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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pescatore: 'Media Has Bastardized Low Carb'

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about writing at my blog is the opportunity to meet and interview people who have established themselves as bona fide health experts in the field of diet, weight loss, nutrition, and fitness.

In fact, I have several interviews in the works right now with the likes of people such as "The Diet Detective" Charles Platkin, "The Biggest Loser-Australia" winner Adro Sarnelli, and you'll never believe who actually agreed to be interviewed by me -- Dr. Dean Ornish! That'll be a doozy of an interview for sure, but I am thankful for the chance to ask the hard questions and hopefully get their honest answers.

Today's interview is with bestselling author and lower-carb advocate Dr. Fred Pescatore and you are in for a real treat. I asked him some of the questions we have been debating at my blog over the past few months, including what the future holds for low-carb. He also shares quite candidly about the differences between his diet and what he really thinks is an "unhealthy" plan in the Atkins diet. I don't agree with everything he says, but I am glad he took the time to share his thoughts with me and my readers today.

Dr. Fred Pescatore, creator of "The Hamptons Diet," joins us here at "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" for an interview about the subject of low-carb, telling us what he thinks about a variety of health-related topics and sharing a little from his brand new release, "The Hamptons Diet Cookbook" (read my review by clicking here). First off, what does a physician practicing nutritional medicine do? I've never heard of any doctor who I can go see about my diet other than my family doctor. How do you interact with patients?

I BASICALLY APPROACH EACH ILLNESS THROUGH A COMBINATION OF THE BEST OF CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE WITH THE BEST OF THE ALTERNATIVE OR COMPLEMENTARY SIDE. ALL HEALTH PROBLEMS START FROM POOR NUTRITION AND THAT IS THE CORNERSTONE OF GETTING WELL –- EATING IN A HEALTHFUL MANNER. THEREFORE EACH PATIENT GETS PLACED ON A DIET THAT IS RIGHT FOR THEM AND THEN SUPPLEMENTS AND OTHER LIFESTYLE CHANGES.


The late great Dr. Atkins was a closet jokester?

You had the privilege to work side-by-side with one of the greatest doctors to ever enter the world of nutritional medicine for five years -- Dr. Robert C. Atkins. What was Dr. Atkins like from a professional standpoint and is there anything interesting about him personally you would be willing to share from your relationship with him?

THE MOST INTERESTING THING THAT MANY MAY NOT KNOW IS THAT HE WAS A STAND-UP COMEDIAN BEFORE BECOMING THE FAMOUS DR. ATKINS. HE WAS SOMEONE WHO WA FOCUSED IN HIS DESIRE TO SHOW THE WORLD THAT COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE AND NUTRITION PLAY A VITAL ROLE IN HEALTH. HE LOVED TO TEACH AND LOVED TO LEARN AND I VALUE THE FIVE YEARS I SPENT WITH HIM.

As much as you appreciated and respected Dr. Atkins for bringing the low-carb lifestyle to the forefront of American culture, you actually believed there was a better way to incorporate low-carb living into a healthier lifestyle in what has become known as "The Hamptons Diet," melding together the best of the Atkins approach along with a strong Mediterranean diet influence. Tell us what makes your diet different from Atkins and other low-carb plans.

THE HAMPTONS DIET IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING FADDISH TO IT. IT INCORPORATES ALL THE FOOD GROUPS IN THE HEALTHIEST WAY. THE ATKINS APPROACH WAS VERY SIMPLE -– EAT NO CARBS; BUT IT WASN’T THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO TEACH PEOPLE TO EAT FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.

HAVING SAID THAT, THERE WERE OTHER PHASES TO THE ATKINS DIET OTHER THAN INDUCTION BUT PEOPLE AND THE PRESS ALWAYS GOT STUCK ON THE INDUCTION PHASE AND THAT BECAME THE MESSAGE WHETHER DR. ATKINS MEANT IT TO OR NOT. BESIDES, THERE WAS LOTS OF SCIENCE THAT DEVELOPED FROM WHEN HE WROTE THE BOOK IN THE 1970’S THAT HE NEVER INCORPORATED INTO HIS PROGRAM. BELIEVE ME, IT IS DIFFICULT TO TRY TO TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO EAT IN A HEALTHY MANNER RATHER THAN JUST DEIFYING ONE FOOD GROUP LIKE PROTEIN AND DEMONIZING ANOTHER LIKE CARBS. THERE ARE MANY FOOD CHOICES AND OPTIONS OUT THERE.

THE HAMPTONS DIET STANDS FOR SIMPLE BASIC NUTRITION – LEAVE OUT THE SUGAR, AND SIMPLE CARBS AND EAT ANYTHING ELSE AND YOU ARE THREE QUARTERS OF THE WAY TO GOOD HEALTH. AND, IF THE FOOD IS FRESH, LOCAL AND SEASONAL, EVEN BETTER. WE ARE BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND THAT FRESH AND LOCAL FOODS MAY BE EVEN HEALTHIER FOR US THAN ORGANIC FOODS GROWN 3,000 MILES FROM OUR DOOR. IT IS A TOUGH SELL BUT EVENTUALLY PEOPLE HAVE TO GET IT OR THEY JUST WON’T BE HEALTHY. BESIDES, BOB ATKINS AND I ALWAYS ARGUED ABOUT FATS ANYWAY. THERE ARE HEALTHY AND UNHEALTHY FATS AND HE WASN’T BUYING ANY OF IT.


Does the Atkins diet mean "eat no carbs?" Really?

You recently said in an interview that the "Ultra low carbohydrate (diet), as popularized by Dr. Atkins my teacher and mentor, may be dead." What did you mean by that statement and is there such a thing as eating too few carbohydrates?

IT IS DEAD INASMUCH AS PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE HEALTHY CARBOHYDRATES. ALSO, AS THE VAST MAJORITY OF CONSUMERS GO ON AND OFF DIETING, IT IS INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT TO GO ON AND OFF A LOW CARB DIET, ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN BECAUSE IT WILL STOP WORKING. PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO GO BACK TO EATING ONLY MEAT JUST AS THEY ARE NEVER GOING TO GO BACK TO ONLY EATING ONLY PASTA ALL DAY. THE DAYS OF EXTREME DIETING ARE OVER.

Understanding that it varies from person to person, how many grams of carbs should be consumed at the bare minimum?

THE MINIMUM WOULD BE THE AMOUNT THAT KEEPS YOU OUT OF KETOSIS – SAY 25 TO 30 GRAMS A DAY.

How about the maximum?

THE MAXIMUM DEPENDS ON YOUR BODY TYPE, HOW MUCH YOU EXERCISE, HOW MUCH YOU WEIGH AS WELL AS A WHOLE HOST OF OTHER FACTORS.

I notice you have strategically avoided using the term "low-carb" to describe "The Hamptons Diet" and instead use a more neutral "lower carbohydrate lifestyle" to soften the blow of that controversial term. Is there such a stigma on using the phrase "low-carb" that people who support a controlled-carb or "low-carb" plan should start calling it something else?

I DIDN’T WANT PEOPLE TO GET THE IMPRESSION THAT THE HAMPTONS DIET WAS THE SAME OLD THING THEY HAVE BEEN DOING FOR YEARS BECAUSE IT REALLY ISN’T. IT IS A MEDITERRANEAN DIET APPROACH MODIFIED TO FIT THE AMERICAN PALATE. AMERICANS THINK THAT BY EATING PIZZA AND PASTA, THEY ARE EATING IN A MEDITERRANEAN WAY -– NOT SO.

If so, then what do we call it without confusing people who desperately need to lose weight and get healthy?

HOW ABOUT HEALTHY EATING? BALANCED MODERATION – THAT IS WHAT I CALL IT. THE MEDIA HAS BASTARDIZED THE TERM LOW CARB AND IT IS DEAD IN THE WATER FOR THE TIME BEING. THE LOW-CARB APPROACH ISN’T DEAD, JUST THE TERM.

With all the constant negativity about eating less carbs these days, you have encouraged people who choose to eat this way to keep doing what they are doing. Is there anything you would like to say specifically to those people out there who are buying into the propaganda put out there by those who oppose this lifestyle change?

THE NEGATIVITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE AND ALWAYS WILL. BY EATING IN A LOWER CARBOHYRATE OR HEALTHY CARBOHYDRATE APPROACH, WE COULD POTENTIALLY BANKRUPT THE FOOD INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX THAT IS CURRENTLY SET UP. THE SUGAR, SOYBEAN AND CORN INDUSTRIES ARE HEAVILY AND OVERLY SUBSIDIZED TO KEEP THE PRICES OF THOSE FOODS CHEAP.


Pescatore asserts Food Pyramid benefits companies, not people

THE USDA FOOD PYRAMID WAS SET UP TO PROMOTE AGRICULTURE, NOT TO TELL US HOW TO EAT IN A HEALTHY WAY. WE ARE BEING MADE UNHEALTHY SO THE CORPORATIONS THAT RUN AMERICA CAN HAVE HEALTHY BOTTOM LINES. WHEN STUDIES ARE ACTUALLY DONE, THE LOWER CARB APPROACH ALWAYS BEATS ANY OTHER APPROACH ON ALL PARAMETERS, INCLUDING HEALTH AND WEIGHT LOSS. BEFORE BELIEVING ANYTHING YOU'VE READ, FIRST FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL.


Mac Nut Oil is the foundation ingredient in the Hamptons Diet

You heavily promote macadamia nut oil as part of your diet plan. Tell us why this is the best fat for people to add to their diet and share with us any other acceptable healthy oils that people can use as part of a lower-carbohydrate lifestyle change.

I PROMOTE MAC OIL BECAUSE IT IS THE HEALTHIEST COOKING OIL ON THE PLANET. THAT IS ACTUALLY SOMETHING I LEARNED FROM DR. ATKINS MANY YEARS AGO, BUT HE JUST NEVER WENT FOR IT. THE RESEARCH INTO CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, PREVENTION OF STROKES, PROTECTION AGAINST CANCER, TELLS US THAT MONOUNSATURATED FATS ARE THE ONES WE SHOULD HAVE IN OUR DIETS.

THE REASON THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET IS SEEN AS HEALTHY IS BECAUSE OF THE MONOUNSATURATED FAT FOUND IN OLIVE OIL. HOWEVER, MACADAMIA NUT OIL IS 30% MORE OF THE HEALTHIEST FATS -- MORE MONOS THAN ANY OTHER FOOD SOURCE EXCEPT AVOCADO OIL WHICH IS REALLY EXPENSIVE. THE THEORY BEHIND THE HAMPTONS DIET IS TO ONLY USE THE HEALTHIEST INGREDIENTS YOU CAN AND MAC OIL FITS ALL MY PARAMETERS FOR HEALTH. THE ONLY OTHER OIL I CAN RECOMMEND AT THIS TIME IS AVOCADO OIL.


Dr. Pescatore's new cookbook has recipes that are "timeless"

Your new book, "The Hamptons Diet Cookbook," released in April 2006. Some would say publishing a new "low-carb" book in 2006 is futile since there is supposedly no longer a market for this genre of books anymore. Obviously you and your publisher disagree with that since you released this book into the marketplace. What did you hope to accomplish by writing this book?

I WANTED PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT HEALHY EATING DOES NOT HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED AND THAT COOKING IS A FUN THING TO DO AND ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY IF YOU EVER WANT TO BE HEALTHY IN THE LONG RUN. BESIDES, THE SOUTH BEACH DIET IS STILL POPULAR, SONOMA, FAT FLUSH, ETC. EACH RECIPE FITS INTO ANY ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR DIET PLANS AND THE BOOK IS BEAUTIFUL. IT IS FILLED WITH LOTS OF GREAT PICTURES AND CAN ENHANCE THE COFFEE TABLE OF ANY HOME EVEN IF YOU NEVER LEARN TO MAKE A SINGLE ONE OF THE RECIPES. THE HAMPTONS DIET COOKBOOK IS BASED ON SOUND SCIENTIFIC PRINICPLES SO IT IS A DIET COOKBOOK THAT IS MEANT TO LAST AND THE RECIPES ARE TIMELESS.

I noticed many of the recipes in your new book were "borrowed" from other people, including other low-carb cookbook authors, people who have been successful on The Hamptons Diet, and other friends of yours. What was that about?

PEOPLE GET SO EXCITED SO SEE THEIR NAME IN PRINT AND ALSO I OWE QUITE A LOT TO MY PATIENTS AND OTHER LEADERS IN THIS INDUSTRY. INCLUDING THEIR RECIPES IN MY BOOK WAS MY WAY OF SHOWING THE UTMOST OF RESPECT TO THEM BY INCLUDING THEM IN MY “BABY.”

Also, I'm sure your co-author Jeff Harter had a heavy influence on the recipes that were chosen as professional chef. What was the process like choosing which recipes to feature in the book and did you feel like there were some really good recipes that might have been left out of the book that you wish you had put in there?

CHEF JEFF WAS A WONDERFUL ADDITION TO THE BOOK. HE KNEW ALL ABOUT HEALTHY EATING AND THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET BECAUSE HE DID MOST OF HIS CHEF TRAINING AT THREE STAR MICHELIN RESTAURANTS IN SPAIN; SO IF ANYONE WOULD KNOW, IT WOULD BE HIM. WE SUITED EACH OTHER PERFECTLY AND I DID NOT HAVE TO DO A LOT OF EXPLAINING TO HIM IN ORDER FOR HIM TO MAKE THE RECIPES HEALTHY. I ESPECIALLY THOUGHT HE BROUGHT SOME GREAT TWISTS ON OLD CLASSICS AND, OF COURSE, HE GAVE THEM HIS OWN PERSONAL TOUCHES. MANY RECIPES WERE ELIMINATED FROM INCLUSION IN THE BOOK BECAUSE SOME WERE TOO COMPLICATED AND I WANTED THIS BOOK TO MAKE HEALTHY EATING EASY AND ACCESSIBLE –- IF IT IS NOT ACCESSIBLE, THEN NO ONE WILL DO IT.

The low-carb industry may have fallen by the wayside and the whole "craze" had finally passed us by. What's next for people who are livin' la vida low-carb? The science behind low-carb that has come out in the just the past year or so validating this amazing way of eating is inredible to see and yet the media and those in charge of health in the U.S. have turned a blind eye. How can we effectively get the word out to the two out of every three Americans who are either overweight or obese that there is hope for them, there is a way they can lose the weight and keep it off for good, and it doesn't have to include a low-fat/low-calorie/portion control diet?

THE BEST THING IS FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND OTHERS OF US WHO STILL BELIEVE IN THIS WAY OF EATING TO CONTINUE TO PROSELYTIZE THE MESSAGE IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE MEDIA WILL EMBRACE IT, NOT DEMONIZE IT. THE BEST WAY TO GET ATTENTION IS TO BEAT SOMEONE AT THEIR OWN GAME. BUT WORKING FROM THE INSIDE IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN WORKING FROM THE OUTSIDE. WE HAVE TO KEEP WALKING THE WALK AND TALKING THE TALK WHILE WE CONTINUE TO BE GREAT EXAMPLES FOR THIS LIFESTYLE. I WOULD LOVE TO CARRY ON THE FLAME AND I NEED PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO HELP ME DO THAT. I APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY YOU HAVE GIVEN ME TO SPEAK MY MIND TO YOU AND YOUR BLOG READERS. THANK YOU AND KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.

Thank you, Dr. Pescatore, for continuing to be a beacon of light for low-carb living. Although we disagree on some of the answers you gave in this interview, particularly about the Atkins diet, I appreciate everything that you and others in the low-carb community have done to encourage and educate those of us who still have a strong passion for this healthy lifestyle. On behalf of the readers of "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb," I express my sincerest gratitude and wish you continued success.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

Jimmy,

His approach is kinda what I was alluding to in my thread on the Active Lowcarber Forum.

That we start attacking the negative media, with positive benefits stories.

That we use terms like GI, GL, helathy carbs and healthy fats to our benefit!

It sounds like an interesting book!

6/06/2006 11:52 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

THE MINIMUM WOULD BE THE AMOUNT THAT KEEPS YOU OUT OF KETOSIS – SAY 25 TO 30 GRAMS A DAY.

25-30g of carbs a day will keep you out of ketosis?!? What the hell?!? I am very much IN ketosis at that level and I would suspect most people would be.

Hmmm...macadamia nut or avacado oil. I will have to look into that. I recently bought some coconut oil for baking sweets. I figured coconut flavor would be better that olive for sweets. ;)

6/06/2006 11:58 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

First, I don't know why he had to SCREAM the interview. :)

Sorry, I have to call BS when I see it and this is total BS.

Right from the start he basically states a flat out lie, "THE ATKINS APPROACH WAS VERY SIMPLE -– EAT NO CARBS; BUT IT WASN’T THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO TEACH PEOPLE TO EAT FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.' What is so "UNHEALTHY" about a zero carb diet? This guy can't answer that because he's full of BS. Stefansson proved not once, but TWICE that you can thrive quite well on a 100% meat diet, not to mention the Inuit and people like Bear Stanley. Pretty much anything he says after this point is pretty much all lies and should be treated with suspicion.

He also says, "THEREFORE EACH PATIENT GETS PLACED ON A DIET THAT IS RIGHT FOR THEM AND THEN SUPPLEMENTS AND OTHER LIFESTYLE CHANGES." This is pure denial. The zero carb diet works for everyone, regardless. I'm sure he wants to sell you his "suppliements" too, although if you're eating right you don't need supplements.

It's because of people like this, and the George $tella$ and Dana Carpenders that really give low carb a bad name, by essentially trying to hawk the same ol' calorie restricted, low fat diet under some guise that it's "low-carb" (of course, they do that because it's been proven by millions of people that the more carbs you restrict the better the weight loss). Of course, his diet and South Beach, $tella $tyle, will not work for large groups of people, but they don't care...as long as you've bought the book, dvd, etc.

The bottom line is that this is the real cause of their "concern" about the mainstream. They stand to sell more books if they can hide the term "low-carb", hoping that the "mainstream" will finally see the light (so they can sell more books).

6/08/2006 2:04 PM  
Blogger Leigh said...

I guess I don't understand how he could have worked with Dr. Atkins for five years, then claim that Atkins approach is "eat no carbs." Normally when people make statements like that, I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have never actually read Atkins. In this case, this misrepresentation calls his credibility into question. I have this same issue with the South Beach people. SB worked wonders for my hubby, but I don't understand why they have to trash Atkins by distorting the Atkins teachings.

6/08/2006 11:08 PM  
Blogger Jeff Hamlin said...

Rob, please provide evidence that Stella does what you accuse him of doing.

6/08/2006 11:30 PM  

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