Monday, October 22, 2007

Andrew Weil Gives 'Valentine' To Gary Taubes, Endorses 'Good Calories, Bad Calories'

Dr. Andrew Weil shared some much-deserved kudos for new Taubes book

Did you have a chance to watch the debate last Friday night over the subject of livin' la vida low-carb on CNN's "Larry King Live?" I blogged about this major national television appearance last week for Good Calories, Bad Calories author Gary Taubes as he faced the proverbial lion's den of health "experts," including Oprah Winfrey diet guru Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Andrew Weil, Jillian Michaels from the hit NBC weight loss reality show "The Biggest Loser," and guest host Joy Behar from "The View."

If you missed this, then it was quite the "circus" as Gary described it with virtually every guest, including Behar who was supposed to be hosting this debate but she ended up adding her own personal commentary, blasted away at mocked Taubes for even daring to challenge the conventional wisdom regarding fat and carbohydrate. Read the transcript for yourself and see just how vicious it got (especially when Behar floated her own theory about whether Dr. Atkins had a stroke that led to his "slip" on the ice--it was utterly disgusting to watch her do that!).

Thankfully, though, there was one glorious, shining moment about fifteen minutes into the program that made this well worth watching. Surprisingly, it was the segment featuring Dr. Weil (who was the only guest besides Michaels not appearing in the CNN studio) where he basically endorsed Taubes' book.

In fact, watch for yourself as Dr. Weil presents Taubes with what Behar described as a "Valentine" which Taubes graciously received and "agreed with everything he said":

Leave a comment about this video at YouTube so that doctors, researchers, nutritionists and patients alike will realize this is a serious book worthy of a much closer look by people who genuinely care about the diet and health in the United States and around the world. The more comments we can get out there, the better! Spread the word everyone!

I must admit I was pleasantly SHOCKED to hear Dr. Weil sing such high praises for Good Calories, Bad Calories. But this was good news because it shows that Dr. Weil is much more interested in continuing his own health education rather than sticking with the rigid dogma of the past (like Dr. Oz enjoys doing in his own fantasy world). I know Dr. Weil's reaction is PRECISELY what Gary Taubes was hoping would happen when he wrote this book and this should open some doors for the conversation about low-carb to continue.

Speaking of continuing the conversation, I've received quite a few e-mails from people regarding Gary Taubes--some of which thought they were writing TO Gary Taubes HIMSELF! I'm not quite sure why they thought my "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog was owned by Taubes, but I never let an opportunity to share about the healthy low-carb lifestyle slip away.

Here was the rather contentious original e-mail:

To Whom It May Concern:

I was VERY upset about this concept, particularly after watching this author on Larry King with Joy Behar. I am a cancer survivor, three years!! A dear friend of mine had breast cancer several years ago, had a lumpectomy, and believed she was in full remission. She has another tumor and needs a masectomy and in both breasts.

How can you possibly say that diet is one to live by--eating meat, bacon, fats, not even good ones, and all promoters of this deadly disease. I'm appalled and yes, it's a diet and people will die from a disease if they continue to eat that way. Their livers will fail, they will have a heart attack.

As far as exercise getting you fat, how in the world would you know that and how could you say something like that in front of an exercise specialist and a person who lost over 100 pounds??? I would not buy ONE of your books and I hope those that go by this plan survive because there ARE healthier options, believe me I know and I'm not a doctor.

Hmmm, I'm glad she told us she wasn't a doctor because I would have never guessed that. :) Here was my response:

THANKS for sharing your comments with me. But I'm not Gary Taubes. My name is Jimmy Moore and I lost over 180 pounds on the high-fat, low-carb Atkins diet in 2004 after my weight had climbed up over 400 pounds. My health was in disarray and I was taking prescription medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and breathing problems.

But thanks to the type of diet Gary Taubes talks about in his book GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES, I was able to lose the weight, but more importantly, I got healthier than I ever thought possible. It may seem counterintuitive to promote eating fat for weight loss and health, but that's merely because restricting fat has become so readily accepted in our culture as the only means for improving health. The Taubes book is meant to challenge that premise to at least give rise to more research before making generalized dietary recommendations as has been done for the past several decades.

My diet consists of about 60-70% fat, including a good percentage of saturated fat which is healthy in the absence of carbohydrates, and close to 3,000 calories daily. I've eaten this way for nearly four years and my weight has STAYED off permanently. it's not just a matter of "calories in, calories out" as Jillian Michaels contended on Larry King Live, but rather what kind of calories go in your body. That's what Gary Taubes discusses in his outstanding book that I highly encourage you to actually read and see for yourself the data. You might be surprised.

As for his opinions about exercise, I do agree with you that it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and I enjoy getting in my exercise as part of my weight maintenance routine. But Taubes' point isn't so much on the benefits to your health, but the impact on your weight loss efforts. His conclusion that exercising only makes you hungry is absolutely true. That can be a good thing for people when they are losing weight because it means they get to eat more food (no deprivation for calories!). But you heard him say that even he works out a few times a week, so he's NOT saying people shouldn't exercise.

Again, THANK YOU for writing to me and I sincerely hope you reconsider your decision whether or not you will read GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES. It's a well-written book that will provoke you to think about whether everything you've always been told about what's healthy is true or not. One last thing: when Joy Behar asked each of the panelists to share what they ate, did you notice Gary Taubes was the ONLY one who ate whole foods throughout the day? The rest of the panelists, including Dr. Oz, Poppy, and Jillian Michaels all ate some sort of man-made "products" that are allegedly healthy for you. I don't know about you, but I'd rather eat REAL food than tofu any day of the week!

Take care and feel free to write to me anytime!

Something told me I'd be hearing back from her again:

Dear Jimmy:

I thank you for writing back but there are still some things that you didn't address. I am a cancer survivor and in a scientific study done at the "John Hopkins University", it states that there are certain foods that those with these types of diseases should certainly avoid.

I do not agree with you or Gary about eating meat, bacon, and other saturated fats because they are NOT heart healthy and of course TOO MUCH could cause liver damage. There is SCIENTIFIC evidence that states that this type of diet could cause a recurrence of cancer and my own mother has a heart condition. Now, you didn't share what your health concern was, which I was surprised about. And, sir 60 to 70% saturated fat?? I just don't see how that could keep you healthy, honestly. There ARE GOOD COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES, THERE ARE!!!!

As fas ar the exercise specialist and the others on the show, "tofu" was not the only food mentioned. Gary's diet was meat and then "more meat". Oh, perhaps he mentioned chicken or fish and an occasional vegetable.

I also read labels and I do agree that people go "crazy" with low fat and chemically- driven alternatives, but again, there are still some things that people need to put in their diet and by the way, I have a friend who became ill on Atkin's and had to stop. Again, all you can eat- hotdogs, bacon, steak, greasy burgers, oh and Gary mentioned he eats "LARD", Lovely. Someone with health concerns would get sick.

You seem to be an intelligent person through your writing, but I would hope that you would understand that there are ways to improve your diet without drastic measures. And I think "live it" is actually a better way to think about your health, don't you???

Gary also didn't say much on the program about vegetables and fruits, brown rice, etc. but when I got online many reviews shared that he also says that is important. Why was that not stated on the show?? Perhaps reading the book would only answer some of these questions but I can honestly say that I hesitate to do so. His attitude on the program didn't make me feel comfortable and he was not at all kind to the exercise specialist.

That is her career and she's actually helping people. Poppy was in "great spirits", perhaps because of what she ate that day, I don't know. Perhaps Gary was loaded down with "fats" and thus unable to smile too much or be very kind. I'm sorry but I am concerned about the health of my family and my friends. I'm not trying to be rude but this diet could be "the end all", if you know what I mean.

Again, I hope that your own health continues to improve daily. Perhaps trying some veggies, fruit, and brown rice would be helpful. They can be organic and because they are grown, what could be better?? I love animals also. How many do we need to kill to provide fat for people??

Well, sir, I could go on and on but I'm sure you now understand my concerns. I am three years in remission and so happy that I may be past that invasive disease.

LIFE IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where oh where do you start with something like THIS? Here's what I wrote back:

First let me say CONGRATULATIONS on finding a way to eat that will help you feel healthy and keep your cancer in remission. Regardless of my personal feelings regarding a high-fat, low-carb nutritional approach based on my own experience, I think what you are doing is GREAT and I HIGHLY encourage you to keep on doing what works for you.

In fact, that's the mantra that people like me and Gary Taubes understand. We aren't all the same. We each have specific nutritional needs that must be met and that mandates that a one-size-fits-all dietary recommendation will never work. If low-fat is taught as the only way (as it is now), then what are people who don't do well on those kind of diets to do?

That's why I try to help educate people about how healthy a low-carbohydrate nutritional approach really is because you are eating real food that's really healthy for you. Carbs have been show time and time again in the studies Taubes shares in his book to be at the root cause of many, many common and sometimes devastating diseases, including cancer. I highlighted many of the most recent high-carb diet/cancer studies in this post.

While I'm sure that study from Johns Hopkins University was presented to you as scientific fact, the truth is there are some remarkable new findings coming out about cancer that do not line up at all with the current conventional wisdom. This is even more of what Taubes shares in his book if you'll simply open it up and see for yourself. Fat is EXTREMELY healthy as long as you keep your carbohydrate intake limited.

Again, if you feel fine limiting your fat intake, then nobody is stopping your from eating that way. But the science is showing eating too many carbs of any kind and too little fat can be very harmful to your body in a variety of ways. Read GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES to find out why.

Regarding my health concerns, I did share with you that my cholesterol was elevated, my blood pressure was way up and I had breathing issues--all of which needed prescriptions medications to control somewhat. But within 9 months of eating a high-fat, low-carb diet, I was OFF all those drugs and I haven't taken another one since! Over three years and counting!

How do I stay healthy eating this way? Elementary, my dear. Low-carb is the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors who lived on wild game, plants, and berries. The human body was never meant to eat the kinds of foods we consume today, most of which are high-processed, full of sugar and chemicals and nutritionally bankrupt. Instead, we eat fresh, whole foods like eggs, natural cheeses, delicious cuts of meat, non-starchy green leafy vegetables, low-glycemic fruits like berries, and a whole plethora of scrumptious options.

The only "good" carbs I consume come primarily from non-starchy vegetables, such as greens, spinach, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, broccoli, and other nutrient-packed veggies as well as low-glycemic fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, honeydew, and cantaloupe. Beyond the naturally low sugars/carbs found in these foods, my body doesn't need any others. Carbs turn to sugar in the body which causes blood sugar swings, insulin spikes, and all the negative reactions that come from eating a high-carb diet. No thanks! I posted six weeks of my actual menus if you'd like to see a little bit of what I eat on my diet.

Incidentally, if someone is eating an "all you can eat" version of what they call the "Atkins" diet, then very clearly, they never read the book. I just did a YouTube video on this very subject.

If you read Taubes' book or Atkins' books, then you will know why fats like butter, lard, coconut oil, and others are VERY VERY healthy for you to eat in conjunction with a controlled-carbohydrate diet. It may be difficult for you to get your head around it because you have been told the lower the fat, the healthier you are your entire life. This is PRECISELY why Gary Taubes wrote GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES to challenge that premise and get researchers, doctors, and even patients to question that dogma.

But I don't need anyone to tell me livin' la vida low-carb is healthy or not because I'm living it myself. At the age of 32, I was beyond morbidly obese at 410 pounds and on my way to an early grave. I had been successful at losing weight on low-fat in the past, but I never felt good eating that way. I was constantly hungry, felt entirely deprived of the foods I love, and would just get sick from not eating enough calories to meet my energy needs. Yep, I was shedding the pounds, but this was NOT healthy.

Atkins low-carb was different. The pounds came flying off of me (30 pounds the first month, 40 more in month two) and I felt absolutely WONDERFUL because I was eating a delicious menu of foods that were helping me burn body fat. Eliminating most of the carbohydrate from my diet kicked my body into high gear and the fat just melted away. Not once did I ever get hungry eating this way in 6-8 high-fat, low-carb meals a day which added up to around 3,000-4,000 calories. Today my calories remain around 3,000 daily--and my weight stays constant. I've never been healthier in my entire life.

Low-carb is only drastic if you compare it to the low-fat diet we've been led to believe is the "healthy" way. For me, low-fat is NOT healthy and livin' la vida low-carb is. Again, I'm very happy for you that your current nutritional approach is working to positively impact your health. But realize there are people like Jimmy Moore--a real person who has been eating a high-fat, low-carb diet for nearly four years--who are also seeing amazing benefits to their weight and health thanks to this diet you fear. Regardless of your opinions about my diet, it is what it is. And I'm a better man today because of it.

As for the Larry King Live segment, wasn't it odd that there wasn't anybody on the show besides Gary Taubes who agreed with the low-carb diet as a means for improving weight and health (although Dr. Andrew Weil was very kind in his comments)? Although Poppy did a great job of sharing from her experience, wouldn't it have been more appropriate to have an Atkins weight loss success come on the show as an example of how this way of eating is changing the lives of real people? Why didn't CNN think to do that, hmmm?

I'm very happy eating this way and will continue to for the rest of my fit and happy life! And LIFE IS GOOD for me, too! :) THANK YOU again for writing and for your engaging conversation. Take care!

I never heard back from her again. Perhaps she's convinced it was time to stop complaining about a book she hadn't even read yet. If you're like this reader wondering what the book is about, then you need to pick up a copy of Good Calories, Bad Calories, too. YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED!

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Blogger Psipsina said...

Well said, Jimmy.

I just saw most of the interview on the CNN web site (it cuts off before the end for some reason), and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Dr. Weil. I'd begun to lose some respect for him, because it was clear from some of his books that he really was onto the truth, but was blinded by the conventional wisdom. He re-earned my respect during the interview.

10/22/2007 10:38 PM  
Blogger melodiegale said...

Now I know why I have always loved Dr. Weil. He is a "biggie", a high profile doc and he looks like he might be ready to jump ship. If memory serves me correctly, I believe I read in his book his wife eats low carb. Probably not as low as us but lower.

I love what he said on Youtube because he said what I've been trying to say but not nearly as well. That is a great developement. Good blog Jimmy!

10/22/2007 11:29 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Poppy lost weight yes but she had to work darn hard - lots of exercise!
The interview was a bit of a joke - Dr Weil's comments were great though. It would have helped if the others actually read the book!

10/23/2007 4:34 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

I absolutely loved dr. Weil's comments! Exactly to the point and well-argued. He really gets it! That's a fantastic development as I understand he's an authority in the field.

Well written response to your somewhat confused correspondent, Jimmy. Hopefully she'll pick up and copy and actually READ it. Who knows...

Keep up the good work my friend! You are doing a fantastic job!

10/23/2007 9:55 AM  
Blogger Pot Kettle Black said...

Jimmy, I don't heap praise lightly or frequently, as you know. So, please, take this as the moment it is.

You have patience that would make a saint envious.

Your interaction with the cancer stricken doctor (if she's my doctor, I'm glad open season is coming so I can change insurance and get someone new) was amazing. A lesser person wouldn't have replied, or might've pointed out that her friend with the breast cancer is eating the establishment post cancer diet and is getting a double mast for her trouble, or might've questioned the cancer avoidance advice of someone who got cancer in the first place, or a hundred other things to punch her in the virtual face. You're a credit to the movement.

10/23/2007 10:17 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

And what would you expect from Larry King or Joy Behar but a circus? They are the ringmaster and the clown of television...

10/23/2007 11:45 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Pot, your comments meant the world to me today. I'm still learning, but I appreciate you're noticing. :)

10/23/2007 1:46 PM  
Blogger Psipsina said...

Good point, Pot (er, Kettle?) - I was thinking the same thing. I might also have added that the experience of one person, by itself, does not prove anything. That's what Taubes was trying to say when Michaels kept saying, "Well, I helped ONE person lose 100 lbs." Big whoop.

10/23/2007 2:13 PM  
Blogger Pot Kettle Black said...

Michaels, and a number of other personal trainers and exercise gurus who have skimmed the book seem to have come away with the idea that Taubes says don't exercise, which is not in my copy of the book. I don't get why Jill Michaels and every other trainer can't get it in that he's saying there's no good lab study that shows exercise, in isolation, causes weight loss, and not that exercise isn't useful in a healthy life.

The funny thing is, 40 years ago, Taubes would be greeted with a big "Duh" on this finding and these trainers would maybe be nurses or something. 20 years ago, they'd laugh at anyone who lifted weights to lose weight, rather than endless miles of slow treadmill, while 110 years ago, the benefits of lifting were pretty well understood (google: Eugen Sandow). So, there's a cycle to this. I guess the takeaway is that, like the NFL, you shouldn't trust an industry run by a bunch of gym majors.

10/23/2007 3:08 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

Thanks so much for sharing that clip, Jimmy. I've never been a big fan of Dr. Weil (Hello, Understatement) but that was encouraging.
I lost 35 pounds four years ago by following low-carbing -- and one of the very simple, but extremely delicious recipes -- World's Easiest Short Ribs --that helped me actually enjoy the process is on my blog today.
I now eat everything I want --including home-baked desserts-- I just don't eat as much of it as I once did or as often as I might like. I know I can always return to clean low-carbing to ease off a couple pounds.
I love your blog. Never miss a day.

10/23/2007 4:48 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Just finished reading Taubes' book on 10/28. Saw the show on CNN. His book is absolutely provocative. After having read the book and listened to Taubes on this interview and the one with Charlie Rose (via YouTube), Taubes would be better served by letting his book do the talking. E.g. his statement that 'exercise makes you hungrier' did not sit well with Jillian. If you read this reasoning in the book and see what he was really trying to say he comes off much better IMO.

10/28/2007 1:59 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS JD! I thought Taubes did an excellent job of stating the facts on CNN just as he did in the book. Jillian Michaels spoke purely out of ignorance and emotion without reading the book. That was the biggest travesty about that panel of "experts." Only Dr. Andrew Weil actually read the book--everyone else just ASSUMED they knew what was in it.

10/28/2007 2:39 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Couple of points from the book that absolutely floored me:

1. Those cultures like the Intuit who ate nothing but the fat and the meat from sea animals had no evidence of cancer nor diseases due to vitamin deficiency. Vitamin deficiency diseases are a byproduct of a carbohydrate based diet. WOW!!! I am still chewing the fat :-) on that one regarding its implications. Have never read this before about vitamin deficiency being a by product of a carbohydrate diet and I have read a lot of diet/nutritional books.

2. The whole issue of VLDL and how we have been sold a bill of goods when it comes to cholesterol levels. Sorry, I am late to the party on this issue and really peeved at the establishment about the whole scam they seem to be pulling off.

I have a huge interest in this whole obese issue as my father had a quadruple bypass twenty years ago at 65 and was diagnosed then as being diabetic. So genetically I am at risk. I have lost 40 pounds recently over 6 months using a vegan diet that excludes ANY refined carbohydrates as well as cardio and strength training. Have never felt hungry on this 'diet' of my own making. I tried Atkins some years ago but never got by the induction phase. In the past, I lost 75 pounds through diet, exercise, and sheer willpower and kept it off for at least ten years only to gain that back and another forty over the past decade or so.

The point on the show that Joy Behar IMO glossed over was 'OK you all agree refined carbohydates are bad'. After having now read Taubes' book, this comment indicates this person never read the book. That was IMO one of the main points of the book. She's an idiot.

10/28/2007 6:47 PM  
Blogger dixonge said...

I'm late to comment here, but the part of his book that impacted me the most was the entire area of cancer - western diet (refined carbs) vs. carcinogens. The fact that indigenous populations all over the world did not have appendicitis or cancer or gallstones or heart disease until they started consuming 'normal' amounts of refined flours and sugars is possibly more significant than the obesity issue. If this is true, and the data does seem to support it, then this cancer survivor is just looking at another round of treatment if they don't get off the carbs. Sad, but true.

2/20/2008 7:34 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

And the medical establishment STILL refuses to believe that carbs feed cancer. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

2/20/2008 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its amazing to me that these people are afraid to read the book in case it might cause them to change their opinions. If their opinions where true, they wouldn't stand the test? Being afraid of ideas that challenge your own is a true sign of ignorance.

3/31/2008 12:57 PM  

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