re saying lean meat cooked in vegetable oil is carcinogenic.

  • 750,000 people a year dying from heart disease,isn’t enough evidence?Dr,T.Collin Campbell called Westman out with his own article,and he used the excuse,that the trial included supplements?And why did he get sooooo defensive?Campbell wins.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Ummmm, no. Campbell looked like a raging idiot.