Sweden may become the first western nation to recommend a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet as part of an effort to reduce the national prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and to improve markers of heart health. Following a literature review of 16,000 studies on diet and obesity, Swedish government advisors at the Council on Health Technology Assessment have suggested that a low-carb, high-fat diet may be the key to reversing obesity and obesity-related illnesses.
Swedish advisors recognize that the oft-recommended low-fat diet is failing in the fight to stop or reverse obesity trends that have reached epidemic proportions across the globe. New guidelines are aligned with the Atkins approach to eating. The Atkins Diet focuses on high protein and fat intake while limiting carbohydrates, which is reported to reduce body weight, lower blood sugar and improve good cholesterol.
Essentially, the Council suggests that a diet moderately-low in carbohydrate (40% of total calories) would see some of these improvements and a greater increase in good (HDL) cholesterol without having any adverse effects on bad (LDL) cholesterol, while an even lower carbohydrate intake (20% of total calories) would result in more benefits including improved blood sugar levels for individuals with obesity and diabetes and marginally decreased levels of triglycerides.
In a statement released Monday, Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc., vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins explains, "In the maintenance phase of the Atkins Diet, our followers should be in what we call 'carbohydrate balance.'
This generally has them eating between 20 and 40 percent of their calories from carbs, exactly the percentage recommended by the Council, and precisely the range that will help people maintain their goal weight. By eating proteins, low-glycemic vegetables and fruits, nuts and healthful fats, the Atkins Diet is very much in alignment with the new Swedish dietary recommendations."
In addition, advisors to the Swedish government speak to other benefits of an Atkins-like diet that permits higher-fat foods. Those benefits highlighted include both satisfaction and satiety, which are in large part, responsible for greater long-term sustainability.
Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, professor and nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut adds that, "It will be interesting to see how quickly other countries follow suit, recognizing that managing carbohydrates is the key to handling certain health conditions. Lower-fat varieties of foods are often higher in sugars and carbohydrates, which is simply counter-intuitive for people who need to control metabolism-related conditions like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin sensitivity, all of which are related to obesity."
For more information about the effectiveness of the Atkins Diet, watch the attached video featuring Dr. Marc Bessler, obesity expert at NY-Presbyterian Hospital.