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The Atkins Diet Diatribes

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Bonus Interview:

click here if you cannot view audio player: WestmanExtended.mp3

We were astonished to discover that the diet dictocrats have so brainwashed the American public that data has been trumped by dogma. We recently interviewed Eric Westman, MD. He is associate professor of medicine at Duke University Health System and director of the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic. Together with Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek, he has written a book titled The New Atkins for a New You.

Now we would agree with many of our listeners that Dr. Westman takes no prisoners. He was insistent that a low-carbohydrate diet is the best solution to weight loss and his dismissal of fruit as "nature's candy" infuriated many who were listening. As fruit lovers ourselves, we understand the outrage.

What is disturbing about the controversy that erupted among our commenters is that many people seem to have dismissed the data without even looking at it. The idea that carbs, especially sugar, could raise total cholesterol and triglycerides and lower beneficial HDL cholesterol is hard for many people to swallow. But that is what the research shows (JAMA, April 21, 2010).

People have heard about the evils of saturated fat for so long that they cannot imagine any possibility that an Atkins-like diet would not clog coronary arteries. Anyone who says it's OK to eat a steak must be crazy. And yet the research repeatedly demonstrates that such a diet does not have a negative impact on blood lipids. One of the most rigorous studies to date was carried out in Israel. It lasted two years and compared a low-fat restricted-calorie diet, a Mediterranean-style restricted-calorie diet and a low-carb diet with no caloric restriction. The subjects lost more weight on the low-carb diet and had better blood lipids. Although this data defies conventional wisdom, it was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (July 17, 2008).

We encourage you to listen to our bonus interview with Dr. Eric Westman, check out the amazing and emotional comments that followed our radio show broadcast, look at the references and then comment yourself.

You may also want to watch Robert Lustig, MD, University of California, San Francisco, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology. Dr. Lustig provides the science on sugar and high fructose corn syrup. He compares high fat to high sugar intake as a cause of obesity and he is incredibly compelling.

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I've found that I do much better when I stick to low carbohydrate eating. I simply eliminate all sugars and grains but eat many low-starch vegetables and meats and cheeses (including plain yogurt, which is very low carb). I lose weight and feel better and don't feel like I'm starving myself. Also my cholesterol levels are better. It works for me.

I am amazed at how the Atkins Diet was ridiculed by doctors and sellers of weight loss programs when Dr. Atkins first published his books. I saw people losing weight around our workplace with such ease that I bought a copy of his book and proved to myself that his diet principles work.

My mother dieted for years with no success. She counted calories and I think had no knowledge of carbohydrates. I thought dieting took such willpower but I found it easy once I understood where most of the carbs come from and that they are changed to sugar.

The main points I got from the Atkins Diet book was: eat nearly anything you want except, No Sugar and No Flour. Count the carbs....I have noticed that many sellers of weight loss programs have adopted the Atkins Diet principles and added their own little disguises. Who can blame them. The Atkins Diet works!

Looks like the good low glycemic veggies win again. Years of exhaustive studies of the Seventh Day Adventists show that longevity with lower rates of cancer and heart disease were a product of a vegetarian diet with some milk and eggs added.

Those who followed a similar vegetarian diet but ate some fish had the same good health results. Vegans lived as long as those on the usual American diet in the longevity diets. The common denominator for me is lots of low glycemic veggies everyday and stay away from the processed grains and sugars. Dr. Oz always tells us to eat food that looks like it just came from the earth - whole.

I just heard a cardiologist speak about heart disease and diet and he also showed studies of many cultures and their diets that conferred heart health. He felt moderation and keeping the weight low on whatever diet worked for most people. I asked a physician at Cleveland Clinic about this and he said lose weight! Keep the portions low and lose weight. Obesity can come on an Atkins diet style as well as a low-fat diet or Mediterranean diet. Overeating seems to be very toxic.

I am a type II and have found a low-carb diet is most beneficial for me. To me, not all carbs are equal: the fruit carbs are different than the grain.

First let me say that I have learned the hard way, after losing 85+ pounds over the last ten years, that one must also eliminate all the chemicals in the diet. This means food additives and sweeteners. Stevia works well though.

I have found that I can indulge with real ice cream once a week with no change in weight or increased hunger the next day. The caveat is that it has to be made with real sugar and cream. It is hard finding the good stuff. Even Hagen Das adds the garbage to most of theirs as do many of the other so-called good brands.

Also some homemade treats using real organic sugar and other natural ingredients will have no bad effect if eaten occasionally.

At 61 years old, I have no difficulty controlling my weight on a balanced diet. I try to exercise every day, but my exercise has become somewhat south of moderate due to a very bad back. I eat fresh fruit, and LOVE my carbs, but have always preferred and sought out whole grains. I have now, on the advice of a nutritionist eliminated gluten from my diet and cut back to very little dairy. My blood work is excellent.

My nutritionist maintains that the reason the Atkins diet works so well for many people is that they are gluten intolerant and on Atkins, they reduce or eliminate their intake of gluten. What do you think of that?

"We were astonished to discover that the diet dictocrats have so brainwashed the American public that data has been trumped by dogma."

You're surprised that there's been brainwashing of a particularly dogmatic quality? What exactly do you think you're doing when you test every medical related proposition in light of your pet phrase "lots of fruits and vegetables and healthy whole grains." Such mindless parroting is precisely the mechanism by which every bit of wrongheadedness is propagated and then becomes entrenched. (I think Gary Taubes discusses this as an aspect of the phenomenon known as an "information cascade.")

It's time - it really is - to listen to the likes of Westman, Phinney, and Volek and others like Richard Feinman, a biochemist at SUNY who heads up The Metabolism Society, with a scientific sensibility and not simply a reliance on sloganeering.

Bodybuilders-Weightlifters-Hard Core lifters have been doing this and saying it for years (even before Atkins). Protein builds muscle and keeps the fat off. Not rocket science. But no one wanted to listen. They are now.

I am a regular listener to the People' Pharmacy and usually enjoy your experts very much. The program last week with Dr. Westman, however, bothered me. For one thing, he was not clear -- didn't answer any of your questions directly. He was very insistent on "no carbs" for everyone which is too radical for me to accept in the light of all previous research.

For people with a diabetic problem and/or weight problem, maybe. For most of us with decent blood work results and weight, I think it should be made clear that some carbs - especially whole grains and fruit are not only o.k. but good practice!

Complex carbs raise blood sugar, sure, but much more slowly and in a controlled way, thus eliminating the "insulin rush" required to deal with refined sugars. Can you give a clarification or two for the rest of us?


A follow up on my previous comment. I went back and read what others have written. The problem was not that Terry was rude, the problem was with Dr. Westman!

I was frustrated listening to him! He was evasive, contradictory and arrogant. He also needs to address the fact that most of the world -- every culture, really, has some kind of starch as their staple. In some areas, there is very little meat or protein to put with it. Starches are the basics of diet.

Of course we should try for good ("whole") ones, and eat plenty of vegetables and fruit (what's more whole food than a ripe apple or peach?) but to discount it all as "bad" for us reduces his credibility in my view.

Thanks. Keep up the good work - don't let your guests get away with whatever they want to say!

OK - here's my 2 cents' worth: I am a female 65-1/2 years old and have had high cholesterol for longer than I can remember. My numbers have been way too high for years even with the help of a dietitian (who stressed the FDA food pyramid and which I followed religiously). And even going to the gym regularly along with strength training and successful weight management did nothing to reduce those numbers. My previous doctor told me "Well you just must have inherited the gene for high cholesterol."

I've tried statins but can't take them due to the side effects of intense muscle weakness, etc.

In January of this year I eliminated sugar, milk, potatoes, rice, pasta and breads (except for a whole-grain sprouted variety of bread). I eat organic foods when possible including eggs, cheese, some beef, chicken, fish, olive oil, coconut oil, butter and some other "good" fats - basically what Atkins recommends except that I do eat lots of vegetables as well. However, most of the veggies I use are a low-carb/low-sugar variety. I do eat some fruit occasionally, but instead of eating say a whole banana at one sitting I now divide the smallest fruit I can find into 3 portions to eat throughout the day.

On January 12, 2010 my total cholesterol was 263 -- on April 16, 2010 my total cholesterol was 162! Just 3 months later! LDL went from 169 to 88. My doctor couldn't believe it - he said "What on earth did you do?" When I told him he said he had been reading about this and was slowly being convinced that maybe this just might work for some folks.

As far as the interaction between Terry and Dr. Westman and their perceived attitudes, I'll leave that up to the individual listener to decide. Sometimes it's not what you say but how you say it.


I lost weight quickly on the Atkins diet in the '70's. I did not realize the negative effects on my energy and emotional health until I went to a dinner where I ate small amounts of the healthy carbohydrate foods my husband's colleagues had made. The next day I felt wonderful, more energetic and cheerful. I believe the Atkins diet has been changed to add some carbohydrate foods in small amounts..

Low glycemic is a relative term. The important information is the Glycemic Load of foods. When eaten in combination with proteins, some foods can be lower in glycemic affect (load) than when eaten by themselves.

With all the talk about sugar, I am wondering about the difference between refined white sugar and evaporated cane juice, i.e., the difference in terms of its effect on the body. I broke the sugar habit ten years ago (one of the best decisions of my life), and no longer desire that type of sweetness, but sometimes I see products that contain evaporated cane juice. Is it as harmful as refined sugar? Thanks in advance for responses.

I was surprised that Dr. Westman did not even reference resistant starches. Many beans and certain foods have a type of starches called resistant starches and a large percentage of the calories are not absorbed... that is why they are called resistant. I gather that research has shown that the digestive process also produces a number of byproducts which are considered protective.

The other thing that beans in particular have is fiber. I know that I was able to drop my LDL 10% just taking a fiber supplement. When I eat a diet rich in beans and other foods rich in resistant starches I can drop my cholesterol and keep my weight down...

I should also add that if I eat whole foods, even with a fruit smoothie in the morning, I have an HDL between 65 and 75 and triglycerides around 77. I DO NOT do well with heavy fat foods, nor can I keep my weight down. For me processed sugar is significantly different in its effect than foods such as fruits that are naturally sweet. I think his analysis is short sighted though I do recognize that there are some who seem very sensitive to carbs... some of us are more sensitive to fats.

I'm seventy and now have a 15 lb. overage of weight from eating portions that don't fit my lessening activity. As a gardener who raises and eats a fair amount of fruits and vegetables, I'd like to know where Dr. Westman gets the proper complement of minerals and vitamins and other phytonutrients found only in things that grow in the garden.

I don't process man made vitamins and must get them from food. This is true for many. Refined and processed foods with the additives that give them shelf life are an anathema to our good health and don't really provide good vitamins as the their labels suggest. I do believe moderation is called for in the whole grain department. So many people are truly unable to completely digest grain starches, lacking the enzymes required for this. But for the good Dr. to push beef, high in homosistines and marbled fat is a surprise.

Variety in eating, if one can afford it, provides us with the microminerals necessary for optimum health. There is so much that general medicine really does not know about nutrition. Anyone who has ever done research knows that studies don't ever cover all the variables.

I have been struggling with my weight for last 10 years due to my sedentary lifestyle.i tried several diets, gym,workout progs etc...none of which did me any good.

i tried atkins variant. i was 92 kgs 40 days earlier. now i am 73 kgs. Whats more amazing is that i lost 11.5 kgs in just 14 days !!

extremely low carb diet is the only diet that actually worked for me....i also took bitter gourd capsules along with L-carninite 500mg tabs twice a day.

Fruit actually bloats you. but in my experience apple somehow boosts metabolism and aids weight loss.

I am new and do not know too much about sugars, carbs high and low foods and glycemic levels etc... I would like to know which foods are high glycemic and low glycemic and which are good and which are bad.

I know that refined sugar and flour is bad but that doesn't tell me which foods are. For example, I like beans, potatoes, and fruits... what about sweet potatoes, roots, are all the beans the same? (I don't eat pasta or rice) what about bread? I love vegetables and fruits. Are all the fruits ok? or some better than others? some one told me that for diabetics only berries are good. Thank you in advance for any help and advise.

It appears that many folks think that proper weight is the panacea for for overall health. There are many ways to lose weight, but what are the long-term effects of these various methods, some of which are definitely not healthy. So why not concentrate on the lifestyles and diets of those who live longest and have less disease. One commenter mentioned Seventh Day Adventists who live 8 to 10 years longer than the average person. Again, we should not be obsessed with solely losing weight but concentrate on lifestyles that promote longevity which includes weight management as just one aspect of health.

I listened to the extended audio and found a person who was not didactic and made clear one size does not fit all. If your weight is good and your numbers are good, continue what you are doing even if you are eating carbs galore.

But, if your weight is up, your sugar is prediebetic and your triglycerides and lipids are bad, definitely consider Atkins. I did and my wife did, and our Cleveland Clinic Dr. is thrilled. The drop in sugar and triglycerides is incredibly good and fast, LDl's are down and HDL's are up. Yes we eat bacon (non cured) and eggs most mornings and we eat almost no prepared foods, no sugars, no syrups. We do eat salad, blueberries, broccoli. Sugar and carbs are the killers for most people.

When I went on the Atkins diet years ago, I wasn't a meat eater. I ate lots of meats including lots of bacon. My cholesterol, which has always been very high, went down to what is considered normal. My triglyceride levels, which also were high, normalized. It was amazing. However, I developed Gout in the joint of my big toe, which I have symptoms of to this day, so I quit the diet. I think it is good for parts of you and not so good for other parts of you... When I quit the diet, my cholesterol and triglycerides went back up.

I have a friend who recently lost 43 lbs. on the Adkins diet. She had been having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and slightly elevated blood sugar. Since losing the weight she had blood work again and the doctor said that if he didn't know better he would think the results were from a younger person. He said that whatever she was doing she should continue it.

One of the major problems encountered when reading anything on diet in America is QUALITY. In the USA most of the animal products in grocery stores comes from factory farms. I remember when a study by Tufts contrasted differences between the French diet and the US diet but never mentioned the fact that the French farmers raise animals that are bred in the old fashioned way. With access to fresh food and outdoor lifestyles as opposed to the USA system of factory farming. If we are what we eat surely the QUALITY of food must be considered in any study of diet. Hopefully one day you will have a guest on your show who will address this issue...

Thanks for airing such stimulating programs.

One thing that was not mentioned was that very high protein diets like the typical Adkins diet result in increased acidity which has been shown to be a factor in causing osteoporosis.

I lost 40lbs a few years ago when I developed hypertension. I simply cut down on complex carbs and did a little more exercise. I eat a generally Mediterranean type diet with little meat but I do eat fish and high protein vegetables like beans.

Exercise is an important part of weight loss which many don't realize. You need lipase to digest excess stored fat. Lipase is found mostly in capillaries. Since muscle is one of the most vascular tissues, increasing muscle mass with exercise thus makes more lipase available.

We do enjoy your program. My wife is a nursing professor at a major university and we listen nearly every week.
Keep up the good work!

Thanks so much for writing to share your diet and great results with the cholesterol numbers. I relate as same age and female. Have exercised regularly and with weights but lose no weight. I want very much to attempt your diet for weight loss.

To show you how much I enjoy your program, it comes on the radio in my area at 6AM on Saturdays. I don't get up at 6AM for any reason on any day!
I really enjoy your program.
One thing I noticed about the new Atkins Diet is the doctor emphasized (I think he did) very low or no carbs. For a type 2 diabetic that is fatal. I was taught at a hospital class I have to have 45 to 60 mml carbs with 3 meals and 15 to 30 mml carbs with 3 snacks. If I don't I have to run to the fridge for the orange juice! The giddiness is not pleasant. A diabetic can go into hypogycemia, coma and die. But then, we diabetics have to do so many things differently, it seems to me.

Believe me - I feel your pain! I actually weigh 8 lbs less now that I did 20 years ago when I was in my mid forties, but even though I still have some of the clothes I wore back then, the clothes just barely (and I do mean barely!) fit today. I always had somewhat of an hour glass figure, but as I age I'm turning into an apple -- the weight around my middle is doing it's best to stay right there!

I really believe that adopting the low carb/low sugar way of eating has made a very big difference in both the blood test results and in weight maintenance/loss; however, it does seem that unless I work out (strength training and cardio 4-5 times a week), the weight just doesn't stay off as easily.

If you think Atkins might not work for you try George Stella's program which is very similar to Atkins (George lost over 200 lbs on Atkins). I like his ideas because of the incorporation of lots of veggies into the diet. I don't know that I can post the link here but just "google" his name. His story is very inspirational. Good luck!

I realize I'm a little late with my response but my computer has been down. I have tried the Atkins diet with real good results, problem is it gets very boring eating mostly meat. I also know that sugar is not good for me but I swear that I am addicted to it. I have tried on numerous occasions to stop using sugar but I just can't. Once, on a diet, I tried sugar free desserts. It didn't matter how many I ate, they just wouldn't satisfy the craving. Any suggestions on how to get this monkey off my back?

The show, while a good one, is only part of the answer. Terry and Joe really need to have Dr. Lustig on to discuss sugar and to have the Harvard researchers on who drilled down into the information on the safety of eating meat. The Atkins diet treats all meat the same when it appears to be have good actors and bad actors. Cured meat with salt and nitrates (hot dogs, bacon, lunch meats) lead to a lot of the same ills as sugar while the unprocessed meats do not.

Dr. Lustig also stressed the importance of fiber which is completely ignored in the Atkins diet. Our bodies are complex and require more than single supplement/approach answers.


I refuse to believe that "fruit makes you fat". After hearing the "healthy guy" call in to ask Dr. Westman what he should change about his diet, and being told to cut back on the fruit, I decided to check my most recent blood work. I eat a lot of fruit, at least 5-7 servings, similar to the caller. The doctor stated to really be healthy you need to have Triglycerides below 100 and HDL levels above 60.

Well this fruit-loving-lady's Triglycerides are 82 and HDL level is at 62. Am I missing something here? Because from what Dr. Westman stated, my health is suffering because of my high fruit consumption, but my stats are excellent.

I thought the program was interesting/lots of useful information.

Bottom line: everybody’s body is different and one diet, medication, or exercise routine doesn’t fit all. It seems that it's best to talk to different experts to find what works for yours and don’t give up.

I have been on an Atkins like diet for a couple months now and have lost about 20 pounds. I take 2000 mg of salmon oil a day also. My BP has went from 130/93 to 112/76. My lipid profile has totally switched around (LDL to HDL ratio) to the better which I myself can hardly believe. I do eat fruits but limit them to types like blueberries, cantaloupe etc. (search for low glycemic fruits on the web for info).

Things I cut are bread, pasta, rice, sugar. Things I eat a lot of steak (fatty like ribeye!), avocado, salad greens, tomatoes, and I drink a high protein (low carb like atkins or make your own) shake in between meals to fill me up.

Not an ideal forever diet maybe but will keep me off the cholesterol drugs if my weight stays down. I am a nursing student and I have added 45 min of exercise now too. Gotta take care of yourself before your fit to take care of others is my new motto!!!

I have a question about losing weight. I am interested in the Atkins diet - I am 5'00" tall, 65 years old and weigh 152 lbs. This weight came on in middle age.
My bad cholesterol is too high (but my good cholesterol is great) and my sugars are at the high end of normal but not yet in the pre-diabetic range. I would of course like to lose weight.

I am in physical therapy and on an exercise program for degenerative arthritis of the spine.

My question is: are high protein diets hard on the kidneys? Does the high protein cause kidney stones? I had a bout of kidney stones many years ago and do not care to ever repeat such pain and misery!

I really hope you will answer my question.
Thank you!


J Am Soc Nephrol. 2009 Oct;20(10):2253-9. Epub 2009 Aug 13.
DASH-style diet associates with reduced risk for kidney stones.
Taylor EN, Fung TT, Curhan GC.

Renal Division and Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
The impact of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet on kidney stone formation is unknown. We prospectively examined the relation between a DASH-style diet and incident kidney stones in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (n = 45,821 men; 18 yr of follow-up), Nurses' Health Study I (n = 94,108 older women; 18 yr of follow-up), and Nurses' Health Study II (n = 101,837 younger women; 14 yr of follow-up). We constructed a DASH score based on eight components: high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains and low intake of sodium, sweetened beverages, and red and processed meats. We used Cox hazards regression to adjust for factors that included age, BMI, and fluid intake. Over a combined 50 yr of follow-up, we documented 5645 incident kidney stones. Participants with higher DASH scores had higher intakes of calcium, potassium, magnesium, oxalate, and vitamin C and had lower intakes of sodium. For participants in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of DASH score, the multivariate relative risks for kidney stones were 0.55 (95% CI, 0.46 to 0.65) for men, 0.58 (95% CI, 0.49 to 0.68) for older women, and 0.60 (95% CI, 0.52 to 0.70) for younger women. Higher DASH scores were associated with reduced risk even in participants with lower calcium intake. Exclusion of participants with hypertension did not change the results. In conclusion, consumption of a DASH-style diet is associated with a marked decrease in kidney stone risk.

Your question should be directed to your physician. I believe that you will find that high protein is harder on the kidneys, but is not a cause of kidney stones. Were your stones studied when you passed them? If so, there may be clues about what caused them and specifically what you shouldn't eat. Generally, people on Atkins are advised to drink lots of water. This helps speed up the weight loss and is considered a good thing for people subject to stones. Keep hydrated and good luck.

I would like to comment on Dr. Robert Lustig's YOUTUBEvideo; EXCELLENT, SHOULD BE a must see for everyone. The Subject is "the Obesity epidemic" and it is not from overeating!! I am alerting everyone I know to it. The information on Sucralose and Fructose as a chronic poison MAY BE DIFFICULT FOR SOME TO FOLLOW, BUT JUST HEARING SOME OF THE INFO IS AN EYE OPENER... I am very happy to have run across it. THANK YOU

You may want to look into the composition of sugars. Try to minimize foods sweetened with fructose. Fructose lurks in agave syrup, honey, table sugar, hfcs. The lower the amount of fructose in a sweetener, the better (IMO!). Maple syrup and brown rice syrup have less fructose. I use table sugar in small amounts, but threw out the agave syrup.

My husband has been on the Atkins diet many times to lose weight. Blood tests show that all this levels are excellent when on it... his doctor was amazed. I am talking about a total flip in all his numbers..

All the doubters out there should read Gary Taubes's new book, Why We Get Fat, And What to Do About It. It is a simplified and expanded extension of his earlier book, Good Calories, Bad Calories.

One key fact is that we are all different in our respective ability to handle Carbs. Some can eat a relatively high amount and some cannot handle even modest amounts. The key is to read and understand the science. Too many carbs (for you) releases too much insulin in your body. This causes fatty acids to be removed from your blood and deposited in your fat cell.

This is not dependent on total calories consumed. When the fatty acis is taken out of the bloodstream it makes you hungry and less energetic. The insulin makes you eat more and exercise less. It causes you to get fat and fatter. For 40 years the Govt. said eat carbs and cut fat. The result is obvious increases in obesity.

Taubes backs it all with science not psycho babble about people not being strong-willed enough just to control calories.

Try just eating meat for 4 days. Drink lots of water. You will immediately lose weight, your blood sugar will plummet and you will feel better. Then get a book Taubes, Atkins, the new guy and learn how to continue to lose weight as you add back high glycemic index carbs until you find your limit.
Go below the limit and you lose weigh, go above it and you gain.
Good Luck to all.

I became severely ill and when trying to heal myself, I went gluten free. After a couple years I was feeling better and my bloodwork was normal again. I read a book called Dangerous Grains. That sparked my interest in celiac disease which is so often a silent disease that causes serious problems in later life. Most doctors think it is a GI disease, but that's not true and up to 97% of celiacs go undiagnosed.

Celiac is genetic and diabetes often runs in the family too! One of the major presenting symptoms is depression. Also many other symptoms like very bad teeth and bones, and infertility. Later, serious diseases develop because your body can't absorb the nutrients needed to function properly.

Dr. Fasano, an expert in celiac disease published a study that states 1 in 133 people has celiac disease. But that is the far end of the continuum. Very recent studies show that possibly 1 in 7 people has some kind of gluten intolerance or allergy! You can ask for a celiac antibody test if you still eat gluten, and get checked.

Because I am severely allergic to gluten, I know how hard it is to eliminate this poison from my diet. It's in everything processed. It's the filler in pills. It's in soy sauce, root beer and sauces. It's really cheap, that's why. It's even in some things that claim to be gluten free (I called a major company to complain about their "gluten free" rice cakes and I got an argument that the government has not really defined "gluten" yet.)

I see celiac symptoms in so many people. I try to tell them about it, but they listen to their doctors, not me. I figured it out for myself, when I easily lost the 50 pounds I had gained on un-necessary antidepressants - it was gluten that was making me fat, depressed and sick. It was gluten that was giving me the high cholesterol and high glucose levels.

A note to my previous post. I have tried eating so-called "allergen free" rotisserie chicken from my grocery - and have repeatedly had bad reactions to it. It tastes great BUT I read somewhere that meat is often injected with something to make it juicier - maybe some form of gluten? I thought I might be allergic to chicken, but I am fine if I buy organic meat and cook it myself. Just some info for people out there who need to be gluten free - and are buying "processed" meat at the grocery store! Processed anything is probably bad for you!

One quibble with your reply. I don't know where you got the idea that the Atkins diet ignores Fiber, it doesn't. Have you read the book?

You have to take in carbohydrates in moderation. To demonize them is ridiculous. I remember a time when I was physically active and thin (to the point of being very underweight) I used a high carb diet, using whole grains to preserve energy, endurance, and it also calmed me down (I suffer from Anxiety Disorder) I tried the extreme Atkins diet for a few days and suffered from horrible stomach cramps. I was doubled up in pain.

We do need some carbs just to regulate the digestive system. We all need to cut back on carbs, I know I need to presently, but MODERATION is the key. We need some of those starches and fiber. The American diet is extremely dependent on starch carbo overload. You also have to take into consideration that in order to make most potatoes palatable, you have to put butter or other fatty things on them. And restaurants pile tons of potatoes and white rice on your plate. I have been eating more sweet potatoes as a substitute, and they hardly need any kind of topping. They are also a great substitute snack, if you bake them with very little oil.

Dear Mrs. Antipyrene,

You have some of it right, but some of it wrong.

1. You can't try Atkins for a few days. Cramping is a well known and understood potential initial side effect of Atkins. In fact it demonstrates that the diet is working. (The simple fix is to ingest a lot of extra salt, take magnesium supplement, and drink lots of water.) All of this is explained in the new Atkins book by Westman et al.

2. Atkins and Westman never "demonized" carbohydrates. The whole principle of Atkins after desired weight loss is to determine the maximum amount of Carbohydrates one can eat w/o gaining the weight back and thereafter limiting carbs per day to no more than that amount. Some of us are "allergic to carbs" and gain weight promptly if our personal maximum amount is exceeded. On Atkins you are required from day 1 to eat specified carbs, initially mostly salads. Total carbs are initially greatly restricted and then more is permitted as you proceed through the 4 phases of Atkins.

3. Finally, I must repeat that carbs are not essential. Simply put you can live perfectly well w/o any carbs whatsoever. That said Atkins does permit carbs as discussed above and the phytonutrients may be of some value. Chose your carbs well.

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