Plant-based Low-Carb Diet Will Help with Weight Loss and Heart Disease Risk
Traditional low-carbohydrate diets with increased meat consumption have long been promoted for weight loss and the treatment of heart disease. The diets are effective in inducing weight loss, reducing insulin resistance, lowering triglycerides and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol. However, increasing meat intake increased saturated fat consumption which tends to increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol levels, a predominant risk factor for heart disease.
Enter the Eco-Atkins diet, a diet that combines the health advantages of a vegan diet with the positive effects of a low-carbohydrate diet. This diet substitutes plant-based proteins for traditional animal-based ones plus includes high-fiber whole grains, such as barley and oats and monounsaturated fats from nuts, avocados and seeds.
Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital have shown that a vegan low-carbohydrate diet can reduce the risk of heart disease by 10% over 10 years. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes contain no cholesterol, are low in fat (especially saturated fat) and are high in fiber – all part of the recommended diet by the American Heart Association to prevent heart disease. Cardiovascular disease kills 1 million Americans annually and is the leading cause of death in the United States.
In addition, participants who followed the Eco-Atkins diet lost an average of four more pounds over six months than those following a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet typically prescribed for weight loss. Previous research has supported the theory that those who follow a vegetarian diet are more likely to lose weight and keep the weight off.
Participants in the study aimed for a balance of 26% of calories from carbohydrates (oats, barley, and low-starch vegetables), 31% from proteins (gluten, soy, nuts, and cereals) and 43% from fat (primarily vegetable oils, soy products and avocado).
"We killed two birds with one stone -- or, rather, with one diet," explained lead author Dr. David Jenkins, who is director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre of St. Michael's Hospital and a Nutritional Sciences professor at the University of Toronto. "We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both."
Here are some diet tips for adopting the Eco-Atkins plant-based low-carb diet:
• Replace all meat products with vegetarian based products, such as soy, wheat gluten and nuts, while maintaining a daily protein intake of 150 grams.
• Eliminate dairy products and eggs.
• Replace saturated fats with heart healthy unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
• Low glycemic index fruits and vegetables are encouraged.
• When using grains, choose whole, high-fiber products such as barley and oats (no refined flour or sugary sweets)
• In addition, supplementation with a general adult multivitamin is recommended.
David JA Jenkins, Julia MW Wong et al. Effect of a 6-month vegan low-carbohydrate (‘Eco-Atkins’) diet on cardiovascular risk factors and body weight in hyperlipidaemic adults: a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open 2014;4:e003505 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003505
David J. A. Jenkins; Julia M. W. Wong; et al. The Effect of a Plant-Based Low-Carbohydrate ('Eco-Atkins') Diet on Body Weight and Blood Lipid Concentrations in Hyperlipidemic Subjects. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2009; 169 (11): 1046
Katherine R. Tuttle; Joan E. Milton. The 'Eco-Atkins' Diet: New Twist on an Old Tale. Arch Intern Med., 2009; 169 (11): 1027