- The Eco-Atkins diet, a plant-protein based variation of the traditional Atkins diet, could aid in weight loss and cholesterol reduction.
- The research, conducted by Dr. David J.A. Jenkins and his team, aimed to adapt the high-protein, low-carb principles of the Atkins diet into a healthier form that could promote lower cholesterol and reduce other heart disease risk factors.
- Participants in the study were divided into two groups; one followed a plant-based protein diet, and the other a high-carb, lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. Both groups saw identical weight loss, yet the plant-based diet group saw a more significant reduction in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels.
- While promising, the study leaves some questions unanswered, such as how reductions in risk factors will lead to less disease, how well the general population will adhere to the diet, and the diet’s long-term sustainability due to its reliance on gluten and soy as primary protein sources.
- Despite some concerns about the diet’s monotony and reliance on gluten and soy, nutritionists generally agree that the Eco-Atkins has no significant disadvantages and could be a healthier alternative to other low-carb diets.
A new study suggests that a plant-protein based variation of the widely followed Atkins diet not only aids in weight loss but also reduces cholesterol levels.
Discover the ‘Eco-Atkins’ Diet
In line with this new dietary approach, commonly known as the ‘Eco-Atkins’ diet, there seems to be a considerable metabolic improvement within just two weeks. This opens up a potential option for diet plans particularly aimed at heart disease reduction and diabetes management, based on the study led by Dr. David J.A. Jenkins.
The Atkins diet, popular for its high-fat, high-protein content, has often been under scrutiny for going against traditional nutritional advice that leans towards lower saturated fat and low cholesterol diets for treating cardiovascular diseases.
Creating a Heart-Healthy Atkins Diet
The aim of the investigation by Jenkins and his team was to retain the fundamental high-protein, low-carb principle of the Atkins diet, but in a healthier way that could promote lower cholesterol and reduce other risk factors for heart disease.
Participants in the study comprised 44 overweight individuals with proven high cholesterol. They were divided into two groups; one following a plant-based protein diet complete with vegetable oil, gluten, soy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and cereals, and the other, a high-carb, lacto-ovo (only dairy and eggs) vegetarian diet.
The Impact of a Plant-Based Atkins Diet
Interestingly, participants from both groups lost an identical amount of weight, approximately 8.8 pounds. However, a 0.6 percent more significant reduction in LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) was observed in the individuals who consumed more plant-based proteins. Other improvements were noted in terms of overall cholesterol, ratios of proteins binding to fats, and blood pressure.
Regardless, the study leaves several key queries unanswered, including the degree to which reductions in risk factors will lead to less disease, whether cholesterol-lowering will assist with other risk factors such as insulin resistance, and the most significant query: how well regular people – who are not part of strictly controlled trials – will be able to adhere to the diet.
Experts Discuss the Eco-Atkins Approach
Some observers have remarked that while the study offers valuable insights, it could benefit from more comprehensive research. Marianne Grant, a registered dietitian, suggested that while the diet isn’t necessarily as low-carb as other options, it’s not fundamentally flawed. She emphasized how the Eco-Atkins diet is far superior to other low-carb diets, given its recommendation to include nuts, fruits, vegetables and to maintain portion control.
A few other nutritionists have also shared their views about the Eco-Atkins diet, with concerns mainly regarding its long-term sustainability due to its primary protein sources being gluten and soy. However, there’s general agreement that the approach provides no real disadvantages, aside from potentially becoming monotonous.
For beginners embarking on the Eco-Atkins journey, various mainstream products, like veggie burgers or protein-rich low-carb bread could make the transition easier.
This study was jointly supported by the Canadian government, a Canadian food distributor, and a company that produces soy foods.
For more about healthy eating, you can visit the page of the American Dietetic Association.