... or rather a collection of fad diets.
I remember back in 2009 when I found the LC online community and one of my wishes at the time. Quite simply, I wanted to be able to tell my doc I was eating a very low carb diet most of the time and not have him/her gasp and presume I was eating caricaturistic Atkins. You know -- pounds of bacon, steaks and butter on a stick (or by the stick). Despite the prevalence of TWICHOO, there was (and is) a goodly sized body of scientific literature in support of low carb diets. The problem with this body of work is that it doesn't answer the burning questions regarding whether the diet is healthy in maintenance over the long term. I think the longest study on VLC was done by Dr. Eric Westman's group at Duke. It involved diabetics following a VLC weight loss diet for 6 months.
In the end one is left to look to observational studies on human diets and "success stories". Here is where one finds dearth and delusion. The observable human cultures consuming over 50% calories as fat are statistically zero, let alone upwards of that. Those that are, such as the ubiquitous Inuit, genetic adaptations aside, also (a) inhabit a rough cold environment and (b) consume cold water mammals with a nutrient profile like nothing most of us consume.
So when someone thinks LC, they are going to think Atkins. And all that entails including knock-off diets like Protein Power and others that mostly come up with new gimmicks for why low carb works (when it does within limits). There was a guy named Justin who used to go by the name Hogsfan at Jimmy's forum. I remember arguing once about the image of Atkins as a fad diet and how that was misguided and he said something like that Atkins himself with his first book was responsible for that. At the time my memory of reading Atkins for the first time over 10 years before had faded. I've since re-acquired a copy of his 1972 book which was the one I remember reading. Sure enough, though I had recalled some sensational claims, I was pretty shocked how over-the-top it was. While he was ultimately a calorie guy (Yes he was! He just claimed you peed them out as ketones) he loved to tell tales of folks eating thousands of calories of bacon and eggs and steaks and losing weight. The bottom line of it all is that Atkins loved to play the renegade and fed off the sensationalism. .... And profited handsomely.
So Hogsfan was right and Atkins will FOREVER be a fad diet. The latest ads like this one aren't helping matters moving forward. (Free Cherry pickin' Martini to the first commenter to point out the biggest wrong thing in that ad!). And ... so too, will be Paleo™ (or Paleoish™). The "big guns" are besides themselves over recent criticism from the scientific community, and one of the biggest complaints is that these scientists and such apparently haven't taken the time to educate themselves about Paleo™ by reading diet books. Look ... PaleoFX is a couple weeks past, but c'mon. Look at what came out of that gathering. Pictures of plates of fatty meat along with the more questionable chocolate covered bacon and such, cooking demos from a zillion cook books, and a Victory Belt "booth" with a table that was about to collapse under the weight of all of those books.
All of the books ... each on their own with some merit, but the biggest problem being that Paleo™ (and I include Primal in that) is not even the relative monolith that low carb is/was. But you have your spartan fare paleo (Cordain/Paleoista/Wolf book) and then you have restrictive Practical Paleo and Sisson stuff (not represented at PFX because the man thought the last one was a fuck show ← his words, not mine). Eating Disorders are NOT paleo and yet they abound in this community and it is downright scary sickening at times.
But whatever it really is, however ill defined, Paleo™ has been "trademarked" and I don't mean by Loren Cordain. I don't know if some of the people within "the movement" are capable of seeing it or not, but Paleo™ looks from the outside to be more faddish than Atkins if that is even possible. I don't think that can change, but if there is any hope that it can, that is up to the movers and shakers to recognize and represent. And respect ... respect the real science.