Me, I'm very skeptical. The registry seems to be well-meaning, but is problematic for a number of reasons. What do you think?
Do we need a weight loss registry for folks following an ancestral approach (as opposed to a national approach)?
Should the AWLR accommodate a higher carb perspective?
Are you concerned about the quality of the AWLR approach?
I'm thrilled to death to see this. It may not be perfect but it's something and sometimes something is better than big fat nothing with a big heap of bitching and complaining on the side.
How is a higher carb perspective not represented? There is no definition of "carb restricted" that I see. Most people who are eating a paleo-esque diet and trying to lose weight are paying some attention to their carb intake. Dare I say "restricting"?
Oh and OMG there's a question about calories on the survey? What is this CICO? Is this one point short of a weight watchers collective? Heads must be exploding everywhere! Oh the drama!!!
I swear it seems no one can win around here. Everyone is so stuck in their own little worlds that they can't see the forest for their own you'll-pry-this-potato-from-my-cold-dead-hands-Gary-Taubes is-the-devil-everyone-but-me-sucks trees. We have finally perfected the circular firing squad it would appear.
Edit: I'm adding something written by a brilliant woman who said the most brilliant thing about this display here but she is far too kind a person to post it...so I will. "here is a medical student for Pete's sake who is INTERESTED and wants to gather a lot of data that could really help people and help educate Docs and other providers. Here is a guy with a Masters in Nutri science and he's in our corner. And just because Gary Taubes (who has NOTHING to do with the registry)gives him mention on his blog...we have this horrible, idiotic pile of outbursts..." I'll leave it at that but you get the point. And it's a good point I think.
I am Larry Istrail, the founder of the AWLR. My intentions for the site and registry is to try to publicize and demonstrate in a systematic manner that there is a large body of people out there who have lost weight, and got healthy on a carb-restricted or paleo diet. I realize the large stigma associated with a carb-restricted diet, and that the paleo way of life is very different. However I believe they both fall into the broad category of a diet that emphasizes real foods, specifically protein and fats, while restricting carbohydrates to some degree.
I also believe this registry is a way to shine light on the clinical trial data that exists, supporting the idea that a diet high in protein, fats and vegetables is the most effective way to get healthy. I profile this data on the site here:http://www.awlr.org/carb-restricted-diets.html
As a future physician, I want to deliver this real food message to the medical community and debunk the idea that a diet high in fats and protein not only does not kill you (as the majority of the medical community believes) but holds the opportunity to improve health and enhance weight loss without feeling hungry, as compared to what is often reported on various other low fat, high carb diets.
If you believe I can do this in a more effective manner, I'd be more than happy to hear your comments and critiques. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like.
If the founder wants to place emphasis on a big tent that includes all paleo and low-carb dieters, he should change the tagline of "Limit your carbs. Join the registry." The banner needs to be changed anyway because it's hideous. The about page also could be made more inclusive. Right now the site in general has very little on ancestral or paleo, it seems to be entirely a low-carb site.
For those who seem to have difficulty figuring out if theirs is a restricted carbohydrate diet, here is a carbohydrate calculator from a major medical center which is based on SAD recommendations.
Should additional help be needed in comparing your level of carbohydrate intake to that of the average American, then the fact that the average American consumed 490grams of carbohydrate, per day, as of the year 2000, may be helpful.
I was delighted to find out about this new registry in early December.
In 01 I became a registrant in the NWCR. Over the years, due to moves and perhaps changes in email, I was lost to follow-up, so am in the process of re-registering.
For those who are interested and have read criticism (if you could call it that!) of Larry Istrail's AWLR, I will share the entire questionaire for the NWCR with you here.
NATURE and PURPOSE of the STUDY "You are being asked to take part in a research project because you have lost at least 30 pounds and have maintained that loss for at least one year. All individuals who meet these criteria for successful weight loss are eligible to participate in this study. THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY IS TO DETERMINE THE BEHAVIORS ASSOCIATED WITH SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT LOSS. The Registry currently has more than 6,000 participants and we recruit about 500 new participants each year."
Now, let me repeat something very important here:" THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY IS TO DETERMINE THE BEHAVIORS ASSOCIATED WITH SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT LOSS."
Now, check out this link for the AWLR where the purpose of the AWLR is described.
Do you notice a difference? A BIG DIFFERENCE????
"The Ancestral Weight Loss Registry is an international assembly of people who have tried a carbohydrate-restricted or paleo diet to lose weight or improve their health. Whether you lost 100 pounds or gained 20, we want to hear about it."
"Share your experience and help those beginning their new way of eating. As thousands register from all over the world, we hope to uncover the most effective practices for losing weight on a diet high in vegetables, protein and fats."
The intent and focus of these two registries is very, very different.
Take a look at the questionaire for the AWLR:
I am delighted to see this new registry with its very different focus and have been intending to join since early December when I first knew of it. I have to get a bit less tech challenged to post my before and after pics, but I just bet I can get some help with that.
All the yabbadabbado about this may be the silliest and most pitiful bunch of quack-quack I have yet read on PH!
If you want to join, then join. If you see the possibility of some good information coming out of this, then join if you like. If you don't, then don't. And if you can't figure out if your eating is carbohydrate restricted, then in the words of more than one inimitable blogger in the paleosphere: "you're just screwed."
So, other than the quibbles with name of the registry, are there any differences between this new low-carb blog/forum and the countless other sites that enable people to share their experiences? I wasn't aware that the term "ancestral" was tied to a particular WOE, whether it be low-carb, moderate-carb, high-carb, or the cat-eaters of Melmac, but perhaps what you're after is a simple re-branding of the registry? At least he professes to embrace the stories of those who have gained weight on low-carb, something that my super-skinny husband might be pleased to learn about. I'm not sure how it could be any more problematic than any other paleo forum.
A summary of the problems with this, so folks don't have to read the whole post about a lot of other stuff:
Look folks, this is not the way to garner exposure and legitimacy for a way of eating. That's the goal, right? Larry Istrail may be well meaning and for all I know the nicest guy on the planet. But this is a horrid waste of time and effort if the goal is, as he states, to determine what the most effective strategies are.
This is the classic case of garbage in garbage out. Haven't we seen enough badly designed diet studies to know it when we see it by now? Even NWCR has its limitations, but it is doing its best to establish the integrity of the data upon which they do analyses and generate reports. How many diet studies rely on a single 24 hour self-report dietary recall for example.
Larry says: "As a future physician, I want to deliver this real food message to the medical community and debunk the idea that a diet high in fats and protein not kill you (as the majority of the medical community believes) but holds the opportunity to improve health and enhance weight loss without feeling hungry, as compared to what is often reported on various other low fat, high carb diets."
No peer review journal worth its reputation would accept anything that comes of this AOL-style online survey. None. So Istrail will be another Taubes, I suppose, trying once again to turn conventional wisdom on its head. WHY do you people keep doing this? What can this possibly do to debunk anything? Stop eating refined crap. I'm with you! Eat whole foods. I'm with you! Butter and saturated fats are healthy. I'm with you! Eating butter by the spoonful from a tub you keep on your desk at work? You lost me ... Never let a refined sucrose molecule pass through your lips. You even lost Sisson on that one.
Larry says: "I also believe this registry is a way to shine light on the clinical trial data that exists, supporting the idea that a diet high in protein, fats and vegetables is the most effective way to get healthy"
Here I thought we had the Feinman's Nutrition & Metabolism Society for that. I'm uncomfortable with the words the most in there. Perhaps just repeated links from Gary's blog to Istrail's reviews of peer-reviewed literature would be more effective. I also hear that petitions are popular these days.
I actually think we'd get more attention and credit if our weight results were included in a national registry with the results of those using other approaches. As long as there's a chance to click on "paleo/ancestral" we could see how we stand within the whole.
I have a negative reaction to the AWLR because I'm not low-carb. Oh, I may be a day or 2 per week but I also have days with marrow broth but little meat.
I'm very turned off by the "low carb or paleo" phrase on the front page of AWLR. Are they taking a position that you have to be low carb to be paleo? Or that paleo and low carb are 2 different things? I disagree with both of those possible meanings.
FINAL EDIT/UPDATE: Based on Larry's responses below, and completing the questionnaire then thinking about it overnight, I believe the questionnaire is a harmless exercise that changes nothing but also won't do harm. There is no statistical sample, the questions are not rigorous (for example, I checked many boxes and still had to use Other on most questions) and the self-reporting bias is huge. The people Larry hopes to reach are unlikely to respect this data. On the other hand, it was fun filling it out and I enjoyed the debate. I learned that, to my surprise, I can be defined as "low carb" in the overall American population--I'm so used to the benchmarks spoken on PH that I thought I was moderate- to high-carb and of course I am within this community.
I went and registered, added my voice through taking the survey and even spilled out my story about the path my improvements took. I see no reason to open up the weapons locker and pass out the arms for this. I'm willing to engage and participate.
Please stop equating paleo with a low carb diet. Regardless of your "purposely vague" language, you connect "ancestral" with low-carb pretty explicitly. The idea that paleo has to be low carb is a (if not the) major reason for people not succeeding or sticking with the way of eating. It also keeps athletic, healthy people from adopting it.