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Low-carb is not just Atkins – current diet trends with restricted carbohydrate intake

A recent report by Deloitte (Consumer Food and Product Insights 2011) shows that 62% of the consumers surveyed would be interested in more food products available for sale that are low carbohydrate. Food Navigator-USA remarked that “Given the demise of Atkins, a surprising number (six out of 10) … claimed that they would like to see more low-carb foods available in stores.”

Food companies are often stuck on the idea that low-carb foods are only for people following Atkins, South Beach, and other diets that are labeled as low-carb; because they’re out of the news they may think that the trend has disappeared. However, there are a lot of currently popular weight loss diets and medical recommendations that suggest reducing carbs, especially refined carbs. There are currently around 823,000 Google searches a month in the USA for “low carb” according to the Google Keyword Tool – the trend is still current. Here are the currently popular low-carb diets by another name.

Low-carb diets: Currently popular weight loss diet and healthy eating books with low-carb recommendations

The 17-Day Diet

The 17-Day Diet by Mike Moreno (#12 selling book – all books, not just diet books – on Amazon USA at the time of writing / #1 & #2 weight loss book) – during phase 1 of and phase 2, you’re encouraged to avoid or limit starchy foods and sugars. In phase 3 you can reintroduce unrefined starches and all fruits.

Dukan Diet

The Dukan Diet by Pierre Dukan (#25 all books / #3 weight loss books) diet bans starchy foods, sugars, and fruits in the first “attack” and second “cruise” phases, and limits them in the third “consolidation” phase.

The 4-Hour Body

The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss (#35 all books / #4 & #6 weight loss books) has a number of different diet recommendations. The slow-carb diet calls for avoiding “white” carbs and fruit 6 days a week.

Atkins diet and South Beach diet

You thought these were gone? Wrong! They’re still top-selling diet books.

The New Atkins for a New You by Eric C. Westman, Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek (#251 all books / #14 weight loss books) has been re-written by doctors, and now requires that you eat leafy green vegetables from the beginning of the diet. Lean meats are preferred. The previous version of the book, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins, is also still selling.

The South Beach Diet Supercharged by Arthur Agatston (#426 all books/#30 weight loss books) has been updated with new information on healthy eating, and it’s still a top seller. The original book, The South Beach Diet, is also still selling.

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes (#372 all books/#25 weight loss books) is a follow-up to his book Good Calories, Bad Calories, giving the history behind the anti-fat movement and suggesting that carbs are actually the macronutrient that increase insulin secretion and cause weight gain. He advocates a no-sugar, no-starch diet.

Low-carb caveman diets

If you look at Amazon’s bestselling diet and nutrition books this year, you’ll often find a paleo diet as at least one of the top ten books. Although these diets can differ slightly from each other, in general they call for not eating grains (including wheat and flour), legumes, and sugars, and to eat starchy vegetables and sometimes even fruits in moderation. Although some unprocessed carbohydrates are allowed on these diets, looking for a low-carb label may be an easy filter for people looking for suitable foods for paleo diets. Top sellers: The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf (#257 all books/#13 weight loss books), Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso (#279/#17), The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain (#357/#20), and Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson (#420/#27).

Currently popular low carb medical diet recommendations


Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber (#385 all books / #4 cancer book), with over 2 million copies sold, calls for people to reduce foods with a high glycemic index (sugar, white flour, etc.)

Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS): Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia

The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) book by Natasha Campbell-McBride (#284 all books) advocates a specific carbohydrate diet, avoiding grains, starchy vegetables, and processed sugars but allowing certain fruits.

Conclusion: Food companies should still offer low-carb options

How can food companies and recipe writers meet these demands? Offer:

  • Savory snacks, starters, and entrees consisting of proteins and unstarchy vegetables
  • Whole-grain and sprouted grain options for starches, rather than processed, high-GI white flour-based starches
  • Desserts without refined carbs

What low carb meals, menus, products, or recipes are you offering that meet today’s low-carb trend?

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Meredith August 5, 2011, 2:11 am

    Really great post. I’m so happy to see Gary Taubes’ books getting notice. Those of us who’ve battled weight for years are so READY for something that will work long term. I love it that you suggest food companies starting to offer low carb foods. If we BUY ,they will offer! That’s why we have so much low fat food now — we all believed that low fat was the answer and they met that market. So we can probably look forward to some cool snacks from them!

    • Penny Hammond August 8, 2011, 12:05 am

      Thanks Meredith!
      As you probably read in Gary Taubes’ books, the government and medical establishment really got on the low-fat bandwagon, and many of them are still on it. There are a lot of studies claiming that low fat diets are unhelpful or that there are other issues with our diet (just as there were previously a lot of studies claiming that low-fat was the way to go). The USDA plate seems to be a big step forward, and maybe some companies will take more notice of the bottom half of the plate because of demand!

  • Neos Marmaras Apartmani August 7, 2011, 2:42 pm

    The 4-Hour Body was and still is very helpful for my diet plans. Eliminate drinking calories, eat same meals over and over again and be low on pasta, bread, and all kind of pastries. I’ve lost 15lbs in two months (but exercised two times a week)

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