Monday, May 28, 2012

Jimmy Moore: From Carboholic to Lipoholic

About 6 months ago I stumbled across the The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore. At that point in time I was a several months into my low carb journey and doing well with it. Since I have a lot of time working nights to listen to podcasts, I decided to go back to Episode 1 and listen to them all sequentially.

Other than the odd missing episode, I've listened to all of them up through episode 515 and I'm slowly catching up on the rest. For those who don't know his story, he started at over 400 lbs. and lost over 180 lbs. after adopting the Atkins diet. It's an impressive story and I won't claim to understand what it is like to be that obese nor what it's like to lose that much weight.

Jimmy has been open with his struggle to keep the weight off during the last few years and as of his Safe Starch Experiment post on April 15th, he is pushing 300. I feel for him because I understand how frustrating it is to regain weight when you're doing "everything right".

Having listened to so many years of his podcasts in such a compressed time frame, I've noticed a distinct transition in his personality. Before he went low carb, he was undoubtedly a carboholic, guzzling 24 cans of soda in a day and downing boxes of Little Debbie Snack Cakes. While I've never gorged on sweet foods, the period of most rapid weight gain in my life was when I was chugging 12 cans of soda per day. I think it's one of the primary reasons I have struggled with weight loss ever since.

During the first few years of the LLVLC (Livin' La Vida Low-Carb) podcast, Jimmy regularly speaks about the evils of carbohydrates. This is still his core message but there has been a subtle shift to an obsession with fat. What started off as a defense of fat as not being evil, he now rarely lets an interview go by without trying to eke out a statement from the interviewee that fat is healthy and how much satiating power it has. This is often accompanied with comments that LLVLC and Atkins really aren't high protein diets but "moderate protein and high fat".

Round about the time that I started noticing this shift in Jimmy's attitude, the whole "safe starches" debate had exploded. Intrigued by Paul Jaminet's arguments on the Perfect Health Diet blog, I started adding potatoes and white rice to my diet. Up until then, I had been eating VLC (very low carb, under 25 grams per day) and I shifted to what I now consider just plain LC (low carb, about 100 grams per day). My shift from VLC to LC while I was listening to the episodes where Jimmy's attitude started shifting made it even more noticeable.

Anyway, back to Safe Starch Experiment and he's adding 3 tablespoons of butter to 1/2 of a baked sweet potato. It's like the fat is supposed to be a magical force field to protect him from the evil starches. It's like he's afraid that he'll be hungry if he doesn't get enough fat to satisfy his cravings. And to top it off, he seems to live in fear of experiencing hunger. It really is sad. I want him to be successful but I don't think he will be until he realizes that his former obsession with sugar has been replaced by an obsession with fat. If fat really was so satiating, then Jimmy Moore wouldn't be 300 lbs.

Besides the crazy high fat content, he seems to be preaching this "moderate protein" notion espoused by the likes of Nora Gedgaudas and Ron Rosedale. While I like much of what they have to say and limiting protein may have benefits in terms of longevity, it's not going to make up for the problems associated with being obese. If there's any single macronutrient that is almost universally accepted by diet experts as satiating, it's protein.

While I won't presume to be a diet guru or know how to fix Jimmy Moore, the high fat, moderate protein approach doesn't appear to be working. I tried going down that route and it didn't take long to notice that my satiety was lacking. I probably noticed this because I count my calories and shifted the macronutrients around in an isocaloric fashion. When I up the protein and leave out the added fats, my satiety is better and my body composition improves. Again, I'm no guru but drenching half a sweet potato in three tablespoons of butter and calling it an experiment in safe starches doesn't make sense to me.


  1. If you follow the Perfect Health Diet and eat around 2,400 calories, you will discover that it is ALREADY a high fat diet. You do not need to ADD fat to make it high fat; it is already high fat. Even PHD is a low carb diet and when you cut the carbs, you increase the fat. Simple math.

    The key is keeping your calorie count in line. If you add tablespoons of fat to everything, you gain weight.

    1. Exactly. I use added fats sparingly, not because I'm afraid of them, but because I don't need more than my foods naturally contain. Even so, my diet is still 50% fat by calories.

      Adding fat to push that ratio to 65% fat and beyond is counter productive, IMO. Except for some potential therapeutic measures as a temporary measure, I see no benefit in such a high fat diet.

      I'm willing to bet that getting the same calories from protein, starch or veggies in natural forms is far more satiating than adding an extra tablespoon of butter.

  2. "If fat really was so satiating, then Jimmy Moore wouldn't be 300 lbs."

    Excellent point! I also remember reading about fat being satiating in GCBC, and I think it may be absolutely untrue. I used to be on a VLC diet and I felt hungry all the time. It wasn't until I added back carbs that I was able to dial my calories back and get down to a normal weight. Not saying that will work for everyone, but it did for me.

  3. "It's like the fat is supposed to be a magical force field to protect him from the evil starches."

    hahaha, excellent analogy and in the case of Jimmy Moore, seems to be very true.

  4. MM and kayness:

    Thanks for the kind words. It's much appreciated!