Forget this New Year’s resolution — it could kill you

January 05, 2010
Volume 07    |   Issue 1

If you gained weight during the holidays by overindulging in sweets and fatty foods, it’s time to lose those extra pounds. Like many people, you may have decided this would make a good New Year’s resolution. Well, it all depends on how you intend to lose that weight. One popular diet could lead to heart disease. It could even kill you.

The diet that can rob you of your health as well as those extra pounds is high in fats and low in carbohydrates. Like the Atkins diet. This diet gained popularity when its proponents claimed it resulted in more weight loss than a diet low in fats and high in carbs.

They were wrong.

More recently, studies have found that the weight loss in these two diets is the same over time. The question is: Which diet is safer? The answer: the low-fat, high-carb diet.

A study published in the journal Diabetes (December 2009) evaluated these diets in a group of pre-diabetic overweight adults. The diets had equal health benefits. But the high-fat, low-carb diet increased their risk for heart disease and caused stiffer, less elastic arteries.

Dr. Steven Hunter, the lead researcher for this study, admits that a diet higher in fats and lower in carbohydrates is often more palatable. And that it gives an initial rapid weight loss. But he cautions against a program where the potential negatives of causing heart disease far outweigh an easier diet to maintain.

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If you want to lose those extra pounds quickly, you may want to go on a low-carb diet for a few weeks. But for long-term weight loss, your safest diet is one lower in fats and higher in carbs.

Remember not to cheat. High carbs don’t mean more cookies. They mean including root vegetables and eating a piece of fruit a day. These foods support weight loss and good heart health. And “diet” means eating enough but not too much. Half a cup of brown rice or millet, and a single slice of whole grain bread are enough on any weight loss program.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


Bradley, U., et al. “Low-fat versus low-carbohydrate weight reduction diets: effects on weight loss, insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk. A randomised trial.” Diabetes, December 2009, vol.58, no. 12, 2741-2748. doi: 10.2337/db09-0098.

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