Since its release, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution has sold millions of copies. The promise of fast weight loss without having to suffer through the usual low-fat, low-calorie, low-taste, diet that overweight people were used to, generated widespread appeal. However, that appeal wouldn’t have lasted over the years if the diet didn’t work. The fact is, that the Atkins Diet does work. How and why it works, however, aren’t as magic as it all sounds.
Atkins Diet History – Millions of Dieters Say It Works and Shed Hundreds of Pounds
When Doctor Atkins’ book first landed in bookstores around the country, plenty of people bought it. It seemed that any new diet fad that came along got a million desperate people to try it. Unfortunately, most of the diets didn’t work. Fad diets had a way of creating yo-yo dieters who lost a lot of weight at first, and then put it all back on once they stopped the extreme diet regimen that was prescribed. But, there was something different about the Atkins diet. It worked; and it kept working. People who could never lose weight before were suddenly losing ten, twenty, or even a hundred pounds, all because of the Atkins Diet.
The Atkins Diet created an entire new industry. It spawned thousands of Atkins Diet foods, Atkins cookbooks, guides, and more. The legions of Atkins followers looking for no-carb meals even changed the restaurant industry. Everything from fast-food places, to chain restaurants, to fine-dining establishments all started offering low-carb or no-carb meals to satisfy the demands from diners who got tired of ordering their hamburger with no bun.
The diet created by Dr. Atkins also generated plenty of controversy. Nutritionists claimed that it was difficult or impossible to get the required daily nutrition from the diet prescribed by Doctor Atkins. Heart doctors and medical researchers worried that huge waves of Americans eating even more red meat was a recipe for heart disease, high cholesterol, and heart attacks. There were even rumors that Atkins himself grew fatter and less healthy until he was grossly obese at the time of his death.
Despite these urgent, and sometimes overblown, warnings, people kept using the Atkins diet and its low-carb derivitaves like the Zone Diet, the Mediterranian Diet, and the South Beach Diet, for one simple reason: the diet worked and people lost weight.
How Atkins Works – Why Low-Carb Diets Shed the Pounds When Nothing Else Works
The most incredible thing about the Atkins’ diet was its success ratio. People who could never lose weight before were able to drop pounds like water. Even people who weren’t overweight could use Atkins to drop those last 5 or 10 pounds. Even Hollywood celebrities began admitting that they were using the Atkins Diet and then later, other forms of low-carbohydrate or zero-carbohydrate diets.
What makes low-carb diets so powerful as weight-loss tools?
Is it there some internal biology at work as their authors claim? Is there really some truth to the fact that people from Mediterranean areas are seldom obese despite eating a very high fat diet? Did science get it all wrong before? Was there a national conspiracy to force people to eat boring, healthy foods?
Whether any of the above are true is open to significant debate. Ironically, none of them have anything to do with why Atkins works and why all the other low-carb diets work.
Low-Carb Diets The Ultimate Marketing Spin
If a low-carb diet is not a superior biological way of eating, then why do people using the Atkins diet or South Beach Diet or Zone Diet lose so much weight?
In a word, marketing. Or, to be more specific, very clever spin and diversion.
The diets that came before Atkins all suffered from the same thing, they told people what they could NOT eat. Where the Atkins diet was able to succeed was that it turned this paradigm on its head. Instead of telling people what they couldn’t eat, he told them what they COULD eat, and he told them that they could eat bacon.
If you ever talked to anyone who was on the Atkins diet, they all inevitably told you the same thing. They said that with this new diet they were on, they could eat bacon! It was like they were quoting the book. They may have gone on to mention other foods that they could eat as well, foods like fried chicken, meatballs, and all kinds of great tasty foods that had been banned before. Then, at the end, as if it were just some afterthought, they said that the only thing they couldn’t eat was carbohydrates.
Ironically, the reason low-carb diets like Atkins are so successful is that eliminating carbs actually has the effect of eliminating all of the same things are forbidden on a regular diet. It just does it in a much nicer way, and then they throw dieters a bone: don’t worry, you can still eat bacon.
Most diets are overly strict. They attempt to eliminate every food that might in some way create weight gain, no matter how small of a contributing factor it is. The fact is that few people who are overweight are obese because they eat too much steak, or too much chicken. They are overweight because they eat too much chips, and candy, and donuts, and muffins, and deserts, all of which are clearly banned in regular dieting AND on the low-carb diets.
As it turns out virtually every one of those over-eaten empty calorie foods that have turned Americans into the fattest nation on the planet have one simple thing in common: they all have plenty of carbs. That isn’t surprising considering that sugar has carbs. Bye-bye sweets. Also high in carbohydrates are those empty calorie appetizers and snacks that everyone forgets about when they count calories, things like bread sticks, buns, and even those low nutrition starches like potatoes and rice.
In the end, the Atkins diet wasn’t a new revolution after all. It was the same advice fat people always were given. All the changed was the wording. Instead of being told to eliminate sweets, candy, desert, soda, juices, coffee creamer, muffins, donuts, and so on, the “new revolution” told them the exact same thing, but with the more scientific sounding phrase, “Eliminate carbs.”
The only true difference is that the Atkins’ New Diet Revolution didn’t overreach by also trying to prohibit those other things that could be diet busters like bacon, beef, and pork. This was the genius behind low-carb dieting. As it turns out, things like meat, are self regulating. It just isn’t desirable to eat 5 steaks, even if you can. But, all of those “sneaky” things that keep people fat when they are trying so hard to lose weight get caught up in the net of “things with carbs.”
Instead of having to tell people to look at the label’s fine print and avoid foods with high-fructose corn syrup, they just had to look at the bold numbers on the top of the legally required nutritional information label. Since high-fructose corn syrup has plenty of carbs, the foods it is in are eliminated automatically. Same thing with sneaky diet-busters like fruit juices (healthy, but only in smaller quantities), muffins (just because someone brought them to the meeting doesn’t mean they don’t count), butter (carbs, carbs, carbs), and even a lot of those fats that nutritionists worried about (olive oil has no carbs, but most fryer oil has tons).
In the end, the secret to diet success it seems was simplicity. No points, no calculators, not long lists of do’s and dont’s, just a simple one liner to guide dieters to weight loss. Don’t eat carbs.
by Brian E Nelson