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Cape Town - He has faced a barrage of criticism from his peers following his U-turn from “carbo-loading for athletes” theory to a high fat, low-carbohydrate diet, but Professor Tim Noakes is unrepentant.
A few months after he launched his cookbook, The Real Meal Revolution, the sports scientist from UCT this week launched a website that not only provides tailor-made diets, but also offers free dietary and medical advice for those affected by metabolic syndrome.
Noakes said the website, originaleating.org, would benefit those with insulin resistance, otherwise known as carbohydrate intolerance, and other lifestyle conditions including diabetes and obesity.
The site has details of Noakes’ Original Eating movement that promotes Banting – a low carb/high fat diet.
It also features his lectures in which he talks about his own experiences that led him to the new diet. People can try out the Orig inal Eating free personal diet application, which is automatically generated. The user fills out details about their health, including weight, BMI, blood pressure and blood sugar levels and gets a diet to follow.
“It provides details and information that is not available in the book,” said Noakes.
The Cape Town sports scientist, who started talking publicly about his new eating plan about three years ago, has been criticised by dieticians, heart specialists and fellow sports scientists who say his high-fat diet could result in heart problems and high cholesterol later in life. They argue that while users of the diet had short-term outcomes such as getting slimmer, there was no verified data to support its long-term use.
Dr Vash Mungal-Singh, chief executive of the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA, said anyone considering Noakes’ diet should have a full cholesterol test before they started, and discuss these results with their doctor.
“We would caution against eating all that saturated fat if they have raised cholesterol levels. The foundation supports a balanced diet that avoids refined carbohydrates, and places emphasis on healthful fats and oil, and whole plant foods including lean meats, fish, poultry and seafood,” Mungal-Singh said.
But Noakes argued that his detractors “need to look around and explain how the low-fat ‘healthy’ diet we are currently promoting, is healthy and is not causing the epidemic of ill-health that began in 1980… three years after this ‘healthy’ diet was first promoted globally”.
“The ‘healthy’ diet is the cause of the obesity and diabetes epidemic currently engulfing first the West and now increasingly the East. What more evidence do we need to show us that we have the diet message completely wrong? Continuing to promote dietary advice that has produced such a catastrophic effect will not suddenly produce a different result,” he said.