"This diet can be quite powerful," said lead researcher Will Yancy, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and a research associate at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, N.C. "We found that the low-carb diet was more effective for weight loss," Yancy added. "The weight loss surprised me, to be honest with you. We also found cholesterol levels seemed to improve more on a low-carb diet compared to a low-fat diet."
The study is the first randomized, controlled trial of an Atkins-style diet approach, which includes vitamin and nutritional supplements. Along with losing an average of 26 pounds, dieters assigned to the low-carbohydrate plan lost more body fat, and lowered their triglyceride levels and raised their HDL, or good cholesterol, more than the low-fat dieters. The low-fat dieters lost an average of 14 pounds. Though the low-fat diet group lowered their total cholesterol more than the low-carb dieters, the latter group nearly halved their triglycerides and their HDL jumped five points. The low-carbohydrate group reported more adverse physical effects, such as constipation and headaches, but fewer people dropped out of the low-carbohydrate diet than the low-fat diet.
The results appear in the May 18, 2004, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The research was funded by an unrestricted grant from the Robert C. Atkins Foundation. The study authors have no financial interest in Atkins Nutritionals, Inc.