Calories Count

When people do lose weight on the Atkins Diet after the first few weeks, it’s almost certainly because they are eating fewer calories.[98] People lose weight on the Atkins Diet the same way they lost weight on the 1941 Grapefruit Diet, the 1963 Hot Dog Diet, the 2002 Ice Cream Diet and every other fad diet promising a quick fix–by restricting calories.

In 2001, the medical journal Obesity Research published “Popular Diets: A Scientific Review.” Claiming to have reviewed every study ever done on low carb diets, they concluded, “In all cases, individuals on high-fat, low carbohydrate diets lose weight because they consume fewer calories.”[99] Calories count–every time, all the time. “No magic ingredients, strange food combinations or pseudoscientific formulas will alter this metabolic fact.”[100]

Dr. Atkins disagreed. In fact, he accused his critics of having “subnormal intellects” for even holding such a view.[101] For three decades he peddled his claim that people could eat more calories and still lose weight. Decrying what he called the “calorie hoax,” Atkins had a chapter entitled “How to Stay Fat–Keep Counting Calories.” Atkins even subtitled his book “The High Calorie Way to Stay Thin Forever.” The Zone Diet made a similar claim on its back cover: “You can burn more fat by watching TV than by exercising.”[102] –As one commentator exclaimed, “Goodness, what channel does he watch!”–[103]

Atkins claimed people could lose 85 pounds, without exercising, eating an incredible 5,500 calories a day.[104] The only problem, critics claimed, was that this ran counter to the First Law of Thermodynamics, considered to be the most fundamental law in the universe. No wonder the AMA scolded Atkins publishers for promoting “bizarre concepts of nutrition and dieting.”[105]