Updated 11 March 2013

'Tim Noakes diet' comes out tops

Twin sisters embarked on the Twin Noakes experiment to test Professor Tim Noakes’ controversial theory about the dangers of a high carbohydrate diet. Here are the results.

Twin sisters Jeanne and Jacqueline Howie embarked on the Twin Noakes experiment to test Professor Tim Noakes’ controversial theory about the dangers of a high carbohydrate diet compared to a high fat diet. The experiment is now over, and these are the results. 

According to the sisters, the "Tim Noakes diet" came out tops and the traditional high carb, low fat diet made Jaqueline feeling "terrible".

Both women had genetically high cholesterol and were monitored closely throughout the eight week test period.

Jaqeline followed the more traditional high carbohydrate, low fat diet and said she felt terrible on it.  "At the end I had put on weight, was anaemic, bloated, allergenic and exhausted. It actually became a struggle to eat carbs in the last week, knowing what it was doing to me," she said. 

Meanwhile Jeanne, who was on the 'Tim Noakes diet' of high fat, low carbohydrates (HFLC) said she felt great. She dropped to her optimal weight and fat percentage and stabilised there, her allergies were all but gone - as was her bloating and she says she felt “ energetic and alive”. 

What the numbers say

Jacqueline says that in order to understand their final readings it's important to look at all the test results together. 

Jaqueline getting her tests done at Pathcare.

“Jeanne's cholesterol count went up and mine remained stable.  So on the face of it we should both be taking on a high carb diet seeing as a LCHF diet brought Jeanne's cholesterol up.However, if you look at our results as a whole you'll see that the opposite is true.”

She explains that when checking cholesterol, it's more important to check the size of the LDL particles than the amount of cholesterol they contain.  This is because bigger, more softer LDL-C particles won't damage the artery walls whereas small dense LDL-C particles will cause damage. 

“The cholesterol tests that are available to the public at most pathology labs only offer cholesterol count analysis and not particle size analysis. Particle size tests remain a speciality test available to very few people world-wide.”

Given that information here are their final test results:

Jaqueline: Although my LDL cholesterol count was stable, all my other risk factors worsened: 

  1. My HDL-C (the good cholesterol that mops up excess cholesterol in the system) went down too which put me in a higher risk category.  
  2. On top of that my glucose, triglyceride and insulin levels worsened which combined with cholesterol is bad news
  3. My LDL-C particle size dropped a little bit (although not on a level that would warrant scientific attention)

 Therefore, although my LDL cholesterol count remained relatively stable, my other risk factors worsened.  This puts me at a higher risk of health problems than if my LDL cholesterol count increased but my other risk factors improved and my LDL-C particle size increased.


Jeanne having her assessment done.

Jeanne: Although Jeanne's LDL cholesterol count went up, all her other risk factors improved: 

  1. Her HDL-C (the good cholesterol that mops up excess cholesterol in the system) went up too which was a good thing.
  2. Added to that her glucose, triglyceride and insulin levels improved too.
  3. Her LDL-C particle size increased marginally - which as we understand now is beneficial.

So although Jeanne's LDL cholesterol count increased, her other risk factors improved.  This puts her at a lower risk of health problems than if her LDL-C count dropped but her other risk factors worsened and LDL-C particle size hadn't increased.

Jaqueline says, "We have to note though that it was also discovered in the specialised cholesterol test that Jeanne and I both have Lp(a) cholesterol present in our systems.  This type of cholesterol isn't brought on by diet or any other controllable factors, but is there because of a genetics.  This means that we are predisposed to create LDL cholesterol.  This may also explain a percentage of Jeanne's increase in LDL-C particles over the duration of the project.  Because of this, Jeanne and I need to focus more on Omega 3 fats (avocado, macadamias, almonds etc) and moderate our dairy intake."

Lessons learned?

Jaqueline says that it’s “become very clear over the duration of this project that we are both carb-intolerant.  The Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet is definitely the way to go for us and should be doubly proven as Jeanne continues on it in phase two of Twin Noakes and I swap from High Carb to a LCHF diet.  

“All we've proven is that what Prof Noakes is saying is true - not all people are suited to the High Carb diet that we've grown up with.  Many people out there are carb-intolerant and are better suited to a LCHF diet,” she says. 

Her advice for people considering trying out this way of eating? 

“We should be able to eat according to our appetite/hunger and live an energy filled life.  Gym should be something we do for fitness not weight control.  I strongly believe that for most people out there simply finding out which eating plan suits them (ie whether or not they're carb-intolerant) they can step into the healthy balanced life that has always alluded them. 

“There are many resources people can go to for information.  If I have to name two then I'd say buy the book "Why we get fat." By Gary Taubes to get an understanding  about how our bodies work etc.  And check out www.dietdoctor.comfor tons of information on LCHF diets.  He's got a page that's dedicated to beginners on the LCHF journey that simplifies it beautifully.”

Have you ever radically changed your eating habits? What were the results? E-mail us at

 Read more about their next experiment here on their blog.

 (Amy Froneman, December 2012)

Read more:
"Tim Noakes diet" put to the test

Tim Noakes on carbohydrates
High protein diets - are they safe?


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