Bread Sales Down, Pork Rinds Up 30%
December 17, 2003 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Up to 35 million Americans are on a low-carb diet. Food manufacturers have responded with more than 600 new low-carb products this year. Restaurants are altering their menus. Online communities are springing up to share information about the low-carb lifestyle. With this big target market, how hard will corporations push to expand the low-carb movement? Do the health warnings about the diet foretell an increase in medical problems, or will we see a generation of healthy, slender, pork-rind chomping families?
posted by neuroshred (30 comments total)
Discussed here, here, here, but not in the context of the economic/social impact.
posted by neuroshred at 11:30 AM on December 17, 2003

Paging: Mr_Crash_Davis
posted by thomcatspike at 11:48 AM on December 17, 2003

I quit the low carb thing when people asked me if I was DJ Qualls.
posted by bobo123 at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2003

"Paging: Mr_Crash_Davis"

Yeah, thom?

Oh, the low-carb thing! Yes, I've lost over 30 pounds in about eight weeks by switching to a low-carb diet, and I feel fine. Despite what the last link in neuroshred's post says, I also smell just fine too.

However, I think the key has been more in limiting processed foods than reducing carbohydrate intake. We don't buy prepackaged food; instead we buy fresh ingredients and prepare them ourselves. I gave up sugared sodas, which was the vast majority of my carbohydrate intake for the day, and when I don't have any choice but to eat fast food I choose a salad rather than a double-cheeseburger.

I also haven't cut out breads and potatoes, just switched from white bread to whole-grain and from french fries to baked potato.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:54 PM on December 17, 2003

Just be sure you follow it "to the letter," or the diet can be "deadly" according to Collette Heimowitz, vice president of Atkins Health and Medical Information Services
posted by soyjoy at 2:21 PM on December 17, 2003

Ask P. T. Barnum.
posted by rushmc at 2:22 PM on December 17, 2003

when I don't have any choice but to eat fast food

What in the world does that mean? I go whole years without eating fast food. Does someone march you in at gunpoint periodically?
posted by rushmc at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2003

Yep. Processed food, vomited up from fiery pits of hell - Bad.

When fat was declared to be unhealthy, processed food manufacturers responded by loading their "food" up with sugar, and adding hydrogenated fat too - because it wasn't classified as being as evil as cholesterol.

Ha ha.

Now, it's out. Hydrogenated fats and oils are horrible for humans - our bodies haven't evolved mechanisms to break those fats down and so they just float around in our bodies causing havoc as the slowly degrade and oxidize.

And the sugars........well, see there's this wave of early onset diabetes plaguing American teenagers......

I bet the processed food industry will find some new and especially awful way to pervert this new nutritional news.
posted by troutfishing at 2:24 PM on December 17, 2003

In the last six months there has been an explosion of low-carb commercial options in my area, from multiple low-carb bakeries to my favourite local microbrewery making an Atkins-friendly beer. I suspect that the food and restaurant industries will only continue to market to the low-carb eater, much like the massive increase in low-fat diet foods in the 1980s.

However, as someone who has lost a hella amount of weight on low-carb, I agree with mr_crash_davis that the real benefits of the diet come from learning not to rely on prepackaged foods, and therefore I think the increased marketing of premade options will actually reduce the effectiveness of the diet for a majority of people. (Living off Atkins bars and pork rinds is technically a low-carb diet, but it sure doesn't teach you how to eat healthy.)
posted by jess at 2:35 PM on December 17, 2003

I've lost 35 lbs since March--at first on strict, by-the-book Atkins, then on my own low-carb version of "Body for Life." My kidneys haven't fallen out yet. I have at least 30 more pounds to lose, but I'm pleased with my progress so far as I'm lighter now than I have been for at least ten years, and I feel healthier than I have felt since I was a teenager.

I don't think it's any mystery how low-carb diets work...the same as any other diet...calorie reduction. There's no "magic" in ketosis or in lowered carbos, it simply makes it easier to eat less--at least for some people.

My typical day is: Cottage cheese or full-fat yogurt for breakfast, or occasionally bacon and eggs for a treat; lunch = Salad with 1 protein (turkey breast) and "real" dressing, and dinner = 1 protein plus 2 low-carb vegetables, for example broccoli and spinach. I eat a lot of fish and a lot of cruciferous veggies. I use real butter, olive oil and cream liberally, but never touch margarine or other trans-fatty stuff. I'm eating better than I was in ten years of trying to cut the fat and eat "healthy." (What I didn't understand, as many people didn't during the low fat craze, was that Coke is still very bad for you despite the fact that it has no fat in it.)

And of course the processed food industry is getting in on the action. Low-carbers are a huge market, just like the low-fatters were in the 80s. Being in the UK, I haven't relied on processed LC foods because I haven't been able to--and I'm glad of it, as that's forced me to learn how to plan my meals around real foods. This means I can eat healthily wherever I go as long as I give a little attention to planning beforehand.

On preview: I do understand the comment about "no choice" but to eat fast food. Sometimes, due to my poor planning, I have left myself with a choice to either eat fast food, or go hungry. On those occasions I order a burger and just throw the bun out, or grit my teeth and just go hungry.
posted by Tholian at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2003

rushmc, you've never forgotten to pack a lunch, had fifteen minutes to eat and only three dollars in your wallet? In a five-minute radius from where I work, there are plenty of fast-food restaurants but no grocery stores. It does occasionally happen to work out that way.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2003

boys, it's all about the Subway 6" Sweet Onion Teriyaki sandwich when you're on the run. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.
posted by tgrundke at 3:25 PM on December 17, 2003

Yeah, thom?
Crash, your earlier words today:
Yeah, I thought another anti-SUV thread was overdue. Who's up for bashing fat people next?
posted by thomcatspike at 3:51 PM on December 17, 2003

You know, the whole "low carb beer" thing really cracks me up. I mean beer is non-fat, and alcohol is a carbohydrate..... One of my favorites
posted by Eekacat at 4:04 PM on December 17, 2003

gave up sugared sodas, which was the vast majority of my carbohydrate intake for the day,
Have had people tell me the key to their successful wieght loss was giving upn the sodas.

early onset diabetes plaguing American teenagers
Take the corn out of your diet: USA largest farming harvest. Corn Syrup is in everthing...think the governent likes these "......." diets as it hides the real problem.

health warnings
Feel the one's heard lately may be misleading w/o better deatail: atkins diet kills. My friends whom have gone on the atkins diet eat as many: eggs, suasage, bacon as they want for breakfest, yet no grains or fruit juices. Besides the diet, the consumption here that you can eat as much as you want, will kill you. Added I think all diets are good but today the word diet is used wrong giving a bad meaning. Diet is the food you eat, hope everyone eats.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:07 PM on December 17, 2003

you can eat as much as you want

The trick is, on the Atkins diet, you want less. People assume that if you're overweight it's because you want a lot of food, but you want a lot of food because you're literally hungry all the time. Take away the constant hunger and your appetite normalizes.
posted by kindall at 4:13 PM on December 17, 2003


I read with interest an article about bakeries that were seeing a lull in business because of the no/low carb craze.

Because you know.. we became a nation of alarmingly obese because we eat too much bread.

People are eagerly waiting for that magic diet, pill, workout that will drop the pounds.

Hey.. how about a balanced diet? and some exercise? Bread and beer and pasta aren't going to kill you; it's all about moderation.

I'm down 94 pounds since last summer and 75 since mid April.
No diet.. I changed my life and lifestyle and started using a little common sense.

and to answer your question.. this fad will pass like all the others before them. Low Carb doesn't make you healthy.. a balance dietary intake combined sensable exercise will help to make you healthier.
posted by Latitude11 at 4:42 PM on December 17, 2003

Based on a statistically insignificant sample (i.e., my friends and acquaintances), for the most part, the ones who have done very well on Atkins or other low-carb diets have been men. The women have struggled and had little-to-no success despite eating exactly the same as their husbands/boyfriends who were shedding pounds like crazy. I know there was a Salon article a few weeks ago that compared low-carb dieting to overclocking one's computer, and I thought it was incredibly interesting that the only people they seemed to talk to who had great results were men.

As I said, my sample's not particularly significant, but it does strike me as interesting that this *may* be a eating pattern that works better for men than for women.
posted by eilatan at 4:46 PM on December 17, 2003

rushmc, you've never forgotten to pack a lunch, had fifteen minutes to eat and only three dollars in your wallet?

In that scenario, I'd wait for dinner. But then, I rarely eat lunch anyway.

Obviously, I realize that this option wouldn't be attractive for everyone, but on the other hand, I think rewarding yourself with fast food for forgetting to pack a healthy lunch is counterproductive in the long run, too.
posted by rushmc at 4:56 PM on December 17, 2003

rewarding yourself with fast food for forgetting to pack a healthy lunch

Fueling your body is necessary not just rewarding. There are fast food options one can choose that would be healthier then skipping a meal entirely.
posted by Latitude11 at 5:02 PM on December 17, 2003

Itmuhns mummns crunmms some people fumnms drumbllms this sort ofrumms brummsds works just finmumhs and I swear byrumps for me.
posted by HTuttle at 5:11 PM on December 17, 2003

alcohol is a carbohydrate
Alcohol is not a carbohydrate, alcohol is alcohol.

how low-carb diets work...the same as any other diet...calorie reduction. There's no "magic" in ketosis
ketosis is "magic" in that it gives you a metabolic advantage and you lose more weight eating more calories than low-fat dieters

Dean Ornish sells a competing diet, how can you take seriously his opinion about Atkins?

I have lost 105 lbs on Atkins since last thanksgiving. At the next NYC MeFiesta no one is going to recognize me (just ask BT) and everyone's going to want a piece.
posted by palegirl at 5:11 PM on December 17, 2003

I don't think it's any mystery how low-carb diets work...the same as any other diet...calorie reduction. There's no "magic" in ketosis or in lowered carbos, it simply makes it easier to eat less--at least for some people.

I couldn't disagree more. I've lost 60 lbs. on the Eades' version of low-carbing, and while the weight loss is a fine thing, the best thing about the diet for me is the other effects -- a steady energy level all day rather than soar, crash, and burn, no excessive sweating, no acid reflux, and no sleep apnea. I feel 10 years younger... and then there's the weight loss.

The magic in low-carbing is the absence of the black magic that carbs work on my metabolism. I was meant to eat this way.
posted by digaman at 6:05 PM on December 17, 2003

And by the way, you don't need to buy all the jive crap that all these low-carb celebs sell on their websites. You just need to find out how to do the diet, and do it.
posted by digaman at 6:08 PM on December 17, 2003

Alcohol is a carbohydrate, what definition are you using?
posted by Eekacat at 6:50 PM on December 17, 2003

(that is ethanol can be BOTH a carbohydrate and an alcohol)
posted by Eekacat at 6:53 PM on December 17, 2003

The metabolism of alcohol is quite different from the metabolism of carbohydrates, is the point. Alcohol is metabolized by the liver, while carbs are addressed by the secretion of insulin. That's why sugar alcohols such as maltitol aren't counted as "available carbs" in Atkins products.
posted by kindall at 10:45 PM on December 17, 2003

I've lost a ton of weight on Atkins and I drink like a fish. I just quit putting tonic water in my vodka. Not only do I feel so much better in general (word, digaman), but even the hangovers are about five times less crippling.

When you start paying attention to how much sugar is in everything, it's really shocking. There is no earthly reason to put sugar in Caesar salad dressing, for example. I find now that I shop on the outskirts of the supermarket - the produce, meat and dairy areas, where the "real" food is. Everything in the aisles is full of sugar.

(And yes, there are times when fast food is the only option: in airports, or small American towns at 10 p.m. for example. It's a little gross, but not hard, to eat a whopper without the bun.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2003

Fueling your body is necessary not just rewarding.

Periodically, sure, but not on the strict and artificial schedule known as "lunch," so why confuse the issue? No one is suggesting that there aren't more healthy and less healthy choices available in fast food joints, only that even the "more healthy" options are sometimes not sufficiently healthy to warrant selection (and there is a lot of documentation to this effect).

I congratulate all of you who have been successful in your efforts to lose weight! I simply think it's important to monitor your total health as you go along so you don't get hit by unexpected side effects, and personally I'm quite suspicious of Atkins based upon my reading. But then, I'm more of a fan of moderation in all things and predisposed to some skepticism about any extreme approach or technique.

:::wolfwhistles at palegirl:::
posted by rushmc at 7:12 AM on December 18, 2003

Well, I eat all the time and never gain a pound.

Vegan and proud!
posted by Outlawyr at 6:28 AM on December 19, 2003

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