More Low-Carb Junk

Have we entered a parallel universe or something? Because why the heck have low-carb diets been in the news so much lately? Maybe the early daylight savings time is throwing off people’s better judgment. Any way, get a load of this new study singing the praises of the low-carb fad. Reuters is on it:

After 12 weeks on the low-carb plan, study participants had lost an average of 4.9 kilograms (10.8 pounds), compared to 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) for their peers on the low-fat diet.

However, after the weight-maintenance phase of the study, which lasted another 24 weeks, differences between the two groups in weight loss and fat mass remained, but were no longer statistically significant.

The findings confirm that the low-carb diet tested in the study is a "reasonable alternative" to cutting fat and controlling portions in order to maintain a healthy weight, Dr. Kevin C. Maki of Radiant Research in Chicago and colleagues conclude.

The approach Maki's team tested -- a reduced-glycemic-load (RGL) diet -- required people to restrict their carbohydrate intake and eat more low glycemic index (GI) foods, meaning foods that produce a relatively small, gradual increase in blood sugar levels. Low GI foods generally are rich in fiber, consist of more complex carbohydrates, and include vegetables, beans and whole grains.

What amazes me about low-carb news is you never get the whole story. For example, according to Dr. Fuhrman high-fat low-carb diets like the Atkins fad come with an increased risk of cancer, funny how you never hear about this. More on this from Increased Risk of Cancer Associated with The Atkins Diet:

Atkins recommends that you eat primarily high-fat, high-protein, fiberless animal foods and attempt to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Atkins's menus average 60-75 percent of calories from fat and contain no whole grains and nor fruit. Analyses of the proposed menus show animal products make up more than 90 percent of the calories in the diet.

Hundreds of scientific studies have documented the link between animal products and various cancers. Though it would be wrong to say that animal foods are the sole cause of cancer it is now clear that increased consumption of animal products combined with the decreased consumption of fresh produce has the most powerful effect on increasing one's risk for various kinds of cancer. Atkins convinces his followers that he knows better than leading nutritional research scientists who proclaim that "meat consumption is an important factor in the etiology of human cancer."1

So then, what foods decrease your risk of cancer? I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain, more the from post:

Atkins devotees adopt a dietary pattern completely opposite of what is recommended by the leading research scientists studying the link between diet and cancer.2 Specifically, fruit exclusion alone is a significant cancer marker. Stomach and esophageal cancer are linked to populations that do not consume a sufficient amount of fruit.3 Scientific studies show a clear and strong dose-response relationship between cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, and prostate with low fruit consumption.4 To the surprise of many investigators, fruit consumption shows a powerful dose-response association with a reduction in heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.5 There is also a striking consistency in many scientific investigations that show a reduction in incidence of colorectal and stomach cancer with the intake of whole grains.6 Colon cancer is strongly associated with the consumption of animal products.7 And these researchers have concluded that the varying level of colon cancer in the low-incidence population compared with the high-incidence population could not be explained by "protective" factors such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals; rather, it was influenced almost totally by the consumption of animal products and fat.


1. Tavani, A., C. La Vecchia, S. Gallus, et al. 2000. Red meat and cancer risk: a study in Italy. Int. J. Cancer 86 (3): 425-28.

2. Kuller, L.H. 1997. Dietary fat and chronic disease: epidemiological overview. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 97 (7 supp.): s9-15; Willet, W.C. 1997. Nutrition and cancer. Salud Publica Mex. 39 (4): 298-309; La Vecchia, C. 1992. Cancer associated with high-fat diets. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. Monogr. 12: 79-85; Steinmetz, K.A., and J.D. Potter. 1996. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: a review. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 96 (10): 1027-39.

3. Brown, L. M., C.A. Swanson, G. Gridley, et al. 1998. Dietary factors and the risk of squamous cell esophageal cancer among black and white men in the United States. Cancer Causes Control 7 (1): 33-40; Hirohata, T., and S. Kono. 1997. Diet/nutrition and stomach cancer in Japan. Int. J. Cancer supp. 10: 34-36; Kono, S., and T. Hirohata. 1996. Nutrition and stomach cancer. Cancer Causes Control 7 (1) 41-45; Terry, P., O. Nyren, and J. Yuen. 1998. Protective effect of fruits and vegetables on stomach cancer in a cohort of Swedish twins. Int. J. Caner 76 (1):35-37.

4. Willett, W.C., and D. Trichopoulos, eds. 1996. Nutrition and cancer: a summary of evidence. Cancer Causes Control 7: 178-80; La Vecchia, C., and A. Tavani. 1998. Fruit and vegetables, and human cancer. Eur. J. Cancer Prev. 7 (1): 3-8; Tavani. A., and C. La Vecchia. 1995. Fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer risk in a Mediterranean population. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 61 (6): 1374-77S.

5. Key, T.J. A., M. Thorogood, P.N. Appleby, and M.L. Burr. 1996. Dietary habits and mortality in 11,000 vegetarians and health conscious people: results of a 17-year follow up. MBJ 313: 775-79.

6. Jacobs, D.R., J. Slavin, and L. Marquart. 1995. Whole grain intake and cancer: a review of the literature. Nutrition and Cancer 24: 221-29.

7. O'Keefe, S.J., M. Kidd, G. Espitalier-Noel, and P. Owira. 1999. Rarity of colon cancer in Africans is associated with low animal product consumption, not fiber. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 94 (5): 1373-80.

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Comments (7) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Joanne - March 26, 2007 8:47 AM


I've read "Eat to Live". I'm not currently overweight, and I'm pretty active.

My concern is secondary amenorrhea from such a low fat diet.

Any ideas/thoughts from Dr. F on that subject?
Thank You!

Michael - March 26, 2007 5:20 PM

Dr. Fuhrman wrote ETL for overweight people. He has advised in the past to add healthy sources of fat (raw nuts, seeds, and avocados) as well as starchy foods if you are thin or athletic and need to add more calories.

Miriam - March 27, 2007 9:12 AM

Since when does Atkins not allow fruits? Is this some new version I'm not familiar with? If anything, I've increased my intake of fruits and veggies since starting it.

Simon P. - March 27, 2007 10:07 AM

What you said said doesn't make a lot of sense Miriam you are still eating all that animal fat.

Joanne - March 27, 2007 2:46 PM

Hi Gerald, Dr. Fuhrman and Everyone!

Thank you for your responses! I appreciate it!

Bree - March 27, 2007 4:31 PM

There is a conception in this country that if you are thin then you don't have to worry much about what you eat (my father in law was pre-diabetic, lost 30 lbs and reversed his condition so now he thinks it's "okay" for him to eat cake and ice cream because he's no longer diabetic. What?!)

Miriam-- it's not that you can't eat any fruit or vegetables on Atkins (that's a common misconception) it's that the quantities needed to prevent cancer do not fit into the Atkins plan (I probably eat at least 150 grams of net carbs a day- all from fruits, vegetables and beans. Also a high animal protein diet is cancer causing. I suggest you read Eat to Live-- as a former low carb devotee I found it eye opening. :)

Sue - January 25, 2008 1:01 AM

January 2008 - The Swedes are now recommending low carb, high fat diets for obesity and diabetes. Hopefully, other countries will follow their lead.

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