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.
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