View Full Version : Atkin's diet may cut risk of heart disease

23rd May 2003, 08:50
just thought some of you might be interested

here's the link, below's the article:

Atkin's diet may cut risk of heart disease

12:14 22 May 03

NewScientist.com news service

People trying to lose weight by following the so-called "Atkin's diet", which restricts carbohydrate but not fat or protein intake could cut their chance of getting heart disease, suggests a new US study.

Overweight subjects on the high-fat, high-protein diet - which allows butter, mayonnaise and steak - increased the proportion of "good" cholesterol and cut the level of fatty triglycerides in their blood compared with those on conventional low fat, high carbohydrate diets.

Importantly, the protein and fat-laden diet did no harm, with no increases in levels of "bad" cholesterol. In fact, subjects on the Atkin's diet also lost more weight, although this did not remain statistically significant after a year.

"Obesity is a national public health problem, and we need to evaluate alternative weight loss approaches aggressively. Widely recommending low carbohydrate approaches may be premature, but our initial findings suggest that such diets may not have the adverse effects that were anticipated," says Gary Foster, the lead researcher and clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

The results were "unexpected", Foster told New Scientist. This is the first controlled trial of the Atkin's diet, and the "common sense notion that it would be associated with increases in bad cholesterol" was expected to prevail.

Although Foster cautions against recommending the diet, he says further work may endorse it as a useful option for weight loss.

More filling

The Atkin's diet, devised by US doctor Robert Atkins, raised levels of HDL cholesterol, known as good cholesterol, by an average of 11 per cent compared with only 1.6 per cent in conventional dieters after one year.

Fatty triglycerides were slashed by 17 per cent after one year on the Atkin's diet compared with no significant change in people on the high carbohydrate diet.

Weight loss was also statistically greater in Atkin's dieters after three and six months compared with conventional dieters, in the study of 63 obese men and women.

The team do not know how the Atkin's diet worked to produce these effects. "There is some evidence that food high in protein may be more filling," says Foster. This may make it easier for people to eat fewer calories. "Even when you tell people they can eat everything they want, they just donšt want to."

He adds the other reason might be that the Atkin's diet adds more structure to eating than a conventional diet as there are definite foods which can and cannot be eaten.

The diet prescribes limits for only carbohydrate intake - this includes fruit, vegetables, bread and pasta. Under a high-carbohydrate diet an average man eating about 2000 calories a day may have a daily carbohydrate intake of 300 grams, says Foster. Under the Atkin's diet this would be restricted to as little as 20 grams per day for the first two weeks, increasing slowly on a set scale depending on the amount of weight lost.

The team is now starting a five-year study to assess the risks and benefits of the diet in detail.

Journal reference: New England Journal of Medicine: (vol 348, p 2082)


23rd May 2003, 13:18
The first sign of heart disease for many people is sudden death.

(I used to be the Webmaster for the American Heart Association and for some reason they never let me put that fact up on the website):D

Marc Renouf
23rd May 2003, 14:34
The problem with at least two of these studies is that they have put people not on the actual Atkins diet itself, but rather on a "modified" Atkins diet supplemented with foods that are known to reduce "bad" cholesterol (like nuts and flaxseed oil). But since most regular people who start on an Atkins program don't know how to moderate their cholesterol levels, it remains a significant risk for the average dieter. One wonders how well the non-Atkins dieters would have done had they taken similar steps.

And when reading any of these studies, you need to read carefully between the lines. With the Atkins diet, the ratio of good-to-bad cholesterol got "better", but the bad cholesterol stayed the same. But they never tell you that the low-fat diet didn't reduce bad cholesterol. Only that the ratio of "good-to-bad" got "better." What is "better?" Closer together? Some physicians think that even good cholesterol can be bad once it gets above a certain level.

And finally, "bad" cholesterol seems to be far more important in terms of risk of heart disease than "good" cholesterol. So even if your good cholesterol gets closer to your bad cholesterol, if you're still sitting at 290, you're still at significant risk.

Furthermore, while everyone agrees that the Atkins diet causes you to lose weight faster initially, most physicians agree that in the long run, cutting virtually any food type out of your diet will cause you to lose weight in some fashion, especially over the long term. That comment of "In fact, subjects on the Atkin's diet also lost more weight, although this did not remain statistically significant after a year," is the important part. Long term, it's not demonstrably better than the lowfat diet.

Oh, and the Atkins diet ties you to dietary supplements pretty much as long as you are on it. While most of these are harmless, there is a growing body of evidence that highly concentrated vitamins and minerals (such as are found in supplements) are harder for your body to handle than the same amount of the same materials brought into the digestive process slowly and over time (i.e. as a natural part of what you're eating).

Besides, if you want to lose weight, study after study after study shows that dieting is orders of magnitude less important than exercise.