Entries in Atkins Diet (3)


Atkins-Like Diets May Increase Risk of Heart Disease

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Ever try the Atkins diet? Diets low in carbohydrates and high in proteins may increase the risk of heart disease, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ.

A group of European researchers led by Pagona Lagiou of the University of Athens Medical School in Greece assessed the diets of more than 43,000 Swedish women ages 30 to 49, and followed them for an average of almost 16 years. Women who consumed a diet consisting of low carbohydrate and high protein intake were at a 5 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease later. By the end of the end of the study period, 1,270 women developed heart disease.

Consuming as little as 20 fewer grams of carbohydrates and 5 more grams of protein per day accounted for the increase, the researchers found.

The actual number of women who developed heart disease was small -- about four or five extra cases per 10,000 women per year -- but the authors said that amounted to a considerable number over time.

Data from other studies that evaluated the relationship between low-carb diets and the risk of cardiovascular disease have been mixed.

The Nurses' Health Study from 1991 found no association between a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet and heart disease. Other more recent research, however, did find a link between these diets and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

But not all proteins are alike, which can make a difference in how heart-unhealthy this type of diet is.

"Low carbohydrate-high protein diets may be nutritionally acceptable if the protein is mainly of plant origin and the reduction of carbohydrates applies to simple and refined carbohydrates," the authors wrote.

One of the problems with Atkins-type diets is they are difficult to maintain, nutrition experts said. At the height of their popularity, there were also concerns that people who ate a lot of protein in the form of red meat and also ate very little fiber put themselves at risk for disease.

The goal of the once-popular diets, nutrition experts said, is short-term weight loss.

"These diets are not choice, but there have been some studies to show that a well-managed high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet in the short term can help an individual who needs to lose a large amount of weight," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Jana Klauer, a physician in private practice in New York, said she does recommend the diet for some people, but with an important caveat.

"A person who needs to lose weight can lose weight quickly, but it may not be such a good choice for people at risk for cardiovascular disease," she said. "If they did want to try a diet like that, they would want to be sure their source of protein is not fatty red meat, but fish."

However, in an accompanying editorial, German epidemiologists Anna Floegel and Tobias Pischon wrote that "the short term benefits of low carbohydrate-high protein diets for weight loss that have made these diets appealing seem irrelevant in the face of increasing evidence of higher morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases in the long term."

Diekman said the study does not identify a definitive link between low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets and heart disease, but it is a step toward identifying what impact these diets have on the heart.

"We need a really good study that analyzes food intake, follows up on food intake and looks at disease outcome," she said. The Swedish study, she said, used food questionnaires, which can be unreliable. The study also did not separate the effects of healthier proteins and carbohydrates.

The authors acknowledged the study's limitations, but stressed that the research sends an important message.

The findings, they wrote, "draw attention to the potential for considerable adverse effects on cardiovascular health of these diets when they are used on a regular basis, without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates (complex versus refined) or the source of proteins (plant versus animal)."

But Atkins Nutritionals Inc. released a statement criticizing BMJ for sending out a press release referring to the diets in the study as "Atkins-style." The study, they said, was not specifically of the Atkins Diet, which "emphasizes a healthy balance of proteins and good fats, and includes vegetables, fruits and even whole grains."

The Atkins Diet, said CEO Monty Sharma, is "a healthy, scientifically proven diet that includes healthy carbs, doesn't cut out any food groups, and is being passionately supported by millions of successful dieters across the globe."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet Safe for Kidneys

Creatas/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- For decades, medical experts have been concerned that high-protein, low-carb diets like Atkins could be damaging to the kidneys, but a new study found that this isn’t the case in otherwise healthy patients.

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine compared the effects of such a diet to that of a standard low-fat diet in 307 obese people who did not suffer from kidney disease or other chronic illnesses.

After a two-year period, they found that the high-protein, low-carb diet didn’t cause noticeable harmful effects on healthy obese patients’ kidney function compared to obese people who followed a low-fat diet.

“Despite decades of concerns about low-carb, high-protein diets that may cause kidney damage in healthy people, there were no signs that this would be the case after a two-year period,” said Dr. Allon Friedman, lead author of the study, published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Protein in the blood contributes to important protective benefits to the body, including fighting infections, blood clots and improving circulation in the body.  Normally, proteins are too big to pass through the kidneys’ filter into the urine, but proteins from the blood can leak into the urine when kidney filters are damaged, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Abnormal amounts of protein in the urine, known as proteinuria, usually point to some sort of kidney disease, regardless of diet.  But, researchers found that the most important way to reduce protein in urine did not have to do with the type of diet but rather the actual amount of weight lost.

The results are relevant to the millions of healthy obese adults who use dieting as a weight-loss strategy, researchers noted.  More than one-third of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite the promising results, Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, chief medical officer of the National Kidney Foundation, cautioned people to take the findings with a grain of salt.

“The population studied does not apply to most patients with or at risk for chronic kidney disease, since the study participants had no evidence of chronic kidney disease or other illnesses,” said Vassalotti.

“The best diet is obviously one that is balanced, that reduces calories and encourages daily exercise,” said Friedman.  “For this study, we really showed that it’s not important how someone loses weight, but whether they can do it and keep it off.”´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


South Beach Diet Beats Others in Keeping Weight Off

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(COPENHAGEN) -- Many diets can take the weight off -- but when it comes to keeping it off, not all regimens are created equal, according to new research. A diet consisting of high-protein foods and ones with a low glycemic index is best for maintaining weight loss, said a large European study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The South Beach diet is the commercial weight loss plan that most closely approximates the best diet in the study, according to study author Thomas Meinert Larsen from the University of Copenhagen. The Atkins diet is much higher in protein, severely limits carbs, and has a more liberal attitude towards the types of fats one may eat.

The study followed roughly 780 participants who had already lost weight on a calorie-restricting diet and were randomly assigned to one of five different weight management programs.

Participants who ate foods higher in protein and with a low glycemic index not only stuck to their maintenance diets better, but were also more likely to continue to lose weight over the course of the 26-week study. In contrast, those assigned to diets consisting of foods low in protein with a higher glycemic index were more likely to regain weight.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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