It seems like all I’ve been writing about lately is breaking news on newly released scientific studies, and right when I decided it was time to focus on something else, here comes another study that I must share with you.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that dieters who had successfully lost weight and were trying to maintain their weight loss burned significantly more calories eating a low-carb diet modeled after Atkins than they did eating a low-fat diet. In fact, participants following the Atkins-style diet burned 300 more calories a day (that’s equivalent to an hour of exercise!) than they did on a low-fat diet. In addition, participants following the Atkins-style diet experienced a variety of health benefits, including increased HDL (“good” cholesterol), lowered triglycerides, reduced inflammation from baseline and improved insulin sensitivity.
It is very encouraging that the research community continues to study and validate the Atkins Diet. Yet despite the positive research, some members of the media continue to get the facts wrong. Instead of doing some thorough reporting and analyzing the entire study (and maybe even interviewing the study’s authors to answer any additional questions), a few news outlets focused on the fact that yes, although the Atkins-style diet had the biggest boost in total calorie burn in a day (and an increase in HDL and decrease in trigylcerides), levels of cortisol and c-reactive protein (CRP—a measure of chronic inflammation) were elevated, which can raise the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. So suddenly focus is on the health risks of a low-carb diet versus the positive benefits.
First, once again, it’s important to note that this “Atkins-style” diet is not exactly the Atkins diet that you are following. First of all, it’s likely the levels of cortisol in the participants went up because they were not keto-adapted or supplementing with adequate sodium (as we recommend on the “new” Atkins). And there was an improvement in CRP from baseline levels, just not as much as the other diets. In addition, participants were consuming a higher maintenance level of protein than is recommended on the “new” Atkins. When you weigh the positive benefits—increased daily calorie burn, higher levels of HDL, lower levels of triglycerides—and know that the version of the Atkins diet you are following is designed to help you lose weight in a safe and effective way, what do you have to lose? Other than more weight?
Stay tuned to my blog, and I will continue to help you decipher the science behind Atkins.