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Lo Carb Conspiracy

Lo Carb! Low Carb! Carb Assist!

Whatever the coy brand name, Dr. Atkins is everywhere. You can't pass a store shelf without seeing something advertised as low (or "lo") carb. Why?
As a vegetarian, I became curious about the Atkins diet, since I've never been catered to in the manner that low carb dieters have been. Despite the fact that vegetarians have been around for thousands of years, it's only been in the past few years that vegetarian items began to appear on most restraunt menus. Non-meat selections in grocery stores have been almost as recent a phenomenon. It's still difficult to find good Miso in a lot of grocery stores. When was the last time you heard an item advertised anywhere as "vegetarian"? And yet, "low carb" products are everywhere. Every shelf in every grocery store, every menu in nearly every restaurant. How is it that Low Carb products appeared so suddenly, and with such abandon?

Certainly, obesity is a tremendous problem in America. Excess fat appears to be responsible for a lot of suffering: it's been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Is it possible that the food industry suddenly discovered Dr. Atkin's diet in an effort to curb the scourge of obesity? Can we really keep consuming at gluttonously unsustainable levels and still be thin? Could a low carbohydrate diet save us from ourselves?

Well, as it turns out, no. As a matter of fact, the Atkins diet is nothing new after all. It's been around since the 1970s. Many people -- mostly women, whom the diet was mercilously targeted toward -- lost some weight on it initially, but then gained it all back. According to several studies going all the way back to the 70s, the atkins diet "works" by depleting water, stored glucose, and muscle tissue in the dieter. The kidneys and liver are so overworked in an effort to rid the body of toxic fats that they drain water out of the person's tissues. Predictably, this leads to short-term loss of water weight, and to ill health for the dieter.

More recently, the high fat, low carb diet has been linked to osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. This seems logical, since researchers have known for decades that the way to reduce the risk for all of these ailments is by eating a low fat, high fiber diet rich in the very fruits and vegetables that are denied by Dr. Atkins.

Why, then, all this sudden interest in a diet that's been around since the 1970s? A diet that, in fact, was discredited and abandoned decades ago, because it didn't work? A diet that appears to actually be dangerous to your health?

Isn't it interesting that the Low Carb craze came around at about the same time Mad Cow disease began making headlines. Is it possible that the incredibly rich and well-connected beef industry has found a way to counter the growing move toward a plant-based diet? It would seem so.

In her book "Food Politics," Marion Nestle makes a good case that food industry lobbyists have been fighting to keep us from getting any "eat less" messages about their products. For example, the controversial "food pyramid" took years and many revisions to be released to the public because the dairy and meat industries did not like what it initially said. As a result, despite the fact that food researchers have known for nearly a century that the healthiest diet is a low fat, plant-based diet, the public remains confused. Nestle outlines many instances in which the food industry has conspired to keep accurate health information out of the public's hands if it interfered with sales.

It certainly appears as though the low carb craze is more of the same. This time, though, with consequences that could be deadly. It seems to be a shameless ploy to keep us gulping down cattle carcasses for a few more years...until the toll is undeniable.

Do yourself a favor and forget the "low carb lifestyle" before its too late. Americans are fat because they consume too much. It's that simple. No box of "low carb" ice cream is going to remedy that fact. If you want to lose weight, put the ice cream down. Eat less. Eat sensibly. I know it's not always easy, but that's how it's done. Eat fruits and vegetables, not hamburgers without the bun. Your body will thank you for it, Bossie will thank you for it, and the meat industry will finally get what it has coming.

(And before you say it, no, I'm not down on fat people. I'm down on quackery, on over consumption, and on a food industry that lies to us.)

Junk food 19.Jul.2004 16:53

RL

Dont knock it too hard. American obesity is a very serious problem and if this works the more power to it. Health insurance costs are rocketing out of control because of obesity. A diabetic epidemic is sure to come if something isnt done which will wipe out our
I think the main reason the Atkins diet works is becasue it means cutting out almost all JUNK FOODS which are very rich in carbs, fats and sugars. No more chips, sodas, ice cream, cookies etc.
And if you think about it most carb foods/dishes are empty calories meaning they have very little nutrition. White potatoes, rice, spagetti, bread etc. Maybe they have a few Vit B but that is easily made up in the nutrient rich veggies of the Atkins diet. I disagree with the havy saturated fats free for all of the Atkins diet though but that could easily be substituted with lots of healthy vegetable oils like olive oil etc.

or you can... 19.Jul.2004 17:17

ranger

...follow the diet on those traditionally with the highest longevity, Japanese, Italians, and (forget the third country) which utilizes some carbs, but a good amount of healthy fish, vegetables, and fruit. I like the true mediterranean diet high in olive oil, fish, quality pasta, tomatoes, beans, dark greens, figs, lemons and hard cheeses.

Change takes a long time and is complicated 19.Jul.2004 17:37

--

Low carb is popular because you get quick results, but there is more to it than that.....First let me say that I agree with everything said about vegetarianism, although i am not a veg myself.

One main problem is that many people who are now in their 40's - 60's have been eating processed foods for decades - myself included. In the 50's when women first started to step outside the home into careers w/families, fast processed foods really took off. Refined carbs have super flavors, which seem addictive, like chips, cookies, etc. Refined sugars, salty carbs, breads, crackers, fries, cereal...after this many decades your pancreas just says fuck this shit, and stops functioning well, until ultimately it stops working altogether, which explains the diabetes problem in the U.S.

So just becoming a veg after all this bad eating doesn't work too well once your bod becomes insulin resistant, you just pack on the pounds, even with oatmeal, tofu, lentils, etc. So the only solution becomes going low carb. I don't eat more meat, I just eat less bread and no fries, lots of vegies, eggs, and nuts. I do buy a little chocolate from T.Joes w/splenda so I can have a little treat and avoid temptation. It works for me, and the minute I stop I gain weight, even If I'm not pigging out - because I was an 8 year old chip-a-holic, led a sedentary computer existance for a couple decades....

All that being said, low-carb dieting it is an industry just like anything else, but it's what each person makes of it. You don't have to buy a bunch of fancy shit low carb food to eat low carb and you don't even have to eat meat. Most of us just consume way too much food anyway (me too!!!) than we need. Shit, food in the U.S. is just another form of entertainment.

So I guess my point is don't dis low carb cause some of us need to adhere to that or get really sick, and yep, it's our fault, blah blah blah, and who cares if the corporations get on the bandwagon, and try to sell fancy low carb food. It's not a plot on the part of the meat producers, it's just another opportunity for business to make money off us, but it's our choice to do that or not.

I don't think low carb is harmful..I think eating and puking is harmful...If you look at the amount of food people in less developed areas don't eat, It's evident you don't need much to get by..What is criminal is how much we have and how little food, others have...

Livers Working Overtime 19.Jul.2004 17:58

Carmen

Atkins doesn't eliminate fat. It allows butter, fat on meat, cheese, bacon, and other fatty meat and dairy items. I've known folks who still drove through McDonalds and just threw out the bun and avoided the fries. That's part of the problem. As with many other diets, people take it to the extreme and completely eliminate carbs, even after the initial weeks when they are forbidden.

Carbohydrates, an essential part of a normal person's diet, have been demonized as fat was and merchandizers are following the dollars.

Recent news stories suggest that the anti-carb craze seems to be dropping off with sales decreasing over the last quarter.

It seems somehow schizophrenic for the Atkins Diet, which pushes large amounts of protein in meat, to be coexisting with the very real threat of mad cow disease.

Guess Americans can't stand to go without their Krispy Kreme and Mrs. Fields!

By the way, I am a vegetarian, too.

Tax it 19.Jul.2004 18:10

RL

You might be right. As the Atkins diet fad falls away and junk food sales push ever higher we should tax the hell out of the shit just like we do cigs and alcohol. That seems the only way to decrease the chance of the coming medical crisis which will make health insurance affordable only for Bill Gates and Oprah.

you're probably tired of hearing me say this... 19.Jul.2004 19:29

broken record

If you continuously jack up your metabolism with stimulants, legal or illegal, your body's gonna take its revenge. If you've been continuously hungry because of poverty or dieting you will also pay the price. It's not just a matter of willpower or a whole lot of us would be skinny. Try thinking this through, people, instead of buying into the continuous corporate lie that all overweight people are lazy, junk-food eating slobs. The diet industry and the medical-industrial complex are enormous money-making enterprises and need a continuing supply of customers.

Some of you seem to have missed the point 19.Jul.2004 21:37

Carb Con

The atkin's diet DOES NOT work. Some commenters seem to have missed that point. It does NOT work, and it's HARMFUL.

Yes, indeed, it was discredited back in the 1970s. People always gain all that weight right back, as soon as their bodies stop digesting themselves. But even before they gain the weight back, they have damaged their kidneys, liver, heart, and who knows what other organs. Their skin becomes lax and wrinkled from the cells being depleted of water, they have no energy, and they feel like hell.

How else to explain a shitty diet like that being pumped on every street corner and clear channel billboard? I think the timing stinks: As soon as mad cow disease broke out, suddenly there was a diet that thrived on greasy, fatty MEAT. No vegetables! No fruit! No pasta! NO CARBS. Just meat, eggs, dairy. Go figure that one out. I think I already have.

I have to agree, the only way to get rid of those pounds is by eating sensibly. Stop eating so frickin much. And go low fat, not low carb. Low fat! Yep! That's fresh fruits and vegetables, just like sensible people not connected to the food profiteers have been saying all along.

agree with broken record 19.Jul.2004 21:46

eek

The whole point of fad diets is to keep people looking for the next big thing. People join a diet regime, lose some weight, but get health problems and have to go off the diet. Then they gain the weight back. After a while, a new fad comes along, promising that one can LOSE WEIGHT AND STILL ENJOY ALL THE FOOD YOU WANT! The diet industry makes a killing this way.

There's still debate as to what the long term effects of the Atkins diet are; however, it seems to give people bad breath.

Me, I'm just waiting for this stupid fad to blow over.

The people in my office 19.Jul.2004 22:45

on the Atkins diet

eat pork rinds with mayonnaise and have little bowls of canned whipped cream for dessert(I am not kidding). There is no way this is not totally unhealthy,in every measurable way. My nurse says she's lost weight on the Atkins diet, but it doesn't look like it.

Whoever said this is another way to instil anxiety and get people to shell out money on shit food made from abused animals was right on.

The people in your office 19.Jul.2004 23:00

--

are gross!!! Yuck!! What the hell is a pork rind...what part of a pig is that....the badge...yuck...gross...in mayo....have these people never heard of almonds, or cheese, or celery...or just shutting their mouths!!!

...and what about a little bit of exercise folks? 20.Jul.2004 07:47

Mr. Whizz

The same low-self-esteem 'Atkins' dieters, complete with their ruddy complexions tend to think of themselves as being regular visitors to the gym. How can this be so, and can the 'gym' be any good anyway? Outputs as well as inputs are all part of the equation and the need for exercise is hugely drummed into people nowadays, but how can people do anything useful in a gym? Is it not an insult to the intellect to lift heavy weights only to put them down again, or to spin pedals on a stationary bicycle, invariably without any load? In my opinion the whole thing is an elaborate skive, an excuse to binge and to be lazy. Writing as a vegetarian non-athlete, what I find strange is that there are none of these obese carnivores doing any real exercise of utility, e.g. cycling on roads to get from A to B. There is the lie about the roads being too dangerous, but what is wrong with living life dangerously once in a while? If the diet freaks just bothered to ride into work every-day (and live somewhere sensible enough to do this) then they would have no need to worry about getting fat and they would not have to bore others with their dietary requirements.
Regarding eating meat, fish, offal and all the other excrement, all of it is a little bit too close to 'barbarism' for my liking. I could never date someone that stuffed all that b.s. down their throat. We can do better, and luckily the smartest people do. Check out the people of genius and the people that are vegetarian, there is a correlation. Having said that I do have a lot of respect for people and animals that catch and eat their own dead things - they play the survival game pretty well. Our society doesn't really allow for this nowadays and we can all make the smart 'veggy' decision for ourselves, everyone else, the fish and the planet.
Rant over - obviously written for those vegetarians out there that correctly have a 'fuck you meat-eater' attitude.

conspiracy!! 20.Jul.2004 08:38

statman

I wonder if it has escaped anyone's attention that just recently (in a New York Times article) US federal health officials have drastically reduced the the level of desired cholesterol in the body and are directing doctors to prescribe statin drugs to even more of their patients. It is obvious to me that the pharmaceutical industry stands to reap massive profits over this change. Could the low carb(high fat) craze have anything to do with making money for these blood suckers? My advise is NO CARBS

No Cheney
No Ashcroft
No Rove
No Bush

And definitely NO RICE

Atkins Diet Popular Long Before Mad Cow Scare 20.Jul.2004 10:10

Justella

INteresting theory, but Catwoman's historical facts are incorrect. The contemporary popularity of the Atkins diet DID not coincide with the Mad Cow terror, which was about December, 2003. Atkins' popularity rose during most of the new decade. The low carb diet, in fact, seems to be declining in popularity this year, according to Dr. Dean Edell. The food companies are now flooding the markets with overpriced, "low carb" foods and are as always, too late.

Don't Take It From Me 20.Jul.2004 12:33

Try It

Pack a two week supply of freeze dried food, a bag of nuts and dried fruit. Put on a backpack and hike 200 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Guarenteed you will lose ten to twenty pounds and know a whole lot more about the caloric input vs caloric output equation. And! You will be doing useful exercise: walking from point A to point B.

Diet is a two fold discipline: 1. structural - the body needs certain nutrients in order to maintain and repair tissue structure 2. energy - the body needs certain nutrients in order to perform work. In other words, its pure thermodynamics. Energy that is taken in and not used to perform work must be stored in the body - as fat.
In order maintain homeostasis, a constant body weight, you must expend in work the energy that you take in. The body can expend energy through normal physiological processes, muscular exertion, and mental/emotional exertion.

Commercial, public exercise shops can be problematical for a variety or reasons, which is unfortunate. A certain amount of resistance training (about 20-80 split) is vitally important to atheletic performance. And the only way to get adequate resistance training is to lift weights or use a Bowflex or something like that. Even the ancient Greek atheletes trained with weights. Of course, if you can get paid for lifting weights (longshoreman work) all the better!

In the interests of accuracy.. 20.Jul.2004 13:19

Bison Boy

A couple years ago, my gal suggested we try Atkins. I'm pretty skeptical of pseudoscience and fads, but I looked into it to see what the hubbub was about. I wasn't satisfied at first, but after stalling for a while, I found a study (that seemed reliable) that judged the plan reasonably safe. So, as an experiment, I tried it. I checked with my doc first, and she was supportive... she didn't think it'd kill me outright, anyway.

Son of a gun, it actually worked. My lipid profile improved, my weight went down, and I suffered no loss in vigor after the first two weeks. I did *not* expect it to perform exactly as advertised, but it did. That was more than a bit of a shock.

Further studies have shown that it actually is as effective as a traditional low-fat diet over a one-year span, and more effective over a six-month span.

There are problems, of course. One of the big ones is that it *does* stress the liver and kidneys. One must judge for oneself if this stress is a good trade for weight reduction and lower stress on the heart. For many people, this is a good tradeoff.

However, Atkins is almost entirely incompatible with a vegan diet. While it may be *possible* to be a vegan and an Atkins dieter, it would be a pretty joyless existance. :) On the other hand, it would be relatively easy for a vegetarian who is willing to eat cheese and eggs to follow the Atkins plan. Throw in fish and it'd be pretty painless. Atkins is also wholly suitable for someone who wants to be wheatless, and it's a good plan for borderline diabetics.

(If one is willing to eat red meat, there are some ways to do so more responsibly. Look for local suppliers of grass-fed beef, for instance. Grass-fed almost invariably means meat from hormone- and antibiotic-free animals, and often they are organic as well. There are vendors at several farmer's markets in the region.)

Atkins is not a cure-all, neither is it entirely evil. It's certainly not for everyone, but it's a nice tool to have available.

Wow, bison boy 20.Jul.2004 14:11

to bb

Thanks for sharing. But your experience flies in the face of my own, and that of everyone I know who tried this diet. Other than your story and some paid testimonials, I've never heard anything good about it from anyone who has been on it for longer than like, a week.

I guess that's the problem with anecdotal evidence -- there are many different anecdotes out there. That's why we need real research (or, despite what many "logical" souls think, personal experience). So far, my own personal experience says that Atkins is a sham. And the research seems to be saying it's a dangerous sham. (That's research not sponsored by the industry, that is.)

I think the best way to figure out the diet that's right for you is to get rid of your addictions (to the fat/sugar combination) and then listen to your own body. But while you do that, think about how your personal decisions about consumption impact the rest of the planet as well.

The answer 20.Jul.2004 17:29

Nut o vore

Im nuts about nuts. Nut butters, nuts in cereal, nuts in yogurt, nuts in trail mix, nuts in salads, nuts in---- well everything. Its got proteins and healthy oils. Wheeeeee

Moderation and cutting out processed foods, food additives 21.Jul.2004 10:53

Down with whitey(s)!

I've lost over 20 pounds by cutting back on the 3 white devils, Salt, Sugar and White Flour. Processed foods are horrible on your system. ORGANIC Raw veggies, fruits and lean ORGANIC-FREE RANGE-HORMONE FREE meats and eggs are pretty much all I eat now. Also, cut out the alcohol, that's a HUGE problem for people. If you're going to have a glass of wine then don't have the cake and ice cream too.

I think that people need to realize that there are good carbs and bad carbs and that's where Atkins falls short. It also falls short by pushing your body into an unnatural state of ketosis which is extremely hard on your liver, kidneys, and endocrine glands.

Obesity is only one problem. I think that health must be looked at holistically in order to really benefit from weight loss.

you are losing the argument 09.Aug.2008 05:38

theSufi

despite the vigorous opposition of militant vegetarians like the author (who have no other option), the bought press, the grain and fast-food industries and the entire medical and nutritional establishments, ordinary people are reading about low-carb, trying it for themselves and seeing results in terms of weight-loss and improvemnts in health and general well-being.

and for your information, low-carb pre-dates atkins by a couple of hundred years (google Banting), or 20,000 years if you reflect on what people were eating before the disastrous onset of totalitarian grain agriculture and its product -- largely empty nutrient-free sugars and starches that we are better-off without and which are certainly the culprits for the manifold diseases of civilization that followed (and also the overpopulation of the earth). incidentally, to compare the vested-interests promoting low-carb for profit (like the atkins foundation) with the forces i have already delineated is frankly ludicrous. low-carb is a grass-roots movement.

here's some reading to point you in the right direction:
 http://www.amazon.com/Good-Calories-Bad-Gary-Taubes/dp/1400040787