Thursday, April 12, 2007

Before Going On The 'Atkins' Diet, Read The Book

"Good Housekeeping" features a confused "Atkins" dieter

I'm on the Atkins diet. You're on the Atkins diet. We're all on the Atkins diet. Or are we?

For some reason or another, people in our culture have started calling livin' la vida low-carb the "Atkins diet" like most of us call a facial tissue a "Kleenex" or a soda pop a "Coke." But technically, the "Atkins diet" is a specific plan outlined in the book Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution. Unfortunately, it has morphed into a catch-all for whatever people think a low-carb diet is whether it's true or not.

As a result, we have ritarded fools like this guy who pretends to think he knows what the real Atkins diet is when he's never even opened the book. Let's not forget about this professor who ignorantly claimed the "Atkins diet" has made America fatter. And don't get me started on what this vegan ridiculously thinks.

With all that said, I wanted to share with you an "Atkins diet" weight loss success story featured in Good Housekeeping magazine this month by a woman named Sheila Anderson. She has lost 30 pounds and kept it off for three years. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

However, as I was reading her story, I became concerned that she had not actually read the book written by the late great Dr. Robert C. Atkins, but rather was describing her own generic low-carb diet as the "Atkins diet."

Here are a few examples that set off red flags when I saw them:

"For breakfast, I eat soy cereal with half and half. Lunch is two hot dogs (no bun) and two slices of cheese. Dinners are meat with veggies and a salad with low-fat dressing. About six months ago, I allowed myself to have whole-wheat bread again — just a slice with my salad or a small sandwich for lunch — but I increased my exercise to compensate. I still avoid sugar."

Okay, not bad. But this isn't a typical menu for a person following the Atkins diet by the book. Where are the eggs, salad greens, full-fat dressing (less carbs than the low-fat version!), non-processed meats for lunch, low-glycemic fruits and other essentials for people following this particular dietary approach? Sounds like Sheila is sorta winging it on her "Atkins diet."

As for adding back the whole wheat bread and burning it off with exercise, that's fine if she wants to do that. But, again, that's not something Dr. Atkins wrote about in his book. Avoiding sugar is an important part of the real Atkins diet, so I'm glad she at least acknowledged that.

I could have overlooked that part of Sheila's story, but then I read her advice for others who want to do the Atkins diet that caused me to raise my eyebrows just a bit. Here's what she wrote:

"If you're going to go wholeheartedly into Atkins, you have to commit to cardio and drink tons of water. All of that meat and cheese increases your fat intake, so you have to balance it out with an otherwise healthy lifestyle. If you just do the diet but not the exercise, you may lose weight, but you won't be healthy."

WHAT?! While I am in favor of people getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily as well as drinking plenty of water on the Atkins diet, my mouth is still hanging low at the line "all of that meat and cheese increases your fat intake."

ALL THAT MEAT AND CHEESE?!?!?! What the heck is that all about? Is it automatically assumed that meat and cheese is the mainstay of the Atkins diet? Not always! Plus, what's so bad about fat intake, Sheila? Come on, you know better than that if you've educated yourself by learning from the wisdom of Dr. Atkins.

If you don't think the Atkins diet will give you the proper "balance" or a "healthy lifestyle," then why the heck are you still doing it three years later? The fact is the REAL Atkins diet is the most nutrient dense and healthy lifestyle you will ever go on and gives you all the "balance" you need.

One more thought: I am a strong proponent of exercise while you are livin' la vida low-carb. But I'm thoroughly convinced now that it is MORE important for people who are trying to lose weight and get healthy to get their diet in order first and something miraculous will happen. These slothful individuals will begin to spontaneously WANT to move their bodies with exercise. It happens all the time and becomes a natural part of a low-carber's new way of life.

Again, I can appreciate Sheila Anderson's low-carb weight loss success, but I don't think you can call what she did the "Atkins diet." I sincerely hope she actually reads the book at some point so she can intelligently explain to people what she means when she tells them she did the "Atkins diet." Otherwise, she should tell them she did her own version of low-carb.

Word to the wise: before going on the "Atkins diet," READ THE BOOK!

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Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

The biggest mistake I see in all this is the word carb or
carbohydrate. The word sugar is what should have been used in the
first place. Like Liven La Vita Low Sugar instead of Low Carb. The
word Sugar scares everybody off because because nobody wants to get
off from sugar or at least that was the way it was in the old days(Dr
Atkins time). I believe Dr Atkins himself had to make some
concessions in both his diet and his phrasing and wording of his
descriptions in this regard. Here is a perfect example. The Dr from
Canada, the Native American Doctor you interviewed a short while
back. Both he and I arrived at Dr Atkins diet by going on sugar free
diets. His wife told him he was on the Atkins diet and he looked into
it and sure enough he was doing the Atkins diet without realizing it.
The same thing happened to me, everybody kept saying Atkins whenever
I would describe my no sugar diet to them. I looked and sure enough I
was doing the Atkins diet without realizing it. Now here is the
catch. Dr Atkins Induction diet as you know is the foundation to the
Atkins diet as well as it's success as a diet and a way of life. Dr
Atkins had to sell this thing just like you are doing selling your
Liven La Veta Low Carb thing. No public, no response, no success. It
doesn't matter how good it is if it doesn't sell. Don't forget
everything was actual refined sugar in Dr Atkins day. So Doc made the
necessary changes and along with his being a Cardiologist and the
fact that a low carb or low sugar diet causes ketones and it works,
he made it fly, instead of a Howard Hughes Spruce Goose type of
thing. In 1972 sugar was in everything and had been for sometime
including babies bottles,(actual sugar water) or (Karo) in the babies
milk for over fifty years. Wholesome sugar. Put it in everything and
that's what the entire food industry did, including the growers and
restaurants. Diabetes brought the Native American Doctor to Atkins.
Sugar and fat brought me to Atkins and fat brought you Jimmy to
Atkins. Sugar is the culprit. Milk Sugar. Fruit Sugar. Grain Sugar.
Refined Sugar. Vegetable Sugar. and Alcohol Sugar. Sugar is what is
destroying us and sugar is what is making us fat. Dr Atkins could not
say sugar and make this thing fly so he said carbohydrates. This, I
believe is where all the confusion lies, that and the fact that
nobody wants to get off from sugar.

4/13/2007 7:14 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Intriguing comments, Bunnell Farm, but you got one thing 100% dead wrong--I started the Atkins diet because of fat and sugar, too!

Since January 1, 2004, I have not consciously consumed sugar in any form. This was an essential part of my diet then and it still is today. Anyone who ever hopes to be successful at livin' la vida low-carb will need to get rid of sugar in their diet. I've hammered this point from day one at my blog.

Your history of sugar being in everything back in the day when Dr. Atkins first started his diet also left out an important paradigm shift that took place around the same time--high fructose corn syrup began being used as a cheap subsitute for sugar. Today, it's hard NOT to find something with HFCS in it!

THANKS for your comments, Tom!

4/13/2007 10:26 AM  
Blogger Bonnie from Ottawa said...

READ THE BOOK - you got that right! When I first decided to go low carb, the FIRST thing I did was buy Dr. Atkins book (along with reading this blog!) because I wanted to make an INFORMED decision. After all, this is a life-changing commitment. You don't buy a car because it looks nice or because someone told you to buy it. You buy a car after researching its safety rating, fuel economy, price, features, etc. I can't get over how stupid people can really be. And, after re-READING several portions of the Atkins book, it is very obvious that the women in the GH article did not read the book. SHEESH!

Bonnie from Ottawa

4/13/2007 11:42 AM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

I actually dont agree that you need to read Dr. A's book - I never read the whole thing. I think there's loads of hooey in it, to tell the truth.

All you need to do is base your diet on unprocessed animal and fish protein, add in low starch vegetables, some fruit, and drink plenty of water. If it's not one of those types of foods, don't eat it. It doesn't need to be more complicated than that.

4/13/2007 11:43 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I both agree and disagree with you, mrfritznyc.

If you are on a generic low-carb diet, then you can certainly follow the dictates of your plan to be successful.

But my beef is with the fact that this lady said she was on the "Atkins diet," which is a specific plan outlined in a book by a specific author.

Very clearly, she did not read that particular book, so she should not call it the "Atkins diet." Low-carb, yes, but Atkins, no.

This is an important distinction because people who are none the wiser will just automatically assume the diet principles this woman spouts is what the Atkins diet is all about. It is not.

4/13/2007 11:56 AM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

Thanks, I didn't say that very good but at least I got it said. It's
good to hear that you were on to sugar before you even started
Atkins. I have known sugar was a poison for over fifty years. High
Fructose Corn Syrup I also knew about for a long time. Fruit juice I
only learned was pure sugar a couple of years ago. I was bowled over
to find out just months ago that flour and rice are pure sugar. Then
I realized that fruit is pure sugar and that potatoes and corn and
other similar vegetables are pure sugar. What a lesson that has been!
Mine would be an Atkins "like" diet with the only variation being
that I stay on Induction and eat Wild Rice. I do think that Atkins
allowed caffeine and alcohol and some of the sugar foods not
necessarily bowing to public pressure but more of to make an all
encompassing diet that would appeal to the masses. A wise choice at
the time. He got it well off of the ground. I genuinely believe that
further studies as well as realizations, indicate that his Induction
was nearly 100% perfect in all regards, not only as a beginning phase
but as a lifestyle for the entire world's population, be they fat or
thin. I believe that thoroughly in Dr Atkins work. Here is something
that the hardly anybody picks up on regarding Dr Atkins and his
works. Amphetamines. His school years were during the peak years of
the national amphetamine epidemic from about 1950 to about 1970.
Untold numbers of Americans were using this drug. I think he says
something like eight billion doses or is it eighty billion doses
annually. College students, doctors, housewives, young to old and fat
or skinny. He states that his diet beats amphetamine use hands down.
He of course in his own dieting and schooling had been a user himself
to whatever extent I'm sure. He refers to the overall usage in the
medical community as "about everybody" or something. The significance
of this Amphetamine portion of Dr Atkins and his work is up for grabs
as is the significance to the entire populations use of this drug as
a whole and it's effect on our nations psyche for both users and non
users alike. This I believe is important in our study because all of
the sugars are stimulants as well as all the "speeds". Carbs and
sugar are a "double whammy".

4/13/2007 1:18 PM  
Blogger Kate Welch said...

Jimmy, awesome post. Way too many people just go "Oh, ok, meat and cheese, gotcha" and do that and call it Atkins.

I have to admit to being somewhat guilty in this regard - my plan is not strict Induction, but when someone starts asking questions about my food, they invariably end up saying "Ohhh - so you're doing Atkins!"

Sometimes it's easier to shrug and say "Yep, kinda," than to launch into the specifics. However, I would never claim to be on Atkins and then lecture people about the fat content! That part had me laughing.

Thanks, as always, for your untiring efforts!!

Kate at The Steaks Are High

4/13/2007 6:04 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Sheila also repeats the very irrational line (paraphrased) that "low carb may reverse all symptoms of disease, but needs to be countered by an otherwise healthy diet". This is the height of ignorance or the depth of confusion and error. Her statements be taken seriously, and her misunderstanding of LC needs to be exposed.

4/13/2007 8:24 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

typo: "her statements cannot be taken seriously..."

4/13/2007 10:24 PM  
Blogger Jeff Hamlin said...

This is a recording.....

Atkins isn't just meat, eggs, and butter, because anyone who eats like that is an idiot and no low carber with half a brain would eat that way. We gotta worry more about mainstream acceptance than doing what's right for ourselves.

4/14/2007 1:33 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Jeff, you've never heard me chastise you or anyone for eating as few carbs as you possibly can. If a no-carb diet floats you boat, then go for it!

But if somebody is going to describe their diet as the "Atkins diet," then the least that person can do is espouse the actual principles that Dr. Robert C. Atkins wrote about in his books.

Everything isn't about what YOU want and desire regarding diet. Helping others along to take even the first step in this amazing journey for themselves is a whole lot more important in my eyes than ANYTHING else.

But I appreciate your feedback as always.

4/14/2007 4:41 PM  

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