Ancestral Health Symposium

      38 Comments on Ancestral Health Symposium

I’m back to my (more or less) normal life after spending a few days in Los Angeles to attend the Ancestral Health Symposium.  I won’t describe the symposium itself in detail because several other bloggers have already done so – check out any of the links below if you want to know what you missed:

Richard Nikoley (Free the Animal)


An Omnivore’s Decision

Emotions for Engineers

Some of those posts have links to still more posts, so follow links to your heart’s content.  You can also find pictures on some of the blog posts.

I apologize for not posting any pictures of my own.  I packed a still camera but flat-out forgot to use it.  That’s partly because I spent the entire weekend dealing with stage-four sleep deprivation, thanks largely to the heroic efforts of American Airlines.

As I told the audience at the beginning of my speech, when I left Los Angeles two years ago, I promised myself I’d never go back – and when I went to the airport on Thursday, American did their best to make me keep that promise.

We boarded the plane on time, then just sat there, wondering why we weren’t pulling back from the gate.  Eventually someone from the crew announced that the plane was having mechanical difficulties that couldn’t be resolved, so we’d have to grab our bags and go back inside the terminal.  I was, of course, hoping “Please go back inside the terminal” would be followed with a more encouraging statement, such as “and then we’ll put you all on the spare plane we keep around for situations like this.”

Nope.  After we all shuffled back inside, we found ourselves just standing around, taking turns asking each other if anyone knew what was supposed to happen next.  Soon people began queuing up in front of the desk at the gate.  Why, I don’t know, but I got in line with everyone else in case it turned out we were being re-booked on other flights on a first-come, first-served basis.  I spent much of that time talking to a recently-divorced father, which reminded me that I never, ever will get a divorce.

When an hour or so of standing around for no apparent reason failed to convince me to just stay in Tennessee, American announced that there weren’t any other flights available to Los Angeles until Friday.  I called my wife and warned her not to put the girls to bed, since they may all have to hop in the van and pick me up.  I also started mentally working on my apology to the organizers of the symposium in case I had to cancel.

Realizing I still planned on flying to Los Angeles in spite of their best efforts, one of the American agents announced we’d all be getting on a plane eventually (I never did determine if it was the same plane or a different one), but that flight would have to take us to Dallas. Then we’d get on another plane.  When I still didn’t leave, they gave up on convincing me to keep my promise and allowed me to board.

By the time we landed in Los Angeles, it was after 1:00 a.m.  Okay, I said to myself, if I’m in bed by 2:00, I can still sleep for five hours.  Ha … joke’s on me.  In my jet-lagged state, I’d forgotten about little details such as waiting around for the rental-car shuttle, standing in a loooong line at the rental-car facility, and getting completely lost once I started driving because California figures if a sign for a freeway exit is as big as the name plate on your average mailbox, that’s good enough for people driving by at 40 m.p.h. with the view obstructed by a truck.

I was booked at the Hotel Polomar, right near UCLA on the west side of Los Angeles.  By the time I made enough random turns to accidentally end up in an area of town I recognized, I was somewhere south and east of Hollywood.  I headed north again – passing by various groups of gang-bangers who looked at me as if I must be kidding, driving around their turf at night – then turned onto a major street I knew would take me to the hotel.  By the time I checked in and went to sleep, it was 4:00 a.m.  The first talk of the symposium was due to start at 7:45.

When my alarm assaulted me at 7:00 a.m., the soul was willing, but the flesh was … no, scratch that.  The soul wasn’t willing, either.  The soul demanded coffee and refused to let the body so much as shower without at least three cups.  So I pulled on clothes and wandered down to the lobby to find some.  (Go to any Motel 6, and you’ll probably find a coffee maker in the room.  Stay at a fancy-pants hotel like the Polomar, and they expect you to either haul your lazy butt to the lobby or order a $10 pot of coffee from room service.)

By the time I made it over to UCLA and found the building where the symposium was being held, I’d missed the first two sessions.  Wandering around the back of the auditorium and looking for an empty seat, I spotted one next to a stunning young woman who turned out to be Denise Minger.  This surprised me … not because I doubted Denise Minger would be stunning in person, but because I wasn’t sure it was even possible to meet Denise Minger in person – after all, some highly reputable vegan bloggers have insisted for at least a year that “Denise Minger” is just a fictitious persona created by the meat industry to discredit T. Colin Campbell’s impeccable work.  But as Richard Nikoley put it, Denise Minger does exist, and she’s made of meat.  (Either that, or the meat industry hired a terrific actress to portray her at the symposium.)

There were two speakers giving presentations in separate locations every hour, so we all had to pick and choose.  I mostly chose people I haven’t seen before, in some cases skipping speakers who are booked for next year’s Low Carb Cruise.

Between sessions, I got to meet some people whose works I’ve admired:  Richard Nikoley, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolfe, Nora Gedguadas, Stephan Guyenet, Dr. Richard Feinman, Gary Taubes and Dr. Robert Lustig.  I also met a lot of Fat Head fans and some of the frequent commenters who make blogging so much fun for me.  Now I have faces to go with the names.

I missed out on the group dinners I later read about on other people’s blogs.  That’s because I spent both evenings chasing down a few of my heroes for on-camera interviews.  I did the same over lunch breaks.  Someone who saw me interviewing Dr. Robert Lustig of “Sugar: the bitter truth” fame speculated on Twitter that Fat Head II might in the works.

Nope.  The interviews were for what I hope will be a DVD companion to go along with that book on how to feed kids … assuming my wife and I get around to writing it after we get settled on the mini-farm.  Realizing I had a rare opportunity to record several interviews without flying all over creation, I took advantage.  By the time I left the symposium, I’d interviewed Dr. Richard Feinman, Dr. Robert Lustig, Dr. Andreas Eeenfeldt, Dr. Mike Eades (who stayed late just for the interview, bless his southern-gentleman heart) and Nora Gedgaudas (who was very late for dinner as a result, bless her Oregonian heart.)

Oh yeah, almost forgot … I also gave the Science For Smart People speech on Saturday.  Pretty much the same speech you may have seen on YouTube, with a couple more slides and another paragraph or two of text.  I’d only managed to squeeze in six hours of sleep on Friday, which hardly made up for getting only three hours the night before, so I wasn’t feeling my sharpest.  I also never found time to rehearse, so I was nervous beforehand. But when I went to the podium, the old performing instincts kicked in and I felt fine, at least for the next 45 minutes. Here’s my favorite review, courtesy of Richard Nikoley:

The morning of the first day and my first entry into the main auditorium, I came face-to-face with Tom Naughton on his way out. I extended my hand and Tom says, “give me a bear hug.” I’ll tell you what, Tom has taken the ability to be funny and serious at the same time to a form of art. His presentation was probably the most cogent and complete treatment of the scientific method applied to health studies that has ever been put together. And he pulled it off while getting dozens of laughs from the audience throughout. Tom has also continued his own body transformation since his movie and from other pictures I’ve seen since. He looks great.

Thank you, Richard.   You and your bare feet looked good too.

If you haven’t yet seen the Science For Smart People speech, it’s about how to tell good science from bad science.  Later, another doctor who gave a presentation pooh-poohed a point I made about salt not causing hypertension — and then proved his point with bad science.  I’ll deal with that when the video of the speech is posted by the Ancestral Health people.

Richard Nikoley’s speech was excellent, too.  He talked about n=1 experiments, the importance of finding out what works for you.  That’s an excellent point to remember.  I don’t care if we’re talking about low-fat, high-fat, low-carb, high-carb, paleo, raw vegan, various forms of exercise, or going shoeless (as many at the symposium did), the important thing is to listen to your own body, track your own results, and decide accordingly.

Denise Minger’s speech on How to Argue With a Vegetarian was quite funny, informative, and very well-received by the standing-room only audience.  She went through various diets promoted by vegetarian doctors as the cure for heart disease and diabetes and pointed out that those diets do indeed improve people’s health – because they all cut sugar, white flour, most other refined carbohydrates, most white starches, and processed vegetable oils.  Toss some meat in there, and you’d have a paleo diet.  You’d also have a palatable diet.

Robb Wolf later made the point that the best way to deal with vegetarian zealots is to say “@#$% ‘em” and walk away.  Good advice, but of course they don’t always let us walk away.  Some of them show up on our blogs and write endless inane comments about smelly butts.  And those are the relatively smart ones.

Over the course of the two days, I couldn’t help but notice something other bloggers have pointed out:  this was one of the fittest-looking crowds I’ve ever seen.  Some of the angry vegetrollians have posted pictures from last year’s low-carb cruise (cherry-picking the heavy people, of course) as proof that low-carb diets don’t work.  What they fail to realize or simply don’t want to know is that the cruise attracted a mostly older crowd, including many people who spent most of their adult lives trying and failing to lose weight until they went on a low-carb diet.  Many of them have lost more than 100 pounds, but are still overweight and probably always will be.

The crowd at the symposium, by contrast, was dominated by relative youngsters who discovered paleo eating before decades of bad diets could take their toll.  These people weren’t just thin; a striking proportion of them were lean and muscular, with a healthy glow.

After the symposium, I drove to Burbank to stay for a couple of days so I could visit some friends I made during my 10 years living there.  I wondered if returning to Burbank would give me warm, fuzzy feelings.  After all, my daughters were born there.  Didn’t happen.  We liked Burbank, but in retrospect I think we liked it partly because it didn’t suck as much as most of the L.A. area.  It doesn’t hold a candle to our picturesque little town in Tennessee.

I also drove down to Hollywood one night to hang out with two of my struggling-actor friends – still struggling – and then down near Culver City the final night to stay with Chareva’s sister.  Both experiences re-introduced me to the joys of L.A. traffic.

I’m glad I broke my promise.  Partly because returning to L.A. confirmed the wisdom of my decision to move far away from the place, but mostly because the symposium was worth it … despite American Airline’s best efforts to convince me otherwise.


38 thoughts on “Ancestral Health Symposium

  1. The Older Brother

    You got back just in time. I wrote about damned BLT’s and that Roberto guy is over there using up the whole internet!


  2. mezzo

    Oh dear- what an odyssey! I’ve heard people say things like “not for me please, I am AA”. That seems to have acquired a whole new meaning now…I remember spending a lovely night stuck at Miami airport after a 14-hour journey. Plane to the Bahamas couldn’t leave because of a hurricane. I then spent the whole of the next day at the same airport as the airline made you wait on a first-come-first-serve basis and would not accomodate anyone even though I had a conference to attend as well. I finally made it and arrived ten minutes before my “shift” began. Did I feel rotten? Don’t ask. Oh and, to crown it all, they managed to lose my luggage. It arrived at the airport the day I left so all I had to do was pick it up from the arrivals hall, carry it across to departures and hope they would not lose it again on the way home. They managed not to, something to be grateful for, I suppose

    That wasn’t even my worst trip with them. This was:

  3. Denise Minger

    Thank you for helping perpetuate the myth of my existence. Soon, we will have the whole world fooled.

    As long as those checks from the meat industry keep showing up in my mailbox, I’ll keep pretending you’re a real person.

  4. michellej

    Dear Tom,
    Thank you so much for opening my eyes to the nonsense that has been passed off as “scientific evidence.” I’ll try to keep this message as short as possible, but it is difficult considering that your film was the catalyst for a complete paradigm shift in my thinking on nutrition. I’ve recently gone back to school to study nutrition and since starting, have been fed the same “fat is bad,” “whole grains are best” nonsense that I’ve heard for most of my life. I was really believing it (despite what my body was telling me) until the day I saw your film.
    I’m Canadian – we don’t get hulu here, but my husband works in WV and PA. About 6 months ago, while visiting him, I was bored in my hotel room, and decided to watch (on hulu) what at the time I deemed to be a ‘wonderful’ documentary -Super Size Me. When it finished, I looked to the related films to find any other video that would reaffirm my beliefs that meat and fat were bad and vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains were good. Instead, I came upon your video. Fancying myself an open-minded person, I decided to watch it, to see what the ‘other side’ was saying. After a few minutes I thought “This annoying @$$&*^!# has no idea what he’s talking about!” Towards the end of the film (and perhaps only halfway through) I was thinking “Uh oh…” and I’m sure you know why.
    Some observations I’ve made since;

    1. Nutrition textbooks regarding pretty much ANY micronutrient: “vitamin/nutrient X is found in high amounts in red meats/ fish/ poultry, in moderate amounts in green vegetables/ fruits and in trace amounts in whole grains…” Then at the end of the chapter conclusions made that one should consume foods “high in nutrients such as as whole grains and vegetables” and avoid foods “high in calories, yet ‘devoid’ of nutrients, such as red meat” WTF!!??!! How did I miss this contradiction before? Now I see them everywhere!

    2. My in-laws (whom I love to pieces) are vegetarian -have been for almost 40 years. (My husband was raised vegetarian, but has been eating as much meat as he could get his hands on since age 16.) My mother in law claims that they are so “vibrant and healthy” because they have been vegetarian for so long. Lately I’ve been questioning this. My MIL is overweight (as much as my mother, who eats her fair share of garbage processed foods), she has a zest for life, (as do most passionate people) but needs a great deal of rest throughout the day, she spends most of her days working outside on her organic farm. (Is her “vibrancy and health” really due to the lack of meat, or is it the natural foods, lifestyle and outgoing personality?) Her husband, who also claims to be “vibrant and healthy” is extremely thin, frail-looking, suffers from severe migraines and extreme moodiness. (If that’s the “picture of health,” I’ll pass) If you’re vegetarian for health reasons, why are you eating flour- coated tofu fingers instead of the wild caught (by my husband, off the coast of B.C. that day) sockeye salmon? (And they are informed vegetarians who know the dangers of soy!)

    I won’t go on too much more because I know you are a busy man, but I must thank you once again! I’ve been having alot of trouble keeping up with my school work lately, I’m too busy reading up on the REAL science. It really irks me that I need 4 years of bogus education to acquire a credential, just to be considered worthy of listening to. I wish I could spend that time acquiring real knowledge!

    Thanks again for the lifetime of clients who I will not tell “calories in, calories out” “low fat, high carb” and for the common sense (and personal health) I’ve regained since watching your video and focusing on a more primal way of life!

    You learned the most important lesson, which is to question what you’re being told. I’ve heard from others in nutrition classes that their textbooks cite facts and then state conclusions a page or two later that directly contradict those facts. Makes you wonder why more people don’t notice.

  5. J. Stanton

    It was a pleasure to meet you, Tom, even though both of us were in heavy information overload by Saturday afternoon. And your presentation was a much-needed reminder that science isn’t just “what comes out of the mouths of people in lab coats”.

    Here’s my own AHS recap: Ancestral Health Symposium 2011: You Never Forget Your First Time


    Nice wrap-up, and I like your point about how disagreement is how science gets done. Some people were put off when the speakers challenged each other, but that’s part of the process.

    Looking forward to reading your book, too.

  6. Peter Ballerstedt

    I’m glad you broke your promise, too! I enjoyed meeting you and listening to you “live.” You did very well, despite your lack of sleep. I hope your recovery is rapid and complete.

    I’m pretty close to recovered by now, although getting up early for an office job doesn’t help much. Good to meet you too.

  7. Nina

    Tom thank you for not following the herd and giving Gary Taubes a hard time for challenging poor science.


    I think the debate is healthy.

  8. LCNana

    You are such a trooper!! And we get to benefit from your experiences – thank you very much, Tom, for your thoughts, and the links. Yes, a lot of information to digest but worth it. Oh, and tell Older Brother that his BLT stuff was great – we all knew how great they were – but the reminder sent me into the kitchen for seconds once the first (on a bacon weave) had been scarfed in record time….so you just go ahead and travel all your little heart desires…we’re in good hands!!

  9. Richard Nikoley


    Thanks for the many mentions and kind words in your characteristically funny and serious at the same time post.

    It was a true pleasure to finally meet the Fat Head.

    I’ll get your post added to the Great AHS11 Blog Roundup.

    Thank you, Richard.

  10. Barry

    Wait, what happened with you and Gary Taubes? I’m out of the loop.

    In defense of AA, at least they didn’t put you on a plane with “mechanical problems,” right? Traveling stinks sometimes, though. You should get yourself one of those neck pillows so you can sleep on the planes. Invaluable.

    My travels have allowed me to visit Franklin, TN and I have to admit that is a great little town. Awesome people, great restaurants and history! Love the Carter House.


    With me and Gary Taubes? Nothing. I said hello, we shook hands, I got busy chasing down interviews and attending speeches, and I never saw him in person again, except when he gave his speech.

    Yes, Franklin is lovely. The Carter house gives me the willies, knowing how many men died on that battlefield in such a short time.

  11. Amy

    Hey Tom, I’m a big fan! Speaking of bad science, would love to hear your break down on this obvious nonsense so I can share with others. Seems pretty obvious to me that most of these people were likely eating plenty of bread, sugar, and other high carb foods that would send their blood sugar all over the place – hence maybe being to blame for insulin resistance and diabetes over the red meat. I also love how the press release doesn’t provide a link to read the actual study so we just have to believe the “statistics” they give us. Perhaps you can find the actual study and reveal the bad science? Thanks!

    It’s on my list, believe me.

  12. Vicki Keber

    Tom – the Harvard meta-data “study” nonsense was on USA Today (which I’m convinced is run by vegans) but the comments – WHAT HOPE!!! Tom – some of the comments YOU could have posted! People actually breaking down why the “info” was useless! THERE IS HOPE!

    I think we can thank the internet age for that. Lots more people are educating themselves and ignoring the so-called experts.

  13. TheGame

    You forgot to post the disclaimer about Taubes’ credentials. His backround is in applied physics and aerospace engineering. There’s no doubt that he’s probably very good at math. He has no curricular background in nutrition or medicine.

    [Considering the nonsense put out by a lot of bozos with degrees in medicine or nutrition, I don’t really care what the sheepskin says. Unless of course you buy into the Lipid Hypothesis, which was produced and promoted by people with degrees.]

    He was touted as a “science writer” on your documentary (what are the credentials to become a science writer?). Just figured you should be truthful to your readers.

    [I’m not sure how you figure labeling a guy who writes about science as a “science writer” is misleading the audience. The qualifications to be a science writer are 1) be a writer, and 2) write about science. If you really want to fall back on the nonsense that only people with degrees in medicine or nutrition are entitled to do research and write opinions on those topics, you can leave now … unless of course you’d like to send a copy of your PhD or MD.]

    “Some of the angry vegetrollians have posted pictures from last year’s low-carb cruise (cherry-picking the heavy people, of course) as proof that low-carb diets don’t work. What they fail to realize or simply don’t want to know is that the cruise attracted a mostly older crowd, including many people who spent most of their adult lives trying and failing to lose weight until they went on a low-carb diet. Many of them have lost more than 100 pounds, but are still overweight and probably always will be.”

    I have no idea where these pictures of the low carb cruise are located, but I’d like to find them for a good laugh. But as I mentioned in the previous post, I rarely see someone who is on a committed, long term low carb diet who actually looks in shape and “fit”.

    [Like I said, you’re not looking hard enough. I just spent a weekend at a symposium with some of the fittest people I’ve ever seen in one room. But as for a lot of low-carbers being fat, yes, that’s true. Newsflash, genius: weight-loss diets of any kind attract a lot of (wait for it …) FAT PEOPLE. Check the population who tries any weight-loss diet, and you’ll find them disproportionately heavier than people who don’t go on diets. Shock!]

    Every time that’s pointed out to you, you just back into a corner and conveniently say “well they got insulin resistant and fat because of carbs, so they will never look fit!”.

    [I’m not backing into a corner, genius. I’m stating a fact that even the researchers who promote low-calorie diets admit in their papers: it’s damned hard to produce significant weight loss in most obese people, short of starving them into a state of perpetual misery. In research studies on weight loss, “success” is usually defined as losing 10% of baseline weight. That’s 30 pounds for a 300-pound person. So the people I’ve met who have lost 100 pounds but are still overweight are a success several times over as defined by weight-loss researchers. Defining them as unsuccessful because they don’t fit your definition of thin only proves you’re a snob.]

    So in your imaginary world, people who eat carbs and are skinny/fit are like that because they are either already “health conscious” (I thought Tabues said exercise was useless though?) or have low insulin resistance. And people who are on a low carb diet, but aren’t skinny, just have insulin resistance from years of stuffing themselves on refined carbs (I’m sure all of them just got french fries and soda when they ate fast food). This Catch-22 that you’ve created makes it so your point of view always appears correct. It’s a good thing there’s people like me and a few others who aren’t afraid to call you out.

    [No, people who eat a lot of refined carbs but remain thin have the ability to handle refined carbs without becoming insulin resistant. Many of us aren’t so lucky. People who go on low-carb diets and lose a lot of weight but don’t achieve your definition of thin have bumped up against a limit of how much fat their bodies are willing to lose with their current metabolic limits. The body does defend a specific level of fat mass, and it does that for a reason.

    If you called me out with something resembling logic, you might serve a purpose. Do all people on high-carb diets (remember, you’ve been telling me how we need those carbs to rev up our thyroids) end up as skinny as you think they should be? Do all people on any diet plan end up skinny as you think they should be? No? Then you’re full of it.]

    In your last respond to me, you mentioned that your brother is not skinny. Having him post a recipe on how to cook 32 pieces of bacon for some BLT’s probably isn’t helping your cause.

    [I mentioned that my brother has lost a lot of weight and is still losing. If you don’t think a 40-pound weight loss in less than a year is impressive, then I repeat: you’re a snob, in addition to being an annoying troll.

    So whatever happened to that promise to leave us be here in lalaland? I’ll ask again: do low-carb diets work for some people? If so, why are you so determined to comment over and over and over and over and over and try to talk people out of them? Does a diet of steak and potatoes, which you say works for you, work for everyone? If not, why are you commenting here over and over and over and over and over and telling everyone they need to eat carbs again?]


  14. Lori

    Re: going shoeless: (1) Since going LCHF, I don’t spend nearly as much time and effort on callous removal as I used to. (2) I find ballet slippers comfortable for partner dancing, very inexpensive, and a real timer saver in that I don’t have to search for dance shoes that meet a variety of criteria I won’t bore you with. Others might find ballet slippers or unisex jazz shoes a nice alternative to Vibrams or going barefoot. They’re basically a glove for your foot.

  15. Michelle B.

    Glad the symposium went well for you. I learn so much from your blog. I just had a physical in July and it has been 4 years since I had one. Well since I have been eating real butter, eggs with the yolks scrambled in coconut oil for breakfast, eating chicken with the skin on it, steak, pork chops and consuming full fat cheese for the past 4 years I was real curious to see what my cholesterol was. My total cholesterol was 157. My HDL was 61. My blood glucose level was 77. And my blood pressure was 110/80. The nurse was shocked and wanted to know what I was doing to be in such great health. I guess she is so use to seeing such awful numbers from people I was a breath of fresh air.

    I will eat this way for the rest of my life. No vegetarian or vegan can convince me other wise.

    Outstanding. Nothing like eating well and getting results in the bargain.

  16. chmeee

    Reminds me of the second time I went to LA and took the wrong exit off the 405 from LAX. I was on my own and didn’t have my wife to navigate. Oh boy……. I’m from the UK, so I was 8 hours ahead, which made it 2 a.m and I was tired….. After maybe 13 hours actually sitting on the plane, then queuing for the car rental, leaving the 405 and then thinking ‘Oh s**t where am am I ?’ and driving around for nearly 3 hours I finally found somewhere I recognosed ( Houlihan’s ? A restaurant in Torrence ) And some people outside said ‘Yeah, just carry straight on for a couple of miles, hang a right and yuo’re on South Vermont’. Never, ever, was I SO glad to see that green ‘Holiday Inn’ sign about 10 minutes later.

    The call I made to my wife at about 5:30a.m. her time to announce my safe arrival I leave to your imagination. Let’s just say she picked up on the first ring, assured herslf that it was me, that I was at the hotel and fine and THEN let rip ! Her comments on my navigational skills had to be heard to be believed – as you may know, over here, it is an article of faith that women simply can’t navigate. Even with a Sat Nav now. You have my sympathy.

    I feel your pain. The heck of it is, I used to live in Burbank near Los Angeles and didn’t expect to get so thoroughly lost leaving the airport.

  17. Nowhereman

    Good to hear that you made it back safe and sound, Tom. Special thanks to J. Stanton for also posting the synopsis as well, and I’m really looking forward to seeing some video on YouTube about the 2011 Ancestral Health Symposium!

  18. Diane @ Balanced Bites

    Great review. I’ve got a photo of you and I on my review blog post as it’s one of the few I took and I cherish it 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing both you and the made-of-meat mirage on the Low Carb Cruise next year.


    See you on the cruise … although I’m not sure if the meat industry has the technology to project another “Denise Minger” 3-D hologram onto a ship on the high seas.

  19. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    With regards to your difficulties navigating the streets of L.A., I will only say “Garmin GPS.” Saved my butt multiple times here in California.

    Next time I have to navigate my way around L.A. or some other metropolis, I’ll spring for the GPS.

  20. eddie watts

    you have a lot of patience.(with Roberto/TheGame)

    the videos seem to be loaded up to vimeo for the symposium, i’ve seen lustig and lalonde so far, the lack of slides being visible makes following some of them hard, but i gather they’re working on some merging slides with video at some point.

    I believe slides are going to be uploaded as well.

  21. reduceCrapohydrates

    TheGame,even you have to admit that non-vegetable carbohydrates are very rarely filling.In my pre-fathead days i can’t count how many times i would pour myself a bowl of cereal finish it in 5 mins,still feel starved,pour myself more cereal and keep eating until i spent my entire days calories and have to wait until tomorrow/exercise it off before i could eat again just to maintain my weight!Ditto for bread,crackers,”healthy” museli bars and ricecakes how dare companies like special k label those as diet food!It is possible for non-insulin resistant people to lose weight eating mainly carbs thing is though,they’ll feeling starving…

    Bingo. For many of us (certainly not everyone), high-carb meals just make us hungry again a few hours later.

  22. mrfreddy

    I never travel anywhere without:

    1) My own mini coffee maker and filters and of course enough ground coffee for the trip.
    2) My talking GPS box. My wife and I set it to female British English, and we call her Bridgette. Bridgette can be annoying but she usually gets me where I am going.

    Just sayin….

    I heard some GPS systems use celebrity voices, including Bob Dylan’s. Can you imagine being given directions by a guy hardly anyone can understand?

  23. Nick S

    Good to see you back!

    We’ve been discussing this post over at It seems unusually well-reasoned… what do you think of his arguments?

    I think they’re interesting arguments, as are the replies by InTheWoo (something like that). Stephan’s hypothesis about obesity being the result of increased palatability of food (the topic of his speech) is interesting, but doesn’t quite work for me. It boils down to “if food tastes good, we eat too much.” My diet now is very palatable, yet I have no urge to over-eat as I did when consuming potatoes and pasta, and I’m not hungry again a few hours later as I was on a high-carb diet.

    That’s partly what made the conference so interesting, even though some people were put off by the obvious disagreements between speakers. Debate is healthy in science … and even Gary Taubes said in his speech that his hypothesis could turn out to be wrong.

  24. Phyllis Mueller

    The food palatability argument doesn’t work for me, either. Eliminating bland foods like rice and potatoes means I feel like eating less delicious food, not more, and I rarely get hungry. But humans are not one-size-fits-all, and no one food plan will benefit everyone. I feel fortunate to have found a way of eating (low carb) that works for me. It also works for people in my family and many of my friends, too.

    Those arguments about the healthy diets of starch-eating cultures are enough to inspire an “I Am Not a Kitavan” t-shirt.

    I certainly won’t eat a food that’s not palatable, but patability alone doesn’t trigger over-eating for me. I just had some broccoli with Kerry Gold butter drizzled on it with my dinner, and it was delicious — but I didn’t start craving a huge bowl of the stuff, like I did with pasta back in the day. I suspect it’s the hormonal reactions to food that drive over-eating, not mere taste.

  25. Galina L.

    I was raised without junk food on home-cooked meals, but somehow food was too appealing for me all my life, I could hardly wait for my next meal, until I started LC. So, with extra weight, allergies, crappy moods and other unnecessary things an abnormal attraction of food was lost. Yes, when food tastes too good, it may be a problem..Food could taste too good because somebody’s body hormonal state up-regulates an appetite. Is it the insulin to blame? I have no idea. However, LC looks like the cure for many people, me included.

    The insulin issue is obviously still unsettled, given all the recent debates about it. But for whatever reason, many of us respond badly to carbohydrates, but lose weight and feel great when we give them up.

  26. Lori

    @reduceCarbohydrates, me too! In my pre-LC days, I could eat one bowl of cereal after another. (It’s a good thing they didn’t have the cereal with chocolate in it then.) I’d drink a fruit smoothie for breakfast at 6:30 and be starving by 9:00. And cookies–I could eat a whole box in one sitting, even though I’m pretty disciplined in other areas of life.

    Now, I can have a couple of gluten-free cookies once in a great while and I’m done. In my mother’s case, she has to make herself eat. If others are satisfied on carbs, more power to them, but it just doesn’t work for me.

    All high-carb diets did for me was ramp up my appetite. In retrospect, I can’t believe how much pasta I could put away at one sitting.

  27. Nick

    Hey Tom,

    Welcome Back!!!…We enjoyed your brother’s posts (nice job!), but we are happy to have the original FAT HEAD back “on-line”

    Keep up the great work!

    Thank you, Nick. I’m glad to be back too, although I love having an excellent guest host handy to take over for me when I’m gone.


  28. reduceCrapohydrates

    Thanks Lori good to know i’m not alone on this.On a related note has anyone else gotten a really sharp pain in their chest while eating bread on its own(wholegrain and white) i literally felt like the slice was trying to choke me!I have never ever gotten this from any other food so its a VERY good reminder not to eat it.We should bring bread to the food court for crimes against humanity

  29. mrfreddy

    There might be something to this food reward stuff… I know that when a batch of all meat (almost) chili comes out really good, or when I’m sitting in front of a really good ribeye, I’ll often continue eating past that “I’m full” feeling…

    I also know that, apparently, people can eat a very high carb low fat diet and get pretty much the same results-weight wise and blood panel wise-as you would expect from low-carb.

    Does make me wonder, but not enough to give up my chili and my ribeyes.

    In the controlled diet studies I’ve seen, low-carb beats low-fat for lipid panels and other markers, but both diets bring about improvements. Either is an improvement over high-carb/high-fat together, which seems to be the worst possible combination.

  30. Lori

    Re: high carb, low fat diets, I was on such a diet for six years. It also involved eating a good deal of protein, six intense workouts per weeks, and little meals throughout the day. Initially, I felt great and went down two dress sizes. However, I also developed GERD, tooth decay, gas and bloating, and after six years, I had gained back all the weight and had nutritional deficiencies. My HDL was in the 40s. Low carb, along with megadoses of vitamins and minerals, corrected all that and brought about other improvements as well, and it’s a lot less work than my old program. (Even so, I’ve never had any desire to troll the program founder’s web site.)

    @ReduceCrapohydrates, the bread might be getting stuck in your lower esophagus. In all fairness, I’ve had perfectly good meat and salad get stuck–turns out it was magnesium deficiency in my case. But if a specific food causes that problem for you, and it’s not good for you anyway, it’s a good reason to avoid it.

    My low-fat diet didn’t do me much good either. However, I realize now I have an aversion to grains, and I was basing my meals on grains back then. I don’t see any need for a low-fat diet, but if I ever tried one again, it would be grain-free.

  31. michael

    Welcome back Tom,

    It seems a lot of the bloggers who attended the AHS have decided that Gary Taubes is the new Ancel Keys ( See, for example, That Paleo Guy). I am not sure what exactly is going on with all this, so I would appreciate it if you might devote an article to this. It is very frustrating for someone like me, who is just trying to get healthy, to see an apparent flip flop by so many of these bloggers in their points of view. I don’t mean to say that someone needs to stick with an idea if it’s wrong, but it does seem to me that a lot of these people are abandoning ship more because of some kind of popularity contest than anything to do with solid information. Anyway, your thoughts on this whole matter would be greatly appreciated.

    Gary accused Stephan Guyenet of ignoring populations that don’t fit his hypothesis that obesity is the result of palability — i.e., we eat too much if the food tastes too good, especially food that’s been manipulated to tickle our reward centers. Stephan accused Gary of doing likewise, ignoring populations of people who lived on high-carb diets without becoming fat or diabetic. Stephan believes elevated insulin isn’t what causes obesity, Gary believes it is, and on it goes.

    These debates are useful and necessary, so I’m not turned off by them like some people are. I also find it fascinating that one of the most interesting debates about nutrition and health is being waged in the blogosphere, not in the halls of universities. This is “The Wisdom of Crowds” (great book) in action.

  32. Peggy Cihocki

    The food reward hypothesis may or may not have some merit, but the way I see it, even if it turns out to be true, I think it will be because the low fat, high carb, sugar laden WOE messes with hormones and appetite controls. There are numerous cultures that eat a wide variety of traditional, very tasty cuisines, yet don’t have the obesity and diabetes problems we have–as long as they stick to their traditional diets. (I said as much in a comment on Stephan’s blog.) As soon as they introduce white flour, lots of sugar, and vegetable oils into their diet–as we did–the problems surface. Coincidence? I don’t think so. If good tasting food is the problem, why aren’t the French having problems? Thais? Greeks? etc. etc. I just don’t buy it. I agree with Gary Taubes that whatever hypothesis one buys into, it has to explain all the various populations worldwide, not just ours (and the Kitavans), and it has to fit with what we know about Biochemistry as well. As Dr. Su at Carbohydrates Can Kill said, the Kitavan “paradox” can be explained by the low GI of the carbohydrates they eat. And when they do want to put on weight, what do they load up on? Carbohydrates! Meanwhile, as others have said, LCHF works. Why isn’t all that important except for those of us interested in the science. It works–better than anything else. Enough said!

    I could see it having more to do with biochemical reactions to food than taste per se. I enjoy my bacon now just as much as I used to enjoy corn chips, but bacon doesn’t drive me to keep eating and eating like chips did. Either way, I don’t think we need to choose one hypothesis for a cause of obesity to the exclusion of all others. We can agree that smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, but some non-smokers develop lung cancer too — my non-smoking grandfather died of lung cancer.

  33. Lisa

    Hey Tom…it was nice meeting you at AHS11! Your presentation was great too.

    Sorry about your travel troubles…I also recommend a GPS. I took my TomTom GPS to LA with a freshly downloaded voice (Homer Simpson!). Nora G. and I laughed every time Homer said “WooHoo! You have reached your destination. And you can hold your head up high because you are a genius!”. Classic!!

    See in at AHS12!!

    I guess I’ll have to break down and get one. I used to pride myself on my ability to roll into a new town and find my away around just with a map (did a lot of that during my traveling standup days), but getting lost in L.A. at night scared the pride out of me.

  34. James

    Tom, my wife and I (the Austin couple) chatted with you for a few minutes right before you went on stage. Just wanted to tell you again how much we enjoyed meeting you (you sure didn’t seem nervous at all!) and watching your presentation. Keep up the good work.

    Thank you. The nerves settled about a minute into it.

  35. Charles-Andre Fortin

    @michellej : I just want to say that even on HFLC diet I need to count my calorie to loose weight. The difference between LFHC and HFLC is that I feel hungry at 4 pm instead of 2pm! That’s help a lot in a diet!

    I also don’t need to drink as much caffeine as I use to!

    Keep up the good work tom!

    To lose weight, you have to give your body a reason to tap your fat stores; i.e., a calorie deficit. No way around that. The reason a low-carb diet works so well for many of us is that restricting carbohydrates makes it easier for our bodies to release the fatty acids from our fat cells. But if you stuff yourself on a low-carb diet, you’re not going to lose weight.


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