Saturday, August 20, 2005

Atkins Diet Successor Is A Big 'Load' Of Crap

Now that the Atkins diet is supposedly gone for good, what's the next "big thing" in dieting? Which diet is going to step up to the plate attempting to be the successor to the most popular diet in the history of the world? And don't say this one! Yikes!

This Financial Times story written by Mike Shallcross, associate editor for Men's Health Magazine, tries to answer that question by hailing what they think is going to replace Atkins and other low-carb programs while hurling a few more theories about why the Atkins diet supposedly failed. There's even one comment at the end of the article from a strong Atkins supporter about why low-carb was destined to be vilified from its inception that may surprise you.

In the article entitled "Blood sugar, sweat and tears," Shallcross claims there were "few mourners among the slimming classes" about the announcement that Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. went bankrupt. And Shallcross was one of those who was not shedding any tears about it either.

This article from March 2004 reveals a quote from Shallcross where he describes low-carb as a "faddish" way of eating and, thus, isn't "the way to go forward" with a healthy lifestyle. Oh really?!

So Shallcross does not come at this subject with an unbiased opinion about livin' la vida low-carb. Even when everybody and their momma was talking about how great the low-carb lifestyle was a year and half ago, Shallcross was one of the naysayers who did not see the value of this way of eating as a long-term way to lose weight and keep it off for the rest of your life. That certainly explains a lot of the criticism he gives low-carb in this Financial Times story.

While he acknowledges that Atkins has certainly influenced how people view foods, the "direct successor" of low-carb so far has been the GI diet, aka glycemic index. Of course, the GI diet is so similar to low-carb that many are wondering if there is something else out there for them to try instead.

That's where the GL diet comes into play. The GL diet? Haven' t heard of it yet? Well, GL stands for glycemic load. The Department of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School took the GI diet and recalculated the numbers according to portion sizes which can vary from person to person to create the GL diet.

The GL diet allows people to eat a lot more carrots and watermelons than a low-carb or GI diet would, but does not allow many types of pasta and rice as well as potato chips and mashed potatoes. Isn't this exactly what Atkins gets railed for by those who oppose the low-carb way of eating? You can't have this, you can't have that, so the heck with it. That's what people are saying, so why is the GL diet so revered by the media and nutrition experts?

It sounds to me like this GL diet, supposedly the next great successor to the Atkins diet, is a big "load" of crap! The Atkins diet is still working for a lot of people to help them lose weight and keep it off. What was so wrong with Atkins and low-carb that makes people think they need to try something else? Shallcross offers a few reasons why he believes "the Atkins diet fell from grace."

1. "Most diets work initially because they set limits to what you can eat."

It is true that the Atkins diet limits your carbohydrate intake to around 20g for the first two weeks to help transform your body into the fat-burning machine it was meant to be. That's the only way you will start losing weight which was packed on your body from overeating on unhealthy products chock full of sugar, white flour and starch. There's nothing wrong with these limitations and before long you don't even miss your old way of eating once you get into livin' la vida low-carb.

2. "Atkins’ attack on carbs cut out easy snacking and replaced it with less convenient alternatives - it is one thing to throw a bagel into your briefcase on the way to work, another to do the same thing with a fried egg or rashers of bacon.

Have you heard of nuts, my friend? How about turkey and cheese roll-ups? Or string cheese and pepperoni? The excuse that Atkins is not as convenient as doing it my own way is just being lazy. There are many low-carb "finger foods" that people can take with them on the go. Even still, inconvenience should never be a good reason for giving up on your low-carb lifestyle. Have you seen the myriad of snack products available from LO-Carb U Foods and KickTheCarbz lately?

3. "Everyone knows an Atkins dieter who has 'put it all on again.' Low-carb diets are hard and perhaps people found they did not work in the long term. Certainly Americans found it hard to maintain eliminating whole categories of food."

I know a guy at my work who lost over 100 pounds on low-carb as I was losing weight in 2004, but then he gained it back. But guess what? IT WAS HIS FAULT! He stopped following the good habits he learned while he was losing weight following a low-carb program and went right back to eating sugary snacks and sodas and chowing down on carbohydrates like they were going out of style.

Can you really blame Atkins for this? What's so hard about it that people can't keep it up as a permanent life change? I just don't get it. As for "eliminating whole categories of food," what is that referring to? It certainly can't be carbs because none of the four phases of Atkins calls for the complete elimination of ANY food groups. I'll keep correcting that persistent lie as long as I have breath to breathe and fingers to type.

At the end of the article, Shallcross quotes a man named William Leith who wrote a hilarious yet telling book (a la Adam Wilk's Diet King) about being obsessed with food called The Hungry Years: Confessions Of A Food Addict. As an avid Atkins fan, Leith shares some insight into why he believes livin' la vida low-carb has been destined to fail from the very beginning.

Since the low-carb lifestyle requires that you stop eating certain kinds of foods such as white bread, potatoes, and sugar, Leith believes that adversely hits the pocketbooks of those people who work in those specific industries.

“Millers and potato farmers work in high-bulk, low-margin industries. If their sales drop by just a few percent they have to lay off thousands of workers,” Leith writes in his book. “Low-carb, in other words, potentially harms the food industry in a way that low-fat does not.”

Bingo-bango-bongo! Leith is exactly right! Why else would the public relations firm for the Sugar Association be watching this very blog for my comments about how harmful sugar is for you when you are livin' la vida low-carb? We can't help it that people who are in the sugar, potato, and bread business have felt the sting of declining sales in recent years. Aren't these the same companies that grew fat (and at the same time grew the waistlines of Americans!) making high-profits before Dr. Atkins started educating people about these carb-loaded health destroyers?

While I don't want to see anyone lose their job, the fact is that businesses have to change with the times and adapt to the current market forces. If low-carb has changed that, then maybe these companies need to stop whining about lost revenues and start making the adjustments needed to remain viable in 2005 and beyond. The economy is built on the backs of people who are willing to offer what the consumer wants. Lest you are worried, the bread, potato and sugar industries aren't going anywhere anytime soon as long as people enjoy eating burgers with buns, potato chips and candy bars. But maybe they need to begin downsizing to accomodate their shrinking customer base that has resulted from those of us who no longer spend our money on those products. That's a hard financial reality check that all of them should learn before they jeopardize their businesses.


Blogger Julia Havey said...

Jorge claims "if he had kept going at that rate, he would have become obese", that is really not a real claim. He was a chubby kid, but most kids go through an akward phase. He has ONE picture of himself on a couch as an adult to show that he was "overweight" and therefore 'feels the pain' along with the rest of us and our weight issues.

I think his titles are misleading and in the long run do more harm than good to the obese person.

If you are 100 pounds overweight, sorry, but 8 minutes of exercise in the morning is not going to do a damn thing for you. If you really look at Jorge's "diet", it is nothing more than a sound (and good) nutritional eating plan, but that isn't sexy and isn't one that is likely to be a blockbuster best seller, so you are right Laura, he had to market it and build a brand and how better than to tell people that they could lose weight just by exercising for 8 minutes in the morning! Who wouldn't buy that?! I know that I would have when I was 290 pounds and grabbed at any promise of easy weight loss.

It is only when reading the fine print of Jorge's plan, like with any fad diet or pill, that you find "for optimal results follow a healthy diet and exercise!" If one ONLY did the 8 minutes as promised in the title they would not realize significant weight loss.

As for the 3-hour diet?! The title reeks of fad and quick fix promises. I promise you that some poor unsuspecting folks bought this book hoping to be thin in 3 hours. Why not be upfront and say "The eat every 3 hour diet" AND don't give the additional fake promise of "it's not WHAT you eat, but WHEN you eat it".

Jorge, it is what you eat! The biggest problem for the American overweight population is WHAT they eat and to tell them if they just alter the time of day that they eat it, and then they will lose weight--"2 pounds EVERY week" is nothing more than another fad that will only lead to disappointment rather than weight loss.

The truth isn't sexy and it doesn't sell as well as fads, but it works.

Carpe Diet!

8/21/2005 8:48 PM  

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