You would be forgiven for thinking Media 24’s newest magazine, LoseIt! is a custom magazine. After all, it’s mostly about one man and his (often controversial) diet. And it doesn’t carry much advertising, if any.
But it’s not, says Suzy Brokensha, who is also the editor of FAIRLADY. “There’s no client,” she says. “Anyhow, what happened was, I had the idea, took it to my publisher, and we decided to do it, using the FAIRLADY team. But it is not a FAIRLADY brand extension and is not linked with FAIRLADY in any way other than that the same team produces both.”
Professor Tim Noakes is the inspiration behind LoseIt!. Once a promoter of a high carbohydrate diet, as espoused in his book Lore of Running, Noakes famously backtracked on his views, instead claiming a (very) low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF)/Banting diet was the way to go to achieve good health, lose weight and counteract the onset of diabetes, the disease that killed his father and uncle.
His change of view has been criticized, but also lauded. Some call him the ‘Malema of medicine’, others hail him as the guru leading the vanguard of a food revolution. Either way, it’s tricky terrain for an editor.
“LoseIt! is unashamedly pro Banting/LCHF,” says Brokensha. “Banting is very associated with Noakes in South Africa, primarily because he recanted the original position he had taken in his famous book, Lore of Running – but he is certainly not the only advocate of banting here – nutritionist Sally-Ann Creed, for one, has been recommending it for years, and it has also been advocated in various countries and quarters– probably most notably Sweden – and it has had great health benefits in those countries.
“These benefits are primarily in the areas of obesity and diabetes Type ll, both of which are massive health problems in South Africa… and growing all the time. I think it’s a pity that anger with Noakes for having the courage to change his mind – faced with evidence he couldn’t ignore – should stand in the way of adopting a way of eating that has proven health benefits.”
Brokensha says concern about comes from two main areas: that the diet might damaging to kidneys because of the high protein content and that it might damage the heart, because of the increase in intake of saturated fats.
She says these are common misconceptions. “Banting is not a high protein diet – it is a high fat, medium protein, low carb diet. In other words, your protein intake doesn’t increase – your FAT intake increases, and your carb intake drops,” she says.
In terms of heart disease, she says, this perception is based on a perceived link between saturated fats and cholesterol. “The interesting thing is that connection has NEVER been proved. Secondly, there are two types of cholesterol – one (HDL) is not only good for you, it is essential for the proper functioning of the body. The second type, LDL, is the one that causes all the concern. The problem is its size – but the LDL particle size will increase with saturated fat, making it safe.
“On the Banting diet, while this overall figure sometimes increases, it is always the ‘good cholesterol’ that has increased, bumping it up. So even if cholesterol were linked to heart disease, which has never been proved, this would not be an issue,” she says.
LoseIt!, a quarterly 84-page glossy, is designed to help those who’ve decided to go the Noakes/Banting route make the right choices. It gives detailed food lists, testimonials and inspiring stories from those who lost weight and improved their health, over 60 nutritionist approved recipes, advice and tips. Brokensha says it will help those who’ve given up hope of being slim and healthy “get their lives back”.
She says another perception that the diet is expensive is simply not true. “Again, this is based on the misconception that it’s a high protein diet – i.e. loads of expensive, preferably grass-fed, meat. But your intake of protein should not increase at all – you should be eating loads of leafy greens like cabbage, spinach and broccoli – and heaps of other veggies like marrows, cauliflower, aubergines etc – with your usual portion of protein. All of those veggies are still very reasonably priced, so your costs shouldn’t go up.
“It is important to eat good – i.e. grass-fed – meat, but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive cuts: there are gorgeous recipes for brisket, neck, cheeks etc – old–fashioned cuts that we’ve forgotten about – and which are very reasonable and delicious! Offal is also old-fashioned and delicious … and the fattier cuts – usually the most inexpensive – are also the best for you. So – not just for rich people at all,” she says.
Brokensha says LoseIT! hasn’t targeted advertising at all, although they are happy to carry ads – but only those that adhere to Banting/LCHF principles. “Now that the magazine is on-street, there is definitely interest [in advertising], but we’ll be in a better position to judge how much interest further down the line. We deliberately designed the business model in such a way that LoseIt! does not depend on advertising at all.”
She believes the ‘Noakes diet’ is here to stay. “I know diets are faddish, and that they come and go – but the health benefits of the banting/ LCHF way of life are so remarkable, and the positive potential for primary health on a national level – i.e. Vast reductions in obesity and Type ll diabetes – so enormous, that I think increasingly people will come around to it as a responsible choice,” she says.
“Interestingly, ever since the Atkins model emerged in 1972, it’s remained popular and been hailed as the most successful and safe weight loss diet in history. From this model comes the basic LCHF paradigm. It’s not identical, but it’s close –as are the Paleo, Primal and Real Food diets.”