Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Low-Carb Diet Craze Happily Continues On In 2008

I used to get a bit perturbed by that phrase "low-carb diet craze" because I thought it made those of us who believe in livin' la vida low-carb sound like a bunch of raving lunatics (well, not all of us are!). But the more I've thought about it, the better I've felt about the "craze" description because everywhere you turn somebody is saying SOMETHING about the low-carb lifestyle. Much of the time, especially in media accounts of this way of eating, it is the WRONG perspective, but at least they're still talking about it (despite claiming for the past four years that "low-carb" is dead).

Now that 2008 is here, the continued stories from people who are eating low-carb as well as news and commentary in the media and blogosphere have shown me that this "craze" is still just as strong as it has ever been. There's so much to share with you today that it's coming out my ears, so sit back and enjoy all this stuff I've found from over the past week about a diet that supposedly nobody does anymore. HA!


After blogging about how to eat low-carb when you go out to a restaurant last week, I was pleasantly surprised to read this Daily Press story about how several restaurants in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (my old stomping grounds during graduate school) are specifically catering to the low-carb dieter. WOO HOO! Italian restaurants are allowing non-starchy vegetables to be substituted for the pasta and one restaurant is offering an appetizer of sauteed artichoke hearts. Mmmm mmmm! Somebody give those restaurants a pat on the back for not forsaking those of us who are still very mindful of our carbohydrate intake. WAY TO GO!


Here's an e-mail cry for help I received from a reader:

I am 47 years old and I find myself at 6ā€™1ā€ and 300 lbs, and barely able to fit into size 42 pants. I have battled being overweight all my life. About 15 years ago I went to a clinic called Nutribolic weight loss centers, and after a few months I had gotten down to 190 and lifting weights on a regular basis.

When I think back on the kind of things they had me eating (small portions of meat, cheese, and real butter) it struck me this was probably very Atkins-like. This was before I knew what Atkins was. All I know is that it was incredibly effective and I felt great!!! Now I look at myself and I am ashamed. I have set a horrible example for my kids and my wife and I can hardly stand the look of myself in the mirror in the morning.

I have tried the Atkins diet, but I only have enough willpower for a couple of weeks. I am in the food business, and spend a lot of time in restaurants. I always lose my willpower. When I attended Nutrabolic, you needed to weigh in twice a week with a counselor, and I think when I had that type of encouragement and personal contact I could stick with it.

Can you recommend any program that follows Atkins that has personal counselors that could help me? Maybe you can help me since it sounds like you have probably seen it all. I hope you can help. Iā€™m desperate. Thank you.

Can I share with you a secret about weight loss--IT DOESN'T TAKE WILLPOWER! If you had willpower, then you wouldn't have gotten up to 300+ pounds in the first place. Instead, you need to have in your mind right now that you are going to have a
STEADFAST RESOLVE TO MAKE BETTER CHOICES no matter what. If you can be on the Atkins diet as outlined in his book Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution for two weeks, then you can do it forever. Don't give the excuse that you can't because YOU CAN!

I am very much in support of people finding support for their low-carb lifestyle. Unfortunately, there isn't a system set up where there is a low-carb friendly assistant in your local area. But I'm happy to help you stay encouraged and moving in the right direction which is what I try to do at my blog, podcast shows, and YouTube videos. But you should find someone who will support you in this. It will help you be successful. If you can afford it, hire a personal trainer to get you back into weight lifting again along with your low-carb lifestyle and you'll be back down to 190 pounds again by the end of the year! YOU CAN DO THIS!!! Please don't ever give up!


Just as Real Food author Nina Planck shared during my recent interview with her, I was pleased to see in this Bloomberg column information about a new book from Michael Pollan that expresses his concerns about what has happened to the genuine food in modern society. You'll recall I shared my review of his previous book The Omnivore's Dilemma that detailed some rather shocking information about the food supply we have today compared with our ancestors (NEWSFLASH: Big difference!).

Now he's got a new book that came out on January 1, 2008 called In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto which some are describing as a more condensed and targeted version of his bestselling Omnivore's Dilemma. I'm looking forward to reading this book and sharing my review of it here real soon. I'll possibly have an opportunity to interview Pollan, but his book tour schedule is so busy right now it may not happen quickly. If it can be done, it will be done. Stay tuned!


One of my readers from way down south in Australia e-mailed me about a radio station continuing to spread lies about the death of the late great Dr. Robert C. Atkins nearly five years ago. You'd think these people would have better things to do with their time than focus on how someone passed away so long ago, but the anti-Atkins contingent seems hellbent on continuing with their character assassination of this diet legend. Here's what the Aussie wrote to me in the e-mail:

Hi Jimmy,

I'm from Perth, Western Australia and thought you may be interested to know that the misconception of how Dr. Atkins died is still alive down under. On one of our radio stations this morning (92.9 with Em and Wippa) they were talking about the Atkins diet. I didn't catch the show but heard excerpts of it. Em said something like "but you need carbohydrates for energy" and Wippa said "you don't want to do Atkins considering Dr. Atkins died of a heart attack."

THANKS for letting us know about this nonsense being spread over the airwaves there and I encourage my Australian readers (and anyone else for that matter!) to contact the radio station to set them straight. The fact that these people feel like they need to attack a dead man just goes to show you the tremendous power and respect that Dr. Atkins commands over them because they know he was right! And that's what bothers them the most.


The carb-loving interest groups never stop with their propaganda about how "healthy" a high-carb diet allegedly is as we see in this Arizona Republic column that refers to carbs making a "comeback." Rice, pasta, and potatoes are promoted as virtuous in this column and low-carb diets are chided as a "fad" that was irrelevant since most people don't gain weight eating carbohydrates. Oh really? Then why are three out of four people overweight or obese, hmmmm? It couldn't have anything to do with that high-carb, low-fat diet that's been recommended all these years, eh? Share with the reporter Karen Fernau YOUR experience on the low-carb lifestyle by e-mailing her at


Even after losing 180 pounds and proving to people how much better off my health is now than it was when I weighed 410 pounds, there are people who sincerely feel like I am damaging my health by continuing to follow the Atkins diet. That is just amazing to me because nobody even thinks twice about the health of someone losing triple digits on a high-carb, low-fat diet. Instead, they are loudly applauded for sticking to a diet of bean sprouts and tofu! EWWW!

Here's an e-mail someone sent to me warning me of future health dangers:


Wow, it is wonderful that you have lost so much weight, you probably have added years to your life. But I would like to warn you that my sister also did the Atkins diet for years. She didn't do it for weight loss--well maybe to lose a few extra pounds and to maintain. My sister has never been overweight by no means but after many years of following the Atkins diet she was diagnosed at age 38 with cancer in her colon and she blames it on the red meats she ate for many years while being on the Atkins diet. My sister did both radiation and chemo treatment. She will soon be 43 years and now does the Makers Diet and feels great! I would please urge you to look into the Biblically-based Makers Diet.

I know this lady means well, but she's speaking too much from her heart and not at all from her head. If she does even a little bit of research, then she will not be able to locate any credible scientific evidence that points to any relationship between meat consumption and cancer. I'm sorry for her sister's cancer condition, but I doubt her "Atkins" diet was the cause (and I put quotations around that since I sincerely doubt she actually read the book).

Cancer research has become more and more focused on the role of diet in recent years as a means for both treatment and prevention. And what researchers are finding is that carbohydrates actually FEED cancer cells and make them grow. In other words, if you remove the carbs, then the cancer dies. It's as simple as that despite all the recommendations by the so-called health "experts" that you should eat a high-carb, low-fat diet. We've got it so bassackwards these days it's no wonder cancer is out of control.

As for The Maker's Diet, I haven't read that particular book. But I have read a similar one that's also based on the Bible called The Hallelujah Diet that highly touted the vegetarian lifestyle as the way God intended for man to follow. I even did a blog post asking the question, "Does The Bible Consider The Atkins Diet A Sin?" that received an enthusiastic response from my readers. This is a subject that has always fascinated me as a Christian because people think God doesn't want humans to eat meat. So, why did He give us dominion over the animals, hmmmm?


Talk about stretching the imagination, have you seen this Winston-Salem Journal story that tries to show some sort of connection between a drop in the number of people who are livin' la vida low-carb and a dip in birth defects over that same time period? I kid you not, some idiot nonprofit agencies in North Carolina are making this claim and proudly, too.

They believe that because birth defects fell over the same time period that the popularity of low-carb diets weakened that it HAD to be the causal effect. Um, no it doesn't. This all circulates around the issue of folic acid and the fact that many whole grain products are fortified with folate. Thus, if you reduce your whole grain consumption on a low-carb diet, then you'll not get enough folic acid in your diet to ward off birth defects. Did you follow all that?

Of course, I've completely obliterated this argument against low-carb and it is the height of ignorance to try to pass off this ridiculous assertion that low-carb diets lead to more birth defects as is being promoted by these groups. Please end this kind of purposeful misinformation that serves only to cause alarm without telling people the truth. Express your concerns to the reporter of this column Richard Craver by e-mailing him at


This one needs no introduction. ENJOY!

Hi Jimmy--

I hope you don't mind my intrusion on your life here, but I'm looking at going on a low-carb diet, and trying to figure out which one to go on is as confusing as trying to figure out which car to buy. You know: lease, buy new, buy used, buy vehicle after leasing. Atkins, Sugar Busters, Carb Wars, Carb Addicts, Zone: everyone has an opinion; everyone is convinced they're right and everyone else is wrong or misguided or playing with a diet that will kill them, plain and simple.

I tell you: it's stressful enough to get me eating another chocolate brownie. (Which, of course, is part of the problem.)


A friend recommended the Zone diet, on which he lost 50 pounds in 1 year and didn't even feel like he was dieting. (His doctor told him it was not a matter of "if" he became diabetic and had a heart attack, it was only a matter of "when".) He ate protein, veggies and fruit everyday. No ice cream. (Or chocolate brownies.) He recommended "A Week in the Zone" but it's out of print. (And I'm wary of online used-book sellers.) Then he said "The Top 100 Zone foods" but it's also out of print.

I read "The Zone" by Dr. Barry Sears eons ago, and I don't remember much except thinking "How do you eat when you're on this diet? Like, can't I just be given some recipes and a week of menus that I can wrap my head around?" Granted, maybe that was all in the book and I missed it. Or I'm forgetting it. (It wasn't a great time in my life, as I recall.)

So then I hear "Forget Zone, it's just a watered-down version of Atkins. Do Atkins." So I go to Amazon. We have "Atkins for Life", which several reviewers suggested was not the best book to begin with. They recommend "Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution" of which there is the "Revised edition" from Sept 25, 2003; the "Revised Diet Package" dating from Sept 25, 2002; and then finally (I think) there's the Diet Revolution dating from December 4, 2001. Okay, I've checked again, and I see no other in-print editions of that book. Then I hear that I never eat vegetables on Atkins, and I never have to exercise or take any kind of nutritional supplement.

But then I read that I do need to exercise, and I will eat plenty of vegetables, and I will need "supplements." Splenda is perfectly safe to eat. Or it isn't; the jury is still out on it. Pass me another chocolate brownie, would you please?

So, maybe you can help. Please help demystify it all for me. Please. If I'm going to eat Atkins (and I don't want to eat a whole bunch of low-carb bread, and low-carb chocolate bars and so on) which edition of which book title should I start with? Since we all know that Atkins is a killer (and I don't want to eat steak everyday: I actually really don't like steak all that much, I'd rather have pot roast or stew), and I like eating vegetables (I really like raw carrots and I'm sad that they're going to kill me because they have carbohydrates in them) and I'm not a fan of fiber replacement products (sorry, don't know what else to call them), which edition of Zone would be good to use to get started eating?

Honestly, I don't need to read 100 pages about human physiology and about insulin and carbohydrates to have someone tell me how to plan a meal and give me some decent sample menus. I will be grateful for any guidance you can offer. I am pushing 50 years old and am afraid to step on the scale. I bought pants at the end of 2007, and I am up 2 pant sizes since I went clothes shopping in 2006. It's not my weight that bothers me: it's my size. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said "If it jiggles when you move, it's not muscle." A lot of me jiggles when I move. I must make change.

Does anyone know what Gary Taubes eats? Thanks again, in advance, for any guidance you can offer.

This is the perfect example of somebody who's thinking too much about this. Pick a plan, follow that plan exactly as the author prescribes, and then execute it. If you discover along the way that the plan doesn't fit your life, then go to another one. But the worst thing you can do is worry about this and that and everything in between. That's why so many people get frustrated and discouraged in their quest to lose weight and get healthy. They think it's too confusing. But a lot of that is brought on ourselves because we are unwilling to just find a plan and stick to it. That's what this man needs to do.


My friend, fellow author and blogger Judy Barnes Baker reported at her "Carb Wars" blog that Delta Airlines is now offering some low-carb side item choices while serving in-flight meals. AWESOME!!! She discovered this pleasant news when her husband was flying back from an international business trip recently and they were serving mashed cauliflower (here's a post with the recipe about how you can make it at home). WHOA! Another meal featured a side of spaghetti squash. SUPER!

Judy, who wrote an outstanding low-carb cookbook called CARB WARS: Sugar Is The New Fat last year, summarized her thoughts about this new development with Delta's menu choices in a way I think we'll all agree with.

"I find it very encouraging that this airline is making an effort to accommodate those of us who prefer an alternative to potatoes, rice, and pasta. And who would be better served than an airline by helping their passengers control their weight?"

Couldn't have said it better myself, Judy! :)


This year, Discovery Health has made its own resolution: To help Americans achieve their health and fitness goals. National Body Challenge 2008 is a comprehensive fitness and weight loss challenge that provides the tools to get in shape and lead a healthier lifestyle. Registration is absolutely free, and includes an 8-week trial membership to Bally Total Fitness. Much of this campaign happens online with a thousand recipes, customized meal plans, a progress tracker, expert tips and advice, games and quizzes, and a discussion forum. I'm not sure how low-carb any of the recipes or advice will be, but I'm all for people finding support for their healthy lifestyle change. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


If you've read my blog for a while, then you know what I think about a lot of nutritionists these days. Just in case you haven't seen my response to one before, you can read a few examples of them here, here, here, and you definitely don't wanna miss here. Yes, I have fun with dietitians and nutrition "experts" because they are fully convinced the Atkins diet is destroying your health--until I shine the light of truth on their hyperbolic accusations.

Such is the case with this Houston Chronicle column featuring--WHAT ELSE?--the opinions of a nutritionist about what she thinks of diets. Here's what University of Texas Medical School dietitian Carol Wolin-Riklin had to say about the Atkins diet:

"Typically people can't stick to these diets long term. And that's why the rates in the scientific literature are that 90 to 95 percent of the time, diets don't work, or they work short term. You know, if we knew what to do (with dieting), there wouldn't be a multibillion dollar weight-loss industry. Diets are just very difficult. The weight loss can be positive, but it's often fleeting, and when the weight comes back on, it usually comes back on plus extra pounds. So success eludes most people."

Why is it ALWAYS presumed that people who follow a diet like Atkins is gonna gain the weight back? I've never understood that commonly-held belief that it NEVER really works and that you will gain back the weight and then some. Sure, I know it happens, but it didn't happen to me after I lost 180 pounds in 2004. Aren't these self-proclaimed diet experts even curious in the least about how I was able to beat such incredible odds and keep the weight off for good? One would think.

The fact is low-carb is a permanent weight loss solution and it is proven by my own low-carb success story. This is gonna sound mean, but I don't intend for it to be. It's just the truth. If the Atkins diet didn't work, then look in the mirror for the reason why. You've got to make this a permanent lifelong way of eating or it won't work. This is the central message that is too often missed by the professionals who are supposed to be helping people in their pursuit of getting healthy. Somebody is dropping the ball on this one!


Stress can do so many things to your weight and health that I could not imagine what life was like for all the many victims of Hurricane Katrina from a couple years back. Today I have one who shared a positive story about what happened to him after he started up on a low-carb diet done the RIGHT way. Here's what he wrote:

Hey there. I just happened across your blog and wanted to tell you of my experience. About 2 years ago I tried low-carb and did fantastically. I'm 50 (48 then) and had just gone through Hurricane Katrina and had packed on even MORE pounds. I'm 5'9 and weighed 245 before Katrina, hit 275 afterwards due to stress and lots of boxed foods, lost down to 230, and now am back up again.

The key for me seems to be that if I try to stick to low-carb, low-fat with veggies in bulk I GAIN. Not a little, huge honking amounts. I am tired, cranky, can't eat a meal without sleeping two hours afterwards--NOT a good life for the single parent of an autistic child who takes loads of care.

I had read about coconut oil and bought some, but never tried it until recently ran out of my regular corn oil. One meal cooked with the coconut and I felt BETTER. Didn't want to eat as much and definitely cut the carb cravings. I figured out how to make coconut mayo and coconut butter mix (1/3 coconut oil, 1/3 butter, 1/3 buttermilk). Today, I was starved. Ended up using the mayo with about 2 oz cheese as a dip.

To make a long story short, this was the first day in 2 years that I didn't take an early evening nap. I ate a great dinner--broccoli and hot and sour soup, homemade--and I just flat out feel BETTER. After reading your blog I'm convinced I've been short-selling myself on the meals in the name of dieting, and eating all the "right" things that the doctors say, but I swear to you they DO NOT WORK.

Where will I be in a year? hopefully 100 pounds lighter, but definitely I will be on a high-fat, low carb diet. Even if I do not lose a single pound--I FEEL so much better. I never, ever would have believed it. Thanks for listening.

If you could see me right now, I'm grinning from ear to ear! I just LOVED this e-mail because it once again hammers home the important lesson that livin' la vida low-carb is only effective when it is accompanied by ample fat consumption that serves as your fuel in the absence of carbohydrates. You don't mix low-carb with low-fat because that's a recipe for disaster to your health as we discovered is happening with people following the Kimkins diet scam.

As for coconut oil, I've blogged about how it is great for weight loss and this reader confirms that it makes you feel better, too. I personally use Nutiva brand coconut oil and buy it in the big one-gallon buckets. It's more economical and this stuff keeps for a very long time. I cook with it and eat it straight up as a supplement--YUMMY! I'll have to look into making my own mayo and dips. COOL!


I've always said the science is what is going to convince intellectual people that livin' la vida low-carb is a viable alternative to the low-fat diets. And that's what we see in this Heart Disease blog column that looks at the status of the low-carb diet in 2008. You know this is making Low-Carb Diets blog author Laura Dolson very happy to hear and I suspect she may have played a role in convincing Dr. Richard Fogoros to look at the studies and decide for himself. Very encouraging news indeed to start the new year!


If only this scenario would repeat itself exponentially...

Dear Jimmy,

First, I'd like to thank you for your blog. It has been a wealth of information for me--and very entertaining. Allow me to introduce myself. I am a physician (pathologist), who stumbled onto low-carb sort of accidentally. My wife had read and recommended to me the book SUGAR SHOCK! I read it also, and thought I would try to eliminate sugar--but simultaneously decided to increase the fat in my diet (replace the calories in sugar and simple carbs).

I was startled at how much better I felt the very day I made the switch. Because I felt so much better, I decided to continue the changes, progressively decreasing the carbohydrates, and increasing the fat. I was also surprised when I spontaneously lost 10 pounds (I didn't have much to lose), my blood pressure dropped, an inflammatory skin condition that I have had for years cleared up (sebhorreic dermatitis), and recurrent canker sores that I have suffered from cleared up.

As a physician, I was trained to be somewhat skeptical of dietary treatment of physical conditions, especially diets that claim to solve multiple problems but I cannot deny the changes in myself or others that I have observed following a low-carb diet. Since then I have tried to follow the research of low carbohydrate diets on diseases of civilization. I have read Gary Taubes GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES book and consider it a masterpiece.

One doctor down, 150,000 more to go!


Hey, you know how much I like to rib many of the people who report on the Atkins low-carb diet in the media because they generally get it wrong (I did it locally with my newspaper when they trashed low-carb and it ended up leading to a feature story on my Atkins diet weight loss success). Well look at this Houston Chronicle column from a man named Ken Hoffman. Check out what he says at the beginning of paragraph six:

"I know low-carb people (and by that, I'm talking about me)..."

Yep, you heard him right! He's livin' la vida low-carb, baby, and it's good to know that someone who is actually eating this way writes for such a major American newspaper. Let's send Ken a whole buncha encouraging notes congratulating him on choosing the healthy low-carb lifestyle and to keep up the great work. His e-mail address is


Okay, so we get confirmation in this New York Times piece that eating healthy actually does cost more money than eating a junk diet. No shocking news to me! But what does it really mean? Does it depend on which diet you are following as my fellow blogger Amy Dungan from the "Healthy Low-Carb Living" blog shared in this recent column?

Poverty does not automatically mean pudginess and obesity hits both rich and poor, so you can't really blame being fat on your lack of wealth. But it is a worthy debate for discussion about whether there should be incentives or something given to encourage people to make the better food choices rather than gravitating to that 99-cent package of potato chips. What do you think?


I realize my enthusiasm for the low-carb lifestyle is much greater than that of most people because of the tremendous turnaround in my weight and health it produced. But I've found someone who doesn't really have a dog in this hunt, but has come up with a list of reason for choosing low-carb for the sake of your weight and health. It's from a Type 2 diabetic named Jenny and she posted this instant classic blog post entitled "Safe Low-Carb Dieting For Weight Loss" at her "Diabetes Update" blog. You'll probably end up printing this one out and sharing it with everyone you know. IT'S THAT GOOD!

Sorry this was so much news in one post, but it's piling up quickly here in the early days of 2008. I try to keep on top of things, but sometimes it's a challenge. But so many of you help me by sharing information you have seen about livin' la vida low-carb and I appreciate that very much. Please continue to pass on anything of interest to me at THANKS!

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Blogger Red Sphynx said...

Jenny is a goddess to those of us who haunt the USENET diabetes group.

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, it was her calm, clear advice at that helped me get control of my blood sugar and weight. Low-carb all the way. Now, 60 lbs lighter, with my A1c dropped to 5.3% and my blood lipids in great shape, I still look to her for cutting edge info on diabetes and diet. Go Jenny!

Adam Becker Sr

1/10/2008 4:18 PM  
Blogger Wifezilla said...

To the reader who had success in an inpatient facility, but now is struggling, it looks like he may need some sort of ongoing support. A counselor with low carb training would be fantastic (but like the unicorn, may just be a mythical creature). Another option might be TOPS. Take Off Pounds Sensibly has chapters all over the country, and many low carbers do participate. They aren't stuck on any one plan, and have feedback and companionship. That may be the extra bit he needs to make a low carb way of eating work for him.

1/11/2008 10:38 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Hi Jimmy - I've been away for a long time, travelling and lecturing, but its great to see that you're still completely on top of things here and still doing the good work, spreading the good word about this amazing and ultra-healthy dietary regimen. I loved the email you received and your subsequent post about the many amazing benefits of coconut oil. It's a super-fat, super-healthy and super-tasty indeed. Heck, even the Marie-Claire had a positive piece about it, can you believe it? Here, in Asia, it's widely used everywhere and I love the stuff as much as you do. It's also wonderful to make low-carb snacks with, warm or cold.

As a tip on other healthy fats I can also report to you that mixing good quality butter with virgin olive oil is also very nice and tasty to cook with, especially for French or Greek cuisine.

Anyways, my very best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2008 to you, Christine, and everybody else on this fantastic blog!

1/12/2008 8:18 PM  

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