Blood Pressure Successfully Lowered by Low-Carb Diet

A recent comparison study that measured results from two popular weight loss diets ended in a “tie” for allowing the  subjects to drop a significant number of pounds. But it was the low-carbohydrate diet that also brought down the participants’ blood pressure, giving better results than the weight loss drug orlistat. The research was performed at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Duke University Medical Center. The study was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This is an important finding for those who are battling with both overweight and hypertension. William S. Yancy, Jr., MD, lead author of the study (published in the Jan. 25, 2010 Archives of Internal Medicine), and an associate professor of medicine at Duke, stated, “If people have high blood pressure and a weight problem, a low-carbohydrate diet might be a better option than a weight loss medication.”

He elaborated, “It’s important to know you can try a diet instead of medication and get the same weight loss results with fewer costs and potentially fewer side effects.”

Dr. Yancy says that the range of health issues presented by the 146 participants – high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and arthritis – made this study particularly interesting and important. “Most participants in weight loss studies are healthy and don’t have these problems,” he said. “In fact they are often excluded if they do.”

On average, both diet groups lost almost 10% of their body weight, a level “not many studies are able to achieve” according to Yancy. He feels that the 48 weeks of group counseling is the reason for this outcome. The toleration of orlistat proved less a problem than anticipated. As long as the low-fat regime was carefully followed, as promoted by the counseling program, the drug’s side effects can be significantly reduced. Also, the two diets did equally well at improving cholesterol and glucose levels in the participants.

The big surprise, Yancy explained, was the marked difference in the blood pressure results. Forty-seven percent — almost half — of the low-carb regime patients were either able to decrease their blood pressure medications or were able to stop taking them altogether. Only 21% of the low-fat/orlistat participants had their medication reduced. The low-carbohydrate group also showed significant drops in systolic blood pressure in contrast to the low-fat group.

The physiological mechanism behind this blood pressure improvement is not clear, accoreding to Dr  Yancy. He said, “While weight loss typically induces improvements in blood pressure, it may be that the low-carbohydrate diet has an additional effect.” Future studies will likely be needed to explore the nature of the effect.

Yancy stressed the impact made by counseling for any weight loss regime to be successful. “It is clear now that several diet options can work, so people can be given a choice of different ways to lose weight. But more importantly, we need to find new ways to help people maintain their new lifestyle.”

This is a a great study with big implications. If your looking to lose weight with low carbohydrate diets and improve your blood pressure call me at 201.618.3534 or click here to learn more about my weight lose program.

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