Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Study: Low-Carb 'Beneficial' For Cholesterol

Dr. Ronald Krauss says there are health benefits to eating low-carb

This MSNBC/Reuters story underscores yet another new study supporting the amazing and still-being-discovered health benefits of livin' la vida low-carb.

I had about a dozen people send me this story in my e-mail today (mostly in response to my personal concerns about my cholesterol) and I was already licking my chops to share it with you when I got home from work today because it is the second bit of good news about the low-carb lifestyle to come out in the past week.

Lead researcher Dr. Ronald M. Krauss, Director of Atherosclerosis Research at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Senior Scientist in the Department of Genome Sciences at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of California at Berkeley, observed 178 overweight to slightly obese men (with a mean BMI was 29.2) with an average age of 50 eat a Standard American Diet (SAD) consisting of 54 percent of the caloric intake coming from carbohydrates and just 7 percent of the caloric intake coming from saturated fat. They were on this diet for a period of one week.

At the end of the first week of the study, the men were randomly split into one of four groups:

1. 54 percent carb group with a low-saturated fat content (7%)
2. 39 percent carb group with a low-saturated fat content (7%)
3. 26 percent carb group with a low-saturated fat content (7%)
4. 26 percent carb group with a higher-saturated fat content (15%)

Each of the groups remained on their respective diets for three weeks followed by a five-week, reduced-calorie diet to stimulate weight loss. The last four weeks of the study was used to stabilize the weight of the study participants.

What did Dr. Krauss find in his study of these various diets?

The men in the 54 percent carbs (SAD) group did not lower their triglycerides and LDL "bad" cholesterol near as well as the 26 percent carbs groups did. In fact, both of the 26 percent carbs groups actually saw an increase in their HDL "good" cholesterol to total cholesterol ratio as well as other improvements in their lipid profile.

So what about the LDL cholesterol that doctors seem to worry about so much?

The 26 percent carbs, low-saturated fat group experienced a significant reduction in the very unhealthy small LDL particles** compared with the 54 percent carbs diet. As for the 26 percent carb, higher-saturated fat group, the LDL cholesterol decreased slightly less than the 26 percent carb, low-saturated fat group because there was an increase in the number of large (or "fluffy") LDL particles**.

** (NOTE: You can have your particle count tested as an alternative cholesterol test from the traditional one at your doctor's office. It's called the LipoScience test and is a much more accurate way to test your cholesterol. Your doctor may or may not have these kits on hand, so contact LipoScience to have your blood tested. I recently took the LipoScience test and had an elevated particle count, but my LDL and HDL particles were the large kind that are safer for you to have.)

The results of this study were published in the May 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Are we really surprised by these findings?

Previous studies have already shown that livin' la vida low-carb will raise your HDL while also lowering your total cholesterol especially in tandem with regular exercise. Dr. Krauss' study merely cooberates what we already knew about a low-carb nutritional approach.

While he said that "dietary fads tend to come and go," Dr. Krauss said burying the low-carb lifestyle prematurely may be robbing people of an effective way to improve their blood lipid profile even if they don't need to lose weight.

"In the case of low carbohydrates, people shouldn't be so quick to throw that away and move on to the next diet," he told Reuters. "Limiting carbohydrates can be beneficial even if people aren't successful at losing weight."

Dr. Krauss said the higher consumption of carbohydrates, including the ones from sugar, white flour, and starchy foods, actually causes fat to store up in the liver where it then overflows into the bloodstream. Eating low-carb actually reduces the amount of fat in the blood because the fat deposits do not build up as they do on a higher-carb diet. In fact, reducing carbs may even help the body break down existing fats that are already in the bloodstream, Krauss added.

People who desire to eat the way the 26 percent carb group ate in the study, Dr. Krauss explained, can do so by simply "avoiding the kinds of food we don't need in our diet anyway--sugary foods, white rice, pasta, white bread."

Hallelujah, somebody is FINALLY getting the message out about livin' la vida low-carb. Despite the incredible results of this study, only Reuters and one other original news source ran an article on it. Hmmm, do ya think the media blackout of positive news regarding low-carb can continue if we see more and more research come out like this? I don't think so! That's why I've said that the future of the "low-carb" movement rests in the arms of the wealth of research that is coming.

At the end of the story, Dr. Krauss said people who want to attempt the 26 percent carb diet should talk to a "dietician" (it better not be THIS one!) so the proper "balance" can be met for the diet. And what would a story about low-carb be without a dig or two at the Atkins diet? He added that his 26 percent carb diet is "less restrictive than the Atkins' approach" because it is easier to follow.

Say who what?! There's not much difference between the 26 percent carb diet and the OWL (Ongoing Weight Loss) phase of the Atkins diet. Actually, they are nearly identical! So what makes Atkins so "restrictive?" It is very interesting (IMHO!) and has helped many people succeed although all we hear about are the people who failed on it. Sheez people, if you're gonna attack the Atkins diet, then at least get your facts straight about what it is.

All in all, this study is encouraging and you can contact Dr. Ronald Krauss about his research at


Blogger Mark F said...

He says just avoid sugar, rice, pasta and bread :)

There is a national mental block about saying Atkins or even low carb.

I now tell people I'm losing weight by avoiding the following items:
High fructose corn syrup, sugar, potato, rice, corn starch, wheat flour, corn flour, beans (except green beans and black soybeans), and corn.

Ooooo wow that sounds easy. Well it is. Especially when I have my Philly Swirl sugar free treats in the freezer ;)

5/31/2006 8:50 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

Say who what?! There's not much difference between the 26 percent carb diet and the OWL (Ongoing Weight Loss) phase of the Atkins diet. Actually, they are nearly identical!

No they aren't. A person who is LUCKY might be able to MAINTAIN at that level, but OWL is usually way lower than that.

5/31/2006 9:07 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home