Though low-carb, high-fat diets have suffered a bad rap for being a health hazard, a pair of new studies suggests they pose no immediate risk to vascular health in obese people.
It's a finding that's likely to drum up more debate about the effectiveness of high-protein diets, which yield quick, visible results but are much maligned for being high in fat.
In the first study, presented June 3 at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found no harmful vascular changes in a group of 23 overweight participants who followed a low-carb, high-fat diet.
During a six-month weight-loss program that involved moderate exercise and a diet made up of 30 percent carbs and 40 percent fats like meat, dairy and nut products, the group -- with an average individual weight of 218 pounds (99 kg) -- lost an average of 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in 45 days.
Meanwhile, another group assigned to a low-fat diet took on average a month longer to lose the same amount of weight. Participants followed a diet that consisted of 30 percent fat and 55 percent carbs.
The findings prompted researchers to give the low-carb diet a ringing endorsement in a statement that seems to make the high-protein option an unequivocally healthy diet alternative.
The report itself was prompted by concerns from people who wanted to follow a low-carb diet like Atkins, South Beach or the Zone but were wary of the diets' higher fat content.
"Our study should help allay the concerns that many people who need to lose weight have about choosing a low-carb diet instead of a low-fat one, and provide re-assurance that...[a] low-carb approach does not seem to pose any immediate risk to vascular health," said lead author, Kerry Stewart."More people should be considering a low-carb diet as a good option."
For more on the Johns Hopkins study, visit http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/jhmi-lhd052711.php.