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Beef Vs. Bagels: Food Companies Take on Dr. Atkins
Reuters Science via Yahoo ^ | 3-16-03 | Carey Gillam

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.


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."


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."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: carbohydrates; diet; nutrition; obesity
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To: linn37
Would love to find low carb breads.

We're tried a variety of brands and they all taste like sawdust. I make my own 7-grain bread (bread machine) which has lower carb content than most commercial brands and tastes terrific.

81 posted on 03/16/2003 6:02:42 PM PST by varina davis
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To: Pharmboy
Glucophage is better on that score and works differently.

Unfortunately, Glucophage makes me constantly feel ill and Avandia did even worse things. Hope nutrition is the answer.

Actually, it's only common sense that cutting back on sugar and high carbs will be healthier. That said, my ancestors had very long lives eating fat back, grits and cane syrup.

82 posted on 03/16/2003 6:10:01 PM PST by varina davis
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To: Pharmboy
What? Are we carnivores, not omnivores?
83 posted on 03/16/2003 6:20:42 PM PST by LibKill (The UN is of less use than dog doo in the gutter.)
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To: TruthNtegrity
I'm also going to check my thyroid. I frequently feel cold, and have found losing the last several pounds very very difficult, even with a low-carb regimen. At this point I suspect a hypoactive thyroid. I'm doing testing through the mail.
84 posted on 03/16/2003 6:20:42 PM PST by Paul_B
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To: angkor
Yeah, I don't get it. I've been on a high protein/low carb diet for 3 years now. Lost 20 lbs. right away. Cholesterol went to 180. BP is 115/65.

I must be a physical wreck, training for my rugby matches, playing handball and running exercise programs for my 30 year old friends. Then again....

85 posted on 03/16/2003 6:36:14 PM PST by Thommas
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To: Pharmboy
The greatest locarb bread on the planet is joebread. You can get it at or at
It is actually delicious.

Atkins rules. Trader Joes sells a whole line of locarb candy, not carbolite but another brand. It is excellent stuff.
86 posted on 03/16/2003 6:40:59 PM PST by diotima (nunc per ludum dorsum nudum fero tui sceleris)
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To: MosesKnows
It's nice to know the physiology behind the body's use of "calories." I can eat 2 lbs of wax, 3000 kcal, a day and starve to death within a month or two. I can eat 3 lbs of meat a day, 1500 kcal, with nothing else and die in several months due to the body's inefficient use of these calories for energy.

Likewise, I can eat 3 large snicker bars, 1350 kcal, a day and survive for years until diabetes and vascular disease ravage my corpulent frame.

87 posted on 03/16/2003 6:46:01 PM PST by Thommas
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To: Snerfling
Not BS at all. Protein calories are not utilized for energy production unless salvaged from the body's muscle mass after all the fat is gone. Cut the carb calories which normally fuel the liver's glucose/glucogen reserves, and the body is forced to derive its energy from its fat stores. Ergo, that 2000 kcal. a day is coming from your body's stores of fat.

I tried this 3 years ago and lost 20 lbs in two weeks. My spare tire disappeared, the striations in my muscles became evident and my cheek bones reemerged.

Nope. Not BS.

88 posted on 03/16/2003 6:57:45 PM PST by Thommas
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To: sinkspur
Well, well, well: lookie who's here. [snort]
89 posted on 03/16/2003 7:06:29 PM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to)
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To: Pharmboy
Atkins has a lot of calumniators - the problem is, where's the evidence that it's harmful? Where's the pile of autopsy reports? A diet that lets you eat a mass quantity of great tasting food, never be hungry, and lose weight fast? There's only one group of people for whom the Atkins diet is contraindicated - world class athletes in training. They need and can use lots of carbs.
90 posted on 03/16/2003 7:06:43 PM PST by 185JHP ( Brisance. Puissance. Resolve.)
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To: wardaddy
Good for you; and, you are most cordially welcome.
91 posted on 03/16/2003 7:09:24 PM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to)
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To: LibKill
We are obligate omnivores like rats, pigs and--to some extent--canines and bears. We need it all, but high carbs are not natural for us.
92 posted on 03/16/2003 7:11:32 PM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to)
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To: wardaddy
I take 150 mgs levoxyl and 10 mmgs cytomel. The levoxyl wasn't doing the job as far as symptoms are concerned, do the endocrinologist decided I wasn't converting the t4 to t3 properly.

Even withe the cytomel added in, I still have days when the old motor keeps misfiring. And, I have to be very careful to stay away from carbohydrates. I have gotten most of the thyroid weight gain off, but still have some to go.

I am enjoying the diet, that is the most important thing!!! No more carbohydrate cravings trying to get my energy level up!
93 posted on 03/16/2003 7:23:52 PM PST by jacquej
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To: sinkspur
Sucra, a sugar substitute, tastes like sugar but has zero effect on insulin. It's truly a miracle product, and hopefully we'll see more sucra-based desserts and products.

Sucralose tastes good but it upset my stomach and made my face break out. It's unfortunate, because I can't stand NutraSweet and avoid it like the plague, but it seems sucralose has side effects for some people, too.

94 posted on 03/16/2003 7:31:44 PM PST by Mr. Jeeves
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To: diotima
Hey, thanks for the links to the bread sites! It is much appreciated.

I used to make the best homemade breads, but no more. I just might get inspired to try to make my own low carb bread if the loaves I order work for the tastebuds.

Now, have you ever found a low carb pasta that is worth boiling? I haven't yet.
95 posted on 03/16/2003 7:32:38 PM PST by jacquej
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To: jacquej
>>Now, have you ever found a low carb pasta that is worth boiling? I haven't yet.

There are some out there...I tried a variety that is made from 100% soy flour - made the house smell like a cattle feedlot when it cooked, and tasted like it smelled. I like whole wheat pastas, and there's a variety of pasta enriched with some soy protien that makes the per serving carb load reasonable - it's Soy7 -
96 posted on 03/16/2003 7:36:56 PM PST by Keith in Iowa (Hans Blix didn't find anything here either...)
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To: Keith in Iowa
Thanks, Keith. I had tried the whole wheat pasta a few years back, but found ti too "gummy"...

Will try it again, though.
97 posted on 03/16/2003 7:44:04 PM PST by jacquej
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To: Maximilian
I've never tried Atkins, but I am currently using the "Body For Life" program. Basically, you eat six small meals a day, balancing carbs and protien at each one. You can't eat any old carbs, though. Whole wheat bread, baked potato, fruit, etc.

This program also includes an exercise routine. Weightlifting 3 times per week, 45 min. per session; cardio 3 days per week, 20 (intense) minutes. You can take one free day every week - eat whatever you want, no exercise.

I just started a few weeks ago, but I am seeing dramatic results. I haven't lost weight this quickly and easily since I was on the track team in high school. Before I discovered this program I was cutting calories and working out 45-60 minutes every day, six days a week, with very dissapointing results. I think the reason for that was a high carb diet - I ate lots of white bread, crackers, bagels, not nearly enough protien, and overtraining.

Overall, I think balancing the carbs with protien and not using strictly a low carb, high protien diet seems to work (for me anyway.)

Check out or for more info.
98 posted on 03/16/2003 7:47:06 PM PST by tamikamaria
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To: MosesKnows
"Counting carbohydrates is not the reason Atkin’s methods result in weight loss. The reason for the weight loss is the reduction of calories consumed and more importantly not allowing protein foods and starches in the same meal."

You obviously have not read any substantial amount of info about the Atkins diet. In his book he goes into detail about the diet he used for people and how it was not a reduction in calories.

The other negative comment most people make is that the people lost water weight only. That's a bunch of baloney. He has people in his clinic that have lost 150+ pounds on this diet. Are you telling me that's all water?

As for the vegetarian diet, the vast majority of people on a meat-less diet will be deficient in Vitamin B-12, along with a number of other vital nutrients, unless they take supplements.

I was on Atkins for awhile but I didn't really thrive on it. I know it's great for some people but it didn't suit me too well. I didn't lose much weight on it and I didn't feel all that great. A really interesting read is "The Metabolic Typing Diet", which goes into the research of how people from different cultures eat dramatically different diets, and how their health is affected. Some primitive tribes do very well on an all-meat diet, some do well only on a vegetarian diet. Others depend on a mix to stay healthy. It all depends on genetics. The book tries to help people find out what their genetic makeup predisposes them to be when it comes to diet, since the diet gurus in this country have tried to put us all on the same diet.
99 posted on 03/16/2003 7:49:31 PM PST by webstersII
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To: Maximilian
There is a very interesting book called "Life without Bread" by Christian B. Allan, Wolfgang Lutz. It shows research and it is their opinion that we should not be eating more than 75 grams a day. If you want to lose weight then you would eat fewer. Their book states that serious health issues start to arise when we consume more than that 75.

I found it very interesting and though I have read many more books on the subject, I found this the most interesting.

100 posted on 03/16/2003 7:51:09 PM PST by yuleeyahoo
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