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Why the huge Atkins discrepancy?


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#1 Rick Moranis

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 02:50 AM


High fat, low carb: vice versa. I was reading Vegan Dr.Greger's critique on Taubes and Atkins -- why do both diets claim the same results (less heart disease, diabetes, cancer, diseases of civilization) with completely different approaches and have the studies to back them up?
The whole book 'Carbophobia' is here:
http://www.atkinsexp...htmare_Diet.htm

Phony Baloney

One of Dr. Atkins' dreams probably came true--he likely became a billionaire before he died. The Atkins corporation is now estimated to be worth billions of dollars.[69] In Family Practice News, one doctor writes, "Unfortunately, Dr. Robert C. Atkins, who made a lot of money playing on the ignorance of Americans, knew about as much about nutrition as an Arkansas hog knows about astronomy."[70]

Of course, pigs--in Arkansas and elsewhere--have presumably little use for astronomy. It doesn't seem like too much to ask, however, that cardiologists like Dr. Atkins know something about nutrition.

The entire theoretical framework of low carb diets, like Atkins and The Zone, hang upon the notion that insulin is the root of all evil and so to limit insulin release one needs to limit carbohydrate intake. Dr. Atkins, for example, has a chapter entitled "Insulin--The Hormone That Makes You Fat,"[71] Protein Power calls it the “monster hormone,”[487] and the author of the Zone Diet calls insulin "the single most significant determinant of your weight."[72]

What they overlook is that "protein- and fat-rich foods may induce substantial insulin secretion" as well.[73] Research in which study subjects served as their own controls, for example, has shown that under fasting conditions a quarter pound of beef raises insulin levels in diabetics as much as a quarter pound of straight sugar.[74]

Atkins' featured foods like cheese and beef elevated insulin levels higher than "dreaded" high-carbohydrate foods like pasta. A single burger's worth of beef, or three slices of cheddar, boosts insulin levels more than almost 2 cups of cooked pasta.[75] In fact a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that meat, compared to the amount of blood sugar it releases, seems to cause the most insulin secretion of any food tested.[76]

Low carb advocates like Atkins seem to completely ignore these facts. Recent medical reviews have called Atkins' feel-good theories "factually flawed"[77] and "at best half-truths."[78] "In the scientific world, books like the Zone Diet are generally regarded as fiction," one reviewer wrote in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. "The scientific literature is in opposition..."[79] In a medical journal article entitled "Food Fads and Fallacies," the Atkins Diet is referred to as a "'New wives' tale" with a "sprinkling of fallacies."[80]

According to a 2003 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "Dr. Atkins and his colleagues selectively recite the literature" to support their claims.[81] When researchers take the time to actually measure insulin levels, for instance, instead of just talking about them like Atkins does, they often find the opposite of what Atkins asserted.

A study done at Tufts, for example, presented at the 2003 American Heart Association convention, compared four popular diets for a year. They compared Weight Watchers, The Zone Diet, the Atkins Diet (almost no carbs), and the Ornish Diet (almost all carbs) for a year. The insulin levels of those instructed to go on the Ornish diet dropped 27%. Out of the four diets that were compared that year, Ornish's vegetarian diet was the only one to significantly lower the "Monster" "Hormone That Makes You Fat," even though that's supposedly what Atkins and The Zone diets were designed to do.[82]

In another study researchers took over a hundred pairs of identical twins and found that the more fat they ate, the higher their resting insulin levels were. Even with the same genes, the study "showed a consistent pattern of higher fasting insulin levels with intake of high-fat, low carbohydrate diets."[83]

Other studies show that a high (70-85%) carbohydrate diet (combined with walking an average of 15-30 minutes a day) not only can result in significant reductions in body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, but significant drops in baseline insulin levels as well, exactly the opposite of what low carb pushers would predict. In just three weeks on a high (unrefined) carb vegetarian diet and a few minutes of daily walking, diabetics reduced the amount of insulin they needed and most of the pre-diabetics seemed cured of their insulin resistance.[84] In general vegetarians may have half the insulin levels of nonvegetarians even at the same weight.[85]

In an article entitled "Americans Love Hogwash," Edward H. Rynearson, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, singled out Dr. Atkins for dispensing hogwash he defines as "worthless, false or ridiculous speech or writings" and praised the AMA for "condemning this diet for its dangers."[86] The "evidence" cited by Atkins has been called "nearly all anecdotal and misleading."[87] "Carbophobia is a form of nutritional misinformation," a 2003 review in the Journal of the American College of Medicine noted, "infused into the American psyche through... advertising... infomercials... and best-selling diet books."[88]

"When unproven science becomes a sales pitch," declared a spokesperson for the American Institute for Cancer Research about low carb diets, "some people get rich and the rest of us get ripped off."[498]

We know that the Atkins Diet is successful--at making money. What about for weight loss? We know that cutting down on carbs will help people lose variety and nutrition in their diet,[89] and if they buy his supplements, their wallet may get slimmer, but what about their waistline?

Who cares if the American Medical Association calls Atkins's theory "naive," "biochemically incorrect," "inaccurate," and "without scientific merit?" Who cares if it "doesn't make physiological sense?"[90] The question is, does it work?

----
Losing (Water) Weight

Carbohydrates burn cleanly. In fact the name "carbo- hydrate" basically means "carbon (dioxide) and water," which is what plants make carbs out of, and which is all the waste product one is left with when one's body uses them as fuel. During the first few weeks of the Atkins Diet, the so-called "induction" phase, a person is forced to live off so much grease that, lacking the preferred fuel--carbohydrates--their body goes into starvation mode.

In biochemistry class, doctors learn that fat "burns in the flame of carbohydrate." When one is eating enough carbohydrates, fat can be completely broken down as well. But when one's body runs out of carb fuel to burn, its only choice is to burn fat inefficiently using a pathway that produces toxic byproducts like acetone and other so-called "ketones." The acetone escapes through the lungs--giving Atkins followers what one weight-loss expert calls "rotten-apple breath"[91]--and the other ketones have to be excreted by the kidneys. We burn fat all the time; it's only when we are carbohydrate deficient and have to burn fat ineffectively that we go into what's called a state of ketosis, defined as having so much acetone in our blood it noticeably spills out into our lungs or so many other ketones they spill out into our urine.

To wash these toxic waste products out of our system our body uses a lot of water. The diuretic effect of low carb diets can result in people losing a gallon of water in pounds the first week.[92] This precipitous early weight loss encourages dieters to continue the diet even though they have lost mostly water weight[93] and the state of ketosis may be making them nauseous or worse.[94] If one wanted to try to lose water weight, sweating it away in a sauna may be a more healthful way.

The Director of Yale University's Center for Eating and Weight Disorders explains the miracle formula used by diet books to become bestsellers for over a century now: "easy, rapid weight loss; the opportunity to eat your favorite foods and some scientific 'breakthrough' that usually doesn't exist."[95] The rapid loss of initial water weight seen particularly on low carb diets has an additional sales benefit. By the time people gain back the weight, they may have already told all their friends to buy the book, and the cycle continues. This has been used to explain why low carb diets have been such "cash cows" for publishers over the last 140 years.[96] As one weight loss expert notes, "Rapid water loss is the $33-billion diet gimmick."[97]
-----
Calories Count

When people do lose weight on the Atkins Diet after the first few weeks, it's almost certainly because they are eating fewer calories.[98] People lose weight on the Atkins Diet the same way they lost weight on the 1941 Grapefruit Diet, the 1963 Hot Dog Diet, the 2002 Ice Cream Diet and every other fad diet promising a quick fix--by restricting calories.

In 2001, the medical journal Obesity Research published "Popular Diets: A Scientific Review." Claiming to have reviewed every study ever done on low carb diets, they concluded, "In all cases, individuals on high-fat, low carbohydrate diets lose weight because they consume fewer calories."[99] Calories count--every time, all the time. "No magic ingredients, strange food combinations or pseudoscientific formulas will alter this metabolic fact."[100]

Dr. Atkins disagreed. In fact, he accused his critics of having "subnormal intellects" for even holding such a view.[101] For three decades he peddled his claim that people could eat more calories and still lose weight. Decrying what he called the "calorie hoax," Atkins had a chapter entitled "How to Stay Fat--Keep Counting Calories." Atkins even subtitled his book "The High Calorie Way to Stay Thin Forever." The Zone Diet made a similar claim on its back cover: "You can burn more fat by watching TV than by exercising."[102] (As one commentator exclaimed, "Goodness, what channel does he watch!")[103]

Atkins claimed people could lose 85 pounds, without exercising, eating an incredible 5,500 calories a day.[104] The only problem, critics claimed, was that this ran counter to the First Law of Thermodynamics, considered to be the most fundamental law in the universe. No wonder the AMA scolded Atkins publishers for promoting "bizarre concepts of nutrition and dieting."[105]
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"Metabolic Advantage" Advantageous Only in Selling Books

Atkins claimed that the key to the so-called "calorie fallacy" was that the missing calories were explained by the excretion of ketones. Dieters in ketosis, he argued, urinate and breathe out so many calories in the form of ketones that "weight will be lost even when the calories taken in far exceed the calories expended." He claimed dieters could "sneak" calories out of the body unused.[106]

The "Atkins Physician Council" also claims that one's body expends more energy burning fat and thus "You wouldn't have to increase your exercise at all because your body would be working harder, so that you could literally sit in your armchair and lose weight."[107] As the Secretary of the AMA's Council on Food and Nutrition tried to make clear, "The whole [Atkins] diet is so replete with errors woven together that it makes the regimen sound mysterious and magical."[108]

These claims sounded so far-fetched that as part of an investigative documentary, the BBC paid obesity researchers to design an experiment to test it. So researchers took two identical twins and put one on the Atkins Diet for a while, the other on a high carbohydrate diet and locked them both in sealed chambers to measure exactly where the calories were going. Did the twin on the Atkins Diet have any sort of metabolic "advantage" by burning fat and protein as his source of fuel? Was he literally flushing more calories down the toilet? Of course not. "We found no difference whatsoever," the researcher said.[109]

As the evidently "subnormal intellects" at the AMA concluded, "No scientific evidence exists to suggest that the low carbohydrate ketogenic diet has a metabolic advantage over more conventional diets for weight reduction."[110] The only comprehensive systematic review ever done of low carb diets found that the carbohydrate content of the diet seemed in no way correlated with weight loss.[111] The truth seems to be that nothing matters more than calories when it comes to weight loss.[112] According to the director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, "This whole ketosis thing is just a gimmick to make people think there's something to blame for weight gain and some magic solution to take it off. That's the beginning and end of it."[489]

But what about all the scientific studies Dr. Atkins cited in his book to back up his claims? Although his first book had essentially no citations, by the final edition he listed over 300.[113] Reviewing all of the studies on low carb diets, researchers concluded, "The studies by Atkins to support his contentions were of limited duration, conducted on a small number of people, lacked adequate controls and used ill-defined diets."[114] Most importantly, though, some of the very studies he cites actually refute exactly what he's claiming. And he accused the AMA of being "intellectually dishonest."[115]

Of the few studies that did back up his claims, some had seriously questionable validity[116] and researchers could not replicate the findings of the rest.[117-134] One review of studies that have defended Atkins claims concluded, "It turns out that when these data are critically analyzed they are often found to be in error, and it's therefore impossible to accept the validity of the conclusions derived by the authors from such erroneous data."[135]

People lost weight on low carb diets the way everybody loses weight on any diet--by eating fewer calories.[136]

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Low Calorie Diet in Disguise

The Atkins Diet restricts calories by restricting choices. If all one did was eat Twinkies, one could lose weight (unless one were able to consistently force oneself to eat more than a dozen a day). But would one's overall health be better or worse for it? In essence, the Atkins Diet is not much different than the Twinkie Diet.

Americans get half of their energy from carbohydrates,[137] so if people cut out half the food they eat, what they are left with is calorie restriction. Yes, one can eat unlimited amounts of fat on the Atkins Diet, but people typically can't stomach an extra two sticks of butter's worth a day to make up for the calorie deficit. Since so many foods are taboo, people end up eating less out of sheer boredom and lack of variety. As one obesity researcher put it, "If you're only allowed to shop in two aisles of the grocery store, does it matter which two they are?"[138]

Yes, all the butter one can eat, but no bread to put it on. All the cream cheese, but no bagels. Sour cream, but no baked potato. Sandwich lunchmeat, but, of course, no sandwiches. All the pepperoni one can eat, but no pizza crust. Cheese, but no mac.

In later phases of the diet, with less carb restriction, Atkins throws in a thin wedge of cantaloupe--wrapped in ham, of course.[139] Having all the mayonnaise one can eat only goes so far.

On the Atkins Diet one can eat steak, but no potatoes--and watch the gravy (it may have corn starch in it). All the shortening one can eat, just no making cookies with it. Eat all the burgers one wants; you just can't put them on buns, no fries--and "beware of ketchup."[140]

Atkins described how to make cheeseburgers without the bun: "I put all the meat on the outside... put the cheese on the inside... The cheese melts on the inside and never gets out."[141]

Although his recipe for "hamburger fondue,"[142] combining burger meat, blue cheese, and butter, might top the cheeseburger recipe for heart disease risk, the prize would probably go his recipe for "Swiss Snack,"[143] which consists of wrapping bacon strips around cubes of Swiss cheese and deep frying them in hot oil. The recipe, which supposedly serves one, calls for four strips of bacon and a quarter-pound of cheese.

Atkins rivals the creativity of the raw-food chefs of today in his uses for pork rinds. Pork rinds are chunks of pigs’ skin that are deep-fried, salted and artificially flavored. He recommends people use them to dip caviar. Or, perhaps for those who can't afford caviar, one can use fried pork rinds as a "substitute for toast, dinner rolls...You can use them as a pie crust... or even matzo ball soup (see our recipe on p. 190)."[144] Matzo balls made out of pork rinds?--now that is a diet revolution!


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The Real Big Fat Lie

In Taubes' articlein the New York Times Magazine, he reiterated a myth common among Atkins and other greasy diet proponents.[145] "At the very moment that the government started telling Americans to eat less fat, we got fatter," wrote Taubes.[146] He argues that since the percentage of calories from fat in the American diet has been decreasing, and the percentage from carbohydrates increasing, carbs are to blame for the obesity epidemic.[147]

Of course a quick trot across the globe shows that some of the thinnest populations in the world, like those in rural Asia, center their entire diets on carbs. They eat 50% more carbs than we do, yet have a fraction of our obesity rates.[148] Taubes also left out that the amount of added fat and total fat Americans eat has also been increasing--we're eating more of everything now, fat and carbohydrates. Grease and protein peddlers blame our obesity epidemic on a low-fat diet that our nation never ate.

Thirty years ago, the average woman ate about 1500 calories per day, now it's closer to 2000.[149] Men also significantly bumped up their calorie consumption. With that many extra calories, we'd have to walk about two extra hours a day to keep from gaining weight. As analyzed in the May 2004 USDA report on obesity, with more calories, yet the same sedentary lifestyle, of course we gained weight.[150]

The reason we're fat is not because of bread and fruit. Much of the obesity crisis has been blamed on eating out more (Americans spend almost twice as much time per week eating out as exercising),[151] soft drinks, snacking, bigger portion sizes and "the enormous amount of very clever and very effective advertising of junk food/fast food."[152] Our children, for example, are subjected to 10,000 ads for processed food every year.[153] There's no way parents can compete. As one medical journal pointed out, our children "will never see a slick high-budget (or even low-budget) ad for apples or broccoli."

Twenty years ago, a typical US bagel was 3 inches; now it's twice that and contains a whopping 350 calories.[154] Outback Steakhouse now has an appetizer of cheese fries, which breaks the scale at over 3000 calories, an appetizer containing more calories than most people eat all day. One would have to walk about 35 miles to burn that kind of thing off.[155]

The standard coke bottle used to be around 6 ounces. Then came the 12 ounce can. Now we have the 20 ounce bottles, or, of course, the 64-ounce "Double Gulp," containing about 50 spoonfuls of sugar. In fact, the Double Gulp is selling so well that 7-Eleven considered an even larger size, which a company spokesperson described only as a "wading-pool-sized drink."[156]

The National Soft Drink Association boasts on their website that "Soft drinks have emerged as America's favorite refreshment. Indeed, one of every four beverages consumed in America today is a carbonated soft drink, averaging out to about 53 gallons of soft drinks per year for every man, woman and child."[157] Interestingly, the introduction of high fructose corn syrup (primarily consumed in soft drinks)[1160] around 1970 seems to exactly parallel the sudden rapid rise in obesity in this country.[158] Thanks in part to the American food corporations, becoming overweight, as one prominent obesity researcher pointed out, "is now the normal response to the American environment."[159]

There is no mystery why we are the fattest country on Earth. "We're overfed, over-advertised, and under-exercised," says Stanford obesity expert John Farquhar. "It's the enormous portion sizes and sitting in front of the TV and computer all day" that are to blame. "It's so gol'darn obvious--how can anyone ignore it?"[160]

-----
That same year, Dr. Irwin Stillman wrote the "Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet," allowing his patients to
eat only meat, eggs, and cheese. Stillman himself died of a heart attack, but not before misleading 20
million people onto his diet.[28]
One might wonder why, if this kind of diet was such a "foolproof"[29] "ultimate"[30] path to "permanent
joyful weight loss" that "WORKS 100% OF THE TIME!" (emphasis in original),[31] they seemed to
always quickly fade into obscurity, only to be resurrected shortly after by publishers guaranteed a new
bestseller by America’s short attention span. This brings us to 1972, and the publication of Dr. Atkins Diet
Revolution.[32]
Atkins’ diet was centered on fried pork rinds, heavy cream, cheese, and meat. For Atkins, bacon and
butter were health foods and bread and bananas were what he called "poison."[33]

----

In another clinical trial, despite statistically significant weight loss reported in the Atkins group, every
single cardiac risk factor measured had worsened after a year on the Atkins Diet. The investigator
concludes "Those following high fat [Atkins[526]]diets may have lost weight, but at the price of increased
cardiovascular risk factors, including increased LDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides, increased total
cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol, increased total/HDL cholesterol ratios, and increased
homocysteine, Lp(a), and fibrinogen levels. These increased risk factors not only increase the risk of heart
disease, but also the risk of strokes, peripheral vascular disease, and blood clots."[523]
While the LDL in the Atkins group increased 6%, the LDL cholesterol levels in the whole-foods
vegetarian group was cut in half--dropping 52%.[523] This kind of drop would theoretically make your
average American[528] almost heart-attack proof.[529]
When the pro-Atkins journalist who wrote the misleading New York Times Magazine piece was
confronted as to why he didn’t include the results of this landmark study, which directly contradicted what
he wrote in the article, all he could do was to accuse the researchers of just making the data up.
[348]
It’s interesting to note that the one exception --a published study of the Atkins Diet showing a statistically
significant reduction in LDL--had no control group, put subjects on cholesterol-lowering supplements and
was funded by the Atkins Corporation itself. Even in that study though, the drop was modest--only a 7%
drop (compared, for example, to the 52% drop on the vegetarian diet)--and didn’t include two subjects
who quit because their cholesterol levels went out of control.[349]
Yet studies like this have been heralded as a vindication of the Atkins Diet by the mainstream media.[350]
As journalist Michael Fumento, co-author of Fat of the Land, pointed out, "How peculiar when the most
you can say for the best-selling fad-diet book of all time is that it probably doesn’t kill people."[351] To
which I might add, "in the short-term." Based on an analysis of the Atkins Diet, long-term use of the
Atkins Diet is expected to raise coronary heart disease risk by over 50%.[352] "The late Dr. A," Fumento
quips, "still gets an F."[353]
-----
The Proof is in the SPECT Scan
Atkins claimed that one could "Reverse heart disease with filet mignon!"[320] Until the year 2000, all
people had were changes in cardiac risk factors like cholesterol to evaluate the impact of the Atkins Diet
on the heart. But then a landmark study was published which, for the first and only time, actually
measured what was happening to peoples’ arteries on this kind of diet. The results were shocking.
Richard Fleming, M.D., an accomplished nuclear cardiologist, enrolled 26 people into a comprehensive
study of the effects of diet on cardiac function. Using echocardiograms, he could observe the pumping
motion of the heart, and with the latest in nuclear imaging technology--so-called SPECT scans--he was
able to actually directly measure the blood flow within the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that bring
blood to the heart muscle and allow it to pump. It is when one of these coronary arteries gets blocked that
people have a heart attack.
Fleming then put them all on a low saturated fat, high carbohydrate diet--a whole foods vegetarian
diet--the kind that has been proven to not only stop heart disease, but to in some cases actually reverse it,
opening up clogged arteries.[375] A year later the echocardiograms and SPECT scans were repeated. By
that time, however, 10 of his patients had, unbeknownst to him, jumped on the low carb bandwagon and
begun following the Atkins Diet or Atkins-like diets. All of a sudden, Dr. Fleming had an unparalleled
research opportunity dropped in his lap. Here he had extensive imaging of 10 people following a low carb
diet and 16 following a high carb diet. What would their hearts look like at the end of the year? We can
talk about risk factors all we want, but compared to the high carb group, did the coronary heart disease of
the patients following the Atkins Diet improve, worsen, or stay the same?

Those sticking to the whole-foods vegetarian diet showed a reversal of their heart disease as expected.
Their partially-clogged arteries literally got cleaned out, and blood flow to their hearts through their
coronary arteries increased 40%. What happened to those who abandoned the high carb diet and switched
over to the Atkins Diet, chowing down on bunless cheeseburgers? Their condition significantly worsened.
All that saturated fat and cholesterol in their diet clogged their arteries further--the blood flow to their
hearts was cut 40%. Thus, the only study on the Atkins Diet to actually measure arterial blood flow
showed widespread acceptance of a high saturated fat diet like Atkins could be heralding a future
epidemic of fatal heart attacks.[521] Validation that "If you were trying to damage your heart," wrote the
Center for Science in the Public Interest, "you couldn’t do much better than to eat a cheeseburger."[376]
Maybe filet mignon doesn’t work after all.
The blood flow scans have been posted online so people can see the evidence for themselves. The Atkins
Diet, according to the American Dietetic Association, is a heart attack waiting to happen.[490]
"We worry about this," explains Dr. James W. Anderson, Professor of Medicine and Clinical Nutrition at
the University of Kentucky School of Medicine, "because many of the people who love these diets are
men aged 40 to 50, who like their meat. They may be 5 years from their first heart attack. This couldn’t be
worse for them. Did you know that for 50% of men who die from heart attacks, the fatal attack is their
first symptom? They will never know what this diet is doing to them."[377]
Emerging evidence also suggests that ketogenic diets may "create metabolic derangement conducive to
cardiac conduction abnormalities and/or myocardial dysfunction"--in other words cause other potentially
life-threatening heart problems as well. Ketogenic diets may cause a pathological enlargement of the heart
called cardiomyopathy, which is reversible, but only if the diet is stopped in time.[378] The Atkins
Corporation denies that Dr. Atkins’ own cardiomyopathy-induced heart attack, hypertension, and blocked
arteries had anything to do with his diet.[379]
Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Are Bad for You
The Atkins Diet restricts foods that prevent disease and encourages foods that promote disease.[380] No
matter what Atkins or other diet books tell people, the balance of evidence clearly shows that the intake of
saturated animal fat is associated with increased risk of cancer,[381-382] diabetes, and heart disease.[383]
For over 40 years, medical reviews have also shown the detrimental impact of dietary cholesterol
consumption.[384] Even independent of the effects on obesity, meat consumption itself has been related to
an increased risk of coronary heart disease.[385]
The best dietary strategy to reduce one’s risk of dying from the number 1 killer in the U.S. is to reduce
one’s consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol. The evidence backing this, according to the American
Heart Association, is "overwhelming."[386]
Decreasing America’s intake of saturated animal fat is the primary reason why Johns Hopkins, supported
by 28 other public health schools, launched the Meatless Mondays campaign, trying to get Americans to
cut meat out of their diet at least one day of the week.[387] Dr. Jean Mayer, one of the most noted
nutrition figures in history-- author of over 750 scientific articles, President of Tufts University, recipient
of 16 honorary degrees--warned those going on "this faddish high-saturated-fat high-cholesterol [Atkins]
diet" that you may be "playing Russian roulette with your heart and with your blood vessels."[388] "The
Council," wrote the American Medical Association in their official critique of the Atkins Diet, "is deeply
concerned about any diet that advocates an ’unlimited’ intake of saturated fats and cholesterol-rich

foods."[389]

In return, Atkins accused the American Medical Association of being in the pockets of carbohydrate
manufacturers. If you look at the financial records of the AMA and the Harvard School of Nutrition, said
Atkins in an interview, and see the list of their benefactors, advertisers, and endowers you’ll see why they
insist on our eating carbohydrates."[486]
Interestingly, the Atkins Corporation seems like it’s already backpedaling. A front page article in the New
York Times revealed that the Atkins Corporation was quietly telling people to restrict their bacon and
butter intake, urging people to keep saturated fat intake under 20% of calories.[390] Though nearly every
major health organization in the world recommends less than half that amount, Atkins’ change in policy
does at least show that the Atkins Corporation may be recognizing some of the dangers of their diet.[391]
The Atkins Corporation claimed that their saturated fat guideline was nothing new and that Atkins never
said people could eat as much meat as they wanted. They blamed the media for just misconstruing the
Atkins Diet as an eat-as-much-meat-as-you-want diet.[392] Really? Atkins wrote, "There is no limit to the
amount of... [any kind of meat in any quantity] you can eat... You eat as much as you want, as often as you
want" (emphasis in original.)[393] In fact he specifically boasts that his diet "Sets no limit on the amount
of food you can eat."[394] Maybe the media got it right.
The Director of Research and Education at Atkins Nutritionals claims that "Saturated fat isn’t as much of
an issue when carbohydrates are controlled; it’s only dangerous in excess when carbs are high." Dr. Frank
M. Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health, scoffed
at such a claim. "What they are saying is ridiculous," he said. The revision down to 20% saturated fat, he
added, "has nothing to do with science; it has to do with public relations and politics."[395]
Closing Off His Heart To the Atkins Diet
One can still go to the Atkins website, though, and read how innocuous saturated fat is. One reader asks,
"Is it OK for me to consume more than 20% of my calories in the form of saturated fat?" The answer
given is "Absolutely."[396]
With this kind of advice, 53-year-old businessman Jody Gorran stayed on the Atkins Diet, and continued
to recommend it to his friends even though his cholesterol had shot up 50%. Before starting the Atkins
Diet, his cholesterol was excellent, he had no history of heart disease, and an unrelated CT scan showed
that his coronary arteries were clean.[397]
For Jody Gorran, it took two years on the Atkins Diet before the crushing chest pain started. By then one
of his coronary arteries was 99% blocked and his heart function was suffering for it. An immediate cardiac
catheterization and stent placement may well have saved his life.
In the opinion of his cardiologist, Gorran
might well have otherwise had a massive heart attack and died within a short period of time. Mr. Gorran is
now suing the Atkins Corporation, alleging that they "knew, or should have known," that what they were
saying about their diet and heart disease risk were false. He is trying to get the corporation to include
warning labels on its books, website, and products that a low carbohydrate diet "may be hazardous to your
health--check with your physician."[398]

This is not the first time Atkins has been sued. When Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution first came out, a
million-dollar class action suit was brought against Atkins and his publisher to recover medical expenses
incurred by the diet’s side effects.[399] A Brooklyn Assemblyman on Atkins who nearly died after a heart
attack sued Atkins and the publisher for publishing the book "without regard to the safety, truth or
accuracy of the statements contained in the book."[400] The book Nutrition Cultism cites 3 occasions in
which Atkins was sued and the cases were each settled out of court in favor of the plaintiffs.[401]
"The point is," Gorran said in an NBC News interview, "Dr. Atkins lied to the public. He didn’t care. For
his ego or for corporate greed, that’s what this thing’s about."[402] "A successful diet has to be more than
simply losing weight" Gorran said on Good Morning America, "A successful diet should not kill
you."[403]
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Cancer

Atkins' followers also risk cancer. Studies at Harvard and elsewhere involving tens of thousands of women and men have shown that regular meat consumption may increase colon cancer risk as much as 300 percent.[281-282] As one Harvard School of Public health researcher noted, because of the meat content, two years on the Atkins Diet "could initiate a cancer. It could show up as a polyp in 7 years and as colon cancer in ten."[283] Another Harvard study showed that women with the highest intake of animal fat seem to have over a 75% greater risk of developing breast cancer.[285]

It's tragically ironic that after McDonalds' CEO apparently dropped dead of a heart attack in 2004, their new CEO was in the operating room with colo-rectal cancer only 16 days later.[284]

The most comprehensive report on diet and cancer in history was published in 1997. It took over four years to complete, reviewing 4500 studies from thousands of researchers across the globe--a landmark scientific consensus document written by the top cancer researchers in the world. After all that work, what was their number one recommendation? "Choose a diet that is predominantly plant based, rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans with minimally processed starchy foods."[491] In other words, essentially the opposite of the Atkins Diet.

In the January issue of Scientific American it was noted: "Cancer is most frequent among those branches of the human race where carnivorous habits prevail." That was the January issue in 1892![492] This is nothing new. What’s the number one recommendation of the American Institute for Cancer Research? Plant based diets.[493] The number one recommendation of the World Cancer Research Fund? Plant-based diets.[494] The number one recommendation of the National Cancer Institute, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations? More fruits and vegetables.[495,496] The number one recommendation of the American Cancer Society? More plants, less meat.[497] In fact the American Cancer Society has officially condemned diets high in animal grease, concluding that "a low carb diet can be a high-risk option when it comes to health."[286]

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Kidney "Scarring"

Atkins' followers also risk kidney damage.[287] Like his advice for pregnant women, Atkins once wrote "The diet is safe for people even if there is a mild kidney malfunction."[288] We now know this to be false.

In a press release entitled "American Kidney Fund Warns About Impact of High-Protein Diets on Kidney Health," Chair of Medical Affairs, Paul W. Crawford, M.D., wrote, "We have long suspected that high-protein weight loss diets could have a negative impact on the kidneys, and now we have research to support our suspicions." Dr. Crawford is worried that the strain put on the kidneys could result in irreversible "scarring in the kidneys."[289]

Three months later, the newest edition of Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution was released in which Dr. Atkins stated: "Too many people believe this untruth [that too much protein is bad for your kidneys] simply because it is repeated so often that even intelligent health professionals assume it must have been reported somewhere. But the fact is that it has never been reported anywhere. I have yet to see someone produce a study for me to review..."[290]

Although evidence that such diets could be risky for one's kidneys existed years before he made that statement,[291] the definitive study showing just how dangerous his diet could be to a dieter's kidneys was published a month before Atkins died. The Harvard Nurse's Health Study proved that high meat protein intake was associated with an accelerated decline in kidney function in women with mild kidney insufficiency.[292] The problem is that millions of Americans--as many as one in four adults in the United States--seem to already have reduced kidney function, but may not know it, and would potentially be harmed by high meat diets such as Atkins.[293] And the "excessive" amount of protein which furthered kidney damage in the women in the Nurse's Study is only about half of what one might expect to get on the Atkins Diet.[294]

The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that high animal protein intake is also largely responsible for the high prevalence of kidney stones in the United States. Kidney stones can cause severe pain, urinary obstruction, and kidney damage. Plant protein does not seem to have a harmful effect.[295] "If we were smart," says Dr. Theodore Steinman, a kidney specialist and senior physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, "we would all be vegetarians."[1157]

High cholesterol, which may be exacerbated by the Atkins Diet,[523] has also been linked to a worsening of kidney function in both diabetics and nondiabetics.[536]

The American Kidney Fund's Dr. Crawford concluded, "Chronic kidney disease is not to be taken lightly, and there is no cure for kidney failure. The only treatments are kidney dialysis and kidney transplantation. This research shows that even in healthy athletes, kidney function was impacted and that ought to send a message to anyone who is on a high-protein weight loss diet."[296]

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1,000+ References list http://www.atkinsexp...es_1_-_1160.htm

[132] Nutrition and Metabolism 22(1978):269.
[133] American Journal of Public Health 76(1986):1293.
[134] New England Journal of Medicine252(1985):661.
[135] Annals of Internal Medicine 68(1968):467.
[136] Annals of the New York Academy of Science 819(1997):44.
[137] USDA. Economic Research Service. http://www.usda.gov/...ctbook/001a.pdf
[138] Reason, March 2003.
[139] Atkins, RC. Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. David McKay Company, Inc., 1972.
[140] Atkins, RC. Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution 3rd edition. M. Evans and Company, Inc. 2002.
[141] Australian Magazine 10 April 2004.
[142] Atkins, RC. Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. David McKay Company, Inc., 1972.
[143] Atkins, RC. Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution. Avon, 2002.
[144] Atkins, RC. Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. David McKay Company, Inc., 1972.
[145] Milling & Baking News 7 March 2000.
[146] New York Times Magazine 7 July 2002.
[147] Nutrition Action Healthletter, November 2002.
[148] Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 6(1997):122.
[149] Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 53(2004):80.
[150] Economic Research Service/USDA. The Economics of Obesity / E-FAN-04-004, 2004.
[151] New York Times 6 September 1995.
[152] Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society 8(2004):255.
[153] New York Times 26 December 2000.
[154] Nutrition Action Healthletter November 2002.
[155] ABC News 20 May 2002.
[156] USA Today 20 February 1996.
[157] http://www.nsda.org/...inks/index.html
[158] Gray, G.A. An Atlas of Obesity and Weight Control. Boca Raton, FL: Parthenon Publishing , 2003.
[159] Critser, G. Fat Land. Houghton Mifflin Co., 2003.
[160] Nutrition Action Healthletter, November 2002.
[161] The New York Weekly 26 March 1973.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is well referenced too (Carbohydrates: dementia, aging, and cancer) with old and new studies. Which is correct? Are they both wrong: sugar and starch is dangerous and so is beef protein and 'grease'?

Jean Mayer (mentioned and quoted above) died of a heart attack at age 72. And what do you believe low-carb chicken/beef and blueberry eating Gary Taubes will die of? And high-carb lentil/bean and nut eating Vegan Dr.Greger?

Edited by Rick Moranis, 22 July 2010 - 03:36 AM.

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#2 niner

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 03:52 AM

I'd like to hear Bill Davis' take on this.

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#3 Application

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 05:27 AM

I think the atkinsexposed materials are solid, but maybe he missed some research. Are there low carb, high fat studies where type II diabetic patients improved their glycemic and plasma lipid profiles like in this study for example, where the patients improved significantly on a high carb (75%), low fat (10%) vegan diet?

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#4 CobaltThoriumG

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 12:34 PM

I'm at the point where I'm inclined to just settle on a Goldilocks diet. Not too low in fat, not too high in protein, not too high in carbs. Just kind of balanced all around, without extremes.

#5 PWAIN

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 12:29 AM

Personally, I find this article (see below) explains things to me. The article is old but I think still relevant.

http://www.nytimes.c... insulin&st=nyt

Some of the issues mentioned above are dealt with in this article.

#6 Application

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 01:45 AM

There are a couple of major flaws in Taub's argument.

1. Americans never reduced the amount of fat they consume in response to public health messages- instead fat as a percentage of calories declined, but amount of fat consumed did not decline. Instead of cutting fat, Americans added more simple carbohydrate to already over-rich diet and naturally became more obese and sickly.

2. While cholesterol levels have declined, the guidelines for normal cholesterol are too high, meaning while American's total cholesterol went down from the 1980's it didn't get close to a level to reduce heart disease. With cholesterol below 150, heart attacks are almost non-existant. Heart attacks are frequent in people who's total cholesterol is between 150-200. Even if the public health guidelines were followed by Americans, which they were not, its likely that recommended diets consisting of 30% fat would not have made for a meaningful enough reduction in blood lipids. A clinically potent low fat diet is approximately 10-15% fat.

Personally, I find this article (see below) explains things to me. The article is old but I think still relevant.

http://www.nytimes.c... insulin&st=nyt

Some of the issues mentioned above are dealt with in this article.


Edited by Application, 23 July 2010 - 02:33 AM.


#7 xEva

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 11:24 AM

This is totally wrong:

In biochemistry class, doctors learn that fat "burns in the flame of carbohydrate." When one is eating enough carbohydrates, fat can be completely broken down as well. But when one's body runs out of carb fuel to burn, its only choice is to burn fat inefficiently using a pathway that produces toxic byproducts like acetone and other so-called "ketones." The acetone escapes through the lungs--giving Atkins followers what one weight-loss expert calls "rotten-apple breath"[91]--and the other ketones have to be excreted by the kidneys. We burn fat all the time; it's only when we are carbohydrate deficient and have to burn fat ineffectively that we go into what's called a state of ketosis, defined as having so much acetone in our blood it noticeably spills out into our lungs or so many other ketones they spill out into our urine.


Re: 'fats burn in the flame of carbohydrate'. This phrase was coined back in the end of the 19th century, when ketones were considered "toxic byproducts of incomplete fat metabolism", just as this author states today, as if 115 years that have gone by did not happen. This alone tells me not to put too much trust in whatever else he's saying. And by the way, in biochemistry classes nowadays they don't say it. This phrase keeps being repeated by morons who know zilch of biochemistry and metabolism but like to pretend otherwise.

To learn about ketones and ketosis read George Cahill 1973 lecture on ketosis and 2003 Ketoacids? Good medicine?

As for who is right and which diet is best, my take on it: you should try it for yourself, using ketosticks, glucose monitors and whatever other home tests available, so that you could learn from immediate feedback. Ultimately, the question is, what's best for you.

I'm starting to think that the best way is to actually cycle from ketosis to "glucosis" and back with seasons and even more often. Just as we strive to use all of our muscle groups when exercising, we should use all of our metabolic muscles, so to speak. And yeah, to fast too, I mean completely, on water or dry, no supplements, for days or even weeks on end. That's true metabolic fitness.

From my experience, it's mixing the two extreme modes, i.e. ketosis of starvation with "glucosis" of plenty, or high fat with high carb, that's a killer. Then your body does not know what to do, so to speak. You cannot mix the two metabolisms, because they do not work together. And when they try, you get what's called the metabolic syndrome: high concentrations of FFAs prevent glucose uptake by muscle cells, which is adaptation to starvation in action. The question is, what's it doing in times of plenty?

I don't want to keep it long, so I just say this: If you want to understand metabolism, you should understand starvation. Only then, from that perspective, will everything fall in its place.
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#8 kismet

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 07:26 PM

This article is terrible. I would suggest '"Atkins exposed" exposed'.

See this selective quote e.g.:
"A study done at Tufts, for example, presented at the 2003 American Heart Association convention, compared four popular diets for a year. They compared Weight Watchers, The Zone Diet, the Atkins Diet (almost no carbs), and the Ornish Diet (almost all carbs) for a year. The insulin levels of those instructed to go on the Ornish diet dropped 27%. Out of the four diets that were compared that year, Ornish's vegetarian diet was the only one to significantly lower the "Monster" "Hormone That Makes You Fat," even though that's supposedly what Atkins and The Zone diets were designed to do.[82]"
Ornish alters macros and MICROS as does atkins while their zone is a pure macro diet. What does he expect this study to prove comparing apples and space crafts? Mountains of evidence show that MACROS between zone and atkins combined with Ornish MICROS (i.e. lots o' plant food) are the diet of choice, e.g. known as the idea of "eco atkins".

The implication of this article is that high carb macros are the way to go. The best evidence to date suggests this to be untrue.


"Other studies show that a high (70-85%) carbohydrate diet (combined with walking an average of 15-30 minutes a day) not only can result in significant reductions in body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, but significant drops in baseline insulin levels as well, exactly the opposite of what low carb pushers would predict. In just three weeks on a high (unrefined) carb vegetarian diet and a few minutes of daily walking, diabetics reduced the amount of insulin they needed and most of the pre-diabetics seemed cured of their insulin resistance.[84] In general vegetarians may have half the insulin levels of nonvegetarians even at the same weight.[85]"

Fallacy follows fallacy. OFC, walking+vegetarian diet is great for your body DESPITE high CHO. The ol' "ornish reverses CVD misconception". Grrml.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is well referenced too (Carbohydrates: dementia, aging, and cancer) with old and new studies. Which is correct? Are they both wrong: sugar and starch is dangerous and so is beef protein and 'grease'?

Yes, both are wrong AFAWK. Rather high quality plant fats (monos+certain PUFAS) and protein are the key at zoneish macros or thereabouts (fine tuning is quite difficult). Macros and micros (incl. non-essential) are pretty different matters.

Jean Mayer (mentioned and quoted above) died of a heart attack at age 72. And what do you believe low-carb chicken/beef and blueberry eating Gary Taubes will die of? And high-carb lentil/bean and nut eating Vegan Dr.Greger?
While alluring this is irrelevant, fallacious reasoning from n=1. They could get hit by a car or die from ALS, so?

If you want a barometer of the scientific consensus you should read the last few years of teh Am J Clin Nutr (and landmark RCTs + prosp. epi). Pretty condemning for high carb and simple carb. The evidence has been discussed on this forum in specific threads and by mich*ael here and on the cr-society list.

Edited by kismet, 23 July 2010 - 07:28 PM.

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