Dr. Robert Atkins is the pioneer of low-carb diets, having first published his material in 1972 with great popularity, and controversy. Flying in the face of the government-promoted Conventional Wisdom of low fat, high carb diets, Atkins weathered the criticism and developed a brand that thrived for decades. The Atkins diet has serious flaws but his central premise of low carb eating deserves credit as being revolutionary. It has only been since his death in 2003 that the Atkins diet has enjoyed increasing medical acceptance and as an effective weight-loss technique.
While Atkins laudably restricts processed carbs like sugar, breads, pasta, cereal and starchy vegetables, the plan stumbles with its sometimes draconian restriction on total carbohydrate intake. The Atkins recommendation to consume only twenty net grams (i.e. digestible grams, so you exclude fiber and sugar alcohol) of carbohydrates per day (this is for the first two weeks of the diet, with allowances to gradually increase daily intake for long-term maintenance – but still advocating well under one hundred grams per day) greatly compromises the participant’s intake of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet: fruits and vegetables.
Weight loss success on the Atkins diet is well chronicled, but experts believe that the diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies, likely from inadequate fruit and vegetable intake and perhaps also from the indiscriminate intake and lack of quality distinction among protein and fat foods (including the license to enjoy fried foods and other offensive dietary choices). For example, consider the anecdote in Chapter 4 that the potential carcinogens in cooked meat can be effectively countered by sufficient consumption of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables (that are unwisely limited in the Atkins plan).