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Diet Doctor Knocks Noggin, Expires

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Dr. Robert C. Atkins, 72, the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet guru, died several days after suffering a severe head injury during a fall:

    Atkins died Thursday at the New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center after falling on an icy sidewalk April 8, said his spokesman, Richard Rothstein. He underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.

    Atkins first advocated his plan – which emphasizes meat, eggs and cheese and discourages bread, rice and fruit – in his 1972 book, “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.”

    When the book was published, the medical establishment was promoting a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. The American Medical Association dismissed the Atkins’ diet as nutritional folly and Congress summoned him to Capitol Hill to defend the plan.

    Labeling it “potentially dangerous,” the AMA said the diet’s scientific underpinning was “naive” and “biochemically incorrect.” It scolded the book’s publishers for promoting “bizarre concepts of nutrition and dieting.”

    Despite this, Atkins’ books sold 15 million copies and his diet attracted millions of followers. His philosophy enjoyed a revival in the 1990s with “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution,” which spent five years on The New York Times best-seller list. His most recent book, “Atkins for Life,” has been on the Times’ best-seller list since its release in January.

    This year, his approach was vindicated in part by the very medical community that derided him. In February, some half-dozen studies showed people on the Atkins diet lost weight without compromising their health. The studies showed that Atkins dieters’ cardiovascular risk factors and overall cholesterol profiles changed for the better. [AP]

Vindication, then expiration – life is weird.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.sanfordmay.com san

    You know last year he was admitted to the hospital for a heart attack — or a “cardiac event” — but he insisted it wasn’t diet related. Who knows, though, really? He didn’t provide an alternate explanation.

    Some of the good news about the Atkins diet seems to stem from that fact that it keeps people from yo-yo dieting; they lose weight and keep it off, not having to lose it all over again. Some recent research indicates it’s better on the CV system to be perpetually 30 pounds overweight than down 20 up 20 down 20 up 20.

    High protein/low carbohydrate diets don’t really motivate people to exercise regularly. Without carbs, they have limited amounts of ready energy to burn.

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    A guy I worked with last year went on the Atkins diet and lost 40 pounds in about a month, it was amazing. He has actually kept it off, but most of the people I’ve seen who’ve done it haven’t and constantly have to do maintenance dieting. I suppose that’s normal for anyone, but it just seems to me that instead of teaching you to eat right, Atkins teaches you to eat in a way that simply gets you the results you want with no regard for anything else, health-wise. I know, I know, Atkins claims it’s the carbs, etc., that cause heart disease, but that just doesn’t jive to me – humans, until archeologicaly recent times, have eaten a truly balanced diet – meat and fruits and vegetables. The Atkins diet, to me, seems one of those “too good to be true” things. I fear what shape the masses who’ve switched to this will be in 20-30 years.

    Me, I’ll stick to eating healthier in general. :-)

  • http://www.sanfordmay.com san

    Tom, yeah I should say that the Atkins diet only works in keeping weight off if you stay on it pretty seriously. Go back to normal eating, and your carb-starved body grabs all the goodies and starts synthesizing fat like crazy. Post-diet weight gain is true of all crash diets, I guess, but, like you, I worry about the long-term effects of the Atkins program.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    I think many people use the Atkins diet as an excuse to eat lots of meat. I once looked in an Atkins-dieting friend’s refrigerator–pounds of hamburger and bacon, zero greens. And when he goes out to eat, he orders a cheeseburger with no bun, and veggies instead of fries. And then doesn’t eat the veggies.

    I can’t imagine that a higher-carb diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and a small amount of lean meat wouldn’t be healthier and equally slimming. But then he wouldn’t be eating cheeseburgers all day.

    Personally, I figure our bodies are still custom-made for our ancestral environment. Civilization hasn’t been around nearly long enough for our bodies’ needs to have changed. The average human body has no idea what processed sugar or flour are–it never had to adapt to them. Our bodies evolved to maximize what it was that our ancestors had available to them–fresh leaves, nuts, berries, etc., and meat probably infrequently. And no processed sugar or flour or deep fried anything.

    I was getting a bit of a gut until I started eating like a caveman.

  • The Theory

    i would take an excuse to eat a lot of meat.

    hell, i don’t even need an excuse.

    btw: we sell a lot of Mr Atkin’s books where I work. they’re popular. very.

    peace.

  • andy

    I’m on a diet right now. I lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks. I figured that was healthy. It’s built around a 6 meal thing. 7am I’ll eat an egg white or something high protein, 10am I’ll eat a cup of cherioossss, 1pm I’ll eat a sandwhich(12 grain bread baby), 4pm I’ll eat another cup of cereal, 7pm I eath a good supper, and 10pm I’ll have another high protein thing. It’s working, slowly but surely!

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    Good job, Andy! I decided to start “eating better” (I refuse to call it a “diet”) back in mid-January and so far I’ve lost 27 pounds, using essentially the same routine you are. It’s slowed down to about a pound a week or so, but it is still steadily coming off, and I never feel like I’m suffering. I go by the mantra that if I really want something, it’s better to eat it than to suffer. The more I want something, and the less I allow myself to eat it, the more likely I am to obsess over whatever it is and then indulge. I’ve found that if I simply eat a little of whatever I “need” I wind up much more satisfied and get right back on track having gotten it out of my system. Atkins . . . that seems like suffering to me. I need to lose weight, but I figure that it’s taken years to gain it, so I can’t expect it to fall off my body quickly and have it be healthy.

    Um, I think we may have gotten off the subject . . .

  • http://www.sanfordmay.com san

    “But then he wouldn’t be eating cheeseburgers all day.”

    Can you imagine what these people’s GI tracts are going to look like in a few years? I don’t even want to think about it. Not to put anybody off their Wheaties — and it’s what you get for eating in front of your computer, anyway — but the fiber in fresh vegetables and whole grains is what pushes waste material through our systems. The longer the waste hangs around, the more carcinogens absorbed. I, too, will stick to my grains, fruits and vegetables.

  • Laurie K

    >>Can you imagine what these people’s GI tracts are going to look like in a few years?<<

    I dunno, maybe they’ll look fine. My grandpa ate terribly his whole life, lots of fat, lots of meat, no balance to any of it, heavy smoking the whole time. Died in his sleep at 93. My dad’s the same way. He’s 80, in good health, and the blood pressure of a man half his age. My brother has lived a very healthy, clean life, lots of exercise, no smoking, regular habits, and has had some severe health problems. My experience is that people who have adopted what they consider a “healthy” lifestyle are always rather quick to judge those who haven’t chosen their particular course of action. The fact is that many factors, including genetics, play a part in determining how a person metabolizes food, what their state of health is, how long they live, and what the quality of that life ends up being.