Vidyya Medical News Service
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Volume 5 Issue 279 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 6-Oct-2003 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 7-Oct-2003
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Information for patients: Do low-carbohydrate diets work?

Are low carbohydrated diets such as the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, the Carbohydrate Addictís Diet the secret to losing weight? Yes and no...

These diets focus on limiting carbohydrates -- grains, beans, fruits, rice, potatoes, pasta and starchy vegetables. And, the Atkins diet allows you to eat as much meat, eggs, cheese, butter and cream as you want. Follow it and youíll likely lose weight quickly, probably faster than people following a low-calorie diet. How can that be?

Researchers believe that weight loss from a low-carbohydrate diet comes largely from a loss of water and muscle. When you donít have enough carbohydrates, your body begins to burn stored carbohydrates for energy, which releases a lot of water weight. The body then breaks down lean body tissues in an effort to provide glucose for energy and brain function.

But fast weight loss doesnít make it an effective or safe diet, says the October issue of Mayo Clinic Womenís HealthSource. Dieters who stick with either a traditional low-calorie diet or a low-carbohydrate diet have similar results over the long term. And thereís no research on the long-term health effects of a low-carbohydrate diet.

Bottom line: Be wary of diets that promise a quick fix. While the traditional approach to weight loss -- cutting calories, eating more fruits and veggies, and increasing exercise -- isnít quick, it is a proven path to improved health and lasting weight control.

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