During the late 1990s, Dr. Robert Atkins revolutionized the world with his popular lifestyle and diet books titled, “New Diet Revolution”. The diet helped millions of people suffering from blood sugar issues, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular implications from excessive glucose and overboard insulin responses.The books gained traction in mainstream media and created worldwide carbohydrate and sugar consciousness, which initiated demand for low-carbohydrate foods and eventually swept the nation by the early 2000s. Since then, nutritionists, dietitians, scientists and medical professionals have carried out research and have determined that the low-carb lifestyle is truly is the solution to the obesity and diabetes epidemic. Demand for low-carb products peaked in 2002 and waned after Dr. Atkins' death in April 2003 after a fatal slip and fall on an icy NYC street. With the low-carb industry losing its patriarch, the hardcore low-carb lifestyle crashed but continued in many forms over the years. But as the low-carb research grows, it points to Atkins as a man way ahead of his time, and the market continues to stay strong as more consumers become selective about the foods they eat.
Research Behind Low-Carb Diets
Several studies show a link between weight loss and low-carbohydrate diets compared to conventional calorie-restricted diets and low-fat diets. Results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003 showed that more weight loss occurred in the low-carb group in a randomized trial. Another study published in Obesity in 2007 showed that overweight individuals following a low-carb diet lost almost twice as much weight as those following a low-fat diet for six months. Those who were low-carbing also experienced less hunger. Research shows that low-carb diets may, in fact, be more beneficial than other diet programs.
Popularity of Low-Carb Diets
From celebrity trainers to Dr. Atkins publishing the biggest bestseller, reducing carbohydrates in the diet continues to be a popular method for losing weight. This style of eating has evolved into more natural approaches such as the Paleo diet, which involves eliminating all grains and sugars in favor of vegetables, fish, eggs and meat. Plant-based diet programs propose a similar approach by eliminating sugars and processed foods in favor of nutrient-rich vegetables and natural sources of protein.
Consumer Demand for Low-Carb Products Continues to Rise
Consumer demand for low-carb diet products remains strong as many consumers adopt the Paleo lifestyle, try out the Atkins diet or simply choose to reduce their carb intake in an effort to shed a few pounds. More natural low-carb products appeal to consumers looking to live a healthier or organic lifestyle.
Demand for gluten-free products is on the rise, and low-carb bakeries are popping up all over the country to keep up with the demand for low-carb breads, cookies and other bakery items. The latest research from Mintel finds that the number of new products that claim to be low carb has nearly doubled in Europe in the last five years.
Pete Malletto is the president and senior scientist of PTM Food Consulting, Inc. More information about his company can be found at www.ptmfood.com