Atkins Food Pyramid Aims to Clear Confusion
Critics Say Recommendations Not Based on Science
WebMD News Archive
The Food Pyramid, Atkins Style continued...
Trager says the Atkins Lifestyle Food Guide Pyramid serves as a
graphic representation of the group's approach to weight loss and weight
"With over 30 million people following controlled
carbohydrate nutritional programs, we feel it was important to present our
version of what a controlled carbohydrate nutrition pyramid would look like,
and it was important to clear up misconceptions about what Atkins is and
isn't," Trager tells WebMD.
Trager says those misconceptions and confusions come from
opponents who try to paint Atkins in an incorrect light by suggesting that it's
just about red meat and even some of the copycat diets that have tried to
repackage Atkins and market themselves as a "healthier" version.
The pyramid contains no guidelines for number of servings or
type of food source in each of the categories. Instead, it makes broad
recommendations, such as "Limit and control certain carbohydrates to
achieve and maintain a healthy weight" and "Eat until you are
The Atkins pyramid also rewards increased physical activity
with additional food choices, allowing people to eat more carbohydrates if they
are more active.
"As more energy is expended and activity level is
increased, people can increase their individualized optimal level of
carbohydrates," says Trager.
Building a Better Pyramid
Experts say interpreting those broad guidelines or finding an
"individual carb level" may be problematic for many Americans.
"It means you're leaving a lot to people to figure out what
they need," says Karmally. "Here they say, 'Discover your individual
carb level to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.' How does person without a
background in nutrition find out what is good for them?"
Strong agrees that the Atkins pyramid is too vague.
"It just says eat until you're satisfied," Strong tells
WebMD. "I don't think anyone really knows the definition of satisfied. We
eat what we're given."
Strong acknowledges that most Americans are eating too many
refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and white bread. But other types of
carbohydrates, such as whole grains and oats, are a valuable source of energy,
fiber, and B vitamins and shouldn't be so severely limited.