As the fracas gathers momentum, thanks largely to frantic media coverage, the chief protagonists are making more and more scientifically irrational statements. Last week, for instance, the Sunday Times featured “Noakes makes a U-turn on dairy’s ‘green’ status”, and reported that one of his acolytes Dr Glen Hagemann has banned “slow-losing women” from his crash diet-courses.
Hogarth also nominated Tim Noakes as “Mampara of the week”, and I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry.
Low-carb diets come and go
Back in the day when I was at university, Dr Atkins published a whole series of books on his version of the zero/very-low-carb, high-protein, high-fat diet – and made millions of dollars. He also founded an empire manufacturing zero-carb foods.
In the 21st century the low-carb, high-protein diet has been rediscovered and repackaged by a number of opportunistic authors, cashing in on the public’s unquenchable desire for a quick-fix diet miracle.
The same old story
In 2016, “The Metabolism Miracle” by Diane Kress, was hailed as a “New York Times Bestseller”. It promised “3 easy steps to regain control of your weight . . . permanently”. The author, Diane Kress, a registered dietician, practicing in the USA for more than twenty-five years, recommended an 8-week high-protein, low-carb detox period to allow the pancreas and the liver to rest and regenerate.
This author was honest enough to admit that “a very-low-carb diet is not nutritionally balanced, but a temporary choice to reset a healthy metabolism”.
During Step 1, the 8-week, very-low-carb period, slimmers with so-called Metabolism B were urged to cut out most carbs and concentrate on eating lean protein foods. Only 5 x 5 grams of carbohydrates were allowed per day. Patients were also encouraged to drink plenty of water, eat every 5 hours (a variation of the “nibbling diet”), take vitamin and mineral supplements, do physical exercise, deep breathing, relaxation exercises and to apply the principles of positive thinking. According to Kress (2016), the purpose of Step 1 was to “re-programme your metabolism”.
Then in 2015, there was Dr Pierre Dukan who devised a French variation of the Atkins Diet, which was of course named “The Dukan Diet”. In this book, he divides his diet into 4 phases, which he calls the “Attack Phase”, the” Cruise Phase”, the “Consolidation Phase” and the “Stabilisation Phase”. The window dressing is French, but the basic principles are pure Atkins Diet.
In 2014 it was the Cura Romana® Weightloss Plan by Leslie Kenton, which hit the shelves. New Yorkers were obsessed with the book; it shot to the top of the bestseller lists and probably made Ms Kenton lots of money.
It also advocated an Atkins-type diet but allowed so few kilojoules that it bordered on starvation. In addition, dieters were encouraged to use a homeopathic human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) spray to aid weight loss.
And now we have the “Real Meal Revolution” written by Dr Tim Noakes et al. which has dieters in South Africa in a protein- and fat-feeding frenzy.
In my opinion, the most concrete results achieved by these books were the large amounts of money in the pockets of their authors.