|People Magazine |
S crambled eggs, sausage and grilled onions. Usually you'd need permission from your cardiologist to have that kind of breakfast. But controversial author and weight-loss guru Dr. Robert Atkins, 69, a cardiologist himself, digs into such fare every morning, insisting that it's just what the doctor ordered. "I've met hundreds of people who've been on every diet there is but never cut out the carbohydrates," says Atkins. "Now they are aware that there is an option for losing weight." Are they ever, and not for the first time. Atkins first came to prominence in the '70s with his Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution, which remains one of the 50 bestselling books of all time. Now, after a decade in which low-fat, high-carb plans were the rage -- and 55% of Americans are still overweight-he's back with a vengeance. Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, again advocating pork chops instead of pasta, and butter instead of bran, has been on the New York Times bestseller list for two years, and cheeseburgers -- no bun -- is the lunch du jour. Whoopi Goldberg follows his plan, and Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks, who has lost 30 lbs. on it, calls Atkins "a god among men."
Not! says the American Dietetic Association, which blasts Atkins's and other low-carb plans as unproved and possibly dangerous to long-term health. "Atkins makes me want to tear out what's left of my hair," agrees Dr.Dean Ornish, author of the bestselling Eat More,Weigh Less, a low-fat, vegetarian food plan. Ornish finds the diet's popularity particularly galling "at a time when there's more information than ever about the importance of a low-fat, plant-based, whole-foods diet." Sour grapes, says Atkins, who has long viewed organized medicine as the enemy. Low-carb eating, he insists, "is the magic breakthrough for every overweight citizen." The 6-ft., 200-lb. physician, who lives in Manhattan with Veronica, his wife of 11 years, has also expanded his enthusiasm to include wellness via natural remedies. Last year he published Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution, and, again practicing what he preaches, he takes some 50 nutritional supplements a day. "It's part of my longevity strategy," he says. His zeal extends to the pool at his LongIsland getaway, where he pumps in ozone instead of adding chlorine to keep the water bacteria-free. "It's so clean dogs can drink out of it," Atkins boasts. "And they do."