Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is the Eco-Atkins Diet for You?

September is a popular month to go on a diet, probably second only to January.  Summer is sort of over, kids are back in school, the heat is waning...all kinds of reasons to try to lose a few pounds at this time of year.  So I thought I'd spend the next few blog posts on weight loss.  

There were two things that caught my attention this week related to weight loss.  First off, a professor at Kansas State University has undertaken a promotional stunt as part of his nutrition class to prove that you can lose weight by exclusively eating junk food.  He's about 2 weeks into his diet of Twinkies and Nutter Butters and has lost 7 pounds.  Why this is news, I don't know.  A professor of mine in grad school did the same experiment on himself eating only McDonald's. I hope I'm stating the obvious by saying that weight loss will happen if you eat fewer calories than you burn....no matter where those calories come from.  

But is it a healthy way/easy way/sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off?  Of course not! 

The other item of interest this week was a study published on Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. This study is similar to the one about alcohol intake and mortality I posted about previously, in that they asked participants about what they ate in the 1980s and then collected death certificates over the  subsequent 25+ years.   The researchers specifically looked at participants that ate a low carbohydrate diet and then categorized them into those that ate most of their protein from animal sources and those that ate mostly vegetable-based sources of protein (soy, gluten, vegetables, nuts).  The latter has been called The Eco-Atkins Diet or a Plant-Based-Low-Carb-Diet or a Vegetarian Atkins.  

Results showed that people lived longer on the Eco-Atkins Diet than the high-animal protein diet.  This is not surprising since other studies have shown that the Eco-Atkins diet can lower cholesterol compared to several other types of diets including a traditional Atkins plan and a high-carbohydrate diet.  They did not compare these participants to those following a more traditional diet, which is a bummer.  Would have been really interesting. 

I have made it no secret that I am an advocate of increasing protein intake as a strategy to lose and maintain body weight. I tend to favor a more moderate increase in protein intake than the Atkins low-carb diet, but based on the research to date (and there's much more to do), it appears that the Eco-Atkins is a reasonable approach for weight loss.  

Is it sustainable and easy?  You tell me...has anyone tried it before?  If you're thinking of trying it, will you take good notes and e-mail me your experience?

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