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  • Women lost more weight on the Atkins Diet than on The Zone, a low-fat diet or a balanced diet

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Friday, May 28, 2010 8:13 am Email this article
    Women following an "Atkins diet for a year not only lost more weight than the [women following The Zone diet, a low-fat diet or a balanced diet], but also experienced the most benefits in terms of cholesterol and blood pressure," according to a year-long study from Stanford University published in the March 7th, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Two Month Weight Loss

    2 month weight loss: 9.5 lbs vs 4.8 vs 5.9 vs 5.5

    After 2 months, the average weight loss for each group was as follows:


    Six Month Weight Loss

    6 month weight loss: 12.8 lbs vs 4.4 vs 6.9 vs 5.3

    After 6 months, the average weight loss was:

    Note that maximum weight loss occurred after six months for those on the Atkins diet and the USDA food pyramid-based LEARN diet, however, women on The Zone and the very-low-fat Ornish diet had already started gaining back a small amount of weight.


    One Year Weight Loss

    1 year weight loss: 10.3 lbs vs 3.5 vs 5.7 vs 4.6

    And after one year, the average weight loss in each group was:


    Starting Weight

    Average starting weight of 187 lbs

    The average starting weight of the women was 187 pounds. Therefore, the average weight loss represented:

    And after one year, the average weight loss in each group was approximately:


    HDL Cholesterol

    HDL cholesterol: +5 vs +2 vs +3 vs +0

    Women in the the Atkins group also had the greatest improvements in cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

    The average change in HDL levels, which were an average of 52 mg/dL to start, were:


    LDL Cholesterol

    LDL cholesterol: +1 vs +0 vs +1 vs +4

    The average change in LDL levels, which were an average of 110 mg/dL to start, were:



    Triglycerides: +29 vs -4 vs -14 vs -15

    The average change in triglyceride levels, which were an average of 121 mg/dL to start, were:


    Blood Pressure

    Blood pressure: -8/-4 vs -3/-2 vs -3/-2 vs -2/-1

    The average change in blood pressure, which were an average of 116/75 mm Hg to start, were:



    Conclusion: Low-carb diets are a viable alternative

    “Many health professionals, including us, have either dismissed the value of very-low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss or been very skeptical of them,” said lead researcher Christopher Gardner, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. “But it seems to be a viable alternative for dieters.”



    Subjects: 311 premenopausal overweight women

    The study involved 311 pre-menopausal, non-diabetic, overweight women who were randomly assigned to follow either the Atkins, Zone, LEARN or Ornish diet.


    Atkins Diet

    Atkins diet: Low-carbohydrate, high-fat

    The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet.


    Zone Diet

    Zone diet: 30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbohydrates

    The Zone diet is a moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-fat, high-protein diet which recommends eating 30 percent fat, 30 percent protein and 40 percent carbohydates.


    LEARN Diet

    LEARN diet: USDA Food Pyramid-based diet

    The LEARN diet, which stands for is “Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships and Nutrition”, follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid which is low in fat and high in carbohydrates.


    Ornish Diet

    Ornish diet: Very-low fat diet



    Diets represented low-carb to high-carb diets

    “The Ornish diet, based on bestseller ‘Eat More, Weigh Less’ by Dean Ornish, is very high in carbohydrates and extremely low in fat.”

    “Researchers chose the four diets to represent the full spectrum of low- to high-carbohydrate diets,” the press release noted.


    Real World Setting

    Subjects bought and prepared their own food

    The study was setup to mimick the real world in that the women had to buy and prepare all their own food.


    Concerns Not Substantiated

    Concerns about LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular risk factors not substantiated

    “Many concerns have been expressed that low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets, high in total and saturated fat, will adversely affect blood lipid levels [such as raising levels of harmful LDL cholesterol] and cardiovascular risk,” the paper notes. “However, these concerns have not been subsntiated in recent weight loss trials [including this one].”

    Blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels are either no worse or are even better on a low-carb diet

    “The recent trials, like the current study, have consistently reported that triglycerides, HDL-[Cholesterol], blood pressure, and measures of insulin resistance either were not significantly different or were more favorable for the very-low-carbohydrate groups,” the paper continues.

    Low-carb diets lower triglycerides, which lower heart-clogging effects of LDL

    Low-carbohydrate diets also lower triglyceride levels, which, the authors noted, increases the size of the LDL particles, which lowers the blood vessel-clogging effects of LDL cholesterol.


    Concerns Not Substantiated

    Concerns about LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular risk factors not substantiated

    “Therefore, we interpret these findings to suggest that there were no adverse effects on the lipid variables for women following the Atkins diet compared with the other diets and, furthermor e , no adverse effects were observed on any weight-related variable measured in this study at any time point for the Atkins group,” the paper concluded.


    Why Atkins Worked Best

    Study authors speculates why women on Atkins lost the most

    The following is directly from the press release from Standford…


    #1: Atkins is Simple

    Atkins advice is simple: Get rid of refined carbohydates

    Gardner has several ideas for why the Atkins diet had the overall best results. The first is the simplicity of the diet. “It’s a very simple message,” he said. “Get rid of all refined carbohydrates to lose weight.” This message directly targets a major concern with the American diet right now - the increasing consumption of refined sugars in many forms, such as high-fructose corn syrup.


    #2: Atkins Says Drink More Water

    Atkins diet is best at encouraging drinking more water

    Beyond pinpointing this high sugar intake, the Atkins diet does the best at encouraging people to drink more water, said Gardner. And when people replace sweetened beverages with water, they don’t generally eat more food; they simply consume fewer calories over the course of the day.


    #3: Atkins Encourages More Protein

    Atkins diet has people eat more protein which reduces appetite

    The third theory Gardner offered as to why the Atkins diet was more successful is that it is not just a low-carbohydrate diet, but also a higher protein diet. “Protein is more satiating than carbohydrates or fats, which may have helped those in the Atkins group to eat less without feeling hungry,” he said.


    The Best Advice

    The best advice from the Atkins diet is to reduce refined carbs such as white bread and soda

    Regardless of what new insights are revealed, Gardner said the message he hopes people take from the study is the importance of eliminating from their diet, as much as possible, refined carbohydrates such as white bread and soda.



    Comments: Previous study showed Zone worked slightly better than Atkins—15 lbs vs 12 lbs

    I was surprised by this study.

    I expected women on the Zone diet to do the best, simply because this is what a previous study found.

    The previous study found that after one year, the average weight loss was:

    Comments: Previous study also found fewer dropouts with the Zone diet—7% vs 25%

    The previous study found that fewer women on the Zone diet (7 percent) dropped out of the study compard to women on the Atkins diet (25 percent).

    The main difference in the study was that the women in the previous study were insulin-resistant, whereas women in this study were not diabetic and not insulin-resistant.

    Therefore, perhaps all women in the previous study were more inclined to cut out refined carbohydrates, and not just women assigned to the Atkins diet.


    Final Comment

    Comments: Cut out the refined carbs

    As the author of the current paper noted, the bottom line of the study is simply to try and eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugar from your diet as much as possible.


    Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, Kim S, Stafford RS, Balise RR, Kraemer HC, King AC. Comparison of the atkins, zone, ornish, and learn diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women. JAMA. 2007 Mar 7, 297(9):969-77.


    Christopher D. Gardner, PhD
    Hoover Pavilion, N229
    211 Quarry Rd
    Stanford, CA 94305-5705
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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