Other diets come and go, but Atkins it seems, just takes time off.
The popular but controversial low-carb diet is attempting a comeback, this time as an easier to swallow and follow version.
The latest revision is contained in The New Atkins for a New You published in March by three American physicians.
Based on the core principles of the original Atkins Diet, developed in the early 1970s by the late Dr. Robert Atkins, this “new Atkins” lays out a diet course in four phases, not only in pursuit of weight loss but weight maintenance. The latter diet phases allow for reintroducing limited carbohydrate foods.
“There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about Atkins that we’re trying to diffuse, like the idea that it’s all meat and bacon,” says co-author Dr. Eric Westman, a physician and associate professor of medicine at Duke University studying treatments for conditions such as obesity and diabetes at Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic.
This book encourages people to eat differently for life, not just diet. “A lot of people misunderstood Atkins as being just the first phase, something you’d do for a while (to lose weight) and then stop.”
Public interest in the Atkins’ approach reached all-time highs in the late 1990s. At the height of its popularity, some estimates pegged as many as 18 per cent of Americans trying the Atkins’ approach. Its popularity waned after 2004, with many disappointed with weight gain after they ended the diet. Atkins was also criticized for promoting high fat consumption.
North Americans have been told for decades to lower their intake of saturated fat to guard against heart disease. But new studies are now showing there’s no evidence saturated fat – typically found in animal foods – is linked with a higher risk of heart disease.
The “new Atkins” also makes the case that despite the push for low-fat intake, North Americans grow fatter than ever.
But observers say given the ongoing emphasis from the medical community on combining diet with exercise, it is unlikely that another wave of low-carb dieting will sweep the nation. In other words, agriculture may have more time to adapt this time around.
Dr. Jay Wortman, a Canadian physician who has seen successful weight reduction, blood sugar control and improved lipid profiles in First Nations communities adopting a lowcarb diet mirrored after their cultural diet sees new opportunities arising for the oilseed industry in the development of “designer fats.”
Dietary approaches like these challenge conventional thinking about diet and nutrition and they also present a challenge to the food industry and agriculture, Wortman said, while speaking at a national food science summit in Winnipeg earlier this month.
Much of the focus in agriculture remains on production of high-carbohydrate foods, he added.