Various studies and success stories inspire people to try out new diets and weight loss plans like Atkins. The popularity of low carbohydrate diets has given low fat regimens a run for their money, but a new study may have some slamming on the brakes.
You’re probably familiar with Atkins, South Beach, and now the Keto low-carb diet which have all helped people shed pounds. But a report published in The Lancet is suggesting that eating a diet low in carbs can shorten one’s lifespan.
Researchers followed over 15,400 adult participants between the ages of 45 and 65 for twenty-five years. Each participant was a US resident of one of four regions, including North Carolina, Minnesota, and Mississippi.
A food questionnaire was used to survey what types of foods they ate, the portion sizes, and the frequency of consumption of each food or drink item. This helped scientists to determine the source of their carbohydrate intake and how much was plant or animal derived.
Periodic follow-up visits checked basic vitals, heart health, and self-reported dietary habits. In essence, the result of the study revealed that those who followed a low-carb diet died approximately four years sooner than their peers.
What’s considered low carb? For the study, 40% or less of food intake made up of carbohydrates. Moderate sits at half, while high-carb was anything 70% or above in total intake. As you could probably guess, a moderate amount of carbs led to the best outcome in mortality rates with this group living the longest.
But this was a narrow lead, as moderate carb eaters only outlived high-carb folks by a year. Researchers believe that the risk of death increased for those who consumed more animal-based fat and protein than those who got most of their fats and proteins through plants.
How? When filling in the hunger gaps created by eating less carbs, some subjects ate more animal fats and protein. Although the doctors behind the study were careful to state that a cause-effect relationship between food and illness was not established, it is probable that low-carb, high animal fat diets contribute to higher mortality rates.
Results of this study were also compared to others of a similar nature, with a sampling that totaled over 400,000 individuals around the world. One of the co-authors of the study, Professor Walter Willet, concluded:
“These findings bring together several strands that have been controversial. Too much and too little carbohydrate can be harmful but what counts most is the type of fat, protein, and carbohydrate.”
On average, their observations highlight the need for a balanced diet that consists healthy carbs and the rest in healthy fats and proteins. For comparison, you can check out this study from Harvard about how a nutritious low-carb diet contributes to weight loss, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of diabetes.
Quality of over quantity of food seems to reign, so if you’re going to eat low amounts of pasta, bread, and potatoes, mix it up with some avocados, beans, nuts, and veggies.
Have you been following a low carb diet? Does this new study concern you? Will you change any of your eating habits?