Jonny Bowden, M.A., C.N.S., is a respected expert in the fields of fitness and nutrition. He is the
author of "Jonny Bowden's Shape Up!", "Jonny Bowden's Shape Up Workbook!", and most recently,
"Living the Low Carb Life: From Atkins to the Zone Choosing the Diet That's Right for You".
His work has also appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Cosmopolitan,
Seventeen, Fitness, Family Circle, Marie Claire, Allure, Men's Health and Walking.
He frequently appears on television and radio as a fitness expert and is also a popular speaker at
media events and seminars. His course, "Becoming a Personal Trainer," is a frequent sell-out at the
Learning Annex in New York.
With our last issue, we debuted Jonny's association with
Low Carb Luxury Magazine. Jonny's writing a regular column in each issue, and will take your questions
about fitness and about low carb. (If you missed Part One of his interview, click here to read it.)
Have a question for Jonny? Send it to: email@example.com.
While not all questions can be answered, we'll do our best to publish all we can. We are grateful to Jonny for taking the
time out of his busy schedule to lend a bit of advice to our readers!
Low Carb Luxury Magazine: In your personal experience, has the low carb revolution been as big as the
numbers seem to indicate? Are there some big names out Hollywood way who
are getting on board?
Copyright © March 2004 Jonny Bowden and Low Carb Luxury
Jonny Bowden: I think it's bigger. I just think that most people don't understand how to
do it properly, which is why I wrote the book "Living the Low Carb Life:
Choosing the diet that's right for you from Atkins to the Zone". Most people
think a low carb diet is the same thing as the first two weeks of the Atkins
induction plan. That's only one of many places on the low carb map. I've
heard so many crazy descriptions of what people are doing these days, thinking
they're doing the low carb diet — all protein, for example. First of all there
is no one "low carb diet". Second of all, I don't even like the term low carb
anymore- I prefer "controlled carb" which is a better umbrella for a myriad of
programs with a lot more diversity than you would think. And third, in my
research for the book, I found that most people who have done this
successfully over time have evolved their own modifications of the "off
the rack" plans — they may start off with one of the structured plans as
a kind of "training wheels" but they wind up with a very individualized
program that better suits their individual metabolism and lifestyle. And
that's the way it should be. It's certainly the way I work with my private
clients, and it's what I show you how to do in the last chapter of my book
LCLM: What first turned you on to the low carb way of eating?
It was a gradual thing. I was lucky enough to study nutrition with some of
the greatest teachers on the planet, and to first learn about the hormonal
effect of food firsthand from Dr. Barry Sears. Over the years I have taken
seminars with Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, Robert
Crayhon, the great nutritional anthropologist Loren Cordain, and a host of
other people whose expertise ranged from diabetes to cancer. I read voraciously,
especially when I'm researching a book. And over the years it became pretty
clear to me that the high carb/low fat way of eating is the true "fad diet",
from a historical and evolutionary point of view. Lower carb food — or at the
very least lower sugar food — is the natural fuel on which our bodies were
designed to run best, and we can see that very dramatically from studies of
hunter-gatherer societies in the last century and from the research of
It didn't hurt that in my own personal experiments with food I found that
lower carb reduced my cravings, made me feel better and helped me maintain
my ideal weight and that some version of my basic plan worked with all my
clients as well.
LCLM: In our experience, one of the most reported stumbling blocks to successfully
low carbing is temptation of high carb foods all around us. In the fitness
side of your practice, what do you find to be a commonly reported obstacle?
Lack of fast results. As I say in the book, one of the great myths is that
exercise is a terrific way to lose weight. It's actually not. Exercise is
terrific, absolutely everyone should do it, it will keep you healthy and
youthful and it's probably the best predictor of whether you will be
successful in maintaining weight loss, but compared to diet, exercise by
itself really isn't responsible for much weight loss.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks I find is illustrated by the person
who writes to me — almost daily it seems — and says, gee, I've been walking
on the treadmill three times a week for a half hour each time for about a
month and nothing's happening! Expecting to lose weight as a result of
walking three times a week is a very unrealistic expectation. In most cases,
it's just not gonna happen.
LCLM: What is your response to those who claim low carbing is unhealthy or
Ah, I love those people. I especially love debating them in public forums.
They're usually dietitians who are about as clueless about nutrition as my
Golden Retreiver. Sometimes they're doctors, who are taught as much about
nutrition in med school as an accountant is taught about tennis. I take
on what I call "the top myths about low-carb dieting" in my book,
"Living the Low Carb Life", I discuss the notion that protein causes
bone loss, that high protein diets cause kidney disease, that ketosis
is dangerous, and all the other stuff. And I back up absolutely
everything I say with a significant bibliography of scientific references
and studies In fact, there were so many of these studies that we couldn't
fit them all into the book without going over the page allowance, so I
created a a PDF file which you can go to on my website, jonnybowden.com.
It's called "For Your Doctor" and it lists the studies, the medical or
nutritional journals they appeared in, the dates and the authors so that
anyone can go back and read the original articles on Pub Med (the
Institute of Medicine Library) or a similar site.
Many people are taking my book to their primary care physician, in order
to start a dialogue about their weight and their health, which I think is
a really positive thing. The better docs are beginning to give this stuff
a second look as the research is coming out, though there's still a lot of
prejudice out there. The dietitians are the worst, though even some of them
seem to be slowly coming around. Shape Magazine, for example, where many
many people unfortunately get their information, has a policy — and I know
this for a fact — of refusing to review or discuss a book that's about
low-carbohydrate dieting, even one with as much science and supporting
evidence as mine. The editor in chief simply will not permit anything
even moderately positive to be written about low-carbohydrate dieting
in the magazine. It's pretty unbelievable.
LCLM: Has low carb become "trendy" at the expense of keeping a watchful eye
on its healthful aspects?
That's a great question. In my book, I talk about my fear that over the
next twenty years we as a nation will become ever more obese and unhealthy
but this time, instead of walking around with low-fat junk food, we'll be
carrying our low-carb cotton candy, our low-carb hot dogs on our low-carb
buns and drinking vats of low-carb slurpees. If that happens we will have
traded one idiotic sound byte for another. We need to get away from the
notion that "carbs are bad" and from the notion that as long as something
doesn't have carbs, it's fine to eat. That's what we did in the 80's with
fat and look how that turned out.
There is just no substitute for being conscious about our food choices.
Yes, most of our junk food happens to be processed carbohydrates, but not
all carbohydrates are junk food. And just because something is low-carb
does not mean it is healthy — it doesn't even mean that it's
LCLM: How do you see the future of "low carb"?
I hope that we will reach a point — and this may be a way off — where we
significantly dial down the contribution of junk food to our daily diet.
I don't see this happening right away, because there are huge political and
social obstacles to that scenario. But I do see the country gradually
awakening to the contribution food makes to our health crisis and demanding
that our food suppliers begin to be more responsible.
In the immediate future, I see an enormous groundswell of people — such as
the ones reading this website — who are tired of eating garbage masquerading
as healthy food and are willing to go out on a limb and try some new ideas
about healthy eating even if those ideas haven't yet been entirely accepted
by the dietary establishment. We need to remember that this way of eating
has been around for as long as the human genus has been on the planet,
some 2 1/2 million years.
After all, let's remember that the cavemen didn't eat "low fat" wooly