Atkins Diet FAQs and Research

1. Does high-protein, low-carb dieting increase risk of heart disease?

There is disagreement here... Dr. Robert Eckel of the American Heart Association says that high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets put people at risk of heart disease ( read details here ), however a long term study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 found that women reduced heart disease risk by eating more protein and fat from vegetable sources.

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2. Is the initial drop in weight experienced by Atkins dieters significant?

A 2001 scientific review conducted by Freedman et al. and published in the peer reviewed scientific journal Obesity Research concluded that low-carb dieters' initial advantage in weight loss was a result of increased water loss, and that after the initial period, low-carbohydrate diets produce similar fat loss to other diets with similar caloric intake.

3. Is ketosis the reason for weight loss on the Atkins program?

Controlled studies published in 2004 in the Journal the Lancet report that the level of ketones found in trial subjects were too low to support the claim that ketosis causes weight loss in a high-protein, low-carb diet. What was noted was that those following the Atkins-style program actually had lower calorie intakes than those who were following a low-calorie & low-fat program. The reason suggested by researchers was boredom, others have pointed to a greater sense of satiety after eating protein rich meals. For the Lancet's summary report, click here.

4. Does high-protein, low-carb dieting increase blood cholesterol and blood pressure?

Foster et al in New England Journal of Medicine notes no difference between the total cholesterol levels between two groups of dieters, one following a high-protein low-carb regime and the other following a conventional low-fat diet. However it found that HDL (good cholesterol levels) improved more on an Atkins-like program and triglyceride levels (harmful blood lipids) showed a greater decrease on the Atkins-style program. In this study, both dieting groups saw a decrease in blood pressure. They recommend further research into the long term health effects of this kind of nutrition. For the New England Journal of Medicine's summary report click here.

5. Is Atkins effective for diabetics?

Following the publication of "The Atkins Diabetes Revolution", many people have wondered whether diabetics should follow the Atkins Diet. The Foster study mentioned above also concluded that people following both an atkins-style diet and a more conventional diet experienced an improvement in diabetes risk factors such as insulin response to oral glucose load. The effect was the same for both groups, so no advantage to the Atkins approach proved here, but it was shown to help. Please note however, that diabetics (or anyone) with pre-exisiting liver or kidney conditions should not follow high-protein programs.

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