It has been a tremendous month for us at Atkins.
On March 7, 2007, the Journal of the American Medical Association published one of the biggest stories in the world of health with results of a study which compared four popular diet programs, executed by researchers at Stanford University, and underwritten by the National Institutes of Health. The year-long weight loss and health study tested among 311 pre-menopausal overweight women was titled “The A to Z Weight Loss Study: A Randomized Trail.” It compared the Atkins Nutritional Approach, the Zone diet, the Ornish diet and a basic conventional eating plan based on food-pyramid recommendations (the LEARN program).
The study’s conclusion?
As reported in news headlines of major TV networks, newspapers, and web sites around the world:
The Atkins Diet declared “The Winner” and "Back on Top".
The study’s results were clear:
The women who followed the Atkins weight loss program lost on average 40 percent more weight than the women on the next best plan;
The Atkins weight loss program proved significantly more effective than the other leading weight loss programs tested, and lowered risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease;
The best news was that women following the Atkins program also experienced the most favorable results in their “good” cholesterol levels (HDL), blood triglycerides and blood pressure.
Read the Pub Med study abstract here….
The Stanford researchers were interested primarily in weight loss. Lead author of the research, Dr. Christopher Gardner said, “In the weight loss department there was an advantage for the Atkins group.”
An interesting fact to note: Women on all four diets were far from meticulous about following the dietary regime they were assigned by the end of the 12- month period. No matter what diet they followed, those who consumed the least amount of carbohydrates had the best clinical results in weight loss and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. “We purposely didn’t just hand them the diet book and tell them to come back in a year,” said Dr. Gardner. “We made sure they understood it. Each group had eight weeks of classes with a dietitian who went over the principles of the books, section by section, so everyone knew exactly what to do. Furthermore, these were educated women in the Stanford University area; they were highly motivated and had a lot of support for the first two months. In addition, for the last 10 months of the 12-month study, the women were left to follow the diets on their own. It was a very “real-world” scenario,” said Dr. Gardner. “It’s what happens when even motivated people follow diet books. We think that’s extremely relevant.”
While the women may not have followed the diets to the letter, they did make changes in some important areas; many of them following principles of the Atkins Advantage —- fewer refined carbohydrates, more fiber, more protein, no trans-fats, much less sugar. For example, before starting the program, the Atkins women were consuming about 215 grams of carbohydrates a day (about 45 percent of their diet). By the end of the 12 months, they were down to about 34 percent. This is a very significant change.
They may not have achieved perfection, but they did achieve results, and those results shouldn’t be overlooked simply because the women didn’t follow the diets perfectly.
Even more importantly, the women in the Atkins group also had noticeable improvements in a number of health measures.
Their HDL (“good”) cholesterol at 12 months was significantly higher for Atkins than Ornish, and triglycerides for the Atkins group went down by a whopping 29 percent, more than twice the percentage of any other group.
The decrease in average blood pressure for the Atkins group was significantly greater than any other. LDL-(“bad”) cholesterol, the type that many health professionals warned would worsen on the Atkins diet, was not different among any of the diet groups after 12 months.
These are important findings especially in light of past unsubstantiated claims that the Atkins program may raise lipids. In this study, as well as other studies in the recent past, the Atkins program reduced lipids.
The JAMA article is just the latest watershed study in four years of independent research trials confirming that adherence to the Atkins principles for weight control and nutrition is effective, healthy, and safe. Other major studies were those funded by the American Heart Association and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare Network.. In addition, studies were conducted at the Duke University Division of General Internal Medicine and Temple University.
Click here for notable research in research library.
So what’s the lesson learned? Eat adequate protein from a variety of sources; eat fiber rich foods; get your carbohydrates from nutrient dense high-fiber sources; stay away from trans-fats and keep sugar and carbohydrates low --- all basic nutrition principles of the Atkins Advantage.
Dr. Gardner summed it up best:
“I think one advantage that the Atkins diet had was the simplicity of the message. A lot of people say that the main Atkins message is to eat all the steak and brie that you want but that’s not it. Their main message is this. You can’t have refined sugar. No soda, no white bread, no high-fructose corn syrup. It’s simple and direct and easy to understand, and I think it may turn out to be one of the most important messages of all.”
With the reinforcement of these expert studies, we reaffirm our mission to develop great-tasting, nutritionally superior products that help consumers achieve and sustain a healthy and vital lifestyle.
Atkins takes on that challenge every day. We understand the positive impact of balancing weight control and lifelong nutrition. That‘s why we are dedicated to helping millions of people embrace a more nutritious way to eat and successfully reach and maintain their desired weight.
And, we make sure every Atkins Advantage product—every shake and every nutrition bar—follows the Atkins nutrition principles. Each is higher in protein, higher in fiber, and lower in sugar and carbohydrates than other leading brands.
It’s a great time for our company and for all of you who will see this and other studies confirming what we already know: Atkins is a safe and effective way to reach and maintain weight goals, and lead a lifestyle that embraces common sense nutrition.
Atkins is a source of nutritious food for life.
Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc.
VP Nutrition Communication & Education