The Low Carb Cruise 2012 was an amazing experience. It brought together many different experts in the field of nutrition and exercise.
A special thanks to all the organizers Debbie Hubbs and Becky Gandy who both had a great attitude and kept the group laughing.
Jimmy Moore was amazing as always as the MC, he kept things moving along in an efficient way. For those who do not know, Jimmy lost nearly 200 lb. on the Atkins diet after he was inspired from his brother’s premature death due to complications from obesity. I am so grateful to him and his wife Christine for all their hard work putting this event together. It is so important when people live this lifestyle that is against the grain (pun intended) to have support from a low-carb/ Paleo community.
The Carnival Magic left from Galveston, TX on the morning of May 6. My husband and I were fortunate to get a ride from the airport with Miss Charissa Vercellone and Diane Sanfilippo from Balanced Bites. The Cruise was at sea for three days when nutrition speakers presented and then three days in various ports. This year we were lucky enough to visit Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. All three ports were very different with their own special qualities. In Jamaica we climbed Dunn’s River waterfall and ate Jerk chicken. In Grand Cayman I got to swim with stingray’s and eat fresh coconut. In Cozumel we hired a taxi driver who took us to all the cool beaches, Mayan ruins and a locals only fish place for lunch ( I felt like Anthony Bourdain!).
Speaker Highlights: The talks were so informative and inspirational on the boat while we were at sea. Here are some highlights and insights from my time with the special guests:
The first speaker was cheerleader Valerie Berkowitz R.D. from the Valerie’s Voice blog who told us to throw out our scales! I especially enjoyed a chat I had with her on the tender back from Grand Cayman where we talked shop. She is delightful lady who is full of spunk. She has a new book she wrote with her husband Dr. Keith Berkowitz (who worked alongside Dr. Atkins) with a foreword by Dr. Mark Hyman called The Stubborn Fat Fix
Dr.Westman from Duke University told us that we should not be afraid of saturated fat and we should let go of old low fat baggage. He also said that sugar is what forms the harmful VLDL cholesterol and that on a low carb diet LDL changes from small dense to large buoyant which is unlikely to cause cardiovascular complications. He also said that carbohydrates are not essential nutrients!!! He recently wrote the national bestseller A New Atkins for a New You. He also told me at dinner that he finds that 20 carbs total is most effective for weight loss with his patients.
Dr. Mary Vernon spoke about how well low carb diets work in her lengthy clinical practice and that the body runs best on fat. Dr. Vernon also reminded us that what we put into our mouths is our own responsibility and that if we keep doing low carb consistently it will work! Dr. Mary Wrote an awesome book about preventing Diabetes after working With Dr. Atkins for many years available here. One chat I had with her she talked about egg yolks being the ultimate in fat burning food. She also talked about using ketogenic diets as therapy for very sick patients.
Dr. Mike Fox who is a reproductive specialist in Florida talked about how we need to keep blood sugar in a very narrow range to avoid reproductive problems in men and women. He has observed that patients with PCOS are almost always insulin resistant and once patients are put on low carb diets their ability to have children is usually improved.
Dr. Lauren Noel from San Diego said that she uses the Paleo diet with all of her patients and sees major improvements in many chronic conditions. She talked about how we have to heal our guts by removing inflammatory foods like wheat, dairy, soy and polyunsaturated oils. She said our brains would function better when we heal our small intestine because of the gut-brain connection. She thinks that 60-70% of her patients are gluten intolerant. She said it is important to look for the root cause of problems in the body to heal problems like sugar cravings, acne, and depression. She also feels that incorporating good fats like coconut oil and beneficial bacteria such as fermented foods will help the effort to balance hormones and improve health.
Denise Minger from the Raw Food SOS blog talked about the holes in The China Study and I hear new things every time I hear her speak. She said that the monkeys used in studies exposed to excessive cancer causing aflatoxin who were given a low protein died and the monkeys who were given higher protein diets lived. She thinks this was because the liver makes more detox enzymes when there is adequate protein in the diet meaning that meat actually prevents cancer. You can watch a video of her speaking here.
Dr. Bill Davis is a renowned cardiologist was a headliner of the cruise this year and I never get tired of hearing how bad wheat is for us!! He said that the wheat of the bible days or the Egyptians is nothing like the wheat we are buying today. He talked about in the 1960’s there was a push to make high yield wheat by combining 5 or 6 different strains of wheat plants. Then in 1985 a Clearfield strain of wheat was created by exposing wheat to toxic chemicals making it resistant to herbicides. He thinks this new form of wheat is causing serous digestive diseases, diabetes, even dementia. He also highlighted that there are chemical opiates in wheat making it addictive and that people who stopped eating wheat naturally ate 400 less calories per day. He also thinks that the medical/pharmaceutical industry benefits from people eating wheat and becoming sick with high blood pressure and diabetes. He encourages people that gluten free products are not the answer and to choose real foods like meat, fish, vegetables, eggs and cheese.
Chris Masterjohn is a Harvard Ph.D. and blogger did a talk on why animal fats are good for us. It was music to my ears to hear about traditional cultures free from diabetes, cancer and heart disease ate lots of fat from fish, organ meats, coconut and raw dairy. He said the more fat we eat the more nutrients we absorb from out food. He pointed out that there have been no long term studies that have show that vegetable oils like corn, canola, or soybean oils have been proven safe or healthy. Chris specializes in the importance of Vitamin A and working with Weston A Price foundation. You can read more of his work here.
Fred Hahn is a superstar trainer to the stars in NYC talked about his slow burn technique. I was able to chat with him offline and he told me that muscle growth only happens in the last rep at complete muscle failure (this explains a lot). He wrote a book with Dr. Mike and Mary Dan Eades in 2003 called The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution which talks about the benefits of working out only 30 minutes a week. I am all about that! He is a very funny and engaging speaker who made a bunch of jokes about his likeness to Chuck Norris only he is about 25 years younger. He also wrote a newer book about getting kids into weights called Strong Kids Healthy Kids
Monique Forslund: is a Zumba teacher and blogger from Sweden. She talked about the need for fat in kids diets to keep them from craving sugar/bread. She also said that kids go from mother milk which is 50% fat to fat free skim milk and how detrimental that is to their health. She has three kids and used to be overweight herself. She is a great dancer and full of life. I enjoyed sitting with her at breakfast one day while she was able to wrangle heavy cream for her coffee from the carnival staff: no easy feat! She has a great blog write up about Dr Briffa’s presentation here.
Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt also know as the Diet Doctor Blog from Sweden is the leader of the Low Carb High Fat Movement had an entertaining speech talked about how starchy foods turn to glucose in the gut and quickly raise insulin levels. He highlighted the fact that 30 million people in 1985 had diabetes and now it is 500 million! He also talked about weight loss surgery not being an answer to the obesity epidemic because the body should not be adapted to bad food. He pointed out out a book written in 1917 for diabetics forbids rice,pasta,bread and sweets for diabetics but that kind of thinking has been overruled by pharmaceutical interest. In his work with obese patients he has seen cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes all improve and patients being able to stop their medications when they follow a low carb, high fat diet. He also told us that low carb products like dream fields pasta and low carb bars are fairy tales and to instead choose real food like steak with Bernaise sauce.
Dr. John Briffa from the UK was one of my favorite speakers. I had heard him before on Jimmy’s podcast but I didn’t realize that his ideas are really inline with my philosophy of focusing on food quality and getting away from calorie counting for my clients. He thinks that counting calories is stressful and leads to excess belly fat from cortisol being produced. He also spoke for several minutes about healing adrenal fatigue through rest, balancing the blood sugar with a high fat diet while reducing stress. We had a lively discussion at dinner one night about how artificial sweeteners are not good for long term brain health and may lead to more sugar cravings. I cant wait to re-listen to his podcasts and read his new book The Diet Trap
Dr. Jeff Volek is a professor at UConn is author of the Art and Science of Low Carb Living. He has a Masters in Exercise physiology and a registered dietician and is a proponent of low carb diets. He talked about fueling workouts properly when following a low carb diet by forcing your body to run on fat during training by restricting carbs. He said that if we properly fat adapt our bodies then athletes will not hit the wall. He said athletes will have access to thousands of calories when training and will not “bonk out” during exercise. He also emphasized weight training for improving insulin sensitivity, changes in body composition and psychological benefits. He pointed out that metabolic syndrome (the fast track to diabetes) is best dealt with by following a low carb diet.
Dr Jackie Eberstein a nurse who worked at Dr. Atkins clinic talked about food addiction and that people with weight problems may have less dopamine receptors. She presented that people with sugar, alcohol, tobacco addictions are trying to get more dopamine to the brain. She mentioned that sugar has been show to be more addictive that cocaine in animal studies. She usged us not to isolate ourselves in our food addiction and that we can inspire change one person at a time. One thing that really stood out is that moderation does not work for sugar addicts and there are some foods we should never eat.
I was really sad that Dr. Jack Kruse was unable to make the cruise because of security problems. Love him or hate him Dr. Kruse always livens up the conversation and I know he has only the best of intentions for helping people. See the news story on video here.
More Bloggers: I met some other awesome bloggers that really made an impact on me such as:
Kent Altena lost 200 lbs and he has over 200 low carb videos to help people get started at AtkinsDietgeek.com
Laura Dolson lives right near me in Santa Cruz and she writes About.com guide to low carb diets
Pam Young who writes a blog about getting organized called Make it fun and it will get done! She is also a hard core low carber.
Amy Dungan and Andrew Dimino write an inspirational blog called carbsmart.com
Vanessa Romero told us a lot about her struggle to heal from Adrenal Fatigue and she has a great outlook. Find her at Healthylivinghowto.com
Jenna Philips: is a celebrity trainer who overcame a massive head injury at age 18 and healed her type 1 Diabetes. Her story is very inspiring and motivating. She even had an accident on the cruise by cutting her foot on glass by the pool. She still had an amazing attitude and had a great time even though she was injured.
Evelyne Lambrecht: is a an awesome health coach and trainer in San Diego. She specializes in helping women lose weight and improve their energy. We bonded right away and I am excited to have a new friend in SD.
Fat Head: I hope you have all watched the amazing movie about the conspiracy of the low fat movement by the hilarious Tom Naughton. If not you can see it free on Hulu or Netflix. You can also read Tom Naughton’s funny report about the cruise here. I really enjoyed meeting his wife Chareva who is a big Weston A Pricer and aspiring farmer. These fellow Nashvillians made me feel right at home!
Dinner Fun: We had a great time at assigned seating dinner each night and became BFF’s with our table including : Dr. Mary Vernon, Dr. Steve Resnick, Dr. Eric Westman and his daughter Laura Westman, Lynne Daniel (an amazing lady who lost over 180 lbs on Atkins and works with Dr. Westman at Duke) and her boyfriend Dayna Wittman , and Fun loving Aussies: Jamie and Ellen Hayes
I also really enjoyed getting to know Dr. Jayson and Mira Calton who wrote Naked Calories about their extensive travels studying nutrition.
I was also moved to get to know The Paleo Parents who lost 200 lbs and helped their kids resolve their attention problems at school with a Paleo Diet. They wrote a wonderful cookbook for kids called Eat Like a Dinosaur which makes healthy eating accessible and fun for kids.
The amazing thing about this cruise was the accessibility to all these great minds. They can not run away since they are on a ship, but seriously everyone was very open and easy to talk to in this relaxed atmosphere. There was some disagreement about which approach is better: Paleo or low carb? I urge low carbers to realize that paleo is low carb compared to the standard American diet which is over 300 grams of carbohydrate a day. Low carbers can learn a thing or two from Paleo about food quality and sustainability. We can all learn from each other about ways to reduce stress, learn effective exercise techniques and keeping a positive mindset to achieve health goals. Whether people find their way to this lifestyle through low carb or paleo it a point of entry and each person has to take their own journey to find the best fit for their lifestyle. I hope I can go on the cruise next year and meet more new amazing friends! If I forgot anyone I am sorry! You were all so wonderful and kind!