Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have completed the largest and longest-ever comparison of four popular diets, and the lowest-carbohydrate Atkins diet came out on top. The 311 pre-menopausal, non-diabetic, overweight women in the study were randomly assigned to follow either the Atkins, Zone, LEARN or Ornish diet. Researchers chose the four diets to represent the full spectrum of low- to high-carbohydrate diets. Study participants in all four groups attended weekly diet classes for the first eight weeks of the study and each received a book outlining the specific diet to which they were assigned. For the remaining 10 months of the study, the women’s weight and metabolism were regularly checked, and random phone calls monitored what they were eating.
- Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, represents the lowest carbohydrate diet
- The Zone diet, also low-carbohydrate, focuses on a 40:30:30 ratio of carbohydrates to protein to fat, a balance said to minimize fat storage and hunger.
- The LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships and Nutrition) diet follows national guidelines reflected in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid (low in fat and high in carbohydrates).
- The Ornish diet, based on bestseller Eat More, Weigh Less by Dean Ornish, is very high in carbohydrates and extremely low in fat.
Out of 311 women in the study, who were randomly assigned to follow the Atkins diet for a year not only lost more weight than the other participants, but also experienced the most benefits in terms of cholesterol and blood pressure