Atkins is everywhere

If you’ve eaten carbohydrates in the past 24 hours, then consider your citizenship to the United States of Atkins denied.

The low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, named after the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins, has classified pasta, bread and candy as the devil. The diet has been around since Richard Nixon was in office and introduced through the publication Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution. Since then the revolution has been reprinted and recently revitalized with a line of Atkins food products.

Instead of systems like the Hollywood diet, which help you shed 20 pounds by drinking a bottle of an unknown orange liquid through the magic of nature’s calling, the Atkins food line provides alternatives to carb-loaded foods. Take for instance the Atkins Endulge Caramel Nut Chew, in which you can “indulge” on chocolate, mixed with dry-roasted peanuts and some chewy caramel substitute that is “all completely sugar free.”

Now you’re probably wondering how many carbs this mouthwatering sweet has so that you can order them in bulk.

Well that depends on how you count. Those who are called “controlled carbers” will tell you there’s 2 grams but the full nutrition facts gives 17 grams. What gives? Well the 2 grams are what’s classified as net carbs. Not being a member of this revolution, I looked up the definition, which basically told me the net carbs seal placed on Atkins packages sells its products better and makes you feel better because there’s the illusion that you’re not really consuming the full carb load.

As you may have seen, Atkins has food products for every meal of the day. I’m sure commercials advertising the new Atkins-friendly wraps at Subway taunted football fans during the playoffs this weekend. Besides, who wants to count yards gained when you can be calculating carbohydrates eaten in ratio to carbs attempted for the day?

The Atkins Web site is even customized so you can keep a journal of your carbohydrate performance for the day, week or hour. I don’t recall Jenny Craig commercials with the Jenny phone number jingle advertised during sporting events. I don’t know of a diet that has been so influential that some of the most popular brands of beer have been making low-carb brew. Then again this is a revolution we’re talking about.

And any good revolution needs some good leaders. If you do some research outside the Atkins site, you’ll find singer Jessica Simpson lost weight on the diet. How’s that for some inspiration? The same woman who thought tuna was chicken and chicken was buffalo meat. But if you’re looking for some good, non-celebrity status success stories, the best yet has to be the one posted as: A Close Call. It is the story of a 30-year-old police officer who was 6’2″ and 290 pounds and had a near fatal heart attack before going on the Atkins diet to lose 78 pounds. Realizing the need to change his diet, he ironically joined the Atkins revolution that health experts have criticized for the long-term effects it could have on the heart and brain because of the high consumption of red meat. Not to mention health experts warn that the heart and brain, two vital organs for living, use carbohydrates for fuel.

But the critics couldn’t ruin the celebration of weight loss and I’m sure not even a military formation at Fort Knox under Gen. George S. Patton could have stopped this revolution. So when it comes to mad cow disease, the rescue of public relations has only said this on behalf of Atkins: Beef is not essential to the diet, in fact you can purchase our products to ensure a healthy diet.

Grace Agostin is a senior majoring in mass communications.