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Monday, December 13, 2010

Does Low-Carb Really Work?

One of the first studies I looked at was this Stanford Study comparing different diets and their impact on cardiovascular health predictors and weight loss.

The Stanford study titled Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women was published in the Journal of American Medical Assoication by professor Chris Gardner (himself a 25-year vegetarian who was confounded by the results).  The study wanted to compare popular best-selling books which promoted health diets to the general public.  It followed the test subjects but did not house or feed them for the 1 year period in order to test real world implementation of these diets.

The diets studied were: Atkins, Traditional (LEARN), Ornish and Zone. Also called the A to Z diet comparison it featured low-carb to high-carb or high-protein to low-protein. The health markers collected included weight loss, triglycerides, HDL\LDL, blood pressure and so forth.  The results are surprising to say the least. 

You can watch the entire presentation by Dr. Gardner below:

After viewing, you may wish to read the remarks blogged by Dr. Michael Eades:

The Atkins Diet is most similar in eating strategy to the Paleolithic\Primal Living\Evolutionary Fitness model of eating where the emphasis is on protein, eggs, good saturated fats (nuts, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee), fresh vegetables and certain fruits. No refined sugar.  No grains as these are inflammatory to cells and are a major contributor to high cholesterol. Grain carbs do not satiate leading to higher caloric consumption and insulin spikes.  This is why people can eat a bucket of popcorn, finish an entire pizza or eat a loaf of bread in one sitting.

Low-carb, high protein nutrition is healthy and sustainable in real world conditions.  If you can accept this, understanding the Paleolithic approach to nutrition becomes easier.

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