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A Hormone that explains the fat-burning effect of the Atkins Advantage program

Speaking of individual differences in response to dietary strategies, an interesting pair of studies just published in the journal Cell Metabolism may throw some light on why the Atkins Advantage program is successful for so many people. Researchers discovered a hormone- called Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FBF21) which, under certain circumstances, sends the “fat burning” pathways into overdrive.

Here’s what they found: When mice are put on a low-carbohydrate diet- the body responds by putting out more of the FBF21 hormone, the purpose of which is to break down fat. “Feeding mice a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet- leads to the breakdown of fatty tissue and weight loss, accompanied by the production of ketone bodies, which are used by tissues as replacement energy sources”, said Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, MD of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the lead researcher on one of the studies. Stephen Kliewer, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the author of the second study commented that there was an “obvious possibility” that FBF21 is responsible for the benefits seen by people when they follow the Atkins Advantage program.

It’s worth pointing out that there’s a distinct possibility that people may vary considerably in their ability to “turn on” the FGF21 hormone, which might well account for why some people do so well with a stricter version of The Atkins Advantage program, and others can modify the recommendations and still do very well. The new studies shed more light on a metabolic mechanism first discussed by Dr. Atkins decades ago, in which strictly controlled carbohydrate intake led to increased fat burning in the body.

The Atkins Advantage program is based on general principles which continue to be born out by research, as demonstrated by all three of this month’s newsletter items: Low glycemic foods, heavy on the vegetables and low glycemic fruits, controlled portions of whole grains, fiber, lots of high quality protein and important health giving fats like omega-3’s and omega-9’s.

That was always the “Atkins Advantage”, and it continues to be a prescription for health, well being and optimal energy today.