Food wars (and other diet and exercise news)

On ABC’s nightly news last night, I heard that Atkins Inc., the late doctor’s company who brought us the “low carb craze,” is bankrupt. I like how these opening paragraphs from The San Francisco Chronicle characterizes the war between Atkins and the “carb industry” (actually, it’s an article that first appeared in the LA Times, but…):

In Boise, staff members of the Idaho Potato Commission gave each other gleeful high-fives when they heard the news. In Houston, the folks at the U.S. Rice Producers’ Association declared “good riddance.” And fruit farmers in the Central Valley said they were “happy to see them go.”

Across the United States, producers of carbohydrate-laden food exulted at the decision by Atkins Nutritionals Inc., the Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based designer of the once popular low-carbohydrate weight-loss program, to file for bankruptcy protection.

You can practically hear the Star Wars battle sound track behind all this, can’t you?

I don’t know personally to what extent the “low carb craze” is really over or not and I am no business expert, but I think the Atkins folks had a business problem that did not have a whole lot to do with their diet: they expanded way too quickly and into too many areas. Instead of sticking to diet books and cook books, Atkins Inc. started to make low-carb foods, particularly low-carb versions of things like pasta. And have you ever tasted that stuff? Nasty shit.

If you’re going to eat low-carb foods, eat low-carb foods. But if you’re going to eat high-carb foods, then eat the real thing. Though aim for the whole wheat.

Annette and I are currently on our own version of The South Beach Diet, which is somewhere between “phase 1” and “phase 2.” We’re avoiding carbs, not eating starches like potatoes, white bread, and white rice, eating lots of veggies, and not drinking alcohol. But we are eating some things like yogurt, fruits, and high fiber/wheat grain breands (things that are no-nos during “phase 1”), and I for one will probably have a beer after golf tomorrow (and probably a hot dog, too– what else are you going to eat on a golf course?) and some wine with dinner over the weekend.

We’ve only been doing this in earnest for a few days and I think I’ve already lost about four pounds, though I think that most of that weight is just post-travel bloat as opposed to real diet losses. I’d like to lose about another seven or ten pounds before school starts in September, but that might be a bit optimistic. We’ll see.

Incidentially, I received an email the other day from a former student of mine (and apparently a regular reader of the unofficial blog here) named David Brandt. David, who took a couple of classes from me in his last years at EMU (I think he graduated), is now studying to be a personal trainer and nutritionist, and he has the diet plan on his web site that he uses when training and body building. It’s worth checking out, and I guess I have two observations about it:

  • The diet David has here is remarkably similar to “phase 2” of the South Beach diet plan. That’s not to say that David copied it; actually, I think that the South Beach people kind of copied people like David.
  • What David is leaving out here (well, he talks about it on other parts of his site) is that he works out a lot. I mean A LOT. I am convinced that when all is said and done, that is really the only way to lose a significant amount of weight and get in shape.

Which reminds me that I need to walk the dog and get at least a little exercise this morning before I get to work on the textbook….

One thought on “Food wars (and other diet and exercise news)”

  1. Arrrrgg! Need dieting help!
    OK, so about 5 weeks ago I began to change my diet. The first week and 1/2 were great, went from 225 to 215. However these last three weeks or so I've seen NO difference.

    I've changed my eating habits a bit – used to eat fast food about 3 times a week, now maybe once every other week. Used to drink LOTS of soda, eat late late into the night, etc – basically bad eating habits.

    I work out every other day – I ride my exercise bike for 20 minutes (yes not much, I'm building it up every time I ride) and run some during the week.

    However I seemed to have hit a brick wall. Can anyone make some suggestions? I can list my diet if needed, however I don't think there is anything wrong with that and my goals. Anyways…

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