Diets and fads come and go and it seems that most of us are obsessed with losing weight. The diet that stayed for the longest time in the public consciousness is the Atkins Diet. It’s not as popular as it was in its heyday but there are still loyal followers. Equally, there are critics too but there is no denying the impact that it had on the slimming industry.
The low carbohydrate, high protein diet was adapted by Dr Robert Atkins from a medical journal he read in the 1960s. He first tried it out on himself and found he lost weight. He then gave the diet to thousands of his patients. The next step was to introduce it to the wide world, which he did in his book, Dr Atkins’ Diet Revolution in 1972. A revised edition followed with Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. After the publication of the books, the Atkins Diet became a household term.
The basis of Dr Atkins’ theory was that obesity is mainly caused by eating too much refined carbohydrates, primarily flour, sugar and products high in fructose. He stated that other diets focused on the intake of saturated fats but the problem lay with trans fats alone. The Atkins Diet is a strict regime, which sets out precise levels of carbohydrates, increasing in stages as the diet progresses. The sale of rice and pasta fell as a result. Dr Atkins’ advice is that eating unprocessed, whole foods is the healthiest option.
Some nutritionists take issue with the claims, saying that the diet is very successful in short term weight loss but does not bring long-term results. Several doctors go even further, concluding that high protein, low carbohydrate diets can make people prone to heart disease. Critics point out that the premise is flawed when one considers the dietary habits of Asian people. They eat a lot of carbohydrates as occur in noodles and rice and they don’t have an obesity problem. Other people complain that the diet is necessarily expensive and has unpleasant side effects, such as lethargy, bad breath, diarrhea and cramp.
The company formed by Dr Atkins in 1989, Atkins Nutritionals, went into bankruptcy in 2005 but the franchise continues with Atkins Diet branded food products. The Doctor himself, died in an accident in 2003, when he slipped on the ice. Unfortunately, the longevity of his health was never put to the test.