Tuesday, July 1st 2004

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Low-carb beats low-fat

Recent studies suggest Atkins-style diets work in the short term

Two recent studies suggest low-carbohydrate weight-loss plans such as the Atkins diet may work better than the low-fat approach for some people, at least for six to 12 months.

In a six-month study by Dr. Will Yancy and colleagues at Duke University in Durham, N.C., participants on the low-carb plan lost more weight and body fat than those on the low-fat diet. They also cut the number of fat particles, or triglycerides, in their blood and raised their level of HDL ("good") cholesterol more than the low-fat dieters. The latter group, however, had a greater decrease in total cholesterol.

Weight loss on the low-carb diet was 11.7 kilograms, versus 6.3 kilograms on the low-fat plan.

The low-carb group reported more adverse effects such as constipation and headaches, but fewer low-carb dieters dropped out of the study than low-fat dieters.

"This diet can be quite powerful," says Yancy, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke. "The weight loss surprised me." However, he says, "Over six months the diet appears relatively safe, but we need to study the safety for longer durations."

He also cautioned that, long-term, it isn't known if the low-carb diet could result in bone loss, kidney stones or elevations in LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels.

The study involved 120 obese but generally healthy people and was funded by an unrestricted grant from the Robert C. Atkins Foundation.

In a similar study at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, participants on the low-carb diet had larger decreases in triglyceride levels and smaller drops in good cholesterol than people on the low-fat diet.

At the six-month mark, the low-carb group had lost more weight than the low-fat group, but by one year, both groups had lost about the same amount of weight (three to nine kilograms).

The low-fat group, however, continued to lose weight from six to 12 months, whereas the average weight in the low-carb group remained steady after six months.

The study involved 132 obese adults, most of whom had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease.

Both studies had weaknesses, such as difficulty in tracking food intake because participants prepared and ate their meals at home.

Dr. Walter Willett, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, says that despite these limitations, "We can no longer dismiss very low-carbohydrate diets."

Tasty Low Carb Sugar Free Almond Cookies
Makes approximately 12 cookies.

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup Steviva Blend or equivalent
1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
1/2 teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, omit salt here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract



1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Combine all ingredients. Form dough in to 12 walnut sized balls and place onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Press down lightly with fork, then continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Let cool.

Carbohydrates per Serving: 30.12 - Carbohydrates per Serving minus Fiber: 2.52

For More Low Carb and Sugar Free Recipes Go To Steviva Recipes!