In the first studies to target the popular Atkins Diet, researchers out of Denmark suggest that replacing carbohydrates with fatty foods is safe – at least for the first six months. Any longer, and according to the researchers, dieters are on their own. Scientists at a university in Denmark concluded that although the diet seems to promote “weight loss without hunger” in the short term, its future effects on a low-carb dieter’s health and prevention of disease are unknown.
Even though the low-carbohydrate diet’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with millions of books about the plan sold and even fast food restaurant menus being made more compliant to the diet, there have been few studies done to determine the long-term effects if the diet on people’s health. The Danish researchers looked at three well conducted studies that assigned dieters to either the Atkins Diet or a traditional low-fat, low-calorie diet. Results suggested that participants on the Atkins Diet lost more weight during the first three to six months than the more traditional dieters, however, at the one-year mark, both sets of participants had lost the same amount of weight.
Surprisingly, the Atkins dieters improved their cholesterol levels, even though they consumed more fat. Researchers attributed this to the greater weight loss early on in the diet. Combining low-carb with high-protein intake may further decrease the appetite through the monotony of a smaller selection of foods making people feel satiated.
Some experts have concerns about the lack of any long-term studies of the Atkins Diet and fear that research may not catch up with the mainstream use of low-carb plans in time to find out its real effects. In the long term, some experts speculate that the Atkins Diet may lead to bone and kidney problems, along with negative effects on cholesterol. Following the diet is recommended under the supervision of a physician, as not everyone can safely follow its “one size fits all” approach to weight loss.
A point of interest . . . Dr. Atkins, the developer of the Atkins Diet, was rumored to have suffered from heart disease and hypertension prior to his death last year at the age of 72. This has left some wondering just how healthy his diet actually is over a lifetime.