Atkins, Greed and the Fairy Tale Cookies

Can you eat cookies on a low carb diet? The Atkins company claims that you can and sells them in all kinds of flavors. After having a look at the ingredients I can just laugh at the irony.

In my online “Food Revolution” presentation I used the cookies as one example of fake low carb products. Commercial junk that stops weight loss and makes people (rightly) lose all their respect for low carb. I called the marketing a “fairy tale”.

After more than a hundred thousand views of the video on YouTube, the Atkins company just started paying attention. Yesterday they sent me a mail: 

The mail

Hello Dr. Eenfeldt,
I follow your site and recently watched your presentation “The Food Revolution” on YouTube and thought you may be interested in seeing the latest research tables supporting Atkins and low-carb diets that Colette Heimowitz, VP of Nutrition Communication at ANI has generated. There are more than 80 independent, peer-reviewed studies backing the safety and efficacy of the Atkins Diet. As you know, low carbohydrate eating is a time-tested and scientifically validated diet plan. They are attached.

I also would like to provide you with correct information about Atkins products. Atkins products have been clinically tested for blood sugar responses using the glycemic load methodology; (http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/3/1/33). We take pride in offering our customers products that have a minimal glycemic impact. There are simply some consumers who need a low sugar alternative to high sugar habits for better compliance.

In your presentation you showcase an Atkins brand cookie and highlight it as a “fairy tale” option that is high in carbohydrates, when in fact the Atkins cookies are a smarter option – than a regular cookie would be – as they contain zero sugar and only 5 grams net carbs. Here is a link to learn more about the nutritional content: http://www.atkins.com/Products/Endulge/Chocolate-Creme-Sandwich-Cookies.aspx

I’d also be happy to send you a copy of the new Atkins cookbook “The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook” by Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc. featuring 200 simple and delicious low-carb recipes. Please let me know your mailing address.
Thanks for your consideration. Please let me know if you’d like to speak with Colette who can offer additional insights. I am happy to keep you informed about the latest news from Atkins.

Best regards,
Aliza Rothman

The marketing

The reality

Here are the cookie nutrition facts from the Atkins website:

My reply

Hi Aliza,

The biggest ingredient in your cookie is wheat flour. It’s loaded with carbs, i.e. calling it low carb is obviously a fairy tale.

Also, subtracting 100% of the sugar alcohol from “net carbs” is misleading to your customers as about half of the maltitol is absorbed.

Regarding the studies you attach I agree: low carb works fine. The problem is that your cookies are not low carb.

Sincerely,
Andreas Eenfeldt

A tip

How do you know that the marketing of a packaged low carb product is a fairy tale? In my experience the following simple rule is true at least 99 percent of the time:

If they use the words “net carbs” it’s not low carb, it’s high carb.

What do you think about this?

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62 Comments

Top Comments

  1. moreporkplease
    Brandon has a very good point - and I appreciate this personal experience, because he speaks for a lot of folks like himself, I'm sure.

    I think it's so important to separate the diet, the Atkins community, as well as Colette Heimowitz, Dr. Westman, Dr. Phinney, and Dr. Volek from the Corporation. Atkins Nutritionals (ANA) is now owned by a venture capital firm, and they are interested only in selling the cheapest products with the biggest logo.

    Those who actually worked with Dr. Atkins, such as Colette and Dr. Westman, remain with the "brand" out of affection for the late Dr. Atkins. He launched the products originally so he could raise money to conduct studies at a time when no one would do a low-carb study. If you speak to Colette on the Atkins community forum, she always encourages real food. She will tell you to "limit" the bars. She does not encourage eating them, which must make her capitalistic employers most displeased.

    And yet they do give her enough freedom to be honest, possibly because they need her, as she is just about their last link to the Dr. himself.

    If you go to the Atkins forum, they are the sweetest people there. The majority are middle-aged, very sick people - 100, 150, 200 lbs. to lose, T2D, heart disease - you name it. One lady there began at 430 pounds! She is now down to 200, due to the support and guidance of that loving community. The people on that forum are used to nothing but scorn due to their diabetes and size - so they are really very helpful and supportive. They will coach, they will guide, they cheerlead everyone. The Atkins forum is the best thing ANA does.

    The community members on the forum are very vocal about avoiding the products. The advice from them constantly is to regard the products as junk food. Everyone in the low-carb community - everyone in the Atkins community - all the doctors, and Colette - they are all in polite but vocal disagreement with how the capitalists who own ANA have run the brand.

    We must separate the Atkins community and Colette and the doctors from the actions of the corporation. If only the capitalists would come talk to the community - they would learn how to make profits without abusing the core messages of Dr. Atkins himself. Everyone would benefit.

    Read more →
  2. I don't fault ANA at all. In fact, I appreciate them. Do I think their products are frankenfood and shouldn't be consumed? Absolutely. But two years and a hundred pounds ago I needed something to lose weight. I did Atkins. I am now living Paleo, but if you had told me two years ago that I needed to be low carb AND give up cheese, wheat, beans and artificial sweeteners, I never would have done it. Atkins to me was a stepping stone. I had one of their shakes every day for the first year. I tried their bars but realized they stalled my weight loss and cut them out, even though I didn't understand why. Over the last two years, I have learned a lot and my eating patterns have changed as a result of that learning. I think Atkins is a fine place for people to get their toes wet before jumping in to a proper HFCL, real foods way of eating. And I really don't fault them for selling their products. They have to make money. How else would they pay for their FREE website with a wonderful community? Ultimately, it is the consumers' fault for not learning and doing their own research if they continue to buy the crappy products. In the mean time, Atkins is just serving up what the market demands. If that can be a stepping stone to eating real food for more people, then so be it. I am a fan.
    Read more →
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All Comments

  1. Robin
    This site is a trip. Lots of talk from people NOT on Atkins. Personally, I don't use the product of Atkins and most serious Atkins folks don't either. They have a funky aftertaste. I've lost 16 lbs. Also, you can't GO ON AND GO OFF low-carb. Atkins site shows how to add back in carbs at a healthy level. I have found my energy to be awesome as well as my moods completely stabilized without all the sugar and high glycemic foods.

    As with most things, clean, natural, healthy, is the best plan...

    MIM's are awesome and flaxmeal is a great item! If almond meal works best for you, great. For sweetener, stevia is the BEST.

    Eat responsibly!

  2. Alexandra M
    Muffin in a Minute update: My little experiment was a great success! Adding about 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of dry yeast to the batter dramatically improves the flavor. I think the problem with a lot of low-carb bread substitutes is that people forget that yeast is what gives bread a lot of its characteristic flavor - at least that's the flavor I crave.

    Too bad sourdough starter doesn't work the same way. :(

  3. Galina L.
    I tried the muffin recipe, it was a good thing to eat with cheese and butter. I skipped sweetener and flax seeds - just used 1/4 cup of almonds meal, one egg, backing powder, dash of salt. Why to encourage people to sweeten everything? It didn't require a sweetener at all. I don't plan to use the recipe often because I think it is a good idea not to substitute high-carbs foods with the LC equivalent. Theoretically, there is nothing wrong with it, but many people who eat LC deserts regularly regain weight. I want to be on a safe side. Also, soft-boiled eggs with a butter for a breakfast is a preferable food food for me.
  4. Michael Smith
    i think these are a "smarter" option than say oreos or any other cookies. some people like myself who have successfully lost a lot of weight on a LCHF diet would like to indulge in the sinful foods every now and then. i much rather have a atkins bar over a sneakers anyday. im 21 so maybe my young metabolism can handle "frakenfoods" cause they simply dont make me gain and in small quantities i remain in ketosis.
  5. Hossein Mirahmadzadeh
    Dear Sir,
    We are purchasing your products internaly to distribute in Iran market, but unfortunately, we are afraid these products could be faked one coming from other south east Asia, therefore, we will be glad if you kindly let us know we can purchase your products directly from your factory with competetive prices and distribute them in our market, and we have sister company located in Toranto Canada, which can make the direct business such as payment, delivery, and etc.
    Therefore, we are very glad to hear from your side if you can supply us your products directly and what will be your minimum purchase for our first order at the moment.
    we are waiting to receive your positive reply,
    Best Regards,
    Corrdial Co.Ltd.
    H.Mirahmadzadeh
  6. 23g of carbs=FAIL
    Comes in a box=FAIL
    Contains wheat=FAIL
    10 ingredients=FAIL
  7. @John

    You forgot:
    Requires a nutrition label=FAIL

  8. Hey Now
    These cookies are nowhere near 5g carbs. Maltitol has 2.1g of energy (kcals) compared to 4g in sucrose, so at best you could halve the sugar alcohol carbs, not subtract them.

    23g - 5g fiber - (12/2=6)g sugar alcohol = 12g carbs / bar.

    I find it so irresponsible of the Atkins brand to trick their customers like this. So many of their foods have maltitol in them!

  9. Lu Smith
    I am so sorry that Atkins gets such a bad rap. He, the actual Dr. Atkins, wanted to find the truth and he looked and did research himself and found some great truths that have been at the "new" forefront of finding our way through the crap the government and educational institutions have been cooking up for decades now.

    I admire men who search and face personal slander and occupational failure when they put their findings on the line which prove over and over again to be true, only to be shunned and ridiculed by silver-tongued critics.

    As a side note, Atkins have come up with meat and complex carb, frozen dinners, much to my happiness.

  10. LynneD
    I was interested to see if your site gave any credit to Dr Atkins, who was maligned until the day of his death for saying exactly what you are. Fortunately I live in a country where we don't have a culture of consuming pre-prepared foods, and have no access to the Atkins products. I discovered Atkins (in it's original form as a simple diet) and for the first time found a diet that helped me lose weight effectively. The thing is, some people are far less tolerant of carbs than others. People like me are like alcoholics...I am completely intolerant of starchy foods. I can feel the impact of eating them almost immediately; so ANY "lower-carb" options are no options at all. Some people are far more tolerant of a higher carb intake and may be able to tolerate "a little of what you fancy" but for people like me, that's just not going to work.
    Reply: #61
  11. Zepp
    I can tell you that this site do give all the credits to Dr Atkins, as he deserv, and to Dr Kwasnievsky, and to Mr Banting, to Brilliat Savarin and to a lot of fore runners about low carb living!
  12. Anon
    I'm a type one diabetic. I tried an "Atkins" bar the other day (albeit with some amount of skepticism upon reading the elaborate ingredients list). When I bit into it, I thought it actually tasted like it contained "real" sugar, so I checked the ingredients and the nutritional panel. Anyway, my blood sugar raised after eating it. Then I had to give myself two more insulin shots from my pump just to get it back down to normal again.

    Could of been the sugar alcohols they contain, but at least I know now that when I have a rare craving for chocolate, I'd rather eat a small serving of the plain, then have a frankenfood which still raises my blood sugar like crazy. Plus it's a lot cheaper and has a lot less ingredients usually.

    Would be quite interesting to see what happens to other diabetics blood sugars after eating these products...very interesting indeed :)

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