Skip to comments.Beef Vs. Bagels: Food Companies Take on Dr. Atkins
Posted on 03/16/2003 1:57:19 PM PST by Pharmboy
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (Reuters) - It has been months since Tina Moore last bit into a bagel or a slice of toast.
"Protein is good. Carbs are bad," says 41-year-old Moore, who altered her diet five years ago in a bid to lose weight.
Moore, the owner of a hair salon, is one of the estimated 15 million-plus Americans seen as devoted followers of dieting guru, Dr. Robert Atkins, who recommends eating protein for those who want to rid themselves of unwanted weight and keep the pounds off.
"Carbs and sugar ... they give you a quick high, then you get really low. You get tired and hungry," said Moore, who sees herself as a reformed "carbohydrate addict."
The hamburger patty is good, the hamburger bun bad, according to the teachings of Atkins, who has turned his philosophies into a dieting revolution, starting with his first book, "Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution," in 1972.
Atkins books -- his latest, "Atkins for Life," was published this year -- routinely top best-seller lists. Atkins companies have racked up millions of dollars in sales of specialty low-carb food products and carb-counting scales.
But the popularity of Atkins' eating advice, now appealing to another generation, is fraying the nerves of some food companies who rely on the consumer appetite for carbohydrate-laden foods such as pastas and pizzas, cakes, cookies and cereals, to add heft to their own bottom lines.
They claim Atkins is falsely disparaging food groups that serve as a foundation for American eating. And that by teaching people to severely limit the use of flour-based products, Atkins is eating into sales of some bread and cereal products in the United States.
"Our industry has to do something, and soon. It is starting to become a mainstream belief that carbohydrates are bad," said Judi Adams, director of the Wheat Foods Council, a consortium of industry players that includes ConAgra, General Mills and Kellogg Co.
"This Atkins diet -- or, I call it Fatkins diet -- is going out unchallenged. People are starting to believe it," Adams said.
Part of the consortium's push will be in Washington, where federal health officials are starting talks on revisions to the nation's 11-year-old Food Guide Pyramid.
Wheat Foods will be actively involved in defending the grains, Adams said.
Currently, the pyramid puts bread, cereals, rice and pasta as the foundation for healthy eating, recommending six to 11 servings a day. But some are pushing for changes that would move grains off the foundation, and cut back servings.
There is limited funding for the anti-Atkins campaign, as most food companies spend their advertising dollars on product specific programs to tout such things as new Berry-Burst Cheerios, recently released by General Mills.
So, with only a slender budget to try to counter the Atkins phenomenon, the Wheat Foods Council is aiming its "educational" campaign" at nutritionists and the medical community.
The strategy is a direct attack on Atkins: Americans who follow the Atkins diet increase their risk of health problems that include cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, kidney damage and some cancers, the Wheat Foods Council says.
Adding insult to injury, it claims that Atkins followers can also suffer headaches, constipation and bad breath.
The council says obesity is not specifically tied to carbohydrates but is the simple result of lazy overeaters.
"Healthful grain-based foods have become the scapegoat for weight gain, when overeating and underexercising are at issue," said Carol Pratt, a Kellogg nutrition and regulatory affairs expert, and incoming chairwoman for Wheat Foods.
FEWER COOKIES AND CAKES
Consumer eating habits are hard to track, but the latest Consumer Expenditure Survey of the U.S. Department of Labor does indicate a possible shift away from grain-based foods.
According to the government survey, consumer spending in 2001 for ready-to-eat and cooked cereals, pasta, flour, flour mixes and bakery products dropped from the previous year even as consumer spending for meat, poultry, fish and eggs and other similar products increased for the third year in a row.
Moreover, the 0.2 percent decrease in spending came as the consumer price index (news - web sites) for those foods grew 2.9 percent. As well, wheat consumption in the United States dropped 4 percent from 1997 to 2001, according to industry research.
"I'm very much concerned," said Mark Dirkes, spokesman for Interstate Bakeries, the nation's largest wholesale baker and the maker of Wonder Bread. "He (Atkins) has run a very effective campaign. That just can't be good for our industry."
CLEANING OUT THE CABINETS
Among Atkins preachings: the elimination of "white flour-laden junk food" from kitchen cabinets, and research that Atkins says shows carbohydrates work to slow the body's burning of fat and make people feel hungrier faster.
And after decades of rejecting Atkins' theories, some new scientific research studies, including work by Harvard University, have started lending credence to Atkins' ideas.
Colette Heimowitz, director of research at the Atkins Health and Medical Information Services says over-consumption of bread, cereal and baked products is partly to blame for overweight Americans. Products made with white flour, sugars and hydrogenated oils are the worst.
Still, she says, Atkins is not looking to go to war with the food companies, and that even Atkins die-hards allow for an occasional doughnut or cookie.
"We teach people how to respect it and, on rare occasions, have it in moderation," she said. "We know people can't stay away from it forever."
Hey Mo, not to "pile-on" or anything, but last summer I used your formula. I ate "intellegently", keeping my total calorie intake down. Usually 2200 to 2700 per day w/ fruits, veggies, lean meats, whole grains, yogurt, etc. I was commuting to work on my bike ~3 days per week and tacking miles on in the off evenings and weekends. My log says I averaged 130 miles per week over 2.5 months (on the low side for die-hard roadies, but in the respectable range, I would hope). I got to where I could complete a 20 mile ride in under one hour. (Try it some time; it gives one a real appreciation for the 26 mph pace they maintain on some of those 100 mile Tour-de-Weasels stages. Did a century in under 6 hrs. What I didn't do is get my weight under 185. I'm nearly there now with a low carb diet.
Testing that Atkins cites strongly suggests that it is about more than total caloric intake vs usage. My own experiences, so far, confirm his claims. (Your results may vary)
Now in retirement, bad back , bad knees from thin air PLF's ect ect (sudden stops not the mileage ), and a sedate job I use the adkins diet to "help" keep the weight off. A bit of sleep apnea that wasn't discovered "officially" till I'd gained a hundred pounds almost killed me and now with a CPAP and Atkins I'm almost back to fighting weight.
Everyone is different. I have known 130 pound weaklings that are junk food junkies and never gain an ounce. Yet others that will watch that individual eat the carbs and gain weight just looking on per se :o) Thus I say regulate your diet for the lifestyle you live. If Atkin does it for ya then by all means do so. It works for me at this stage in my life.
Stay Safe !
Not all that much actually. Guiness is a dream for low carbers. I think it is around 5g carbs per pint. Or maybe it is 5g carbs per 12 ounces.
Sure it is and I'll bet I read about it before you, back in 1985 or so. I'm just saying some populations have successfully transitioned (thousands of years) to a diet of more whole grains than your caveman. Japanese being a good example. Many American Indians are fine examples of people who should cut way down on starches. Plains Indians were nomadic, ate a meat heavy diet. But the Hopis farmed and ate corn/beans/squash/vegetable and animal food as a supplement.
Read this for real insight to diet and health in tribal and near tribal populations. Was written about 1920 before these populations succumbed to civilized man's foods and is a classic. This is the paperback.... I hope it has all the photos of the hard cover. At 520 pages it probably does.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
by Weston A. Price
The transition centuries ago was tough. And there might be something to the idea that depriving the masses of meat (animals foods) makes them more docile, obedient to kings and dictators. Here is the hunter gather/Dr. Atkins argument
Robert Crayhon: What happened to our health when we switched from a hunter-gatherer diet to a grain-based one?
Loren Cordain: The fossil record indicates that early farmers, compared to their hunter-gatherer predecessors had a characteristic reduction in stature, an increase in infant mortality, a reduction in life span, an increased incidence of infectious diseases, an increase in iron deficiency anemia, an increased incidence of osteomalacia, porotic hyperostosis and other bone mineral disorders and an increase in the number of` dental caries and enamel defects. Early agriculture did not bring about increases in health, but rather the opposite. It has only been in the past 100 years or so with the advent of high tech, mechanized farming and animal husbandry that the trend has changed.
Robert Crayhon: Did we move from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle by choice, or were we forced into the shift due to animal extinction?
Loren Cordain: If we examine the fossil record it suggests that a number of environmental pressures may have forced humans to adopt agriculture, including increases in human population densities and the depletion of easily hunted game. The extinction of large mammals all over Northern Europe, Asia, and North America coincide with the adoption of agriculture. It is quite likely that pre-agricultural man had sufficient knowledge of his environment to know the life cycle of plants, to be able to sow seeds and grow plants. However, ecologically, it was not necessary, nor energetically efficient to do so when human population numbers were low and game was plentiful. Although agriculture is a vast science and can encompass numerous disciplines, early agriculture essentially involved the domestication, growing and harvesting of cereal grains.
Robert Crayhon: Is there enough evidence to suggest that a diet that includes a large amount of grains is a step down nutritionally, and one that is far from optimal for humans? And how much of the prehistoric diet was animal, and how much was vegetable?
Loren Cordain: The fossil evidence as well as the ethnographic evidence from groups of hunter-gatherers studied in historical times suggests that the diet of pre-agricultural humans was derived primarily from animal based foods. It is difficult to quantitatively determine from the fossil record the proportion of plant to animal food that was included in the diet of prehistoric humans. However, we do know that hunting of game was an important part of all pre-agricultural societies. Most prehistoric humans followed large game herds, and manufactured tools and weapons which were used to regularly kill and butcher these animals. Ethnographic studies of living hunter-gatherer societies represent the best surrogate we have for estimating quantitatively the plant to animal subsistence ratios of stone-age humans. We have recently compiled ethnographic data from 181 worldwide societies of hunter gatherers showing that the mean plant to animal subsistence ratio in terms of energy was 35% plant and 65% animal. Thus, the fossil and ethnographic data suggests that humans evolved on a diet that was primarily animal based and consequently low to moderate in carbohydrate, high in protein and low to moderate in fat. This is in contrast to the low fat, high carbohydrate, plant based diet which is most universally recommended by modern day nutritionists. Clearly, humans can adapt to many types of diets involving multiple macronutrient combinations with varying amounts of fat, protein and carbohydrate. However, our genetic constitutions, including our nutritional requirements were established in the remote past over eons of evolutionary experience. Human health and well being can be optimized when we use the evolutionary paradigm as the starting point for present day nutrition. Obviously, humans have had little evolutionary experience with the modern high carbohydrate, high fat, cereal based diet which is omnipresent in western, industrialized countries, and there is considerable evidence to suggest that these types of diets have the potential for creating health problems in some, but not all people.
Robert Craybon: How much cereal grain is too much?
Loren Cordain: That varies by the person. Some people can handle more cereal grains than others. For a celiac patient a single teaspoonful of gluten containing grains is too much. Generally, health begins to noticeably be disrupted when cereal grains provide 70% or more of the daily caloric intake. The human dietary staple for more than 2 million years was lean game meat supplemented by fresh fruits and vegetables. Including lean meats (seafood, fish, game meat - if you can get it, lean cuts of poultry & domestic meat) more fruits, vegetables at the expense of cereal grains is a good starting point for improving nutrition.
Robert Craybon: How does someone know if they can tolerate cereal grains? How do they know which ones suit them best?
Loren Cordain: I suspect that for most people, a simple subjective test can be conducted in which they reduce the amount of cereal grains in their diet and replace the grains with more fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats and seafood. I do know that all human beings don't do very well when the total caloric intake of cereal grains approaches 70%. The high phytate content of whole grain cereals can impair mineral metabolism i.e. iron, calcium, and other anti-nutrients have the potential to interact with the gastrointestinal tract and perhaps the immune system as well. The high lectin content of whole grain cereals can bind enterocytes in the small intestine and cause villous atrophy in addition to changing tight junction characteristics thereby allowing intestinal antigens (both dietary and pathogenic) access to the peripheral circulation.
Robert Crayhon: Those who recommend very high grain diets have no scientific basis?
Loren Cordain: Whole grain cereals are devoid of vitamin C, and beta carotene (except for yellow maize). They have poorly absorbable vitamin B-6, and the phytate levels in grains impairs the absorption of most of the divalent minerals. Additionally, they contain low levels of essential fats and have quite high omega 6/omega 3 fatty acid ratios. Excessive consumption of cereal grains are associated with a wide variety of health problems. In animal models, rickets are routinely induced by feeding them high levels of cereal grains. Hypogonadal dwarfism is found more often in populations consuming high (~50% of total energy) from unleavened whole grain breads (i.e. in Iran where they consume an unleavened bread called tanok).
Weston A. Price discovered what health is made of, and proved it. In the early 1930s Price and his wife ("Mrs Price") travelled more than 100,000 miles to study the diets and health of isolated primitive peoples in Africa, South America, Australia, Polynesia, Europe and northern Canada, at a time when such communities still existed.
Price undertook amazing journeys into the wilds to seek out people "who were living in accordance with the tradition of their race and as little affected as might be possible by the influence of the white man".
Wherever he found them -- regardless of race, diet and climate -- they were a "picture of superb health": they had superb physiques, perfect teeth, no arthritis, no tuberculosis, no degenerative diseases, and they were cheerful, happy, hardy folk.
Weston A. Price
That changed radically when he compared them to other, less isolated groups of the same peoples, charting a catastrophic health decline the closer they got to the "trade foods" produced by industrial society (processed foods grown by synthetic farming methods), in the shape of the "white man's store".
He found it takes only one generation of eating industrialized food to destroy health and immunity.
Price was a good scientist and a thorough investigator and collected an enormous amount of data with thousands of supporting photographs -- his case simply doesn't leave any room for argument. We are all victims. But he leaves us with the promise of regeneration. Thwarted health can be recaptured.
Price's book makes fascinating reading -- it's a great travelogue, full of interest and charm, and essential to understanding the nature of food and health. Price is truly "the Charles Darwin of nutrition".
Steve Solomon has written an extended review of "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" (like many, reading it changed his life), including a good selection of photographs from the book, online at the Soil and Health Library -- the full text of the book is also online:
Preparing the potato beds in Loetschendal Valley high in the Swiss Alps, spring 1987 -- in 1931 Weston Price found a secluded community here of healthy mountaineers who had no doctor and no dentist, and never needed them. (Keith Addison)
For further information see Sally Fallon's excellent and informative website at the Weston A. Price Foundation:
Two reviews by Sally Fallon -- "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration", with photographs and tables:
Weston A. Price and his work:
Order "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" from amazon.com, or from the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation:
Article on butter by Weston A. Price, "Are the Activators Revealing The Nature of Life in Health and Disease Including Dental Disease?", Cleveland, Ohio 1932:
"Acid-Base Balance of Diets Which Produce Immunity to Dental Caries Among the South Sea Islanders and Other Primite Races" by Weston A. Price:
Price's "Letter to his Nieces and Nephews":
"The Skinny on Fats" from "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats", by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD., 2nd Edition, 1999, New Trends Publishing, Inc., online at the Weston A. Price Foundation:
"It sounds like you might have been reading 'Nourishing Traditions,' by Sally Fallon, which has been mentioned on this list several times I think. I finally got it from the library a few weeks ago and was dumbfounded at what I read. Being a nutritionist by training, my thinking about fat and cholesterol was turned upside down! It's a good thing I'm retired, or I'd be in trouble with my boss for not touting the company line!" -- From a letter to the Organic Gardening Discussion List, 8 April 2001.
"The Case for Butter" by Trauger Groh:
The Medical Testament published by the 31 doctors of the Cheshire Panel Committee in England on March 22 1939, full text online at the Journey to Forever Small Farms Library.
The Saccharine Disease: Conditions caused by the Taking of Refined Carbohydrates, such as Sugar and White Flour by T. L. Cleave, John Wright, 1974, full text online at the Journey to Forever Small Farms Library.
"Nutrition and National Health" by Sir Robert McCarrison, Faber and Faber, 1953, full text online at the Soil and Health Library:
"The Wheel of Health: A Study of a Very Healthy People" by G.T. Wrench, Daniel, 1938, reprinted 1960, 1990, full text online at the Journey to Forever Small Farms Library.
Thanks for your thoughts--you are correct, sir!
The thing that continues to bother me about the SAD (standtard American diet) is this: At what point did the natural, nutritious, and historical diet of humans become toxic, and the synthetic, processed and "fortified" pap that PASSES for a diet these days become a nutritious replacement? (answer: It never did. The SAD is STILL a cheap, dangerous imitation.)
Amen. To that, the missing ingredient is --- FRESHLY TOASTED COCONUT!
With that, sugar free jello, perhaps a strawberry or two and heavy cream, who the heck needs cake & ice cream!
Darn I wish I had followed Atkins 20 years ago!!!!
Too late. Good or bad...the genie is out of the bottle.
Kind of reminds me of the situation that The Big Record Labels are in vs. Napster/Kazaa and other P2P software.
Correct. You have to watch those labels. Some of the 'Lite' offerings are higher in carbs than the 'regular' fare.
I can tell you, I'm pretty pissed about being sold the "food pyramid" as gospel truth rather than as theory. (It reminds me of how I felt when I started to look into the "fact" of evolution.) The people are well out ahead of the government and the medical establishment on this one.
I, too, have lost 30 pounds. I started Atkins on January 6th (my wife got me the Atkins book on my birthday, Jan. 5th).
I had already been losing weight by eating less and exercising, but Atkins is taking it off quicker.
I lost 30 lbs from August, 2002 until January, 2003, and another 30 since January on Atkins.
Forget the tobacco industry. Go after the companies loading up their snacks with hydrogenated oils.
I'm one of them, and probably developed a form of rheumatoid arthritis because of it. My digestive problems have disappeared since going gluten-free. (Thanks to Remicade, my arthritis symptoms have also vanished). Next up, a low-carb diet.
And thanks for the cookbook tip. I'm about to embark on another Atkins diet (after St. Pat's naturally.)
I dropped 15lbs last time, and have largely kept it off though I cheat constantly.
Time to knock some more off.
Try http://www.bodyforlife.com for the whole package. Proper food and exercise. A guy I work with went on this and lost 32 pounds in 3 months! He now looks like he is in shape.
As the Japanese eat more Western food, they are getting fatter. Asia Times (don't have a link, sorry) just had an article on obesity among children in Asia. You're right - they're not getting obese on rice, seaweed, fish, and pickles.
Agreed as well that the Middle Easterners, with their beans / pita bread / chickpeas / olive oil diets aren't terribly fat either. There are some things to consider:
First, it's not just "carbohydrates bad, meat good." Carbohydrates have widely varying glycemic indexes (i.e. how fast your body produces insulin in response.) The more refined a food, generally the higher the GI. Beans (like chickpeas, red beans, white beans) are generally way lower GI than a Ding Dong.
Also, a lot of people in the Middle East work far harder physically than people here. It's a combination of factors; a lot of sweet, starchy, fatty junk food combined with sedentary lifestyles. Someone earlier made the comment that one of the major reasons Atkins may work is because people ideally aren't eating junk food on it.
Personally, I haven't done Atkins because I need the daily carbohydrates. I'm just very careful to eat lower-glycemic carbs at one meal only, and really avoid the sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
And you responded, Not to be mean, but this statement is utter nonsense.
And then you agreed with me by saying, "You can consume many more calories than the body utilizes as your body can only absorb so many calories at one time.
I had not explained all aspects of the fact that consuming more calories than burned results in weight gain. The key word there for you to consider is the word burned, expended, spent, or exhausted. The burning of the calories is used to create energy. The calories that a person consumes that the body does not need for energy the body converts to fat.
Are not a steak and a salad a low carb/low sugar diet?
And you're a guy, yes?
Untrue. Different foods have different effects on hormone levels, which strongly affect metabolic rates, fat deposition, etc. For a carbohydrate-senstive person, 1000 calories of carbs is a LOT more fat-promoting than 1000 calories of protein or even fat.
I realize this sounds totally counterintuitive -- it just SEEMS like eating fat should make you fat, and eating more calories should make you fat -- but when you dig into the science (or, learn the hard way as I did) you'll discover that it just isn't true.
Since a vegan or even just a vegetarian-emphasis diet is necessarily high in carbs, carb sensitive people have little choice but to live on a heavily animal diet - as many of their ancestors did for countless centuries.
Actually, muscles can also burn fat directly. It takes a few weeks of consistent low carb/hi fat before the metabolic switch fully takes place, but when the fat burning enzymes do switch on, it feels great. Much less post workout soreness.
No, actually, I'm FROM Alaska. We live in Minnesota now, for the last 11 years. I left Alaska for the last time in 1988. Lived there for 30 years, all together.
Price made it to Valdez, but I don't know if he studied any of the people there. The Native populations around there are mostly Aleut. ("Alley-oot.") I discovered Price about 2 years ago. For what it might be worth, in 1995, I was killing myself with a sugar/starch-heavy diet that had been my norm for all my life. Since that time, I have literally reversed every single symptom and problem by doing NOTHING but changing my diet. Changing back to a natural, nutrient-dense diet and removing sugars, starches, and refined foods from my diet saved my life.
As a kid, studying human origins -- not just for school but as a hobby -- I was perplexed that ~90% of my peers wouldn't have made it a few centuries ago, and couldn't find an evolutionary explanation. Why did I and a few others have straight teeth, 20/20 vision, etc, and the rest mostly didn't? How could the gene pool deteriorate that quickly after the relaxation of selection? It didn't make sense. THEN... at age 12.. I stumbled upon Nutrition & Physical Degeneration in a healthfood store. I never forgot what I saw (1 picture is worth 1000 words). There was the answer to the mystery: our modern physicial degeneration was nutritional, and reversible.
Of course, nobody else wanted to hear it. Dentists, in particular, are taught in dental school that malocclusion is 'genetic', and the idea of preventing that (or any other structural defect) by "primitive" prenatal nutrition was alien to them. In fact, people in general just gave me a blank look if I tried to talk about it, so I mostly stopped, and for many years I carried this knowledge around with me, alone -- through school, college, gradschool (Ph.D. in chemistry), and out into the working world. But at least I ate well, even if nobody else around me did.
Then one fine day, at age 37, I idly threw the name "Weston Price" into a search engine and found the Weston A Price foundation, which happened to have a local chapter. After my first meeting, I told them all, "I waited 25 years to have these conversations!"
A raw-milk toast to both of you!