AN ATKINS DIET REVIEW OR….”ALL MEAT DIET WITH NO SPECIAL SAUCE, LETTUCE OR PICKLES ON NO BUNS WHATSOEVER”
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
November 12, 2017
Okay, that might have been a pretty bad title to any blog, but just remember that old song from McDonald’s that was lovingly graced upon the world so future generations could be tortured by this horrible jingle. Too bad this came after the movie “Demolition Man,” for this song was so bad that Sylvester Stallone would be justified in saying “throw me back in the freezer.” Anyway, I kick off today’s subject while remembering an old TV show called The King of Queens. Doug, the titular fat guy, was always overshadowed by his ridiculously beautiful wife Carrie and his overbearing father-in-law Arthur, which Jerry Stiller pretty much played the same character he played on Seinfeld. Anyway, there was a moment in time where actor Kevin James—who played Doug—was trying to lose some weight, and eventually did lose weight by his real life foray into what was known as “The Atkins Diet.” What is the magical diet you might say? Well, as Doug in the show described it, “the perfect diet.” He ate copious amounts of meat and bacon and was saddened by the fact that he was on the cusp of a billion dollar idea and couldn’t just follow through with it. It was a great few episodes because Doug was getting some looks from other women (which made Carrie angry, for she was used to being the “hot” one in the relationship) and it mimicked my real life. You see, I literally created the old Taco Bell Diet back in the 90s, subsisting on bean burritos and tacos and claiming I lost a little weight and maintained good energy levels. Of course, it turned into a full fledged addiction to Taco Bell that spiraled into a 15 dollars-worth-of-food per outing that I was devouring by myself (and they were not the expensive stuff either). Anyway, the early and mid-aughts was a weird time for America, for it was a descent into madness that made people think sub-prime loans were a good idea and buying overpriced houses in a low developed desert area was a sound investment (thank you deregulation!) During this time we also engaged in some pretty weird dietary philosophies, and none of them were more destructive than The Atkins Diet.
I’m not gonna sugarcoat this at all, and I have Jon’s blessing for this one. Let’s face it, Atkins was a pretty bad idea. The whole foundation of the diet was to basically eat all the meat you could possibly eat. Okay, this wasn’t exactly the idea when Robert Atkins came up with this idea all the way back in the 1960s after he lifted the saplings off a science journal paper titled "Weight Reduction” which was published by Alfred W. Pennington in 1958. This wasn’t in some quack publication either—it was in The Journal of the American Medical Association! (JAMA). The true foundation was to keep an extremely low carb diet and focus on proteins and fats to get yourself through the day. Atkins developed the foundation of what has been rebranded as the Keto Diet these days (lunkheads rejoice!), a diet high in fats and extremely low in carbs. The point behind the dietary movement was to rely heavily on high fat foods like meat and cheese, mainly because the body had to work harder to break the desired foods down. Leafy greens and some carbs were not entirely discouraged, but not exactly given glowing reviews as you were forced to extreme carbohydrate restrictions. Atkins also never stated the diet was an excuse to gorge at the steak buffets so many love visiting in Las Vegas. So yeah, Atkins wasn’t a terrible guy but let’s just say he never sought to stop the misinformation campaign. When people started whispering the term “Atkins Diet” in the late 90s, it was the boost that the Meat and Dairy industry needed. Oprah Winfrey proved her power in the media world when uttering her famous anti-meat diatribes, making meat stocks plummet in the process. This was all due to the Mad Cow Disease scare in Europe, and the fact this disease may still lurk in the deep lurches of some animals is one of many reasons why I have expunged meat from my diet. Anyway, Big Meat and Dairy needed a poster boy to help boost their now damaged product, and they ultimately mutated Atkins’ original idea into “all meat, all the time with eggs on the side!” Atkins of course become complicit as book sales soared and media appearances cam raining down as men stupidly rushed headlong into their own heart and erectile disease dysfunctions. I say men because this stupid diet was directly pointed at them. My theory in the post mortem after the introduction of this diet was the never ending stream of erectile dysfunction commercials during every damn sports broadcast. (I say this because a high meat diet can actually cause erectile dysfunction) It was clear Atkins’ diet was never meant as a long term solution, which is why his diet fittingly lists under the “fad” category. Let’s face it, he claimed people would eat a 1,000 calorie diet mainly because they would get bored from the monotony of eating the same stuff all the time and the fact the fat would sustain them. Now let’s look at it this way, some people did lose weight doing this. Mono-dieting can work to some degree (like my ill fated attempt at the 30-Bananas a Day Diet and the success of the All Potato Diet) but it was clear this one had some ill side effects.
First and foremost, a lot of fad diets can really put a zap on your body. While I have no problem with people doing liquid diets for a day or two at a time, going through the motions of doing that for weeks at a time can be dangerous. And back to the non-dieting thing. With the exception of maybe The All Potato Diet, must food specific diets are going to make you sick and beg for death. As for Atkins, the problem results in two main areas. The amount of saturated fat in your body will go nuts, and the lack of fiber and roughage might make going to the bathroom a chore. Throw in lethargy and possible relapse due to the restrictions of the diet and you got yourself a fad! https://www.verywell.com/pros-and-cons-of-the-atkins-diet-3496221 Since the death of Atkins back in 2003, the diet has gotten some makeovers in the process as several people strive to keep the dream alive with product lines and actual recipes beyond a hunk of steak with tomatoes on the side. But just put this into perspective about the diet….Atkins himself was severely overweight at 258 pounds (on a 6-foot, 73-year-old body with little muscle, that is not very good) and had some signs of heart disease (though it was not the cause of his death). And here is the number one issue with this diet…no one really knows what the long term viability of it is. Much like steroids, we can only assume what will happen to a person that stays with this diet for long periods of time through the common knowledge of modern short term studies. The reason why we have no long term research…because people either got sick or gained the weight back through health issues or starvation or dehydration. And when we look at a lot of body builders that die young, we can assume that the large amounts of red meat are huge factors in their early deaths (though steroids might also aid in this as well). This is the reason why the diet is listed as a fad, for there is no long term usefulness. Now of course, like liquid diets and Lemon Juice cleanses, you can get away with this nonsense for a couple days before reality kicks in. Without a well rounded diet, you are going to suffer and potentially fail, which from personal experience is a tough pill to swallow when you re trying to beat the battle of the bulge.
I generally don’t like to promote any diet, mainly because the form of restriction(s) is going to create problems for other parts of your body. The only thing you can do is eat what is healthy and control the portions. Eat a diet that has a wide range of food sources as well, for variety is the best way to maintain any type of diet. Either way, if you are interested in doing this, just remember the lack of good carbohydrates is going to severely limit your performance in the gym. So you have to weigh the options…lose weight and be tired or lose weight and feel strong and energized. I choose the second one. And also remember this part…Kevin James gained the weight back after he got off Atkins. Just saying.
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Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.