The first international low carbohydrate conference will be held in South Africa next year, Professor Tim Noakes said on Thursday.
“In February next year… we have got 14 of the best leading scientists in the low-carb field coming to talk in Cape Town,” he told the Cape Town Press Club.
“They are coming because they’ve watched what is happening in Cape Town and they know that this is the centre for change in nutrition globally.”
Noakes has attracted both acclaim and criticism for popularising the “Noakes diet”, one low in carbohydrates to reduce insulin levels. Criticism has also been levelled against him because he claims high blood cholesterol does not contribute to heart disease.
Noakes said most of the scientists he had invited to the country were coming at their own cost, a rare occurrence in conferences.
“They want to be present. And they also want to support me because they have seen what has been happening in the media lately about the attacks on me and they have said this is not right and we must come there and defend him.”
Noakes, an avid runner, was dressed in a suit and shiny running shoes.
He told how he first cut carbohydrates from his diet in 2010 after feeling fat, lazy, and sick.
He said he lost 11kg in eight weeks and his running times had improved to those he was clocking 20 years before. He also rid himself of a host of minor conditions he had put down to ageing. He kept his lifestyle changes to himself for a year, when it was made public in interviews.
“I never started a crusade. That was the key. I just happened to benefit hugely from this eating plan and then I discovered with time that all this information had been hidden.”
He had suffered from “group-think” and initially did not want to get into trouble for having a different opinion. The Cape Town Press Club lunch on Thursday was an attempt at a low-carbohydrate meal, with free-range chicken breast, exotic salads and a choice between sweet potato and baby potatoes.
Upon being offered the crunchy vegetable salad with soy dressing, Noakes said it was “too carby” for him, referring to scattered pieces of baby corn.
Noakes, together with a nutritionist and two chef-athletes, has released a cookbook titled “The Real Meal Revolution”, which has sold at least 120,000 copies. SAPA