Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Atkins Diet Takes A Lickin', Keeps On Tickin'

This Salisbury (NC) Post story attempted to weigh the "pros and cons" of the Atkins diet and other low-carb programs in an editorial by a health "expert" today.

But substitute health journalist Liz Friedrich MPH, RD, LDN (and we can add BS specialist to that list of letters!), who is a registered dietitian and self-proclaimed nutrition "expert," ignorantly answered a question from one of the newspaper's readers that simply asked about the safety and effectiveness of the Atkins diet.

"Is the Atkins diet safe? Will it help me lose weight?

Before I get into the lamebrained answers Friedrich provided to those two extremely easy questions, let me remind you that I have personally followed the Atkins diet/low-carb lifestyle coming up on two years as of January 1, 2006. My health has greatly improved since I shed nearly 190 pounds off my body (180 of it in 2004 alone!), got off all of my breathing, cholesterol and blood pressure medications, exercise regularly, and feel the best I have ever felt in my nearly 34 years on this Earth (my birthday is in two weeks -- two days after Christmas!). That's what I call "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" baby!

So, for me, the zippitty-doo-da answers to that reader's questions are "yep" and "you betcha!"

Friedrich, however, took the opportunity to share with the whole world her general disdain for the Atkins diet and low-carb living in general by going on an all-out assault and temper-tantrum-tirade of sorts about this wonderfully healthy way of eating that has changed my life forever for the better.

First off, she gets it bassackwards when she proclaims that "Atkins is a popular high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet."

Uh, no it's not. Actually, it's a VERY POPULAR low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet rich in fiber promoting healthy portions of fruits and vegetables to help people improve their health and control their weight. How can someone who purports to be such an expert on nutrition not even know the basics of the Atkins diet?! Was it just a typo on her part? Somebody really should have caught that whopper before it made it into print!

But she didn't stop there, it gets even worse.

While she correctly states that the Atkins diet "recommends you eat fewer carbohydrates," Friedrich added the caveat "regardless of the source."

Once again, WRONG-O! If you have done even a cursory reading of the Atkins New Diet Revolution book, Ms. Friedrich, then you would easily know that Dr. Atkins didn't recommend mindlessly eliminating all carbs from your diet.

While the first two weeks of the Induction phase keeps you at around 20g of carbohydrates so your body will get into the fat-burning mode known as ketosis, you don't stay there. Most people can eat upwards of 50, 75, even as many as 100g of carbs daily while they are losing weight and a lot more when they go into the lifetime maintenance phase.

What kind of carbohydrates do you suppose Dr. Atkins promoted for people following his program to eat? Can you say the "good" carbs found in fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich breads? Say it with me now, Ms. Friedrich, "you can eat lots of healthy carbs on the Atkins diet." I knew you could do it!

But Friedrich said people who are on the Atkins diet avoid all sugar (you bet we do!), as well as so-called "healthful foods" that she lists such as "breads and cereals, rice, pasta, and many fruits and vegetables" which she says are "off limits."

Isn't this supposed to be a dietitian writing this garbage? How can a professional health and nutrition guru get it so wrong about the most popular diet program in the world over the past few years?! Yikes!

Who says you can't eat bread, cereal, fruits, and vegetables on a low-carb lifestyle? There are some delicious low-carb breads and bagels (how does ZERO grams of net carbs sound to you? -- check out these from our friends at!) as well as great-tasting low-carb cereals in a wide variety of flavors.

Furthermore, anyone who has paid attention lately has heard of the miracle pasta called Dreamfields which is enjoying a resurgence of popularity now that people are finally becoming convinced that this amazing product that tastes so good really is low-carb with only 5g of digestible carbs (compared with 45g in regular pasta!). WOWsers, this stuff is good! Why would you eat the regular stuff anymore?! I live by this product for my pasta fix. :)

Fans of rice have turned to chopped up cauliflower to give them the texture of rice they want and desire without the excessive carbs they most definitely don't need. You can even mix in some great broccoli, green beans, celery and other nutritious vegetables along with some garlic salt and butter to enjoy a delectable low-carb side dish.

As for fruits, oh my goodness the options are endless. There's nothing finer than a plate full of fresh strawberries dipped in your favorite sugar-free, low-carb chocolates and then topped off with some luscious whipped cream for a treat that'll make you slap your momma silly it's so good. Mmmmmm! I also like to eat frozen raspberries or blueberries with some CarbSmart ice cream for a refreshing way to "suffer" on my low-carb diet! LOL!

Friedrich has got to be kidding, right? Does she REALLY believe people have to give up these foods when they are on the Atkins diet? Come on, stop lying to people and start telling them the honest truth! Her anti-Atkins propaganda is so transparent I'm frankly surprised she would have the wherewithall to spout such idiotic nonsense to her readers who may or may not be armed with the facts and take her incredibly one-sided commentary about low-carb as the gospel truth.

And yet, her attacks against the Atkins diet didn't stop there.

She continued to berate it by pointing out the "unpleasant side effects" that supposedly come with being on the Atkins diet.

"Bad breath, muscle cramps, constipation or diarrhea and exhaustion. While not major health concerns, they will affect your quality of life while you are dieting."

Come on, Ms. Friedrich! What's up with that? Sheeez, is this the best you've got? Bad breath? Pop a mint. Muscle cramps? Take a potassium supplement. Constipation? Eat more fiber and drink more water. Diarrhea? How can you have this and constipation at the same time? Hmmm? And exhaustion? While the first few days when you are ridding your body of the harmful toxins that being addicted to carbohydrates causes can make you feel tired and run down, that doesn't last very long and you'll feel more energetic than you ever have in your entire life. That was my experience.

She continues by stating that she does not "recommend extended use of the Atkins plan."

"Nutrition experts believe that long-term Atkins followers are putting their hearts at risk. Atkins dieters typically eat too much fat, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. While there is no direct link between Atkins and an increased risk for heart attack or stroke, there have also been no long-term studies on the effects of the diet. The diet plan suggests taking vitamin supplements to replace nutrients lost by cutting out most fruits and vegetables.

This is nonsense, Ms. Friedrich, and you know it. Fat is NOT the great enemy that you make it out to be. I have eaten lots of healthy fat over the past two years and it has been my fuel for working out and controlling my weight once and for all. While the "long-term studies" have not been conducted on the Atkins diet yet, they're coming and you will be VERY surprised by what will be revealed when they do. It's not gonna be pretty for you low-fat/low-calorie supporters! And, yes, I take dietary supplements to help my body function at the highest level it possibly can to add to the nutrients in the foods I am eating, including many fruits and vegetables.

Insinuating that people who eat less than 150g of carbs a day do not have "normal brain functions," Friedrich said people who are livin' la vida low-carb have to contend with this especially "negative side-effect of the diet."

"Having trouble thinking clearly? Could be that low-carb diet you are following!

Duh, wat iz rong wit me dat I caynt undrstaynd inneeting...

Say what?! You have got to be kidding me again, Ms. Friedrich! The only person who is not thinking clearly here is the self-obsessed dietitian who comes across as a health goddess where it's her way or the highway on the subject of healthy eating! Get over yourself, Ms. Friedrich! You couldn't be more wrong about low-carb if you tried!

I've never been more clear in my thinking than I am at this moment. Getting rid of the vicious rollercoaster ride that sugar addiction took me on while also providing my body with invigorating daily cardio workouts gave me all the mental clarity and energizing adrenaline to do what I am able to do today. My only regret is that I didn't start this great lifestyle change sooner so I could have been enjoying the benefits a long time ago.

Thumbing her nose at the fat-burning claims that the Atkins diet provides, Friedrich said "science just doesn't support that promise at this time."

"A low-carb regimen does not cause any magical change in the way your body metabolizes food. Strict followers of the Atkins plan are simply eating fewer calories, resulting in weight loss."

If low-carb doesn't provide any benefit metabolically, then why are so many athletes turning to it to maximize their workouts? How was I able to go from 53% body fat down to an extremely healthy 11% body fat by livin' la vida low-carb? Did it just magically happen on its own or could the low-carb foods I ate actually have played a role in my body fat reduction? Hmmmm?

As for eating fewer calories on a low-carb lifestyle, isn't it funny how that works? Opponents of the Atkins diet proclaim as if they have a "GOTCHA" moment that people merely lose weight eating low-carb because they consume less calories. But that doesn't explain the fact that most of us low-carbers don't ever count a single calorie when we are eating them because we are more satiated with the foods available to us. If you stay fuller longer then you don't have to eat as much food or as many calories. Who cares if that means you eat less calories if it's a lifestyle change you can live with permanently!

Is this really rocket science? What is it with the low-fatties like Friedrich who want to rob people like me of the joy that comes from being free from the rules of dieting forever?! I just don't get it! You would think they'd be happy for our amazing weight loss success and newfound interest in healthy living. Can anybody explain this mystery to me?

Towards the end of her column, Friedrich does note "one benefit that deserves mentioning" regarding the Atkins diet.

"It recommends eliminating many 'empty-calorie' foods from the diet, including soda, sweet tea, desserts, chips and other foods and beverages we tend to consume without much thought. Giving up those foods and drinks can drastically cut your calorie intake. This is one reason that so many people see initial success with the Atkins diet."

Well, well, well, was that so hard, Ms. Friedrich? You actually came up with a pretty good reason to start livin' la vida low-carb. But not until after you had blasted it to smithereens with a whole lotta misinformation and distortions of what it's really all about. What is so threatening about such a healthy way of eating that has helped tens of millions of people restore their health and reduce their weight?

I cannot and will not sit back and allow someone like Friedrich to purposely malign the good name of Dr. Atkins and his life's work just because she's a so-called "expert" on health and nutrition. It ain't right and I won't let people like her get away with making such baseless charges about a subject they obviously know NOTHING about. Instead, they will keep preachin' their "eat less fat, calories and portions" mantra until they're blue in the face. Thankfully, many people are beginning to understand that message has merely led to higher obesity rates and the perpetuation of a worldwide epidemic.

"Eat a well-balanced diet, (following the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid), enjoy those 'empty-calorie' foods you love every now and then in small amounts, and maintain an active lifestyle that includes vigorous exercise most days of the week. Good luck!"

Is that it, Ms. Friedrich? Good luck? Really? Jonny Bowden has a great take on the whole "balanced diet" response that people like Ms. Friedrich so smugly promote to people desiring weight loss. As for following the government-indoctrinated dietary food guidelines found in the USDA-recommended Food Pyramid, I think I'll take a pass. If eating that way was realistic for people to get healthy and lose weight for good, then the word "obesity" wouldn't exist in our dictionary!

We cannot allow such imbecilic thinking to pervade the culture's perception of livin' la vida low-carb. We know better because we live it every single day. But to those desperate souls searching for a way to overcome their weight problem, voices like Friedrich could unnecesssarily turn them away from the very answer to their heartfelt cry for real help. This should make you angry enough to take action against anyone who would ruthlessly trash low-carb living and combat their lies with the truth.

You can voice your opinion to Ms. Liz Friedrich and let her know what you think about her ignorant comments on the low-carb lifestyle by sending her an e-mail at as well as to the Lifestyles editor at The Salisbury Post at

12-17-05 UPDATE: One of my more astute and eloquent readers wrote the following letter to The Salibury Post that will bring a smile to your face:

To whom it may concern:

Recently a respected and knowledgeable friend, and author of, pointed me to an article in the Salisbury (NC) Post regarding dietary recommendations in your newspaper. The story (supposedly) attempted to weigh the "pros" and "cons" of the famous Atkins diet. I subsequently read a copy of said article myself.

I regret to inform you that I seldom have read a more saddening and distorted piece of nutritional misinformation, decorated with pseudo-scientific half-truths. Despite mountains of clinical and scientific evidence for the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of this and many other low-carb diets, poorly informed and misguided self-proclaimed "experts" keep touting biased nonsense like this onto the unsuspecting populace - the same people that are struggling with their weight and expect our "experts" to say something reasonably intelligent about it. Instead, these poor souls keep hearing nonsense like "it's your own fault, you should eat more pasta and less fat and exercise more", preferably followed by a cynical "Good luck". As every nutritional scientist can tell you, this is a total travesty.

"Of course" Ms. Friedrich could not resist to repeat the tried-and-true, low-fat, anti-cholesterol mantra:

"Nutrition experts believe that long-term Atkins followers are putting their hearts at risk. Atkins dieters typically eat too much fat, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. While there is no direct link between Atkins and an increased risk for heart attack or stroke, there have also been no long-term studies on the effects of the diet. The diet plan suggests taking vitamin supplements to replace nutrients lost by cutting out most fruits and vegetables."

Apart from the fact that this is a major and most likely deliberate misrepresentation of the initial phase of this brilliant diet, if I interpret the above direct quote correctly, nutritional experts "believe" (sic!) that fat, especially saturated fat, and "of course" cholesterol is not good for you, right?

Wrong! Very wrong. In fact, Ms. Friedrich could hardly be more wrong.

The low-fat, high-carbohydrate theorem, or rather, this fallacy, has been repeated over and over again in the popular media for over three decades now, and hence, most sadly can be characterized as the low-fat gospel - but certainly not as nutritional science. Let alone healthy dietary advice.

Simply put - it is a hard scientific and statistical fact that the low fat gospel has failed not only the test of time - it is an equally hard fact that there is most certainly not a shred (!) of scientific data to support it. Literally billions of research dollars have been spent in the USA alone to show the low fat gospel to be solidly founded in nutritional science - only to come up with evidence to the contrary. Likewise, it is hardly a secret these days that in countries where the least fatty foods are consumed, like the USA and the UK, the highest incidences of obesity and directly linked CVE's (Cardio Vascular Events) per capita are observed.

Unfortunately in more recent times this obesity and the directly associated diabetes epidemic started to spread over Asia as well - not in the least due to dietary misinformation and rampant misrepresentation of facts.

The reality of the matter is that fat, in its many forms, is not the culprit at all. Literally mountains of clinical and scientific research data point to the real culprit in today's obesity epidemic: the excessive consumption of over-processed, empty carbohydrates like sugars, starches, corn syrups, and fabricated, engineered fats like trans-fats: corn- and vegetable based oils, shortenings and margarines as well as over-processed, unnatural, sugar laden foods. Yes, the very same foods we are advised to eat by our wonderful pseudo-scientific "experts".

The real, indisputable and scientifically proven facts are that the human metabolism needs natural fats, salt and cholesterol in rather amazingly high quantities in order to function properly and remain healthy. Yes, indeed, these are the very fats that are still demonized in the mainstream media these days. And incidentally, Ms. Friedrich: calorie counting has since long been proven to be total populist nonsense and even outright dangerous. The calorie theory in itself is a proven scientific fact - but as applied to nutritional science, it is downright absurd. A professional should know that.

The traditional, natural human diet, the very diet on which humanity evolved and survived, is traditionally very high in fats and proteins from fish, fowl, poultry, eggs, meats, vegetables and fruits, and extremely healthy. I was very disappointed that your newspaper now apparently feels compelled to lower itself to the type of dietary "advice" that is normally touted by misinformed, self-appointed "dieticians" in populist periodicals, not health - but profit-driven pharmaceutical conglomerates and degenerated government bureaucrats.

Instead of being "healthy", a low-fat diet, as almost force-fed on the populace by the aforementioned dimwits with no clue of nutritional science, will without any doubt aggravate and compound modern obesity-driven illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, atherosclerosis and CVE's - not to mention the "usual", long and sad list of associated "modern" diseases.

That, and nothing else, is the root cause of today's obesity and diabetic epidemic.

Ms. Friedrich also suggested that there would be no or little clinical and scientific evidence for the long-term safety of low-carb diets. Another piece of misinformation, as this is absolutely untrue.

An enormous amount of scientific research and clinical evidence shows clearly that low-carb diets are much more heart-healthy than low-fat diets. Low-fat diets and strictly vegan diets show significantly higher incidences of heart diseases, cancer and CVE's than so-called low-carb/high-fat diets. Which, of course, should not surprise the millions that follow a low-carb lifestyle, but it is certainly not common knowledge. Much of this evidence, incidentally, comes from major mainstream studies, including the often abused and mis-quoted famous Harvard Nurses Study.

Let me go one step further, even. If low-carb is "not safe", then what about a NO-carb diet? In fact, there is hard, real, scientific proof that even a NO-carb diet is completely safe and extremely healthy. Let's have a look at one of the healthiest people on Earth, shall we? The Inuit Eskimo's. They, and their dietary habits have been subject of rigorous scientific study since the beginning of the 20th century.

The traditional Inuit (Eskimo) diet is a NO-carb diet. It is notable that the Inuit diet described by Drs Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Hugh Sinclair in the 1950s is very similar in regard to percentages of fat/protein/carb intake to the experimental very-low-carb/high fat diets used in recent obesity studies. The Inuit diet was comprised of seal, whale, salmon, and a very limited amount of berries and the partially digested contents of animals’ stomachs. So hardly any veggies and almost no fruits - in essence, a no-carb diet. On this diet, blood cholesterol levels were relatively high, as were free fatty acids, but – and this is by far much more important, as any professional knows – triglycerides were very low. It is interesting to note that the Inuit were of great interest to research scientists because they had practically none of the diseases we suffer, including obesity, coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus.

So if anyone wants proof that low-carb or even NO-carb diets are safe... just look at natural, traditional diets. The very diets humanity evolved and survived on, and there's your answer. No diseases, no obesity, no heart attacks... "strange" huh? Maybe there is something wrong with our sacrosanct Food Pyramid?

Why so many people, including professionals who definitely should know better, still ignore such hard and documented facts never ceases to amaze me. There is overwhelming clinical and scientific evidence that low-carb diets are not only safe but even far superior to low-fat diets - not only for weight loss and weight maintenance, but certainly also for good health and continued improvement of health.

And yet, every so often somebody comes by and repeats the same lame statements: "there is no evidence". Well, there is, for everybody to see and read, and freely available. Thousands of professional, peer-reviewed research papers, and mountains of data. Not to mention major scientific studies of ancient tribes and cultures.

The only thing one needs is open eyes and an IQ sufficient to see the difference between "light" and "dark"... Your newspaper would do wise to steer clear from this kind of nonsense, and better still, stop playing doctor when you clearly are not.

I challenge you to publish this letter in your newspaper as well.


Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Hi Jimmy,

Great post, as always. You tell it like it is and give it to 'em with both barrels. I absolutely love it. The world needs more people like you.

Keep up the good work!

12/14/2005 2:23 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS, Science4u1959! Somebody needs to confront what I believe are purposeful misrepresentations of the facts about low-carb. I too wish more people who believed as strongly as I do about the healthy low-carb lifestyle would stand up to the lies. Have you considered doing your own blog? :)

12/14/2005 3:11 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Heres the e-mail that I sent Ms. Friedrich and her editor:

"Hello, I found the article berating low carb diets to be ignorant and misinformative.
Thats all."


12/14/2005 3:14 PM  

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