By the time the latest edition of the Atkins diet, “The New Atkins for a New You”, appeared on the New York Times best-seller list in 2010 – seven years after Atkins’ death – the term “Atkins diet” was nearly a household name.
While other diets have come and gone over the past few decades, they’re nothing more than fads when compared to the time-tested Atkins diet.
One of the reasons for its success was because its creator not only understood the need to include real food, but also knew how to balance those foods for optimal weight loss.
A Revolutionary New Diet by a Reliable Physician
Dr. Robert Atkins was an American doctor and cardiologist. However, during the early years of his practice he gained a large amount of weight due to a high stress level coupled with poor eating habits.
By age 33 he weighed 224 pounds, the catalyst for his decision to begin a restrictive diet. This diet was like no other on the market at the time and inspired by an article in a 1963 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association advocating the research of Dr.
Alfred Pennington. Dr. Pennington recommended eliminating as much starch and sugar as possible from one’s diet, replacing them with proteins and healthy fats.
Within two years, Dr. Atkins was appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to promote his findings plan and by 1970 Vogue was publishing his diet plan.
The latter was so popular with Vogue readership that the plan was called “The Vogue Diet” for many years. Two years after Vogue first published his diets, Dr. Atkins compiled his meal plan and other research into a book titled Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.
An instant bestseller that sold millions of copies, new editions followed the success of the first book in 1992 and then again in 1999. The success of the book led Atkins to publish a cookbook series, guides to healthy eating, and diet products to accompany the plan.
The Low-Carb Controversy
Atkins’ research led him to conclude that carbs cause the body to suffer from a condition called hyperinsulinism, meaning an overproduction of insulin hormones.
Therefore, his diet plan required eliminating things like bread and fruit while encouraging foods like meat and protein.
However, other medical professionals balked at the method saying that for thousands of years, humans have used carbohydrates as a way to get energy. They also scoffed at the term hyperinsuliism, stating it was little more than the disease known as type 2 diabetes.
Despite the controversy, people starting the Atkins diet or even just those with a mild curiosity bought more than 15 million copies of Atkins’ literature worldwide.
Recent research, even studies conducted in the time since Atkins’ death, shows that his diet plans are successful without any risk of compromising the health of people who try it. And even as one group of professionals criticized his methods, many other diet companies hopped on his bandwagon, releasing diets, products, and even diet foods that were based around a low-carb lifestyle.
Then in 2002, new argument for the controversy occurred when Atkins suffered a heart attack.
His critics pointed at the cardiac arrest claiming that it was verifiable proof that a low-carb, protein-rich diet was potentially harmful to one’s health.
Atkins replied to the criticisms stating that the cardiac episode was the result of a condition called Cardiomyopathy, which had nothing to do with his diet – a fact that was confirmed by his personal cardiologist.
The Closing of One Door, and the Opening of Another
Prior to his diet plan, Dr. Atkins opened the “Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine” which, by the time it was featured in a 1993 issue of the New York Times, had employed nearly 90 people and was visited by approximately 5,000 patients on a regular basis.
While the Atkins’ diet plan focused primarily on losing weight, the center not only focused on dieting, but also on the treatment of degenerative diseases and types of cancer with diets and blood supplements used in conjunction with traditional approaches.
Unfortunately in 2003, at the age of 72, Dr. Atkins slipped on an icy sidewalk after a major snowstorm hit New York City, causing him to suffer a head injury.
Complications from this injury led to his death. Although Doctors Eric Westman and Stephen Phinney, along with Jeff Volek updated the diet approach from their boo mentioned at the beginning of this article, Atkins Nutritionals, the company started by Dr. Atkins in 1989, filed for bankruptcy in 2005, having owed $300 million in debt from outstanding principal and interest.
Two years after the company filed for bankruptcy, North Castle Partners purchased it and emphasized low-carb snack products. By 2010 Roark Capital Group acquired the company, and still owns it as of the writing of this article.