Thursday, July 07, 2005

Louisville Professor Scorns Atkins Diet, Admits People Lose 'Lots Of Pounds' On It

This Louisville, Kentucky-based Courier Journal article from an health professor at the University of Louisville heavily promotes the high-carb Mediterranean diet while simultaneously scorning the Atkins diet as "not healthy."

Dr. Bryant Stamford is an Exercise Physiology Professor and Director of the Health Promotion Center at the University of Louisville. He has educated people on matters of health, fitness and disease prevention over the past quarter century through his "Body Shop" column featured by the Courier Journal and his "Health Works" radio show. These venues allow Dr. Stamford an opportunity to express his opinions about anything and everything regarding issues of health.

While he is a strong supporter of exercise to help with weight maintenance, there is little doubt in my mind that Dr. Stamford's professional background since the early 1980s has led him to the conclusion that a low-fat diet is the most effective means for losing and maintaining your weight. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to anyone that he would have a few choice words to say against livin' la vida low-carb.

Here are the opening paragraphs of Dr. Stamford's latest column:

Which diet has been around for quite a while and, instead of losing steam and disappearing, is actually gaining momentum and scientific accolades?

No, it isn't the Atkins diet. Thankfully, that's been on a steady decline ever since the masses finally realized -- after losing lots of pounds and immediately regaining them -- that snacking on cheese wrapped in bacon is clearly not healthy.

And it's not the Zone diet or any other trendy flash-in-the-pan quick fix.

It's the Mediterranean diet, which has been in existence for ages. There had been some favorable scientific reports on the Mediterranean diet in the past, but Americans failed to jump on board with even a tiny fraction of the passion that went into the Atkins revolution.

I'll give Dr. Stamford credit for one thing. At least he acknowledges you can lose "lots of pounds" on a low-carb program. But that's about all he got right in his brief comments regarding Atkins.

As someone who lost 180 pounds on the Atkins lifestyle, I take issue with the automatic assumption that people are "immediately regaining" the weight they lost following a low-carb plan. If you are continuing to follow the low-carb way of eating as your lifestyle change as Dr. Atkins always suggested, then you won't gain back the weight.

The only reason anyone would start "immediately regaining" weight after losing on Atkins is if they got off the program. Duh! If you go right back to the way you used to eat, then how can you expect your body NOT to gain weight?

You can't blame the Atkins diet if people get off of it and then regain their weight. The responsibility for failure in those instances lies solely with the individual who chose not to commit themselves to a permanent lifestyle change to improve their health. Regardless of which plan you use to lose weight, you can't go back to the way you used to eat ever again if you want to keep the weight off for good.

Mocking those of us who have chosen the low-carb way of life, Dr. Stamford exclaims "snacking on cheese wrapped in bacon is clearly not healthy." Oh, really. Besides the fact that most of us don't eat that way (but we could if we really wanted to and would not have to feel guilty about it!), Dr. Stamford is clearly indicating that he disapproves of us low-carbers being able to enjoy foods that he considers taboo for any "healthy" diet.

Bacon? Cheese? Why, they have too much fat in them to be good for you. Don't you know eating fat makes you fat (actually a recent study found eating too LITTLE fat causes weight gain around the belly!) because that's the big fat lie I've been feeding my students and readers for the past 25 years?

While he may describe Atkins and other low-carb programs as "trendy flash-in-the-pan quick fix" diets, the fact is that there are a lot of people just like me who have found great success on them and have made this way of eating our new lifelong commitment to better health. I know that upsets people like Dr. Stamford, but I say they need to get over it because I'm not changing something that's working for me better than I could have ever expected.

It's obvious these people who oppose low-carb have never felt the pain of dealing with obesity their entire lives and the pure elation that comes from being set free from the bondage of that albatross once and for all. That's what livin' la vida low-carb has done for me and the likes of Dr. Stamford want to take that euphoric feeling away from me and guilt trip me into thinking my eating choices are suddenly "not healthy."

Do you want to know what is truly "not healthy," Dr. Stamford. It's living in the body of a 410-pound man (which is what I weighed prior to starting Atkins on January 1, 2004) and feeling like giving up completely on any attempt to lose weight because everything I had tried to do failed to keep the weight off. That's when low-carb entered my life and revolutionized my thinking about healthy eating and showed me that this is something that would be sustainable long after the "diet" ended. With immediate success, I was motivated to continue on my weight loss journey to get down to 230 pounds and have maintained that weight loss for six months now. I expect to keep the weight off for the rest of my life following a low-carb lifestyle.

I have nothing bad to say about the Mediterranean diet except to say it is too high in carbs and too low in fat for me to succeed on it. I think I'll stick with the plan that worked for me and that's livin' la vida low-carb. The bottom line to and effective weight loss plan is to find something that works for you and to keep doing it for the rest of your life. Otherwise, you can and will fail every time.

Write to Dr. Stamford at to let him know how low-carb really is a way of life for so many people who have lost weight and kept it off permanently.

07/09/2005 UPDATE: Either Dr. Stamford is a real airhead or he just didn't read this blog post that I sent to him. Here is the very pithy, yet quirky response I got from him:

HI, Jimmy...I'm delighted. thanks for letting me know. take care.... bryant

HUH?! I sent him an e-mail sharing with him my criticism of his anti-Atkins opinions, and that's all he has to say about it? With such incredibly intelligent thinking like that, no wonder the would-be doctors of this world are so dogmatic in their disdain for anything outside the realm of medical academia.

People like Dr. Stamford are the reason why we cannot move forward in the obesity debate because he is spreading his unsubstantiated opinions to the students at the University of Louisville. What is most sad is this is going on at medical universities all across the United States and around the world! They have closed their minds to the thought that livin' la vida low-carb can be a healthy alternative for some people to use for weight loss. This is the sad reality we face in this day and age.

Let's all write an e-mail to Dr. Stamford at and asking him why he dislikes the low-carb lifestyle so much. Surely he isn't "delighted" to know that so many people follow this way of eating as a permanent and deliberate choice. Let me know if he writes you back and I'll feature your comments here.


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1/02/2006 5:19 PM  

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