Say No To Carbs

That`s the revised advice of a learner, fitter Tim Noakes

HE’S the sports scientist whose book has become a bible for millions of runners. He’s also an accomplished athlete who has run 71 marathons and ultramarathons. But for a while Professor Tim Noakes (62) carried a few extra kilograms he couldn`t get rid of. And sometimes he was even reluctant to go for a run. But no more, thanks to a new diet plan that has allowed him to shed I5 kg with ease. He now effortlessly runs a kilometer in less than five minutes and his blood pressure is the lowest it has been in 20 years. “I’m running like I used to when I was younger,” he boasts.

But these days he no longer tucks into potatoes, pasta and wholegrain bread as he advised athletes to do in his book The Lore of Running. No, instead of carbohydrates he now eats protein and fat and veggies low in carbohydrates. In his office at the Sports Science Institute at the University of Cape Town, Tim doesn’t beat about the bush when he refers to the book that earned him worldwide recognition. “If you’ve got it, please tear out the section on nutrition and throw it away,” he says. In that section he refers to the benefits of carbohydrates but now he says they`re poison and as addictive as tobacco if you are carbohydrate-intolerant like him and a large part of the population. If you want to get rid of excess weight and have more energy, eat fat and protein, he proclaims, having put it to the test for the past 14 months. He sounds like someone who`s had an epiphany and can’t stop enthusing about his newfound zest for life and he wants to convert the rest of the world to the lifestyle that’s making him feel like a 20-year-old again. IT’S not as if he was ever really fat, Tim says, But he was frustrated by weight he just couldn’t shed, even though he sometimes went hungry. For years he stuck to the American dietary guidelines of the past three decades. According to these guidelines fat is bad and carbohydrates should be given preference.

The turnaround in his life came out of the blue, after the night of 6 December 2010 when he finally completed his book Water Logged. It’s about how the business world manipulates science and scientists. “I was exhausted but when I went to sleep I told myself I was going to get up at six and go running. I didn’t enjoy it that morning because, like so many times before, I had no energy He was no longer running daily, as he had in the past and even three times a week had become an effort for him. Sitting at his computer later that day he received an e-mail with an ad that read, “Lose 6 kg without feeling hungry” “I was hesitant when I saw it was associated with Atkins’ New Atkins Diet for a New You but when I recognised the names of the three scientists who’d written it I began looking at it with new eyes.”

He started the diet the next morning and ate biltong and cheese for breakfast. After that all his meals consisted of protein such as eggs, meat, fish or chicken and salad or vegetables with few carbohydrates. Bread, pasta, potatoes and pumpkin were out and tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus and mushrooms were in. Within a week he had lost almost 2 kg without having felt hungry because he could eat as much protein as he liked until he was full. “I suddenly felt energetic and spontaneously began to run every day, just like in the good old days. I’d run between seven and 10 kilometers without overloading myself with carbohydrates as I’d done before.” He could feel the benefits but also wanted to understand why this was so and looked for more reading matter on the diet. Reading American science writer Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories confirmed he on the right track. “As far as I`m concerned this is the most important book in medicine in the past 50 years. Actually, I think Taubes should get the Nobel prize for it,” Tim says.

In the book Taubes argues that fat, whether saturated or unsaturated, is not what causes obesity, heart disease or other chronic conditions. The culprits are carbohydrates because don’t satisfy your hunger for long. They also stimulate too much insulin secretion which promotes obesity.

When Tim also discovered that his body was carbohydrate-intolerant things fell into place like a jigsaw puzzle. He realised he was on the brink of becoming diabetic. “My father developed diabetes when he was 60. Doctors prescribed medicine and advised him to eat more carbohydrates. It was the wrong advice but it’s still given to diabetics today. “Your pancreas works overtime to secrete insulin to bring down your blood sugar levels,” he explains. “If you eat more carbohydrates, which push up your blood sugar, the supply of insulin runs out or doesn’t work properly any more at which stage you are diabetic and this is incurable. “My father died. If he had rather cut out carbohydrates and eaten fat and protein he would have been spared longer for us,” Tim says.

He believes anyone with a family history of diabetes who struggles to metabolise carbohydrates should flourish on this diet. “I can’t say it will work for everyone. But one thing is certain: a diet that consists principally of carbohydrates, such as those that have been recommended for the past three decades, certainly doesn’t work for everyone. If that were the case obesity wouldn’t have reached such epidemic proportions. “That’s why we have to rethink the whole thing.”

SINCE he started speaking out about his new insights three weeks ago he has received at least 30 e-mails a day from people who are doing just as well as him on the Atkins diet. One of them is Pretoria businessman Deon van der Merwe (42) who told YOU that for most of his life he had believed fat was bad, that he should avoid it as far as possible and rather eat more carbohydrates.

Then seven years ago he discovered the Atkins diet. “I weighed 139 kg and would have done anything to feel more comfortable. In five months I lost 25 kg. After that I read how doctors and scientists were warning people against Atkins and that scared me off. I stopped the diet and my weight soared.” Soon before Christmas 2007 Deon tipped the scales at 170 kg. “I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I also didn’t like looking at my family and seeing how terribly fat we were. Atkins was the only thing that had helped me in the past and I dared them to follow it with me: the person who lost the most in seven months would get R5 000.” His family were enthusiastic but Deon beat them all — shedding a staggering 77 kg! His sister, Shirley (24), shed 40 kg, his father, Giel (68), lost 39 kg, and his mother, Ria (62), 23 kg. “Our lives changed beyond recognition,” he says now, five years Later.

Cape Town cardiologist Dr Philip Barlow- Mills also gave up carbs three months ago after seeing how well his friend Tim Noakes was running. Now they’re enjoying running 10 km in less than 50 minutes. Armed with his new insight, Tim is now working on a new edition of The Lore of Running. And he’ll be talking from experience.

Source You Magazine 1 March 2012


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