Tim Noakes

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Tim Noakes
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Timothy David Noakes (1949–) is a South African exercise physiologist, antivaxxer, conspiracy theorist, anti-sugar campaigner, low-carb high-fat advocate and cholesterol denialist, best known for his opposition to mainstream dieting advice. Noakes has been accused of promoting dangerous and false information about vaccines and "outrageous, unproven claims about disease prevention."[1][2][3]

Noakes endorses a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet, often referred to as the "Banting" or "Noakes" diet. Medical experts have criticized the diet as being "not based on good science".[4] The Noakes diet forbids all grains, most kinds of fruit and refined sugars.[5]

His book Lore of Nutrition was described by paediatrician Alastair McAlpine as "an extraordinarily heady mix of conspiracy theory, bad science, bad writing, and persecution complex".[6]

Cholesterol denialism[edit]

Noakes is a cholesterol denialist. According to Noakes:

There is no definitive evidence that reducing especially the saturated fat in the diet prevents heart disease […] The theory that proposes that blood cholesterol causes heart disease is at best tenuous, and at worst wrong.[7]

These controversial opinions are unsupported by scientific evidence and have been criticized as "dangerous and potentially very harmful to good patient care."[7]


[Noakes] may say he isn't antivaxx, but his actions demonstrate the opposite, and could cause real harm to some of the most vulnerable in our society – children.
—Paediatrician Alastair McAlpine.[3]

Noakes has been criticized for making anti-vaccination comments.[3][8] In 2014, Noakes sent a tweet to his 46,000 Twitter followers: "Dishonest science. Proven link between autism and early immunisation covered up?". The tweet included a link to a video from the discredited anti-vaccine activist Andrew Wakefield which alleged the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is covering up a link between autism and immunisation.[2] Medical experts challenged Noakes and he responded by claiming that he has "no opinion" about the matter. Nathan Geffen has commented that "after recommending that his followers watch videos that cast suspicion on the MMR vaccine, it is disingenuous for Noakes to say he has no opinion."[2]

In a 2017 interview on the Gareth Cliff Show, Noakes stated that he supports vaccinations only if they are "proven to be safe and effective", he also stated incorrectly that there is evidence that vaccines cause autism.[8] Regarding the interview, Jacques Rousseau has noted:

By the standard of the Duck test, Noakes is at least a vaccine sceptic, but in effect, he functions as a vaccine-denier or an "anti-vaxxer" in using much of the same misinformation they (McCarthy, Kennedy, Carrey, de Niro) do. Because in doing so – even as he asserts that he supports vaccinations – he introduces sufficient qualifications and obfuscations that his pronouncements on the matter could plausibly lead to at least some of his followers choosing to not vaccinate their children.[8]

In 2018, Noakes denied being "anti-vax" and stated the term was being used against him to try and destroy his scientific credibility.[9]Do You Believe That?

Opposition to science-based medicine[edit]

Public health scientist Sheila Kealey‏ has commented:

Many hold sports physiologist Tim Noakes in high esteem after reading his popular books (e.g. Lore of Running). But he is losing respect among scientists: recently he seems to be in the anti-establishment/conspiracy theorist camp, disregarding science (that doesn't support his opinions), promoting his high-fat low-carb diet as evidence-based, and stating that a proven link between vaccines and autism have been covered up. Noakes has also stated that we must eat more meat to save the environment, which is contrary to a robust body of scientific evidence.[10]


  • Lore of Running (1986)
  • Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports (2012)
  • The Real Meal Revolution: Changing the World, One Meal at a Time (2014)
  • Lore of Nutrition: Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs (2018, with Marika Sboros)


  1. UCT doctors slam Noakes. Independent Online.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Tim Noakes and the responsibility of experts. Nathan Geffen.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 McAlpine: Noakes spread dangerous and untrue information about vaccines. Medical Brief.
  4. "Too much, too soon, Tim Noakes!". "Our medical community, health authorities and academics (even Noakes' own colleagues at the University of Cape Town, who formally distanced themselves from his theories) are very concerned that the Banting Diet is simply not based on good science."
  5. Fitzgerald, Matt. (2014). Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of Us. Pegasus Books. ISBN 978-1-60598-560-2
  6. Less lore and more science, please, Prof Noakes. Medical Brief.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tim Noakes called a 'cholesterol denialist'. Health24.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Noakes and vaccination: if it quacks like a duck. Jacques Rousseau.
  9. Noakes: I am not anti-vax and McAlpine knows it
  10. Nutrition & Health “Experts” You Shouldn’t Trust. Sheila Kealey‏.