Gary Player stands behind anti-Atkins comments

Filed under: Celebrity — @ December 22, 2005

Reprinted with permission from Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb.

I would like to update you on a story I brought to your attention last month about legendary golfer Gary Player.

To refresh your memory, you will recall Player was celebrating his 70th birthday in early November and was asked by a reporter what he thought about the popular Atkins diet program developed by the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins.

His response: “Stay away from it at all costs.”

This mindless response from someone in the public eye like Player didn’t sit well with me which is why I decided to blog about it. I encouraged my readers at the time to e-mail him to explain his negative comments about this incredible way of eating that has helped so many of us overcome a lifetime of weight and health struggles.


One of my faithful readers received the following response which was dictated to a representative for Player from Player himself:

Dear XXXXXX,

First of all thank you for taking the time to write to me and to tell me about your weight loss. I congratulate you on the discipline and efforts to turn your life around and get into a healthy lifestyle.

My apologies if I have offended you in any way urging people to stay away from the low carb diets, but as a person who has studied and practiced proper nutrition my entire lifetime this is the conclusion that most experts have come to. You are correct that I do not have a medical degree, but I have studied with the best health and nutrition experts around the world and there is an overwhelming consensus that in order to practice proper nutrition to be healthy one must eat more fruits, vegetables, fish, brown breads and small amounts of lean meats. Too many carbs are not healthy, stay away from excess red meat because of the steroids which can lead to weight gain, most chicken is also fed with artificial feed and not organic which can also be filled with steroids. Stay away from bacon, sausages, white breads and other food items which contain artificial ingredients which can also lead to weight gain.

This is something I have studied for over 50 years and something that I am extremely concerned about considering that over 22% of our children and more than 50% of adults are obese and if we don’t do something about it now it will lead to more diabetes and other diseases if we do not change our eating lifestyles.

Once again, I thank you for taking the time to share your opinion with me, what a great country you live in that you are able to have the freedom to express your opinion. I hope that you will also value mine and the years of proper diet and exercise that have allowed me to at the age of 70 still compete in a sport that I love dearly.

My best wishes to you for continued good health.

Kind regards,

Gary Player

Well, I’ll give the man credit for responding to my reader’s e-mail. That was the right thing to do in light of Player’s foolish comments about the Atkins diet and the low-carb lifestyle. But this response leaves a lot to be desired, too.

Player admits that he is “urging people to stay away from the low carb” lifestyle because the so-called “experts” all agree that it is a uniformly poor way of eating because it allegedly shuns “fruits, vegetables … brown breads” and other healthy carbohydrates that your body needs.

With all due respect, Mr. Player, I couldn’t disagree with the opinion of you and those “experts” any more if I tried. As someone who has studied this way of eating and lost 190 pounds following the principles of the low-carb lifestyle, I can tell you that this is the ONLY eating plan I have ever been able to enjoy great-tasting foods, including many fruits, vegetables and brown breads, while simultaneously losing a significant amount of weight in the process.

Now that I am maintaining, I am livin’ la vida low-carb to KEEP my weight under control for life. There is no doubt in my mind that I would still be a 410+ pound man today had my life continued on the path I was on prior to beginning on a low-carb weight loss plan on January 1, 2004. If I had listened to people like Player back then and taken their advice to “stay away from it at all costs,” then I would not be the success story that I am today.

It makes me wonder how many people hear this kind of gibberish from such well-known public figures and choose not to even try the low-carb lifestyle as a result. What an utter travesty that would be! While livin’ la vida low-carb may not be for everyone (and I readily admit that), I don’t think scaring people away from at least giving it a try is the right way to do it. I challenge people like Player to promote the virtues of his plan for eating healthy rather than tearing down the one espoused by millions of people worldwide.

Sure, Player does a bit of a mea culpa about carbs not being healthy, but then says people shouldn’t eat meat. What, are we supposed to all be vegetarians now, Mr. Player?! I don’t think so! I eat LOTS of meat and my weight has remained perfectly under control. Meat is NOT the problem, it the unnecessary and wasted carbs in junk food, sugary snacks, and potatoes that are causing the obesity numbers you mention in your letter to be on the rise.

Player says he has studied this for a half-century and hopes that people wil respect his opinions about nutrition.

Oh, there is no doubt we respect your opinion, Mr. Player. But what we don’t appreciate is your use of your celebrity status to spread misinformation about the low-carb lifestyle to people who desperately need to find a permanent weight loss solution so they can begin living a healthy lifestyle. Derogatory comments about the Atkins diet cause more harm than help because you discourage people from even TRYING to do something constructive about their weight. That’s such a shame.

With athletes like Player and Carmelo Anthony as well as actresses such as Meg Matthews out there railing against the Atkins diet, is it any wonder people are scared to death to even attempt to begin a low-carb lifestyle? What these celebrities don’t realize is how effective they are at communicating a message to people.

And maybe they DO know how much they are influencing the culture and do it anyway to further their own personal agenda against low-carb living. I remain bewildered by this because the health and well-being of people are at stake here. Just once I would love to see a BIG NAME celebrity come out and testify to the whole world how WONDERFUL livin’ la vida low-carb has been and to recommend it to EVERYONE who wants to lose weight and improve their overall health.

Is there a celebrity out there who has the courage to do it?

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