It was an excellent show, for those in the US it should be available soon on
the BBC web
My take aways we
1) Proves the 1st law of thermodynamics still applies. Theres no magic to
weight loss its calorie deficit every time
2) That the diet supresses craving for excess calories and research should
next focus on why this is
3) There is no proof yet of long term side effects but implies it could be
bad and this too should be a focus of research
The factor it did not account for was meal frequency and metabolism. I'm
told that eating many small meals rather than few large meals, sustains
metaboloc activity, thus increases the systems average work rate. So more
calories get burnt on average
"Diarmid Logan" wrote in message
Uncovering the Atkins diet secret
The controversial and popular Atkins diet works for reasons that Dr
Atkins may not have fully understood, the BBC 2 programme Horizon has
Through a series of scientific experiments the programme shows that
although the diet allows people all the fat and protein they want,
they actually eat as few calories as people on low fat diets.
And the reason for this, according to recent research is because the
quantity of protein the regime encourages, acts like an appetite
The meat, fish and eggs in the Atkins diet control hunger and stop
people eating their usual quantity of calories.
The theory behind Dr Atkins' diet is that by cutting down on starchy
foods like potatoes, bread and pasta and eating mainly protein and
fats like meat, eggs and cheese you can eat as much as you want and
still lose weight.
Dr Atkins even said there was no need to worry about calories.
The idea that people could gorge on as many calories as they desire
and still lose the pounds brought Dr Atkins much criticism and even
prompted some scientists to call his diet "scientific heresy".
Horizon teamed up with the University of Kansas and commissioned a
scientific investigation to test Dr Atkins' most controversial theory.
This states that on his diet you actually burn more calories than
usual - allowing you to lose more weight.
Dr Atkins had two ideas about where the extra calories were going.
Firstly, he believed you burn more calories when your body uses fats
and proteins as fuel.
If this is true, says Dr Mary Vernon, of the Atkins Physician Council,
it makes exercise less important than usual.
"You wouldn't have to increase your exercise at all because your body
would be working harder, so that you could literally sit in your
armchair and lose weight."
Dr Atkins also believed that on his diet you lose unused calories by
peeing them away, as part of a process known as ketosis, which happens
when you stop eating starchy foods and sugar.
In Horizon's investigation identical twins were put on different
diets, one on the Atkins diet and one on a conventional low fat diet.
Each was fed identical amounts of calories for two weeks.
The twins were then locked inside a sealed chamber so that Professor
Joseph Donnelly could calculate how quickly their bodies were burning
Over 24 hours the twin on the Atkins diet did lose more calories than
the twin on low fat, but only 22.
Professor Donnelly even checked the twins' urine for calories and
found that the Atkins dieter had lost less than a single calorie more
than his brother on low fat.
Donnelly concluded that: "the differences were too small to suggest
there's anything significant going on".
Even though this research is at an early stage, there is little
evidence for Dr Atkins' wasted calorie theories.
Horizon examines other studies that reveal the real reason scientists
believe the Atkins diet is effective.
New results from research conducted on the popular BBC series 'Diet
Trials' offer the first clue.
The study examined the Atkins diet and three low fat, low calorie
All four diets worked, but Dr Joe Millward at the University of Surrey
who headed up the research, discovered the secret to why Atkins
dieters were losing weight.
"The Atkins dieters were eating less calories, in exactly the same way
as those going to the slimming clubs on their low fat diets."
Without apparently trying, people on the Atkins diet were eating less
than they would normally.
Scientists are now more interested than ever in what makes us eat
less. They have concluded that there is something about the Atkins
diet that controls hunger.
Research has shown that fat is the least filling food. But new work in
Denmark is showing exactly what kinds of food may control hunger.
Professor Arne Astrup, from the Royal Veterinary & Agricultural
University in Copenhagen, built a supermarket for a special study to
find the secret of appetite control.
Professor Astrup's study focused on being able to eat as much as you
He put one group of shoppers on a high protein diet and one on a high
He was surprised to find that the people eating more protein lost
significantly more weight.
"The reason they lost more weight was because they consumed fewer
calories, despite the fact they had free access to all the food they
Increasing the amount of meat, fish and eggs in the diet may not only
be the answer to our hunger pangs, but the secret to how the Atkins
Perhaps without realising it, Dr Atkins stumbled across the secret of
appetite control, by discovering a high protein diet.
The programme also investigates whether or not the Atkins diet is
With no long term studies on the diet, any possible health risks of
the diet are, so far, unproven.
Horizon: The Atkins Diet will be shown Thursday January 22nd at 9pm on