Low-carb diets could actually shorten your life

Over the past few decades, low-carb diets are becoming more and more popular as people adopt the likes of the Atkins or the ketogenic diet in order to lose weight. However, a newly published study suggests that cutting carbohydrates in this way may actually lead to a lower life expectancy.

A study undertaken over a 25-year period in 15,400 Americans indicated that a moderate cut in carb consumption is far healthier than a dramatic cut. It also suggested that swapping carbs for plant-based protein and fat alternatives is healthier than swapping it for animal-based products.

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The study, which was published in The Lancet Public Health, relied on participants filling out questionnaires about the food and drink they consumed, as well as their portion sizes. The scientists then estimated the proportion of calories they were getting from carbs, protein and fat.

The results showed that those who got around 50-55 per cent of their calories from carbohydrates – which is the moderate group – had the lowest risk of death compared to the extra low-carb, the low-carb and the high-carb groups.

Those in the moderate group were expected to live for four years longer than those in the extra low-carb group (those who got less than 30 per cent of their energy from carbs), they would live 2.3 years longer than those in the low-carb group (30-40 per cent) and 1.1 years longer than those the high-carb group (who get 65 per cent or more of their energy from carbs).

To sum it up, those likely to live longest were the participants who consumed a moderate amount of carbohydrates…

In addition to these findings, the scientists discovered that eating more meat and cheese in place of carbohydrates, rather than plant products, even further led to a decreased life expectancy. Those who swapped their carbohydrates with plant-based food (including nuts and legumes) actually saw a reduced risk to mortality.

“Our data suggests that animal-based low-carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged,” Dr Sara Seidelmann, clinical and research fellow in cardiovascular medicine from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who led the research said (via BBC). “Instead, if one chooses to follow a low-carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.”

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So you might want to think twice about adopting a low-carb diet in order to lose weight, particularly if you were planning to swap your carbs for animal products.


From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK