Cardiovascular Disease in Women – Atkins Diet

Frequently Asked Questions: Atkins Diet Study

A study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients lost more weight on the Atkins diet than on other popular diets.

What did the researchers study?
Researchers compared four different weight loss diets for their effect on weight loss, cholesterol levels, percentage of body fat, waist-hip ratio, fasting insulin and glucose levels, and blood pressure.

Overweight and obese women were randomly assigned to follow the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, LEARN, or the Ornish diet. All women received weekly instruction for two months and were then followed for an additional ten months.

What did the researchers conclude?
Overweight and obese women assigned to follow the Atkins diet lost more weight and experienced more favorable effects (lower cholesterol and lower triglycerides) at 12 months than women on the other diets.

Does this mean that the Atkins diet is the best way for me to lose weight and lower my cholesterol?
Although the information found in the study is interesting, there are a number of points to bear in mind:

  • Twelve months is a very short-term study. When you are looking at an ultimate healthy life time weight and for the benefits of lowering cholesterol and decreasing risk of heart disease, a longer study period of at least 2 years would be preferable.
  • Previous studies of the Atkins diet have shown that over time, the Atkins diet is no more effective for long-term weight loss than other diets.
  • One study revealed that although after 6 months those on the Atkins diet has lost more weight, after 12 months there was no significant difference in weight loss. Adherence to both the Atkins and a conventional low fat diet was poor and drop out rates in both diet groups were high.
  • A study comparing Atkins with the Zone diet, Weight Watchers, and the Ornish diet found that all the diets modestly reduced body weight and several cardiac risk factors. However, overall diet adherence was low.Those who did stick with their diet more effectively, no matter what the diet was, had greater weight loss and cardiac risk factor reductions.

What’s the bottom line?
We need longer-term studies, greater than 2 years, to truly evaluate the effect of diet on weight and cardiac risk factors.

We need to move away from focusing on the short-term, quick results “diet” and move toward a healthy eating pattern, for example, the Mediterranean-eating pattern.

A Mediterranean diet includes more plant-based foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, modest amounts of healthy fat, and low fat dairy. Traditional Mediterranean dietary patterns have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiac disease and many other chronic diseases.

For more information about healthy eating, click here.


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