Friday, April 07, 2006

Low-Carb Not Dependent On Business Success

This Vancouver Sun story had me spitting nails when I read it because it erroneously groups together the success and then failure of so many low-carb businesses with livin' la vida low-carb itself. The two are completely separate from each other and I'll explain why later in this post.

The story describes, as most media accounts of the Atkins diet and low-carb diets in general do, our way of eating as a "fad," "frenzy," and "craze" that caused a lot of people to lose money.

"Remember the 'low carb' businesses that suddenly sprouted and flourished, only to wilt and disappear not long afterwards? It was all the result of a diet craze of epic proportions that made financial success stories of people one month and left them nearly bankrupt the next."

Allow me to interject something for just a moment. Who's fault is it that any money was lost as a result of investment in the business of low-carb? That responsibility lies solely with the investor and nobody else. It's called basic economics and everyone knows there are risks involved with ANY investment strategy.

Many people who got in on this bandwagon didn't give a rip that people like Jimmy Moore were trying to lose weight on the Atkins diet in 2004. All they saw was dollar signs and couldn't spend money fast enough in the hopes that they could see a profitable return. Many people made out very well in the business of low-carb because they bought into the lie that all those products were helping people lose weight.

Unfortunately, most of the so-called "low-carb" products that came out were very poor quality and would not be considered "low-carb" by most of us who eat this way. In fact, I never ONCE bought any of these fly-by-night products during my weight loss and only got some Atkins bars every once in a while. For the most part, I just chose foods based on their nutritional content on the packaging, not because it blared the words "low-carb" on it. That is why I have called for stricter standards to be placed on any product purporting to be "low-carb."

The investors in low-carb stores who cared about the health of their customers would have developed such a strong relationship with the people who shop with them that they would never allow those big-box stores and grocery store chains to undermine them. While it is sad to see so many of those stores shut their doors, there are still some low-carb stores thriving in 2006 because they never lost focus on who was most important to their business -- those people on the low-carb lifestyle. These stores have thrived because they never lost the focus of who they were serving.

Here are just a few examples of the low-carb stores who are still up and running in 2006:

Low Carb Connoisseur
Kick The Carbz
LoCarb Life
Viva Low Carb
Low Carb Central
OK Carbs
Low Carb Centre

That last one on the list is owned by a reader of my blog named Tammy-Lynn McNabb who was quoted in this story. She was described as "the queen of a low-carb empire" in Canada during the height of the popularity of low-carb in the media in 2003. She shed 30 pounds on the Atkins diet and opened several stores to meet the needs of other wanting to find products to help them lose weight, too.

Unfortunately, the interest in low-carb that once seemed invincible came crashing down fast as the media turned against the Atkins diet and the low-carb way of life seemingly overnight and the onslaught of bad news reports began in earnest causing many to give up their low-carb diet despite seeing incredible success on it. People like McNabb got caught in the crosshairs and are left wondering what might have been if the trend had continued.

In my eyes, the end of what I call the business low-carb "fad" was a VERY GOOD thing. While the principle of offering good low-carb products for consumers to use as part of their lifestyle change was there, the reality was that many companies kept making products worse and worse trying to pass them off as "low-carb" when they were not. THAT is why the business of low-carb failed and explains why so many investors lost money and closed their doors.

But does this mean the low-carb lifestyle has failed? Not hardly! Remember, I started losing weight on low-carb beginning on January 1, 2004 when Atkins was still "in." But by the time I had lost 180 pounds at the end of 2004, Atkins had gone from "in" to "sin" by the media, anti-meat groups, and those self-appointed health "experts."

Did that change anything about my weight loss success? Did the "failure" of the Atkins diet in the eyes of the media mean that my 180-pound weight loss didn't really happen? If you read the media accounts of low-carb, then that's what they would have you believe. But the fact is I DID lose weight this way and I'm VERY proud to tell people HOW I did it!

The success of the low-carb diet is NOT dependent or tied in any way to the businesses that sell low-carb products. I remember being interviewed on my local talk radio station right after Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2005. Everyone wanted to know what I was going to do now that Atkins is going bankrupt. My response was that I was gonna keep on livin' la vida low-carb and keep my weight under control like I always had because the business of low-carb has absolutely NOTHING in the world to do with being on the low-carb nutritional approach.

Of course, leave it to a dietician and nutritionist in the story to give her spin on this.

"The problem was that people were having tremendous weight loss success...But they weren't really looking at the long-term implications."

I DID enjoy "tremendous weight loss success" thank you very much and I DID look at the "long-term implications." That's why I chose this way of eating because it not only provided me the weight loss I have longed for my entire life, but has enabled me to keep the weight off for the first time ever. I wouldn't think of ever eating any other way not only to control my weight, but to see my health improve, too. I am not ashamed nor do I ever regret my decision to go low-carb. It radically changed my life for the better.

But this dietician had to open her mouth some more spouting off a load of you know what that makes no sense at all.

"The reason we crave carbs is because that's what our brain uses for fuel and that's what our body uses for fuel. If you cut out carbs, your brain's not going to be functioning properly and it's only a matter of time before you crash and burn."

Um, no. The reason we crave carbs is because they are ADDICTIVE and they cause our blood sugar to spike and drop very quickly which causes our bodies to want more and more and more and more carbs to feed the need for carbs! There's where the "crash and burn" come into play.

That vicious cycle of up and down just about wore my body to death and I'll never have to worry about that again. As for my brain not "functioning properly," I bet I could match wits with anyone who stuffs their mouths with excessive carbs any day of the week. BRING IT ON!

Almost smirking, this dietician says people who low-carb are unhappy with themselves.

"So if you're not getting carbs, you're not feeling happy, even though you're fitting into your Size 4."

Sounds like Miss Health Expert is just a wee bit jealous of those of us who are livin' la vida low-carb. Do I sound like I'm not happy? Hmmm, hmm, hmm, do I, do I, do I? Hee hee! I'm about the happiest, most jovial guy you'll ever meet. But how can that be with someone who is on low-carb? Your seratonin has to be zapped right about now so you can't possibly be happy! Sorry to disappoint you, but I AM and I've never felt better in my entire life. Now, take that! BOOM! Yo face! :)

Another "expert" in the story said he believes in low-carb, but describes the Atkins diet as "too extreme."

"You didn't have the energy to work out."

Say who what? Now you tell me. All those days during my weight loss on the Atkins diet that I went to the gym to work out, I wasn't supposed to have the energy to do that. Then when I continued eating low-carb and worked out 45 minutes a day on the elliptical machine, I guess I wasn't supposed to have the energy to exercise then either. Heck, I probably should stop my daily exercise now since this "expert" thinks I don't have the energy to do it anymore. What a dope!

In the spirit of no regrets, McNabb says while she will "never see what I saw with low-carb ever again," she was glad to have gone through it because "it was incredibly exciting to be in the absolute middle of it all."

I'm sure many of those who took a ride on the low-carb wave would agree with her. It was fun and can still be a great avenue for helping low-carb, sugar-free consumers find quality products for their lifestyle. But they need to be very choosy about the kind of vendors they work with and bring in only the best products.

There are a lot of small companies producing outstanding low-carb products that will make your low-carb experience better. I try to highlight those products for you in this forum so you will know what the good products are from the not-so-good. I encourage you to visit any of the links to the stores above and browse around at the products they carry. You might be surprised to find products that you never knew existed in a "low-carb" form. There's a lot to choose from if you want variety in your low-carb plan.

Whether you choose to purchase those products or not, it will have no effect on your low-carb commitment. Sticking with low-carb and persevering for life is not about finding a product to eat that says "low-carb" on the packaging. It's about making better choices in your food selection and taking back control of your health. Become an avid nutritional label reader and be your own "low-carb" expert about what is good for you and what is not.

I taught myself how to do this and so can you. Never fall for the "low-carb is dead" mantra you will hear quite often in the media. Despite the negative connotations that you read in stories like this one from the Vancouver Sun, there are plenty of examples of people like me who have made the low-carb lifestyle our way of life. We ARE a silent majority just going about our business, eating low-carb, and grinning from ear to ear every time we step on that scale or visit our doctor.

YOU can be a part of this, too, by starting your own low-carb plan. Do it for yourself and make today the first day of the rest of your long and healthy life -- the low-carb way!


Blogger TESS said...

Thank you Jimmy. I really just shake my head over the articles that come out in the media. I have to wonder if the authors of these articles are fat and jealous or just brain dead. They can't possibly be as stupid as they come across. They had to graduate from a college as bad as some of that low carb junk food that was on the makret for awhile. I am extremely grateful to the internet, through this medium we are able to share informatin in ways that couldn't have happened when Dr. Atkins first brought low carb to the national attention. I am grateful every day for your blog and other like it which keep me going. This is the medium that will eventually force a change in thinking, I just don't think we will see it as soon as I would like.

4/08/2006 6:16 AM  
Blogger Darleen said...

I totally agree with you. My 74 pound weight loss and 9 month maintenance on low carb was not done with manufactured products. I started eating healthy REAL food like meat, veggies and fruits. I understand why so many companies went out of business trying to make subsitute foods. I don't want low carb junk food - what I want to eat now is whole, real food with nutritional value. I've learned a lot livin la vida low carb over the last 2 years. I'll never go back. I feel great and have energy and blood work is now fantastic. To those people who say you can't live like this I ask what makes them think meat vegatables and fruit are so hard to live on? Giving up sugar and junk carbs gave me a new life.

4/08/2006 6:36 PM  
Blogger Calianna said...

About 35 years ago, when I was originally put on a "high protein diet" (which was essentially the same as a low carb diet, only there wasn't nearly as much emphasis on vegetables and fiber - because after all, it was the 70's), about the only special products available were saccharine, and artificially sweetened jello, along with a few "dietetic" cookies, marketed to diabetics. Basically, I got along just fine on the same real foods I eat now - meat, eggs, selected dairy products, nuts, veggies, and selected fruits.

Low carb doesn't mean anything different now from what it meant back then, it was just marketed differently a few years ago. The entire purpose of advertising is to convince you that you can't live without something that you previously didn't even know existed. This is exactly why those of us who eat low carb could do just fine, even if every commerically produced low carb product were suddenly removed from the shelves tomorrow. It's only the poorly thought out products that didn't really fit the definition of low carb that have fallen by the wayside - the ones that didn't really fill a need, only a desire to continue eating the same things that made us so overweight to begin with, while trying to make us think we were still eating low carb.


I'm not sure where they're getting the idea that low carb causes low energy for exercise either, because I certainly didn't have any energy for exercise when I was eating all that low fat/high carb garbage, and weighed so much more than I do now. On the contrary, within an hour or two after a starchy or sugary meal, I'd be ready to lie down for a long, long nap, and wake up with what I would term a "sugar hangover". Not a headache as such, but certainly a disoriented feeling from the blood sugar crash.

Now, five days a week I spend 30 minutes on the eliptical machine, and that's just the warm-up for my real exercise - 50 minutes of swimming laps, half of which are freestyle, and the other half breast stroke.

When I was so much heavier (and eating so poorly) I could barely walk a city block or climb a flight of stairs without getting out of breath, but now I can do 1 hour and 20 minutes of exercise and not even feel winded.

This is the condition I'm in after having lost only about 1/3 of the weight I need to lose - can you imagine how much better shape will I be in when I finally lose the rest of it?!


As far as "long term effects" of a low carb lifestyle are concerned, have they even considered that any adverse health effects they might eventually see (notice that they're concerned about something they haven't even seen yet) are actually the result of all the years of eating a diet which simply wasn't suited to the individual's metabolism, which resulted in the enormous weight gain? And that perhaps switching to eating foods better suited to the individual's metabolism (and thereby losing weight in the bargain) is what is keeping the health problems from surfacing so quickly?

There are undoubtedly some people who do just fine on a low fat, high carb diet, with no lack of energy, no weight gain, and no ill effects - and for those, I say bravo, good for you, keep eating that way. But I fail to see why they think we should all fit into the exact same mold.

4/09/2006 1:36 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Some very good low-carb companies went out of business because the big businesses put out their own products to cash in, which drove the little guys out of business. Then, when low-carb in no longer profitable, the big guys stop producing their products. Net result: no products.

Keto was a really great low-carb company who is now out of business. It's almost impossible to find any Keto product now. It's sad because they had some damn good quality stuff.

And yes, I do buy stuff online a lot now, especially my favorite chocolate without sugar alcohols.

4/09/2006 7:36 PM  

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