The Atkins diet is a wildly popular weight loss diet. You probably know people on it, including some who rave about how well it works. But, does the Atkins diet work?
One study placed 311 overweight or obese women on either the Atkins (very low-carb), Zone (low-carb), LEARN (high-carb) or Ornish (very high-carb) diet for 1 year. Interestingly, the Zone and LEARN diets gave participants calorie restriction targets, while the Atkins and Ornish diets did not. Participants attended 1 hour classes on their respective diets once a week for the first 8 weeks. Weight loss was measured at the beginning of the diet, and at 2, 6 and 12 months thereafter. The researchers found that participants on the Atkins diet lost an average of 10.4 lbs over the year. Participants on the Zone diet lost 3.5 lbs; participants on the LEARN diet lost 5.7 lbs; and participants on the Ornish diet lost 4.8 lbs. The Atkins diet significantly outperformed the other diets at 2 and 6 months and significantly outperformed the Zone diet at 12 months. There were no significant differences between the other 3 diets.
The Atkins group also had significantly better HDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels and systolic blood pressure. There were no significant differences between the groups on any other risk factors for cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Adherence to the diets were 88%, 77%, 76% and 78% for the Atkins, Zone, LEARN and Ornish diets, respectively.
The Atkins diet appears to be a very effective weight loss strategy. In the study, participants on the Atkins diet were instructed to keep their carbohydrate content below 20 grams a day for the first 2- 3 months and below 50 grams a day for the remainder of the year. Give it a shot!
Gardner, Christopher D., et al. “Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial.”Jama 297.9 (2007): 969-977.