The Atkins Diet

What Does the Research Say About the Atkins Diet?

Now we come down to the real question everyone wants to know: Is Atkins better than a low-fat diet? There has been an ongoing debate over "low carbohydrate vs. low fat" diets, and numerous studies have been done to try to settle this argument once and for all. Unfortunately, there is still no clear-cut answer.
Some studies have shown that those who followed the Atkins diet (high-protein, low-carb) lost an average of 7.7 kg (17 lbs) after eight weeks, which was no different than the weight loss for those who followed a diet that focused on simply restricting calories. The data showed that those who were on the Atkins diet had significant weight loss initially, but this was limited to the first week of the diet. After that, it was believed that any remaining weight loss primarily came from restricting calories overall rather than carbohydrates.
Some theories suggest that those following a high-protein diet will consume fewer calories, as the protein tends to make you feel fuller and you won't eat as much. Also, a high-protein, low-carb diet like Atkins causes certain metabolic processes to occur in the body that result in rapid weight loss initially when you deprive your body of carbohydrates. These processes can cause a type of diuretic effect in which you are mainly losing water weight.
Some research has shown that those who were on an 800-calorie, low-carb, high-protein diet had an average of 4.6 kg (10 lbs) weight loss after 10 days, compared to 2.8 kg (6 lbs) weight loss for those who were on an 800-calorie mixed diet. These studies also determined that the primary difference in the weight loss was due to total loss in body water.
Other studies have shown that those who followed the Atkins diet lost more weight initially than those following a low-fat diet, but that at 12 months, there was no statistically significant difference between the two diets.
So in short, it is not exactly known whether one diet is really better than another for maintaining weight loss. At this time, the bulk of the scientific evidence available suggests that as long as caloric intake remains constant, there is no significant advantage to restricting carbohydrates.
As far as how the Atkins diet or other high-protein diets may affect your heart health, some research has shown that people who were losing weight on the Atkins diet for 12 months had:
Other research has shown that if you are overweight and losing weight on a diet, it is likely going to be beneficial for your health, regardless of which diet you use. However, once you have established an ideal weight, does it matter which diet you are following? Some research says it does matter.
One particular study showed that people who followed a low-carb, high-fat diet for weight maintenance for even as little as a month had higher risk factors for heart disease compared to those who followed the South Beach or Ornish diet.
So while restricting calories may be the key to weight loss rather than counting carbs, fat, or protein, research suggests that there may be significant differences in cardiovascular risk factors for those who follow these diets and aren't trying to lose weight.
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