What We Can Learn From Dr. Atkins' Basic Method

Treasure Chest Filled with Jewels, Necklaces, Golden Cups, and Beads
Dr. Atkins left us a legacy of principles to live by,
but most of us are too busy chasing after what ought to be.

Are you struggling with some of the "get with the program" ideals that were never a part of the original Atkins protocol?

The original Atkins Diet was intended to be a plan of personal evolution. Dr. Atkins invited the dieter to create a program they could live with for the rest of their life, so why is it so hard to accept the idea that low-carb diets do not work for everyone?

Travel the diet circuit for any length of time and you'll soon discover there are diet specialists that the individual weight-loss groups have silently nominated to be their authority figures of choice.

Some of these profiles are popular bloggers, while others have a bit more substance to their credentials, but there doesn't seem to be any particular method or qualification for obtaining the position. All you need is a stance of purity and a willingness to preach the orthodox religion.

Guess that means I'm out of the loop.

Some of these principles are fairly straightforward. They include:
  • Follow the book
  • Follow the protocol
  • Follow the rules
If you do so, everything is guaranteed to be okay.

Except that, diet books are written for the masses. They reach out to the lowest common denominator. Protocols are written to fit what works for most, not all, and the rules of any diet plan come from an individual slant, like the author's:
  • perception
  • beliefs
  • and personal experience
However, it's all subject to change with future installments . . .

A Second Look at the HCG Diet Protocol

As I studied the topic of the HCG Diet a bit further and got deeper into the principles of Dr. Simeons' Protocol, as presented to patients and medical authorities alike, I couldn't help but see the same kinds of generalizations being taken as infallible gospel among HCG Diet groups.

Low carb dieters do not have a corner on the market when it comes to being taken for a ride. And yet, no one is asking the hard questions.

No one is asking why, after more than 50 years, there isn't one shred of scientific data to back up Dr. Simeons' claims. They just keep slipping the drops under their tongue and dialing back their calories to 500 calories a day without questioning any of it.

Dr. Atkins Taught Individuality

Like the Atkins' core group of followers, everyone is overlooking what Dr. Atkins called obvious:

"The same eating pattern and vitamin formula will not necessarily be right for everyone."

This quote was taken from Dr. Atkins' Nutrition Breakthrough: How to Treat Your Medical Condition Without Drugs, and shows why Dr. Atkins' usual method of treating health issues and obesity was to tailor the diet plan to fit the needs of the individual.

His practice wasn't of the cookie-cutter this is what you must eat or else variety. It was an individualized plan that he specially tweaked to fit the individual's:
  • health complaints
  • degree of metabolic resistance
  • desires and goals
  • and lifestyle
So why, as a whole, are we missing that?

Large Casserole of Vegetables and Cheese
The Atkins Diet has evolved over the years,
adding more and more carbs to Induction (Phase 1)

While the Atkins Diet itself has evolved over the years (for better, or worse), there is still a strong inclination among its followers to try and force everyone to fit a particular mold. In their theory:
  • We all have blood sugar problems.
  • We all have insulin resistance, even if our problem is actually the exact opposite to that.
  • We all need to do low-carb, including our families.
Supposedly, low carb is the only healthy way to live, and that goes for kids.

It was as far back as 1981 that Dr. Atkins was proclaiming his technique to be one of individuality. He taught that success depended on tailoring the basic Atkins Diet to fit the individual.

Yet, we are still not getting it.

We are still trying to force our choices and what works for us onto others.

The Atkins Diet Doesn't Work for Everyone

The movement of superiority causes a lot of dieters to pull back and go underground with what they are really doing. They keep quiet because they aren't towing the party line. They want to avoid the conflict that speaking their truth will bring.

They fear that they will be kicked out of a group they consider important if they voice an opinion or share a personal experience that doesn't match what the majority of dieters want to believe.

While Dr. Atkins' original intention was to design a life-long plan that would control hunger and blood sugar and, thereby, improve health, I'm not convinced that the diet, as written, will do that for everyone.

History has proven that for a lot of people, the Atkins Diet works, but there are just as many souls for whom it doesn't. Look at any low-carb forum and you'll see that's true.

So what makes the difference?

Why do some individuals experience runaway diabetic blood sugar levels when they remove carbs from the diet (as in a zero-carb diet) if restricting carbohydrate foods is supposed to heal and cure elevated blood glucose levels?

For simple insulin resistance issues, a low-carb diet might be a lifetime cure, but there is a segment of the population who have something else definitely wrong with them that causes the opposite effect. Just what that may be is yet to be discovered, which is why Dr. Atkins belief in individuality is so important.

Cooking Various Meats on the Grill: Chicken, Steak, Pork Chops
If low-carb is the right choice for everyone,
then why does a zero-carb diet raise blood glucose in
susceptible individuals like me?

Yes, we know that a typical American diet is crap. We know that health improves when changes are made. However, sometimes the restoration to health is just not that simple.

Without the ability to brainstorm, to bump up against each other with ideas and research, I don't know how we are going to get to the bottom of anything concrete, especially when there are so many folks who flat out don't want to know.

Perhaps they enjoy what they are currently doing too much to care. After all, most current low-carb gurus are still fat.

*NOTE: While this rant concerns more than just myself, I didn't know that I had Grave's Disease at the time I wrote this. Grave's is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. Going too low in carbs was a recipe for disaster.


  1. Dr. Richard Bernstein also emphasizes the importance of individualizing the restricted carbohydrate diet for diabetics, as both books show. He has convinced me certainly that rather than hide my sacreligious move to prefer his suggested approach over the ADA guidelines from my doctor, to let the improved bloodwork speak for itself. Now, my doctor is open to working with me to control my disease. Dr. B's outreach to help his readers to understand if something isn't working includes a free webconference monthly, CDs of an actual consultation with a patient, a great diabetes forum, and for a small fee a 12 week interactive one-on-one with a specially trained nutritionist to individualize the diet. His approach is comprehensive.
    I believe the reason a "no carb" diet didn't work is that it usually means the amount of protein eaten is well above what is needed by the body at one time and as much as 36% of that protein will be converted to glucose through gluconeogenesis, then stored as fat. Many protein sources, like dairy, eggs, processed meats and soy products, have quite more carbs than people are aware of. A totally carb-free diet will lead to all sorts of metabolic problems due to losses in phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals, and other naturally occuring nutrients we aren't even aware of yet. The research is sorely lacking in this area (not profitable) so we may never know why. Some studies are starting to shed some light on how we lose weight. If we follow a diet with total carbs above 45%, a hormone that suppresses the cravings is inactivated. We also know the lower the carbs, the lower the insulin level, which is the main fat storage hormone. Also the more muscle we build and keep into old age, the less likely we will become diabetic.

  2. THANK YOU for your comments. I used to have one of Dr. B's books, and read it several times; used it sooo much that it was in my living room when my in-laws set off the 2 flea bombs in the house awhile back - so I don't have it anymore. I was most impressed by his method of individuality: using your own glucose response to foods to determine what was safe to eat, and what was not.

    I agree with your thoughts on zero carb. The runaway blood sugars went as high as diabetic levels, and I was began gaining weight/fat like crazy. It took months to get the gluconeogenesis to stop.

    So which hormone is inactivated when carbs reach 45%?


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