A new study shows that an Atkins-type high-fat diet is more effective for weight loss than a standard high-carb low-fat diet. In this study, presented Friday at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Denver, researchers assigned 55 men and women who were overweight or obese to either a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet. The participants were all people with a waist circumference of 35” (women) or 40” (men), considered to be a measure of abdominal obesity and a good marker for both insulin resistance and heart disease risk. Both groups did the identical amount of exercise: moderate endurance training (brisk walking) plus weight lifting, approximately 30 minutes a day three days a week. Both groups reduced their baseline calories by exactly the same amount: 750 calories. Then the researchers waited to see how long it would take each group to lose ten pounds. The high-carb low-fat group lost ten pounds over the course of 70 days. The low-carb high-fat group, on the other hand, lost ten pounds in just 45 days. “It took people less time to lose 10 pounds” on a high-fat diet-and-exercise program, about 45 days on average, than the 70 days it took for those who exercised and followed a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet constructed using guidelines from the American Heart Association, said Kerry J. Stewart, director of clinical and research exercise physiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and lead author of the report. But that’s not the whole story. For years, the standard “rap” on low carbohydrates has been that though they may be fine for quick weight loss, they’re unsafe, dangerous and increase the risk for heart disease. After all, how could eating all that fat (animal and otherwise) and protein possibly be good for you? How indeed. The myth that low-carb, high-fat increases the risk for heart disease has continued despite study after study that shows no such thing. This study looked at a specific measure of artery health (a blood pressure cuff test that measures the ability of healthy vessels to dilate). On the “healthy artery” test, both groups had identical results. There was no evidence of any harmful vascular effects from the low-carb, high-fat diet,” said Kerry Stewart, PhD, lead researcher on the study. The low-carb dieters consumed 55 percent fat at the beginning, and phased down to about 40 percent. About 15 percent of their diet came from carbs initially, and then went up to 40 percent. The other dieters followed the American Heart Association’s low-fat diet, with no more than 30 percent fat a day. Interestingly, Dr. Stewart- the lead researcher- had good reason to want to investigate a low-carb diet. He himself tried it several years ago, along with a program of exercise. He’s lost 40 pounds (and kept it off), and “continues to ace” his measures of arterial health.