Multitudes use the the high-fat, low-carbohydrate Atkins diet, and now a carefully controlled study backs them up: A low intake of carbohydrates may actually take off more weight than a low fat diet and may be surprisingly better for cholesterol, too. For years, the Atkins formula of sparing carbohydrates and loading up on taboo fatty foods has been blasphemy to many in the health establishment, who view it as a formula for cardiovascular ruin.
But now, some of the same researchers who long scoffed at the diet are putting it to the test, and they say the results astonish them. Rather than making cholesterol soar, as they feared, the diet actually appears to improve it, and volunteers take off more weight.
At least three formal studies of the Atkins diet have been presented at medical conferences during 2002, and all have reached similar conclusions.
The latest, conducted by Dr. Eric Westman of Duke University, was presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association, long a stronghold of support for the traditional low fat approach.
In research financed by the Robert C. Atkins foundation in New York City, which promotes the Atkins diet, Westman studied 120 overweight volunteers. They were randomly assigned to the Atkins diet or the heart association’s Step 1 diet, a widely used low fat approach. On the Atkins diet, people limited their carbohydratess to less than 20 grams a day, and 60% of their calories came from fat.
After six months, the people on the Atkins diet had lost 31 pounds, compared with 20 pounds on the AHA diet, and more people stuck with the Atkins regimen.
Total cholesterol fell slightly in both groups. However, those on the Atkins diet had an 11% increase in HDL, the good cholesterol, and a 49% drop in triglycerides. On the AHA diet, HDL was unchanged, and triglycerides dropped 22%. High triglycerides may raise the risk of heart disease.
While the volunteers’ total amounts of LDL, the bad cholesterol, did not change much on either diet, there was evidence that it had shifted to a form that may be less likely to clog the arteries.
Another diet that is high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbs is the Rosedale diet. This diet accomplishes its goals by overcoming leptin resistance, reducing appetite and burning stored fat.
High Fat Diet can help with the following
For some people, especially fast oxidizers, needing a high fat / protein diet, increasing healthy fat in the diet may reduce the craving for quick burning calories. If you aren’t getting enough fat in your diet, your body may be craving quick burning fuels, like breads and sweets.
A Swedish study showed that switching from a high-fat to a low-fat diet lowered blood testosterone levels by 10 percent.
The ketogenic diet has been in use and discussed in medical literature since the 1920s. It was replaced when the modern anti-convulsants became available, even though it has a very good success rate at controlling seizures. In some cases it is actually better than drugs at controlling seizures, having a success rate of 75%. Seizures are stopped in 50% of cases and reduced in 25%.
A ketogenic diet is one that is high in fat, low in carbohydrate and protein. This diet produces circulating ketones and a state called ketosis, where ketones are found in the urine. Ketones, like glucose, are burned for energy, but indicate that either fat is being taken from body fat stores or dietary fat intake is high. In attempting seizure control, this ketotic state exerts an anti-epileptic effect but its mechanism of action is not completely understood.
The ketogenic diet is used to treat intractable epilepsy in children. It may be prescribed when seizures are out of control, and when the side-effects of anticonvulsant drugs and/or surgery are considered unacceptable. The diet is safe, with rare side effects only when not strictly followed.
Most kids can stay on the diet for two years, get off it and never have another seizure again. The diet works best in children under the age of ten: they are less likely to cheat and young children can maintain ketosis better than adults or older children.
The diet mimics the effects of starvation. It has long been known that fasting has a beneficial effect on seizure control. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic came up with a way to induce the effects of starvation (fat burning, ketosis and a change in blood pH levels) by feeding the patient large quantities of fat and limiting protein and carbohydrate. The diet has to be rigidly controlled as any deviation can throw the patient out of ketosis and produce a seizure.
Most people investigate this diet as a last resort. The diet is unpalatable and demands great commitment from the entire family for a considerable period of time. The diet is deficient in many vitamins and in calcium, so a good (carbohydrate-free) vitamin supplement is important.
For those interested in more information, The Ketogenic Diet: A Treatment for Epilepsy by J. Freeman (2000) is often recommended.
The types of epilepsy most often treated with a ketogenic diet include juvenile absence epilepsy, West syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, benign rolandic epilepsy and benign occipital epilepsy.
For some people, especially fast oxidizers, needing a high fat / protein diet, increasing healthy fat in the diet may improve cold hands and feet.
|May do some good
|Likely to help
|May have adverse consequences
|Reasonably likely to cause problems
The sugars and starches in food. Sugars are called simple carbohydrates and found in such foods as fruit and table sugar. Complex carbohydrates are composed of large numbers of sugar molecules joined together, and are found in grains, legumes, and vegetables like potatoes, squash, and corn.
A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues, it facilitates the transport and absorption of fatty acids. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.
(gm): A metric unit of weight, there being approximately 28 grams in one ounce.
(HDL): Also known as "good" cholesterol, HDLs are large, dense, protein-fat particles that circulate in the blood picking up already used and unused cholesterol and taking them back to the liver as part of a recycling process. Higher levels of HDLs are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease because the cholesterol is cleared more readily from the blood.
The main form of fat found in foods and the human body. Containing three fatty acids and one unit of glycerol, triglycerides are stored in adipose cells in the body, which, when broken down, release fatty acids into the blood. Triglycerides are fat storage molecules and are the major lipid component of the diet.
(LDL): Also known as "bad" cholesterol, LDLs are large, dense, protein-fat particles composed of a moderate proportion of protein and a high proportion of cholesterol. Higher levels of LDLs are associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Essential Fatty Acid
(EFA): A substance that the human body cannot manufacture and therefore must be supplied in the diet.
Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.
Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.