The Modern Low-Carb Diet

Fast forward to the 20th century. People were, of course, still struggling to lose weight. They turned to low fat diets; they starved themselves, they tried grapefruit diets…and found little success.

Dr. Robert Atkins, an overweight cardiologist, was struggling to slim down and had unsuccessfully tried several diets. He decided to try a carbohydrate restricted diet, based on advice that he read in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The diet was so successful that Atkins, like Banting a century before him, began recommending it to those patients of his who were overweight. When he saw how well the diet worked for them, was inspired to author a book based on the high protein low carbohydrate theory.

His book, the Atkins New Diet Revolution, was first published in 1972. It as an absolute sensation, selling tens of millions of copies. “Dr. Atkins advocated going through several phases on his diet.” (“Atkins low carb diet – The most effective diet”) He started out with severe restrictions on even healthy vegetables and fruits, but allowed meat, cheese, butter, milk, and cream. In the first phase of the diet, which he called “induction,” he had an extensive list of forbidden foods.

He instructed people to eat no fruits, breads, pasta, potatoes, or nuts or seeds. Foods that combined protein and carbohydrates, such as kidney beans, were forbidden at that phase of the diet. Foods like cake and cookies were completely banned. Sugar was not allowed, but sugar substitutes, especially those containing sucralose, were permitted on his diet.

Dr. Atkins recommended no more than twenty grams of carbohydrates a day, much of which was supposed to come from green leafy vegetables. To put that in perspective, one slice of bread has about fifteen grams of carbohydrates, a cup of pasta has about thirty-two grams, a cup of milk has fifteen grams of carbohydrates, a slice of pizza has 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrates, and a brownie has about 35 to 50 grams depending on size.

But Dr. Atkins diet was not about deprivation. In fact, there were plenty of foods that were forbidden on traditional diets, which were recommended on Dr. Atkins’ diet.

Dr. Atkins did not just permit eating fat, he recommended it. His diet very specifically called for eating liberal portions of fats and meats, including red meats. Butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, and other vegetable oils were encouraged on his diet regimen.

Because Atkins was a doctor, his book was taken more seriously than Banting’s book was in its day. As increased people tried his diet and lost weight without feeling hungry, the book’s popularity soared and “The Atkins Diet” became a household name.

This is not to say that there was no controversy or criticism from some traditionalists who openly scorned or questioned the book, and the whole idea of being able to lose weight using the Atkins method.

There was plenty! The Atkins diet defied common sense because unlike traditional diets it did not call for the counting of calories or the restriction of fatty foods. And yet, as Banting discovered a century earlier, it worked.

According to Dr. Atkins, one of the main reasons that the diet worked so well was because people were not hungry when they consumed enough protein and fat.

Therefore, they were likely to stay on the diet and not cheat, because they were not constantly plagued by hunger pangs. They were full and satisfied while following his diet.

However, there is more to the high protein low carbohydrate diet than that. Next, we go into the science behind the Dr. Atkins diet, and other high protein low carbohydrate diets such as the Scarsdale Diet and the Banting diet, and why they work where other low-calorie diets fail.

Best Wishes, Coy

See Tomorrow: “The Science Behind Low-Carb Diets”

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