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Paleo and high fat low carb ketogenic diet popularity grow: Atkins diet evolves

Bring on the protein, say consumers.
Bring on the protein, say consumers.Photo by Ethan Miller

As the Paleo diet has become more popular, nutritionists are discovering how to adapt caveman cuisine for different needs. Illustrating the low carb diet's potential to be customized: It's now one of the hottest diet trends in Dubai, reported the National on Sunday.

While the ranks of Paleo dieters continue to grow in the United States and the United Kingdom, caveman diet experts are extolling its benefits in other nations as well. A personal trainer who began his career in the U.S., Jeffrey Zorn adapted the Paleo plan for his Dubai clients when their current diets failed to result in weight loss.

And after losing about 10 pounds in six weeks on the Paleo diet, Marcella Thomas is a believer. She praises the way that the Paleo diet can be customized to include low carb versions of standard high carb favorites.

"Traditional carbs are reinvented to be satisfying – from courgette noodles to cauliflower rice," noted Marcella. "I also like the holistic emphasis – meals that are Paleo and also gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, egg-free, soy-free and refined- sugar-free."

What the Paleo plan offers that parallels other low-carb diets and has made them all increasingly popular: An emphasis on protein. About half of all consumers seek out protein-rich products, reported CSP News on Monday.

The NPD Group analyzed the nation's shift to foods high in protein. Among the most popular variety: Protein bars, for which we're willing to pay more.

With one in five consumers admitting that they shell out more money for protein, bars win. And 75 percent of us believe that protein is a key part of a healthy diet.

The faith in protein for weight loss reflects the revival of the high fat low carb Atkins diet after Kim Kardashian and Sharon Osbourne both chose it to shed pounds. Since it was created by Dr. Robert Atkins, the ketogenic program has evolved based on the most recent research.

The ketogenic diet prescribed on the Atkins weight loss plan reflects "more than 80 clinical trials that studied the Atkins diet," the company's nutrition expert Colette Heimowitz, VP of Nutrition & Education at Atkins Nutritionals, told me in an exclusive interview.

Author of "The New Atkins Made Easy: A Faster, Simpler Way to Shed Weight and Feel Great -- Starting Today," Colette explained that "this information has lead us to adjust certain recommendations." Key among them: Vegetable servings allowed on the different phases of the program.

"One thing we learned is that fiber has a minimal impact on blood sugar and is not biologically available. There was no longer a need to limit vegetables to only three cups," Colette told me. In addition, the diet has dialed down the protein amount while increasing the emphasis on healthy fats.

"It is no longer an all the protein you can eat program. We also put more emphasis on healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, seeds/nuts and their oils and butters," noted Colette.

And for those who prefer plant-based diets, the Atkins plan now caters to their needs. "Another change is that the program can be adjusted for a vegetarian or a vegan," Colette told me. The cookbook that she concocted highlights that modification, with recipes featuring ingredients such as tofu included: "The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook: 200 Simple and Delicious Low-Carb Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less."