Noakes exposed: real beef dietitians have with him

Tim Noakes
Tim Noakes. Picture courtesy of the Noakes Foundation

UPDATE: World-renowned scientist Prof Tim Noakes was back on trial in Cape Town on April 4 and 5, 2017 for legal argument for both sides. On April 21, 2017, the Health Professions Council of SA announced a comprehensive not guilty verdict. That’s for his views on carbs and fats in the diet. Here’s what I wrote as a preview to the October 2016 session. It covered the real beef that some dietitians have with Noakes and the case against him so far. 

By Marika Sboros

It’s hard, but not impossible, to get to the real meat of the trial of Prof Tim Noakes. It’s not even supposed to be a trial. However, the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) has turned it into one.

As the case progresses, it became clearer just what dietitians’ real beef is with him.

The public quickly dubbed the hearing against Noakes the “Nutrition Trial of the Century”. They have also called it the “Banting for Babies Trial”and an “inquisition”. The HPCSA has showed peculiar “prosecutorial zeal” in this case, as one legal expert described it.

After all, the HPCSA is legally obliged to be impartial and dispassionate in hearings against health professionals. There has been nothing dispassionate or impartial about the way it has conducted this hearing.

The hearing resumes on April 4 and 5 for heads of argument for both sides. Click here to read who holds the key to Noakes’s fate.

The HPCSA has charged Noakes with unprofessional conduct. That’s for giving ‘unconventional advice’ to a breastfeeding mother on a social network (Twitter). He said good first foods are low-carb, high-fat. In other words, he was saying meat, dairy and veg.  Ironically, it’s  the same advice the dietitian who first reported him to the HPCSA, now gives. Claire Julsing Strydom was president of the Association for Dietetics in SA (ADSA) at the time.

Claire Strydom
Claire Julsing Strydom

Strydom’s charge against Noakes can seem frivolous. After all, Noakes is a medical doctor. He is also one of few scientists in the world with an A1 rating by the National Research Foundation. He is rated for both sports science and nutrition. All he said was that good first foods for infant weaning are LCHF (low-carb, high-fat). Anyone who knows anything at all about LCHF knows what the means for babies. It means meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy and vegetables.

Yet it now appears that it wasn’t so much what Noakes said in the tweet. It may be more what he did not say that had Strydom’s knickers in such instant knots. He did not tell the breastfeeding mother to give her baby cereal.  That antagonises cereal companies that sponsor ADSA. He also did not tell the mother that it’s fine to give her baby some sugar now and then. The sugar industry is a major sponsor of ADSA.  All the HPCSA’s expert witnesses have strong links to these industries. Most rely on the sugar industry for research funding.

Of course, not all experts agree that Strydom’s  charge is frivolous.The HPCSA has mustered a motley crew of  “expert witnesses” – two nutrition professors from NorthWest University,  and one with the Medical Research Council. That was for its first hearing against Noakes in Cape Town in November 2015. All support Strydom’s complaint.

So too did the HPCSA’s last witness at the February 2016 hearing. That was Stellenbosch University psychiatric professor Willie Pienaar. None of the witnesses has fared well under cross-examination by Noakes’ legal dream team.

The HPCSA probably hoped that a key surprise witness would seal the case against Noakes. That was South African-born  Prof Jacques Rossouw. He recently retired from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Women’s Health Institute.

Prof Jacques Rossouw
Prof Jacques Rossouw

Rossouw just happens to be one of Noakes’ most vocal opponents and a staunch supporter of official dietary guidelines. He agreed to be a witness but failed to show up on the opening day in February.

Repeated attempts to get him and the NIH to explain why were in vain. All both would say was that Rossouw could not get permission in time from the NIH to attend. Yet he had lots of time to get a simple yes or no answer from his employers.

He was also, according to reports, in Cape Town at the time of the hearing. Thus, he could easily have attended.

Rossouw has declined all requests for an interview on the evidence he would have presented. My guess is Rossouw declined to expose himself and his research to cross-examination by Noakes’ legal team.

Most of Noakes’ lawyers are working pro bono. From the outset, they have seen this as a persecution of a world-renowned scientist for challenging  conventional “wisdom” .


Certainly, the charge of unprofessional conduct can seem like an overreaction. Strydom even admitted as much during cross-examination.

Both Strydom and the HPCSA insist they are not deliberately targeting Noakes. Yet the HPCSA has taken up another complaint by an ADSA dietitian that can seem even more frivolous than Strydom’s. Catherine “Katie” Pereira complained to the HPCSA over a comment Noakes made in a Sunday newspaper in July 2014.

He said: “So who is standing up for the poor? Show me the dietician who is saying they shouldn’t be eating chips and Coke and let’s do something about it? No one.”

Katie Pereira
Dietitian Catherine ‘Katie’ Pereira

The HPCSA charged Noakes under its Ethical Rule 12. It states that members should “not cast reflections on the probity, professional reputation or skill of another (health professional)”.

Yet Noakes did not mention any dietitian by name. Quite how he contravened that rule then is unclear. The HPCSA could not or would not clarify.

The HPCSA made a “preliminary finding” in August 2015. It found him guilty of unprofessional conduct by committing a “minor transgression”.

It informed Noakes and Pereira that the matter was resolved – unless he chose not to accept its finding within 14 days. Presumably, the HPCSA was not too surprised when Noakes did just that.

The HPCSA is now pursuing the charge against Noakes.

Yet many dietitians involved in this case just don’t say things that food companies don’t like. My experience of conventional dietitians over more than 30 years is that most trot out platitudes. They speak about “moderate” junk-food consumption and “balanced diets”. They also tell diabetics it’s fine to eat carbohydrates “moderately”. British GP Dr David Unwin says that just leaves diabetics “moderately poisoned”.

Why would any dietitian want to do that to diabetics?




Strydom, ADSA and the HPCSA have resorted to semantic gymnastics when asked for explanations about this case. Strydom laid the complaint first in her personal capacity.  Later, she told me in an email that she would “prefer” I say she laid it as ADSA president. She stonewalled any attempt to get clarification on her curious use of the verb “prefer”.

It’s also difficult to determine the extent of ADSA executives’ support for and involvement in Strydom’s complaint. And whether Strydom ever had the mandate to involve ADSA as she has done.

Maryke Gallagher
Dietitian Maryke Gallagher

ADSA’s new president Maryke Gallagher told me via email that she and other executives signed a letter in 2015. In it, they acknowledge that Strydom as president had “a right to file any query on behalf of ADSA”. However, they make no reference to Noakes.

Gallagher also said that ADSA now “acknowledges appropriate use of low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets”. But that’s only under “specific circumstances or for specific medical conditions. It’s also only under supervision of “an appropriate health professional”. Presumably, that means a dietitian only.

That is another sign pointing to a trial rather than a hearing. And one that has become a turf war. Dietitians don’t want Noakes straying onto their turf. They don’t want him giving dietary advice to the public. They definitely don’t want him giving dietary advice that conflicts with theirs. These dietitians believe that only registered dietitians should give dietary advice to the public.

Gallagher has since said that ADSA is “fully behind” Strydom and the HPCSA in its case against Noakes.

It can look like Strydom is using ADSA to muzzle Noakes because he takes business away from her and other dietitians. Or she, ADSA and the HPCSA could just be proxies – witting or unwitting – for powerful vested interests. These interests are in the medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry, especially drugs companies making billions from cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. They are also in the food industry. That’s mostly the sugar and breakfast cereal industries. These all stand to lose billions in revenue and profist if Noakes’ views on LCHF ever become mainstream.

Cape Town attorney Adam Pike, of Pike Law,  heads Noakes’ legal team. He says that Strydom’s charge has no merit whatsoever. He also says the hearing has become “an extraordinary opportunity” to ventilate the issues in public.

It has created much-needed debate about evidence-based medicine. It is highlighting the doctor-patient relationship. The hearing is also spotlighting the role of doctors, academics, scientists, nutritionists and dietitians. That’s around the best diet and nutrition information available, not just information in official dietary guidelines.

“The hearing is also about freedom of speech,” says Pike.

It is showing up “the disruptive effect of social media and information technology”. It also highlights the transformative effects these are having on the role of doctors and dietitians.

Social media are increasingly empowering the public, Pike says. This trial shows that dietitians and organisations who don’t move with these exciting times will become irrelevant. They may also be a public health hazard.



  1. Yes this is good news indeed.
    Thank you Marika for chronicling this trial

    But of course the zealots have not changed their minds.

    As Noakes says, this will probably require the passage of time in which the most ardent supporters of the falsehoods pass on, leaving everyone else to reflect on how they could have missed the point so badly. He uses the story of Dr Ignaz Semmelweiss to illustrate this. Which I think is apt.

    Malcolm Gladwell has a fascinating two part podcast on how bullies with religious zeal can impede real science for a generation – and in the process destroy people’s lives (which to them is viewed as an added benefit). You can check it out at:

    These zealots do not want to engage in a scientific debate. Their plan is to shut down the debate altogether. And if opposition to their views continues, their next move is not simply to win the argument. Their strategy is to utterly destroy the people standing against them.

  2. I think you make some great points, but what a huge case of the pot calling the kettle black. Fine thing to say that Julsing Strydom might have been upset because Noakes didn’t give a leg up to the sponsors, but what about big pharma and agri that benefit wholeheartedly from the banting diet. Personally I don’t believe Noakes was responsible when he went and encouraged the world to eat more meat and dairy. Its one of the most UNHEALTHY things people can do for their bodies and for the planet. Meat and dairy put so much pressure on the kidneys and liver, Im surprised he hasnt been brought to bear for putting thousands of South Africans at risk for diabetes and heart attacks. Human beings need carbohydrates, we FUNCTION on complex sugars. But of course, each body is also different. From personal experience i can say that meat and dairy make me sluggish and stupid.
    If you are really so desperate to lose weight then try a plant-based HCLF diet. Much better for your body, much better for the future of planet.

    • I have seen no robust evidence to show that a plant-based, HCLF diet is better for the body or even better for the planet. On the contrary …

  3. Ancel Key’s original seven countries study started in the 1950s and resulted in the pro “Mediterranean diet” advice that persists to this day. The original data showed that sugar and potatoes were just as dangerous as the saturated fat containing foods. But the data were ignored in favour of the theory that saturated fat consumption is bad. The sugar and potato data isn’t presented in the abstract at all.
    Linear correlation coefficient: sugar 0.600 (similar to meat) potatoes 0.474 (similar to cheese)

    Pastries data is presented as harmful, but that didn’t weigh in as a carb/sugar effect, when saturated fat is the demon.

    Keys nicely demonstrates confirmation bias that saturated fat is bad.

    PURE study data shows carbs are OK to about 50% energy intake and fats are good to about 20% energy intake (but more doesn’t appear harmful).

  4. I am a Nutritional Medicine Practitioner and a LCHF advocate. Aside from the argument at hand involving Professor Tim Noakes but rather on the subject of two responses, concerning the appearance of the dietitians involved in this case (mentioned earlier), I know as a fact that there are health conditions that can lead to obesity, including hypothyroidism, gut dysbiosis and chronic stress. I would highly recommend that those denigrating these particular dieticians for their appearance, firstly not stoop so low and secondly, to refrain from perpetuating ignorance on the subject of obesity – i.e. referring to the implication that if the dieticians practiced a LCHF diet themselves they would not be obese. This would be falling into the same trap as dieticians and their associations who vehemently inflict their ignorance and outdated information on this subject on the community as a result of what they were taught but more so, demonstrating their lack of knowledge on current research which Professor Noakes is obviously ‘up to speed’ on. I would also like to thank Marika Sboros for her eloquent description of what both Professor Noakes and the global community is enduring on this subject and would agree with Adam Pike that this is “an extraordinary opportunity” to ventilate the issues in public.

  5. This was nothing less than a sad attempt to cover their own butts. More and more we see the harm, disease and lives lost due to the advice of dieticians (shills) for corps like Coke, Unilever and Kellog’s. Follow the money. Look to where they get their funding. The position they advocate has ZERO evidence from science despite their lies of being “evidence based”

    These people should be sued out of existence. Having a cautious attitude is one thing but this has been nothing but dogma. The people who let this farce happen should be crimminally charged for wasting so much time and money and the suffering they put Prof Noakes and his family through.

    • Plenty of evidence to support the Mediterranean diet, which contains high fibre carbs with every meal. Also the DASH diet, which has been investigated in numerous trials.

  6. Well done, Prof Tim Noakes. A brave new industry is emerging, and appropriately should be called “healing the people”. Doctors and dietitians alike should take note. We are healing the people and they are not. Kudos to our facilitators who have now ensured that the evident emergence of holistic practitioners as recognized players in the primary health care system in South Africa is imminent. We are making a difference and it shows in nearly 90% of clients. So, cardiologists and endocrinologists better take note. Every now and then there is a paradigm shift, and they become irrelevant.

    Touche, Prof Noakes

  7. Thanks to the LCHF lifestyle I lost 25kg in 5 months and still going. My blood-pressure drop from around 140/90 with medication to 120/75 with my medication now halved. Fasting blood sugar level dropped from around 6.5 to 5.3. I still have another 30 kg to loose and hope to reach my goal at the of this year. So for me, LCHF probably saved my life.

    • Thanks for your anecdote. For every person who has lost weight on LCHF, I can roll out 200 people who have lost weight on the Mediterranean diet (moderate low GI carbs, high fibre, low saturated fat, low refined carbs). All anecdotal of course.

  8. To me Tim Noakes is a genuine South African hero. I have seen too many lives transformed by his freely given dietary advise to think otherwise. If the HPCSA cant appreciate the health benefits that Noakes has brought to many peoples lives and cannot understand the vested interests of ADSA then they must be eating too much of the sugar saturated processed crap manufactured by ADSA’s financial backers. Maybe an equally critical inquiry should be done on the health effects of having Strawberry Pops, Cocoa Pops, Rice Crispies and Cornflakes to developing children. Then we will see who the real villains are.

  9. Excellent article. I wonder if the dietitians association know that they are a scientific laughing stock all around the world. They have failed for thirty years with their low-fat carbohydrate (glucose ) nonsense that has driven obesity and diabetes. Tim Noakes is a hero for fighting this astonishingly damaging mistake. I wonder how many junk food companies sponsor the ASDA?

    I wouldn’t trust a South African dietitian to feed a goldfish. Smell the coffee or you’ll become as absolete as blood letting

  10. The current focus for LCHF is Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes with a hint towards CardioVascular Health.
    The real “guns” are going to come out blazing when Dementia, Alzheimers Disease and Cancer are implicated with two generations of Dietary Dogma. The Heads of Industry are not stupid. They KNOW they are in for a hiding when people realise that the worst possible dietary advice has been given and followed but lead to the death of a loved one – or worse the (expensive) suffering of a person living with Dementia or Alzheimers or Cancer. Just as some have indicated, when people start looking for legal compensation based on the advice “professionals” have given that has lead to death or debilitating chronic disease…… “it” is going to hit the fan. MARK MY WORDS!!
    That a drug or diet might kill is one thing but to be left with a disability is inexcusable. DISAPPOINTED & ANGRY

    • Amen. Well said Peter and well done Marika. The Food and Pharmaceutical Industry are following the Tobacco Industry (End)Game Plan to stem profit loss for as long as is possible by hiring “experts” prepared to sell their souls to confuse the populace. You can’t fool all the people all………

  11. I also have been drug “dependant”: three blood pressure tablets, 1 thyroid tablet, 1 gout tablet, 1 statin tablet, three glugofage x 1000mg tablets I , another diabetes tablet and two insulin injections: all these medications every day. Weaning myself off medication over six months saving my medical aid R1300 per month for the cronic medication! I lost 18kg as a bonus. No more sleep apnea, no more indigestion and heartburn, heaps of energy and full of life! I have two meals a day and just don’t get hungry as I used to. No matter how stories and lies go, the truth always come forward. No carbohydrates and no sugar – for this I thank this
    man to the end of my life. Thank you, Professor Noakes.

  12. Everyone will stand behind him, every race, every culture he has brought people together…even the poor that could not afford to consult these”big” dieticians and so called Doctors have benefited from Tim Noakes. Viva Team Noakes, Bayethe Ngonyama( Praise to the King)!!!
    They are just an envious bunch…who are worried their survival days are marked. No one needs their wrond diet advice….#BanterForLife

  13. My deep gratitude goes to Dr Tim Noakes.
    I feel fit, happy, healthy and my brain is active. I have reached my ideal weight from: 77kg to 62kg. Physically I have never felt better and I intend to keep it that way. I am limited to several slow gentle (highly effective) exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist. I was born with dislocated hips, scoliosis, double jointed, knee problems. Over my life span orthopaedic surgeons have successfully enabled me to keep mobile. However my sports history has been a life long series of physical disasters and all I can do now is swim. And for that, I am very grateful as I love swimming.. THANK YOU DR TIM NOAKES…
    I can go swimming .

  14. Good luck Prof Tim Noakes. About time somebody tells the truth. This so called dietricians only knows what they are been fed by institutes whose research are flawed and DOCTORED to serve their hidden agenda. Not enough that Big Pharma poison us daily with their chemicals but they also wanna instruct us on what to eat (thats bad for us). Open your eyes people and do your own research. Also distrust the controlled media reporting, cause they also serves the BIG MONEY. You are what you eat!

    • If you ever get a life-threatening infection remember to let big pharma know that you do not want their poisonous antibiotics

  15. Well seems as if their witch hunt may have done more harm than they could have imagined. More people have heard about the lchf diet since this has happened and even the poor media hatchet job articles have failed to stop a growing number of people changing their eating habits for the better. I for one have been able to drop all medication I needed after following this eating plan after an all clear from my well read Doctor.

  16. I have nothing but admiration for the courageous Dr Noakes and absolute disdain for his ill-informed detractors with their evil and ill-conceived schemes to discredit his well researched and evidence based advice. Viva Banting! Viva LCHF!

  17. Well written, Marika. Prof.Noakes suffers more than most for things he actually has not said. I’ve read almost everything he’s written about diet and he explicitly states that the LCHF diet is particularly for Insulin-resistant people and yet he’s accused by “professionals” of saying a lot more than that etc. In an article I just read by a Dr. he talks about the dietitians with their 100 years of clinical experience. I think we could bracket much of that with the experience of leeches, cupping etc. Medicine has to be willing to move on and just dump incorrect stuff. I saw this all the time in my career as a histopathologist. A diagnosis would just disappear because it represented similar presentations of two or more different entities. You have to move with the times. Noakes is a charismatic re-presenter of a message that is 150y old but is hundreds of thousands of years old in actual implementation. To me, a foreign doctor whose health he has greatly helped, he is a huge hero.

  18. Well done. Thank you for exposing corruption and bias, and promoting the benefits of LCHF. The world needs this message. I went LCHF in 2013 and I have not felt so good in many years.

    Also, earlier this week I sent my mom some info on the dangers of statins. She read everything and called her cardiologist, who—much to his credit—advised her to stop taking them immediately. Yay!

    • Yes, Stacy, statins were made by Beelzebub himself, or his corporate entity. They tear apart the vital citric acid cycle of our mitochondria, and deplete the cells of co-enzyme Q10. My mother-in-law acquired statin-induced proximal myopathy: i.e.: total weakness, unable to lift her hair-dryer or climb her pantry steps, by being put oil Lipitor, which she simply didn’t need as she was a fit and healthy lady in her early 70s who exercised frequently with dance classes or long walks. She had polio when she was 8, and had done extremely well ever since, and that history alone is a red flag for not having statins. The largest meta-analysis of cholesterol studies done in the 1990s indicated that older people with low cholesterol were far more likely to die than those with higher cholesterol. Cholesterol is mainly produced by our liver from whatever we eat, and if the levels are kept artificially low then older people start to rapidly lose the cholesterol-derived cell-membranes in the central nervous system, and I wonder how many people who have been put on these regimes have died from CQ10 depletion or mitochondrial exhaustion, to be recorded as a death from some other cause.

  19. Thank you Marika Sboros, for keeping us updated. All your posts are well written and researched. As you’ll have guessed, I’m a huge fan of Professor Noakes. At 65, I’m at least 23 kgs lighter than I was, and without a whole host of health problems I used to have! There is no other way than LC/HC for me.

  20. When an organism senses that it’s survival or well-being is under threat, even normally mild-mannered ones will become aggressive fighters. The image of ‘cornered rat’ comes to mind.The food and drugs industries are showing all the signs of feeling threatened in this manner.
    The history of Tim Noakes has made him a world renown figure and the impact of his ‘conversion’, some 5 years ago, has been very much greater than is usually the case in this ‘food’ world. The “foods and drugs” people realize that his message is reaching and influencing people like few others have done in the last 40-50 years. They are ‘in a corner’, and their pride and pockets are feeling the pinch.

  21. Nice one Marika. Enjoying your new blog. Keep it up.

    If the HPCSA and Strydom were to think this all through carefully, they would withdraw the complaint and apologise to Tim Noakes. Sitting through the hearings has been quite an experience and has left me in no doubt that the complaint and subsequent hearing were very ill conceived

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