Scientists Weigh In On High Protein Diets
Researchers Compare Atkins-Style Diet To Others
POSTED: 2:32 p.m. EDT May 21, 2003
UPDATED: 5:35 p.m. EDT May 21, 2003
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BOSTON -- If you're not counting carbohydrates, chances are you know someone who is.
NewsCenter 5's Heather Unruh reported that the Atkins-style high protein, low carb diet is incredibly popular. But how does it match up against the traditional low-fat diet?
Science finally has some answers.
Jennifer Marcus is like 45 percent of women and 30 percent of men in the U.S. She's trying to lose weight, and she's had some success.
"I did the Atkins diet for about two months. It worked really well. I lost probably around 15 pounds -- like two clothing sizes," Marcus said.
Two new studies found similar results. Pennsylvania researchers randomly put nearly 200 obese people on either an Atkins type low carb/high protein diet or a traditional low-fat plan. At six months, the low carb group had lost on average 8.8 pounds more than those in the low-at group.
"It also confirms the contention of Atkins supporters that there may be a primary effect of this kind of diet on appetite, so that it's easier for people to reduce their calories simply by reducing their carbohydrates," Joslin Diabetes Center Dr. Terry Maratos-Flier said.
What about eating all those saturated fats like meat, cheese, and butter that some health critics say is bad for your health? The short-term studies found no ill effects.
"Their blood pressure didn't go up. Their cholesterol didn't go up. Their triglycerides went down and their insulin level also went down," Maratos-Flier said.
At one year though, there was no significant weight loss difference. In fact, in both groups, many dieters dropped out, saying that sticking to it was tough regardless of what was on the plate.
"Everybody eats very differently. They have different opportunities for eating and they have different patterns for eating, and unless you really get at those issues we're not going to have long term positive effects," Tufts Nutrition School spokeswoman Alice Lichtenstein said.
Experts call the research important but not definitive, and want five to 10 year studies before drawing conclusions.