You may have noticed that I am fascinated by the Atkins Diet and why (or if) it works. Obviously Robert Atkins himself didn't know the answer, and so he came up with scientific mumbo-jumbo instead, but in spite of that it clearly is an effective diet (for some people, if you are sensible).
I think it's been clear for some time that what actually happens for people who follow Atkins successfully is that they eat less, with unsurprising consequences for their weight. Now there is scientific evidence that a high-protein diet makes you feel full, which is why you eat less (from The Guardian):
Finally, a scientific explanation for why eating endless steaks on the Atkins diet helps people lose weight: the masses of extra protein send messages to the brain to stop eating.
"The current findings provide an answer to the question of how protein-enriched meals decrease hunger and reduce eating, unsolved up to now," said the researchers in a paper published today in Cell Metabolism.
According to Robert Atkins, the late founder of the most famous of the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets that were hugely popular a year ago, the eating plan works because cutting down on carbohydrates prevents insulin peaks which cause sugar to be stored as fat, and increasing protein intake makes the kidneys work harder, using up more calories.
But his ideas have never held up experimentally - except for one. "It is well known that protein feeding decreases hunger sensation and subsequent food intake in animals and humans," said Gilles Mithieux of the University of Lyon, one of the authors of the new research.
Well, that seems to make sense.
I believe that the latest fashionable diet is from Australia and also stresses the advantages of eating protein rather than carbohydrates - so even though Atkins was wrong, proving that he was wrong has led to the discovery of something more sensible.