Why Atkins went Bankrupt

The Atkins theory of weight loss went bankrupt last week as the company that manufactures the Atkins brand filed for Chapter 11 protection. The Atkins diet, in its last days, embraced a “balanced diet” of fruits and vegetables but the early hallmark of the diet mainly consisted of a high protein and low carb eating plan consisting of meats, eggs and cheeses and no starches.

I know a lot of people — mainly women — who swore by Atkins and I would always bet them they would not be on the diet in five years because it was unsustainable in the long term. They always bet me and six months later they had dropped Atkins. I have become rich betting against Atkins!

Here’s why Atkins doesn’t work:

1. High protein diets are dangerous. The body does not need much protein and by overwhelming your body with high levels of protein you are putting a great deal of pressure on your body to process (get rid of) protein it does not need.

2. Stressing the body with too much protein is one way that kind of diet would push the body to force it to work to process protein. That process would lead to burning calories.

 3. The lack of carbs — and we need carbs! — would push the body into ketosis — a sort of “forced diabetes” and that ketosis reaction is an internal body alarm that says there is danger to the core and the body must go into starvation-protection mode.

4. That ketosis alarm turns your body against itself as it begins to burn fat and muscle to survive. You lose weight really fast but you endanger your entire long-term well-being with that risky starvation diet.

5. That kind of emergency burning of stored energy works really well for two weeks or so but you cannot turn your body against itself forever, let alone five years or a lifetime. It is unsustainable to starve your body with proteins and no starches. You need carbs to live.

6. The body needs oil. The body requires starches. You can’t cut out either one and expect to be healthy. One of the best diet foods in the world is a boiled potato. Put a little ketchup on it and you’re fine. Pasta is also excellent for weight-loss if you just add a little tomato sauce. The potato and the pasta don’t make you fat. It’s what you put on them — the butter, the sour cream, the alfredo sauce, the meatballs — that make you fat.

7. Starches — in the right form — are your friend. Celebrate carbs, don’t ban them! I find the food lifestyles offered by Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Andrew Weill are smart and effective.

My all-time favorite healthy eating expert is Dr. John McDougall.  I lost 60 pounds following his outstanding and delicious plan for living. Here is the direct link to Dr. McDougall’s article on high protein diets and if you read that you will never go back to “ketosis-as-diet” and you will join me on the McDougall bandwagon forever.