Health Benefits of Low Carb Diets

In early 2010 recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that eating a low carbohydrate diet is more effective at reducing blood pressure than taking weight-loss pills such as Orlistat.

High blood pressure can lead to more serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and kidney problems. Doctors often prescribe weight loss pills to patients that are overweight and are suffering from high blood pressure. However, studies reveal that a change in diet may be more effective.

Dr. Atkins firmly believed that a low-carb diet was very effective in preventing many illnesses. His “Diet Revolution” was very popular in throughout the 1990’s but then lost favor. The main criticisms were that the high-protein approach had to include too much fat also, especially saturated fats. Also many people consumed too much red meat while on the diet, which is now known to increase risk of developing colonic cancer.

In the study patients that received counseling lost the most weight, proving also the effectiveness of support networks in weight loss.

Both the low carb diet and the weight loss pills (orlistat) were equally effective at controlling cholesterol, managing weight loss and reducing stomach fat.

“The findings send an important message to people with high blood pressure who are trying to lose weight. While weight loss typically induces improvements in blood pressure, it may be that the low-carbohydrate diet has an additional effect. It’s important to know you can try a diet instead of medication and get the same weight loss results with fewer costs and potentially fewer side effects.” Lead Researcher Dr William Yancy, Duke University Medical Centre

Possibly the key determinant in the success of the low carb diet with respect to weight loss is the counseling sessions that were provided. In the study group the subjects that attended at least 15 sessions in a year lost much more weight that those that received less or no counseling.

The diet pill used in the study was orlistat. It is sold as Alli and Xenical and is available in many pharmacies over the counter. The drug works by preventing dietary fat from being absorbed into the body, so rather than being a “fat burner” it is essentially a “fat blocker”.

The idea is that it is taken while also following a calorie controlled diet and exercise regime, but is not recommended for people with a BMI below 28. It is only intended for very overweight and obese people.

Studies such as this provide us with proof that sensible eating and exercise is the best way to lose weight. Many people who turn to diet pills in desperation, often without having received proper guidance on diet and exercise, would be better off, both physically and mentally, if they modified their eating and got some regular exercise.


“A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet vs orlistat plus a low-fat diet for weight loss” by Yancy WS Jr et al. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jan 25;170(2):136-45. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.492.

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