The Lowdown on Low Carb Diets

In the 30 years the so-called Atkins diet has been around, we've all heard good things about it and bad.

Both diet success stories and warnings about a possible link to kidney stones and other health problems.

It may be hard to sort it all out, but one thing is for sure, the diet is still very popular. Right here in Evansville, a company called Carbolite specializes in low carb food, everything from candy bars to pancake mix. Each year for the last two, the company's profits have grown a whopping 400%. Carbolite president Gary Morrison says, "When we started, Atkins was almost like dirty word in the diet."

It's gone back and forth and now the latest word on Atkins is right down the middle. The Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed more than a hundred scientific articles and concludes there's not enough evidence to "make recommendations for or against the use of low-carb diets."

Registered dietitian Janelle Weatherholt says, "I would say people are confused. Very confused." Weatherholt tells her patients they can try the low carb foods, and will probably have some diet success, but it will only be short-lived. "What it comes down to is basically you're not going to be able to exclude those foods for the rest of your life. You're going to go back to eating them someday so instead of 'yo-yoing,' going from gaining weight, to losing weight to gaining weight, it's just the overall emphasis of watching what you eat, watching your portion sizes, so you can add those foods back in."

That's Carbolite's hook. Dieters can have long term success because they don't have to give up their favorite foods. And the idea is catching on. Toward the end of his life, more researchers were backing Dr. Atkins.

Morrison says, "It really had a significant turnaround and it really did significant things to Carbolite as well because the proof is now showing that cutting carbs is better for people and it's a good way to go."

We can't say that for sure just yet. The bottom line here is the Journal of the American Medical Association says more long term studies need to be done before we know if the diet is safe. On a related note, Carbolite was recently fined $1,000 by officials in Florida for understating the amount of carbs in their chocolate chip cookies. A spokesperson for the company says they plan to contest the fine.

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