Is The Atkins Diet Like Hacking Your Own Body?

from the I-want-my-carbs... dept

Last year, after finally buying myself a scale, I decided to lose some weight. In the course of about 4 or 5 months, I lost about 50 lbs, and got myself to somewhere around the weight I should be. The part that seems to shock everybody I speak to is this: I didn’t do it by using one of those low-carb Atkins diets. I did it the old fashioned way: I ate less and exercised (a lot) more. Almost everyone I know, though, has turned to the Atkins method of losing weight, and everyone assumes that’s the only way to lose weight these days. Within the geek community, it appears, the Atkins diet is especially popular – and many geeks compare it to hacking their own body. They have all sorts of analogies for why it’s just like hacking, which is why so many gravitate towards it. I honestly don’t care about whether or not one diet is better than another – or why some methods work for some people and other methods for other people. It’s just interesting to think about the parallels between hacking your body and hacking a computer – even down to the idea that you’re not really sure what’s going to happen the system you’re hacking. In the meantime, I’m just happy I get to keep eating bread.

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Comments on “Is The Atkins Diet Like Hacking Your Own Body?”

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dorpus says:

Atkins and Evil Spirits


The NHF and its allies in the nutritional products industry also counterattacked those who criticized their policies…. Such blows included comparing [AMA committee members] Jarvis, Stephen Barrett, and Victor Herbert to Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels. Herbert told the Pepper subcommittee of an interview, appearing in an NHF publication, with Robert Atkins, formulator of a diet disparaged by scientific nutritionists [73]. Atkins had stated that Herbert “house[d] an evil spirit that needs to be exorcised.” Soon thereafter Herbert had received death threats by mail and phone.

Also check out the Atkins diet debunked at

thecaptain says:

No Subject Given

The lure of Atkin’s is not necessarily “hacking” your body…its just that its easier to believe you can lose weight eating bacon and eggs and steak than by “Eat less, balanced and more exercise”

We have developped a sheep-like, non-critical thinking, lazy and irresponsible consumer society. I blame media and lawyers for this…so we blame everything but ourselves and we refuse to put in some effort to meet a goal (yes, this is a broad generalization but still true enough).

Yes…I’m fatter than I need to be….

BUT…I’m not fat because there’s a sinister conspiracy by Big Food to make me so…I’m fat because I like to eat..and eat a lot. Period.
Atkins might make me lose weight…but only because I would be eating less (which belies the visions of eggs and bacon and steak for breakfast and stuff)…

The only lasting weight-loss possible is not by fad/hype diets…its by balanced, reasonable sized meals and exercise. Period.

(And when I’m done with being lazy, I’ll get on that right away LOL)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Yep. Put down the spoon.

Yep, I whole-heartedly agree about how to lose weight. The whole family followed the Weight Watchers plan, and I lost 20 pounds in 3 1/2 months. Now that I know how to eat right – in the right portions, the right types of food – its *easy*. I don’t even count the calories anymore.

I tried Atkins first; maybe it was too half-hearted, but it didn’t do much if anything. Weight Watchers is good only because it makes it very explicit – X number of calories is all you need in a day, eat more, get *fat*. It’s not rocket science.

I only went from 190 to 170. I have a friend my size who’s 240. He *thought* he was eating right – cottage cheese in the morning. Small lunch of tuna. Reasonable supper. All that amounted to around a normal day’s calories…but then it turns out that every night he walked down to the local store, and ate a candy bar and a Slurpee…which combined had almost as many calories as he ate for the rest of the day!!

One last thought – watch those calorie counter websites that tell you the minimum calories you need to eat in a day! According to one, I need 2,400 a day for “sedentary” lifestyle (hey, I sit all day.) But I know from counting if I eat that much, forget it! I’ll gain a pound a week…

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

actually equating atkins for the body to hacking a computer is a fair analogy.

The atkins thing is people who are generally looking to beat the system (ie eat less, exercise more) as is often the case with hackers.

I won’t debunk the atkins thing as it does work, particularly for people who are grossly overweight. But much like hacking, it’s something that most people can’t stick with over the long run as your body creates it’s own patches.

Rhelic says:

Why Atkins is morse that being fat, from a health

Being overweight is a health issue, but the truth is, the Atkins diet is worse for you than being overweigh.

Why? Because you have to rely on foods that lack carbs, which pretty much means you live on only eggs, meat and cheese and those artificial (aka fake food) bars stores sell.

The higher on the food chain you eat, the higher the concentration of pesticides there are, so meat is the ultimate pesticide sponge, and cheese isn’t any better. So you are putting way too much stress on your kidneys and liver, expect them to fail at on early age.

The nutrients in meat aren’t even health promoting. The type of iron in meat is the best food for cancer cells. Whereas the iron found in grain products cannot be easily used by cancer cells.

There are many more nutrients that exist in meat that are inferior to plant based. If you want to do the research you’ll find all the examples, I wont bore you guys with all the details, I just wanted to wet your tongues.

While there may be more efficient ways to lose weight (ex: Weight Watchers) they’re all based on the same idea. Work out, eat healthy. If anything doesn’t rely on that method (ex: Atkins, absurd diet pills/drinks/diet bars) then expect it to have some serious (life threatening and permanent) side effects.

PS: I’m not a militant vegetarian or even a vegetarian myself. I just wanted to get the facts out there.

LittleW0lf says:


I don’t subscribe to the Atkins diet, but it has seriously helped folks such as my Mom, who have Diabetes, (and probably myself in the future, since it is genetic), and cannot eat a large amount of carbohydrates.

Years ago, before Atkins diet was the rave, most food service folks would look at her cross-eyed when she asked them to hold the bread on a hamburger, or hold the croutons on a salad. Now, it is common place, and she just has them to make it Atkins diet style.

I don’t know whether it works or not, but it has saved my mom a lot of trouble.

Mark Pun says:

A Researcher's Opinion

I am an Obesity Researcher and also a techie. The bottom line is calories in vs. calories out. Sure, there are genetic and metabolic differences in each individual, but as a society, we are trying to remove every bit of physical exertion from our lives. Instead of walking a block, let me ride my Segway. Instead of walking down 12 steps, let me take the elevator. All of this while supersizing everything, and making people think it is the norm. No one realizes that Supersized Combo #1 is actually 3 servings. Reading everyone’s responses on this page, I can see that we are not only bright, but responsible. Yes, Atkins does work for some people, but then again, they are probably eating less than they were to begin with. Also, a good point was mentioned, dramatic weight loss is usually followed by weight gain, and the most consistent way to loose weight is gradually over time. Lifestyle modification. As a fad diet, Atkins is not new, it’s been around several times before, just with different names.

noobie says:


I could not sacrifice my carbs to lose weight, i am not a fat person, but i know someone who used the atkins diet, and she lost a tremendous amount of weight, but like you said at what cost to your liver and kidneys? If you are a caucasian person than your body is accustomed to eating wheat. in the past the base foods were rice for asian people, corn and beans for the aztecs (spanish/mexican/southern american) and WHEAT for the white man. your body needs wheat and carbs to produce energy, without them you have a lack of enegy. so is losing weight worth sitting around like a sloth, isn’t that how you became fat in the first place. THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH, let that be a lesson to anyone who thinks they can lose weight the easy way.

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