Does the Atkins Diet (controlled carbohydrate diet) Really Work?
For more than 30 years, dieters have sworn by the Atkins Diet, a low carbohydrate
diet plan espoused by the late Dr. Robert Atkins. But doctors-and the media-were skeptical and cautious. Vindication has come this year in the form of
three published clinical trials which showed that the Atkins Diet is not only
safe and effective, but actually can improve cholesterol levels in some patients,
at least over the short term focus of the studies.
The first study, done by University of Cincinnati researchers, compared obese
women who followed a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet to those following a very
low-carbohydrate, high protein Atkins-type diet that was not calorie restricted.
They found that the Atkins group actually lost more than twice as much weight
as the low-fat, calorie restricted diet group over a six month period. Despite
the fact that the Atkins group had a much higher dietary fat and cholesterol
intake, this group had no negative effects on their blood cholesterol or other
lipid levels, their blood pressure, blood sugar or insulin levels compared with
the other group.
Another interesting finding was that even though the Atkins group was not calorie
restricted, the women studied did consume an average of 450 calories per day
on this diet. . .without even thinking about it. Why? One suggestion is that
the increased fat and protein content of this diet suppresses appetite. A more
probable suggestion is that since the food choices are limited and exclude most
processed foods, "comfort foods", and desserts, that Atkins dieters can reduce
caloric intake without even being aware of it.
Two other clinical trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine
supported these findings. In one six month study of severely obese patients
with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, the group following the Atkins Diet again
lost more than twice as much as the low fat dieting group: the Atkins dieters
lost an average of 5.8 kg compared to a loss of only 1.9 kg in the low-fat dieting
group. The Atkins dieters in this study also had better serum triglyceride
improvement than the low-fat dieting group. The third study showed similar
results, but noticed that the dramatic difference in improvement rates did not
persist as long as a year.
Created: 10/23/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.