A Timeline of Low-Carbohydrate Diets
Paleo or caveman diet An article in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that adapting a diet similar to our hunter-and-gatherer paleolithic forebearersheavy on proteins and fat and low on carbsis a healthier diet alternative. Vegetables are not a major component, but fruit is allowed. Nuts and salads are encouraged. The diet has been criticized as being dangerously high in fat and very repetitive, reducing the chances of long-term weight loss.
Later, the 1988 book The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet & Exercise and a Design for Living recommends adapting the paleo diet by targeting consumption of foods with the same nutritional properties, not excluding foods that weren't available in the paleo age, such as skimmed milk, brown rice, and whole-grain breads, thereby achieving a more balanced diet.
As recently as 2005, books such as The Paleo Diet, written by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., of Colorado State University's Department of Health and Exercise Science, advocate the diet method. Eaton, S. Boyd, Melvin Konner (1985). "Paleolithic nutrition: a consideration of its nature and current implications," New England Journal of Medicine 312: 283-89.
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Dr. Robert Atkins first publishes his revolutionary approach to dieting; it doesn't catch on until an updated version of the book hits bestseller lists in 1997and stays there for almost 400 weeks. Advocating a diet high in protein from meats, the Atkins diet encourages ketosis, a condition that occurs in starvation when the body is forced to use fat for fuel in the absence of carbohydrates.
Low-carb diets return after the publication of "Letter on Corpulence" by a London undertaker, William Banting. After his physician tells him to cut back on carbs, he loses 50 pounds. So many ae inspired by his effort that for several decades thereafter, dieting is referred to as "banting."
Low-carbohydrate diets emerge in The Physiology of Taste, a book by French lawyer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.
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The medical profession feels that a low-carbohydrate diet is the way to eliminate sugar from the urine of diabetics. In the 1800s and even at the beginning of this century, doctors prescribed a "starvation diet."
In ancient days, Plato advises athletes to avoid sugar, and Hippocrates recommends foods rich in protein such as meat for those who want to become thin.