Lower Cholesterol Levels Too

A recent University of Cincinnati study comparing the Atkins diet to the American Heart Association's (AHA) low-fat diet revealed that not only did the Atkins dieters lose more weight--an average of 18 1/2 pounds during a six-month period -- their cholesterol levels improved similarly to the low-fat dieters' levels.
Jennifer Newton Reents

Bonnie Brehm, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing and a registered dietician who reported the results of the study, says she was surprised to find that in the short term, a low-carbohydrate diet produced a greater loss of weight and body fat and an improvement in most participants' lipid profiles. Women on the low-carbohydrate diet were counseled to avoid foods rich in carbohydrates such as bread, fruit, grains, starchy vegetables and any dairy products other than cheese, cream or butter. Consuming fewer carbohydrates causes ketosis, a physiological state in which blood sugar levels drop so low that fat stores are broken down and converted by the liver into ketone bodies which are then filtered out by the kidneys and excreted in the urine, the University reports. According to the study, participants on the Atkins diet were given ketone strips to test their urine daily. Blood tests that were taken at three months confirmed the ketosis. Daily food records showed that those on the Atkins diet consumed an average of 41 grams of carbohydrates per day while those on the AHA diet took in about 169 grams, the university reports.

The Atkins diet seemed harder to stick to in the long term, Brehm says. During the first three months, both groups met once a week with a registered dietitian and both ate approximately the same amount of calories. During the fourth through sixth months, both groups were told to adhere to their respective diets. The low-fat group maintained their nutrient intake during this period while the Atkins group started to add back carbohydrates. Brehm says the Atkins dieters complained they could no longer deprive themselves of fruit, fruit juice, breads or pasta, and even a small amount of fruit could kick them out of ketosis. By the end of the six-month study, both groups showed a weight loss, but the Atkins group lost twice as much on the same amount of calories as the AHA group. PregnancyAndBaby.com

Tags: carbohydrate

recommended for you