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Friday, August 11, 2006

Low Carb Diets Are Effective, But Are They Safe?

According to a recent study of a low carb diet plan
(the first such study in two decades!), participants DID
see a measurable weight loss while on the plan.

According to the study done at Duke University Medical
Center "Study participants were put on a very low
carbohydrate diet of 25 grams per day for six months,"
says Eric Westman, MD, associate professor of medicine
at Duke and principal investigator of the study. "They
could eat an unlimited amount of meat and eggs, as well
as two cups of salad and one cup of low-carbohydrate
vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower a day."

Researchers found that 80 percent of the 50 enrolled
patients adhered to the diet program for the duration
of the study and lost an average of 10 percent of their
original body weight. The average amount of weight
lost per person was approximately 20 pounds.

"While we're impressed with the weight loss of this
diet, we still are not sure about the safety of it," Westman
says. "More studies need to be done in order to be
confident about the long-term safety of this type of diet."

For example, all participants developed ketonuria, the
presence of measurable ketones in urine. The level seen
in this study translates to roughly that of a non-dieting
person if they didn't eat for a couple of days, said Westman.
"This is a finding that we need to learn more about. The
level of ketones present was not terribly high, but we don't
know if this is safe or harmful to one's health over a long
period of time."

The study further showed that patients' cholesterol levels
improved by the end of six months -- a finding that was
unexpected, according to Westman. "We were somewhat
surprised to find that patients' blood lipid profiles improved,
even though there was much more fat in the diet," he says.
"We had thought the fat in the diet would increase the

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that circulates in the blood
stream and can accumulate to the point of blocking blood
vessels and arteries. Having a high level of blood cholesterol
is a major risk factor for heart disease, according to the
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National
Institutes of Health.

Seek doctor's advice if taking medications
Although exercise was recommended, it was not a requirement
for the study. Half of the subjects didn't exercise at all and still
lost weight, according to the researchers. Because of the
intensity of this type of diet program, Westman cautions that
"if someone has a medical problem or is taking medications,
they should only do this diet under the supervision of a health
care provider."

As always, I recommend drinking plenty of water and always
excercise at least three times a week.

By eating more protein you'll support healthy muscle tissue
(an active tissue) and consume less carbs.


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