Who Wrote the Atkins 2002 Book?

Pinterest Image: Atkins 2002 Induction Vegetables
In 2002, the Atkins Diet made some major changes,
 so WHO actually wrote the Atkins 2002 Diet Book?

Most people assume that Dr. Atkins wrote the 2002 version of the Atkins Diet, but some Keto dieters have questioned that assumption. Is there any hard evidence to indicate that someone else actually did the writing?

I found the idea intriguing.

The 2002 version of the Atkins Diet is like a whole new ball game. Instead of carving carbohydrates down to the bone, it increases the amount of vegetables you can eat on Induction, lets you use sugar alcohols, and even introduces a carbohydrate ladder to follow.

But did Dr. Atkins write the 2002 version of the Atkins Diet, or did someone else?

My research into the idea began with the The New Atkins Diet Revolution itself.

I didn't really want to go by hearsay, so I went straight to the book that everyone considers to be the Gold Standard of Low Carb. I wanted to see if there was anything to suggest that Dr. Atkins wasn't involved in the major changes that came out that year.

One of the participants at the Atkins Support Group (yahoo groups) had been warning people not to take the book too seriously, and to go back to Atkins 92 or even 72 instead.

I felt it was time to find out for myself.

Why Did the Atkins Diet Need to be Rewritten in 2002?

In the Introduction, Dr. Atkins made a very interesting statement:

"Certainly of the millions of people who've read it, [with "it" being the 1992 version of the book] a large percentage followed its precepts, lost weight, kept it off, and decisively improved their health." 

The interesting word here was precepts.

A precept is a rule of conduct, a commandment of behavior.

The greater majority of those who read and followed the 1992 edition of The New Atkins Diet Revolution, written by Dr. Atkins himself, were able to lose weight and keep it off by following the rules of the diet as set down in that book.

Grilled Steak Topped with Mushrooms
Both Atkins 72 and Atkins 92 Worked for Almost Everyone
Because They Were So Low in Carbs

They were not having problems losing weight. However, Dr. Atkins goes on to say:

"What you hold in your hands is a thoroughly rewritten version of that work. Having listened with care to the people who followed my weight control program, I've clarified and improved the "do-ability" of the practical chapters of this book."

It's definitely a thoroughly re-written version of what had already been helping millions of people lose weight and keep in off, so WHY did the world need a new version?

What was wrong with the old one?

Why the need to fix something that isn't broken? And why the need to change the rules from very low carb to low glycemic?

Did Atkins 92 Need Greater Do-Ability?

Sliced Pork Roast and Asparagus
In 1992, 2/3 cup of cooked low-carb vegetables were
added to the 2-cup salad for Induction.

In 1992, Induction was lengthened to a two-week introduction to the Atkins Diet, first published in 1972. 

The ONLY change that Dr. Atkins made to his diet, in addition to the longer intro period, was to allow 2/3 cup of cooked vegetables, along with the 2-cup salad, on Induction. This was why Induction was changed from one week to two.

Make sense?

It does to me, too.

Everything else within the context of the diet was exactly the same, including the restrictions and limitations, but he did give readers the option of creating their own 20 carb plan. This meant you could go outside the original list of Induction foods and use things like nuts or cream cheese, but he warned that such additions to the diet are likely to slow down weight loss.

I can understand a new book putting forth greater clarity because a writer can't always foresee the questions a reader is going to have about any given subject. I can also understand the need for a new book that shares what research has found out since the last book was written.

But why was there such a great need to make the already-working diet more "do-able," when it had a trail of success a million miles long? 

Why take back the ideas of creating your own personalized Atkins Diet?

What was so UN-doable about the original plan?

I found the answer to that question in the Acknowledgments, and I wasn't very happy with the answer:

"The revision of this book was a massive team effort. Michael Bernstein, senior vice president of Atkins Health and Medical Information Services at Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., led the team."

Woman Holding Green and Yellow Sweet Peppers
Did doubling the vegetables allowed on Atkins Induction
and setting up a mandatory Atkins Carbohydrate Ladder
actually increase the diet's doability?
So . . .

The 2002 version of the Atkins Diet was a massive upgrade. Why? Because Dr. Atkins believed the old diet books were not clear about how to do the program and the new book would give you, the reader, greater doability?

This upgrade required an entire team to get it right.

However, Dr. Atkins didn't lead the team. A representative of Atkins' Nutritionals, Inc., Michael Bernstein, led the team!

So how much influence did Dr. Atkins have over the content in the book? We're talking about a major upgrade here, where some of the older principles were eliminated and new ones inserted to take their place.

WHO Actually Wrote Atkins 2002?

The mind-bending experience didn't stop with discovering the reasons behind the massive upgrade. It continued with:

"Olivia Bell Bushl, the company's information director, coordinated and edited the copy," Dr. Atkins informed his readers. In addition, "Contributing writer Bill Fryer reworked much of the manuscript."

This was a total mind blower.

The latest Atkins book wasn't re-written because following the precepts of the original book were too hard or didn't work. The massive upgrade was for another purpose entirely.

The re-writing process wasn't led by Dr. Atkins, either. It was led by a team of people at Atkins' Nutritionals, Inc., with Dr. Atkins most likely playing a minor role, if any, because writer Bill Fryer reworked "much" of the manuscript.

My friend at the Atkins Support group has been recommending that you don't take the 2002 edition of the diet as Gospel because it was mostly written by Atkins' Nutritionals, Inc, the same as all other Atkins diet books since 1992.

For some time, he has been advising readers to LOOK at the Introduction and READ the introduction carefully. READ the Acknowledgments. And find out for your self who wrote the 2002 version of the Atkins Diet.

What I saw was exactly what this person had been proposing over the past year that I had been on that list.

I came to realize that every statement attributed to Dr. Atkins in that book needs to be taken as suspect. Nothing can be taken for granted. Nothing can be assumed, just because his name is attached to a quote.

However, if Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. are behind the changes, then what does that actually mean for the average low-carb dieter?

What Does This Actually Mean for the Dieter?

I reread the book and looked at what was presented more carefully than I ever had before.

I made a lot of interesting discoveries, which I have presented on this blog.

Never have I ever hid the fact that I prefer Old School Atkins to what the ANA is doing. I've always been quite open about that.

True principles remain constant.

Our aim and focus may change, within the parameters of any individual diet, causing changes in perspective or precepts. A diet's rules or recommendations for behavior might change, but the principles cross-over specific diet guidelines.

They hold true for all low-carb plans.

You can't change the foundation of a structure without also changing the results. Change the beginning, and you change the end.

The foundation for the Atkins Diet has always been to personalize the program to fit your tastes, hormonal state, health, and lifestyle. There isn't a single Atkins Diet. The Atkins Diet comes in an infinite variety, the same as each of you do. Each program is uniquely tailored to get you to goal weight.

So while Dr. Atkins might have changed the rules in 2002, or allowed Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. to change them, since he still owned the rights to his name at that time, he didn't change the foundation upon which low carb works.

He didn't change the PRINCIPLES.

And Atkins 2002 - if done by the book - rather than how the ANA insists you do it, still works well enough to get the job done, as long as you can handle the amount of carbs in 2 cups of salad and 1 cup of steamed veggies.

Most people can. A few cannot, so for them:

Choose Your Plan and Just Do It!

Not everyone can handle the amount of carbs on a standard 2002 Induction, but the reverse is also true.

Some people, like me, have to do 60 to 65 carbs to see movement on the scale. Others have to stay closer to zero carbs. Whether your body prefers zero carbs every single day, or 20, or 40, or 60, or some other number, it doesn't matter.

Do what works for you.

Don't let anyone tell you what you can and cannot eat on a low-carb diet. That's ridiculous.

Before Dr. Atkins died, he was eating 100 grams of carbohydrate a day on maintenance. This is what he shared with some of the people who used to belong to the old John Hopkins Atkins listserve.

What you're eating is either working or it's not.

If it's working, keep doing it.

If it's not working, then you'll have to experiment until you find something that does.

That is the heart, the breath, and the life of the Atkins Diet. Now, go out and live it!

UPDATE: Recently, it was confirmed by Dr. Atkins nurse that Dr. Atkins DID write the 2002 version. It was based on patient responses and changes that Dr. Atkins made to the diet over the years. However, she also shared that in her observation, some people cannot lose weight eating net carbs. They need to use total.


  1. Thanks for this eye-opener! I'm going to read my copy of Atkins '72 again now!
    Good luck with your move and hope to see you writing again soon!


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