Monday, August 01, 2005

Is Bankruptcy the Death of Low-Carb?

Yesterday Atkins Nutritionals filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US Bankruptcy Court in New York blaming slumping demand and increased competition.

The Atkins diet, based on the research of Dr. Robert Atkins, promotes eating protein over carbohydrates and was so popular from 2002 through early 2004 that it was blamed for the bankruptcies of several pasta and bakery companies.

But Atkins Nutritionals said demand began to slump in the second half of 2004 and rival products flooded the marketplace, prompting the company to restructure and replace its management team.

While critics of low-carb diets will inevitably hail this as "proof" that low-carb diets do not work and that low-carb is dead, let's not forget that "proof" is found in scientific data not product sales performance. Long before the low-carb product boom and bust, the low-carb approach was followed by millions of people without thousands of tailor-made products. I should know, I was one of them! Over the last three years dozens of studies have concluded low-carb diets do work without increasing health risk factors in the majority of those following them.

Here is something you don't hear too often in the media - Dr. Atkins himself warned against using the products in all of the books he wrote. "Be food aware - remember that fresh meat, fish, fowl, vegetables, nuts, seeds and occasional fruits and starches are foods nature designed for you to eat. That packaged stuff in the supermarket puts money in somebody's pocket. But try not to put it in your stomach. This is the only body you've got." (Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, Avon Books, 1999, 2002).

Low-carb diets are an effective weight-loss strategy - the key is understanding how they work and designing your meal plan to be nutrient-dense as you slowly re-introduce carbohydrate foods initially restricted. Over time the low-carb diet modifies to a controlled-carb lifestyle. You may recall my previous article about how you must change your eating habits for the rest of your life.

A low-carb diet gives you the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start anew with the basics - proteins, fats and limited carbohydrates - ideally from just whole foods. From there you add back carbohydrates - again just from whole foods - slowly as you continue to learn a new way of eating and lose weight. By the time you've reached your goal weight - if you're doing things correctly - you're not only eating a nutrient-dense diet, you're also eating a healthy, wide variety of whole foods that keep you healthy and trim for life.


  1. Ain't that the truth!
    It took me years to realize I didn't need to buy every single low-carb product on the market--I merely had to just think natural and 'nutrient-dense', as you say.

  2. I blogged about this subject at "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" today, too. The media is having a field day with this, but it's not really news to those of us following low-carb.

    Jimmy Moore, "Livin' La Vida Low Carb Man"

  3. For decades people have successfully followed low and controlled-carb diets without any products.

    You simply don't need them - they're convenient, yes - but not necessary...and for some are even detrimental since they do not help you re-tool your eating habits if you're just switching from one junk food to another.

    For years I've recommended that anyone starting a low-carb diet keep it simple - go back to the basics and eat real, whole foods...later it's OK, of course, to try some products - but if you start with them you won't have a benchmark of how you feel or how they affect your metabolism - good or bad - unless you've been eating "clean" for a while.