Researchers now know how the low-carb Atkins diet takes off the extra pounds and that knowledge is surprising!
In the first well-controlled study of the Atkins diet Guenther Boden, M.D., from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and colleagues found that people who went on the diet simply lowered their average daily calorie consumption by about 1,000 calories. They did so on their own, as the diet allows people to eat as much fat and protein as they want, and when carbohydrates were restricted, people spontaneously reduced their caloric intake to a level appropriate for their height. They concluded that excessive overeating had been fuelled by carbohydrates.
All 10 people in the study were obese and had type 2 diabetes, and all stayed in the hospital during the study so accurate measurements were taken of everything they ate. Earlier studies of the diet were conducted among people living at home who self-reported how well they stuck to the diet, so many of the results were questionable.
Scientists in the past have suspected that the weight loss seen in people on the Atkins diet is mainly due to water weight loss or a stepped up metabolism. This research has found no evidence of this, nor did they find anything to support another popular assumption, which is that people eat less on Atkins because they get bored with the food choices. Says Boden of his study participants: “They weren’t bored with the food choices. In fact, they loved the diet.”
In addition to losing weight, the study subjects also experienced improved blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, and they lowered their cholesterol and triglycerides.