An Atkin’s-type diet that is low in carbohydrates produces much greater weight loss than the low-calorie, low-fat diet currently endorsed by the US National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), new research shows.
As reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr. Charles H. Hennekens, from the Agatston Research Institute in Miami Beach, Florida, and colleagues assessed weight loss in 60 people who were put on a modified low-carbohydrate diet or the NCEP diet for 12 weeks.
Roughly 36 percent of subjects in each group were considered overweight or obese.
With the NCEP diet, the percentage of calories from fat, carbohydrate, and protein held steady throughout the study at 30, 55, and 15 percent, respectively. On the modified low-carbohydrate diet, the percentages fluctuated during the study, but the percentage from carbohydrates never exceeded 28 percent.
The average weight loss achieved with the modified low-carbohydrate diet was 13.6 pounds, nearly double that achieved with the NCEP diet. Moreover, the low-carb diet was linked to favorable changes in all cholesterol levels, whereas the NCEP diet produced more limited improvements.
The groups were comparable in terms of satisfaction with the assigned diet and the weight loss counseling they were given, the authors note.
“While any expected incremental benefits of different diets are small to moderate, the clinical and public health implications are very large for a condition as common and serious as obesity,” the researchers state.
Therefore, large, long-term trials are warranted to gauge the effect that a particular diet will have at the population level, they add.
SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, October 25, 2004.
Revision date: July 4, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD