Have you tried the amazing new diet plan yet, where you lose tons of weight while eating all the eggs, bacon, and steak you can shovel down your throat? You know, the Atkins Diet?
Or maybe you have a website or a blog or write for a magazine, and want to make sure that people get the Real Dirt on the Atkins Diet, the one where you can eat all the eggs, bacon, and steak you can fit into your grossly bloated belly?
If so, I have news for you. You've been writing about, frothing at the mouth over, or following the imaginary Atkins plan.
The imaginary Atkins plan is where all that bacon and eggs and steak comes in. It's the one where there's no limit on how much you can eat, as long as you don't eat bread or pasta, and you don't even have to exercise or eat any vegetables or fruit at all. And that's the plan that our good friends, the Watchdogs of Health, get their knickers in a twist about so often.
It's actually kind of funny, in a strange and sick way, to watch their heads spin around and around debunking things that Dr. Atkins never said, but it's also pretty sad, because there are people like me who might be helped by Atkins, who read these diatribes and think they contain an accurate description of the plan.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of sites like this one, posted recently to a list I'm on. They're all hyperventilating little exercises in debunkery (competing for Google space, it must be admitted, with the breathless testimonials of people like me who think Atkins is the greatest thing since, well, sliced bread). This site is not the worst I've seen, but it's pretty representative of the piss-poor quality of the critique most of these sites specialize in.
That's primarily because they can't be bothered to read Dr. Atkins' book or talk to people who've actually done the plan as it was written. They reserve their outrage for second hand sources and media rehashes of what Dr. Atkins supposedly wrote. For instance, they just plain make some stuff up:
If one were to consume a fruit and vegetable at each meal and snack this would tabulate to upwards of 85 grams of carbohydrate, the upper end of the "maintenance phase" limit on the Atkins plan. Forget about having any healthy whole grains, legumes or milk products for the rest of the day. This recommendation would be extremely difficult to adhere to even on the maintenance phase of the Atkins plan.
I eat one or two servings of veggies and fruits with every meal, and often as a snack too, and I only eat 35 grams of carbs a day (on this plan, we don't count fiber in our carb levels ... WITH fiber I'm eating more like 55-60 grams of carbs). There is no set limit of carbohydrate intake at any point in the plan, other than the first two weeks. After that, the level of carbohydrates is individually arrived at, and there is no "upper end" for the weight loss phases, let alone maintenance.
The geniuses at this website continue:
There is no limit on the Atkins plan to the amount of protein, fats and red meats one can consume. There is little else to eat other than these foods with such a significant carbohydrate restriction.
This is "imaginary Atkins." There is a limit to the amounts of all foods we can eat, and there is a vast cornucopia of foods we eat other than protein, fats, and red meats.
But all that is really just chump change compared with what is to me the most dangerous part of the "fake Atkins" phenomenon, the one that does far and away the most terrible harm:
A recent research study conducted by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity showed that Atkins dieters cut their normal daily caloric intake by 1,000 calories while following the Atkins plan. Additional research has shown that during the ongoing weight loss phase, Atkins dieters consumed only 1500 calories a day on average, much less than their previous caloric intake. Furthermore, in the research study presented in The Annals of Internal Medicine above, scientists found that in both the low-fat diet group and in the Atkins diet group, calorie consumption was reduced as compared to the participant's previous diets. This only goes to show what we've known all along as the bottom line in weight loss: calories eaten must be less than calories burned for weight loss to occur. With so little food choices on the Atkins diet, it's easy to see why people eat fewer calories and therefore lose weight. There's nothing magical behind the hype about low carb plans.
Why the hell do you think that we cut our calories when we go on Atkins? Because we aren't being driven out of our frigging minds on a blood sugar roller coaster, with endless cravings and constant hunger! This IS the damn magic! And it's the exact "magic" that Dr. Atkins said would happen.
This insistence that "calories don't matter" is not from Dr. Atkins. It's from imaginary Atkins. It is true that there seems to be a small metabolic advantage in high fat, low carb diets, in that most people studied who eat them lose more weight while eating slightly higher calories than those on high carb, low fat diets. But the success of the Atkins plan is not predicated on this happening. The ability to have a functioning appetstat, to be free of cravings, to have high energy levels, THIS is the "magic" that makes Atkins work for those of us it benefits.
As to "so little food choices (sic)," these people are either lying through their teeth or so stupid they didn't do one iota of research on the actual plan before being so kind as to form, and share, their opinion on it. My food choices are much more varied now that I've found an eating plan that really works for me. Also, eating a lot of carbs appears to have deadened my taste buds, because I was unaware of how "sweet" naturally sweet things were. Today, a fresh tomato in my mouth tastes impossibly sweet. Cream tastes sweet. Nuts taste sweet. Almond butter tastes like DESSERT to me.
It is a ludicrous lie to suggest that by giving up transfats, white flour, white sugar and related sweeteners (which is all you permanently give up on Atkins), and restricting high glycemic fruits and veggies, and controlling carb intake during the weight loss phase of the plan, you are so severely limiting yourself that you literally CANNOT put together a year's worth of satisfying meals. I'm closing in on year two and I haven't been bored yet, and I have far more diversity in my diet than I used to, when I pretty much ate a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, and pasta or pizza for lunch and dinner, every bloody day of my life.
I'm just very glad that I actually READ THE BOOK before judging the Atkins plan - and didn't dismiss it based on the silliness I see in magazine articles, on the web, and coming out of the mouths of people who were on "imaginary Atkins."
Again - it's not for everyone and I'm not suggesting it is. There are things in the Atkins plan I don't agree with, such as the idea that we can eat things sweetened with sugar alcohols and all these new low carb junk foods and still be healthy. But if you're going to object to it, object to the actual plan, not the imaginary version. Straw men are easy to knock down, it's true, but lies and manipulation never made anyone healthier, or helped them make better decisions.