Today’s episode features an important interview with Dr. Jeff Volek, a researcher who has spent the past 20 years studying how humans adapt to carbohydrate-restricted diets. His most recent work, which is one of the key topics of today’s interview, has focused on the science of ketones and ketogenic diets and their use as a therapeutic tool to manage insulin resistance.
In 2014, Volek became a founder and the chief science officer of Virta Health, an online specialty medical clinic dedicated to reversing diabetes, a chronic disease that has become a worldwide epidemic. The company’s ambitious goal is to reverse type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025.
Earlier this year, The JMIR Diabetes Journal published a study coordinated by Volek and Virta that showed people with type 2 diabetes can be taught to sustain adequate carbohydrate restriction to achieve nutritional ketosis, thereby improving glycemic control, decreasing medication use, and allowing clinically relevant weight loss. These improvements happened after just 10 weeks on the program that Virta designed for people.
In addition to his role at Virta, Volek is a registered dietitian and full professor in the department of human sciences at Ohio State University. He is a co-author of “The New Atkins for a New You,” which came out 2010 and spent 16 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. The book is an updated, easier-to-use version of Dr. Robert Atkins’ original 1972 book, “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.”
Volek has co-authored four other books, including “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” and “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance.” Both books are co-authored with and delve somewhat deeper than “The New Atkins” did into the science and application of low-carb diets.
Volek received his bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Michigan State University in 1991. He went on to earn a master’s in exercise physiology and a PhD in kinesiology and nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. He has given more than 200 lectures about his research at scientific and industry conferences in a dozen countries. In addition to his five books, he also has published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
Although numerous studies have confirmed the validity and safety of low-carb and ketogenic diets, Volek and others who support carbohydrate restriction are often criticized for being so one-sided that their work comes across as more advocacy than science. But in “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living,” Volek writes:
“What is the proper response when three decades of debate about carbohydrate restriction have been largely one-sided and driven more by cultural bias than science? Someone needs to stand up and represent the alternate view and science.”
As Volek explains in episode 42 of STEM-Talk, this has become his mission.
“New Atkins for a New You” — http://amzn.to/2uOjLkF
“The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living”– http://amzn.to/2hh1W9k
“The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Performance” — http://amzn.to/2f2oPMV
New York Times article:
JMIR DIABETES paper: