Atkins Is Hardly the ‘Rich Man’s Diet’

Every day, Americans consume heavily processed and refined foods because they mistakenly believe that healthier, more nutritious foods are too expensive to buy on a tight budget.

“It is incorrect and damaging to characterize eating whole foods as a luxury only the rich can afford,” said Colette Heimowitz, vice president of education and research at Atkins Health & Medical Information Services. “While this notion plays into the pockets of manufacturers of processed foods, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Unfortunately, by perpetuating this myth about whole foods, those parties responsible support unhealthy long-term eating habits.”

The Atkins Nutritional Approach and similar regimens have demonstrated their weight loss and health benefits in numerous studies, Heimowitz said. For instance, a six-month study published in the November 2004 Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cardiology demonstrated that a low-carb diet significantly reduces body weight and decreases the level of triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood glucose, and increases the HDL (good) cholesterol.

“One of the best aspects of the Atkins Nutritional Approach is that it is a program that can fit into almost any budget,” Heimowitz said. “It is important for people to realize that with a little ingenuity and creativity in the grocery store and kitchen, they can reap tremendous health benefits from whole foods without having to prepare elaborate gourmet meals.”

Steak, often linked with following Atkins, is not the only available source of protein.

Lower-priced cuts of meat and poultry, ideal in hearty stews and casseroles, for example, offer the same nutritional value as more expensive prime and choice cuts.

Canned fish and less pricey selections such as cod and catfish also can help you control your carbs on a budget. Tofu, another valuable source of protein, can bring diversity to meals without breaking the bank.

Frozen vegetables and fruits — provided that they have no added sugars — are typically less expensive than out-of-season fresh produce but still provide the same dietary value. Frozen broccoli, spinach and berries are great low-carbohydrate flavor enhancers.