The Atkins madness is everywhere, seeming to spread like the slimy pseudopod of a macroscopic protist, engulfing hapless victims and assimilating them into its growing, famished matrix. Sounds like the beginning to a sci-fi novel, huh? Well, it isn't. People have become walking anti-carb entities, and companies continue to evolve by generating responses to the demand.

Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) initiated shipments last week of Minute Maid Premium Light, a new entry in its juice collection; it contains less than half the calories and sugars of the comparable beverage. This should provide a practical drinking solution for those who wish to consume juices but still fear all of those sweet molecules floating in the liquid.

The beverage industry is aggressively reconstituting its lineup to provide ammo in the ongoing war against the bulge (battle would have been too short term of thinking here, as diets are endless things). Coke is introducing C2, while PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) hopes to keep an Edge over the competition in the low-carb gladiatorial arena. Pepsi has its own light Tropicana variation currently on shelves; its recipe will be retooled a bit to lessen sugar content by 20%, and the product will be launched anew. As reported last fall, orange juice was due to fall to the advancing phalanxes of the Atkins armies, so the best defense is an even better you-know-what.

The intense scrutiny of carbohydrate intake is affecting many companies, whether it's diet consultantWeight Watchers (NYSE:WTW), Hormel Foods (NYSE:HRL), or doughnut makerKrispy Kreme (NYSE:KKD). (In the case of Hormel, the company is benefiting from the trend.) The danger is entering the fad too late in its cycle, which is not dissimilar to being behind the curve by buying shares of an overvalued equity.

I don't really fear that concern. So long as the brands are managed properly and sales data mined carefully, there should always be a place for these new soda/juice concoctions (Diet Coke/Pepsi never went away, as a point of support). And as for that other bete noir -- namely, the cannibalization of performance currently enjoyed by other portfolio compatriots -- I believe the upside potential far outweighs the implied risks.

Besides, I look forward to these lighter drinks because I certainly don't look forward to gazing at my gut every morning in the mirror. Every little bit helps, I suppose.

Share your thoughts on Coke and Minute Maid Premium Light on our Coca-Cola discussion board.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Coca-Cola.