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Atkins Food Pyramid Aims to Clear Confusion

Critics Say Recommendations Not Based on Science

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.

"I don't like them being at very top of the Atkins pyramid," says Strong. "I could understand refined sugars, simple sugars and things like that, being at the very top but not the whole grains."

Although the current food guide pyramid may be flawed, both Karmally and Strong say there's just too little evidence to support the Atkins pyramid as a healthy choice.

"What we need to tell the American public is how to eat healthily based on science," says Karmally. "The current pyramid was developed with the science that was available at the time it was developed, which was really focusing on a plant-based diet."

"The Atkins food guide pyramid is really not based on science, she says. "We need a lot more science to know what long-term effects of eating so much more protein are."

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