As my wife, friends, and acquaintances will probably tell you – I can’t shut up regarding how much I appreciate the work of those who have started to put an end to the misinformation out there regarding what a proper diet for the typical person is, and more specifically, how a fat person becomes fat and how to reverse it.
Over the past year I’ve been reading constantly – research studies. theories, opinions, and lots of bullshit (unfortunately most of which has come from people who should know better – doctors, nutritionists, and most sadly – our government).
During my weight loss journey, when people ask me what I’m doing to lose weight, I tell them one of the following, depending on my mood:
a. If I feel like arguing, then I’ll tell them I’m on a ‘based on tons of research from real scientists, I went on a high fat diet’ (which is sure to solicit the ‘but your arteries will be clogged…’ response)
b. If I don’t feel like arguing, but am open to discussion, I’ll say ‘based on tons of research, I cut out sugars and starches’ (notice that I leave out the word ‘carbohydrates’, which is really what it is, but unfortunately ‘cutting out carbs’ seems to always get a quick roll of the eyes from the uninformed)
c. If I am not feeling like explaining it, I simply say ‘watching what I eat’.
The truth is, I’ve been on a simplified version of the Atkins diet for many months now. But, up until I recently when I actually read the book, I didn’t know it, as I had never read any of the late Atkins’ books. I recently picked up copies of Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution and Atkins for Life from my local library. I’ll review the Atkins for Life book at another time, as I’m still going through it. Suffice to say that it is well worth the read if you have already achieved (or come close to) achieving your goal weight. I’m at that point and still have questions/concerns regarding the impact of exercise and/or types of exercise on fat loss and weight, and also for more definitive information regarding low-carb recipes. I’ll post about Atkins for Life another time.
My Review of Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution
Yeah, it’s a bit late considering this book has been out basically since the early 70’s. I read the version that came out in 2002. Dr. Atkins has since passed away so this is basically the end of the Atkins books worth reading, I think. Based on the misleading nutritional bars and foods that Atkins Nutritionals is peddling now, I don’t trust the current incarnation of them. (on a side note – I did some consulting work for Atkins Nutritionals many years ago at their office in Long Island – I remember thinking to myself, when I’d go into their office, “Why would anyone come to work full-time for what is obviously just a fad diet? Don’t they realize they’ll be out of jobs once the hype ends on this thing?” Keep in mind this was around 2001, and good jobs were plentiful. But, they’re still alive and kicking.
On to the book – in a nutshell it’s a great, solid program, based on what has long since been confirmed by all credible studies and scientists. I personally don’t care for Dr. Atkins’ writing style – it drips of ‘used car salesman’ tone, but it is an easy read and does not weigh anyone down (no pun intended) with much science, which is probably a good thing.
The section about exercise is interesting and still up for debate. In fact, for most people it just causes your body to want to eat more to compensate for the energy expenditure. I should know – when I started working out my weight loss slowed considerably, even though I’m eating the same amount of food (and as a result I’m hungry some days when I work out extra hard – I was never hungry before, even while losing sometimes 2 pounds in a day). But, that said, I have no doubt exercise is good for me. It has resulted in muscle gain, definition. But, I’m glad I waited ~6 months, once most of the excess weight was gone, before starting a real exercise program. Fact is, it’s much more fun working out when you’re not fat. I guess that’s why the skinny people at the gym don’t look so pissed off like the fat ones do.
Back to the book review…all in all, as much as I like what Atkins has to say in his book, I wonder why anyone needs to follow such a strict program unless they wants/need rigidity. Truth be told – I went through a 2 week ‘induction’ myself, back when my wife got me started on The South Beach Diet (which is a horrible diet – stay away!). I did okay during the 2 weeks of induction in terms of weight loss, but I was dizzy (I now know that this was due to a lack of dietary fat – which is the main problem with the South Beach Diet – it continues to demonize dietary fat), and then made the mistake of listening to the bullshit about how I then needed to come out of induction after the 2 weeks and eat carbs. This whole ‘phased’ approach seems pointless to me, but I am the first to admit that it’s been a long time now since I did my ‘induction’ and perhaps it really is necessary in order to kick the addiction to carbs.
After having read the book, I did pick up some useful tips (particularly the strawberries with heavy cream desert, which is my go-to when I have a sweet tooth!). But will I follow his diet? No. I’ll stick with the basic principle that guided me through my weight loss, and continue for life – simply put: eat as few carbs as possible.
For most people pre-disposed to being fat, the evidence is clear. Consuming carbs causes blood sugar to spike and ultimately trigger the body to store fat. Quit eating them and your body will be forced to burn the fat for fuel. There is no medical/health downside to this, contrary to what amount to pure guesses made by many, including apparently Atkins himself, who says in his book that ‘induction’ should not be stayed on indefinitely. I believe the evidence, as cited by Gary Taubes in Good Calories Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat, shows that there is no medical risk in cutting out carbs for good. Your body produces itself the approximately 50g of carbs per day it needs.
Do I still eat carbs? Yes. Unfortunately. I just eat as few as I can. But…I still have a sweet tooth.