General Diet Plans and Questions - Problems with high protein diets?

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08-27-2003, 12:16 PM
Recently I've heard alot from some folks on Atkins and other high protein diets (including on other message boards here) about problems they were having on these diets, so I did some research on the net and found this link:


It has info on the diets, the complications that they cause, and a registry for everyone that has had trouble with the diets.

I found enough info that has raised serious doubts about these diets mover the long term that I have allready advised my family to steer clear of them. I was also in email correspondence with a dietition through the website who said they have had people who have registered having serious heart problems, and kidney problems, amongst a plethora of other ailments. I hope you find the site as informative as i have.


08-27-2003, 01:47 PM
Something to keep in mind here...

PCRM (the organization behind the website you posted) is an organization of doctors who are promoting a vegan lifestyle...not that there's anything *wrong* with being a vegetarian/vegan (I was one myself for 9 years). But they definitely have an agenda against Atkins (again, I am not 'pro-Atkins' or 'anti-Atkins' - but the site doesn't attack *just* Atkins, but any diet that is low-carb, moderate-to-high protein/fat (that would include, among others, the currently popular South Beach Diet, CKD, etc.)

IMO, there are two sides to EVERY story, and the website above is entirely one-sided. Again IMO, remember back in the late 80's/early 90's, when high carb/low fat diets were the rage and recommended by the Food Pyramid - concurrently, obesity in America (and the rest of the world) has reached epidemic proportions, as has related diseases such as adult-onset diabetes...this *could* be just a coincidence, but I don't think so.

I don't do Atkins myself - rather, I cycle between low-carb days and high-carb days - that works for me...and I'm not anemic anymore as I was when I was a vegan. (this is just MY personal experience, not meant as a putdown of vegetarians OR vegans).

No one diet or program is going to work for EVERYONE - many people do great on Atkins, while others do better on other programs.

Here's an interesting article about PCRM as a counterpoint...

Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine: Not So Responsible
February 14, 2002

By Ruth Kava, Ph.D., R.D.

This month the American Dietetic Association (ADA) published a position statement about food and nutrition misinformation. According to a survey run by the ADA, the media— including TV, magazines, and newspapers — are the leading sources of nutrition information for American consumers. Because of their predominant role, the media can be the source of much nutrition misinformation as well — for example by allowing individuals or groups with hidden agendas to promote their particular views under the guise of presenting balanced, science-based nutrition information.

One particularly egregious example is the dogged attack on foods of animal origin presented by the self-styled "consumer advocacy" group, Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine, or PCRM. The name of the group implies that its membership is made up primarily, if not totally, of physicians, and that therefore its pronouncements on health, science, and nutrition topics should be considered to have a special imprimatur. This is simply not true.

The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) ( states that only ten percent of PCRM's members are actually M.D.s. CCF also cites evidence about the close philosophical and financial links between PCRM and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which is a well-known animal rights group. While PETA promotes its animal rights agenda in a forthright, if often raucous, manner, PCRM is more subtle. Its strategy is to impugn the value of animal research and of foods of animal origin, using human health as its pretext.

The American Medical Association (AMA), whose members really are all doctors, has issued resolutions criticizing PCRM's claim to be a responsible medical mouthpiece. One such resolution stated in part, "Our AMA registers strong objections to the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine for ...misrepresenting the critical role animals play in research and teaching..." (

When it comes to food issues, PCRM is no less misleading. Not only do they say that milk and dairy products don't help build bone strength, they claim that such foods cause a host of diseases, ranging from osteoporosis and asthma to diabetes and even breast and prostate cancer. When questioned about such allegations, the group will point to one or another published study that they state supports their position. They have even posted a longer analysis on their website ( purporting to show that numerous studies have found a likely causal link between dairy consumption and prostate cancer. But the truth is otherwise.

In that analysis, PCRM president, Dr. Neal Barnard, examines the results of 23 epidemiologic studies that evaluated the possibility of a link between dairy consumption and prostate cancer. He noted that 11 of the 23 found significant associations between dairy and cancer. But he omits something important: statistical significance is not necessarily the same as biological significance.

When epidemiologists report on their data, they calculate a ratio called relative risk. In this case, that would be the risk of developing prostate cancer by men consuming large amounts of dairy products compared to the risk for men who consume little or no such foods. If the difference between the groups is large enough, it may reach statistical significance, which means that the probability of getting such results by chance is highly unlikely (usually less than 1 in 20).

Typically, if the disease risk of the group consuming the most of a suspect product is less than double the risk of the comparison group, epidemiologists consider the link between product and disease to be a weak one. Of the 23 studies reviewed by Barnard, only three reported relative risks greater than 2.0; and these were not the largest, most recent, or best-designed studies. By comparison, the risk of developing lung cancer by people smoking one pack of cigarettes per day, compared to the risk for non-smokers, is about 10 (that is, 10 times as great) — a number deduced from literally hundreds of studies. Now that's a risk factor that makes an epidemiologist sit up and take notice!

Despite the paucity of really solid data, PCRM persists in labeling dairy consumption as a cause of prostate cancer (for a more balanced review, please see ACSH's recent paper, Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer: Facts, Speculation and Myths: But the lead author of a recent paper about the Physicians' Health Study, Dr. June M. Chan, has been quoted as saying, "We do not recommend that people change their diets or stop drinking milk," despite their finding a 32% increase in risk of prostate cancer in men with high dairy consumption.

According to the PCRM, a strict vegetarian, or vegan, diet will cure what ails us. Another summary on their website relates the results of a small study that examines the effect of adhering to a vegan diet on individuals with type 2 diabetes, compared to a diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association. They found that those eating the very low fat vegan diet had better blood sugar control than did those on the Diabetes Association diet (which is not vegan or as low in fat). However, what the summary doesn't mention is the number of calories consumed by individuals on each diet. One can reasonably assume that the vegan diet had fewer calories than the other diet, since the vegans lost close to 16 pounds on average during the study, while the other group only lost eight pounds (the study lasted 12 weeks).

Predictably, the PCRM report attributes the greater success of those on the vegan diet to the lack of animal products, but a really valid comparison would be between the two diets at the same level of calorie intake.

Such examples strongly suggest that PCRM's main goal is not the dissemination of scientifically sound, reliable nutrition information to consumers. Indeed, by emphasizing only data that support their agenda, and by exaggerating the reliability and importance of such data, they obfuscate rather than clarify what can be a confusing body of information. Those who purport to represent consumer interests should be responsible enough to present accurate and balanced information to the public. Some groups obviously abdicate this responsibility.

Another site to check out for more info on PCRM:

Oh and INCIDENTALLY...I believe that the person who started this thread WORKS for the PCRM...hmmm...I would call that SPAM, wouldn't you?!? :o

08-27-2003, 02:11 PM
Another article...
A Real Look at The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine...who they really are...

A Special Report by Theresa Schroeder

When I first heard of the website, **********.org and decided to check it out, I was mildly alarmed and slightly annoyed. After all, I've done quite a bit of reading and research on my own, and have found that it is typically ignorance from which people speak out against Atkins and low carb diets.

But when I was asked to write an article, and therefore decided to research the organization and the website a bit more indepth, I was seriously appalled and angered. My mild annoyance at their biased views and obvious ignorance of what a low carbohydrate diet really means, turned to shock and dismay at this organization's true agenda, and their underhanded covert tactics.

They promote themselves as an organization concerned with our nutrition and education. Instead, what I found was an organization with close ties to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization well known for terrorist type actions. The ************ website is brought to you by an animal activist group looking to promote a vegan lifestyle in the name of animal rights. They don't want you eating animals, or using any products coming from animals. Period.

The *********** website is full of mistruths and misstated half truths, including what information they have on low carb diets (which they insist on calling a "high protein diet", also a misnomer.)

They include a lot of scary sounding information, most of which is not true. Some are true facts, but are distorted to refute the low carb diet. The information on ketosis is absolutely incorrect.

Most of the rest of it is the same old "fat will kill you" propaganda. The fact is, our bodies need good fats. We don't need starchy foods and sugar.

With a name like Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), one would think that the members promoting this website are physicians, right? Not so. Physicians make up only about 5% of the membership.

A look at their main site page reveals their so-called "research" which is tantamount to quackery in my mind. They bring a few people into their office; prescribe their vegan diets; and then provide a few quotes from those who are satisfied with the results. That's research??

As far as the tactics they will turn to in accomplishing their goals... well, that was the scary part. In fact, scare tactics seem to be their prime method of operation. After all, physicians are advised on several pages of potential liability for prescribing a high-protein diet. Consumers are advised to seek legal action if they were not happy with their results. Not to mention all of the terrible things that will happen to your body on a 'high-protein' diet.

What was scary to me is that PCRM President Neal Barnard is PETA's medical and scientific adviser. PETA has also made cash donations to the North American Earth Liberation Front, whom the FBI has called "a domestic terrorist organization".

Associated with those types of organizations... well, who knows what they intend to do with that list of doctors' names they are asking for? They directly advise you that the information you provide is NOT confidential. I don't think I can stress that enough: it is NOT confidential. There is a statement that the information you provide will be passed along to government and health officials. Which government and health officials? They seem to consider themselves health officials. Why do they need a list of doctors who prescribe 'high-protein' diets?

You know, I love animals. I really do. I have three animals at home, and have taken in strays until a home could be found. But why does an animal rights group have to masquerade as something else in order to promote its agenda? If it is a worthy agenda, it should be promoted through direct education and information. If someone wants to be a vegan, well, great, have all the websites you want promoting a vegan lifestyle, but don't try to force me into it. Or scare me into it for that matter.

Thanks to an email list member, I became aware of the site This site tracks activist groups and their funding, which is public information since those organizations are non-profit. Don't take my word for any of this. Do your own research. Check out that site, which was a wealth of information, much much more than I could include here. Make your own decisions, but let it be an informed decision... not one based on someone's hidden agenda.

08-28-2003, 07:30 AM
A good amount of concern needs to be paid to low protien diets. A diet that is low in protein doesn't afford the body what it needs to spare LBM. If weight-loss is achieved it is often at the expense of far more muscle than necessary, resulting in an almost impossible challenge to maintain the weight loss.

09-03-2003, 05:12 PM
Hello again,

I'm really sorry that i haven't been able to come back to respond to this sooner. I'm even more disappointed that information from a group such as the Center for Consumer Freedom has been posted here. For a group that "exposes" so much funding I am amazed that they themselves don't disclose where their funding comes from or goes to as PCRM does (and PCRM recieves more than half it's funding from members - people like you and I).

The truth is that CCF's money (from what I can find) comes from Phillip Morris and the restaurant industry (industries very interested in keeping meat on your table and cigarettes in your mouth - regardless of the health risks to you). If you want info on them, you can check out an investigative organization called PR Watch.

I am also disappointed to see that the website i posted for *********** has been removed. It contains a registry that could be very useful to people who have had problems (and there are alot of them) on high protein low carb diets. This website sells nothing, is run by a Health Advocacy group, and the info on it is similar to what you will find said by the American Heart Association, American Kidney Fund, and the American Dietetic Association. I'm sure anyone interested can find it on their own using a web search.


09-03-2003, 06:55 PM
Originally posted by Garlic
I'm even more disappointed that information from a group such as the Center for Consumer Freedom has been posted here. Not half as much as I am disappointed that information from a group such as "Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine" has been posted here. I consider PCRM a radically-biased group. I'm sorry that you're a member.

Many people bemoan the realities that a prosperous economy requires, but hate the alternative to a much greater degree. People are welcome to object to capitalism even when taking advantage of it -- that's rather unfair to capitalism though.

09-03-2003, 07:11 PM
Nothing really to add to what Brian said, other than to say that what you did (yes it was I who removed all mentions to the website that YOUR organization runs...I think what really pissed me off, quite frankly, was your initial post:

Recently I've heard alot from some folks on Atkins and other high protein diets (including on other message boards here) about problems they were having on these diets, so I did some research on the net and found this link...

I found enough info that has raised serious doubts about these diets mover the long term that I have allready advised my family to steer clear of them. I was also in email correspondence with a dietition through the website who said they have had people who have registered having serious heart problems, and kidney problems, amongst a plethora of other ailments. I hope you find the site as informative as i have.

Putting it bluntly, that's dirty pool and SPAM in my book - you make it sound like you just 'came across' the website while casually surfing the Web - THAT IS A LIE. Your email address is a PCRM me, this is a blatant attempt at forwarding your own agenda while pulling the wool over our eyes.

Didn't you read the forum rules when you registered? And I wonder how many other diet/weight loss forums you placed the same message on? Hmmm???

09-03-2003, 07:21 PM
Interesting. There is a user who posts stuff like that every other day on some forums I visit -- under different IDs each time, of course, as the user is banned in each forum.

09-06-2003, 12:35 PM
Funny...and that this thread here was the only posting that was done by this user out of the entire forum...How could they have been on the low carb forums chatting it up about their problems with the low carb diets when they have only posted on this thread??? Go get 'em Mrs. Jim!!!