Authors of New Atkins Book Hope to Revive Diet

Ayoob said that while people trying to lose weight on Atkins might fare better in the short term, they may not stick with it.

Westman acknowledged that the Atkins diet may not work for everyone, but said many of the misperceptions about the diet may contribute to that.

For example, he said, the 20-gram limit on carbohydrates in the early phase of the diet should be met with the four to five servings of vegetables typically recommended.

Common Ground

While the Atkins diet remains controversial, some points on a good diet are more widely accepted.

"The common themes of all of these diets is that you stay away from the refined sugars and starches," said Westman. "The processed food industry over the last 10 to 30 years has distorted what a normal diet should be."

The key is finding a diet that works over the long haul.

"You have to figure yourself to an eating pattern you can comply with," said Dr. George Blackburn, the chair of nutrition medicine at Harvard Medical School. "What works is something you can comply with minimally one year, ideally two years, and for health purposes, for a lifetime."

He said it will take time before we know whether the rebooted Atkins diet can help people meet that goal.

"Rather than making claims for the modern or old Atkins diet, until you can find a way for people to be compliant, it's hard to make claims for it," he said.

Until then, he said, Atkins is one of many diets being considered for its possible value.

"Promoting one diet, we're just not doing that anymore. You're talking about an era that's long past. Rather than have weight-loss diets, we're trying to have healthy diets."

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