The Atkins Diet Controversy
The Atkins diet, a high-protein low-carb diet plan, has become a highly popular weight-loss approach. Two recent weight loss studies have been publicised as supporting the Atkins Diet and confirming the weight-loss ability. But are there still safety issues about high protein dieting and is the diet a suitable approach for long-term weight loss?
Atkins Diet Studies
Both studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
Atkins Diet Study 1.
The first was conducted by the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where 132 severely obese patients were randomly put on either a low-carbohydrate diet, or a low-fat diet, for six months. The Atkins dieters limited their carbohydrate intake to 30g a day and received counselling on healthy types of fat, such as omega-3 fatty acids. The low-fat dieters were put on a calorie-controlled diet, with no more than 30 per cent of total calorific intake from fat.
Only 79 people managed to complete the six-month trial. Low-carbohydrate dieters lost an average of 13 pounds, compared to four pounds for low-fat dieters. No significant changes in cholesterol or blood pressure levels were noted in either group, but the low-carbohydrate consumers did reduce their levels of triglycerides (blood fats) by an average of 20 per cent, compared to only 4 per cent in the other group.
Atkins Diet Study 1 – Conclusion
Despite the weight loss results, the study stated that the findings:
“… should be interpreted with caution, given the small magnitude of overall and between-group differences in weight loss in these markedly obese subjects and the short duration of the study. Future studies evaluating long-term cardiovascular outcomes are needed before a carbohydrate-restricted diet can be endorsed.”
According to senior investigator, Dr. Samuel Klein:
“This study demonstrates that a low-carbohydrate diet can have beneficial effects in treating obesity. Additional research is needed to understand why subjects assigned to a low-carbohydrate diet lose more weight than those assigned to a conventional diet and to evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of low-carbohydrate diet therapy.”