Last night, I picked up a book in the library called Carbophobia: The Scary Truth About America's Low-carb Craze, by Michael Greger. It doesn't take long to figure out that this guy's goal is to discredit Atkins -- both the diet and the doctor. He also takes aim, though on a much smaller scale, at other low carb diets, including South Beach and Weight Watchers.
Although the book reads like a hatchet job, it is convincing.
He essentially accuses Atkins of ripping off the public with unsubstantiated claims of healthy living while ignoring all scientific facts that may prove otherwise. While Atkins makes many claims in his book, they are broad and unsubstantiated. Greger takes a much different approach -- the 162 pages are comprised of 104 pages of text followed by 58 pages of footnotes.
In short, Greger argues that:
- Low Carb diets are unhealthy and can be dangerous;
- Although many lose weight in the short term, long term results are poor;
- Atkins followers lose weight because they ultimately eat less calories than they burn;
- Atkins recommendation of high numbers of supplements (several dozen pills per day) leads him to the conclusion that the diet itself does not provide nearly enough vitamins and minerals therefore making it unhealthy by itself.
I have certainly seen some periodic reports of questionable healthiness of the low carb plans, but never presented in such a concise format with overwhelming data.
Gerger accuses Atkins of being a snake oil salesman by not acknowledging any conflicting data and writing it all off as uninformed hogwash.
After reading this book and reading some more on the corresponding web site, I can't help but to feel duped from my three visits to the Atkins plan. Yes, it's true that many millions have tried this diet and many others, but so too have many failed. I failed three times out of three on Atkins.
As for South Beach, I believe that my keys to success have been exercise first, diet second. I also believe that South Beach is far better than Atkins, as it does not encourage high fat proteins such as bacon and sausage, but rather lean meats. In addition, it encourages some vegetable consumption while Atkins encourages almost none.
I had been thinking for a while about moving on from South Beach, but now I'm convinced. No more low carb for me. With that said, I don't think a new plan will be that far from what I'm doing now. More fruit, more whole wheat products, more brown rice. Less red meat. Still lots of veggies and no simple carbs. That's a plan I can live with and continue down my weight loss path.