Researchers weigh-in on health benefits of popular diets

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: July 16th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Some fad diets seem to throw their weight around in touting weight loss and health improvements for dieters who stick with their programs. Yet the dieting advice often varies widely.

On one side of the ring is the high-protein, low-carbohydrate combination made famous by the Atkins Diet. On the other is a high-carb, low-fat nutritional plan promoting weight loss through reduced caloric intake and exercise. Then there’s everything in between.

Top all that with a hearty helping of “will it work for me?” and choosing a diet suddenly seems unappetizing.

Now, researchers from Stanford University have shed some light on this dieting dilemma. They tracked weight loss and health variables for three-hundred-and-eleven obese, pre-menopausal women who followed one of four popular, but significantly different, diets. These included the very low in carbohydrate Atkins Diet; the low-carb ZONE diet; a low-fat, high-carb diet based on national nutritional guidelines; and, the very high-carb Ornish Diet.

When the dieters weighed-in after twelve months, each of the four groups successfully lost weight and achieved overall health improvements. But the Atkins Diet was the lightweight champ.

Atkins dieters were found to have stuck to the program more successfully and they lost nearly twice as much weight as dieters following any of the other three programs. They also experienced greater heart-healthy improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Based on this study, it appears a very low-carb diet may deliver a healthy knock-out punch to your paunch.