High Protein - Low Card Diets

Winter 2002 CSANews Issue 45  |  Posted date : Apr 12, 2007.Back to list

Much has been made in the media recently about the effectiveness of high protein, low carbohydrate diets as a weight loss miracle. One such diet is known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, developed by Dr. Robert C. Atkins M.D. The Atkins approach is touted by many as the answer to their struggle with excess pounds, the health problems that go along with being overweight and even as way to promote good health and prevent disease. The program's main feature is the adherence to a strict diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein and, depending who you ask, fat.

The results of a recent study, partially funded by the Robert C. Atkins Foundation, were released at The American Heart Association's (AHA) annual Scientific Sessions, a forum for the presentation of research pertaining to heart disease and stroke for scientists and physicians. They found that patients on the Atkins diet lost more weight than those on a low-fat diet and had a reduction in their cholesterol. The AHA reacted quickly to these positive results being showcased at one of their events, by releasing a media advisory stating that their recommended dietary guidelines have not changed. Some problems they saw with the study were its size, the fact that it was a short-term study of a 6 month duration which didn't allow for study of long term health improvement or risk and that the Atkins diet was not compared to a diet consistent with the current AHA's dietary recommendations.

Despite its popularity, and the popularity of other diets like it, the AHA has had long-standing concerns in regards to the Atkins diet as to its long-term effectiveness as a weight reduction program as well as the possibility of serious health risks associated with a very high protein diet. The AHA does not recommend this type of diet and identifies an increased risk of kidney and liver disease as a possibility for certain people who eat a diet extremely high in protein for an extended length of time. Also, because most high-protein animal foods are also high in saturated fat, following such a diet for a long time increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and certain cancers.

Source: American Heart Association