Cape Town sports scientist Prof Tim Noakes is in great shape. At 65, after four years on his low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet, his energy levels are stratospheric; his running has improved spectacularly.
“I don’t run as fast as I ran in my 20s, but I’m running faster and further in training, and with more enjoyment than I did 20 years ago,” he says.
He hasn’t gained a gram of the 20kg he lost in the first two years on the diet, and his health has improved. Noakes has type 2 diabetes (it’s in his family history) and developed it despite religiously eating the recommended high-carb, low-fat diet for 33 years that experts told him would prevent diabetes. He could probably do without medication to control it, but prefers to have “perfect blood glucose control’’.
He sleeps like a baby and no longer snores – for which wife Marilyn is deeply grateful – and no longer falls asleep in front of the TV. All other ailments – recurring bronchitis, rhinitis, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, and gastric reflux for which he was considering surgery – have disappeared.
Controversy still peppers his diet, with some saying it’s unscientific and dangerous – and so is Noakes. The science for and against LCHF and Noakes was scrutinised by an international gathering of top LCHF scientists and researchers at the low-carb, high-fat summit in Cape Town from February 19 to 22. Noakes hosted the event with Karen Thomson, granddaughter of the late pioneering cardiac surgeon Prof Chris Barnard, and the cream of international LCHF medical and scientific experts on the speakers’ panel.
Here he clarifies terminology of his LCHF diet, and gives an Idiot’s Guide to getting started:
Is your diet Atkins?
No, Atkins is higher protein than ours. Ours is high-fat, moderate-protein.
Is it Paleo?
No. Paleo is low in carbs, but not as low as we go. It excludes cereals and dairy, but includes fruit, which we don’t, except for some berries that are high in nutrition and low in carbs.
Is it Banting?
It’s probably more correct to call it Ebstein – after German physician Dr Wilhelm Ebstein who first made it high-fat. That was the diet Sir William Osler promoted in his monumental textbook: The Principles and Practices of Medicine, published in the US in 1892. Anyone who claims Banting or Ebstein diets are fads simply knows nothing about medical nutrition history. Nutrition did not begin in 1977 as our students seem to be taught.
Any weighing of food on your diet?
No. That’s a joke. You can’t predict accurately the absolute calorie content of foods when eaten by humans. You don’t know how many calories each person needs. The only way to work that out is by weighing yourself. If your weight stays stable, you’re eating the same number of calories you are expending. If you are lean, that’ll probably be the correct number of calories for your body and activity level. There’s no other way remotely accurate enough to measure your calorie needs.
Shoulder to Overhead
x10 REST 1 MIN. x15 REST 2 MIN. x20 REST 3 MIN. x25
Pick a weight for each that you can do unbroken – you will be decreasing your weight each time. Probably starting at around 65%.
Not for time:
6 strict Musle ups
12 strict c2b
18 strict pull ups
Squat Cleans, 135/95