Type of Counseling: none, do-it-yourself
Typical Cost: varies widely--depending on how much company brand foods purchased
online, do-it-yourself plan
Type of Foods Used:
grocery store food or company diet foods
(shakes, bars, candy)
At-Home or Direct Mail Plan Available? Yes
The Atkins Center
152 E. 55th St.
New York, NY 10022
212-758-2110 or 1-800-2-ATKINS
105 Maxess Road,
Melville, NY 11747
Carb (low carb fresh food home delivery service)
718 SE Shurfine Drive
The late Dr. Atkins, long a competitor and name in the American weight loss market, by virtue of his bestselling books dating back to the 1970s and unconventional approach to weight loss, has become an "industry" unto himself, with revenues of the company he founded topping an estimated $200 million
at its peak a few years ago (not including sales of his books). The low carb
movement the late Dr. Atkins sparked did last almost two years before waning
in popularity in 2005.
The shift in dieter preferences and media coverage has been
dramatic, to the point that Atkins Nutritionals had so much extra stock on
hand that it donated food products to charity in early 2005.
The end of the low carb craze forced the company to file for
bankruptcy, which it emerged from, a smaller and streamlined operation, on
Jan. 10, 2006. The firm has a new strategy and is no longer selling a broad
line of its own low carb products. Rather, it now sells nutrition bars,
shakes, candy and software for using the Atkins approach with your phone,
Palm organizer, or PC. The average price of the bars is $2.09 and the shakes
cost $6.999 for 4.
company reduced its product offerings from 340 to 60 nutrition bars and
Atkins At Home service is gone, now handled under a different name by
part of its repositioning efforts, the company has committed $40 million to
promote Atkins Advantage and its unique nutrition advantage. It re-launched
www.atkins.com and launched a new advertising campaign in
People, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Business Week, New York Times, Life, and Sports Illustrated.
company also offer free online courses, constituting its ďAtkins UniversityĒ
or Learning Center.
Under the new approach of ďcontrolled carbs, as opposed to low-carb, and a
lot more focus on the glycemic index, the company has a much smaller target
market, people concerned with healthy eating, ones with medical conditions
such as diabetes and heart problems, and wellness in general.
Atkins now sells higher quality, better tasting products
that will appeal to a broader audience. Products are claimed to have higher protein, fiber, vitamins and
minerals, low sugar and no trans fats, vs. the competition. It also
The bars and shakes are available in 30,000+ retail locations in the U.S.
The company has also placed more emphasis on consumer
education and offers free online "courses", via the Atkins University. These
courses have lessons, assignments and quizzes, with lots of useful content.
An example is "Using nutrition to optimize your exercise". Besides the
content, you will also see ads and links to various Atkins products for
sale, so these courses do have a marketing objective as well. Nevertheless,
you can go online and join the community via message boards and discussion
groups that provide you with a support network. You can also custom tailor
your Atkins eating plan via eDiets.com.
The latest buzzword in dieting is "glycemic index". However,
Atkins has always been a low glycemic approach. Almost 40 years ago, Dr.
Atkins stressed the effect of food on blood sugar and insulin levels and
explained why foods with a significant impact on blood sugar (processed
carbohydrates) were exactly what you don't want on your dinner plate. The
higher a food's GI, the faster and greater its effect on your blood sugar.
The Atkins multi-product empire now includes or has included the following products and services:
The Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine
Bestselling diet books
Shakes and nutrition bars
Website, with e-commerce store, selling books, nutritional supplements, bars, essential oils, lipolysis strips/home test kit, weight loss starter pak, carb counter, etc.
Robert C. Atkins, the weight-loss guru whose low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet was adopted by millions of people despite concern over its potential dangers, died April 17, 2003, at age 72. It seems as though the low-carb craze had
gained even more strength since his passing, before fading.
The Atkins Philosophy
Atkins first advocated his unorthodox plan, which emphasizes meat, eggs and cheese and discourages bread, rice and fruit, in his 1972 book, Dr. Atkinsí Diet Revolution. When the book was published, the medical establishment was promoting a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. The American Medical Association dismissed the Atkins diet as nutritional folly and Congress summoned him to Capitol Hill to defend the plan.
Despite this, Atkinsí books sold 15 million copies and his diet attracted millions of followers. His philosophy enjoyed a revival in the 1990s with Dr. Atkinsí New Diet Revolution, which spent five years on The New York Times bestseller list. His most recent book, Atkins for Life, also made the N.Y. Timesí bestseller list. Other Atkins books push his total sales to more than 21 million books.
Though he first hit the bestseller list in the early 1970ís with Dr. Atkinsí Diet Revolution, he is enjoying a dizzying turnaround in public perception. He has been dismissed by mainstream medicine as a quack for much of his career, but now, for the first time, some scientists are willing to entertain the possibility that there may be something to his low-carb diet.
The low-carb "movement" became a stampede when a July 2002 New York Times Magazine cover story suggesting that Atkinsís much-maligned anti-carb approach might not just lower your weight but might actually be good for you. The Times article almost overnight spawned what one nutrition expert calls "carbophobia." The story, subtitled "What if Itís All Been a Big Fat Lie?," made a compelling case that Atkinsís low-carb, high-fat doctrine not only worked but could be healthier than mainstream alternativesóthat, in fact, eating a diet low in fat might be the culprit behind the U.S. obesity epidemic. The company bought the rights to the story, posting it on the website and mailing it to retailers, nutritionists, and other contacts. The tidal wave of publicity the story spawned influenced longer-term strategies.
In the summer of 2000, Atkins brought in fresh management to run Atkins Nutritionals. A group called Atkins Health and Medical Information Services was formed, which aimed at reaching not just consumers but also "influencers" like reporters, physicians, and government officials. It produced a quarterly research newsletter about the latest science on low-carb eating, and greatly expanded the companyís website to more than 7,000 pages.
It isnít just Atkinsís theories that still draw criticisms. During his 30 years of practice, he has been named in a number of malpractice lawsuits over some of his unorthodox medical techniques. Questions about Atkinsís medical reputation have never seemed to resonate with the millions of people whoíve tried his diet. Despite its message that the diet is safe and effective, the science is far from settled.
How The Atkins Approach Works
The Atkins Nutrionals approach is a controlled carbohydrate lifetime nutritional philosophy, focusing on the consumption of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods, vitanutrient supplementation and exercise. Atkins restricts processed/refined carbohydrates (which make up more than 50% of many peopleís diets), such as high sugar foods, breads, pasta, cereal and starchy vegetables. Core vitanutrient supplementation includes a full spectrum multivitamin and an essential oils/fatty acids formula.
It consists of four phases:
Ongoing weight loss
The first phase of Atkins, Induction, is the most difficult for most dieters. It throws your metabolism into ketosis. It allows 20 grams of carbohydrates a day (about 3 cups of salad and vegetables) and liberal amounts of protein and fats/oils (including fish, foul, meat, eggs, olive and other healthy oils and butter.). During Ongoing Weight Loss, carbohydrate consumption can be liberalized slightly (normally after two weeks of Induction) and is followed for as many weeks or months as it takes to get close to the individualís weight goal.
Carbohydrate intake is increased based on the individualís response to Induction, as well as age, weight, gender and activity level (normally 5 additional grams of carbohydrates per week). Throughout Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance, followers will continue to increase their intake of carbohydrates in the form of whole, nutrient-dense foods including low-glycemic fruits, whole grains and vegetables.
The Atkins Website
At the Atkins website (www.atkins.com), you will find a wide variety of his special foods for sale, including: baked goods, bars and shakes, beverages, condiments, desserts, lunch and dinner items, snacks, lipolysis strips, his books, a carb counter, test kit, starter kit, and supplements. The website also provides:
Online educational courses
A free newsletter
Request a mail order catalog
In addition, you can register for the "My Atkins" services, free of charge. With this, you get a personal guide where you may keep a journal of your progress, weight loss statistics, a recipe box, a carb grams counter, a shopping list, etc. The Atkins website does NOT currently have interactive features such as chat rooms or a way of contacting their dietitians, for example.
PurFoods, Fresh Start (formerly
called Atkins At Home)
Atkins' main company used to be in the diet food home delivery
business. No longer. It is handled by another company now, based in Iowa, called
PurFoods, which, among other meal plans, offers a low carb plan called
PurFoods, Low Carb.
Customers are said to be 70% women and 30% men. The typical client uses the
plan for 6 weeks, at a cost of about $1,500 and itís common for a client to
return several times a year. Clients are usually urban and affluent. Many
are busy executives.
How The Service Works
All PurFoods diet delivery
meals are designed by a staff of registered dietitians, prepared by their
Culinary Institute of America trained chefs and packaged and shipped in our
USDA-approved and inspected facilities. You can create your own menu by
choosing from hundreds of delicious meals (breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and
snacks) and have them delivered to your door, FRESH.
offers a weekly delivery program of freshly prepared meals and snacks
delivered to your door. Atkins at Home(TM) was licensed by Atkins
Nutritionals, Inc. Weekly delivery is available throughout the United
States. Both programs have a 14-day food cycle, so you're guaranteed plenty
of variety in your menu.
All food is
prepared fresh, not frozen, without preservatives or trans fats. You can
eliminate specific meats, fruits, vegetables, spices or other ingredients
from your meals if you have an allergy or dislike them.
In addition to
controlling the net carb intake, Atkins at Home(TM) also controls portion
size. It is normal to feel a little hungry after the first 3 -5 days of the
prepared 7 days at a time and delivered to your door once a week. The food
is shipped from Iowa. You can elect to receive food for only 5 days a week
if that better suits your needs, however it is not recommended.
Food is packed
securely in custom designed refrigerated coolers with gel packs and FedEx
delivers them to your door.
$22.85 per day
plus shipping and handling ($980 plus shipping for 28 days)
All orders for
programs must be for 21 days at a time.
At $500 for 3
weeks, this program is not for the faint of wallet. This is a premium-priced
diet food home delivery service that will appeal to affluent dieters but not
necessarily middle America. Using Atkins program foods for more than the
short term was never inexpensive.
To Order, information: (877-913-7374),
Other Ways To Do Atkins
The largest diet website, eDiets.com, licensed an online version/adaptation of the Atkins program in April 2003. As an eDiets subscriber, you can access this for eDietsí
usual $5 per week fee. Of course, this does not include any Atkins foods or
In late 2002, Eric C. Westman, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, was seeking funding to continue his research and other studies are also putting the Atkins diet to the test. The National Institute of Health has begun a 5-year study to determine if the Atkins plan is not only effective but also safe for the heart.
But, the long-term safety of the Atkins diet poses another set of questions that future studies must answer. "There is clearly short-term danger," said Neal Barnard, MD, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C. based, nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine and conducts clinical research studies. One recently published study showed the Atkins diet produced changes in the body that increased the likelihood of kidney stones, he noted.
The studies say nothing about how much people lose when they stay on Atkins more than a few months, whether they keep the weight of for good and whether their cholesterol rebounds when they stop losing weight.
Nevertheless, three decades of dietary gospel are in doubt, and those questioning it include some of the most prominent names in obesity research. For instance, one of the new studies was conducted with Drs. Samuel Klein and James Hill, the current and past presidents of North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO).
Why people lose more weight on the diet is also not clear, although some researchers say they buy one of Atkinsí arguments: people stick with it because fat and protein satisfy the appetite. Eating lots of carbohydrates raises insulin levels, lowers blood sugar, and eventually makes people ravenous.
Despite these results, many of the researchers who did the studies are reluctant to recommend the Atkins diet for now, saying they know too little about its long-term effects. Everything the medical community knows points to a high fat intake increasing your risk for heart disease and cancer.
A large new study just under way could settle those doubts. This federally sponsored project will randomly put 360 overweight men and women on the Atkins plan or the U.S. Department of Agricultureís standard high-carb, low-fat diet, then watch them in painstaking detail for at least two years.
Dieters like the Atkins low-carb program because it does produce
significant weight loss in a short time period, contrary to many other programs
that produce 2 lbs. Lost per week. They also like it because they can eat some
of their favorite high fat foods that taste good (steaks, cheeseburgers, bacon,
eggs, cheese, etc.). However, it is very difficult for many to maintain this
plan over the long term, after a lifetime of eating things like potatoes, bread,
muffins, and pasta. You canít change those cravings overnight. And, dieters do
tire of eating the same things every day.
Another big drawback is the potentially sky-high cost, if you start buying a lot of Atkinsí special formulated products. Perhaps we should call this the "affluent" diet,
especially the home delivery service offered by PurFoods.
So far, medical experts have not proven anything bad about the program. Time is the true test.
The information on this web site
is intended for information
purposes only and is not
intended as a substitute for
medical advice. Before
starting any weight loss
program, it is recommended that
you consult your physician or
other health care professional.
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