There seem to be two Atkins Diets: one that he describes in his books (particularly in later editions), and the one the public thinks he describes in his books. How many Atkins Dieters, for example, only eat free-range organic bacon?
A recent study of 11,000 people found that only one in four of those claiming to be on a low carb diet were actually significantly cutting carbs at all. Another survey, commissioned by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s organization Shape Up America!, found that most people claiming to be on Atkins, or another of the low carb fad diets, didn’t seem to even know where carbs were found. Most didn’t know, for example, that tomatoes were high in carbs. Thankfully, about half of them didn’t know apples had a lot of carbs, and 1 in 6 even thought steak was a carbohydrate. Thankfully, most people on Atkins are actually not on Atkins.
Despite the softening of his stance on whole grains and many vegetables, Atkins still made saturated fat-laden meat and dairy the centerpiece of his diet. The Atkins Diet therefore remains dangerous even when “used as directed.”
Isn’t it possible to do the Atkins Diet healthfully, though? Isn’t there some way to modify it to make it safer? Those exact questions were asked of the editors at the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter by one of the University’s Vice Presidents.
After trying their best, the editorial staff at the Tufts Letter couldn’t help but conclude, “So, as to whether it’s possible to follow the Atkins Diet healthfully or tweak it to make it safe and healthful, the answers are no and no”(emphasis in original).