Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The British Government warns that the Atkins diet is a bad thing.

'Cutting out starchy foods, or any food group, can be bad for your health because you could be missing out on a range of nutrients,' the statement says. 'This type of diet also tends to be unrealistic and dull, and not palatable enough to be tolerated for a long time.'

It adds: 'High-fat diets are also associated with obesity, which is increasing in the UK. People who are obese are more likely to develop conditions such as diabetes and some cancers. Low-carb diets tend to be high in fat, too, and eating a diet that is high in fat could increase your chances of developing coronary heart disease.'

"Could be missing out on"? "unrealistic and dull"? "Associated with obesity"? Doesn't sound very scientific to me. Bah. I don't have a copy of the official report but sounds like FUD.

Via BuzzMachine


Cutting out carbs is a radical change to traditional ideas about diet. The very idea of it makes a lot of people uneasy.
Bread, rice and potatoes are all stuff that cultures base their diets around, so expect a bit of resistance to something like this I guess.

You've dropped quite a bit of weight since I first met you and truthfully, you look better. Healthier.
As long as you *feel* better, Joi, I'd say, stick with it.
Ultimately, your body is its own best gauge. If you feel good, have enough energy and sleep well, you'll know you're probably OK.

Do watch the drinking, though, since Atkins is reported to mess with your liver...

Joi, my Mum and Dad are on the Atkins Diet too - and I told them that I thought it flew in the face of common sense - which to me is eat a balanced diet and excercise. Problem is that I was not practising what I preached so I have started a high excersise regime - but deliberately not eating any less than usual. So far - in one week I have lost 2.5 Kg. My goal is 1 Kg per week for the next 12 weeks. So in 12 weeks, when I come to Japan - I expect to be able to be preaching the benefits of a normal diet and excersise to you as well ;-)

Atkins is extreme, but I have seen my friends and family benefit greatly from cutting down on carbs.

Potatos, rice, bread, and pasta, are things that we basically started eating because we didn't have enough meat and vegetables, IMHO. They are filling, but make you fat because we weren't designed to eat a high amount of carbs in a small amount of food.

My wife avoids these things and it's the only way she's found to easily stay slim. My parents do too and feel much better than before. Another couple of friends have followed it and lost a bunch of weight... I haven't seen any bad experiences yet.

Luckily, I don't really gain weight eating that stuff, so I don't have to worry about it much. ;)

joichi, do yourself a favour and don't die of cancer, read isbn 0 7499 2386 5, pp. 101 - 108


I tried the Atkins Diet earlier this year. I lost about 5kgs over two months before losing another 5kgs in five days.

The latter weight loss wasn't because of any dieting but because I was in a coma in a Tokyo hospital as a result of 6 times the normal amount of Ammonia in my brain. The doctors thought I would die and even advised my wife to call in my close friends so they could see me alive, one last time.

I obviously did not die -- I awoke from the coma and recovered but the doctors are still at a loss to explain what was wrong. A series of scans and tests showed no liver disease or virii and my ammonia levels returned to normal.

Increased stress on the liver and elevated ammonia levels has been noted as a side-effect of Atkins.

Although please note I am not saying there is a link with what happened to me.

But please, consider this carefully. You are making a major change to your diet, which has to put stress on your body. Combined with this globe-trotting you do, having to adjust to multi time zones, lack of sleep, probably large meals at restaurants and alcohol every night, your body must be under some stress.

Also, can you honestly tell me that eating all the eggs, meat, cheese and fat you want while simply cutting out rice and bread is going to be good for you long term? No, of course you can't because it flies in the face of common sense.

Japan didn't become the nation with record longetivity because of a full English breakfast each morning or steak and fries each night.

Do yourself some good and eat less food, drink less alcohol and exercise each day. It's much more difficult to do than Atkins -- or any other miracle diet -- but you know in your heart that it has to make sense.

A silly warning but considering what those in the UK eat it might make sense. (begin gross generalization)

Let's see you can eat black pudding, mad cow beef, and haggis.

But no fish and chips, no shepards pie, no sandwiches, no bangers and mash, no baked beans (sugary sauce), no yorkshire pudding, no ploughman lunch, no peas, no steak and kidney pie, no bread.
(end gross generalization)

Maybe they're pulling a Quebec and going against the diet for fear that UK food will lose it's cultural identity :)

Personally, I tried it, lost some weight but gained it all back plus a couple more soon after quitting. My favorite weight loss plan: eat 10 servings of fresh fruits and veggies a day. You'll be fully enough so whatever you manage to stuff yourself with the rest of the day won't add up to that many calories.


I'm not doing the Atkins diet, but I have been a vegetarian for 20 of my 35 years and so I'm kind of interested in dietary effects.

You say that this sounds like FUD from the British Government. Having read similar comments elsewere, I was curious as to what you think their motivation is? I can't think why a gov would care about low carb diets, except for genuine public health reasons.

(Disclosure: I'm British, but no great admirer of the current government.)

isbn 0 7499 2386 5 is noel fuhrman's "eat to live" diet. In a nutshell fuhrman's view of eating is this: what gives you the feeling of being full is volume not weight (there are no weight sensors in your stomach). So you are in front of the following decision: do I fill up with calories or nutrients (which means: not measuring calories by 100g of food, but measuring nutrients by 100 calories) ? As an example: broccoli (yes, the stupid's dad horror)has more nutrients per calories than steak. This doesn't sound like science, it is.
Am I angry ? Yes, all the time.

a reason to be even more angry: it's joel not noel

Saw your stealth disco video (managed to get QuickTime installed) and it is not easy to see why you are gambling your precious health on such an extreme and controversial diet.

The late Dr Atkins' philosophy of loading up on meat and cheese instead of breads, pasta, and even fruits and vegetables goes against the nutritional grain among mainstream dieticians. The British government are interested in public health because they are responsible for managing the escalating costs of our National Health Service which is funded by this years taxpayers.

I have read quite a bit about health and nutrition and wonder what the Atkins diet is storing up for people, who live on the diet, in their later years. If you feel you are over indulging (anything is OK in moderation) and not getting enough exercise, here's something, a lot less risky and possibly more refreshing and enjoyable, that you may like to try for six weeks and see how you get on. Each day:

- eat every few hours including one main meal (before 5 pm if possible) of fish or meat (or vegetarian protein equivalent) served with at least rice or potatoes or pasta, ideally with fresh herbs, garlic and onion;

- by the end of the day ensure that you have eaten the main meal plus five pieces of fruit (one medium apple is counted as one piece of fruit) and four vegetables (half a green bell pepper is counted as one vegetable), a handful of mixed nuts (including one brazil nut), slice of wholemeal bread with butter and drink 2 litres of water. Any recipes, olive oil, mayonnaise, yoghurt, cheese, milk, eggs etc., are fine. Sugar, fizzy drinks, coffee, tea (ideally organic green tea) and alcohol (red wine is best) OK in moderation.

- after consuming that daily intake, you may eat whatever you like - if you are still hungry and thirsty and can manage it.

Like Chris Yu says here, it works. Best of luck.

This has taken me ages to do (Quick Time alone took 45 mins to install) so please excuse if some of it ends up as my blog for tomorrow. :-)