According to a scientist who reviewed 60 diet studies, clinical trials of low-carbohydrate diets enable people to lose weight faster in the first six months of dieting compared to low-fat and reduced calorie diets. In twelve months the weight loss is no different. This conclusion was drawn by Professor Arne Astrup of RVAUniversity in Copenhagen, Denmarkwhose survey is published in The Lancet(August 2004) medical journal.
According to the article, in the first six months weight loss is genuine. The dieter looses fat and not just water. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes also improve. Dr. Astrup and his team who studied three trials that looked at the longer-term effects found that after six months, people started to regain weight.
Dr. Astrup also concludes that headaches, muscle weakness, bad breath, muscle cramps, general weakness, rashes, and either diarrhea or constipation are reported more often by Atkins dieters than people on conventional diets. This could be explained by the reduced levels of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereals and bread that are consumed.
The side effects may be signs that the eating plan isn’t healthy in the long run, according to Dr. Astrup. He believes that the symptoms are from not getting the necessary 150 grams of carbohydrate each day needed which is to supply the brain and muscles with the glucose from carbohydrates. The glucose is necessary for the organs’ normal function. “We have known for many years that there is a minimum intake of carbohydrate necessary to maintain the normal function of your body and that is approximately 150 grams a day,” he said. “But, if on the Atkins diet you go down to 20 to 30 grams in the induction phase, then maybe go up to 100 grams, still you are far below what your body needs.”
Other experts said the diet remains a viable option for some because the side effects aren’t bad enough to throw them off the eating plan famous for its shunning of bread, pasta and many fruits. Although the long-term weight loss on low carbohydrate diets is no different from other diets, patient compliance is better.