A Launch Story: Lose It! A New South African Magazine Promoting A High-Fat Low-Carb Diet…May 7, 2014
People May Wonder If South Africa’s Suzy Brokensha is “Losing It” With The Launch Of A New Magazine Promoting A High-Fat Diet – But The Editor-In-Chief Of Fairlady Magazine Is Quick To Tell You That’s Just Not True – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Suzy Brokensha…
Cape Town, South Africa: Controversial doesn’t even begin to describe it, low-carb and high-fat; two terms that most nutritionists and doctors have heart palpitations over when they hear them. But the Editor-in-Chief of South Africa’s Fairlady magazine, Suzy Brokensha, isn’t sweating it. She believes in the concept and in the new magazine: Lose It! 100 percent.
The new ink on paper product is inspired by Professor Tim Noakes and his reversal of his former doctrine of a high carb diet. Once a promoter of this type of eating routine with his book “Lore of Running” Noakes backtracked a few years ago when late onset diabetes took the lives of his father and uncle. His change in view has brought him both kudos and lividness from South Africans and people everywhere.
But Suzy Brokensha – Editor-In-Chief of the new magazine – is behind him all the way. She knows first-hand due to her own family’s experience with late onset diabetes that sometimes the most logical of ways doesn’t always work and blazing new trails with a print magazine that provides cutting edge evidence of unfamiliar horizons may be the only right answer.
I spoke with Suzy on a recent trip to Cape Town, South Africa and her beliefs and convictions about this magazine and as she calls it: this movement, are evident in our conversation.
So get ready to hear some things your cardiologist may not want you exposed to as you read the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Suzy Brokensha about the new print magazine – Lose It!…
But first the sound-bites…
On the concept of the new magazine: The new magazine is based on the Banting Diet, or a low-carb, high-fat diet that is not new at all.
On why she decided to launch Lose It! in the first place: I became interested in it about four years ago because my dad was also a late onset diabetic and because he died in the end of diabetic complications. And I know diabetes is a huge issue in South Africa and my brother is also a pre-diabetic and I didn’t want it happening to me.
On the initial reaction from the marketplace: It’s only been on street now for about a month and the initial reaction was incredibly positive.
On the uniqueness of the magazine and the diet itself: So I think what appeals to men is that performance aspect of it. You don’t feel deprived, in fact, you feel very satisfied and it’s a very satiating diet.
On the need for print versus a digital entity: I think this is a magazine that explains the differences and the route that we’ve taken. And it’s very direct and it’s very directional. And it tells you exactly what to do. Whereas if you went online, you might find different, little snippets of information from a whole lot of different sites, but it wouldn’t be as directional as the magazine.
On what keeps her up at night: What am I worried about? I’m not worried at all about this magazine. There is absolutely nothing that worries me about it. I think that we’re lucky in that we struck at the right time.
And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Suzy Brokensha – Editor-in-Chief of Lose It! magazine…
Samir Husni: You recently launched a new magazine – Lose It! – can you talk a little bit about the concept of this magazine?
Suzy Brokensha: The new magazine is based on the Banting Diet, or a low-carb, high-fat diet that is not new at all. The first person to talk about the diet was probably Atkins, maybe forty or fifty years ago, when the idea for the Atkins Diet first came into being.
And since then it has been written about extensively by Gary Taubes in the States, in particular. He’s the most famous. He wrote a book called “Why We Get Fat” and it’s all about the Banting Diet.
The first incidence of the diet was around 1812 when a British doctor advised his client to go on the diet and he lost a huge amount of weight. He was a very wealthy guy and he published a little book about the diet which is still circulating today and is quite fabulous. It’s beautifully written actually.
Anyway, it’s been around for a long time, but what happened was in the 70s the whole way that we eat changed. And it basically coincided with the food pyramid in the States which had all the carbohydrates at the bottom and right at the top, a few fats and oils, vegetables and fruits. And that diet and that way of eating have been recommended for years.
The history is that what happened in America in the 70s was that there was a problem with corn growers and they weren’t making money and actually that pyramid was deliberately designed, not by nutritionists, but in order to boost the sales of the corn growers in Middle America, which it completely did.
And what it did also was create a market for corn starch which is the most lethal substance known to man. And American food, in particular, is full of corn starch. It’s incredibly fattening, with no nutritious value at all. And it’s highly addictive.
So all this diet is really is looking at all of the 70s and looking at the way people ate then with more real food and less pre-packaged food, where the idea of low-fat didn’t exist. Because when they take fat out of a product, to make it appetizing, they have to add sugar. And even if it’s artificial sugar, that’s what they do and none of that is good for you.
If you look at the amount of sugar, for example, that we eat now in the Western diet, compared to the amount of sugar Westerners ate 80 years ago, it increases unbelievably. And it’s not only in the diet drinks; it’s specifically in the low-fat foods. And that’s the issue.
Samir Husni: So why, after all these years, did you decide to launch Lose It! magazine now?
Suzy Brokensha: Well, what’s really interesting is South African Professor Tim Noakes who has become very famous internationally because of this book; he was always a marathon runner. He himself has run about a 150 marathons, he’s very fit, started the Sports Science Institute in South Africa and he wrote a book about 15 or 20 years ago called “The Lore of Running.” It was all about how a high carbohydrate diet was essential in order to run or to be an athlete and to be healthy.
And his father was a late onset diabetic and he became a late onset diabetic and he started noticing in himself that he couldn’t run anymore and he was getting fatter despite the fact that he was eating sort of militantly healthily according to his own doctrine. And he started questioning what was going on. And he kept on trying to exercise more and he tried to eat more carbohydrates and less fat, but nothing worked. And he saw himself going exactly the same way as his father had gone.
And when he started questioning it, he realized that he was wrong. And he had the courage to, about three or four years ago, to come out and say that he was wrong and that he wished he’d never written that book. It was wrong. Every bit of advice I gave about carbohydrates in that book was wrong. And in South Africa there was a massive backlash against him. Everyone was livid that this guy who they had revered for so long could reverse his decision. I thought it was excellent science. I thought with all the evidence to the contrary, it’s a great scientist who can reverse his decision and say that he was wrong.
I became interested in it about four years ago because my dad was also a late onset diabetic and because he died in the end of diabetic complications. And I know diabetes is a huge issue in South Africa and my brother is also a pre-diabetic and I didn’t want it happening to me.
So I started reading what he was saying and I went to all the talks that he was giving and I tried to get as much information as I could. And I thought he really is changing the way that people think about food in this country. And I started looking at the response when he wrote the book “The Real Meal Revolution” and it sold 200,000 copies in South Africa which is really the biggest selling book we’ve ever had in this country. And I thought there is a market for a magazine like that. The book was mainly a recipe book and there is so much information to get across about this diet that I thought it was ripe for a magazine.
I sat next to him at the launch of his book and I said to him what you need is a magazine and he said perfect. And he said we need to get the information out there, so I knew that we had his interest. And that’s what we did. We started the magazine.
Samir Husni: And what was the initial reaction from the marketplace?
Suzy Brokensha: It’s only been on street now for about a month and the initial reaction was incredibly positive. I think that I’ve seen two detractors on Twitter who were saying it’s absolute nonsense, it’s unhealthy, how could you recommend a high-fat diet in a country like South Africa, isn’t that irresponsible when obesity is such a huge problem.
But the point is that it makes people lose weight. And that diabetes is a massive issue in South Africa and it actually stops late onset diabetes, diabetes Type II. Most people go off their medication when they’re on this diet.
The biggest criticism comes from cardiologists or people who say it’s bad for your heart. And increasingly, as you know from Dr. Oz, you’ll know that cardiologists are reviewing that decision that they made all those years ago, that fat or cholesterol is the cause of heart disease. But they are seriously reviewing it now. I see it as the beginning of a movement, a revolution. And I believe in it.
Samir Husni: So do you feel you are a leader in the movement?
Suzy Brokensha: I do. I feel like I’m a leader, because there hasn’t been a magazine like this. There is a Paleo Magazine, I think; I’m not sure where it’s published, probably in the States. But it’s a different diet. I just don’t think there’s anything like it in South Africa.
And I know that it’s hugely influential because sports people are increasingly using it, because it improves their performance.
Samir Husni: After looking at the magazine, you are reaching a dual audience. You are going after, men, women and children. Most diet magazines are aimed at women; it’s rare to see a diet magazine aimed at men. What’s the uniqueness of Lose It!?
Suzy Brokensha: What I think is interesting is that it’s your performance that improves, your performance in life improves, your brain functions better, you can run farther, and you can run faster. If you look at those statistics about people who are on this diet and Professor Tim Noakes is tracking some of those people, the athletes and their performance since they started eating this way; it’s absolutely incredible. Someone I read about recently knocked 21 minutes off their marathon. And that’s really huge.
So I think what appeals to men is that performance aspect of it. You don’t feel deprived, in fact, you feel very satisfied and it’s a very satiating diet. Because of the fat, because the fat, the fix and the hormones that tell you that you are full. And that’s actually always been the problem with low-fat diets; you never feel full because you constantly feel dissatisfied because those hormones are not activated.
But the person eating a high-fat diet, those hormones are activated, so they don’t feel deprived and they perform better. And they sleep better and that fact appeals to men, I think and that whole idea that they’re functioning as a bit of a machine. And women like it because they lose weight.
Samir Husni: And why did you feel the need for a print magazine instead of just going to the website and finding all that information?
Suzy Brokensha: I think it’s about curating. So we have got several different experts speaking in this magazine and they will appear in all the magazines. And it’s about a different aspect every time. We work together to curate the best content possible for this.
So you could find little bits, but everybody that I have spoken to as well has asked: what is the actual difference between Paleo, Atkins and Banting? What are the actual differences between multitudes of diets? And I think this is a magazine that explains the differences and the route that we’ve taken. And it’s very direct and it’s very directional. And it tells you exactly what to do. Whereas if you went online, you might find different, little snippets of information from a whole lot of different sites, but it wouldn’t be as directional as the magazine. It’s a blueprint, not just a magazine. And I don’t think we could have done that just online and achieve the same thing.
Samir Husni: Do you think it’s a trend or a fad?
Suzy Brokensha: I don’t think it’s either. I think it’s a return to the truth of how we should eat. Because I think a trend also implies that it will have an end; I think this is a rediscovery of the way that we should eat. I also think it will last forever and have a massive impact on the way people will live their lives.
Samir Husni: And I have to ask you; do you follow the diet?
Suzy Brokensha: I do. But my weakness, and it’s interesting as to what your weakness is, some people battle an issue with carbs, I don’t do battle with carbs at all. I’m not eating bread or pasta, that doesn’t bother me. Potatoes? I wouldn’t care if I saw any of that again in my life.
My weakness is chocolate and wine. It’s those two things. And you can have both sparingly, but it’s the sparingly that presents the problem.
Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?
Suzy Brokensha: What am I worried about? I’m not worried at all about this magazine. There is absolutely nothing that worries me about it. I think that we’re lucky in that we struck at the right time. I think that there are going to be followers and imitators. My main concern is when we were thinking about it was to get it out first. I wanted to be first and to put it out with the authority of the people we have contributing to the magazine. And I think we have achieved that and I’m sure there will be imitators, but because we were first and because we have that staff of authority; we will stay the distance.
Samir Husni: Thank you.
© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Truth in Reporting: Lose It! magazine is published by Media 24 in South Africa, a media company that I consult for. I had no role in the launch of Lose It!.