Tag Archives: cholesterol

Twilight Zone of Diet Studies

Imagine if you will a diet study, a seemingly ordinary diet study. One that compares low carb and low fat diets. Now imagine that you are reading the results, and find the unequivocal superiority of the low carb diet.


Both the Low and Moderate Carbohydrate groups lost significantly more weight as well as inches from their waists and thighs than the Control group, while the Low Carbohydrate group lost a greater percentage of body fat. Although the Moderate Carbohydrate group showed significant reductions in serum cholesterol, the Low Carbohydrate group showed the greatest improvements in serum cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and very-low-density lipoprotein.

Consider, if you will, how you would write the conclusion to these findings. That all-important snippet of text that will be read by those too busy to read the full synopsis, the snippet that will be picked up in articles and future studies.

Perhaps you will write something that bears some resemblance to the words and phrases in the Conclusion. Something that recognizes the low carb diet as being at least equal in your test for weight loss, yet reducing more body fat than the low fat diet. Consider how you will sum up the findings, that the low carb diet provided significantly better results for cholesterol and triglycerides. But before you put your pen to paper, read the actual conclusion:

Moderate approaches to weight loss such as a moderate-carbohydrate low-fat diet may be prudent.

There is nothing wrong with your eyes. Those are the words the study authors penned. An example, perhaps of cognitive dissonance.

You are traveling through another dimension –a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Twilight Zone of Diet Studies!

Hopkins: Ketogenic Diets Safe

Johns Hopkins has been doing research and clinical trials on ketogenic diets for seizure disorders in children for years. The diet they use is much more carb-restricted than we find in PP, and probably higher in fat content. The article in Diabetes in Control describes it this way:

The ketogenic diet, consisting of high-fat foods and very few carbohydrates, is believed to trigger biochemical changes that eliminate seizure-causing short circuits in the brain’s signaling system. Used as first-line therapy for infantile spasms and in children whose seizures cannot be controlled with drugs, the diet is highly effective but complicated and sometimes difficult to maintain. It can temporarily raise cholesterol, impair growth and, in rare cases, lead to kidney stones, among other side effects.

The Hopkins Children’s Hospital used the diet for 16 months to 8 years to reduce or eliminate the seizures. The study being referenced is a follow-up to see if any lasting health problems from the diet are revealed.

There don’t seem to be any long-term effects:

Only two of the 101 patients reported kidney stones after stopping the diet, the same rate found in the general population not treated with the ketogenic diet, the researchers say.

None of the 25 patients who had liver and kidney function tests had abnormal results. Among the 26 patients who had their cholesterol tested, the average level was 157 milligrams per deciliter of blood (less than 200 is considered normal), with three of the 26 having abnormal levels. Most patients’ cholesterol levels go up while on the diet, but are believed to return to normal thereafter. The Hopkins study now confirms that this is the case.

In 2008, Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital described the results on cholesterol this way:

While most children developed high cholesterol after starting the diet, in half of them, cholesterol gradually improved returning to normal or near-normal levels, with or without modifications to their diet to reduce fat intake.

Interestingly, efforts to reduce saturated fat saw no greater decrease in cholesterol levels. In other words, doing nothing and reducing saturated fat had the same effect over time. That might be good news for low carbers that are worried about an increase in cholesterol in the early years of the new way of eating.

Since 2005, Hopkins has noted that a modified Atkins low carb diet plan has nearly the same benefits as their more restrictive ketogenic diet for children with seizure disorders. In effect, any diet that puts the patient into ketosis restricts the seizure activity.