Highlights from the 2019 CrossFit Health Conference

On Wednesday, July 31st I attended the 2019 CrossFit Health Conference. Four years ago, I first heard Greg Glassman mention the idea of a CrossFit Health Conference on a podcast, and this was the third year it has taken place. The CrossFit Health Conference offers the opportunity to discuss how CrossFit methodology can redirect the current trend in global health. This one day conference is meant for CrossFitters, Affiliate Owners, Doctors, Physical Therapist, Nutritionist, and other Health Practitioners to all come together and work towards fixing “The Mess” (watch it at the bottom of this post) as Greg calls it. The conference started at 8AM and went until 4 PM with each speaker giving a lecture that lasted between 60 and 90 minutes. To help give you the highlights of the day, I’ve provided the speakers and what I thought were the key takeaways from each, with links to external sources for you to dig deeper into the topic as you choose. 


Dr. Uffe Ravnskov

Uffe is a Danish medical doctor who is at the forefront of disproving the Lipid Hypothesis (eating fat, which contains cholesterol, will clog your veins & arteries and lead to a cardiac event). He is also one of the leaders of the THINCS (The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics), and his lecture was delivered via Skype. Uffe recommends going to YouTube and watching the videos that populate when you search for “Cholesterol Myth” to understand what the current situation is in medicine regarding cholesterol and health. A few facts from his lecture are provided below:

  • Through scientific studies it has been demonstrated that elderly individuals with higher LDL (supposedly the wrong type of cholesterol) tend to have lower rates of mortality when compared to individuals with lower levels of LDL.
  • Through his research it is evident that most of the damage to arteries & veins are directly correlated with levels of inflammation brought on by poor habits (stress, smoking, improper diet and chronically high insulin, etc.)
  • The top 5 pharmaceutical companies in our country (who are in the fortune 500) make more money than the bottom 400 companies COMBINED.
  • In his estimation, it takes 25 YEARS to create real change in the medical community. Essentially what Uffe alluded to was that until the current guard dies, not much will change.


Dr. Zoë Harcombe

Dr. Zoe Harcombe is a researcher and author in the field of nutrition, with a Ph.D. in public health nutrition.

  • One major issue in getting the word out on what is healthy vs. unhealthy: it is often a battle between Nutritional Advice Laws & the 1st Amendment. Despite some states beginning to allow CrossFit coaches to provide nutritional advice, the battle continues for many others. For more info on that read this: CROSSFIT TRAINER LOSES NUTRITIONAL SPEECH SUIT; BATTLE CONTINUES
  • There are NO Essential Carbohydrates that exist, only essential amino acids (proteins) and fats. Fiber is not essential.
  • Zoë strongly advocates an eating plan that does not revolve around small meals all day. “Unless you want to be the size of a cow, don’t graze like one.”
  • Remember the real reason you eat: it’s not to deal with stress or to be social, it is to fuel your body adequately. If you eat to fuel your body, you will make better food choices.


Professor Peter Gøtzsche

Peter is a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration and has written numerous reviews for the organization. His membership of Cochrane was terminated by its Governing Board of Trustees in 2018 due to his work on exposing the unethical practices of his own institute.

  • Peter’s book “Death of a Whistleblower and Cochrane’s Moral Collapse” reads like a crime novel, so much in fact, that he makes the observation that Big Pharma runs very similar to organized crime (yikes). He also recommends “The Art of Always Being Right” to understand the scope and magnitude of the scandal.
  • The third leading cause of death in the world is ill-prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.


Gary Taubes

Gary is an American journalist, writer, and low-carbohydrate diet advocate. He has written many books such as “Good Calories Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat.” Gary has been fighting the crusade to demonstrate that the thermodynamic view of the calories in vs. calories out model is an inaccurate paradigm. This crusade has led him to write multiple books, deliver hundreds of lectures, and has put him at the forefront of Nutritional Science from a CrossFit perspective.

  • Between 1973 and 2010 the amount of diabetes and pre-diabetes is up 400%
  • The theory of nutrition that explains the current status of health in the world is a hormonal one, according to Gary. A dysfunctional endocrine system, caused by the excessive intake of carbohydrate creates a negative feedback loop that makes the individual sicker and sicker until they die a premature death.
  • In 150 of years of research, since the invention of the calorimeter, there hasn’t been a single scientific study that demonstrates that the thermodynamic view of nutrition (calories in must equal calories out to maintain body weight) is correct. 


Dr. David Diamond

Dr. David Diamond is a Neuroscience Professor at the University of Southern Florida. He once had triglycerides in the 800s and HDL in the 30s when following a “heart-healthy” diet, as prescribed by the AMA (American Heart Association). Through modification of his diet, he was able to normalize his triglycerides and HDL to healthy values, and as a result, he aims to help bring awareness to the ills of modern nutritional science.

  • First, and most shocking to me, the AMA is a private entity who answers to no-one. The AMA is NOT a government agency that has your best interest in mind, it has sponsors it needs to appease.
  • He was the second speaker to show the relationship between low cholesterol levels and increased mortality. Dr. Diamond also suggested, based upon scientific research, that lower cholesterol leads to higher incidences of cancers.
  • Individual with familial hypercholesterolemia should have their blood coagulation measured. It appears that Fibrinogen (clotting agent within our blood) may play a higher role in cardiovascular disease than cholesterol.


Dr. Dom D’Agostino

Dr. Dom D’Agostino is a professor and ketogenic researcher at the University of Southern Florida. His primary focus of research is for NASA and the Navy Seals, more specifically how the body responds to high stress, low oxygen environments. Dr. D’Agostino is widely considered one of the pioneers in ketogenic research, specifically in cancer research.

  • Individuals can use ketone esters to put themselves in full-blown ketosis in 30 minutes.
  • Ketosis can be used to treat cancer as mitochondria of the cell cannot use ketones as fuel for cellular respiration (aerobic metabolism). The perversion of cancer cell mitochondria forces the cell to only create energy in glycolysis, which can only form energy in the presence of carbohydrate.
  • Dr. D’Agostino feels that the best athletes in the sport of CrossFit would be able to perform better if they were metabolically flexible, meaning they can create energy from both their own body fat as well as exogenous carbohydrate.

I hope that you found the informational tidbits I took from this day-long conference interesting. As CrossFit coaches, box owners, and health nerds, we can pass this information along to our communities in the hope that we may inspire change for the good. It’s also important to take the information you read with a grain of salt and think critically about its context and who it’s coming from to ensure you’re not simply always going with the grain. Keep fighting the good fight.

-Coach Sherb

Written by Matt Sherburne


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