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Clash of the Weight Loss Titans

Weight Loss Study Pits Atkins vs. Ornish vs. Zone vs. LEARN Diets

Healthy Weight Loss continued...

Ornish says it's just plain wrong to assume from the Gardner study that the diet plans are equally healthy.

"To say the Atkins Diet is no more harmful than the Ornish Diet is dangerously misleading," he says. Dr. Gardner and colleagues say the heart-disease risk factors were comparable on all four diets and then they said that Atkins doesn't harm you. But risk factors are just risk factors. In our studies, we actually measured heart disease itself, not just risk factors. And we found that on the Ornish diet, people with heart disease showed clear reversal after a month, more after a year, and even more after five years.”

Volek has a very different view.

"Reducing carbohydrate intake is a very effective option for losing weight, improving health, and reducing the symptoms of the metabolic syndrome -- high blood pressure, high blood-fat levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance," he says. "Reducing carbs is not only an option, but probably the preferred option for people to correct these abnormalities."

Atkins, Zone, Ornish Diets Made Easy

Gardner says he thinks the main reason people trying to follow the Atkins diet lost more weight is that the diet is easy to understand.

WebMD asked Sears and Ornish whether they could sum up their diets in a brief, simple statement.

"For the Zone diet, a person needs only one hand and one eye," Sears says. "At every meal, the rest of your life, divide your plate into three equal parts. On one, put a piece of meat, fish, chicken, tofu, or low-fat protein no wider or thicker than the palm of your hand. And on the other two thirds of your plate, fill it full of vegetables and fruits. And then take a dash of monounsaturated, healthy fat. And now you have a meal with the right balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. That is how you lose weight -- you keep hunger and satiation under control."

Ornish says simple changes to the diet help people lose weight and gain health.

"These changes are simple," he says. "Eat less total fat. Eat fewer simple carbs. Try to eat whole foods if you can -- predominantly fruits and vegetables and whole grains and legumes in their natural form. And eat some fish."

Brownell says it obviously isn't easy to lose weight, or else all sensible diet plans would work better.

"Obesity is a problem that screams out to be prevented rather than treated," he says. "We need to start with people when they are children, and we need to work on preventing the problem."


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