Atkins works!

First- I am not sure this should be in GD, but since there was at least one long debate on this here before, not to mention some other arguments about it- here it is. The “great, wise & all powerful” Mods may move it as they wish.:smiley:

Today in the San Jose mercury news and article quoted 2 studies, in the very important New England Journal of Medicine both of which confirmed that the Atkins diet works, and also reduces “bad” cholesterol (triglycerides) better than the much touted “low fat” diet. Note, this was a surpise to many in the field, who thought the diet was dangerous & malarky. In one study, the high protien dieters lost about 3X than the “low fat” diet, in another, the Atkiners lost over twice as much. What is more important, the Diet worked better at reducing heart risk.

Note, having tied this diet myself twice, the studies meet my own results- including the fact that once you get off the diet, the wieght usually all comes back on. :frowning: Thus, unless you are willing to stay on this diet for life (and that’s not easy to do), it is not the best for long term losses. Note that I have seen others use it as a successful “jumpstart” to get some fast “morale building” results, while starting a regime of wieght lifting & exercise. For them, it worked, and the fat stayed off. However, they made a “lifestyle” change to increase protein and especially increase exercise.

In what is IMHO a remarkable example of 'sour grapes" the American Heart Assoc- represented by Dr Bonow- which pushes the competing “low fat” diet, still insists they won’t recommend the high protien diet. They are “concerned with long term risks”. Now true, the studies- not being long term studies- didn’t study the long term risks- * but there is absolutely no evidence such risks exist* . Bullcrap. Isn’t this guy a scientist? We operate on FACTS not unfounded speculation. Besides- few ever stay on the diet long enough for there to be “long term risks”. :dubious:

Well, anyway- there is the proof. 2 studies, good results. Published in a important Journal.

OTOH…one of those studies stated that low-carb diets were no better than low-fat diets at long-term (12-month, in the case of the study) weight loss. I wouldn’t call these studies a “smoking gun” to prove that low-carb diets were better at reducing weight than were low-fat diets just yet.

Though, as someone who has doubted the effectiveness of the Atkins diet on this board, I would grudgingly state that a low-carb regimen may be of value.

I’m glad to see you read those studies:

“This finding should be interpreted with caution, given the small magnitude of overall and between-group differences in weight loss in these markedly obese subjects and the short duration of the study.”

“the differences were not significant at one year.”

"Longer and larger studies are required to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diets. "

“Future studies evaluating long-term cardiovascular outcomes are needed before a carbohydrate-restricted diet can be endorsed.”


Standard scientific caution.

And in other news, McDonalds continues to offer to super-size your Value Meals for just $0.49… :wink:

Exactly, athelas. When you have a study that has low numbers and is short-term, you don’t conclude, “Atkins works!”

If you’re being scientific about it, you say, “In this study, the following things appeared to occur. More research is necessary before we can generalize the results of this limited study.”

However, if you’re being polemic about it, or if you’re a scientifically-illiterate reporter, you conclude, “Atkins works!”

And then, when contradictory studies come out (or are brought back to the forefront), the scientifically illiterate public concludes that nutritionists don’t know what they’re talking about and that since the experts can’t even agree on what constitutes a healthful diet, you may as well eat whatever you want.

Standard scientific caution behooves us all, even us posters on the SDMB.


But I would argue that the defenders of the status quo insist that “low-fat works!” with the same gusto and refuse to consider that a different plan may have its benefits.

In other words, I can understand people’s frustration when they want to find the truth and are simply getting battered by “accepted wisdom” which declares that low fat diets are the healthiest. Or really that low fat diets are the only healthy option.

I speak as the wife of someone with diabetes and heart disease. Bring up the Mediterranean diet or anything similar to a cardiologist and watch his head do a little “Exorcist” dance.


Oh hell, not this again.

Here’s the deal: Atkins and other low carb diets work, at least in the short term. They may work as well as other diets, or even better.

That’s not what I personally am interested in debating. There seems to be a group of people who think that Atkins will help you lose weight no matter how many calories you take in, due to some metabolic voodoo it cause. That’s just not the case. Atkins works cause it has you taking in fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight. It just might be easier than some of the other plans.

Note that the headline isn’t wrong, per se, just not complete. Atkins does work- for short term wieght loss, and reduction of risk from cholesterol. And, my post & the article went on to say that the diet wasn’t all that effective in LONG TERM wieght loss.

Even the NEJM had as it headers “After six months there was more wieght loss than with a low fat diet” and “more weight loss than with conventional diet, but drop out rates were high”. But I suppose the NEJM is “scientifically illiterate” also. :rolleyes:

The studies are there, the link is there, I reported the facts. I didn’t need to post all the caveats- I didn’t want to get into copyright problems, and the link was there for those who chose to read the full article. Nor is this a peer reviewed scientific journal. I have not noted that level of writing in your posts, either, Daniel.

I note that I haven’t heard any "I was wrong"s from the radicial anti-atkins faction- and I hardly expect to, given the level of debate around here. :rolleyes:

Sure, there are some people doing this. Sure, people doing this are confusing the issue, and should be corrected.

The major nutritional bodies are not doing this. They are saying, in effect, “Look. There’s not adequate research showing that the Atkins Diet is healthful for the long-term. There is adequate research showing that a varied diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and lean meats is healthful for the long-term. More research is needed on Atkins; meanwhile, we’ll continue to recommend the diet that long-term epidemiological studies have shown to be healthful.”


You would be wrong if you supposed that; you would be a dishonest debater if you attributed that idea to me.

Don’t even get started with the straw men; instead, try to find a difference between, “Atkins works!” and the actual header of the study, “A Low-Carbohydrate Diet in Severe Obesity”. Better yet, find a difference between the conclusion of “Atkins works!” and the actual conclusions of the studies cited.


Also, I just read the article in the Mercury News (I only read it now b/c it wasn’t linked in the OP). Unlike the OP, it gives a fair and balanced accounting of the studies: they’re significant if accurate, but more research must be done. Their headlines are far more accurate than the thread’s title:

I take back what I said before about scientifically-illiterate reporters; I think this reporter did a fairly good job, unlike many other reporters on nutritional matters.



The “people doing this” are often one’s doctors.


The Mercury-News article referred to two studies, and there are in fact two articles in the NEJM, “A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity” and “A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity”. I presume each article corresponds with one of the studies mentioned in the Mercury-News.

The second one’s conclusions are as follows (bolding mine):

And that’s the real problem: no matter what weight-loss diet you try, it’s not going to work at all if you don’t stick with it. And however ‘difficult’ sticking with a diet is by whatever standards one measures difficulty, sticking with a weight-loss and maintenance program long-term seems to be statistically rare. Unless ways can be found to make it more manageable for people to stick to whatever weight-control programs they embark on, it’s all for naught anyway. And these people had whatever support came with being part of a controlled scientific experiment.

My thought about Atkins is that it’s a very different approach to weight loss than your typical low-calorie, low-fat, lots-of-leafy-green-veggies diet. The more viable routes can be found to losing weight, the more likely it is that any one individual can find a plan that he or she can stick with. This strikes me as true whether Atkins works or not, but it’s one of the reasons I’m rooting for Atkins.

Same here. Most things in life aren’t one size fits all. That’s why I tend to doubt diets would be, either.

I saw a study referenced very recently that was experimenting with fasting. Fasting has been declared horrible by so many because it forces your body into “starvation mode.” Only this study said that they couldn’t seem to find any difference between the rats who ate only one meal a day and those who ate all day. In fact, the one meal a day rats lost weight even though both were eating the same number of calories.

I can’t remember where I was reading that. I’ll try to find it.

In any case, I think there is so much yet to learn about nutrition that it’s too early for anyone to get complacent.


Ah, so what your problem is with the TITLE I choose for the OP, and not my post, my conclusions or the cite? :rolleyes: Next time, dannymeboy, I’ll be sure and list the entire text of my post- AND the 2 articles cited- in the TITLE . :rolleyes: We are not debating the TITLE anymore than we would debate the headline as opposed to the article.

Sure- oddly enough- if you go “off” the atkins diet- the weight loss stops, and the wieght usually comes back on. And, equally NOT surprising is the fact that diets are hard to stay on. :rolleyes: Oddly enough, I don’t think that even the American Heart assoc makes the claim that it’s low fat diet will have you keep losing wieght after you stop it, or that it is easy to stay on.

Ultrafilter; “Atkins works because it has you taking in fewer calories…”- Hmm, that is also odd. I didn’t read that in the articles. Of course, not being a subscriber, I only read the abstract, not the “full text”. So- what study shows this fact you have stated? :dubious:

I’m sorry. Are you honestly asking me for a cite that states you have to burn more calories than you take in in order to lose weight?

My apologies, DrDeth, for pointing out only the simplistic title to the OP. For your pleasure, I’ll quote the outright falsehoods in it:

This is the sort of scientific illiteracy I was talking about. The studies do no such thing.

This is probably true.

It may be an opinion, but it’s an ill-informed opinion. “Sour Grapes” has nothing to do with it: the way that science works has everything to do with it. Preliminary studies with small groups are trumped by epidemiological studies of large groups; until we see epidemiological studies touting the Atkins diet, the AHA is perfectly correct to recommend the diet borne out by epidemiological studies.

Utterly false. I direct you to the bajillion other threads on the topic for elaboration.

It’s not proof, and the abstract itself cautions against taking it as such.

I focused on your title because the oversimplification in the title was consistent with the oversimplification in your OP. I didn’t realize you’d need me to point out your consistency.


The studies do show that the atkins diet works. Unless you don’t think weight loss & a reduction in risk from cholesterol is “working”. :rolleyes: And, at least twice the weight loss than the “low fat” diet. Sure, the diet is hard to stay on, thus the results decrease after you fall off- but the same can be said for any diet. Nor is the diet nessesarily INEFFECTIVE over the long term- since that wasn’t studied

Ah,- so there has been a study on the long term risks of the atkins diet? Please so inform the NEJM which says “Longer and larger studies are required to determine the long term safety and efficancy…”. I really don’t care what even a googolplex of other posts/threads/posters have claimed about the long term dangers- show me the cite. Oh, and since the NEJM doesn’t seem to think such a study has happened yet, you might send off a copy to them. Or, are all those “bagillion other threads” just dudes spouting off their opinions? In which case, very nice & all, but this isn’t IMHO, and as Cece has said “we don’t vote on the facts”. Oh, and for a cite- I want a peer reviewed, full documented, doubleblind study, published in something at least the level of the NEJM. Please, not the “Vegan news”, with a foto of a stick thin vegan girl fully clothed on “page 3”. :smiley:

You don’t want a peer-reviewed study: you want reading comprehension lessons.

You said there’s no evidence whatsoever that such risks exist. Given the multitudinous studies suggesting that a high-fat diet carries risks, I called bullshit.

There’s no proof that such risks exist, but that’s a far cry from evidence suggesting that such risks exist.

After you take those reading comprehension lessons, howsabout taking a lesson in arguing against someone’s actual points instead of broadly reinterpreting their points into absurdity and then arguing against the absurdity?