Atkins diet, low-carb craze impact U-area eatery menus

Subway and Chipotle are among the restaurants offering low-carb options.

Ryan Dionne

As millions of Americans trade in their burger buns for slimmer rumps, University-area restaurants have introduced menu items to please carbohydrate counters.

Followers of the Atkins diet and other low-carb diets – which encourage dieters to fill up on protein rather than carbohydrates – can chose from Subway’s “Atkins-Friendly Wraps” or a Burger King burger without the bun.

“It becomes a culture,” first-year graduate student Minzee Kim said after ordering a sandwich at Subway, “but everyone needs a balanced diet.”

The low-carb diets, which cause the body to feel full faster and longer, have become a national craze despite health experts’ warnings that their benefits are short term.

According to the Atkins regimen, followers should reduce their carbohydrate intake at the beginning of the diet and slowly add them back in so long as they maintain the new weight.

Local restaurants continue to adjust their menus to include low-carb options.

Subway boasts two “Atkins-friendly” wraps that have fewer than 11 grams of net carbohydrates each.

Though not tailored for low-carb dieters, Chipotle’s tortillaless burrito offers consumers who don’t want to get their hands dirty an option for a low-carb burrito, minus all the carbohydrates of a tortilla.

Some restaurants that do not currently have low-carb meals, such as Big Mike’s Super Subs, are developing them.

“We are looking into a carb-friendly rollup,” said Darren Paul, marketing coordinator for the sub shop.

Paul said more customers have been asking about nutritional information, inspiring them to debut the rollup in the next few months.

While many dieticians and books agree that low-carb food, such as the Hardee’s bunless Low Carb Thickburger and Burger King’s similar product, are a weight-loss wonder, others are more critical.

According to the University’s Academic Health Center, low-carb diets tend to be high-fat and, if abused, can cause high cholesterol or coronary heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States.

Lisa Harnack, a University epidemiology professor, said many people on the Atkins diet lose more weight in the first six months than those who adhere to a low-fat diet. But after a year, both groups lost the same amount of weight.

“Because the studies were so short in length,” she said, “it was hard to know whether it is effective in long-term weight loss.”