The Atkins Nutritional Approach to eating is one of the best-known diets in North America, though it is often misunderstood. The diet does limit carbohydrates and emphasizes the importance of protein and fat, but it’s nothing like the no-fruit, no-vegetable program sensationalized by the American media.
According to Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice-President Matt Wiant, low carbs doesn’t mean no carbs. “Our diet combines proteins, vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, and whole grains,” he says. “In fact, Dr. Atkins used to joke that he ate more vegetables than many vegetarians did.”
The Atkins Nutritional Approach stresses the importance of including enough fats in one’s diet, but advises people to eat only “good” fats–monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, as well as some saturated fats–and cut out all “bad” fats, such as hydrogenated trans fats.
“There never have been and never will be any trans fats in our products,” assures Wiant. “We were ahead of the curve on that one.”
Although Atkins products have been available in Canadian health food stores for years, they weren’t specifically labelled for Canadian sale until 2002. “Most of our products have always been made in Canada, so it’s sort of ironic that it took a while for them to be officially sold in the Canadian market,” Wiant says.
Canada was the first non-US market for Atkins products. “Our products have been received very well in Canada,” says Wiant. “Canadians have always been very health conscious. They tend to sensationalize things less, too.”
Atkins currently offers food products, nutritional supplements, and information products for sale in Canada. Their food products are their highest-selling items.
“People’s lives are hectic,” Wiant explains. “They need convenient food products to help them follow a low-carb diet. They have problems following the Atkins diet when they’re travelling or when they’re at work. It’s the everyday challenges of life that cause them to reach for packaged foods.”
Their top-selling products are their breakfast bars, ready-to-drink shakes, and drink powders. Wiant says that breakfast bars are one of the biggest sources of added sugar in a diet. “Our breakfast bars use real fruit,” he says. “There’s no added sugar, and they have a lot of nuts and fibre in them.”
The Atkins “Morning Start” breakfast products are the company’s most popular products in the US, but they’ve only recently been introduced in Canada. According to Wiant, they have been met with a very positive response.
He attributes the popularity of his company’s products to the fact that the Atkins Nutritional Approach really works. “Half the people who start the diet stick with it, and everyone who sticks with it loses weight,” he says. “It’s because they’re not hungry and their body’s metabolism is working more efficiently.”
Wiant says the company is talking to Canadians on a monthly basis in order to find out what their evolving needs and wishes are so it can continue to provide them with high-quality foods. “We’re listening to what people are telling us they want and providing it to them,” he says.
To learn more about how Atkins is striving to meet the needs of Canadians, please visit their website at atkins.com/canada.