A comparison of Zone, Atkins, and other diets

Gary Taubes is citing in his book a fascinating study that compares the impact of the Atkins, Zone and other diets. The diets compared are the following

  • Atkins: 20g of carbs / day for 2-3months, then 50g; unlimited fat & protein (at this level of carbs this diet is arguably almost Paleo as well)
  • Traditional: calorie restriction, carbs 55-60% of cals, fat < 30%, saturated < 10%
  • Ornish: fat <10%; meditation & exercise
  • Zone: 30/40/30% of cals from protein / carbs / fat

The results are here:ATOZ-Study-from-Taubes-book-p191

Source: G Taubes “Why we get fat” p191 (Kindle)

  • Atkins had the highest weight loss, Zone the lowest (by a factor of 2x!)
  • Atkins & Traditional increased LDL (bad); Ornish decreased it (good). However, it seems that in the Atkins diet the LDL particles became bigger (this is good – so good in fact that it might more than counterbalance the increase)
  • All decreased Tryglycerides (good), but Atkins significantly more than the others (and Zone by very little)
  • Atkins & Zone increased HDL (good), but Atkins twice more; Traditional decreased (bad)
  • All lowered blood pressure (good, I suppose), but Atkins by a wide margin

An interesting aside: according to Taubes, the “point man on this trial, Christopher Gardner” has been a vegetarian for 25 years and had set out to show that eating too much meat is dangerous. He called the triumph of the low-carb, meat-rich diet “a bitter pill to swallow” (the speech is here)

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3 thoughts on “A comparison of Zone, Atkins, and other diets

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