‘Eco-Atkins’ diet cuts cholesterol and weight

  • 8 Jun 2009
  • Reading time 2 mins
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There’s a quandary in the diet world. Evidence shows that a low-carb, high protein diet, aka Atkins, does work for weight loss, but, on the other hand, a high meat/milk intake fails to lower bad ‘LDL’ cholesterol and is associated with increased cancer risk. But what happens if you eat a lower carb diet, with more protein instead from vegetable sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, soya, all foods associated with lowering cholesterol and cancer risk? A study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows excellent results.

Headed by Professor David Jenkins, who invented the Glycemic Index (GI) as a way of measuring which foods raise your blood sugar level, this study gave two groups of people a reduced calorie diet – one with a low amount of carbohydrates (with low GI ratings), high protein and fat, but from vegetable sources; the other with higher carbohydrates, lower fat and protein. Both groups lost nearly 9lbs (8.8lbs) in the four weeks, but those on the low-carb diet had greater reductions in their total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. This diet, nicknamed the ‘eco-Atkins’ diet is a state-of-the art low GL (glycemic load) diet, designed more to even out blood sugar levels rather than to cut fat, because the body turns peaks in blood sugar levels rapidly into fat. This approach flies in the face of conventional dieting advice to cut your fat intake to under 20% of calories. This diet provided double this - roughly 40% of calories from fat and 30% from protein. It’s very close to the Holford Low GL Diet which provides 25% of calories from fat and 25% from mainly vegetable protein, with some fish. Dr Jenkins and colleagues also gave the right kind of carbohydrates with more foods high in soluble fibres, such as oats instead of wheat, and plenty of vegetables including aubergine and okra, again excellent sources of soluble fibres. Also, the diet included seeds, nuts and beans, excellent high protein foods that are known to lower cholesterol and provide plenty of minerals. These kind of low GL diets, based on wholefoods, not fake foods, is the perfect diet for losing weight and lowering cholesterol. My only criticism of this diet approach is the lack of omega 3 fats, so abundant in oily fish, which are also known to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.This is yet another piece of evidence that low GL diets are the way to go, not low fat diets. If you’d like to find out more about how to follow a low GL diet visit www.holforddiet.com.