Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How Can You Be For Low-Carb, But Against The Atkins Diet?

I recently came across a column about livin' la vida low-carb in a student newspaper called The Daily Californian featuring the thoughts and opinions of an opinionated student writer. There must be something in the air out there on the campuses of higher learning in Berkeley, CA because our buddy there expressed some rather peculiar ideas about the Atkins diet much in the same manner as this student did earlier this year despite the fact that he admits having found success on low-carb.

How can you be FOR low-carb, but AGAINST the Atkins diet?

While he talks about going on a low-carb diet in his column entitled "The Notorious C.A.R.B.," Alex makes sure people know it's "not the Atkins one." What exactly is his problem with the most famous low-carb diet in the world developed by the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins?

" essentially a zero carb diet...a high-fat, high-calorie diet, so even though eating a piece of bacon has barely any carbs in it, you are having a s**tload of calories. This isn't good for your heart or colon."

Besides the rather crass and obscene nature of his writing style, he needs to learn to get his facts in order about the Atkins diet before writing about it. First of all, in no phase of the Atkins diet do you eat "zero" carbs. The most restrictive phase is Induction when you eat 20g of carbohydrates daily and then it goes up from there. These kind of malicious and neverending lies by those in the media about the Atkins diet is yet another example of how desperate the anti-Atkins zealots have become to bring down this miraculous nutritional approach.

Regarding the bacon comment and ostensibly the effect fat is supposed to have on the heart and colon, the evidence doesn't bear that out. You can learn all about how consuming a high-fat, low-carb diet has been found to show no increase in the risk of heart disease by listening to Episode 4 of my podcast about a bombshell Harvard study that released last week about this very subject. It's quite the education, so you might want to take some notes. The concerns of Atkins opponents about the long-term safety of this amazing diet have been much ado about nothing.

Despite his perplexing disdain for Atkins, he did turn to livin' la vida low-carb to lose the weight he had gained from living the life of a college student as well as being an invalid with a broken leg earlier in the year. He had been looking for a way to shed the pounds and his low-carb plan worked helping him drop 35 pounds in just two months. CONGRATULATIONS! You should be very proud.

It was such an amazing accomplishment for him that he decided to reveal his five rules for losing weight. Here they are:

1. Eat 65-75g carbs daily.
2. Watch your calories and stay below 1200 daily.
3. Consume small meals every two hours.
4. Drink 5 bottles of water daily.
5. Walk for 15-30 minutes daily.

Okay, that sounds simple enough, doesn't it? He added that proper vitamin supplementation is important as well as reading nutritional labels. Additionally, he said to keep a food journal and plan ahead with your meals.

Sounds like he followed a basic controlled-carb program, even if his carb count was higher than Atkins and other mainstream low-carb plans. It's unfortunate that he had to literally starve himself by only eating 1200 calories per day, though. No wonder he described his weight loss experience as "traumatic," "not fun," "hard work" and "a soul-sucking experience that makes you want to die." LOL! Sure makes me wanna run out and start his diet plan right now. HA!

So, I decided to e-mail the young journalist about his column and to explain that his views about the Atkins diet plan, which I followed by the book to lose my weight, are a bit skewed. Here's what I wrote to him:


CONGRATULATIONS on your weight loss on a low-carb lifestyle change. It really is the best thing you can do for yourself if you have excess weight that needs to be taken care of. I appreciate your column about this.

However, as someone who went on the Atkins diet in 2004 and lost over 180 pounds on it, I am concerned with your description of this healthy low-carb plan as a "zero carb" diet. From day one, the very least amount of carbs that Dr. Atkins ever recommended was 20 grams daily and that's just for the two weeks of Induction.

Thereafter you adjust the amount of carbs that are needed for your body depending on how much weight you need to lose (I had a lot when I started at 410 pounds) and then stay at or about that level until you reach your goal. Once the weight loss ends, you can add back a few more carbs and 75g daily is not unreasonable for maintenance.

While I can certainly appreciate your concerns about the people who take low-carb living to the extreme as do I, it is really not necessary to lambaste the Atkins diet to make that point. I'd appreciate hearing from you about why you believe the Atkins way of eating is inferior to what you have chosen as your pathway to health.

Also, was this a plan you just did on your own or was it an organized program? It sounds like you did a lower-calorie, low-carb plan. What are some of the foods you ate and any other details about your weight loss plan? I'd love to share it with the readers at my "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog.


Jimmy Moore

He responded back to me explaining what he meant with his column:


Thanks for the email. I appreciate the compliments and I wanted to likewise address your concerns.

Firstly, I hardly think that I lambaste the Atkins Diet. It may be possible that due to your dedication to the Atkins that you were searching for an inference that simply wasn't made. Nonetheless, if that was the perception the column gave, I apologize, I was simply stating the difference from my approach and the more popular Atkins Diet (which, admittedly, I have never attempted).

I do not believe in anyway that the Atkins Diet is inferior, however it is no secret that while the Atkins Diet is effective, it has great potential health hazards due to the high fat/calorie consumption. Any Google or Yahoo! search of "Danger of Atkins Diet" will result in hundreds of legitimate sources arguing such.

It's important to note that I am not an expert on the topic, and our readers know this. The "Get Fed" column is purely opinion and simply a student's perspective.

Also, I am not familiar with the Kimkins diet. I based my own program off of medical recommendations and a close friend who similarly lost weight off a program (named Linda Diet?) in Southern California, though my approach is loosely based on hers.

Thanks for your email!

Okay, so his only basis for thrashing the Atkins diet (which he did despite his excuses to the contrary) is from a search engine that told him how dangerous it is. Gee, that's some pretty solid primary evidence there! Sheeeez!

Doesn't he realize that most of that information on the Internet about the Atkins diet is coming from radical anti-meat vegan groups like PETA and their subsidiary Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM) who I have shown previously have coordinated attacks against Atkins while supporting a frivolous lawsuit filed by the infamous Jody Gorran?

Probably not. But he is still young and learning the ways of the world.

Even still, I'm sure his heart was in the right place. He was kind enough to share a sample menu from during his weight loss experience with me for anyone interested in what he did to lose an amazing 4 pounds a week.


1 egg – 1 carb, 75 calories
1 whole grain bread – 15 carbs, 80 calories
Coffee – 0 carbs, 0 calories

Morning Snack
Two slices of fat free cheese- 0 carbs, 100 calories

5 oz. broiled chicken- 0 carbs, 200 calories
½ cup carrots- 8 carbs, 40 calories
2 cups lettuce- 3 carbs, 10 calories
fat free salad dressing – 3 carbs, 15 calories
½ cup watermelon- 6 carbs, 25 calories
½ cup diet jello- 0 carbs, 8 calories
Diet coke- 0 carbs, 0 calories

Afternoon Snack
Can of tuna- 0 carbs, 180 calories

5 oz. Halibut- 0 carbs, 160 calories
1 cup broccoli- 5 carbs, 24 calories
2 cups lettuce- 3 carbs, 10 calories
Fat free dressing- 3 carbs, 15 calories
1 small orange- 14 carbs, 45 calories
Diet Coke- 0 carbs, 0 calories

Evening Snack
1 hard broiled egg- 1 carb, 75 calories

The menu wasn't too bad, although it wouldn't be nearly enough calories for me to survive on. I'd be starving eating like he did! If I was to make a few adjustments to the meals, I'd replace the whole grain bread in the morning with 3 more eggs with melted cheese on top, definitely eat the full-fat versions of cheese and dressings, replace the carrots with green beans, cauliflower or salad greens, skip the watermelon in favor of the lower-glycemic strawberries or blueberries, and ditch the sugary orange in favor of some yummy raspberries with heavy whipping cream.

Small changes like the ones I suggested keep this one-day menu very healthy while making it a very Atkins-friendly menu. Sorry to break the news to you, buddy! The shoe fits, so you need to get used to it.

Why is there such antagonism towards the Atkins diet when it too has been found to be an effective way that so many people have lost weight and gotten healthy? It worked for me and many others I have met, so that's all the proof I need. If he needs to beat up on my diet to make himself feel better, then I encourage him to do what he has to do. As for me, I'll keep on livin' la vida low-carb and reaping the benefits of the way of life.

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Blogger Science4u1959 said...

It's pretty stupid of this guy to consume low-fat and non-fat junk together with low-carb food choices. Nutritient absorption will be impaired, and satiety is likewise far from optimal. 1200 calories isn't very wise either: at least it's inadequate in terms of essential nutrients. It's the old calorie lie all over again. A less than smart approach if you'd ask me.

11/15/2006 4:52 AM  
Blogger fritz said...

youth is wasted on the young... especially the young from California, ha haaa...

11/15/2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger The One True Tami said...

I also wonder where exactly he's getting his carb counts from. 0 carbs for coffee? How many ounces? My sources have always told me that regular coffee has 1 carb per 8 ounces, more for flavored coffees.

11/15/2006 1:45 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Once again, someone who has no clue spouting off!!! The sad thing is, how many are going to read his posts and decide they can't possibly follow a "low carb" plan....I know I would be quite skeptical if I didn't know better!!!

I'm really getting tired of all the anti-fat garbage that's out there!!! Especially all the anti sat fat attitude!!!

I'm with you Jimmy....replace the cheese with the real thing and eat better, lower glycemic fruits and veggies!

As for the calories? On the kick sugar yahoo group, the RD there also recomended that one man should limit his calories to under 1300, and he's a man that's at least 180 pound over weight!

11/15/2006 8:37 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

>Any Google or Yahoo! search of "Danger of Atkins Diet" will result in hundreds of legitimate sources arguing such.<

I want to see the scientific studies! Hint: There's aren't any.

And hello. The cornerstone of Atkins is vegetables!

11/15/2006 9:38 PM  
Blogger Sherrie said...

That diet is no good for any age let alone a male and heck someone his age :rolleyes:

11/15/2006 10:02 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

Ok, here's my letter to him.

Hi Alex,

I read your article about your diet. Congrats on losing weight. It is hard. 35 pounds is an awesome accomplishment.

I must, however, take exception to some of your comments about Atkins as a "high fat, high calorie" diet with virtually "zero carbs." Please, before you write about something like this, read the source material. As Jimmy pointed out when he write you, you start at 20g net carbs a day, and most of those carbs should come from vegetables. It goes up from there until you find the level that works best for you. What the media won't tell you about Atkins (because it doesn't make good press) is that veggies are the cornerstone of this way of eating. In fact, as I type this I am eating a huge salad with tomato and cucumbers on top. Yum! As for calories, I eat about 1700 a day with about 50g carbs. I try to keep the carbs to 15% or less. I try to keep fat around 45%, but sometimes it's a bit lower. On Atkins, fat is fuel. With very low carbs, my body uses the fat to fuel my daily activities (such as my physical activity 6 days a week - walking, going to the gym, etc.).

While you can get plenty of hits of Google about the dangers of Atkins, the scientific studies don't bear those sites out. If you want to be taken seriously that there are dangers, then research the science rather than do a quick Google search. I could prove the earth is flat using Google; there are plenty of Web sites that say so!

Oh, by the way, cheese and coffee have carbs. The rule of thumb: if it doesn't have a face, it has carbs. Cheese is 1g per ounce, regardless of what the package says (manufactures fudge the figures), and coffee is about 1g carbs per 8 oz.

I didn't feel you were attacking Atkins so much as you just don't know about it. I encourage you to read the book so that you can talk about it from a place of knowledge.

Personal stats: I've been on Atkins for 2 1/2 years, have lost 60 pounds and maintained that loss, and my blood tests are great, so it is healthy. My minor health problems, such as acne, have gone away (they come back whenever I eat sugar).

I hope I didn't come across too harsh. I don't usually write letters about these things, but I felt I needed to this time.

Victoria Shephard
Oakland, CA

11/15/2006 10:03 PM  
Blogger renegadediabetic said...

I agree that ignorance is the problem. When I first started looking into low carb, I was apprehensive about Atkins. I had heard all the negative stuff about it and I chose to go with the Schwarzbein Principle. Schwarzbein involves no limits on protein, natural fats, and non-starchy vegetables. You just limit starches, fruits, and milk products. Processed foods, refined carbs, and frankenfats are verboten.

After reading some low carb blogs & forums, like Livin' La Vida Low Carb and Weight of the Evidence, I decided to read Atkins' book to see what it was all about. I found that many of my perceptions about Atkins were wrong. The later phases of Atkins are similar to what I'm doing. In fact, I have had to modify my diet to control my blood sugar and am probably more on a hybrid Atkins-Schwarzbein. Schwarzbein allows any non-refined carbohydrates up to your carb limit. However, I have found that I have to avoid some foods and severly limit the quantity of others to control blood sugar. I have inferred from Schwarzbein that this is the right approach.

One thing I like about the low carb community, we may follow different plans and disagree about the right carb levels, but we still get along and take a "whatever works for you" approach. I'd encourage anyone on low carb to read another low carb book. It will broaden your outlook, and even if you don't change your diet, you might get some good ideas. As for the Atkins & other low carb opponents, most of them just need to be educated. Atkins and low carb in general gets too much bad press. With the latest study on low carb and heart disease, they are running out of excuses to oppose low carb.

11/16/2006 9:39 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

BTW, I never received a reply to my e-mail.

11/20/2006 10:00 PM  
Blogger pashta said...

Actually, coffee does not have any carbs, if it's black. Here is the link to the USDA page stating so for an 8 oz cup:

6/10/2007 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Reamz said...

He talks about the "health dangers" of the atkins yet he should look at his own menu! diet coke? fat free cheese? fat free salad dressing?
health = eating REAL food

7/21/2008 7:11 AM  

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