Updated 06 March 2014

The Atkins Diet

Health24's DietDoc undertook a study of scientific publications to determine the health effects of high-protein diets. Take a look at what was found.

Dr Ingrid van Heerden, Health24's DietDoc, was commissioned by the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) to undertake a study of scientific publications to determine the weight-loss and health effects of high-protein, high-fat, very-low-carbohydrate diets.

With regards to the Atkins Diet, the following facts were published: The high-protein, high-fat Diet Revolution described by Dr Robert Atkins in many of his books is a popular weight-reduction diet. Overweight or obese people often turn to the Atkins Diet because it promises rapid weight loss. 

Recent scientific studies on the Atkins Diet seem to have proved that this diet doesn't have a negative effect on blood-fat levels and can actually lower some blood fats, which are called triglycerides. Other evidence suggests that the diet can improve insulin resistance. Supporters of the Atkins Diet have hailed these results as proof that the diet is safe and can be used by everyone for long periods of time.

  • Atkins dieters reduce their energy intake by as much as 500 kcal (2100 kJ) a day. Energy reduction will usually result in weight loss, so the Atkins Diet is not unique in this respect.
  • Most of the weight loss is due to losses of body water and glycogen (the form in which carbohydrates are stored in the body), and will be regained rapidly.
  • The condition of ketosis, which is induced by the high-fat content of the diet, has an appetite-suppressing effect, but such an effect can also be achieved by eating a high-fibre diet.
  • Protein foods are more satiating than low-fibre carbohydrate foods, but this is no reason for eating high-fat protein foods. A moderate increase in lean protein intake combined with high-fibre carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index will also prevent hunger.

- (Dr Ingrid van Heerden, DietDoc)


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