When news hit a couple of months back that Kim Kardashian had shed her post baby weight by following Atkins (a low carbohydrate diet), my initial reaction was certainly that of a split one. On one hand I thought not only was this great for Kim herself, but it would also give promotion to the major benefits of following a low carb diet. On the other hand, I knew exactly what the reactions of sceptical health professionals to this type of diet and media coverage would be. It's like I could already hear their words ringing in my ears by saying things like:
"This is just another example of a celebrity fad diet which should be avoided as it may be damaging to your health and it is not sustainable"
One of the major reasons that health professionals believe that low carb and particularly Atkins is a fad, is due to its ability to maintain people's goals in the long-term. I have conversations all the time with dietitians and nutritionists and when I ask them why they don't think it is sustainable, I generally get the answer of "because once you add carbs back into your diet, you will simply just regain the weight which you had lost". Now don't get me wrong, I am completely in agreement with that statement. Of course if you simply revert back to the way you were eating before i.e. lots of processed carbs, any weight which had been lost, will be regained; but isn't this true of any dietary regime or changes you are making? The key part of maintaining any goals achieved, is to do with changing your overall lifestyle and the mind set you have with this. In short, a low carbohydrate diet should always be looked at as a long-term lifestyle change, and what's more is that this is perfectly feasible.
When anyone new ever embarks on this way of eating, I would always start by saying that they have to be able to sustain these changes for life. Not just for 3 or 6 months, but for the rest of the foreseeable future and if they don't think they can, then this perhaps isn't the right dietary choice for them. Again I think a lot of the perceived negative beliefs around low carb and sustainability, come from its use with obtaining quick fixes. Countless people only ever focus on the short term, be it a holiday or special occasion and they never think about what happens in the long term. Granted I am not saying that your diet may always be as strict as Atkins induction for example (although for a lot of people nutritional ketosis is what they have to follow for long term goals), but what I am saying is that your eating patterns and choices are going to change for life. This is what makes any diet, including that of a low carbohydrate diet sustainable.
Getting back to my original point, although Kim Kardashian has lost a great amount of weight with Atkins, what we really need to see to start changing beliefs, are the long term results. Every year the BDA release a Top 5 Worst Celebrity Diets to Avoid which I do think is actually a useful tool as there are a lot of very strange dietary regimes out there. However, what I do not agree with is the lumping of a low carbohydrate diet (generally reported as Atkins) with many of these other non-sustainable options (such as the maple syrup diet), on the basis that it is not evidence based. That statement in itself is a whole other blog post as we know there is a ton of evidence on this topic. Regardless of how much evidence is out there though, like it or not as long as low carb remains in vogue with celebrities, health professionals will always think of it as a fad. Now I do actually think Kim Kardashian has the motivation, determination and ability to make this a lifestyle change. If in a year's time Kim is still sustaining her goals, then perhaps it may go to show that this type of dietary regime is in fact sustainable and not just a crazy fad. As much as I would love for this to be seen through the evidence available, actions do speak louder than words and what better action than through the words of the world's media.