High fat low carb? High protein low carb? Ketogenic low carb? Paleo low carb? Trying to figure out which low carb diet to follow can be more frustrating than trying to train a cat. I asked several experts to help, and they graciously provided their insights. Let’s begin with Professor Tim Noakes, author of “Challenging Beliefs: Memoirs of a Career” (click for details).
In an interview published in the Examiner, he told me that his journey from drinking juice and eating cereal to enjoying steak and cream began in 2010.
That’s when he came across “New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great.” Authored by three medical nutrition experts whose names he recognized, Noakes dug into the science of the high fat low carb diet prescribed in the book.
“Within an hour I was exposed to 150 research studies of low-carbohydrate diets that I had no idea existed,” he declared. “The work was published in reputable journals.”
And so Noakes used himself as a guinea pig. Within days after cutting carbs, he noticed the difference.
“Within eight weeks I had lost 11kg and improved my running times to those I had last run 20 years earlier,” he said. One of the co-authors of that diet book, Dr. Eric Westman, has conducted additional studies that support those results.
“A low-fat, low-calorie diet doesn’t work,” stated Dr. Eric Westman, director of Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic.
And his fellow co-author, physiologist Jeff Volek of the University of Connecticut, also emphasized that cutting fat and counting calories has failed to reverse the obesity epidemic. “It’s undeniable that we’ve gone down the wrong path,” affirmed Volek.
Volek and Dr. Stephen Phinney are the co-authors of two landmark books for the low carb diet world: “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable” and “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance.”
These two experts, along with Noakes, are attempting to turn the toast-for-breakfast tide. But is there enough evidence to encourage eggs rather than Eggos?
Yes, said Noakes. Author of “Challenging Beliefs: Memoirs of a Career,” he told me that he became a butter-and-beef believer after “discovering that my increasing infirmity that I thought was due to increasing age was in fact caused by the high carbohydrate diet that I was eating.”
In addition, Noakes clarified the confusion caused by different types of low carb diets. High protein, high fat, ketogenic: Are all of these versions helpful for everyone?
“These diets work for those like me who are insulin resistant. But the key if you are insulin resistant is to eat a carbohydrate-restricted diet,” Noakes explained.
“When you take carbohydrate out of your diet you have to replace the calories with either fat or protein. Thus one has high protein variants (Dukan diet),” while another one, the high fat version that he advocates, promotes nutritional ketosis.
“The more fat you eat, and the less protein and carbohydrate, the more ketogenic the diet becomes. I focus on limiting carbs for everyone with insulin resistance. If you have diabetes, then it makes sense to focus on eating more fat and less protein since protein acts as a partial carbohydrate,” he explained.
As to the distinction between Paleo low carb diets, Atkins diets and Noakes’ own recommendations? All are low carb diets, which is “the key.”
“If you include fruit and avoid dairy, it is called Paleo. Probably we are closer to Atkins but we promote a reasonable intake of leafy vegetables which Atkins may not have,” Noakes explained.
The key to weight loss: Limit carbohydrates. In turn, this controls hunger which both boosts how much weight is lost and helps dieters to maintain. Calorie counting and doing huge amounts of exercise to control weight does not work and is in any case completely unnecessary,” he said.
For those seeking additional reading, Noakes recommends “any book by Westman, Phinney and Volek. Their work was suppressed by the mainstream but it contains all the answers for those who want to know why they need to go low carbs and how to do it effectively.”
Phinney and Volek’s books include “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable.” In it, the duo explain their research indicating how and why low carb diets are so effective for health and weight loss, as well as how to create your own low carb diet lifestyle.
In addition, Dr. Westman co-authored a book on the facts and fiction about high cholesterol: “Cholesterol Clarity: What The HDL Is Wrong With My Numbers.” He also has an upcoming book on high fat low carb diets: “Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet.”