Remembering Kevin Moore

WARNING: Atkins Nutritionals Distorting What A Low-Carb Diet Is About

People often assume that since I was very successful at losing weight and getting healthy by following the Atkins diet over a decade ago that I would now be a strong proponent of the products being marketed by the Atkins Nutritionals company to would-be low-carb dieters. But, alas, I am not and for good reason as I will share in this blog post. In fact, I’m on a one-man mission to let the whole world know that these products being peddled on the general public by Atkins Nutritionals as appropriate for people who are on the Atkins diet are anything but healthy. WARNING: Buyer beware!

According to this press release today, we’re about to be inundated starting this week with advertisements featuring their celebrity spokesperson Sharon Osbourne for the Atkins bars, shakes, frozen dinners and more on TV networks like AMC, CBS, Food Network, HGTV and Lifetime as well as in print magazines such as People, Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, and Life & Style Weekly extolling the virtues of the most famous low-carb diet in the world. Considering the Atkins Diet was only behind the Paleo diet in the most Googled diet search terms of 2014, it’s a very smart business idea on the part of Atkins Nutritionals to be pouring $20 million into marketing something that people seem to be already curious and interested in just in time for the New Year’s Resolution season. Unfortunately, their version of what the Atkins diet is stands in stark contrast to the well-formulated low-carb, high-fat diet that was advocated for by the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins.

If you’re a consumer buying these Atkins Nutritionals products on a regular basis thinking you’re doing the Atkins diet as prescribed by Dr. Atkins in his books, then think again. When Dr. Atkins first started this company, they actually used very high quality ingredients in them, but encouraged Atkins dieters to only use these on a limited basis as a supplement to their mostly real foods-based low-carb, high-fat diet. His original intention in creating Atkins Nutritionals was for people to follow the Atkins diet as prescribed in the books and then use these products as an adjunct to the already nourishing low-carb, high-fat meals you get to eat and enjoy on Atkins.

Unfortunately in 2015, the Atkins Nutritionals company (which has had no affiliation with Dr. Atkins’ family in any way since he sold it to investors in 2003) is making so-called “low-carb” products that are highly processed with very cheap inferior ingredients like grains, soy, fake sweeteners like maltitol and Splenda, and other filler stuff that I would NEVER eat unless I was in desperate need of something to consume. These new ads will no doubt be heavily marketing their “low-carb” chocolate peanut M&M-wannabe candies in these TV spots and I’ve previously expressed why these are a horrible idea for anyone doing the Atkins diet in this blog post. If you’re relying on these products to help you on your Atkins journey, you may be in for a rude awakening when you don’t see the results you’re looking for in weight loss, blood sugar control, and disease prevention.

The bit in the press release about showing consumers they can eat these candies along with a sandwich, fajitas, frozen dinners, pizza, whole grains, and fruit as part of a “balanced diet” screams of watering down the TRUE message of Atkins–real foods that are low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and will keep hunger at bay naturally. If I ate this cockamamie version of the Atkins diet the Atkins Nutritionals people are trying to peddle on unsuspecting people, then I’d be hungry, have blood sugar spikes, and INCREASE my inflammation levels to a place I don’t ever want to see again. Ummm, NO THANK YOU, Atkins Nutritionals. Stop trying to appease the public and get back to being true to the principles of your namesake.

As my coauthor and Atkins diet researcher and medical practitioner Dr. Eric Westman and I shared in our 2014 book Keto Clarity, if you want to experience all the plethora of benefits that await you from being in a state of nutritional ketosis then you need to keep total carbohydrates to your personal tolerance level, moderate protein to your individual threshold, and then eat mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats to satiety. These Atkins Nutritionals products are notoriously high in total carbohydrates (they tout the net carbs, but I long ago learned the carbs you are supposedly allowed to subtract count a whole lot more than we’ve been told), are almost always very high in some of the worst sources of protein you could possibly use, and way too low in fat to be any good to anyone attempting to do the Atkins diet well. Be a wise consumer if you are going to attempt to try the Atkins approach. I think it can be very effective for improving your weight and health if it’s done well using real, whole foods that minimize the blood sugar and insulin impact while including healthy fat that will fuel your body well.

If you have any questions about this, check out Keto Clarity for more details and feel free to e-mail me anytime with your questions at livinlowcarbman@charter.net. My goal is to educate, encourage and inspire others in their own journey to better health. As for Atkins Nutritionals, they’re trying to make a buck off of your ignorance of what the Atkins diet is really all about. Now that you’re armed with the truth, you can make an informed decision. Happy low-carbing!

  • kmfurr

    Great, next we’ll see the wave of articles saying “Low carb is bad for you, just look at this crap you have to eat on a low-carb diet!” Thanks, Atkins Nutritionals. I recall sitting in a restaurant overhearing a woman explain, “I’ve been diagnosed as prediabetic, so I’m going to start having an Atkins shake once a day.”

  • Peggy Holloway

    I second the motion!

  • Jennifer Marie Nelson

    I agree Jimmy! The people marketing Atkins products are in it for the money now. A good low carb keto diet is about whole food, not junk. Dr. Atkins is probably rolling over in his grave now! Keep getting the word out, people need to know this!

  • Nicole

    Great post! I find this such a shame because the REAL science laid out by Dr. Atkins in his book is spot on. Him and his nurse Jackie Eberstien were helping a lot of people and his books are extremely informative. He had the science behind the LCHF diet figured out and explained very well. Unfortunately media and marketing, as usual, turned something that was of benefit into something harmful, in order to make money off of uninformed consumers. Its very very frustrating as it gives the LCHF approach a bad image.

  • This Old Housewife

    Sharon Osborne is the current weight loss “attention whore” because she loses the same 30 lbs. over and over again each year (after regaining it, which we never get to hear about)–through one diet or another, then promptly becomes that diet’s spokesman. She cannot make the big $$ any other way, now that her one-time paycheck Ozzy has divorced her.

    If she’s not on some diet commercial, then she’s on Dancing With the Stars (how is SHE a star?), or some other lame TV show. She’s trying desperately to get an income without having to actually WORK for it (she has no other skills).

    As for the Atkins formulated foods, they’re doing what they have to in order to stay in business–$$. The empire died off once, and they’re keen to not let it happen again. If that means adding soy, preservatives, or whatever, they will cut that corner. These days, pre-ANYTHING (packaged, assembled, cooked, etc.) means BEWARE!!

    Convenience-creep has managed to ruin every GOOD thing on this diet.

    • This Old Housewife

      Speaking of attention whores, we also have this: http://news.yahoo.com/kirstie-alley-debuts-50-pound-weight-loss-today-211500447-us-weekly.html

      Kirstie Alley is another one of those “lose some weight, make the media rounds” person. She’s lost the same 50 lbs. about 4 times now, and she’s gone on the same shows Sharon has.

      These women are desperate for attention and a paycheck of some sort, so they do the only thing they can: lose weight (or just say they did). If they actually kept it off, they’d fade into obscurity. Obscurity doesn’t pay! However, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, and shows like Dancing With the Stars and Biggest Loser do.

  • TechnoTriticale

    This is a surprise?

    Most people who wake up to the fact that SAD is a disaster rapidly learn to read NF/ingredient panels. Even back when I was doing Zone, it was obvious from a glance at an Atkins package that the products were write-offs. Just consider the ingredients list for the Choc Pea Candies depicted above:

    “Chocolate coating (maltitol, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, sodium
    caseinate, milk fat, soy lecithin, vanilla, natural and artificial
    flavors, salt, sucralose), roasted peanuts (peanuts, corn oil),
    maltitol, less than 1% of pure vanilla extract, confectioner’s glaze,
    carnauba wax, beeswax, titanium dioxide color, yellow 5 lake, red 40
    lake, blue 1 lake, yellow 6 lake, yellow 6, gum arabic.Contains milk,
    peanuts and soy.”

    Based on the incompetence or malice in this formulation, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the cacao used was both low in flavanols and high in cadmium (and lead). The safest things in it are the inert ingredients (waxes).

    • LLVLCBlog

      Actually, it’s a huge surprise to most newbies who think it’s only about the carbs. Food quality matters and many new people don’t realize that.

      • TechnoTriticale

        re: Actually, it’s a huge surprise to most newbies who think it’s only about the carbs.

        That raises a general problem about the nutrition bar market. I keep an eye on it, and to my knowledge there are exactly zero products that are even reasonably acceptable meal replacements.

        The most benign might be the Quest bars, but they are way too low in fat for general LCHF, much less KD (and Quest seems to think that customers want fat added to blunt the idiosyncratic BG spike some people get from the bars).

        Are there any LCHF or KD bars out there that aren’t compromised by toxins (e.g. PUFAs) and charlatan ingredients (e.g. “honey” and “evaporated cane juice”)?

        re: Food quality matters and many new people don’t realize that.

        This isn’t just a quality matter. Flat out toxic and/or highly suspect ingredients are standard in almost all nutrition bars – simple sugars (often misleadingly defined), high glycemic grains with their adverse proteins and/or contaminant loads (e.g. arsenic in rice), omega 6 industrial grain oils, soy products generally, suspect alternative/artificial sweeteners, utterly needless food coloring, and of course, GMOs.

        Basically, nobody in the bar biz gets it.
        There’s a great market opportunity here.

        • LLVLCBlog


  • Liberty 4 Kids

    I don’t believe all Atkins Nutritional products should be avoided. A few of the frozen meals are convenient and their nutritional makeup isn’t bad. Sure there are some “bad” ingredients but, overall, compared with the alternatives, they are a healthful quick meal for people on LCHF. I just tried the new Beef Fiesta Taco Bowl over lettuce with cheese, sour cream and avocado. It was very tasty, filling, and the carbs were acceptable for my carb tolerance level.

    • LLVLCBlog

      You do what’s right for you, but these products do not deserve our support. We deserve better.

  • Jen Livingston

    Atkins is a whole foods based program. The products are just for convenience. Anyone that lives a LCHF lifestyle knows that it is very difficult to find good tasting and compliant foods for when you’re too busy or on the go to prepare a whole foods meal or snack. And let’s face it, that is real life. As a working mom, I need convenience and if I’m going to stick to low-carb I need something in my purse or at my desk when I can’t cook or prep a snack.