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Low-Carb Diets OK in Short Term

<P>Healthy Women Lost More Than Twice as Much Weight on the Diet</P>

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"This study shows that a low-carbohydrate diet is effective in the short term in healthy overweight people, but it is important that we look at the long-term effectiveness of this diet and whether it is safe for people who are at risk for cardiovascular disease," she says.

American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Kathleen Tallmadge, RD, says short-term studies like this one and last summer's Duke findings prove little about the safety and long-term effectiveness of carbohydrate-restricted diets. She adds that it should come as no surprise that people who lost weight on these diets saw improvements in heart-disease risk, because that is what happens when people lose weight.

"The problem is when the weight loss stops, cholesterol and other cardiovascular risks are likely to skyrocket in people on low-carbohydrate diets that are high in saturated animal fats," Tallmadge tells WebMD. "The best way to lose weight permanently is to adopt a way of eating that can be maintained for a lifetime, and that is not possible with these very restricted diets."

She says it is good for everyone to limit their intake of sugar and white flour, but adds that the low-carb diet restrictions on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains make no nutritional sense.

"When people start to fear whole food groups, no matter what they are, they are setting themselves up for an eating disorder" she says. "Successful dieters develop habits that they can maintain over a lifetime. Simple changes can really make a difference."

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