Skip to comments.Atkins Beats Other Diet Plans in Study
Posted on 03/06/2007 5:26:53 PM PST by decimon
CHICAGO - The low-carb, high-fat Atkins diet gets high marks in one of the biggest, longest head-to-head studies of popular weight-loss plans, beating the Zone, the Ornish diet and even U.S. guidelines. Even so, critics say the results show how hard it is to lose weight and keep it off.
Overweight women on the Atkins plan lost more weight over a year than those on the low-carb Zone diet. And they had slightly better blood pressure and cholesterol readings than those on the Zone; the very low-fat, high-carb Ornish diet, and a low-fat, high-carb diet similar to U.S. government guidelines.
Stanford University researcher Christopher Gardner, the lead author, said the study shows that Atkins may be more healthful than critics contend.
But the study isn't a fair comparison because by the end, few women were following any of the diets very strictly, critics argue, although those in the Atkins group came the closest.
The study "had a good concept and incredibly pathetic execution," said Zone diet creator Barry Sears.
"It's a lot easier to follow a diet that tells you to eat bacon and brie than to eat predominantly fruits and vegetables," said Dr. Dean Ornish, creator of the Ornish diet.
Atkins followers lost about 10 pounds on average at 12 months, versus 3.5 pounds for the Zone dieters.
Women on the Ornish diet lost almost 5 pounds on average and those on the national guidelines plan lost almost 6 pounds. Scientifically, those 12-month results weren't different enough from the Atkins weight loss to rule out the possibility the differences occurred by chance.
The dieters lost the most weight early on, including an average of 13 pounds for the Atkins group at six months - nearly double the closest competitor, the national guidelines diet. After that, most began regaining weight, a trend most noticeable in the Atkins women.
With an average starting weight of about 189 pounds, even losing 13 pounds meant many women remained overweight.
"There's not a ton of weight loss here," Gardner acknowledged. Atkins "isn't the solution for the obesity problem," he said.
The study involved 311 women about 40 years old on average and was designed to measure the effectiveness of using a diet book to lose weight. Women were randomly assigned to read one of four diet books. They attended weekly classes for eight weeks where diet questions were addressed, but then were mostly on their own for the next 10 months.
At the end, Atkins women had slightly higher levels of HDL cholesterol, the good kind, and slightly lower blood pressure than those on the other three diets. Gardner said differences in weight loss likely contributed to those results.
Ornish and other naysayers argued that the study doesn't answer a big question about the Atkins diet - whether consistently eating all that fatty food long-term leads to health problems.
The study appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
The authors said it's uncertain whether the results would apply to men or older women since none were studied.
The study "shows that nothing works very well," said Yale University food policy researcher Kelly Brownell. His book promoting diet and lifestyle changes similar to national guidelines was used in the study.
"To me, it just screams out for the need to prevent obesity," Brownell said.
The results echo a Harvard study published last year involving thousands of women, which also suggested that a low-carb high-fat diet might be more heart-healthy than previously thought, although it relied on women's memories of what they had eaten over two decades.
Also, those who ate fat and carbs from vegetables rather than animal sources had lower heart disease risks in the Harvard study.
Dr. David Katz of the Yale Prevention Research Center and author of several weight control books, said the new study presents little new information and called it "much ado about nothing."
Nurse Jackie Eberstein, whose consulting company promotes the Atkins diet, said the results are not surprising. Protein makes people feel less hungry and fat helps them feel more full, which makes weight loss easier on Atkins, she said.
Study participant Viola Manges, who does administrative work at Stanford, was assigned to the Atkins group.
Manges, 41, said the diet taught her to make healthier food choices, like eating steamed vegetables instead of mashed potatoes, even if she didn't always follow it strictly.
"I realized I had a bunch of willpower I didn't even know I had," Manges said.
Manges lost roughly 23 pounds, slimming down to a size 6 by the study's end about a year ago. She has regained about 10 to 15 pounds, but said she still tries to follow some of the Atkins recommendations.
The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and from the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan.
On the Net:
""It's a lot easier to follow a diet that tells you to eat bacon and brie than to eat predominantly fruits and vegetables," said Dr. Dean Ornish, creator of the Ornish diet. "
I think he fails to see the irony of that statement. What good is a diet if you can't stay on it or you're miserable? The best thing about the Atkins diet is that an obese person can shed a lot of weight and get to a weight where they can excercise more easily and later switch to a sensible balanced diet.
Bookmark for tomorrow's read.
That statement jumped out at me also.
I was for years on a low-carb, high-fat diet that worked quite well. I was able to stay on it because it was simple.
That was my experience, too. Last year I lost 25 pounds in four months on my interpretation of the Atkins diet, which basically consisted of eating nothing but protein foods and a few vegetables. It was easy for me because I didn't have to count calories, weigh portions, or balance points; just stay away from the stuff I wasn't supposed to have.
So,on my own,I gave Atkins a try...along with regular "power walking" (fast walking).
The pounds melted off of me.I lost about 25 pounds in about 3 months.and...I was *stunned* by how easy it was to stick to Atkins...I love beef,eggs,mayo,etc.After the first three months,I felt better...more fit...than I had since the day I graduated from Basic Training about 35 years ago.
But then my hip went bad (unsuccessful surgery,awaiting a hip replacement) and much of the weight has come back.
I love Atkins and will return to it when I get my new hip.
I knew beforehand that I would never stick to a complicated diet. I did buy the Atkins book for some background info and for the listing of how many grams of carbs are in different foods.
My diet was more extreme than Atkins and I felt great. And from comments I received, I'd say that I looked just fine.
But we're all different.
The important thing to remember with Atkins is to have regular blood tests to make sure your LDL cholesterol is under control. I would not stay on it long term since you can miss out on a lot of foods that have cancer-fighting properties. But I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a good start on significant weight loss.
These results aren't very good. I can lose around 5 to 10 pounds a month on Atkins.
This year I went back on Atkins. On January 1, I was wearing a size 18 jeans. Today, as I type, I'm wearing a size 12.
Atkins has a bad and undeserved reputation. If I tell people that I have cut out refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, they nod their heads and agree that it is a good diet plan. But If I say I'm following the Atkins diet plan, whoa-hoe, I am immediately lectured on how I need to be careful about it. Sheesh!
Then there are the people who worry when I'm overweight about diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. I have none of those problems. And when I diet, they tell me not to develop annorexia or bulimia. I can't win! Except in regards to my weight and satisfying ME.
That makes sense if they can then transition to a diet that will keep off the weight. In my case, I after a time lost my carb "addiction" and especially my sweet tooth.
I also lost weight quickly but I had an active job.
As for what other people say...well, people say everything.
Well, whomever came up with that diet I just have one message for, Marry me.
What contemptible losers.
Atkins is the conservative diet, because it fails to demonize meat, which liberals believe is bad. After all, meat is something for which we must depend on manly men such as hunters and cowboys. So, any diet that avoids or downplays red meat, such as Ornish's diet, must be good, even if it doesn't work. Notice, the Ornish diet is supposed to be good for your heart and cholesterol levels, yet it loses on both counts to Atkins.
Atkins makes sense because it involves eating the stuff we were made to eat, eschewing (that is, not chewing?) agricultural starches and sugars.
It was inexcusable the way the libs and diet nazis piled on Atkins and literally lied until it went out of favor. I hope Atkins is enjoying his vindication (which I predict will continue) from Heaven.
Sorry, but he's dead.
I'm on a low carburetor diet. No more than two carburetors per day.
I love brie. And bacon. And filet mignon.
When to we get hitched?
How many barrels? The more barrels the more risk of venturiclerosis.
Well that's just it. You know that saying Love is never having to say you're sorry? That's crap. It's Love is juicy red meat.
Hence, the claim of a low-carb diet being a paleolithic diet.
Dang... that's 'venturisclerosis.'
I started it because I had an abnormal 5 hour glucose tolerance test indicating hypoglycemia. My endocrinologist suggested Atkins or something similar. I haven't had a low blood sugar episode in a very long time. My lipid profile and cholesterol levels are great and my blood pressure is on low/normal side. I'm 5'4" and I stay between 112 - 115 lbs. I've never worried about calories. I feel better now than when I was 16 years old.
It can be very difficult or impossible for some people to do, however. For example, my better half can't eat the way I do because he's prone to kidney stones. His condition was pre-existing. I don't believe Atkins causes maladies unless done incorrectly (vegetables are a requirement), but it can definitely aggravate certain things. Even Dr. Atkins recommended that anyone beginning his plan would do well to have a full check-up.
Do you buy a book to follow with this?
Eating bacon and cheese is GOOD for you ping!
--I was for years on a low-carb, high-fat diet that worked quite well. I was able to stay on it because it was simple.
Strange, I lost 35 lbs. and have never regained it by eating low-fat for a couple of months and then just eating well (healthy) from then on.
Yes. I got from Amazon, but you can probably find it at the library or any used bookstore. It's been around for awhile. It's cheap, too.
Somewhere up there, Dr. Atkins has got to be smiling at this news (as if he would be surprised by hearing that his diet works)! Seriously, bump for a motivating article.
Here's a link to the abstract.
Dieting? Low-carb might be the way to go, at least in the short-term. Stanford University researchers comparing three popular diets over a year found that overweight women lost the most weight on the low-carb, high-protein Atkins diet, much maligned by nutritionists in recent years. Although their weight loss was modest, the Atkins dieters also saw drops in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, indicators of improved heart health. The $2 million study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, is the largest controlled trial to date of the Atkins, Zone and Dean Ornish diets.
It adds to a growing body of evidence that low-carb diets can help people shed more pounds than low-fat, high-carb eating plans, but it's also likely to elicit renewed protests from nutritionists who maintain that any diet promoting meat and cheese over fruit and whole grains can't be good for your health in the long run. "I'm puzzled by how stubbornly nutrition authorities continue to dismiss the Atkins diet because it's counterintuitive and high in animal fat," said Dr. Michael Dansinger, a Tufts-New England Medical Center researcher who conducted a similar, but smaller, popular diet comparison published in JAMA in 2005. "Rather than dismissing it, we should be trying hard to learn from it."
Millions of people have tried the Atkins, Zone and Ornish diets, and the Stanford researchers tried to recreate the real-world conditions under which most dieters try to lose weight: on their own, with a best-seller in hand. The Atkins diet severely restricts carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and fruit while allowing cheese, oils and meats largely verboten in many diets. The Ornish diet was designed to reverse heart disease and severely limits fat in favor of fruits, vegetables and grains. The Zone diet aims to control insulin levels by strictly limiting calories and dividing them into 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat.
The Stanford researchers recruited 311 overweight or obese women aged 20 to 50 and split them into four groups. Three of the groups were assigned to follow the Atkins, Zone or Ornish diets for a year, and were given the best-selling books for that diet. A control group was asked to follow the LEARN diet, a low-fat, high-carb eating plan recommended by the federal government. Then the women were largely left alone, save for an eight-week nutrition class and checkups at two, six and 12 months. They were encouraged to do whatever exercise was recommended in the diet books they were given, and they prepared their own meals and bought their own food.
Although some women in each of the four groups lost as many as 30 pounds, the average participant lost far less. The Atkins dieters lost, on average, 10.4 pounds, while the women in the control group lost 5.7 pounds. The Ornish dieters lost a little under five pounds, while the Zone dieters lost the least, with an average drop of 3.5 pounds. Some nutrition experts have worried that the Atkins diet, high in animal fat and protein, could raise cholesterol and blood pressure, but their concerns were not borne out in this study and some other recent studies. The Atkins dieters' "good cholesterol" levels rose compared with the other diet groups and blood pressure declined compared with some of the other diet groups.
The researchers noted that the weight lost by the Atkins dieters was only statistically significant when compared with the Zone dieters. Given that fewer than 80 women were in each group, the differences in weight loss between the Atkins and the Ornish and control-group dieters could have happened by chance. There were no statistically significant differences between the Ornish, Zone and control groups. Still, women who want to lose weight probably will be intrigued by the Atkins dieters' results, which echo some previous studies showing that low-carb diets seem to peel off the pounds, at least temporarily.
That dismays Dr. Dean Ornish, who founded the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito. Ornish, a leading proponent of very-low-fat diets, criticized the study, saying that the group assigned his diet did not really follow it - they reported eating far more fat than his diet allows. "I'm concerned that this study may cause people to forgo eating a healthy diet for one that's actually harmful for them," he said. Lead author Christopher Gardner, an assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said the study wasn't designed to test perfect compliance with any of the diets, but rather how they work under real-world conditions. It may be that the Atkins diet's emphasis on protein helped dieters feel fuller sooner and stay that way longer, he said. The diet has "one of the simplest messages to get out there for weight loss: absolutely no sugar and no refined carbs," Gardner said.
He cautioned, however, that the study was not designed to look at its long-term health effects and that the Atkins diet may impair bone density and kidney function. "We're all nervous about the long-term effects of a high saturated fat diet," he said. What's more, he said, as the study progressed, some dieters put back on some of the weight they had lost early in the year. That happened to Tania Bailey, a 47-year-old woman who was part of the Atkins group. She has regained about 10 of the 30 pounds she lost during the year-long study, but is holding steady with a less-restrictive, but still low-carb, diet. "I had a very boring diet," Bailey said of her participation in the study. "I ate Brie, so many high-fat foods. I had a lot more energy. I don't know why I couldn't stick with it."
The key word is "boring," said Kathryn Sucher, a nutrition and food science professor at San Jose State University. That, she said, is the reason so many people drop off the Atkins diet and other highly restrictive eating plans. "I jokingly say the best diet is the one you can stick with," Sucher said. "People think somehow that there's this magical bullet that'll help them lose weight, but losing weight is really about changing your lifestyle. And it's really hard to change people's lifestyles." For more information on the diet study and ongoing nutrition studies at Stanford, visit http://nutrition.stanford.edu
which fruits, specifically?
I have berries and the occasional apple, tangerine or orange. I always eat them with protein and fat (i.e., cheese, fruit and nuts) and never by themselves.
Any thoughts on the role of gluten as found in wheat, rye and barley?
Is one of the secrets of a low-carb diet that it is by default a low-gluten diet?
Gluten, or that sort of gluten, is not in rice, maize or potatoes.
My father used to say there's really only one way to diet, put your two hands on the table & push.
Me, I'm a weight watcher. Lost 50 pounds three years ago & have kept it off. Lost 60 pounds back in the 80's and kept it off for 10 years, but a new marriage, quitting smoking & having babies, I had let the weight creep back on.
The only way to really lose weight & keep it off is to really want too. Face the fact you can't be slim and eat everything you want as much as you want.
Face the fact you can't be slim and eat everything you want as much as you want.
An experience of low-carbers is a loss of desire, or the physical component of desire, to indulge.
Rice, bread, and potatoes raise your blood sugar rapidly and fall off rapidly, leaving you feeling hungry. Atkins and South Beach both start the induction phase by eliminating carbohydrates from these sources and attempting to get the blood sugar under control.
Fibers slows digestion of carbohydrates, and speeds intestinal transit time. Cooked oat bran, cooked rolled barley flakes are good if you don't have too much. I have a couple of sausages--I like farmland cider house--and cooked whole cereal for breakfast. To make the oat bran palatable I start with something like a tablespoon of Quaker Natural Oat granola (Sugared oat candy!) for sweetness, and add the oat bran, some salt. Oat has some gluten, but not as much as other grains. Keeps you regular, gets the HDL up.
Oat bran also binds to cholesterol, sweeps it out of the digestive system (Cholesterol is used by the body to create bile, and vitamen D. You do need some of it). Wheat bran doesnt do this. Oat bran is good stuff.
thanks for the tip
thanks for the tip
The BEST ally and diet buddy?? The diet diary, or logbook. Keeping track of every bite was really a sobering experience for me, but it also kept me honest. As soon as I stopped keeping track of what I was eating, I started cheating. After a while, though, one does retrain one's mind and habits. I'm back on it now, and will continue to do it right, and to stay with it for as long as it takes.
So true. Atkins is the only diet that ever worked for me. I dropped 20 pounds so quickly that it actually frightened me; but once I looked good I decided I could eat the same junk that I used to.