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Attention PR Firms Representing Health Products: I’m Not Interested If It’s Not Low-Carb

Posted Aug 25 2010 2:14pm

When you make “health and nutrition” what you do for a living and are successful at reaching an audience of people like I have been the past few years, it opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the public relations companies out there who represent a wide variety of clients offering products and services that fit within that mold to reach out to you. Now that the combined reach of my blog, podcast and other related sites has extended to well over a million faithful readers and listeners each month, these PR hawks have become so hungry seeking out their prey for a chance that maybe, just maybe I’ll talk about their client’s stuff in a positive way that they’ll send you press releases about every item you could ever imagine under the sun. But one thing I have deliberately tried to do especially as the traffic has increased with any potential new sponsors is to be very selective about who I work with making sure I personally like the product or service first and then having the discernment to know whether it is appropriate for my fans. That way when you see a banner on any of my web sites or hear a sponsorship spot at the beginning of my podcast, you can feel confident that it is something I have personally vetted out for myself and believe would be an excellent enhancement to your healthy low-carb lifestyle. That’s exactly what you get from both Steve’s Original PaleoKits and QuestBars –two of my latest sponsors–who have some truly remarkable products that I’m proud to associate with the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” brand!

Unfortunately, sometimes there are some overenthusiastic people working in the PR profession who sees the popularity of a blog like mine and forgets to see the name of the blog is “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb.” I’ve been pitched everything from soy ice cream to “healthy” whole grain crackers to fat-free fruit chews–obviously none of which would be appropriate for people on a carbohydrate-restricted way of eating. Sometimes I’ll get these press releases and have the notion to write back to them explaining why I won’t be doing business with them at all. It’s amazing how ill-informed these people are about what their clients are promoting as “healthy” and I have no problem at all sharing the flaws in their products as I see them. Sometimes these PR representatives try to sound smarter than they are by cloaking their client’s intent for some exposure for their products or services as a “news” release with an offer to conduct an interview with someone about that subject. There’s nothing wrong with this practice, but common sense would tell you to be sure you don’t turn off the recipient of your press release with nonsensical statements. I got the perfect example of this recently.

The company (which will remain anonymous because I don’t think they deserve any attention at all) which I’ll call “Plant Power” asked a couple of probing questions at the beginning of a press release that were meant to pique my interest.

Are you following the plant vs animal protein discussion? Is brown rice and yellow pea protein on your radar screen? Thought the information below may be of interest.

Since this crossed my desk, I assumed it was a company with a focus on the benefits of animal protein sources. But I quickly realized it was anything but that. The CEO of “Plant Power” was making herself available to “speak to the benefits of plant protein, healthier alternatives to juice fasting and more.” Uhhhhh, okay. I was curious about what she would have to say, so I kept reading. The first two lines of the “news”-type press release just about pushed me over the edge, though.

Every year it seems a new diet fad makes headlines–Scarsdale, Atkins, South Beach and Zone diets to name a few. While they may work for some people, it can be hard to keep the weight off.

Reading this trashing of a quality low-carb plan like Atkins and others by describing them as “fad” diets was very odd to me, especially in light of the fact that that rest of the press release talked about how important protein is in weight loss and health (a macronutrient that is an essential part of a low-carb plan in conjunction with fat). Of course, they cited some study published in The New England Journal Of Medicine that claims plant-based protein is better than animal protein for weight loss–blah, blah, blah–because foods like brown rice and yellow peas have a “higher pH and is thought to be easier to digest than protein from animal sources.” The answer to getting this “right” kind of protein in your body is by getting the protein shake made by “Plant Power” because it provides “the only plant protein that takes the next step of optimizing the blend with specific vegetarian amino acids.” Yadda yadda yadda, I’ve heard it all before from the vegetarians and that’s just not a subject I’m interested in because I’ve seen how nutrient-deficient those diets are while there is plenty of evidence supporting animal-based protein and fat which I’ve written quite extensively about over the years. Yet this idea of promoting a meat-free diet has become more like a religion than based on any scientific evidence. What a shame!

I tried to ignore the nonsense about describing Atkins as a “fad” diet, but I wrote Lesson #8 of my book 21 Life Lessons From Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb to combat this common myth about healthy low-carb plans. So I fired back an e-mail to that PR woman to let her know how I felt about this description of a nutritional approach that helped me and many of my readers lose weight and get our health under control when everything else failed. I kept my comments brief and to the point attempting to get to the heart of the matter without being combative. Here’s what I wrote:

Why is the Atkins diet considered a “fad?” What’s wrong with obtaining your protein with healthy saturated fats that come from animals? Why does plant-based protein have some moral superiority over an animal-based one? I’m very interested in your response!

A few days later, the CEO of “Plant Power” herself responded with the following:

Plant protein is generally not superior to animal protein unless it is blended with other plant sources and the resulting amino acids profile is optimized with vegetarian amino acids. Organic beef, bison, chicken and wild game are good protein sources. However, because most people don’t chew enough and because of long digestion times and additional fat there are times when only a protein powder will do to enhance protein intake without over eating other macronutrients and to provide for more rapid uptakes in sport and for recovery. Most animal protein powders are cheap mass market products, are acidic in nature and have unnatural ingredients added to flavor and sweeten. Most people have become accustomed to cheap unnatural protein powders. Non-denatured whey protein isolate is a good product for most people but is very expensive, doesn’t mix well and is tasteless. Most whey proteins contain small amounts of isolates and make up the difference with much cheaper milk forms. There are times when cheap protein can be okay and there are also times when an essential amino acids blend is better than either plant or animal but that is another subject for another day.

TRANSLATION: Buy our products to get the best possible plant-based protein.

For once, I wish companies would just be honest about who and what they are without playing these games with the people they are pitching their products and services to. If a web site has a name like “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb,” then there’s a good chance that person either supports carbohydrate-restriction or has personally engaged in a plan like Atkins for weight and health improvements. DUH! So don’t think you’re doing yourself any favors by trashing on my low-carb lifestyle because that’s a great way to turn me off from ever doing any business with you regardless of what your product or service is all about. Generally when I see that kind of innuendo used to market a company, the e-mail is immediately headed straight for File 13 without even a blink of an eye. And just a word of advice to all the PR firms out there: don’t even bother peddling your low-fat, soy-based, maltitol-sweetened, natural sugar-filled products to me because neither my readers nor I are at all interested. Thank you for playing and have a nice day!

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