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To read research about the effectiveness and safety of low carb diets, read Aktins Diet/Low Carb Research Articles:

Low-Carb Diet Effective In Research Study

August 26, 2002 (Duke University Medical Center News Office) - The high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet popularized by Dr. Robert Atkins has been the subject of heated debate in medical circles for three decades. Now, preliminary research findings at Duke University Medical Center show that a low-carbohydrate diet can indeed lead to significant and sustained weight loss.

There has recently been a resurgence of diets promoting low carbohydrate intake, but the scientific evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of these diets is limited. This is the first published scientific study of the popular low-carbohydrate Atkins diet in two decades, and research is continuing.

The study appears in the July 2002 issue of the American Journal of Medicine and was funded by an unrestricted grant from The Dr. Robert C. Atkins Foundation.

"Study participants were put on a very low carbohydrate diet of 25 grams per day for six months," said Eric Westman, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Duke and principal investigator of the study. "They could eat an unlimited amount of meat and eggs, as well as two cups of salad and one cup of low-carbohydrate vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower a day."

Researchers found that 80 percent of the 50 enrolled patients adhered to the diet program for the duration of the study and lost an average of 10 percent of their original body weight. The average amount of weight lost per person was approximately 20 pounds.

"While we're impressed with the weight loss of this diet, we still are not sure about the safety of it," Westman said. "More studies need to be done in order to be confident about the long-term safety of this type of diet."

For example, all participants developed ketonuria, the presence of measurable ketones in urine. The level seen in this study translates to roughly that of a non-dieting person if they didn't eat for a couple of days, said Westman. "This is a finding that we need to learn more about. The level of ketones present was not terribly high, but we don't know if this is safe or harmful to one's health over a long period of time."

The study further showed that patients' cholesterol levels improved by the end of six months—a finding that was unexpected, according to Westman.

"We were somewhat surprised to find that patients' blood lipid profiles improved, even though there was much more fat in the diet," he said. "We had thought the fat in the diet would increase the cholesterol."

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that circulates in the blood stream and can accumulate to the point of blocking blood vessels and arteries. Having a high level of blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. Although exercise was recommended, it was not a requirement for the study. Half of the subjects didn't exercise at all and still lost weight, according to the researchers. Because of the intensity of this type of diet program, Westman cautions that "if someone has a medical problem or is taking medications, they should only do this diet under the supervision of a health care provider."


Go to next article (Atkins Diet Safety)

Studies suggest Atkins diet is safe
Over four months on the Atkins Diet, participants lost an average of 21.3 pounds, and showed a 6.1% drop in cholesterol, and almost a 40% drop in the level of triglycerides in their blood. In addition, their HDL levels increased by about 7%.

New research on Atkins Diet
New studies have taken an objective look at the Atkins Diet and found that low carb dieters lose more weight even while consuming more calories than people on a so-called healthy diet. An Atkins study that was intended to "show it doesn't work," found that after three months, the overweight men and women had lost an average of 19 pounds, 10 more than people on the standard high-carb approach.

The Role of Carbohydrate Restriction in Reducing Cardiac Risk Factors
A recent study on obese adolescents comparing a low-calorie diet with an unlimited calorie, controlled carbohydrate eating plan showed a greater than 50 percent average drop in triglycerides for individuals on the controlled carb plan and a 10 percent drop for those on the control low-fat diet.

Teens Triumph on Controlled Carbohydrate Program
Teens in the controlled carb group lost an average of 19 pounds during a 12-week period; low-fat dieters averaged 8.5 pounds. The controlled carb group also showed a greater decrease in overall serum cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels were reduced by 52 percent, as compared to a 10 percent drop for the low-fat group.

Atkins Diet Beat Low Fat Fare
Study finds surprising weight loss, cholesterol benefits: The low carb Atkins diet beat the low-fat American Heart Association plan in a head-to-head comparison.

New Studies Confirm Calorie Reduction Not Only Reason Atkins Diet Works
Examines two published studies: The first study demonstrated that subjects in ketosis, due to a controlled carbohydrate diet, experienced statistically significant improvement in blood markers that have been shown to predict coronary artery disease. The second study found that people lost fat (an average of seven pounds), while actually gaining muscle (an average of two pounds) in only six weeks.

Low-Carb Diet Effective In Research Study
Researchers found that 80 percent of the 50 enrolled patients adhered to the diet program for 6 months and lost an average of 10 percent of their original body weight. The average amount of weight lost per person was approximately 20 pounds.

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