It can be a full-time job to keep up on the latest developments in clinical research on controlled-carbohydrate nutritional practices and the Atkins Diet’s reduced carbohydrate way of eating. This is why I thought it may be a good idea to post a research update every few months that summarizes the latest research for you and how it relates to Atkins.
Here’s what has happened in just the last three months:
1. Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids with Coronary Risk
Authors: Rajiv Chowdhury, MD, PhD; Samantha Warnakula, MPhil; Setor Kunutsor, MD, et al
Ann Intern Med. 2014; 160(6):398-406-406. doi: 10.7326/M13-1788
Background: Current guidelines suggest consuming more omega-6 polyunsaturated fat and less saturated fat is better for cardiovascular health.
Purpose: Review multiple studies (a meta-analysis) to analyze the connection between fat consumption and heart disease.
Conclusion: The results of this meta-analysis show no connection between saturated fat consumption and heart disease risk. The evidence does not support the current recommended guidelines.
What does this mean to you? This meta-analysis supports Atkins’ recommendations for fat consumption. Especially in the context of a low-carb eating program, the fat consumed on Atkins is burned for energy and does not raise the risk of heart disease.
2. The Cardiometabolic Consequences of Replacing Saturated Fats with Carbohydrates or Ω-6 Polyunsaturated Fats: Do the Dietary Guidelines Have it Wrong?
Author: James J DiNicolantonio
Open Heart 2014; 1:e000032. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2013- 000032
Background: Dietary Goals for Americans, published in 1977, proposed increasing carbohydrates and decreasing saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet. This increase in consumption paralleled an increase in the incidence of diabetes and obesity in the U.S.
Purpose: Are saturated fats as bad as we have lead to believe? This editorial discusses the data.
Conclusion: There is no conclusive proof that a low-fat diet has any positive effects on health; when carbohydrates replace saturated fat, it actually increases your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. A public health campaign is needed to educate everyone on the dangers of a diet high in carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods.
What does this mean to you? If you’re doing Atkins, you’re already doing exactly what Dr. DiNicolantonio (the editorial’s author) suggests by following a plan that incorporates a balance of healthy fats (including saturated fats), fresh vegetables, whole grains (eventually if your metabolism allows) and protein, and limits refined carbs, sugar and processed foods.
3. The Low-Carbohydrate Diet and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Epidemiologic Studies
Authors: T. Hu, L.A. Bazzano, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases (2014)
Background: Researchers analyzed multiple studies conducted from January 1966 to November 2013 comparing low-carb diets and low-fat diets. Randomized, controlled studies have shown that low-calorie low-carb diets are at least as effective as low-fat diets for weight loss.
Purpose: To compare low-carb diets to low-fat diets for weight loss and the improvement of heart disease risk factors.
Conclusion: Both low-carb and low-fat diets can help you lose weight and decrease your risk of heart disease, although low-carb diets may be more effective at decreasing waist circumference. The researchers concluded that a low-carb diet can also be recommended to diabetic patients to help them lose weight, but they emphasize that a healthy low-carb diet should emphasize dietary fiber intake derived from whole grains, fiber-rich fruit, low-carbohydrate vegetables (such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables), avocado, olive and vegetable oils, soy, fish and chicken, and restrict or eliminate consumption of processed and unprocessed red meat as well as starchy vegetables and refined grains.
What does this mean to you? When it comes to decreasing your risk of diabetes and heart disease, while losing weight and slashing inches from your waist, Atkins may be just what the doctor ordered.
4. A Non-Calorie-Restricted Low-Carbohydrate Diet is as Effective as an Alternative Therapy for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
Yoshifumi Yamada, Junichi Uchida, Hisa Izumi, Yoko Tsukamoto,
Gaku Inoue, Yuichi Watanabe, Junichiro Irie and Satoru Yamada
Internal Medicine, January 2014
Background: In a six-month, randomized controlled trial, 24 patients with type-2 diabetes were either put on a low-carb diet or a calorie-restricted diet.
Purpose: To determine the effect of the two diets on average blood glucose concentration, which is an indicator of blood sugar levels. Reductions in total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL, blood pressure, markers of atherosclerosis and renal function were also measured.
Conclusion: The low-carb diet significantly improved blood sugar levels and triglyceride levels compared to the calorie-restricted diet. And although calories weren’t restricted on the low-carb diet, after six months, calorie intake for both groups was almost the same.
What does this mean to you? If you have type-2 diabetes and you have tried calorie-restrictive in the past without success, a low-carb diet like Atkins can help manage your type-2 diabetes while helping you control your calorie intake without feeling hungry.