Tag Archives: Atkins Diet

Why “Diet” is a Four Letter Word

Fendel recently took umbrage of my snarky remarks against Atkins in my recent post about their bankruptcy. In the comments they wrote:

I get so irritated seeing people taking easy swipes at Atkins when they’ve never actually read the book or done the diet. It’s done a world of good for a lot of us.

There are many ways in which I could respond to this, but each would lead to a very distinct train of thought and could, quite frankly, lead to a 3000 word post. No one wants that, I assure you.

I could write about my times on Atkins (6 weeks). I could write about how the same diets affect different people in different ways. I could also write about how transparently greedy the Atkins company got, whoring their name on any product that even slightly smelled of being “carb-free” or “carb-reduced”. I could also write about the sheer volume of medical testimony stating how dangerous the Atkins diet is, coming from such “questionable” experts as the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association (just to name a few).

Instead, however, I will write about me and my opinion of brand name diets…because this is what I do.

Fendel, rest assured that I am glad that you lost weight and that you are healthier. This is indeed a good thing. We should all aspire to be healthier, if only because it means we may get to enjoy our lives that much longer. I bear no ill will to anyone who gets healthier.

My issue with the Atkins diet and all other brand name diets that come and go (see, it’s not just Atkins I dislike…I’m an equal opportunity hater), is how selfish these programs are, and how they manipulate people into thinking that their specific diet is the one and only panacea to weight loss and being healthy.

Think about every diet weight loss story you have heard. “I’ve lost weight on the Atkins diet”, “I lost weight on the South Beach Diet” or even “I lost weight on the cabbage soup diet”. The critical part of each of these sentence is at the very beginning…the “I lost weight…” aspect. In my opinion, the prepositional phrase of “on the such-n-such diet” is completely irrelevent.

Every diet prescribes an eating discipline of some sort or another. “Eat only grapefruit” or “Avoid foods high in fat” or “Don’t eat so much bread” are all examples of specific disciplines. They are prescribed because someone, somewhere, probably did lose some weight under the guidelines that they are advocating. But the majority of their eating disciplines are hardly radical. As far as I’ve been able to discern, 95% of all diets are a derivation of the “Eat smaller portions/Eat less starch, sugar, fat/eat more fruits, veggies, protein” mantra. These are hardly new ideas. The diet industry simply likes us to believe that they are.

My take on every diet is as follows: It’s rarely the specifics of the diet that creates the weight loss, but rather the level of food discipline that the dieter applies to their eating habits that affects their weight loss.

Or to put it another way, it’s not Atkins that made you lose weight, it was you. Atkins was simply the car you decided to show up in.

But the majority of diets don’t want you to know this. Most diets have a vested financial interest in making claims that their diet is the best (and sometimes only) way to lose weight.

There are caveats to this of course. Our bodies have a great diversity, and what is effective for one is not effective for another. But again, diets rarely take this into consideration because it punctures their illusion that their diet is the end-all be all.

I am very cynical towards diets and the diet industry, because they tend to take credit for the accomplishments of the individual. Jenny Craig didn’t make you lose weight, you did. It’s time that consumers started understanding this.

Diet Fads and Common Sense

With the news today that Atkins Inc. is filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a hearty “HA-ha!” a la Nelson from the Simpsons.

As cold as that sounds (because undoubtedly many people will lose many jobs over this), I still find it difficult to summon up any sympathy in regard to this news. I detest Atkins for a variety of reasons:

The diet was unhealthy: The Journal of the American Dietetic Association called it “a nightmare of a diet”. The Chair of the American Medical Association said that “…the Atkins diet, as recommended, poses a serious threat to health.ˮ The diet was also condemned by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and many, many other health organizations. The Atkins diet has given their consumers everything from a greater risk to heart disease to osteoporosis, to diarrhea, general weakness, rashes and muscle cramps. All in the name of “being healthier”.

The diet was misunderstood: Boy howdy was it misunderstood. From people thinking that they could eat unlimited amounts of fatty meats and cheeses (touched upon joyfully by Tim Burton in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to others believing that putting the body in a extensive state of ketosis is a good thing, the basic science behind this diet was questionable from the start and then often altered on each individuals perception. Atkins (as a company) never seemed to go out of their way to alter these misperceptions, having decided instead to focus on selling a multitude of products. Which leads me to…

The diet was was leapt upon with great zeal by the Food Industry: Carb-free cereal. Carb-reduced Flour, Atkins-Friendly granola bars, Atkins whored out their name and logo to a plethora of companies willing to take advantage of the diet fad. For a while, people were more than willing to buy up these items. Then they got tired of the taste of these things and they started showing up as donations to local food banks.

…and don’t get me started on the zeal in which people defended this diet.

The formula for weight loss is amazingly simple: (Energy Taken in) minus (Energy expended) = weight gain/weight loss. Period. Do not pass go. Do not invest thousands of dollars in a diet which you won’t be able to stay on in three months time.

But for some reason, we consumers can’t get this simple idea in place. We overcomplicate it by trying to find the quicker, easier solution. We want to add variables such as “I don’t want to exercise” or “I want to lose weight in the shortest time possible”.

Recently I found myself on the plus side of the Lane Bryant line. Knowing this not to be healthy, did I jump on a quick fix diet? Hell no. I instead have chosen to walk three miles a day as often as possible. Since that decision 8 weeks ago, I’ve lost eight pounds. It’s nothing remarkable (to me), but it still works. If you’re unwilling to cut back on your energy input, increase the amount of energy you expend.

Atkins may be waning (for now). But most assuredly there will be a new diet coming down the highway. Thousands of people will remark on how they’ve lost weight on this new diet that requires them to be disciplined in the way they approach what they eat. What will be lost upon these people is the fact that it won’t be the diet that loses them the weight, but their discipline used to restrict their food intake.

But for now I’ll settle for the schaudenfreud surrounding the loss of Atkins. I’ll think I’ll have a plateful of pasta to celebrate.

Atkins is out of hand

That’s IT! I am now, as of this moment, anti-Atkins, pro-carbs and responsible eating.

The Final Straw?

The latest issue of “Italian Cooking” promotes “20+ low-carb favorites” recipes inside.

Low Carb is to Italian cooking as haute cuisine is to English Cuisine. Yes it happens from time to time, but it’s only a lucky accident, not one of intent.

Man bites dog: Man sues Atkins

Can you say moron? I knew that you could.

A man sues Atkins promoters, claiming the diet almost killed him.

Now I’m no fan of the Atkins diet, as I come from the school of “Eat less, exercise more…anyone telling you any differently is trying to sell you something”. But at the same time, I’m also a big proponent of personal responsibility. Did this fool consult his doctor? Did his doctor tell him that eating a low carb, high protein diet has risks that include high cholesterol and a blocked arteries, specifically if you eat mostly pork and red meat? My guess is no.

I have another reason for avoiding the Atkins diet: Low carb food, much like low fat food, tastes like crap.

And if you really want a diet that will help you lose weight, eat more veggies, fish, rice and fruit, an avoid red meat, chocolate and items with high fructose corn syrup. And expend more calories than you use during the course of a day. Repeat for six months. It really is that simple.