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Which Diet is the Best for You?

Which Diet is the Best for You?

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill Reporting Americans spend tens of billions of dollars each year on ways to try to lose weight. A chunk of that money goes toward diet books. How well do those best-sellers work in real life?

The case for low-carb diets is gaining weight! Researchers at Stanford University have completed the largest and longest-ever comparison of four popular diets. They tested them in the way people buy these books and try their best.

Stanford researchers put four popular diets to the test, not in a lab, but in the real world. More than three hundred premenopausal overweight women were randomly assigned to one of four diet plans, Atkins, the Zone, the Learn Diet (based on the food pyramid) or Ornish. The diets cover the whole spectrum of very low to very high carbohydrate diets.

Christine Dillon was assigned to read and then follow the Atkins diet.

Christine Dillon, Atkins dieter: "I was on the Atkins diet for about 9 months"

Dr. Christopher Gardner: "Cutting out those simple refined carbohydrates, the white bread, the white rice, the high fructose corn syrup, the soda pop."

Dr. Christopher Gardner headed the study at Stanford. He says dieticians helped each group for eight weeks and then they were on their own. At the end of a year, women in all four groups lost a modest amount of weight. But the Stanford study tipped the scales in favor of one, Atkins.

Women on the Atkins diet lost the most weight, about an average of ten pounds.

Christopher Gardner, PhD, Stanford University "By the end of the year, on average within the Atkins group, the average woman lost 10 pounds compared to the other three groups where the average loss was closer to 5 pounds."

Christine Dillon, "Lost between 10 and 15 pounds, but much more importantly lost two dress sizes, which is huge."

And the Atkins group also had slightly better blood pressure and cholesterol readings. However, before you head off to fry up some bacon, remember this.

Dr. Gardner says while Atkins appears healthier, it also involves eating a lot of protein. And long term protein diets could have a bad effect on kidney function or bone density, something you can't pick up in a 12-month study. More importantly, there wasn't a ton of weight loss and it was tough strictly sticking to any plan.

Christine admits she fell off the diet at Christmas. What is the bottom line? Preventing obesity in the first place may be the best strategy. None of these diets are the solution to the obesity epidemic.

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