The #LCHF Weight Loss Industry & Evangelizing Low Carb

I recently stumbled across this video.  It's a tough watch, but *this* epitomizes ALL that is wrong with the low carb weight loss industry.    For starters, diet really is religion for these folks as this get-together, marketing stunt for Dr. Eric Westman's HEAL Clinics/care, was held in a church.  There was prayer, there were references to God, and a collection, and paying it forward.   If you can't stomach too much of it (I don't blame you), I'll list a few time-stamps.  If anyone cares to give time stamps for various gems and ridiculous claims, please do so in comments!

11:35 Prayer ... 17:25 Melanie Miller takes the stage ... 17:33 Introduces Dr. Mark Cucuzzella ... 20:36 Dr. Mark speaks, thanks Jimmy Moore, talks about the movement, calls obese people in audience paradoxes! ... 23:30 Dr. Mark shares analogy that losing weight is like holding a beachball under water, don't try to hold it too far down!  ... 30:00 Success Story parade up on stage ... 43:37 Melanie introduces Jimmy Moore -- he's blessing us!  ... 44:23 Jimmy gets on stage to do his spiel ... 1:19:00 Melanie talks about HEAL (This is worth listening to if you can to get the full effect of an obese woman yelling at the audience to take control of their health and lives) ... 1:20:00 talks about sugar being the same as opioids for pain!!!!   ... 1:25:12  Melanie Miller "You gotta be honest with yourself".

It's deja vu all over again ...

... watching something like this after my experiences finding the LC community back in 2009.  I can only be forever grateful I never came across any of these people before I lost the bulk of my weight.

The low carb advocates love to point at the failure of acknowledging the facts that calories matter, and the obesity epidemic is easily explained by the fact that via various routes, Americans are eating more than we did 40 years ago.  They are stuck on the dialog that the "low fat" Dietary Guidelines -- which they diligently followed eating pizza, donuts, Little Debbie's and Hamburger Helper and washing it down with Coke -- caused all of their woes.   It's hard to "man up" and admit it, but diets really don't fail, people do.  Real habit change is hard, and our environments are more obesogenic than ever!  But it is not impossible.  I can tell you from my own experiences that it helps to surround yourself with people who are actually living a healthy life and wish that for you.  I also know that it's not always easy to do so "in real life".  I think this is the draw of these so-called alternative communities.  They prey on the disenchanted offering answers and holding out testimonial carrots.   As luck would have it, low carb does tend to bring quick and seemingly painless results the first time one tries it.  That is a powerful draw.

When I found the internet community I was looking for answers:
  • Why, though I'd lost a bunch of weight was I not able to lose more, and felt like I was backsliding?
  • If I can't lose more weight, is this way of eating healthy for the long term?
Of course at the time, I was congratulated for my success.  It was and remains a success to lose and maintain that kind of weight loss (around 100 lbs, don't know for sure) for years.   It was only when I questioned LC dogma and all that is holy (Taubes' "alternate hypothesis" , now thoroughly FAILED) that I became too fat to have an opinion, scientific or otherwise.   Of course it's healthy!

Atkins has been around almost 45 years now.  All the variations thereof are simply new twists on an old swizzle schtick.  If it really were the answer, don't kid yourselves, it would be flourishing and the LC community would be populated by a majority of genuinely thin, vibrant and overtly healthy-looking people.  It simply is not.  If I had to rank the major factions in the IHC according to how well the advocates represent their lifestyle, LC would be at the top of the list for worst, followed by the WAPF old guard, and with the paleo women  & Dr. Paleo Trademark rounding out the top three.

I got in trouble for saying this in 2011 when I began speaking out about the LC community leaders, but in 2009-10 I was looking for answers, and in my mid-40s at the time, Andreas Eenfeldt was not someone I looked to in deciding if LC was for me moving forward.  The women I encountered truly horrified me.  How can these women advocate for a lifestyle and pretend they are healthy and slim?  Point to past weight loss as proof, or really have no success at all to speak of?   I don't know if she's around anymore, but Laura Dolson is morbidly obese.  How dare she go on Jimmy Moore's podcast and claim that LC has been the saving grace for her.  Dr. Mary Vernon?  Sorry, not inspired.  I don't know what Amy Dungan is up to these days, but come on!   It was as if my 2007-obese-post-Atkins self was encouraging people to follow my path.   It's maddening.  


At that time, Jimmy's (now defunct) discussion board was populated with *former* Kimkins success stories, complete with waaaay outdated profile transformation pictures and MFP weight trackers still showing 50-100 lb losses from a year or more prior.  I have seen these same women, year in and year out on forums, and in pictures from various LC events.  Nothing changes.  I feel badly for them because they are stuck, but at some point we all need to figure it out for ourselves, and that community is a powerful draw.  At the very least, we owe it to our fellow "sufferers" not to encourage them down a failed path, no?

And then there's Jimmy, who while not someone I ever sought to emulate, was using outdated avatars and singing the praises of his healthy life.  In reality, he has not maintained his weight near his 230 lb "goal" for more than a few months since at least 2008, but the trouble began in 2006.    Everyone loves a fighter, but if any of his followers were genuinely interested in changing their lives for the better, they'd stop following him.

The bottom line is that nobody in that community should be talking about "obese people" as if those are some *other* folks ... ya know ... the ones with carbage in their Sam's Club carts ... over there ... foolishly following the USDGs and chomping marshmallows washed down with Coke because they're low fat.   It's not that -- as would be expected on a Richard Simmons weight loss cruise, or Weight Watcher's meeting -- you find an over-representation of obese people in the audiences at these various events.  That's to be expected.  No, it is that these long time adherents and advocates, the people taking the stage, lecturing others on weight loss, obesity and health, many of them are obese.  Not just technically obese.  Objectively obese.  This just is not right.  And yet they seem to be able to do it without a whiff of irony!  And THEN they lie!!!    Isn't there some sort of special place for those who lie in a house of God?  To quote Jimmy:  "Hellllooooooo, McFly!"

The Low Carb Weight Loss Industry

The time has long since passed that we can ignore factions of the diet and weight loss industry in "conflicts of interest".    I have not forgotten, I will be updating the story of  LC industry and related industry conflicts in the dietary guidelines debate.  It's crucial.    There are numerous "players" in the game of obesity, weight loss, etc.  There is now a "War on Obesity" being waged, and everyone wants a piece of that pie!    If obesity is a disease (the AMA and Endocrine Society in the US are on board with this nonsense) then there's money in them thar hills for "programs" to combat the *crisis* we ALL face whether or not we're affected.   If the LC industry can get a piece of that money pie -- like, say, if their weight loss clinics can be approved for insurance coverage -- there is almost limitless potential for personal profit in all of this.  

The prominent LC researchers -- I speak of Jeff Volek, Stephen Phinney and Eric Westman, all authors in 2010 of The New Atkins For A New You -- and various lesser-knowns, all have their little FOR PROFIT weight loss programs/companies on the side.   The BMJ  temporarily "quarantined" an article co-authored by Phinney for improper disclosure of conflicts of interest.  The revised COI statement includes the fact that he is a paid member of Atkins' Scientific Advisory Board, but fails to disclose the *for profit* company the two have:


But this is nothing compared to Dr. Westman.  In addition to his "day job" at Duke, he wrote two books with Jimmy Moore lending (incredibly undue!!) credence to the Clarity books.  But he's really branching out with his own line of LC candy bars (with a plan!  Adapt Your Life!  You can do the search) ... and ... weight loss clinics!  Not only are there ambitions for a chain of HEAL Clinics -- an investment opportunity! -- but also an online coaching and counseling program HEALcare, costing $95/month.  

THIS is what that whole "meeting" was all about in the video.  Melanie Miller is selling the audience to sign up for HEALcare.    Kaching!!

Back to Dr. Westman (who also endorses a feeding tube diet!)

McKinsey & Company alum are ALL over that billion dollar healthcare SPENDING pie!  (How much of the NuSI board came from there again?)  I'd seen about this venture a while back, but it has recently popped onto Jimmy Moore's Instagram feed with these two posts:

Eberstein brings some more Atkins flare to the room, after all, she was Atkins' nurse for years in his clinic.  She's been on every Low Carb Cruise that I'm aware of.  

So who is this Melanie Miller, LPN?    Well, for starters, although she's been an LPN in the past, she has no medical involvement with nutrition or weight loss and appears to have been in marketing for sports teams for a while.  But you know, let's put our credentials out there because it makes for the perception of expertise.  

According to Jimmy Moore, 
Melanie is stirring up this message after her own huge success implementing the principles into her own life.  
OK.  So here's her website:

And I found the following video:

So clearly this woman has lost a lot of weight.  Kudos.  But there's a few problems with her story here.  According to her About, written apparently sometime in October/November 2015, she was down 45 lbs from a high of 265.  She had gained 65 pounds following an injury and surgeries.   In the video?  That figure is inflated to 85 pounds -- to be exact!    The two stories coincide at 5 weeks and 25 lbs down, but that claim in the video is followed by the familiar pictures in the banner on her blog.  Bit of editing snafu?  OK I'll grant that.  Here is a small screen-cap montage from this video.    I have only one purpose in doing so, and that is to provide context.  The text on top is sandwiched between the two images on the bottom.  So we can be pretty sure those represent her size 14W "after".  

And here she is *helping others* follow her lead back in January of 2016.

Now if a bunch of commenters come on here to blast her weight per se, I'm going to delete you.  But since she is *evangelizing* (and as you can see in the original video, quite literally!) low carb, AND, she has claimed *SUCCESS!* she is not above criticism for doing so in the face of reality.    Towards the end of the HEALcare spiel she mentions online support from someone *like her* who has, and I quote, "lost the weight".  Really?  How is that different from the 900 numbers where you call in to speak to a sexy exotic goddess but are really talking to Mimi from the Drew Carey show, or Frank at the state pen?

Last March she went on Jimmy's LC Conversations podcast, and her weight loss claim increased to 73 lbs.   I don't know the magic of 88, but Melanie Miller is now claiming she has lost 88 lbs and she's inflated the gains to 100 lbs after breaking her foot and killing the pain with candy.   You don't need to scrutinize a thing to know that this is a lie.  

Melanie gushes relentlessly over Dr. Mark Cucuzzella.   Who is that?  Well, when Nina Teicholz wrote her BMJ article, there he was in the comments "no conflicts of interest".   Oh really?  Guess who was on the Nutrition Coalition lobbying group when it was finally revealed?  You guessed it.  Recognize him here?

So this guy has been in and around and financially invested in LC for a long time.  And yet he hugs and stands next to Melanie and cheers her on (and thanks Jimmy).  They are all paradoxes?  I think he says no, they are evidence.  Evidence of what?   Oh .... and he's down with HEAL!

There is no shame with these people.  None.  They do not care about you.  Not that they have to any more than any other company, just stop pretending.  We are now at a point that a heavily promoted -- by Diet Doctor and Jimmy Moore - kidney doctor is on the lecture circuit extolling the limitless power of NOT EATING.  That's his solution to obesity.  So a doctor or fitness celeb or anyone else being honest with you tells you that you need to eat less.  THAT is impossible.  That is bad advice.  But Jason Fung says just don't eat.  What could be simpler?  You can always "up the dose" until you get results.  

Then there's Dr. Sarah Hallberg who wrote a NY Times editorial.  Before you do gastric bypass, just go low carb.  It's the solution!  No, it is not.  It wasn't a few years ago when Taubes and Attia wrote their "petition" to Tara Parker-Pope to launch NuSI.  Ever notice that Dr. David Ludwig doesn't have a single LCHF success story from his New Balance clinic to parade before you?  No, both he and Dr. Mark Hyman commissioned short "studies" to test their diets before foisting their diet books on the Dr. Oz addled public.   (I'm not so bothered by books, they are a small investment.  I'm more bothered by all the programs and supplements and subscription services.)   They all, to a one, continue to market and sell and profit off of the "community" ... communities like the one Melanie Miller is building.  Predatory behavior IMO.  Heck, Dr. Richard Feinman has put mice on a zero carb keto diet and they got FAT.  But that doesn't stop him from perpetuating thermodynamic nonsense arguments in favor of ketones.  Ted Naiman, a new-comer to the block, tweets memes about carbs turning to fat despite the mountain of scientific evidence that this is NOT how we get fat.

Sickening.  Maddening.  Disgusting.    Please educate yourselves about these charlatans.  It's your best weapon against being taken in.  

If some version of LC actually brings you to your goals, I am the last person who is going to criticize you or try to persuade you to alter course.  But most of the people who find this blog are seeking answers to how to get out of the corner into which they have unwittingly painted themselves.   In my OPINION, low carb is one strategy for weight loss, and has very limited application for maintenance or other health issues.  Furthermore, more than any other diet, it has the potential for lasting negative consequences should you find that it is not for you in the long term.   The internet (and real life no doubt) is littered with people who are heavier now and/or got to their heaviest after trying a low carb diet, and no, that's not proof that carbs are fattening.   Fat Head is fond of saying to follow the money.  On that, we agree.  You can begin with him and his best friend and disc golfing buddy.