9 things I learnt at the Low Carb Down Under Auckland conference


Six hours of non-stop low carb high fat science and practice from a stellar line up.  The best and biggest LCHF meeting ever in New Zealand.

Here’s the 9 things I learnt.

  1. The Fat Switch
    Prof Richard Johnston. Rick Johnson is an MD and researcher from Colorado.  Author of the Fat Switch (watch the great interview at this link). He does a range of basic and applied science in fructose mostly.  He is a guru in the field and we were so lucky to have him.  Learnt: That the fructose and uric acid pathway are causal in switching humans into fat storage mode.  This mutation probably happened a few million years before humans, in fruit eating apes who we are descended from.  This mutation was a survival advantage in a cooling Europe (where they became extinct, but some made it back to Africa). Cool stuff. Beer can make you fat through the same mechanism too.
  2. I Quit Sugar Sarah Wilson from the best selling book(s) of the same name.  Sarah is a social media and communication guru.  I would say Sarah has done more for the health of Australians than pretty much anyone else.  That is purely and simply because she knows how to reach the millions.  With 950k page and social media views a day she is launching.  Speaking of which, she released her new book last week “I Quit Sugar…for good”, and will launch “I Quit Sugar” in the US shortly.  Take home from Sarah – tell them the sexy stuff first, the science second.
  3. LCHF (ketogenic) diet to manage diabetes. Dr Troy Stapleton is a radiologist form the Sunshine Coast who developed Type 1 diabetes 18 months ago.  He has been outspoken about the futility of Type 1 diabetics eating the recommended carbs.  His ketogenic approach delivers health and well being.  Learnt: On the basis of simple logic and reverse engineering, the low carb approach is the only sensible approach for Type 1 and most Type 2 diabetics.
  4. The Flawed Science of Nutrition – Convenience, Politics and Dollars Dr Gary Fettke is a Tasmanian orthopaedic surgeon and super blogger through nofructose.com. Gary and I connect well and I learned how the evidence is stacking up that diets high in glucose can turn into fructose in the body.  This is through the polypol pathway discovered by Rick Johnson above (ref). This is why high carb diets could be metabolically damaging over and above sugar.  Gary and I are also discussing how we can put up a cash prize for anyone worldwide to unequivocally prove that saturated fat alone is an important and causal pathway for heart disease. Stay tuned.
  5. Are the Diseases of Civilization Caused by Inflammation and is LCHF the Cure? Dr Zee Arain is a Melbourne GP and doctor for AFL team the Melbourne Demons.  Zee reminded us that the major health problems of today; cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and problems with the brain, are all linked by the same underlying cause – chronic inflammation AND diets high in manufactured seed oils, sugar and processed carbs are inflammatory.
  6. High Carb Addiction, Low Whole Food Disaster.  Dr Anne-TheaMcGill is a PhD qualified MD who specialises in weight and nutrition. I learnt why nutrient density is so important for health and talked about the NFR2 pathway. This is our primary defence against oxidative stress and is nutrient driven.  This is cool science and why whole food is so important to us.
  7. Why I use Low Carb Techniques  Cliff Harvey is an Auckland nutritionist and has been prescribing and using whole food ketogenic diets since the 1990s. He was way ahead of the rest of us.  He made some good observations about nutrition consulting and how to roll out diets with different people.  I liked his ideas that for some people going”cold turkey” and plunging straight into a ketogenic diet could work well and then gradually reintroducing foods and seeing the response.  Equally, working in the complete opposite direction is sometimes good too – quit sugar first and see what happens, then try refined grains and cereals – see what happens.
  8. Low carb, high fat in practice Dr Caryn Zinn is a registered dietitian and PhD in public health nutrition.  This was the highlight for me – when Caryn dug out the ethical guidelines for dietetic practice she showed us that ethical practice is about monitoring outcomes, reflecting practice AND keeping up with evidence.  Caryn is a leader in her profession and her careful consideration of how LCHF diets can affect health and then practice was awesome.  Bottom line: the evidence is there, let’s change practice in the world of dietitians.
  9. Parting learning:  My  impression when all the speakers stood up together was that everyone was vibrant and in great physical shape. Not bad for what was really an ageing group of doctors and public health specialists. A caution though: I was reminded that the further down the whole food low carb high fat nutrition track you go, the more weird you sound to the average person on the street.  Sarah Wilson and “I quit Sugar” takes a reasonable and moderate approach which we might all learn from as we help people along the health and nutrition journey.

9 Comments on “9 things I learnt at the Low Carb Down Under Auckland conference

  1. How exciting. Thanks for the information. I was recently told that I had a problem and I should see a dietitian to get an education. Perhaps I sound weird. Not to worry, I am very happy.

  2. Great summary got new folks to read and learn from. If ever you’re in Melbourne would love to hear you speak or even grab a coffee.

  3. great summary Grant and nice to see some dietician and nutritionists supporting the LCHF approach. It gives me hope in the possibility of providing nutritional advice without compromising ethics etc. Di Strang

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Highly informative. Thank you. Wish I had been there. As I was reading I was wondering what the average BMI of the group would be, & their mental & physical health. And there you said it at the end. Proof of the LCHF pudding is in the eating!

  5. Great, nice to see that the LCHF word is spreading right round to the other side of the world too!! Keep up the good work and I shall be following and supporting you all the way (from the UK) xx

  6. Really good post but specifically loved point 9 and in particular “A caution though: I was reminded that the further down the whole food low carb high fat nutrition track you go, the more weird you sound to the average person on the street.” this is so true my workmates have almost been holding their breath as I have embarked on my LCHF lifestyle fearing a heart attack at any minute given the types of foods I now eat. But to be fair a few are starting to get it after having seen both the physical results and blood tests. What strikes me though about the “weird” bit is “why is that?” and after having come back from doing the weekly grocery shop the answer is very clear. Heart ticks are spread across a huge range of items that many LCHF’ers would be loath to go near, high carb breakfast cereals, oven baked chips, seed oils, low fat yoghurts with high levels of sugar to name just a few. With an enormous amount of research and actual physical results in favour of a diet low in processed carbs (or carbs full stop) why is the heart foundation encouraging us to eat bowls of cereal with over 70% carbs? I suspect part of the issue but possibly not the most obvious one is if you give a population the go ahead to eat saturated fat but it struggles to lose the old habit of carbs you create and even more dangerous diet. It does take some initial determination to “get into” the LCHF lifestyle and it will be hard for many. So education is the key and luckily we have people like Grant doing all they can in this area. Maybe one day we will see mainstream recognition and government sponsored TV advertising promoting LCHF. Makes total sense to me given follow on savings in health costs as diabetes and heart disease would reduce but I’m sure it won’t be that cut and dried. Maybe a few politicians need to take up a LCHF challenge to see for themselves? Andrew Busst

    • Contributors to the Heart Foundation site have told me to go to a dietitian and get an education. I did a search on the Heart Foundation site for sugar. No matches.

  7. Item # 4 has ‘polypol’ instead of ‘polyol’.

    Thanks for the summaries of the talks. I first listened to a few in June. I will catch up on the ones I had skipped, not just for the historical aspect, but with your points in mind.

    Thanks especially for #9!

  8. Thank you. And thank you Sarah Wilson for the reminder to share the sexy stuff first. This prompted me to add some cream to my whiskey!!!

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