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Atkins’ Green Twist

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:05pm

By marie Dufour, RD   – Dr. Atkins is long gone, but his marketing machine lives.  Propelled by the soy and almond industries, a new study heralds the weight-loss benefit of a plant protein-based diet.  But should we go all out on textured soy protein yet and keep loading up on almonds?  Hold your shopping carts! 

- During a four-week period, researchers fed 47 overweight men and women only 60% of their caloric needs.  One group was fed the “Eco-Atkins” diet, with 26% of calories from carbohydrates, 31% from protein, and 43% from fat (26/31/43).  All from plant foods.

The other group was fed a high-carbohydrate vegetarian diet with low-fat dairy and whole-grain products, which included 58% of the calories from carbohydrates, 16% from protein, and 25% from fat (58/16/25).

Both groups lost a similar amount of weight and both groups improved their lipid profiles, although the “Eco-Atkins” showed a slightly greater reduction in LDL (20.4% vs. 12.3%).

The “Greentwist” on the Atkins diet advocates proteins from gluten, soy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, cereals, and vegetable oils, and is all looks oh-so-good for you!  But there are really 3 issues here:

- Anyone who eats 60% of their caloric needs is going to lose weight. PERIOD!  By the same token, the lipid profile will improve.  And anyone can follow any kind of restrictive diet for four weeks. 

- As demonstrated over and over, the long-term sustainability of an Atkins-type restrictive diet is dubious, and after one year there has been no shown difference in weight loss between Atkins and other dieters.  The lack of palatability and the restricted choices are an issue with Atkins-type diets.

- The Eco-Atkins nutritional balance is still out of whack: too high in fat (and unbalanced fatty acid distribution) and way too low in carbohydrates (75g for a 1200 Kcal diet.)

While the soy and almond industries are drumming up yet another consumer hype, let’s remember that, when it comes to weight loss, it’s all about calories.  When it comes to sustained weight loss, it’s about calories and palatability.  And when it comes to healthy life-long weight control, it’s about calories, palatability, and balance.

 

Reference: Jenkins D, et al “The effect of a plant-based low-carbohydrate (“Eco-Atkins”) diet on body weight and blood lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic subjects” Arch Intern Med 2009;169: 1046-54

Filed under: diet, Atkins, diet, healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, low-carb diet, Marie Dufour RD, nutrition, obesity, weight control, weight loss

By marie Dufour, RD   – Dr. Atkins is long gone, but his marketing machine lives.  Propelled by the soy and almond industries, a new study heralds the weight-loss benefit of a plant protein-based diet.  But should we go all out on textured soy protein yet and keep loading up on almonds?  Hold your shopping carts! 

- During a four-week period, researchers fed 47 overweight men and women only 60% of their caloric needs.  One group was fed the “Eco-Atkins” diet, with 26% of calories from carbohydrates, 31% from protein, and 43% from fat (26/31/43).  All from plant foods.

The other group was fed a high-carbohydrate vegetarian diet with low-fat dairy and whole-grain products, which included 58% of the calories from carbohydrates, 16% from protein, and 25% from fat (58/16/25).

Both groups lost a similar amount of weight and both groups improved their lipid profiles, although the “Eco-Atkins” showed a slightly greater reduction in LDL (20.4% vs. 12.3%).

The “Greentwist” on the Atkins diet advocates proteins from gluten, soy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, cereals, and vegetable oils, and is all looks oh-so-good for you!  But there are really 3 issues here:

- Anyone who eats 60% of their caloric needs is going to lose weight. PERIOD!  By the same token, the lipid profile will improve.  And anyone can follow any kind of restrictive diet for four weeks. 

- As demonstrated over and over, the long-term sustainability of an Atkins-type restrictive diet is dubious, and after one year there has been no shown difference in weight loss between Atkins and other dieters.  The lack of palatability and the restricted choices are an issue with Atkins-type diets.

- The Eco-Atkins nutritional balance is still out of whack: too high in fat (and unbalanced fatty acid distribution) and way too low in carbohydrates (75g for a 1200 Kcal diet.)

While the soy and almond industries are drumming up yet another consumer hype, let’s remember that, when it comes to weight loss, it’s all about calories.  When it comes to sustained weight loss, it’s about calories and palatability.  And when it comes to healthy life-long weight control, it’s about calories, palatability, and balance.

 

Reference: Jenkins D, et al “The effect of a plant-based low-carbohydrate (“Eco-Atkins”) diet on body weight and blood lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic subjects” Arch Intern Med 2009;169: 1046-54

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