From CNN

Larry King Interview with Robert Atkins

Interview With Robert Atkins

Aired January 6, 2003 - 21:00 ET

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Dr. Robert Atkins, the world's 
most controversial diet guru, criticized for years. He may 
have been right after all. He's here for the hour and he'll 
take your calls. Dr. Robert Atkins next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's always good to see him. We've been interviewing him 
many, many times over the years, locally in Miami, 
nationally on radio and now with us on television and radio 
via CNN. Dr. Robert Atkins is a cardiologist and founder of 
the Atkins Center for Complimentary Medicine. His books 
have been number one on the "New York Times" list often. 
His new book is "Atkins for Life." There you see its cover. 
"The Complete Controlled Carb Program for Permanent Weight 
Loss and Good Health." 

You can get him as well and reach him at the on his Web site or get the book, or 
whatever. He has become internationally famous. Always very 
controversial. Now a lot of medical institutions are saying 
that maybe he was right. 

First, let's get an update on your own health. I know that 
you had a cardiac arrest a year ago. What happened and how 
are you? 

DR. ROBERT ATKINS: Well, it didn't last very long. And then 
I continued to get better and better and played a lot of 
tennis. And I'm probably in better health than I've been in 
the past 10 years. 

KING: What was it that happened to you, though? 

ATKINS: We don't know, but I know that I had an infection 
in my heart, and it caused an arrhythmia and so it must 
have been an arrhythmia that sort of took off, and that was 

KING: Not related to your diet? 

ATKINS: Definitely not. You don't catch an infection from 
my diet. But this was an infection. 

KING: How in the world does a cardiologist in a world of we 
hate fat and high cholesterol, worry about all those 
things, suddenly turn the opposite route? How did that 

ATKINS: Well, it was really very simple. I needed to go on 
a diet back in 1963. I was gaining a lot of weight. Yes, I 
was practicing cardiology, but I was gaining weight. And 
there was an article in the AMA journal that said, by the 
way, you don't have to go on a low calorie diet, you can go 
on a low carbohydrate diet. And I thought, oh, how 
wonderful that is. So I went on a diet. It was very, very 
exciting. And I not only lost a lot of weight very easily, 
but I needed a lot less sleep. I used to need eight and a 
half hours sleep, and by the end of two months, I needed 
five and a half hours sleep, which, by the way, for the 
last 40 years, that's about all I needed. 

So it really changed my energy level and it changed a lot 
of things. And so I decided to put other people on it. 

KING: And the rest is history. Explain to me something...

ATKINS: Yes, I'd say that. 

KING: We need carbohydrates, do we not? We must have 
carbohydrates in our system. 

ATKINS: A lot of people don't need carbohydrates. 

KING: Don't need any? 

ATKINS: Well, certainly the people way up in the northern 
Alaska where they don't grow carbohydrates manage to 
survive. So obviously you can survive without 
carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are valuable because of many 
of the things that they contain. So our diet really is not 
a zero carbohydrate diet. 

KING: You take carbohydrates? 

ATKINS: I eat a lot of vegetables. And those are the most 
valuable carbohydrates. But from the very beginning we had 
to focus on what are the healthy carbohydrates and stay 
away from the unhealthy ones. 

KING: All right. Let's get the most important. What are 
some things you will not consume? What are unhealthy 

ATKINS: Well, basically, it's about refined carbohydrates. 
That's sugar and flour, those are the refined 

KING: That means you do not eat bread? 

ATKINS: We now eat bread because we make bread without 
refined carbohydrates. 

KING: Mean we -- you mean, you make your own bread? 

ATKINS: A lot of companies make low carbohydrate bread now. 
Certainly we're one of them. 

KING: So that's what you would recommend, low carbohydrate 

ATKINS: Yes. At various times. Now, we start off -- when 
people start the diet, we start off very strict. And a lot 
of people have felt, oh, that strict first two weeks of the 
diet, that's the whole diet. They don't realize that the 
diet is a 70-year diet. KING: But you do allow... 

ATKINS: And who cares about two weeks when you're on it for 
70 years. 

KING: You do allow steaks and chops and... 

ATKINS: All of the main courses. Seafood, chicken...

KING: Sauces? 

ATKINS: Depends on the sauce. Depends on what is in it. And 
certainly cheese and eggs and meat as well, because all of 
those foods are without carbohydrates, basically. 

KING: So enriched flour, if you cut out enriched flour... 

ATKINS: Which we do. 

KING: If everybody watching this show stopped all enriched 
flour and all sweets, all -- like we're talking about 
candies, right? 

ATKINS: Right. 

KING: Enriched flour, chocolates, candies, stopped it, they 
would lose weight? No matter what they ate? 

ATKINS: No, it doesn't -- no, they have to -- some people 
wouldn't. But everybody would be healthier. Everyone would 
be healthier if they didn't eat junk food. That's what junk 
food is. 

There were times, if we go back 100 years, we found out 
that people in our country ate the same amount of protein, 
fat and carbohydrate that they eat now, that they ate 30 
years ago, but there wasn't a single heart attack. First 
heart attack didn't come until 1912. The difference was 100 
years ago we did not eat much in the way of refined 
carbohydrates. We didn't eat much sugar or much flour. 
That's what changed. That's what caused the whole epidemic, 
that's what caused the whole 20th century group of 

KING: But when you eat a cheeseburger, you don't eat the 

ATKINS: That's for sure. I don't even let them give me a 

KING: But you would eat the cheeseburger. 

ATKINS: Yes, with a fork. 

KING: OK. But how about the concept that every cardiologist 
I had to talk to, and I've had heart disease, so I know -- 
I mean, I had a heart attack and heart surgery -- says fats 
are bad because fat -- obviously, when you think of a fat, 
it builds plaque, plaque is what constricts the system. 
Bang, you're in trouble. 

ATKINS: Well, that's what they say. But on the other hand, 
there is a lot of evidence that shows that all of that 
thing about fat was done on studies where there was a lot 
of carbohydrate. Now, when there is a lot of carbohydrate, 
your fat takes a different metabolic pathway than when 
there is very little carbohydrate. When there is a lot of 
carbohydrate, fat turns into triglyceride, which is bad for 
your heart, and that's a bad thing. But when you don't eat 
carbohydrate, then it turns into energy. 

KING: So in other words, you have the steak but you don't 
have the bread. That's a whole different concept occurring 
in your system. 

ATKINS: And you don't have the potatoes either, for that 

KING: Here is about getting respect. Listen to this, "The 
New York Times" magazine article in July of 2002, by the 
way, you made the cover of "TIME" magazine. 


KING: They don't leave Atkins out. 

ATKINS: I know that now. 

KING: Here is what the "New York Times," July 2002. "If the 
members of the American medical establishment were to have 
a collective finding yourself standing naked in Times 
Square type nightmare, this might be it. They spent 30 
years ridiculing Robert Atkins, accusing the Manhattan 
doctor of quackery and fraud, only to discover that the 
unrepentant Atkins was right all along." Now, the article 
didn't say it was right, but it suggests you were right, 
but suggested the possibility that you were right. Do you 
have a feeling of I told you so? 

ATKINS: Sure. I've had that feeling all along. 

KING: But now that you've got... 

ATKINS: Finally, finally somebody has now recognized that 
there were so many studies which confirmed what I've said 
and no studies which ever let them come to the conclusion 
that the opposition has come to. 

KING: The argument against you, wasn't it, Bob, that you 
were doing all these things without any clinically approved 
studies until later on? (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ATKINS: Well, I would never do a study because I'm a 
practicing physician. I mean, all I do is treat people.

KING: But you funded the study at Duke? 

ATKINS: Yes, but it was a long time before I was able to do 
that. And so for many, many years, I had to rely on 
everybody else's studies. It was everybody else's studies 
that got me to go on my diet in the first place. 

KING: But didn't everybody else's studies say don't eat 
fat? ATKINS: No, they didn't do that when they looked at 
low carbohydrate intake. All of the studies that said don't 
eat fat were done with diets where there was a lot of fat 
and a lot of carbohydrate. That's completely different.

KING: We're going to be taking a lot of calls for Robert 
Atkins tonight. His new book is "Atkins for Life: the 
Complete Controlled Carb Program for Permanent Weight Loss 
and Good Health." You can get to him at the as well on the Web site. We'll be talking 
with him and taking a lot of phone calls for Dr. Atkins. 
We'll be right back.


KING: We're back. We'll be going to calls shortly for Dr. 
Robert Atkins. You funded -- the foundation you head funded 
research done at Duke; 120 overweight volunteers, randomly 
assigned to follow the Atkins diet or the American Heart 
Association diet. 

ATKINS: Right.

KING: The data on the 63 participated reported Atkins 
participants on an average lost more weight, lowered bad 
cholesterol and increased good cholesterol. 

However, Dr. Dean Ornish, a critic of yours, knows this was 
only a six-month study, that the heart association diet was 
not very low in fat or simple carbs and only Atkins 
patients were given fish oil and flaxseed oil, which 
automatically lowers triglycerides. How do you react to 

ATKINS: Well, of course, none of that is really the case. 
And point of fact, our diet took off 31 pounds against 20 
pounds that the comparison diet did. The triglycerides 
dropped 49 percent on our diet and only 22 percent on the 
others and the good cholesterol went up 12 percent on ours 
and didn't go up at all on the American Heart Association 

KING: Do you use fish oil? Is that part of your...

ATKINS: Fish oil was used but it was used in a very small 
quantity. Now what's more important is that the 
triglycerides have been lowered on this diet going all the 
way back to 1966. And in every study it has been dropped 
something like 50 percent or pretty close to it when it's 
low. And fish oil was not used. It's quite true that fish 
oil is in my view the No. 1 therapy for lowering 
triglycerides. But even without it, you get the result from 
the diet. 

So that is not -- is just not true. As far as how many 
people -- well, six months is pretty long. But I can tell 
you this, I've treated tens of thousands of patients for a 
lot more than six months. A lot of them have come back 10 
and 20 years later and I can tell you this, that their lab 
work gets better and better the longer they stay on it. 

KING: Now we hear that critics I'm told will admit that you 
have short-term weight loss, great results with short-term 
weight loss but they worry about the long-term health 

ATKINS: They do indeed but there is no reason to. Why would 
anybody worry about it when -- six months is a long time. 
And in mainstream medicine, when people are on a diet, 
after about six months things don't look so well. But on 
our diet they continue to lose as long as you stay on it. 

KING: The American Journal of Kidney Diseases, August of 
2002, said people on your diet lose large amounts of 
calcium in the urine, 65 percent higher than normal, 55 
percent in maintenance, possibly could lead to 

ATKINS: Well, the calcium loss is very short-term. After 
about two weeks, there is -- the calcium level back to 
normal. So that's a short-term abnormality. 

KING: Is part of your diet a lot of vitamins? 

ATKINS: Well, that's what I like it to be. In the book it 
doesn't really demand a lot of vitamins. People read the 
book, may just take one or two types of vitamins a day. If 
they went to my practice in New York, I would give -- and 
doesn't have to be my diet, could be anybody. I just know 
that vitamin therapy is a great alternative to drug 

KING: And medicine fought that a long time, didn't they? 

ATKINS: They're still fighting that. We're not talking 
about that because as far as the diet is concerned, if -- 
see, everybody benefits from vitamins. Doesn't make any 
make any difference what diet they're on. You take the 
healthiest diet in the world, if you gave those people 
vitamins, they would be twice as healthy. So vitamins are 
valuable. Nonetheless, the diet doesn't require vitamins 
any more than any other diet. 

KING: Are a lot of the substitutes very good? There are 
chocolates -- you tasted some before the show -- that are 
low in carbs. 

ATKINS: Yes, there's a lot of that. Oh, yes, they're 

So that -- but what this really means is there is a whole 
new generation now. Before when people went on my diet and 
they have to stay on it for life, at least the low carb 
lifestyle so that at least they stay enough in carbs that 
they don't gain it back, but they had to not have any 
candy, they couldn't have any bread they couldn't have any 
ice cream and things like that. 

KING: That's terrible.

ATKINS: But now they're there are many, many companies that 
are putting out low carb versions of high carb foods. 
Because of it, it is so easy now to stay on a low carb 
lifestyle, which is exactly what millions of people are 

KING: Are some under risk switching to low carb? ATKINS: 
Very few people. I would say it shouldn't happen to a 
pregnant woman or a woman who is feeding her infants. It 
shouldn't happen to a person who already has kidney 
disease. But a few statements like that which we make, but 
basically other than that, very, very few people get in 
trouble from carbohydrate restriction. 

KING: We'll take calls in the next segment. A lot of calls 
tonight. Give me an Atkins day, what you eat. In the 
morning. Typical. 

ATKINS: I like to have omelets, maybe with -- would either 
be an omelet or scrambled eggs. 

KING: cheese omelet? 

ATKINS: Wonderful. I'll have that a lot of times or with 

KING: Bacon with it. 

ATKINS: Or bacon or ham or something of that nature. And no 
side dishes...

KING: My cardiologist just -- OK, go ahead. 

ATKINS: But they shouldn't. 

KING: OK. I know.

ATKINS: Because the evidence doesn't allow them to come to 
that conclusion. All of the studies show a low carb diet 
helps the cholesterol, is dramatically beneficial for the 
triglycerides and helps the HDL compared to the LDL, the 
good compared to the bad cholesterol. 

KING: Lunch? 

ATKINS: Oh, well, lunch I may just -- depends where I'm 
having it. If I'm in the office, I'm just going grab some 
nuts because I haven't got time for it. 

KING: Nuts are OK? 

ATKINS: Or I may have a bacon cheeseburger without the bun. 

KING: You eat nuts? Like macadamia nuts? 

ATKINS: Absolutely. 

KING: Aren't they high in fat? 

ATKINS: They're very low in carbohydrate. They're perfect. 
And you have to understand that in the lifestyle, I'm on my 
lifestyle, I don't have to lose any more weight, I just 
want to keep from gaining it, which is tough enough, but it 
does allow me to eat an awful lot of vegetables, a lot of 
nuts and seeds. I can eat 60 to 80 grams of carbohydrate a 
day and in the book, my new book we talk about that. I just 
don't have to like tofu but I can have it. 

KING: What's an Atkins dinner? 

ATKINS: Well, now you're talking about my wife who is such 
a great cook. 

KING: She'll cook? 

ATKINS: She has incredible fish, incredible fowl and all 
kinds of meat, rack of lamb, lambchops. 

KING: Eat the fatty part of lambchop too? 

ATKINS: Yes, I eat the -- yes, I eat that. And just with a 
lot of vegetables. 

KING: Any potatoes? 

ATKINS: No, not the potatoes but an awful lot... 

KING: How about a sweet potato? 

ATKINS: Rarely. I may take a bite of that but basically I 
just have a lot of vegetables and mostly the green ones and 
I eat about as many vegetables as the average vegetarian, I 
would think. 

KING: Dr. Atkins. The book is "Atkins For Life: The 
Complete Control Carb Program for Permanent Weight Loss and 
Good Health." You can get him at the Web site, too. and you can talk to him right after these 


KING: We're back with Dr. Atkins. We'll start taking your 
phone calls. I'll intersperse some questions as we go 
along. We start with Farmington, Connecticut. Hello. 

CALLER: Hello, Dr. Atkins, I've been following your plan 
for two years. I'm actually in the maintenance part of the 
plan. I have -- I take it only between 25 to 35 to 30 grams 
of carbs a day. That's all my body can handle. And I've 
gained a little weight. I stay within the five pounds, like 
you've said, but I've gone -- I'm hitting that 10-pound 
marker. I've gone back to induction and I am finding it's 
not working for me. What can you suggest? 

ATKINS: Well, we really have to find out why. Are you on 
any medications or any hormones or anything like that? 

CALLER: Nothing at all. 

ATKINS: Nothing at all. Then the next thing -- see, the 
main reason that people get stuck is because of 
medications. This is the thing that really gets them in 

The second most important thing is the possibility of a 
thyroid not being functioning as well as it should. Even if 
your thyroid blood tests come out normal, there is still 
one other thing that you have to look at. That would be 
your temperature. Thyroid regulates your temperature. And 
if your temperature is considerably below 98.6 when you 
average it for the whole day -- you take it before 
breakfast, lunch, dinner and bed time -- and if it comes 
out about 97.8 or lower, there is a good possibility that 
you should be taking thyroid, and -- which would require a 
prescription, require you seeing a doctor and having them 
agree with it. 

KING: Why are so many people overweight? 

ATKINS: Oh, that's so easy to explain. Back in 1970, we 
didn't have a lot of obesity, but then it started to 
increase. Now, this is what happened. In 1970, 40 percent 
of our diet was fat. And by 2000, it became 32 percent of 
our diet. But in those 30 years, according to the U.S. 
government, there was an increase in the intake of sugar 
per person by 30 pounds per year. 

KING: That includes bread, right? 

ATKINS: No, sugar. 

KING: But bread ...

ATKINS: Bread comes next. Bread and other starches of that 
-- of grains went up 64 pounds per person. 

KING: In other words, we ate more wrong food. 

ATKINS: Of course. Because everybody heard low fat, low fat 
low fat, they had to eat more carbohydrates. That's what 
caused the epidemic. 

KING: Boston, hello. 

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Atkins? 


CALLER: Hi. about a year ago, exactly a year ago I started 
cutting out sugar and white flour and lost over 100 pounds, 
went down 10 sizes, and I have noticed -- and I have 
noticed that a lot of like Suzanne Somers is following you 
and she attributes you being the guru. 

ATKINS: Yes, I saw her today. Yes.

CALLER: How do you feel about other diets and other diet 
books that are now attributing you to being the guru? 

ATKINS: Well, I think that's good. I think -- I think my 
book, next one is coming out, "Atkins for Life" is going to 
be very similar to what Suzanne Somers has done, which -- 
because we're talking about the maintenance of a lifestyle, 
keeping the weight off now that you've lost it. 

KING: That's harder than losing sometimes, isn't it? 
ATKINS: It has been, but it shouldn't be because the diet 
is actually easier -- maintenance diet is easier to follow 
than weight loss diet, but for some reason people just go 
off their diet and they have got to learn that. 

KING: Moline, Illinois for Dr. Robert Atkins. Hello.

CALLER: Dr. Atkins, I'm a type II diabetic. Can I safely be 
on this diet? 

ATKINS: It's the optimal diet for a diabetic. The main 
thing that I want to accomplish in life is putting an end 
to the epidemic of diabetes and obesity, which I call 
diabesity. That's really my number one function in life in 
this next few years of mine. 

KING: What percentage of your patients are either heart 
patients or diabetic patients or both? 

ATKINS: Oh, I would say between the diabetes and the heart 
patients, about 60 percent now. Absolutely. 

KING: To Milton, Wisconsin. Hello. 

CALLER: Hi. I've been on the Atkins way of life for four 
and a half months. I'm down over 30 pounds. But my blood 
pressure is up and I was wondering why this might be 

ATKINS: Well, that's very unusual, because it has been 
shown by study after study and by our own experience as 
well that restricting carbohydrates will drop the blood 
pressure. So it's very unusual. You have to find out what 
other than the diet could be responsible for that. 

KING: The chief form of carbohydrates that you take come in 

ATKINS: Mostly vegetables. And nuts and seeds. Nuts and 
seeds and vegetables. 

KING: Cashew nuts? 

ATKINS: That's the one I shouldn't have. That's the highest 
one in carbohydrates. 

KING: What's a good nut, macadamia? 

ATKINS: That's the best. And I eat a lot of macadamia nuts.

KING: Why is it the best? 

ATKINS: Well, I guess because it's the lowest in 
carbohydrate and also because it tastes the best and 
because macadamia nut butter is so good, and I mix it with 
heavy cream and that becomes my dessert. That's what I...

KING: Macadamia nut butter with heavy cream? ATKINS: And I 
stir it together, takes about 20 seconds, and then that's 
my dessert. 

KING: Dayton, Ohio, hello. 

CALLER: Hi. I have a 13-year-old daughter and I was 
wondering how safe it would be for her to be on the diet? 

ATKINS: I'm so glad you asked. Absolutely. As a matter of 
fact, children who are overweight should start on the low 
carbohydrate lifestyle as soon as they become overweight so 
they don't get into these bad habits. But at the age of 13, 
it is absolutely mandatory. How overweight is she? 

CALLER: Oh, about 15 to 20 pounds. 

ATKINS: Well, that's an easy thing. That means you should 
be able to get her back to her ideal weight within five or 
six weeks. 

KING: Really? 

ATKINS: Right. 

KING: We'll be right back with more of Dr. Robert Atkins. 
His new book is "Atkins for Life: the Complete Controlled 
Carb Program for Permanent Weight Loss and Good Health." 
Example of someone losing weight, Sarah Ferguson, the 
duchess of York is here tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Dr. Atkins said if you're going to drink, moderation 
and if you had to pick one drink it would be red wine, 

ATKINS: Red wine is a very good choice. 

KING: Chicago, hello. 

CALLER: Hi there, Dr. Atkins. 


CALLER: I'd like to understand whether or not alcohol has a 
large impact on your diet. 

KING: Just asked about alcohol. Does it have a large 

ATKINS: It has a medium-sized impact. A lot of alcohol has 
a large impact. But a little bit is usable. 

We don't like to start people off with alcohol. We want to 
get the thing started, but then for the ongoing weight loss 
phase or the premaintenance or maintenance phase, which is 
the rest of your life, we certainly would allow a moderate 
amount of alcohol. Not the sweet ones. 

KING: Unsweet is like, what, vodka? 

ATKINS: Yeah, scotch, vodka. 

KING: Do alcoholics tend to gain weight? 

ATKINS: Some do and some don't. 

KING: Hartford, Connecticut, hello. 

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Atkins. 


CALLER: I have a question about keatosis(ph).


CALLER: I've been on induction for three weeks and I've 
only been able to reach 15 milligrams on a keytone (ph) 
stick and I want to know how can I accelerate the process 
of keatosis? 

KING: What is keatosis?

ATKINS: Keatosis means that she -- you put in a stick and 
check your urine and you see it has keytones in it. 

KING: And you want them in it?

ATKINS: I really do, but it isn't really necessary. You can 
have keytones come out and not appear in your urine and you 
would say, Gee, I don't have keytones. But in point of fact 
you -- are you losing weight? 

CALLER: I lost seven pounds in three weeks. 

ATKINS: So it's still working. So you don't have to worry 
if you can continue to lose -- how many pounds do you have 
to lose all together? 

CALLER: A hundred. 

ATKINS: Oh, 100. Are you taking any medications? 

CALLER: Just sinthroid (ph) for my thyroid. 

ATKINS: All right. The probability is is that sinthroid is 
not the best choice of thyroid. The probability is that you 
need a balanced thyroid where you're getting T3 as well as 
T4 or a natural form of thyroid and it's also highly 
probable that you're not taking the right amount. 

KING: Can you reverse heart disease? 

ATKINS: Well, we reverse heart disease all the time. That's 
what we do. 

KING: That I'm told is impossible. I mean, you can control 
it, but you can't reverse it. You can't make someone who... 

ATKINS: Well, a lot of people who have been told that they 
need bypass, come to us and we do a lot of things beyond 
the diet. I must say, we use an awful lot of powerful 
vitamin -- vitanutrients. 

KING: Oh you do? 

ATKINS: And there actually are some vitanutrients that are 
better than drugs because they don't have any bad side 

KING: Did you say you can avoid bypass surgery? 

ATKINS: Well, we've done it hundreds and hundreds of times. 
People have come to us and... 

KING: And you take the blockage away? 

ATKINS: Well, we took away the symptom complex and the 
cardiologists who are -- told them they needed a bypass re-
evaluated and said, Well, I guess you don't because 
everything is OK now. 

KING: Sedona, Arizona, hello. 

CALLER: Hi. Dr. Atkins...


CALLER: I was wondering if you're familiar with the eat 
right for your type diet of Dr. Peter Dodomo, which is 
based on blood types. 

ATKINS: Well, I know a little bit about it. I know about 
the role of blood types. 

CALLER: Well, I'm curious what you think about that because 
he says that the Type O very similar to yours...

ATKINS: Right.

CALLER: But for, like, types A and B, he says they can't 
digest animal proteins and they should stay away from those 
and maybe have more carbs. I just wondered what you think 
about blood type and diet. 

ATKINS: That can't be really because such a high percentage 
of people, we're talking about 99 percent of people, go on 
our diet and succeed with it. And this means that just 
about every blood type is included in the group that 
succeeds on it. 

KING: Warren, Michigan, hello. 


KING: Go ahead. 

CALLER: Hi. I wanted to know -- I know you can eat eggs and 
protein on your diet. Why not any milk? ATKINS: Well, milk 
has got lactose in it. Whenever you hear a word with ose, 
that's a sugar. So there is sugar in milk. And that's... 

KING: Skim milk, too? 

ATKINS: More so. Skim milk has even more because it doesn't 
even have cream in it. So cream is about the one thing that 
the cow puts out that doesn't have carbohydrate. 

KING: If you would have -- you don't have cereal, do you? 

ATKINS: Well, there are low some carbohydrate cereals now. 

KING: You put sweet cream on it? 

ATKINS: And I mix it with heavy cream, yes, I do, sir. 

KING: It sounds..

ATKINS: Delicious. 

KING: It sounds fattening. Oh, it's delicious. What's 
better than sweet cream, man? 


KING: But, you see, if it is that good it can't be good for 
you, right? 

ATKINS: It is pretty good for me. 

KING: OK. I'll buy. 

ATKINS: Helps my tennis. 

KING: Branchville, New Jersey, hello. 

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Atkins. I was wondering if you miss eating 
fresh fruit? 

KING: Ah-ha.

ATKINS: Ah-ha. Well, I don't because I eat an awful lot of 
berries. Berries are on my...

KING: Bluberries are a good food, right?

ATKINS: Blueberries are excellent. But then, I eat all the 
berries. Just this morning I had four different kinds of 
berries and then melon is good and then I'll have a bite 

KING: So fruits are good? 

ATKINS: Fruit is definitely on the maintenance diet. It's 
on the lifestyle diet. KING: Williamsburg, Virginia, hello. 

CALLER: Hi, Atkins. I'm a Weight Watcher representative and 
I wondered what you thought about -- do you not believe 
that denying people normal carbohydrates on a daily basis 
will eventually make them feel deprived, causing them 
excess frustration and even causing them to go off their 
diet completely because they haven't had those normal 
carbohydrates such as pastas and rice and potatoes and 
things that people really enjoy? 

ATKINS: I think it's just the opposite. 

CALLER: What about just eating in moderation?

ATKINS: I think when one looks at the long-term effect of 
people who have been on Weight Watchers, such a high 
percentage of those people gain back the weight, the reason 
being no one wants to be hungry for a lifetime. Where as 
with our diet, you're never hungry because you're not 
allowed to be hungry. You just not allowed to keep your 
quantities that small. 

And so it's a better deal for almost everybody. They would 
rather eat enough food that they're not hungry and that is 
delicious and it is -- all of these foods that you talk 
about, there are low carbohydrate versions of 90 percent of 
them so that people are able to enjoy all of those foods. 
It is a rare, rare person who doesn't like to stay on 

KING: Ada, Ohio, hello. 

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Atkins. 


CALLER: I'm a letter carrier and I walk 12 to 15 miles a 
day and I was on your diet. I lost two to three pounds a 
day the first two weeks. It scared me to death so I... 

ATKINS: Well, you had to have lost water then. 

CALLER: Was that all it was, water? 

ATKINS: No, not all it was was water but, I mean, there was 
some water along with a lot of fat that you lost. 

CALLER: OK, because I've been carrying mail for four years 
and that's why I was wondering. 

ATKINS: Well, but it shows how effective the diet is. How 
many pounds did you have to lose altogether? 

CALLER: Well, I wanted to lose 50 pounds maybe. 

ATKINS: Well, all right, so you got a good start but 
eventually you'll switch on to ongoing weight loss anyway 
and you'll get to the point where you only lose one pound a 
week. KING: But the diet is in stages, right? As you 
explain it...

ATKINS: The diet is in four stages. The induction works 
very fast but you don't stay on it very long. It is just to 
get things started. 

KING: Then there's a... 

ATKINS: Then ongoing weight loss is really where you find 
out what your critical carbohydrate level for losing is. 
And it is a different level for different people. 

KING: How important is exercise? 

ATKINS: Exercise is important to everybody whether they 
diet or not. I don't think there is ever a person that says 
exercise is not good for people. Everybody agrees with 

KING: But is it essential? 

ATKINS: Well, if you can't exercise, you'll still lose 
weight, but it's extremely valuable to be healthy. 

KING: We'll be back with Dr. Robert Atkins and more on his 
new book "Atkins For Life." A lot more of your phone calls. 
Don't go away. 


KING: We're back with Dr. Robert Atkins. I'm Larry King. 
The caller is from Saline, Michigan. Hello. 

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


ATKINS: How did dr. Atkins explain the fact that the best 
marathoners in the world that have maybe 5 percent body fat 
eat diets that are 65 percent to 70 percent complex 

ATKINS: Well, that's perfectly fine because these people -- 
there is no reason you shouldn't do that if you're that 
active. That's an incredibly active way to go through life. 
Those would be -- that would be one group of people who 
wouldn't need to be on my diet although studies have been 
done showing that people who, let's say were cyclists, that 
they went on my diet to see if -- how their speed would 
work. And for about two weeks, they ran behind and then at 
the end of two weeks, they were just as good as ever. 

So that we know that the -- and that's just the 
introduction to the diet. So that once you've been on the 
diet more than two weeks, you're able to handle things. 

KING: Ashland, Kentucky, for Dr. Atkins. Hello. 

CALLER: Hi, Larry. KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Atkins. 


CALLER: Is it possible to lose too much weight on your 

ATKINS: I guess it's possible, but I wouldn't think very 
many people would do that. 

KING: You can get -- you can do the reverse of bulimia, 
right? Or you can -- or could you -- not the reverse, could 
you come bulimic. Could you suddenly start to say, I love 
it, I'm going waste away to nothing, I'm going to be buried 
in the box the pills came in. 

ATKINS: Well, I've treated about 40, 000 people who were 
overweight and I never had that happen yet. So it has to be 
a pretty rare event. 

KING: OK. Aurora, Illinois, hello. 

CALLER: Hello. Hi. 

I have just had a baby two and a half months ago and 
wondered why it wasn't safe for me to do the Atkins diet. 

ATKINS: Well, it is safe for you to do the maintenance 
level of the diet. But you don't want to give the keytones 
to an infant if you're feeding them breast milk. 

KING: And she would be getting the keytones from what? 

ATKINS: From being on a strict version of the diet. But you 
wouldn't be getting them if you're just on a low 
carbohydrate maintenance level. 

KING: Rushville, Ohio, hello. 

CALLER: Hi, Larry. 


CALLER: Hi, Dr. Atkins. 


CALLER: I'm 35 years old and had my kidney removed shortly 
after birth. 


CALLER: I had gone to my doctor to get permission to go on 
the Atkins diet and test my kidney function and it was 

After two weeks of the induction diet, I went into a kidney 
infection. Is there a modified version of the induction 
diet that I could do and still be safe for my kidneys -- 
for my kidney? 

ATKINS: Well, I would say so. The kidney infection had 
nothing to do with the diet. And there is no question that 
people with one kidney can follow the diet if that kidney 
is normal. There is no question. It has been done thousands 
of times. 

KING: What's the toughest part of starting? 

ATKINS: Well, the toughest part of starting for some people 
is getting rid of your addictions. In other words, some 
people are addicted to sweets and they have to go through 
withdrawal symptoms. Some people are addicted to alcohol. 
They have to go through withdrawal symptoms for that. A few 
other things. 

KING: But you have some substitutes you could do? 

ATKINS: Well, when I really have a person like that I tell 
them to just gradually decrease it and then by the seventh 
day they could be on the induction level because they would 
have gotten down slowly to zero. 

KING: What about sweeteners? The NutriSweet and... 

ATKINS: I like sucralose, which is in Splenda. I consider 
that to be...

KING: It's the yellow package, right?

ATKINS: The aspertame is the one that I think can cause 
some problems. The others are healthy if you like them. 

KING: Colas? 

ATKINS: Colas. 

KING: Diet Coke. 

ATKINS: Well, if a Diet Coke has aspartame, it's not as 
good as if it has sucralose and there are diet colas that 
do have sucralose. 

KING: So you would look for sucralose? 

ATKINS: Right. 

KING: Peoria, Illinois, hello. 

CALLER: Hello. In your book you say that you should not eat 
bacon or sausage with sodium nitrate. How important is it 
to stay away from sodium nitrate? 

ATKINS: All right. That's a minor point, because that's 
just a -- to talk about the fact that nitrates -- nitrates 
are a little dangerous. 

KING: What are nitrates? 

ATKINS: That's one of the ingredients that if you eat a lot 
of them, you can run into some medical problems. 

KING: Did you say don't eat sausage and bacon or do eat 
sausage and bacon? 

ATKINS: Well, I allow a moderate amount because I don't 
think it has enough -- when you can get the organic type 
without the nitrates in it you can have all you want. 

KING: Where do you get organic... 

ATKINS: In the health food stores. 

KING: You get organic bacon? 

ATKINS: Well, you get the kind of free range bacon that 
doesn't have nitrates in it, yes. 

KING: OK. Macon, Georgia, hello. 


Macon, are you there? 


KING: Go ahead. Speak up. 

CALLER: Dr. Atkins. 


CALLER: Before I started your diet, I used to have to take 
heartburn and acid reflux medication every night. But once 
I started your diet, I no longer had to take that. Does 
your diet have anything to do with me not having the 
heartburn and the acid reflux any longer? 

ATKINS: Oh, that's very, very common. Of course it has to 
do with that. There's no question if you went off the diet, 
you would get your heartburn again. 

KING: Because? 

ATKINS: We don't know why but we assume there is something 
in carbohydrate that would aggravate the stomach function. 
Because that's the one thing that's restricted. 

KING: It's very hard, though to get people to think that 
high fat is good because... 

ATKINS: You think so? 

KING: Yes, I'll tell you why. Because fat is a bad word. 
Fat means fat. Fat equals -- I'll be fat if I eat fat. 

Two, fat is too good. And something that good for your -- 
you're telling me put sweet cream on my Special K and 
that's better than skim milk on my Special K. Sounds weird 
to me. 

ATKINS: It's good. You've got the answer. It is good. It is 
enjoyable and it doesn't have carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is 
the bad guy. You have to see that. You told people go on 
low fat diet, look at how much more carbohydrate they began 
eating and that's what caused the epidemic of obesity and 
of diabetes. 

KING: So in other words, what you're saying is, we have an 
epidemic of obesity caused by people pushing low fat diets. 

ATKINS: Exactly. A hundred percent correct. May I shake 
your hand? That's perfect. 

KING: Where did I go right? I don't know what I'm saying. 
It just seems that the fact -- I've had people say it's a 
rule that if it tastes good, it is bad for you. 

ATKINS: Oh, have you got that wrong. If it tastes good, you 
can stay on it for life. Just pick a healthy food that 
tastes good and that's what Atkins does. 

KING: What do people tell you is the hardest thing for them 
to give up? 

ATKINS: Oh, boy. Everybody has -- everybody has their 

KING: I would guess bread. 

ATKINS: Well, maybe. A lot of people say bread. A lot of 
people say pasta. A lot of people say sweets. 

KING: So you're telling me when you order spaghetti and 
meatballs, you just eat the meatballs. 

ATKINS: I wouldn't order spaghetti and meatballs, I would 
just order the meatballs. 

KING: That was a joke. A little levity. 

OK. We'll be back with our remaining moments with Dr. 
Robert Atkins. Get some more phone calls in after these 


KING: We're back with Dr. Atkins. one of our crew had an 
outstanding question. What about portions? Can you eat all 
the steak you want? 

ATKINS: Well, the portions should be just enough that 
you're not hungry. Because we don't want anybody hungry, 
but we don't want anybody to just eat beyond that. So, It 
is just perfect. Nobody will be hungry. For a lifetime now, 
you never going to be hungry. That's the superiority of our 

KING: Cleveland, Ohio, hello. CALLER: Yes, Dr. Atkins, 
first I wanted to thank you. I've been on your diet for 
three years now. I've lost over 150 pounds. I've been able 
to keep it off. So that's very important to me. My wife, 
however, has a concern and that is she's been reading a lot 
about the mad cow disease that is being held in beef and 
I'm curious if you had any comments about that? 

ATKINS: We haven't had any mad cow disease in the United 
States. So it is really nothing to worry about. It doesn't 
affect anybody -- hasn't...

KING: How many died altogether? Did many die in Europe? 

ATKINS: That I don't know. It is pretty rare. 

KING: Pensacola, Florida, hello. 

CALLER: Yes. Thank you. Dr. Atkins, first I want to tell 
you thank you for sticking to your guns. I've been on the 
program since February 4 and I've lost 55 pounds. 

ATKINS: Good year. 

CALLER: My question is, whenever I try find my critical 
carbohydrate level for losing, and I get to the -- you 
know, you tell us about the five pound mark, well, if I add 
an extra bowl of brock broccoli to my supper, I'm getting 
that five pounds back. What is going on? 

ATKINS: Well you actually are a slower loser than you 
should be. So you're not on any medications are you. 

CALLER: No, sir, I'm not. 

ATKINS: OK, then which I stop one of our first callers, you 
should really check your temperature to see if perhaps you 
don't have a sluggish thyroid because that may be the 

KING: Staten Island, New York. Hello. 

CALLER: Yes, Hi. 

Dr. Atkins my husband has been on the diet for six months 
and lost 30 pounds. He's been on medication from the 
beginning, blood pressure medication and cholesterol 
medication. His blood work is wonderful now. But he's on a 
plateau now. He can't seem to lose for the last month. 

ATKINS: What is the hypertensive medication he's on? 

CALLER: I'm not sure the name of it. 

ATKINS: Well, basicly most of the hypertensive medications 
prevent weight loss or slow it down and he probably has a 
perfectly normal blood pressure. Since you live in Staten 
Island, you should really -- come and see me in Manhattan. 
At the Atkins Center. Because we -- we get people off of 
their medication all the time. 

KING: People fly in to see you, I know. 


KING: You can contact the Atkins Center in New York. 

ATKINS: All over the world, not just the U.S.. 

KING: Living right there that is what I would do.

North Brook, Illinois, hello. 

CALLER: Hi, gentlemen. 

I'm interested in the Atkins products and how you feel that 
they may inhibit or help the weight loss program. 

KING: You sell products? 

ATKINS: Yes. Atkins Nutritional sells products. And it's 
some very good products. We're not the only company that 
does it. 

KING: Where do you get it, health food stores? 

ATKINS: Health food stores carry them. You can logon to the 
website and call Atkins Nutritionals. 

KING: What kind of products? 

ATKINS: Well, we have chocolate things and they're called 
Advantage Bars, protein bars. We have about 80 different 
products. I mean, the whole breakfast, a lot of -- we have 
low carb bread. We have chocolate drinks and other drinks 
that are delicious and we will have ice cream in a few 

KING: You ship it out? 

ATKINS: Shipped out right away. 

KING: New York City, hello. 

CALLER: New York, New York. 

KING: New York, New York. 

CALLER: I have an event coming up in two weeks and I would 
like to lose a quick ten pounds. What is the surest and 
fastest way to do that. 

ATKINS: Well, the average weight loss of our induction is 
about ten pounds in two weeks. 

KING: You live in New York, go see him tomorrow. 

ATKINS: Not tomorrow. I'll be flying back to New York. No, 
go on the diet because you only have two weeks. It should 
take off ten pounds in two weeks. That's all you have to 

KING: How do you feel now? We have about a minute left, do 
you feel like -- well, yes, I told you so? 

ATKINS: Yes, definitely feel that way. And I must say I 
feel very happy having spent the hour with you. Really 
makes me feel good. And in general I feel that I've got to 
do the next step of my life which is to put an end to the 
epidemic proportions of diabesity. And that's the book 
after this one...

KING: About diabesity. 


KING: Because diabetes is our third most killer, right. 

ATKINS: And that definitely comes from carbohydrates. Check 
your blood sugar after a regular meal and see how many 
points it goes up and after one of our meals and see how 
few points it goes up and you'll see right away that is 
what you should do. 

KING: Always great seeing you. 

ATKINS: Good. Always great being here. 

KING: Dr. Robert Atkins, cardiologist, founder of the 
Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine, author of "Atkins 
For Life, the Complete Control Carb Program For Permanent 
Weight And Good Health" and you can website him at the I'll be back in a minute to tell you 
about tomorrow night. Don't go way. 


KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, Sarah Ferguson, 
the Duchess of York will be flying in from New York to 
appear with us. We look forward to that. 

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