At the recent Low Carb Vail conference that happened the weekend of February 26-28, 2016 in Vail, Colorado, there was a fabulous gathering of over 150 scientists, medical professionals, and laypeople interested in low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diets that took place with plenty of information, fodder for debate, and even confrontation about how to best take this message to the masses. One of the featured speakers there was Colette Heimowitz, longtime Atkins nutritionist and vice-president of Nutrition Communication & Education at Atkins Nutritionals whose tenure with the company goes all the way back to the beginning when the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins started the company. It’s been well over a decade ago since the Atkins company was sold by Dr. Atkins and some rather disturbing changes have taken place with them distorting what a low-carb diet is about. This miseducation about what the Atkins diet is continued in Colette’s talk during the Vail event. Watch it for yourself to see her focus on high-protein, high-fiber while simultaneously stating that they are about educating people on low-carb, high-fat diets:
I bit my tongue very hard watching this lecture from the front row at the event while I did LIVE Periscope footage of what was happening there. When the Q&A time came for the speakers during that segment of the conference, I just knew somebody was going to ask Colette a question about her heavy emphasis on protein and fiber with little to no mention about fat as being a critical part of a low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic nutritional approach. When nobody stepped up about 15 minutes in, I decided to raise my hand and ask the tough questions about these bars. Here’s how that all went down in the span of three minutes with a rather shocking admission by Colette representing Atkins Nutritionals:
If you couldn’t hear what she said or can’t access the video, here’s the transcript of it all with my commentary about what was said below each statement:
Jimmy: “A lot of your talk was paying a lot of lip service to low-carb, high-fat. But then the focus was on protein and fiber. And then looking at the product line Atkins Nutritionals that provides, it’s almost all protein, fiber…where’s the fat?”
Colette: “Our demographic that buys our products are different than those people who are using low-carb, high-fat diets for therapeutic reasons. You don’t need to use our products to succeed at a low-carb, high-fat diet…”
Yep, you heard that right, low-carb dieters. You aren’t the people Atkins Nutritionals is trying to woo with their products. They say they’re not trying to cater to you with their products even though the Atkins name is right there on the packaging giving people the mindset that these are good for people on a low-carb diet. Does anyone else think this doublespeak about the Atkins products and Atkins message is just a bit too confusing to the general public? You bet it is and I argue it’s by design in order to bamboozle unsuspecting people trying to eat low-carb into buying these products. It’s a crying shame!
Jimmy: “AMEN! (laughter)”
Colette: “The Atkins diet is a whole foods diet…”
Just how many “whole foods” ingredients are in the Atkins Nutritionals line of products? Check out this label from one of the popular Atkins bars:
EEEEEEEEK! So much real food in there…NOT!
Jimmy: “But part of the problem is people see Atkins (on the products) and they equate that to being a low-carb diet. So the Atkins name is kinda being used in a deceptive way in my opinion.”
Colette: “Not when you’re dealing with a demographic that’s looking for a higher protein, higher fiber, and our products do have fat. That’s why we can’t put our products in the diabetic conferences because it has too much fat in them. So the new product that we’re trying to knock Quest off the shelf with is simply a Quest bar without sugar alcohols. The business of selling product is different from finding a lifestyle change to reverse a disease process. And it’s the business side of Atkins where we can offer free advice of all kinds to teach people how to eat. And we tell them that products are not necessary and none of our books did we put our products…”
So she says the high-protein, high-fiber products they are selling are what the people want and it’s the proceeds from the sales of these products that help fund the education on low-carb, high-fat diets that the Atkins diet truly stands for. Say what?! Doesn’t the good Atkins name actually stand for something, though, where you need to create products that fit within that template? Here’s an analogy that illustrates my point: imagine a church started selling pornography as a means for raising sufficient funds to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you see the very apparent conflict of interest here with pushing something that doesn’t jive with your basic philosophy? It just doesn’t make any sense at all. And yet that’s the kind of psychobabble gobbledygook we get from Atkins Nutritionals.
Jimmy: “So, actually New Atkins For A New You did put your products, ummm…”
Colette: “…no, the meal plans had no products in them.”
When the New Atkins book released in 2010, I had one of the coauthors Dr. Eric Westman (Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek were the other coauthors) on The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show in Episode 338 for an interview about the contents of the book where this topic of the products being included in the meal plans actually came up within the course of the conversation:
It’s funny Colette would say so emphatically that “the meal plans had no products in them” when in fact they do. Just to double-check one more time, I went down to Barnes & Noble to physically look at the meal plans inside the New Atkins book and there it is for all the world to see–low-carb bar, low-carb shake, low-carb products:
So that was just a flat out lie, Colette. I can’t believe you’d think I wouldn’t do my homework on this. Did you not read your own book?
Jimmy: “Okay, but the original one with the doctors that wrote it, there’s products in that with the meal plans. But, anyway, that’s neither here nor there. So why can’t you make a fat-based product like the Adapt bars, for example, they’re a higher-fat type of one that would appeal to everybody…”
Colette: “They won’t sell.”
This would be news to companies like F Bomb and Adapt bars and coffee shots who are highly successful selling products and are proudly promoting high-fat items for low-carb ketogenic dieters. This is a major blindspot for Atkins Nutritionals because they make bold proclamations that high-fat won’t sell and yet they’ve never really tested a truly quality high-fat product on the market yet. They’re just LCINO (low-carb in name only) if you ask me.
Jimmy: “They won’t sell. Okay, fair enough.”
Colette: “The demographic of consumers who buy products in the supermarket, in Walmart, is the demographic we are selling to. And they simply want lower sugar, low-carbohydrate, higher protein, higher fiber. So, the demographic we sell product to is different from the demographic we teach people how to eat in reversing the disease process.”
Got it! When people see the Atkins name on your products, they should think high-carb, high-protein, low-fat…it’s right there in the nutritional label for everyone to see:
And the sources of fat are highly inferior, not high-quality ones like butter and coconut oil.
Jimmy: “Then the Atkins name needs to come off of it in my opinion.”
That’s the bottom line. If they’re not going to adhere to the Atkins diet principles, then they need to stop labeling these products with Atkins. They are pimping out Dr. Atkins’ good name to peddle crappy products he would NEVER approve of. When it’s just a business with no core principles, this is what happens. I’m not opposed to them being capitalistic and making money–not in the slightest. But the good Atkins name actually stands for something they are not representing in their products.
Dr. Ron Rosedale: “So that’s why we have to have meetings like this (the Low Carb Vail conference) to educate people that high protein is not good so then there will then be a demand for higher fat and then they’ll sell. (laughter)”
BOOM! Exactly, Dr. Rosedale. Spot on and pithy analysis.
Colette: “Yeah, you are absolutely right. The dairy people were willing because their consumers were demanding high-fat milk. Now they have high-fat milk, 4% milk, 2% milk, 1% milk, and 0% milk and they’re running out of shelf space. So, it’s all about consumer demand.”
Well, I can tell you the demand is there for genuinely good low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat products made with real food ingredients from the people in the ketogenic health community. If Atkins Nutritionals says we are not their customer base, then that assumption by them will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If they actually had the cajones to make something like this, they’d be shocked how popular it would be with the very community of people they used to represent. But not anymore. They’ve had to declare bankruptcy before and it may just happen again if they don’t pay closer attention to what the low-carb community actually wants.
In the meantime, support these companies offering truly high-fat products great for people on a ketogenic diet:
– F Bomb travel fats
– Adapt bars and coffee shots
– PaleoValley grass-fed beef sticks
– KETO//OS exogenous ketones
March 10, 2016 UPDATE: It seems the Atkins PR department caught wind of what happened at the Low Carb Vail event and the fallout from my question about the Atkins company promoting products that don’t fit the teachings of the Atkins diet. Here’s what Atkins spokesperson Jennifer Livingston shared on Facebook about this:
Jennifer, do you think your comments have changed the observations I’ve made about your company at all? You’re still not adhering to what the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins outlined in his amazing work that has changed the lives of millions worldwide. That’s the biggest problem that you, Colette, and everyone at Atkins Nutritionals fails to see and understand. Yes, your products sell well because a gullible and uninformed public thinks what you are offering is perfect for “low-carb” and nothing could be further from the truth. GET A CLUE!